Tuesday, August 22, 2017

CaBH Magic + 4 Magical Kingdoms

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Using Magic in Feng Shui involves having a Sorcery value (or Creature value) for your primary or secondary attack. It is also rolled like a traditional Action Value in order to use it to make the equivalent to Arcana checks, or to turn up a magical contact, or similar things. Where most characters have a place on their sheet reading Fortune or Chi or whatever yours says Magic, and is used as both a pool of points to spend to activate magic effects and points to be spent on more standard Fortune dice.  If a Fortune check is prompted against you and you succeed you can easily get away with describing yourself succeeding with some supernatural flair, even if you don't have a relevant schtick.

Schticks are great but the hardest thing to break people of when they're new to the game is thinking with their schticks. Tony Jaa probably doesn't have a specific schtick to do a somersault axe kick off the back of an elephant into the back of some dude's head in Ong Bak II but he sure fucking did it. There's nothing stopping a zen Buddhist monk from also being a high flying stunt driver and there's nothing keeping IMPEEERATOHH FURIOSHAAAAA from trying to use a magic amulet if she finds one. Your starting AV might be less than great (defaults to 7) or the difficulty might change but you still have a shot. True for action movies and for the kinds of children's fiction informing this game. The lifeblood of most Feng Shui games' sorcery is a plain old magic missile style Chi Blast, just a good old zap. That's fine for a lot of stand-up fights and will even be quite helpful during racing legs but the other shticks available to magic peoples are going to be more effective here, especially the ones that let you do well during Pit Stops (and therefore build Teamwork points).

Only a handful of Types have magic baked in or have the opportunity to learn it as they advance. In theory anyone could seek our some witch and learn a few tricks with enough practice but we will not really afford time for such.

Most of these Types will come from kingdoms rife with magic, where their power is stronger, but not always. Maybe your racer comes from a more mundane nation where your special powers make you a true standout. Maybe you're from somewhere magic isn't even supposed to be possible, like one of the steaming smoking machine kingdoms. Maybe you're just a ghost, ghosts come from anywhere. That's fine, just be aware that your powers will be affected by the region you're in.

It also shouldn't need pointing out that other Types can come from the more magical kingdoms. Camelot had Big Bruisers too. Sigil still has street sweepers. If you want to show all those fancy wizards that some punk kid can become more famous than any of them then by all means, go at it.

Once you run out of Magic points you're out of juice unless you find some kind of potion or geomantic nucleus to let you top off. Normally they all come back at the top of the next session but there's lots of reasons that might not happen.

_____________________________________________________

Serapter is ruled over by the Marquis DuPont, a man at once like an old tree and the shadow of that tree. He has borders within his borders, the Circles of Hell, concentric rings featuring differing degrees of penetration by supernatural planes of existence. There is the Demon Ring, the Spirit Ring, the Nightmare Ring, the Midnight Ring, the Goblin Ring, the Bone Ring, and the Crimson Ring where stands All's Hallow Hall, a castle as big as a city and residence to the Marquis' enormous and ever-growing family. The Marquis is definitely NOT a vampire, why would you even ask?

Wigviauln is a place where the practice of magic is so common it is used for daily tasks. Small elemental creatures and magically animated constructs are found here but that's about it. Wigviauln citizens do every job under the sun but with a bit of magical flair. Then there are the spellcasters. Druids, maguses, priestesses, warlocks, witches, sorceresses, mediums, wizards, any kind of magical practicioner, specialization, or tool you can name: all of these are found here, in the world's top center for magical research and understanding. The government of Wigviauln is somewhat corrupt, based on an enormous academic committee honoring truly arcane seniority and tenure traditions. The young Librarian, Sheila Lala, sits at the top.

Goroshi is rich in mystical presence if you know where to look, or how. Attend the right shrine, bathe in the right spring, knock on the right log, and you might summon a spirit - perhaps the spirit of that log, or of the forest, or the spirit of trees. You are always watched but rarely interfered with. Obviously-supernatural things do happen but they are accepted as a common thing to plan around, like a thunderstorm or like harvest time. There is a very respectful, congenial relationship between the people here and the many spirits of nature, machine, and emotion. When a spirit gets out of line, though, humans are expected to handle it themselves. Almost every top exorcist from SEDAN comes from Goroshi, and the Goroshi government (headed by President Iku, though he prefers "Mr. President") even has its own department to head up human and spirit world affairs. It's anyone's guess how many people on that department are spirits in disguise.

Hobbits As Consolation Class

Image result for rankin bass hobbit
Inspired by this and this and I guess this and this.
 HD, Saves, Attack as Thief. Requires 2 Ability Scores of 6 or less. You may use no armor but leather and may use one-handed weapons/small weapons/d6 weapons, but nothing that needs two hands apart from a shortbow. You may use a shield with a melee weapon but if you do then your weapons only do 1d4 damage. The shield grants you an extra point of AC bonus from what normal folk get. No speed penalty but you can carry a quarter of what a normal human can.

Instead of tying your bonuses to which specific values took the hit when you rolled up your pawn I'm just going to give you a list. You have up to 6 pts to spend, 1 for each shitty ability score. None of these effects improve as you level and you can't choose any of them more than once. If your scores are reduced below 6 later in game you do not get new abilities, but neither do you lose these abilities should your scores later improve.

Speaking of leveling: if you are part of any successful adventure or perilous scrape that results in a member of your party leveling up then you level up. You don't track XP and certainly not gold for XP because. Your fortune is the fortune of others. You may still only advance to 8th level.

At 8th level you gain any Hobbit powers you don't already have, are free to establish your own private Estate and attract a bunch of distant relatives to live on your lands, are considered fluent in the language of any creature you met in your journeys, and may choose to Retire. Retirement is important because you can come out of retirement ONCE and be treated like a level 16 Fighter by those around you, also gaining equivalent to-hit and save benefits.

The effects you get to choose from are:

Charming Manner: +3 Reaction roll
Escapist: Like "shields shall be splintered" without the shield; if you can explain how being little, thinking carefully, or leaps of faith might have spared you from what might have been a disastrous magical effect, hazard, or killing blow, then congratulations - you made it. Usable once per day. You can expend your use for the day to conveniently be able to wriggle out of bonds or through bars or whatever and get away, so long as there is the narrative possibility.
Barrel Rider: You gain a swim speed equal to the fastest land speed in the party, can hold your breath for at least 2 minutes, and do not suffer check/attack roll penalties associated with being underwater.
Forager: You have a 3/6 chance of finding enough food to feed the party in wilderness or grasslang, 2/6 in a city, 1/6 in a dungeon.
Bravery: Whenever a fight breaks out you may elect to suffer from Fear, as the spell, and immediately make a saving throw, making a save at the top of each round. If you save against this effect then you may consider enemies you engage this round to be under the effects of Fear for a number of rounds equal to what you experienced, minimum 1, no save.
Christina Ricci: If you wander away from the party for one Exploration Round and are not immediately accosted or killed then you may rejoin the party at any point by declaring yourself to be inside something nearby, like a chest or barrel or cabinet or monster corpse. You do not have to explain how you got there, it just has to be barely big enough for you to fit into; rooms, closets, wagons, etc are not a suitable use for this.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Prayer


Grass underfoot crisp black, dandelion strong.

Drink of green, burning and festered, belly boiling vision eating. Wound in the earth.

An arm not honed but strong. Too many heats red. Death rattle nails.

Steel blood cold, grass black. March on
everywhere.

I forget what it looks like...

Banner billowing licking gold with crimson before column of only one. There is no surrender. There will not be none: there was surrender.

Song out of step, thunder dust rolling advance. Fire drinking, vision eating. Night walk, this scream dance. Forward laughing.

The laugh is an important detail.

SEE: men not men onrushing slowly in avalanche patience. Awful things leagues astride, upon awesome animals, boulder flesh bearing mistake people toward new ruins.

Soon ruins.

There is no love nor rage nor hate nor fear, no not really fear. It increases, though, burning the rope of the world. Stronger we are pulled. Our blood is left only iron. Hope only hunger. Need only take. Never keep, only continue.

I need blood.

Horns are worn, not blown, but now it sounds - a refrain stilling all bone in anticipation of crescendo upon us then

Who killed the soil? Who burned the sea? Who cut the sky? Who corrupted hell? WHAT mutilated the church? WHAT broke our very souls? WHAT laughs in the night?

It is not night.
I have forgotten it.

Share me the blood for blood is life. Give me some life for life might end. Sell me an end for ends are mercies. Show me some mercy for mercy is a blessing. Bless me now in the sight of god. No, not mine. I have forgotten it.

Hurry now, while my throat still cracks, listen! I name Him! I call it Forthcoming. He is Horizon Darker. King of Ghosts. Rider in All Lights. Ash in the cry of orphans, He, usurper of shadows, an demon angel, Father -- Father to Monsters! Whet of tooth, wet of blade, forge-breathed, lion-ready.



