Thursday, July 19, 2018

Nick Whelan Wrote A Book Called Faux-Pas

Buy Faux-Pas Here.
I have to remind myself of this fact. Quick aside, please reacquaint yourself with my disclaimer to the right before reading forward.

If you took all those not-quite-adventure scenarios I've posted here (which I will not link directly right now) and boiled them down to their essence, along with a half dozen things in progress in my folder, or even Better Than Any Man or In the Woods or Deep Carbon Observatory (three books I'm on record as being a big fan of) into their purest essence you would end up with

A human society small in the face of the larger world and longer time
Confronted with moral dilemmas and tough choices
While endangered by forces much bigger than their borders
Often additionally facing some other supernatural ticking clock that may or may not be immediately evident
For reasons that have fuck all to do with anything the people have actually done, often without malice.

The apocalypse is incidental.
Anybody with any power does not consider you whatsoever.
Your fellow men usually don't either.
You hope the Player Characters MIGHT care enough to go kick the ass of something bigger than all of you.
It might not matter.
Many of the things name-checked above are, if not truly system neutral, system flexible. However I would say that all run pretty definitively in any iteration on an Indifference Engine. If we call this a genre in our little neck of the woods then we have a new cupbearer in the pantheon.

Faux-Pas by Nick LS Whelan and the rest of Team Hocus - a coterie of familiar faces and names associated with producing solid work - has a weird cover. The art throughout the book makes interesting use of collage to great and inspiring effect but I don't want to end this write-up on a down note so let me get this out now. Putting one of the most iconic images from the last two decades of horror movies just right iiiiin there threw me, I gotta say, as sure as if the ghost kid from the Ring had been in the background. It's not enough to put me off of Anxy's work here - or elsewhere - that would be quite a task. It's not enough to put me off the book, or else you wouldn't be hearing from me right now. Bryan Singer has expressed regret before in his one big pop culture reference in the Usual Suspects, to the Incredible Hulk TV show. Funny that THAT'S what he seems to regret most about that film.....It did take hermetically sealed world and uncork it for a moment to let the outside world in, and it was jarring. Unintentional pun but I stand by it. This isn't a Family Guy moment but probably my biggest reservation about this little book.

Which should be an indication.

This is so in my wheelhouse that I doubt Nick Whelan's existence. This is clearly some form of tulpa who produces exactly what I always wanted: the kind of thing I'd write, but that I didn't write and so is a complete surprise to me. I would use this to kick off a campaign. I could see this very efficiently ending a campaign. I would use this in a hex crawl or I would use this as a complication for something a player wants to accomplish. In a goat, with a boat. This is why I love location based ventures and the proverbial dungeon so much, you can pop 'em in anywhere. A super-villain campaign or an intended plot arc has to be set out in a specific paradigm. Something like this? I can keep it in the car or on my phone, run it in a Del Taco with minimum prep. The enemies and NPCs are human except where they're not. The environs are familiar until they aren't. There is a shape and a guiding principle to the threat but a ton of flexibility.

You can make this weirder in the margins. You can make this bigger with minimal effort. But this is a beautifully popped kernel drizzled in glow-stick butter. The faith in Opeth is my favorite kind, familiarly alien and most importantly distant. The only effective authority in Opeth is moral but THAT is crumbling, faltering, poisoned from within. And from my very first D&D session I ever ran to my favorite One Page Dungeons to my favorite HPL story it's got my favorite go-to axle to spin a plot on. Seriously I spent a lot of work on a screenplay that I wish read as promising as this.

This world is inhabited, and by more than it appears. Allusion is made to a selection process to which we're not privy, political structures we only glimpse fearsome shadow of, threats we can barely conceive which are only obliquely referenced. Apart from their scale, the most important thing about these. Glimpses like these are important to leave as Tygers ot Dragyns in the blank space of your map so that they can be filled in or ignored as needed. This isn't a game about a not-god or an inquisition, it merely touches those like the points of a pentacle. That's LIFE. People do things in this book not because they are PC schemes or because they are under specific direction or programming. If anything this book is about the scrambling of the human signal. Instead people behave in this book as humans would, weak and desperate humans. They may even know their efforts will be in vain. The musical sting they used in the trailer for the original Wicker Man? There's about a dozen moments in these 30 pages that evoke that sound, that weight, that moment when the long Tetris brick slots into place.

If I sounded like I was picking on the art in here let me disabuse you of that notion: what's here is very effective, especially the grace note insets, but the full-page collages are just arresting. Nobody that I'm aware of is doing anything like it in self publishing, which means it's the best thing to do. This release coincides with a new edition of Over The Edge that I don't quite understand but just so you know, Atlas, this is what the art in OTE should have been last time. Think about it for this current release. Also these are good maps. I am...not great at appreciating cartography but I am growing increasingly fond of clean space in a game text and effective mapping. I'm not good at it, and I appreciate most things I am not good at.

I'm not good at talking about something without having to insert myself into the subject to steal some life force for my own atrophied importance but I stress again - I am so glad of this book because I'm bothered I didn't do any of these ideas first, think of them at all!.... One of my definitions of a great work, not a good or useful work which are superior to 'greatness' (and this is also good and useful), but a GREAT work inspires you to work. Immediately. I'm mostly annoyed at this book right now because instead of running off and working on something RIGHT NOW I had to spend that time instead telling you how much I enjoyed it.

This isn't going to cost you much more than the latest Deadpool and it's something you're going to be happier with in a month's time.

I make the things I make because I can't help it. To have something that scratches that itch without me having to tire myself out is a huge fucking balm.