Who has come?
I have forgotten the sun.


WHAT killed the sun?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Requirement Roll

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Emily Carroll
Thinking about changing things up with my (I am tired of saying old schoolish, DIY, dndish, etc, and I don't really find the term OSR useful, so how about) Basic Red classes. In the process I think I'm going to reassess the ability score requirements of so many old games and exotic classes. I like the idea of people being to play a really shitty dwarf in the same way someone can play a really shitty thief. But I like the idea of requirements as gatekeepers from everybody just playing nine elves in a row. So how about a d12 roll? You roll 1d12 and then you can be anything equal to or less than the value rolled.

This is what I'm thinking about for thresholds and classes, and what comic book artists I'd associate with each class (you don't have to look like that but you get 5% bonus XP if you do; that's right, I'm decoupling bonus XP too):


1 Thieves work weird now also working on that. They are from Mike Mignola.
2 Fighters work like LotFP and can make death saves to not die at 0HP like everyone else does. John Buscema.
3 Priests work like Prophets and follow Magic-User rules for armor and weapons. They all have strange faiths and new gods. Charles Vess.
4 Dwarfs are much the same but instead of deep dwellers they're just nocturnal and make homes deep inside pretty much anything (this is why they are always so grouchy during daytime). Mark Buckingham.
5 Magic-Users work like Wonder & Wickedness/VAM! and they all look like they came from almost any Doom Patrol comic except for the ones John Byrne made.
6 Judges are straight about healing and smiting and get the good armor and weapons. They serve The Church, whatever church that is. Brian Bolland or Kevin O'Neill.
7 Druids work like These Druids and Emily Carroll draws them
8 Elfs all work like BX Halflings. Wendy Pini, or maybe Jill Thompson, or Moebius.
9 Monks can be random or strange but they are all specifically Fat Cobra.
10 Weird FLAILSNAILS races/classes always look like Scrap Princess designed them.
11 Barbarians, Rangers, Assassins, or any other AD&D style class that we just kitbash until it fits. Yoshitaka Amano, which I think is cheating.
12 Some manner of absolutely unique thing. I will extend the offer, whether it be allowing a good orc, a talking lion, weirder spellcasting, or giving you a gun. Something I would normally use an NPC for, now you can be that thing and get levels. If you don't like what I offer then fine, you get your pick of the other classes, go nuts.

If you have 2 or more ability scores 6 and under you may also be a Hobbit regardless of roll. Hobbits are a consolation class where each ability score 6 and lower unlocks bonus abilities, I will update this part when I finish that article. They are little Jack Davis people.

Those who suffer sanity-crumbling effects can become Crazy Boys. Crazy Boys all slowly start to look like silent film characters.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Action Philosophers for TSR

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/_dx83uFU5k4/maxresdefault.jpg 

If you don't want to skip to the bottom just remember that TSR's Marvel Super-Heroes is a great fucking game. This kind of thing isn't something I love writing and posting here for a few reasons but it has been on my mind and I need to get it out so better things can come through the tunnel.

I have a weird thing when I'm drunk where I end up sounding like I'm trying to make an opposite point to what I'm trying to do. This is bad with sensitive subjects. On a lighter note I recently took a big digression dump in some conversation of Zak's and made it sound like I think the best thing comics can be is Aesop's Fables, teaching morals and life lessons.

I won't bore you with the 3000 word preamble this could have been but by now I suspect my initial point doesn't need explaining to most folks: comics aren't superheroes. One's a medium and the other's a signal. And while I respect everyone who uses the medium to tell a story (especially a personal one that might be difficult to tell) or explore a theme (I can't imagine it's possible to run out of worthwhile ways to evidence the stupidity of racism) or serve a demand or need (sure my niece will buy anything with Disney characters on it, might as well give her some Frozen comics) the medium is, like film, a visual first medium. It's #1 job is to give people interesting things to see.

There's lots of reasons superheroes exploded in the States to the point of dominating our comics industry, a lot of reasons for their longevity, but Job One pretty much sums it up. It's a genre umbrella whose definition is pretty much "stuff interesting to look at," and developed to encompass crime stories, melodramas, O. Henry schtick, war comics, comedy, science fantasy, whatever meant there would be something cool to look at. Sometimes this can be facile - pretty naked people are great and well drawn naked people are great, sure, but so much of the Avengelyne era of hero was about some weird Tex-Avery-As-Envisioned-By-Larry-Flynt draftmanship focused solely on basically alien erotica at the expense of any other aspect of a composition. Sometimes it can be demanding - a lot of comic artists' real strength lies not in their gallery-level talent but in the way they use the medium, which forces you to kind of learn on the go and eschew medium shot gridlock comfort zones. But there's always something to see, and from characters who can punch somebody right through the panel barrier to books whose whole schtick relies on the fact that (unlike film) there are no depth of focus or depth of field issues, you could find 90% of comics pet-rock-boring and still keep finding showcases for Cool Stuff To See.

That's really all that's on the written test when you get your superhero comic license, which is why superhero comics have turned into Every Genre But More So over the years. Frankly HORROR is better at consistently passing the Cool Stuff To See test and really consumes and envelops genres faster and more smoothly than superheroes do. Horror just doesn't have the penetration with the markets for which superheroes are so eminently merchandisable. No, not even now in the post-Walking Dead gold rush for horror franchise properties. You can sell Batman to Methodists but not Babadook. Not a coincidence the spandex set had its renaissance after the horror market got its balls chopped off.

There's another thing superheroes have going for them that explains their longevity advantage over horror beyond the obvious (which is that horror loses its teeth when you try the same scare for too long, in the same way a joke becomes trite). It's their philosophical underpinnings. Not all heroes are specifically built around them but they inherit a lot implicitly from Superman, the ultimate fuck you from a couple Jewish guys to Nazi notions of Nietzsche, subverting or inverting their self-actualizing excuses for general fuckery. To be best is not to be better, to be best is to do better.

Some characters ARE built around a specific underpinning, or they come to be. Animal Man is a good example of the latter, Wonder Woman is something of an ur-example of the former. But from Peter Parker to Barda Free to Elektra to Punisher to Invincible to the modern day Carol Danvers everybody has a little bit of this in them, a positing of This Is What Good Is that is challenged by and proved by responding to different evils as a pretty explicit structure. Again, it can be facile, it can sure be repetitive, but it ultimately drives all the conflict in the way that a situation, location, context, or other characters might for other (and some better) stories.

This is good because while it can be as conservative and simplistic as any morality in a horror movie it gives superheroes an edge which is An Excuse For Things To Happen. Horror conveys temptation by the devil largely through tone and atmosphere. Superheroes do it with the protagonist strapped into a rocket train blasted into outer space filled with mind controlled POWs.

That's what I love about the best superhero comics and what I feel is missing from more modern day superbooks: even the most childlike view of good an evil can be used to drive the Make Stuff Happen boat and give us interesting things to see, which is what we're really here for.

Too many modern superhero comics, and this is coming from someone who does still love the industry, come at it the other way: all the action is an excuse for superheroes to stand around or fly around shouting philosophy at each other. This is an approach that, say, a prose book handles well. One inciting incident and a few bursts of excitement can keep characters reassessing the proper course of action, reconsidering past actions, expose old tensions and new connections...I love reading this shit. I love a lot of movies that are like this, a lot of comics that are like this. Hell, most of Star Trek is like this. But for action movies or action comics the DO and the LOOK AT THAT are always going to be more important than the why. Having your fistfights drive philosophical discourse would be disaster in a Die Hard movie. I contend that it is the same for the Justice League.

I think it's an instinct for wanting the thing you loved when you were younger to grow up with you and become more like other, mature fiction, so you can still enjoy it. To that I say just enjoy the things you love, people, and enjoy them for what they are. Adventure Time will never be Lord of the Rings and that's fine. When it's just allowed to be the best version if itself, frankly it's better.

So RPGs...

I have not played all the superhero RPGs in the world. I don't know that I could, at the rate they pop up. But so many of them are very concerned with capturing the melodrama in superhero comics. Built in rewards for tension-ratcheting failure, stat blocks for Perry White so you can roll your Not Superman against his Newshound value, some weird moralist elements, advice on designing your world so you can have the Street Level or Cosmic campaign you desire, a Super Friends like balance emphasis to make sure Green Arrow is as useful at the table as Metamorpho or Sapphire Stagg.

I think that's effort out of proportion with necessity, an attempt to make playing an RPG feel like reading or writing a comic book. If you're looking for that then cool, let's get these dice out of the way and talk about this idea you have for a Saturn Girl detective series, I'd be interested in that. I'd love to get the cast-off Marvel Micronauts a gig myself...

Any comic nerd can have and has had conversations like these that run for hours. Many turn them into cool little fan fiction, and that's neat. Sure, I'll read that, even if it's more filled with sex and romance than I'm looking for. If you're a pal then I'm interested in your voice, your perspective, your ideas...You have an idea for a new superhero series that you don't think will ever get published? I'm your audience of one, and I'm sure in return you won't mind listening to my pitch for MANK, the half man half tank.

When it comes to a superhero RPG, though, what I look for at the table is something that feels like DRAWING a comic. Shit Is Happening, Look At That, What Other Interesting Thing Can We Cram In Here, Check Out That NPC's Shitty Beard Ha Ha, Oh Shit Space Bees, Deep Inky Shadows, Time Dilation, Hard Cuts, That Was Slowing Down So Now We Are Over Here With These People Where Something More Interesting Is Happening...

TSR's Marvel Super-Heroes has a philosophical underpinning that takes up maybe half a page and can be used to romp in the old 616 Sandbox or make your own whole thing. It's this: you can do awesome things better and easier if you Act Like A Superhero. The philosophy drives the action, gives us more Cool Shit To Look At. We can't see these illustrations this time but the point where this gets us fighting the Hand to protect a runaway mother and child, NOW we're playing a comic. It's small, simple, and largely invisible. Best of all if you object to the morality it espouses (or rightly point out that it's a morality not always even espoused by its source material, but a version made safe for mass marketing to 8 year olds in a bright yellow box) you can change the whole thing and therefore redirect the energies of the whole campaign in about fiiiiiiiiiive minutes.

Every aspect of those rules, even this, maybe especially this, is devoted to doing interesting or explosive things to keep things moving forward and ride a momentum of Something New Happened Now. It's not breaking things into separate rooms, considered discussions over HERE and giant Civil War clusterfucks to take nine sessions to adjudicate over HERE. It's just going "if this then that" in a very elegant way. In a lot of ways I think this system is even smoother than D&D.

That feels a lot more like a superhero comic to me: not going "I see what you did there, very clever," but "HOLY CRAP WHAT JUST HAPPENED?"

Brave Little Tailors (another subclass)

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Brave Little Tailors can be any class, be it a cleric who dresses divinely, a harried dwarf who can't keep ahead of all the clothing needs of a culture that's notoriously hard on their work wear, or a strange druid who cloaks themselves in the seasons quite literally. It costs you an extra 1000XP to reach level 2, 2000 XP to reach level 3, 4000 XP to reach level 4, etc. until you stop gaining Hit Dice. Additionally, before you can level you must completely update your Look.

Brave Little Tailors have three abilities:

Looks Can Kill

Each BLT has a Look all their own, utilitarian or fashionable, always idiosyncratic. They cannot wear magic robes, cloaks, capes, or armor, but they can copy the pattern of any wearable magic item and stitch it into their outfit. This works like the Blue Mage's copy ability but 1) for magic items, 2) it scales differently and you get no bonus from ability scores, 3) it's constantly renewed. You can have a number of effects equal to your level and a daily total number of magic-effect-uses equal to your Charisma score. As mentioned above you can only level up by changing your Look. That means even if you hit your XP threshold you have to sacrifice all learned magic abilities and put together a whole new outfit, losing all your stored abilities! You can relearn abilities in the new outfit but you have to still have access to the items you are copying.

Makeover

A BLT may make a melee or ranged (-3 to hit) attack roll on an enemy or creature and attempt to use their satchel of scraps (no encumbrance, stock up on fabric remnants as you would rope) to re/design an outfit for their target. They must be successful in this attempt 3 times in order to create a finished effect. There are three effects of Makeovers, chosen by the BLT at time of completion, when the whole ensemble comes together:
  • Entangle for a number of rounds up to your number of Hit Dice, target gets a save each round.
  • Make them look stupid, forcing a Morale check at -2.
  • Try to capture their inner essence and true self, forcing a Reaction Roll.
You may only give any creature a Makeover once per level.

OUCH!

A BLT may dress themselves in a makeshift approximation of an enemy's costume as a 1 minute action. They do not gain Look benefits while in this costume. When the BLT is injured in this outfit, the enemy they are dressed as takes damage equal to half what the BLT took. A BLT may also use one of their sewing needles to prick themselves, dealing up to 1 damage per HD to themselves and an equal number of d4 damage to the enemy they are copying.

Possible Mods

You can have as many magic effects copied as you can find but only use as many effects per-day as you have Hit Dice.

Classes may give up a benefit (Fighter to-hit bonus, spell slot, Sneak Attack damage) on a Makeover roll to make it a one-shot thing instead of 3. Surprise Makeovers!

You can sew little simulacra or dolls of your enemies instead of dressing like them. They encumber you like chains and the cost is like Thieves Tools.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Crazy Boys (Lovecraft Level Drain)

What the FUCK, yugioh, that's awesome! Where is THIS show?

Everything I can think of that does Level Drain is either some unspeakable abomination, some crazy weird eldritch trinket or trap, or something along those lines. People hate Level Drain because it can be hard to recover from without shlepping back to town and paying a bunch of money. Not every party cleric is going to roll something capable of helping you. You are determining your spells randomly, right?

And I get it. Putting your cool stuff from next level further away is a bummer. Taking away toys you thought you already earned can feel disappointing. The loss of HP involved could be deadly. In the past I have usually made Level Drain work more like XP debt, something extra you have to clear or be cured of before being able to advance. That's not a fix in fiction, though.

Cort the Druid doesn't head back to the tavern going "Ah hell, I got Level Drained." Or even "That spirit raked its claws upon me and I did feel my essence weaken; it will be long before I am what once I was, longer still before I am up to the challenge of the Hazeon Hex." That second example sounds fine in fiction except for focusing on the energy lost. That kind of thing, from a monster's perspective, puts focus on energy GAINED and opens us up to a boring Ecology Of post that describes all these hoary horrors in knowable, safe terms. How does the Friggit use the energy it takes from level drain? Does it sustain it? If so how often does it need to feed? What happens when it doesn't? If it just gets more powerful from level drain why isn't that reflected in a called-out monster level-up mechanic?

That kind of thing makes for an interesting episode of Planet Earth but I don't want someone interested in my nightmare creature. I want them to go OH SHIT.

Level Drain should be about the Oh Shit experience from the character's perspective. Not just fear - running away from the dragon is a pragmatic solution and failing a morale check or a save vs. a Fear spell is no different really than being outclassed by a level 36 wizard's Lock. You're just dealing with a bigger number at that point. Not just the player's anxiety about losing toys. This is something primal, superseding normal mental or physical reactions and mucking about in your soul. Your spirit, your kung fu, is reduced by these interactions. They are less about taking from you and more about shaking you. Creating cracks in your foundation, cracks you might fall into.

Lovecraft's dedicated authors and those of his imitators largely don't have to worry about death-by-octomonkey. A lot of them die from 1200 CCs of sheer crazy.

That's what I think we're talking about with, say, a wight. It's not there to claw you open or suck you dry like Shang Tsung. It's there to stop your heart in terror, cosmic force-of-the-universe terror, and if your body fails from your mind and soul falling away like ashes in a rainstorm then that aperture in creation is what makes your old wormbait start walking around under its own power again, as something outside of nature drives you like a car. It's not enough to leave you a shell of your former self. Nature abhors vacuum. An empty shell must be filled.

I think a lot of monsters are defined by how they can kill you, how many attacks doing how much damage and such. I think it's a pure way to think about a monster in a childlike, fairy tale, folklore, Pearce Shea, wendigo, Dracula, demoniac, Roswell sense to think about how a monster can GET you. I think this is why Slenderman caught on. Honestly it's probably a lot of how Freddy caught on: most movie killers have to chase or trap you, while Mr. K only had to exist. The child murder and rape and stuff was barely necessary except to justify how upstanding lawman John Saxon could ever commit a crime. Those of us more familiar with his filmography know that he's actually committed lots.

That was a big digression but my point is, I hope, clear. We have whole games built around sanity mechanics. We have lots of people trying to adapt those and bolt those on to D&D in some way. We've also got this mechanic for ghoulish apparitions that nobody likes to use. Seems to me an economic sort of rehab would be just folding the new spice into the existing batter.

So, Level Drain:

Level Drain works like it says on the tin. You lose one of your HD worth of HP. If you're one of these fancy classes with d12 for a hit die then sorry bro, you're subtracting 1d12. That's your chi being fucked with by this experience. A lot of those classes with huge hit dice are things like barbarians which, yeah, them having a worse reaction to the unnatural works in the fiction. In this way, though, you can actually survive being LD'd down to Level 0/Normal Human, as long as you are lucky with your HP loss. The only thing I don't love is that this is usually a to-hit roll instead of a save. Making it a save would let you deal more in Presence, so more in atmosphere. The to-hit roll works for Game of Thrones, though, so I'll leave it there. That's easy enough to mod on the fly.

That XP loss though...where does that go?

CRAZY BOY

Every time you suffer the effects of Level Drain you gain what I normally would refer to as "1 point of Shock" or something. Today I'm saying you gain 1 level in Being a Crazy Boy. That XP you lost? It goes here, but there aren't hard XP thresholds. It's abstracted as a level of psycho-spiritual wounds.

A common fix for LD in many campaigns is letting Remove Curse fix it. In that case, this is also a good way to have on-the-fly Curse/Remove effects, damaging your willpower patchwork. Also fun and fast for those crazy monsters later on who drain multiple levels at a time.

When you gain enough XP to level up you may EITHER advance to your new level as normal OR "spend" that XP to remove a Crazy Boy level. Actually, this setup works even if you never reduce the target's XP, it just gets a different KIND of experience from its contact with the weird.

Crazy Boys are:
-X to all saves, where X is their Crazy Boy level.
-X to all healing, where X is their Crazy Boy level.
+X to damage with melee weapons, where X is CBL.
+X to the difficulty of saves against your spells (or +X to your Turn Undead result)
After your first CBL you are +1 to defense/save/whatever vs creatures with Level Drain.
When you have CBL 4 you gain your level as a bonus to morale checks vs the supernatural, attempts to understand madmen, and attempts to interpret the primordial tongues from beyond.
When you have CBL 8 you can no longer sleep and are never surprised.

You can see how some people, especially murderous or power-hungry ones, might allow themselves to gain levels in Crazy Boy. This isn't just good for Sanity effects, this can act as a kind of moral damage.

Characters reaching CBL 9, what would normally be Name Level in another traditional class, basically become monsters. They haven't been consumed and filled by the Outside. They have been changed by it, embraced it, and are now something perhaps no mightier than a man but much much different from one. The DM controls your character now and no amount of house rules and Remove Curse will save you. You're an other thing now. This, by the way, is how Moon Slave finds both his generals and the gristly body offal which greases the spindles of new wars.

Sum up: I can use Level Drain to close off parts of the existing game as written. I think it wouldn't take much, though, to open its victims up to a whole new game inside the one they're already playing.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Shopgirl


Start with any base class and add this on as a modifier. It costs you 1000XP more to reach 2nd level, modifying how long it takes you to level all the way until you stop gaining hit dice (+2000 to reach 3rd, +4000 to reach 4th, etc). Explicitly stole this gag from Josie X.

You can be a fighter trying to make ends meet, a cleric selling kitschy Pelor memorabilia, a regular old hobbit waitress, etc. Shopgirls can be boys too and you can call that whatever you want. I'd probably call them Shopgirls still but if that's sensitive for you then use whatever, or just call it Shopkeep.

Shopgirls have four abilities:

Heavy Duty

Shopgirls count as one size larger for determining encumbrance, lifting, forcing doors, etc. If there are attack or AC penalties for being over-encumbered in your game they do not suffer those.

Cleaning Up

Shopgirls can clean a non-supernatural mess in a room in the span of an exploration round. Afterwards they must rest or be exhausted until their next meal, where they will consume 3X normal. A successful save against magic also allows them to clean supernatural messes (within reason; green slime still eats their mops) but a failure means they make it twice as bad in the process.

GOOD DAY, SIR!

Once per day a Shopgirl can raise her voice and put her foot down, forcing a morale check from creatures with fewer HD than she or a second initial reaction check from creatures with greater HD than she.

Have You Seen The New BT-16?

You choose what kind of shop you work for. Whenever you encounter the kind of thing sold in that shop you can identify its type and provenance, and tell if there is something remarkable about it. "Those are Chiluhixan shoes. They look magic!" "That's a Kingsbury loaf. OH, that's a bad bake Mary, it smells like poison!" "I'd recognize a Henderson quill anywhere. Henderson quills, because geese don't grow on trees. Anyway, this model hasn't seen circulation for a hundred years..."


Shopgirls require some manner of certificate, promotion, honorific, official recognition, or bonus perk in order to level. These cannot be granted by a god or king but someone much more important: a Shopgirl's boss. Means even if you bust your ass in the dungeon you've still got to be punctual and impress people back at the shop.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Feng Shui Rules Not in CaBH + the Grandissimo Prix


I've already mentioned that I won't be assessing Juncture penalties normally associated with Feng Shui's base setting. I'm going to spread those out geographically. There are some other things I'm not going to be doing as much.

Advancement is not going to be based on controlling chi sites; instead, you advance and the rest of your team mildly improves whenever you win a race. Advancement is not as rigid or as necessary in Feng Shui as it is in other games anyway; the difficulty curve is a lot flatter.

I'm not doing "called shot" stunts and multi-attack; that is, no "I want to stab two extra guys" and get a penalty to your roll. This makes more sense in physical combat and isn't all that interesting to adjudicate anyway. Since a ton of Driving checks are involved here it's also harder to call a shot - with everyone jockeying for position, not just impact, a lot more moving parts. Instead, if you get a great result (boxcars-then-success or you just really really nail your check by like 5+ over what was needed) then we can tack on an extra benefit as well. Throwing mud, catching another team off guard, going up on two wheels to earn some Favor points... whatever.

If you deliberately crash a vehicle you don't get to decide whether that crash is potentially fatal or not. I do, or I make a Fortune check to decide.

As mentioned elsewhere your characters won't start out with a lot of the vehicles and firearms they normally would get as a matter of course, with exceptions for Types who only exist to use a weapon like Sword Master, Killer, etc.

Weapon Ranges are going to use the Grover Metric of "near and far" used to determine racing distance. No modifier for near attacks, +4 Difficulty for far attacks.

Weapon Concealment will not be a factor.

No Melodrama Checks. I trust everyone to be able to remember to be true to their characters. Instead of enforcing this with a check I'm going to use positive reinforcement in the form of Favor and Teamwork. Most of the weight of picking your concept and hook are taken care of by the setting and character/team generation tables. From there, if you are true to the spirit of your guy and the game even when it would benefit you not to be, you'll earn some Favor or Teamwork. This is the only way you can earn Favor during Pit Stops and Teamwork during racing legs.

The CH-CHAK rule: one of the cutest rules in the base game is adding 1 shot to your Guns action to cock a shotgun, adding +1 to your damage. The cool thing about this rule is that it helps get you to thinking of actions in terms of shots. Jackie kicking a guy is one action but can be a slow-mo shot of Jackie's kick connecting, a shot showing the enemy going flying, and a shot of Jackie resuming his Good Kick stance. Thinking about things in terms of cuts explains why some actions take the time they do. That said, we won't have as many shotguns in this game so....At any time you can add 1 to a shot in order to gain +1 to your inflicted Chase Points IF you can describe the action with some extra bit of visual flair. You should be doing this a bit anyway, and this change should help to reinforce that a bit. Remember though: shot cost matters, and you can easily burn through a sequence landing only two good moves and spending the rest of your time dodging.

Lastly, excepting for Dragons, Transformed Animal reversions do not mean you lose control of your character. This is because I think it is funny and genre appropriate if you turn into a pig mid-race and continue driving. You lose all your cool Shticks and your Skills all set to 7 and you follow Mook rules but otherwise you are good until the next Pit Stop. If you are not restored quickly, however, you do remain stuck as an animal and your interest and effectiveness in racing wanes. Your Team can keep you around as a good luck mascot from now on but until you are restored you are basically furniture.

__________________________________________

In Feng Shui terms the Grandissimo Prix is one long chase scene lasting multiple sessions, meaning it's one long FIGHT lasting multiple sessions. There are no Pit Stops in the Grandissimo Prix and Marks of Death pile up quickly.

In terms of the world, the Grandissimo Prix was first staged after the first racer to win all Four Winds declared herself the greatest racer of all time. Mammon Summer took exception to this and staged the Grandissimo Prix, a road race comprised of herself, this new challenger, and eight teams picked from the final Victory Point standings of each circuit. The Dawnstar Racing Test Track is the stage, a flat straight drag across stainless steel laid into alkali flats.

Tragedy and disaster have occurred during each of the previous eleven Grandissimo Prix events. Death, natural disaster, and stranger things: during the last Grandissimo Prix five years ago a sudden eclipse shrouded the track and only the track. When the race was over only Mammon Summer stood standing, and she only barely; all other racers were either maimed, comatose, or worse. None have been able to speak about that day and Mammon sure isn't sharing.

Mammon Summer is not an evil woman, it seems. There have long been rumblings that Dawnstar Racing hides a dark side, as well as valuable secrets. If these are true then she must be the true keeper of these keys. One could scarcely blame her for doing whatever it takes to see Dawnstar Racing flourish. Mammon stakes both her reputation and the future of her company on the Grandissimo Prix. They're one and the same, and the true prize to be sought.

Mammon Summer was not always Dawnstar Racing's president and CEO. She was a racer. A storied one, sure, but one who gambled her way into a position of absolute power. Why she has allowed tradition to stand during her reign is anybody's guess - perhaps she secretly hopes someone will defeat her one day - but completing the Grandissimo Prix opens a golden door for you and everyone you care about. It might open more.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Welcome Back Potter: Reacquainting Myself With My Old BX Books

Basic and Expert as a unit really do paint such a unique picture of D&D even from the unified expanded BECMI line, let alone AD&D and other versions of the game. You flip through the Rules Compendium and this is a game that is all about super high level monsters who can only be defeated by galloping goatshit magical chicanery, here's all the ridiculously high XP thresholds to get strong enough to do that, oh by the way did we mention all these other-dimensional creatures and monsters we made up in a hurry ("It has a big mouth and a big eye and uhhhhh like all the magic and you can't hurt him;" Beholders were put together like modern Doctor Who baddies) and remember how you could already fight all those dragons well those dragons SUCK here are a bunch of new dragons and fighting them is like fighting SIX dragons and here are some more giants and some other stuff way better than dumb old dragons I mean who wants to do that anyway?

I am going to die mid-way through a run-on sentence one day. That will be punctuation's final revenge. That said, quick sidebar: FUCK the MLA; I got too much fucking style as it is.

There are TWO spells in Basic that immediately stand out as doing direct damage to your HP. Combat encounters list seven steps that have to happen before things get started, with like four chances for no armed struggle to happen. The majority of the monsters on its list are animals, bigger animals, tougher animals, just guys, some fungus, a few dead guys, and then a vastly outnumbered selection of monster-monsters, most from the Greek canon or Tolkein. Expert's monsters are mostly giants, dinosaurs, Halloween shits, and uh fuck let's say "ethnic monsters," a game of remembering the middle east exists but not talking about it too directly. Expert also has about 9 more directly-damaging spells.

They don't model everything they can think of for equipment, just about a hundred things you'd need to explore a dungeon.

There's not that much info speaking directly to DMing in either really but what's there pulls weight. There's not a ton of information on traps and most of the magic item tables rely on your knowledge of things you're ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH from earlier in the book and so don't have long write ups.

The book seems in places to be saying here you go: this is what you do and where you do it and what you do it with and what you do it for. Venture, kill, die, come back, loot, level, repeat. Your campaign can be anything: a series of dungeons where you try to kill a monster and find treasure along the way, a dungeon where you try to get some treasure and kill some monsters along the way, all two types of game there are.

Which would be fine. That's a fun game too. But I think these books are written that way because that's the only shit you need. There's a section on building castles and boat fights because that shit is hard to model or waive off on the fly. You're expected to be able to argue with the vizier, sing for your supper, hire a poisoner, find a map, pray to your god, and win at Gwent without the book's help. You're a person who has been in the world, use those tool sets for Make-Em-Up World.

Some people struggle in the world and so struggle with the fake world and that's fine, we need lots of brushes in the tool tray to make up Photoshop. I'm never in a position to judge. Then again I suck at chess and that's not chess' fault. Point is your world, the campaign, the story (explicit and/or implicit and/or player-facing emergent) can be whatever you want or need it to be.

This is how dungeons work, and it's where dragons are. That's it! That's all there is to the game, the big fucking secret on how to Do Good at the game. Just love the game, do the game, and use the book when you need to do some specific hard things for the game. There is a somewhat implied setting but you can ignore that like hell and just make your game be about a bunch of Protestants trying not to burn so many farmhands for witchery that everyone starves come winter. You can win an ENnie if you write that shit down.

D&D picks up so much This Is How The World Works Care About It Care About It Now so quickly before the novels even get into things... You know I never understood how Rogue Trader could be the bedrock of the 40K world's lore and still so poorly regarded by people who really really take that lore seriously. I needn't have been mystified, it's the same way there are people who OMG LUV D&D but only this specific iteration of the later game, or for that matter people who LOVE Spider-Man but only Earth 5714 Spider-Man who works for BANDAI. There are a lot more people who love things about D&D than just plain love how D&D works.

That's not a problem. It makes sense. I'm that way about that Game of Thrones show, I only love things about it. That's fine and I don't want anyone to be denied THEIR D&D, even if their D&D is deciding to recreate some Salvatore fan fiction using FATE.

In the search for MY D&D, though - trying to find out what D&D means to me not in a philosophical sense but in a family-genus-species sense - I am amazed every time I come back to this tight little engine. This set of books doesn't put you in a box or tie you to a milieu. It just gives you a framework. That framework says "You are small, there are many threats beyond you, never trust a dark or lost place, if you try to kick the ass of everything you meet you will probably die, here's how to try anyway."

I fully get people not digging that and deciding that it doesn't give them enough opportunity to Play The Hero and have a big cinematic moment. Me, I've always maintained that D&D wasn't a game of fantasy heroics (that's the elves complicating shit again) but instead one of survival horror. Oh, I'm going to go slowly mad before Big Squidward's creepy crawlies? A quarter of the monsters in Expert turn you slowly into fucking stone while you watch, and that's before the ghosts show up. I'm covered, thanks.

All Gold Is Books Now

Little Golden Books Treasury: the original LGBT

The implied setting in BX is incredibly hyperliterate. Tables for different magic books and manuals, demihumans in particular starting out reading and writing oodles of languages, spells to leave messages, rules for how many bonus languages you know, alignment languages, secret magic languages and spells to read lamguages, and it piles on as time marches. Druidic, thieves cant, runes, ciphers, tongues, advanced rules for copying and scribing, Bards and their fucking fakebooks...

I sometimes feel like our D&D characters have outstripped even we, with all our modern conveniences and translation apps and Duolingo and shit, when it comes to language and literacy. That's weird because while the weird make-em-up time that most D&D is set in is not exactly the dark ages (and the dark ages weren't the blindly ignorant period people often generalize about) we are still talking about a setting where the price of a decent spyglass - not a telescope, a spyglass - is enough to raise your own small army and sack a town. The price of academic luxury and liberal art, the distances involved in these worlds (and how short a distance it can take to be considered 'remote'), cultural divides and good old racism, and that's all before you get into the crushing cycle of toil and harvest or the fact that elves are a thing...

Basic has all humans speaking two languages by default. I think we've all known humans who have trouble speaking one language. Hell, I think we're all even guilty of that sometimes. Here in the states especially complete bilingual fluency is not especially common. This isn't the ability to muddle through asking when the next train to Antwerp is due, this is being able to hold discourse on your favorite Belgian philosopher in either language. I say this is exceptional. To the response "Well PCs are meant to be exceptional" I would myself respond back "Yes and no." PCs are meant to do exceptional things whatever those may be. The idea that they just ARE better by existing or somehow naturally accrete due to awesomeness levels is a pretty newschool "My lv. 1 Fighter is a legendary warrior" kind of thinking to my mind. The only thing Basic characters are better than by default are the Normal Man baseline provided for the DM's convenience when the PCs inevitably start throwing around Charm Person and starting petty brawls; compared even to the Bandit or Medium a few pages later even first level Thieves and Magic-Users are paltry.

A king must be able to communicate her orders to her generals, sacred scriptures must be passed down to new acolytes, and words of power once found must be kept under lock and key for some kind of eldritch cold war. But unless you are a scribe or tactician you almost certainly don't need this kind of thing in your day to day life in a society where you can trade grain for chicken and you die at 47.

YET D&D has this permeating literacy.

I decide that this suggests a less considered aspect of the much-blogged "implied setting" of BX D&D, a world knee deep in Greek monsters, petrified warriors, vast hoards, and easily exhaustible magics. Literacy and multilingualism is something prized even in rural communities and weaponized at the higher levels of society and secrecy. Texts are still difficult to produce, sometimes difficult to interpret, but are prized both as objects themselves and as sources of permanent information and knowledge. This does not mean that this world does not glory in whispered rumor, spoken tales, or oral histories. It means only that they prize everyone, EVERYONE, having a baseline of knowledge, and for this purpose a permanent source of information is invaluable.

Why? Magic springs to mind. When even rolled up pieces of paper with words on them can be deadly in the hands of half the population, whether they're true students of magic or not, then having a population at least literate enough to differentiate between finding someone's diary and finding someone's Cthulhu summoning ritual at a glance is helpful; they may not understand that they're seeing a summoning ritual in that second parchment but they know the first book is just Trevor's wank fantasies and nothing to worry the regent about.

Time is another big reason. If the only people with a really good grasp of what things were like 100+ years ago were the elves...fuck, are we going to take their word for it? Better not, pointy eared devils could be subtly controlling us, shaping our culture. Elves and dwarves being hyperliterate would be a factor: here's these ancient cultures with cities older than Greg's Mountain and they mostly just hang out with earthworms or butterflies but they can do these little scribblies and look at them later and suddenly have way more power than us in trade warfare medicine manufacture...

If we take both to their extremes and answer the implicit question of how THOSE two races got that way then we arrive at an easy explanation for everything: dragons.

1) Dragons discover magic
2) Dragons invent language to help control magic
3) Dragons teach language to ancient races, accidentally inventing civilization
4) Civilization invents new languages, which in turn is more tools to use to control magic
5) Better control of magic leads to greater ability to explore and discover magic
6) If magic is change then greater discovery begets greater change
7) Magic invents dragons, transformed by their power and knowledge, retreating into their massive stores of power
8) Elves discover magic, and, learning from the Dragon playbook, seed language to lesser/younger races

We get a lot of fun ideas to play around with for this setup but let me finally finally get to my main take-away, one I intend to implement:

All gold is books now.

You get yourself a Type H hoard haul? Congratulations, son, you found like nine different kinds of books. These can be traded for resources and favors back in civilization. You can liquidate them into coin, sure, but why bother with that middle step? Give the party a treasure they can carry with them, one they have to strategize and agonize about giving up, one which can be a similarly universal currency but not so convenient or inexhaustible as a pile of thousands in gold. You don't have to worry about draining coin off your PCs if their bag of Make This Problem Go Away is filled not with enough gold to build a new planet but like, all 7 Harry Potters. You get 7 big opportunities to surmount an obstacle and that's it, plus you endear yourself to your followers by reading them a chapter each night, improving their morale; is giving one of these up to buy passage to Stormboner really worth it to you?

It's also a resource that catches fire in a world full of fire breathers and fire ballers. That's a hell of a volatile market. I call this feature not bug.

So, blahblahblah wordl building bullshit, result: your party does not find 3200g in copper, silver, jewelry, gems, statues, and weapons. Your party just found a private library. Take this idea out for a spin and maybe swing on by Zak and Pat's places for some more toys to use in this Fright Zone playset.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Life, Death, and the Middle for CaBH + The West Wind Circuit


Most of this game will concern whether or not your vehicles are active and in the running but mortal concerns are still a factor. Characters slammed around in crashes or specifically targeted by other racers or creatures, folks suffering from atmospheric hazards, whatever: all these things add Wound Points. You begin suffering impairment (negative modifier of 1-2 pts) at 25 WP, but 35 WP is where things get really interesting for most players. That's when you can elect to let yourself be knocked out or elect to keep going the distance. This requires an Up check to see if you, well, stay up. It's a very easy roll against each character's Toughness. There's other stuff to consider, like Marks of Death, but here is the takeaway:

Your Pilots will not be immortal. They will be damn hard to kill without recklessness or concerted effort being involved.

Your Wound Points give you a big safety net to just do some really whack stuff. You never just hit a guy or drive really well in Feng Shui. You execute a move called Cleaving Fjord Wasp that happens to do punch damage, or take your car around the corner so fast the road cracks behind you. You get creative with your descriptions and you get buck wild with the stunts you want to attempt. Why try to just close some distance when you can do so by blowing out the base of a water tower and driving up it as a ramp, then surfing on the wave when it crashes and the water goes everywhere? That's...not going to lie, a couple rolls, maybe a -2 to a roll, but otherwise totally on the table.

That doesn't just go for your racing or combats. That goes for your role-playing, too.

The reason everyone is controlling multiple characters isn't because everyone loves keeping track of extra bullshit. It's so that no matter what scene we get lost in everyone has an opportunity to help play things out. This is something that can be hard to get people used to in demos of Fiasco (which you can tell I cribbed from) but eventually they get the gist and can fill in some gaps where needed. Your Magic Cop crashes and is our of the race? Play part of the support team for this Sifu over here, help them come out on top, keep playing!

It's also so you don't have to worry about whether or not your racers die. Your Sword Master can dramatically lose a duel in order that you, the Player, get to have a super awesome moment and wrest control of the plot for a minute...and next session your defender from someone else's team is so moved by their sacrifice that they take up his mantle and become a new Masked Vigilante to play.

You don't always have to show up with the same pilot and team, for that matter. Qualification means something in the world but in terms of our playing it just means WHO SHOWS UP - not just who is able to make the session but who the players want to bring.

Playing your Driver character but have an idea for a cyborg character with a big blocky Huitzil-from-Darkstalkers look instead, someone who doesn't know anything but racing but loves it so much? Ok, your Driver didn't qualify this race. Either you make up a good reason or I will. Maybe this will be a fun hook for future sessions, maybe not, but for right now you're Huitzil.

This can also help if you blow all your Resource Die wad and end up still having a busted vehicle, or if your character gets grievously wounded or maimed - you let them convalesce while you bring in someone else.

Speaking of convalescence, reduction of Chase Points during a Pit Stop requires the Fix It skill or Resource Dice. Reduction of Wound Points for a character requires Medicine skill or Resource Dice or some kind of magic/tech/mutation/creature power/etc that allows healing. Remember, normal juncture penalties are assigned geographically instead of by timestream for Chase a Bright Horizon. That applies to healing, too; if your Type can only be healed by Ancient Medicine normally then they can only be healed by someone who honed their skills somewhere DEEPLY strange and magical or unreal.

_________________________________________________________

The West Wind Circuit brings a close to the Four Winds and determines whether the Grandissimo Prix will be held. It is the shortest race, with only four events: a driving race, an air race, and an aqua race, followed by a no-holds-barred last-person-standing demolition derby.

The West Wind Circuit was a later addition to Dawnstar Racing, a way to help settle close points rankings so there was no dispute as to who the winner of a season was. It's also a final test for any team which has managed to run away with the other three circuits. This was when Mammon Summer got tired of dealing with too many half baked challengers. Now anybody who has still proved themselves with distinction after the West Wind Circuit can expect an invitation should the Grandissimo Prix be held.

It's easy to be titillated by the demolition derby, sure, but these other races are hardly the same fare you'll see in a normal circuit. Each has some extra flair, some strange new rule, dangerous hazards, and sometimes direct opposition in the form of Dawnstar Team, a group of racing gladiators who hold no official racing position but operate as a kind of mobile, 'most-dangerous' hazard. Each of Dawnstar Team were once a pilot with a team of their own before being soundly defeated by Mammon Summer in the Grandissimo Prix.

These races are rare and deadly. Winning any of these, much less the circuit, is a storied accomplishment respected just as much as winning the Grandissimo Prix!

That's probably because nobody has survived winning the Grandissimo Prix. What a specific sentence...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bagginses - A Stupid Dumb Stupid BXish Class

God forgive me

HD: Nope
Saves: as Thief
Attacks: Nope
Advances: Not exactly
Requirements: If your DM actually lets you use this then congratulations, you passed the toughest requirement threshold ever.
  • Bagginses may not wear armor or use shields.
  • Bagginses may not wield weapons.
  • Bagginses may move 30'/10' under their own power, just sort of rolling forward. Permissive DMs may allow hopping. They may also be carried by any other character without adding encumbrance.
  • Bagginses are hit automatically when not carried and +2 AC when being carried. They automatically fail any Breath save unless a character carrying them makes their Breath save.
  • Bagginses gave gems for eyes and coins for teeth. They are immune to gaze attacks, paralysis or petrification, poison, cold, radiant, necrotic, thunder, and psychic. They are -5 to save against electricity, fire, acid, and direct damage from spells.
  • When directly attacked, on a hit, a Baggins must save vs Spells/Magic in order to remain intact. If it fails then it is wrecked and everything stored inside it is lost. If a Baggins suffers a crit then it gets NO save and everything stored inside it spontaneously appears; if this includes magic items all of their magic effects go off at once. Consumed items do not reappear.
  • A Baggins may either store a magic item or consume it. For every magic item consumed it gains +1 to all its Saves. This magic item never returns but if it had a magic ability that can target a creature (e.g. Wand of Wonder or Light) then the Baggins may execute that effect 1/day on a creature it touches. If the Baggins is used as a weapon itself it does not need to save in order to remain intact. It does 1 pt of damage +1 for each magical item it has consumed, and can activate a randomly determined magical effect.
  • Healing magic and items do not affect the Baggins, nor does it eat or drink or sleep. A broken Baggins can be Mended through magic only; needle and thread won't do. After three strikes or being reduced to ash Mending will no longer cut it and the Baggins is gone for good.
  • Bagginses store up to 100 lbs. of non living materials. Rats in the bag will vanish into another dimension never to return, talking skulls (or familiars who are technically just alive spells) will fare fine. Every magical item it consumes increases this capacity by 20 lbs. At any time in initiative a Baggins may regurgitate one item in its iventummy.

CaBH Gear, Lifestyle, Wealth, & Upgrades + The South Wind Circuit



Feng Shui employs a lot of broad terms for its ranges, some Grover level generalities that used to be more common in D&D contemporaries before things got so much more granular. This applies to Fundage. Types have a wealth level of either Poor, Rich, or Working Stiff. Most Dawnstar Racers actually make a decent bit of coin from sponsors and purses. This is automatically assumed to cover the basic cost of equipment, fuel, transportation, and getting everyone paid. Your Pilot's wealth rating affects other things outside the normal course of racing. If you want to buy lunch for all your friends, or spring for a beach vacation, or an awesome new hat for Malibu Stacy, you make Fortune check. If you beat the odds then you have enough money for that thing.

Wealth level is "liquid walking around money" and there's lots of reasons an otherwise lucrative sport like Dawnstar Racing might have paupers in its midst. Perhaps you don't have sponsors, or many/large ones, and have to front a lot of costs yourself. Perhaps you're just bad at holding on to money, spending it on goodies on impulse and running out all the time when you need it. Maybe you're paying off a big debt. You could be giving oodles of dough to charity, or to one cause or person in particular. Maybe you've just taken a vow of poverty.

If you run out gas or you want 200 super-bouncy-balls or you want a present for your boyfriend or something like that you make a check. Depending on your wealth level this check might be easier or tougher. Someone who is rich has an easier time buying new tires after a blowout than a poor person. I speak from experience with that last part.

Equipment and gear in Feng Shui, as in a lot of anime frankly, is pretty loose. Do you want a thing, and it makes some kind of sense that you can find it on hand? You have it. Really weird items will require a Fortune check to see if they're around to be had. You can just roll into a race and then assume things about your loadout later. Firearms and conventional weapons are going to be a bit of an exception. A default assumption of the base game, if you want to bring these you need to specifically load up before the race begins. You are not finding an AK47 and ammo stores on a serene hillside while you repair your engine.

Resource Dice can be spent to automatically waive any lifestyle or equipment check. These are earned by the Team, bought with money earned from racing. Any Team member can spend them but these are communal resources so a light touch should be considered...especially since Resource Dice can be handy for other things.

Such as if your weapon is broken or disabled during a race. Or you want to add giant spikes to the side of your vehicle. Or you want to improve your vehicle's base stats. Or you need to repair your vehicle in a Pit Stop to either reduce its Chase Points or get back into the race after being knocked out. Maybe you want to add a new safety feature, luxury feature, or offensive/defensive feature, or a new trap or trick...

These all cost Resource Dice. These aren't rolled, just spent. Every Team begins each race with 1 Resource Die and depending on the purse they have the potential to earn enough money to buy more Resource Dice. The deeper you are into a circuit the harder these extra RD are to afford. There are also Resource Dice to be found scattered through the world which can be found through interaction and exploration.

They are a versatile resource that you should spend freely but never lightly.

__________________________________________

The South Wind Circuit focuses entirely on aquatic races. Open ocean, winding rivers, untamed bayou, majestic sounds and tranquil coves, canals and cascades... The inaugural race in the circuit accepts twenty qualifiers, though rarely do more than a half dozen even finish (and those scarcely intact): the Waterfall Crawl, a nearly vertical climb up raging rapids and relentless opposing currents.

This circuit sees the Dawnstar Racers walking on eggshells in order to delicately balance the importance of the ecosystems around them with the need to drive fast and kick ass. It sees the least interference from local and international peacekeeping agencies, and has the least amount of broadcast coverage and surveillance from racing officials and news outlets. The remote nature of some courses means they are the most sparsely attended races, though still much viewed at home.

All of this is to say that there is no safety net. Your life preserver is your only parachute for drowning. It's impossible to overstate the power of water or the enormity of it. Add in wildlife dangers, kelp beds, reefs, oil spills, squalls, rogue waves, and more - never mind the occasional ghost ship or goddess - and you're in for some real trouble if your attention should falter.

Alliances are common in Dawnstar Racing; two or more teams acting in concert to help each other do well against the competition, draft with each other, then duke it out in the final stretches. In the South Wind Circuit such alliances are ESSENTIAL for safety and survival. Your buddies watch your back and stage your rescue mission.

Many racers had been to shores not found on any map. The walls are thinner this far out from society. Your course may take you to an entirely different kind of destination altogether.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Other CaBH Source Material + The East Wind Circuit


A lot of the heavy lifting of delineating a character concept and melodramatic hook in conventional Feng Shui is done by the very very Fiasco like (read: I ripped them off from Fiasco) relationship tables and the whole...premise of the campaign, really. You aren't disparate Dragons from all walks of life, different times and dimensions, coming together to fight a geographical war using time. Not necessarily. More likely you're excitable nobodies in a grander game or broad celebrity types angling for...whatever keeps you going, I guess.

The seed germ of this game was Studio Ghibli Wacky Races and I never want to get so far away from that as to be unable to see it without a telescope. That's not the only point of reference here. 80s cartoons - G.I. Joe specifically, and the legions of G.I. Joe knock offs like Ma-Ma-Ma-Mask. 80s professional wrestling. Card game anime. Lesser Square games. Through the Lupin III door comes Cowboy Bebop and the rest of the Watanabe canon. HAMTARO. Inevitably David Bowie. Schwarzeneggar movies but not the ones like Commando and Predator you'd expect. Scooby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf. Mario Kart. What You'd Think Jojo Was If You Only Knew It Through Osmosis. My First BREAK!! Character. Sammo Hung movies. Not Speed Racer the cartoon but Speed Racer the movie.

Astro City #1. Astro City #1/2. Gumball Rally, or to a lesser extent Cannonball Run and Rat Race. The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. The Catanooga Cats. Goldfinger, Maison Ikkoku, KIYOHIKO AZUMA, Steven Universe, the parts of Fury Road that aren't in cars.

Inevitably He-Man.

Disney Afternoon. High School AU Fan Fiction. 2005 series Doctor Who Power of Love Endings. Raiders. American Graffiti. Only the music from Katamari Damacy. Crazy Taxi. Master Roshi. The characters before Atreyu shows up. Global Frequency. The really sappy later seasons of MASH and Scrubs. The end of Schindler's List. The scene where Gen Wilder locks himself in with Peter Boyle. "So shines a good deed in a weary world." "I want everything I've ever seen in the movies!" Fuck it just Gene Wilder.

Buster Keaton while we're at it. Michelle Rodriguez. The part in Sailor Moon where she really wants to be Sailor V and ONLY those parts. Kamen Rider and Ultraman and Godzilla and Jack Kirby and Neil Gaiman and G. Willow Wilson but mostly for Mystic and Air. NextWave specifically. Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Power Stone. Sonic Adventure is shitty but the feeling of that game when you were twelve Actually fuck it DREAMCAST.

The bedrock, proto Ghibli: the Real Ghostbusters, Akira, Sherlock Hound? Sherlock Fucking Hound. Archie's Ninja Turtles comics. Legend of Five Rings by way of Last Airbender. Death Race 2000. The alternate reality represented in Monster Truck VHS tapes from the 90s where the guy who owned Bigfoot stopped drug dealers by running over their mobile homes. Monster Truck tv commercials. Jackass the Movie 2. E Honda. Yokai Monsters Attack. The weird Flintstones cartoons where their neighbors were the Munsters and they hung out with the Shmoo and then The Thing like Marvel Comics' The Thing was there too what

Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7. That time they just filmed Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7.

Pixar but not the cars ones. Disney Princesses As... Tumblr galleries. Micro Machines commercials. Explicitly and exclusively seven Transformers. The Music Meister Brave and the Bold. Unironic power chords.

Unironic.

Only the sincerest parts of Freakazoid!

Establishing shots of flowers and rivers.

David Lean panoramas. Mutant League Hockey. GWAR. Piano music. Zhang Yimou. Tsui Hark. Foggy Mountain Breakdown. The Great Muppet Caper. Violin music. Gershwin. Priest. Henry Selick. Burt Reynolds. Vanishing Point. LITTLE WOODEN BOY!

"My friends, you bow to no one." "My name just happens to BE Harvey."The movie Big Fish. Hey! Hey, FUCK you: the movie Big Fish.

"The river."

"Like this."

"Exactly."

Paul Williams and Tim Curry. Goseki Kojima and Stan Sakai. The Wrong Trousers. Radar Love. Gorillaz. The Italian Job. The Crimson Permanent Assurance. Bernard Herrman.

This:


These are your Chase a Bright Horizon characters. These are their villains. This is their world. These are your goals. This is the game. These are the choices and bonds and friendships and losses. This is Feng Shui 2, now. Now get

DEEP in it.

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The East Wind Circuit is chiefly focused on sky races. The dangers here are obvious: any vehicle-to-vehicle contact ends in disaster. Crashes or "stoppages" from Chase Points can often be fatal. It can be harder to catch up from an early deficit. There are a greater number of no-fly-zones in nations than there are conventionally closed borders, as in Chevalle. Atmospheric phenomena.

Air races also require contending with travel ships and war ships more frequently in any other race mode. These are massive hulks with strange shapes and sometimes stranger missions. Magical forces, be it broomsticks or dragons, are more common in this mode than any other circuit.

The circuit culminates with a fireworks-spackled, explosion-dodging race around the world. A race against midnight to champion the first victor of the New Year.

While this circuit courts the least interference from the Road Dawgs or Knightrous Oxhide it does have some, shall we way, unique aggressors. These fields are usually pretty open and have a lot of racers who qualify. This is perhaps the most nationalistic/jingoistic of circuits, like the Olympics meets Top Gun. They are also, often, the shortest races, usually with only one major Pit Stop per race.

The skies go on forever, until they don't. Keep your wits about you, maintain dead reckoning, stay out of twilight, and think of something cool to put on your parachute.

Monday, July 24, 2017

PUNK- A FLAILSNAILS Class

HD: as Thief
SAVE: as Thief
ATTACK: as Thief
ADVANCE: as Thief
REQUIREMENTS: Constitution 11, Charisma 9, 1 hour each morning donning your gear and cosmetics.
  • Punks cannot use shields. Punks may wear leather armor, getting a +1 bonus to their AC (so a 3pt AC modifier total from armor).
  • Punks may use daggers, chains (as flail), and clubs.
  • Punks have a 2/6 chance of figuring out the meaning of glyphs, marks, and signs in cities and dungeons. Not translating them, just their meaning; "This is a warning" not "Lava ahead 500 meters."
  • Punks can skateboard (cost as shield). Punks add their Dexterity bonus to Architecture when skating, rolling this to avoid difficult terrain or double their speed for a round.
  • Punks will always detect as Chaotic no matter what sort of alignment system you use, whether they are or are not. Punks are +1 to hit and +2 damage against Lawful creatures and Lawful creatures are +2 to hit and +1 damage against Punks.
  • Punks can Detect Hidden Drugs on a 2/6.
  • Punks hope for nothing, and so are immune to Fear (but not magical fear).
  • Punks love noise, and are immune to being Deafened by noise (but not magically deafened).
  • Punks are considered to have Charisma 19 for hiring Punk retainers.
  • At level 9 go fuck yourself: Punks gain the ability to ignore a rule of their choice once per day and get away with it.

CaBH Archetypes + The North Wind Circuit





Today's game prep is a discussion on Feng Shui 2 Archetypes. The idea is to treat the beginning of every campaign like you're using pregens, playing the first session through and then making any wished for or necessary changes. You just play the page out of the manual and you're fine.


I understand why some would bristle at this but as someone who ran a decent bit of Feng Shui, usually for new people, using the old rules let me tell you: this works. Believe me when I say that I do get the appeal of meticulously building your character but that's never been Feng Shui's goals. They want to get you playing as quickly as possible. However, even the relatively light customization options afforded in the older rules became a time-at-the-table quicksand. It had the opposite effect of get-playing-sooner, as people flipped back and forth between different sections....

One thing customization out of the gate does is place an unhelpful emphasis on schticks. Schticks are kind of like feats or moves in Feng Shui, they are not your primary weapon. That's usually a straight up Attack Value for Guns or Martial Arts or somesuch. Focusing on being creative in a fight is going to be much more helpful than trying to fit all your creativity in early so you can just set things on auto-pilot during combat.

Good line of thinking for most games, I bet.

So, you pick a guy and we just play and we fix them later. But what kind of guys can you be? This isn't a post to rule any Types right out or add in a bunch of workshopped ones or whatever. This is more of a guide to making this cool game peg fit into this specific Miyazaki hole. A lot of Types come laden with firearms or standard vehicles; the latter are right out and unless your Type is completely based around your weapons, so are your starting load-outs. Racers will not be trying to murder each other as a default assumption.

Do what you feel you must to be true to your dude but if you're in a Ghibli movie or an anime series or a jrpg that isn't explicitly ABOUT guns or gunplay then it's usually chiefly the bad guys running around being super gun-y. Your characters can be exceptions here, of course - even if Cagliostro wasn't a specific point of reference Lupin III is very in the spirit of what I'm attempting, and that has at least two deadly weapons masters in it. We can find some wiggle room and add things back and change things after the first session. The Killer might still use sharpshooting skill to blow out tires and puncture radiators, the Full Metal Nutball's "firearms" might take the form of Mario Kart weapons, etc.

Hammering this home again: King Arthur, Robin Hood, Conan, Xena, Ripley, etc. are all D&D Fighters. Lots of players may decide to field, say, an Exorcist Monk but have very different concepts and vastly different destinations over time.

With those two big changes in mind I want to look at individual types by groups. Some people get a concept and then find a Type that fits it, while some go the other way around. Hopefully this will be useful for both of you.

There are 36 Types in Feng Shui 2. Most don't fit neatly into one category and I'm not going to go over them all. I'd just like to look at three clusters I think are worth highlighting.

Big Bruiser
Everyday Hero
Gambler
Killer
Scrappy Kid
Spy
Thief

This is kind of the starter pack. If you're never played before, or find all the other types and trading out schticks complicated, or if you are just plain unsure of which type to pick, go with one of these. They are straightforward each in their own way, with usually one or two gimmicks to master. Especially since our games may not revolve chiefly around rumbling...these guys offer some other good options.

Ghost
Supernatural Creature
Transformed Crab
Transformed Dragon
Sorcerer
Gene Freak
Cyborg
Magic Cop
Exorcist Monk

If you like the idea of playing a very involved character with lots of swap-out options for your schticks after first session, weird leveling paths, or just really playing up the witches and spirits and magical nutsack raccoons and pork curses of the source material then think about one of these. Just know that all of these powers won't mean very much unless you're prepared to actually use them to help your team race like a mofo. You can be obvious with your gifts or not, depending on what style you want to embrace. Not the action movie grit of the base game but the stone gears, sympathetic illusions, and binding decisions of this style of anime stuff.

Of special note, the book has off-the-shelf options for Transformed Crab and Dragon but suites to easily cobble together specific Transformed Animal types and enough room to cobble your own together, either a mishmash weird type or just say building a Giraffe out of different parts. If you go this route then just use the Transformed Crab for the first session and we'll see what you feel like building afterward. The important thing is to get a feel for how the different parts of the game work before tinkering under the hood.

Typically Feng Shui assigns "juncture penalties" for Scroungetech or Creature or Sorcery or other magic abilities. These will instead be based on geography: you will gain a bonus to your rolls in your homeland races, have no penalty when racing somewhere with similar supernatural elements (monster kingdom or robot kingdom or wizard kingdom, just not your own), and a penalty to your rolls in places without such features or with supernatural elements opposed to your own (tech rolls have a penalty in magic places for example). No nation of people is only one thing or one kind of geography so there will be little oases and exceptions along the way. But you see why, now, I take the time to call these Types out: they will involve the most give and take with me and fine tuning over time to make them work while still getting at what you're after.

Bodyguard
Driver
Everyday Hero
Full Metal Nutball
Highway Ronin
Karate Cop
Killer
Maverick Cop
Scrappy Kid
Thief

These are the Types that begin with some level of the Driving skill. If you want to ever improve your vehicle behind its starting values you will need some level of Driving in order to pilot it. Any Type can trade a non-Info skill it possesses for Driving after the first session, as long as you can justify the swap.

_______________________________________________________





The North Wind Circuit is a series of eight races beginning the day of summer solstice, when the barriers between worlds are thinner, the powers of the arcane nations hum louder, inspiration strikes those seeking it, and anything can just about happen.


North is focused entirely in road races. Some will be specific road courses, while some will take place on tracks. Most are going to be an overland scramble between checkpoint destinations. The first race in this series, the North Star Challenge, sees the racers dodging contested zones, dealing with natural hazards, and relying on their Team's bonds to overcome fierce arctic conditions and be the first to reach the finish line at the North Pole. Up to ten racers may qualify for the North Star Challenge.

First Place for the North Star Challenge is enough Money to buy 1 Resource Die and 100 Victory Points.

The North Wind Circuit represents the greatest risk of damage to property and bystanders. It also represents the greatest danger from animal life, unexploded ordnance, and dangers which can seem to come out of nowhere. It is in this circuit where the many diverse nations of the world will bring the most influence to bear on our racers. This circuit has the most direct oversight and interference from local law enforcement, militaries, criminal enterprises, and S.E.D.A.N.'s agents. Gracie Coupe herself makes it a point of qualifying for the North Star Challenge each year, just to prove the point that she and her fellows are always watching.

This is also the circuit most vulnerable to the activities of Knightrous Oxhide.