Faux-Pas from Hocus Team is $4USD and you can buy it here.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Grinning Grimoire 1: Heat Lizard

This spell targets a single reptile. Reptiles with 3HD or more get a save, and those with 5HD or more get a bonus to this save equal to their number of HD. You must touch the creature with a smooth, round rock in your hand.

This animal begins to slowly heat up over the next four turns. After 1 turn the creature is invigorated and doubles its movement and rate of attack. After 2 turns the reptile is hot enough to cause cloth, brush, straw, or dry wood to burn and spread; heartier material or greener woods will smoke a lot. After 3 turns the creature sheds bright light for 100' and is hot enough to melt steel, allowing it an effective +1 AC against metal weapons and +3 to hit against opponents in metal will also boil any water near to the creature. Finally, after 4 turns, the creature explodes, sending molten chunks in a 300' radius - those not in cover need to save vs Breath/Burst or take 2d10 fire damage.

No aspect of this spell confers control or communication with the lizard. Casting this spell on a fire breathing dragon slowly heals them to their maximum HP and allows them to use their breath weapon at will for the duration of the spell's effect.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Warduke Class

HD, Saves, Attacks, Advance, Requisites as a Cleric.

You are -2 to saves against Wands/Devices, or against spells contained in an item or triggered by a trap.

You always detect as Chaotic.

You have a set of armor (or shield, if you like) and a weapon chosen from the standard list. These are always considered magic items for you while you possess them. They only work for you, and you can never use other magic items, including potions and scrolls.

You may have as many Enemies as you have HD and when one Enemy is dispatched you may choose another. Enemies are not creature types but specific individuals. Enemy spells not designed to deplete Hit Points always automatically succeed on you. However, you always automatically do critical hit damage on an Enemy.

Whenever you slay an Enemy or have defeated them to the DM's satisfaction your weapon or armor gains an investure of power, keepsake of your victory. You may have a number of powers equal to your magic item bonus for your weapon and armor, but your DM determines both the effect and which item it must be infused into. You always have the choice of keeping your existing powers instead of taking the DM's new offer. You can use your powers a number of times per day equal to your level.

You cannot be surprised by your Enemies directly, and you can never surprise your Enemies. Your Enemy's minions can still surprise you, and you can still surprise/force a Morale check among your Enemy's minions.

When you are reduced to 0HP or less you may instead roll one or more of your Bonus HD. You gain that many HP from 0 and are back in the saddle. You can't use these to heal in any other manner but any spell effects that depend on your number of HD do take these into account.

At level 9 you may swear yourself to the service of a lord, kingdom, goddess, or demon. You never get to build your own domain but you get the full run of this one, with authority second only to your liege.

You can raise an army of followers at any time; in fact, you only gain XP from treasure spent on building and maintaining your army.

Level 1: +1 Weapon and Armor
Level 2: 1 Bonus HD
Level 3: +2 Armor
Level 4: +2 Weapon
Level 5: 2 Bonus HD
Level 6: +3 Armor
Level 7: +3 Weapon
Level 8: 3 Bonus HD
Level 9: +4 Armor
Level 10: +4 Weapon
Level 11: 4 Bonus HD
Level 12: +5 Armor
Level 13: +5 Weapon
Level 14: 5 Bonus HD
Level 15: +6 Armor
Level 16: +6 Weapon

Monday, May 14, 2018

Pregens for Basic Red

Image result for gauntlet character select

Frawleyan Magician
ST 8
IN 13
KN 17
AR 13
EX 23
HP: 1
Mana Die +0
Spells: Trace, Renew, Reprieve, Elder Gift (Detect Corruption)
Artifacts: Lore, Aesthetics, Signs
Rites: None
Skills: None
Cuirass, Furs, Grimoire, ink, cloak, empty book, horse

This scholar of divinity shows due fealty to all the gods but has consecrated herself to a temple of Helgier the Lamplighter. Devoting herself to the study of history and the bloodlines of kings, she is ill equipped for the dangers of the wilds but finds herself compelled to seek the condemned and the accused to stand as witness, confessor, or advocate. Hers is the diplomatic arena, where her gifts can earn favors from powerful influencers, but her life-sustaining touch is much sought amongst warriors and explorers.

Furthest Hunter
ST 13
IN 10
KN 13
AR 9
EX 14
HP: 9
Mana Die +0
Spells: None
Artifacts: Faith, Blood, Sex
Rites: None
Skills: +1 Detect
Sword, war paints

This hellion like most of her kind views the whole of the world as mere shadows of the true world beyond this, her world, the fire that casts a shade. She is more real than real and can find no satisfaction in this realm. To this one a hunt is not over until some better distraction comes along; until then, be it bird or fox or man, their blade will hunger still after felling one hundred. Their particular attunement to the vibrations of their home give them added resistance against the mean dangers of this world. Hers is the martial arena, preferably striking from ambush with the aid of crude camouflage. She carries little, as all in this world is impermanent anyways. What she requires she takes.

Outsider Explorer
ST 9
IN 14
KN 12
AR 9
EX 13
HP: 6
Mana Die
Spells: None
Artifacts: Locations, Elements
Rites: Rite of Wode
Skills: +1 Travel
Cart, ox, staff, whip, 10m rope, mess kit

This wanderer from a distant land gets to add +2 to any value instead of being defined by her race or his homeland, and their player has elected to sink that into a bonus to Travel. Combined with the Explorer's chosen Skill bonus that means every time it's her turn as Navigator they've got a whopper of a chance to stay on course and shave entire days off of a journey, safely. Little combat or diplomatic utility is afforded here but the Rite of Wode might help not only in navigation but, also, more general exploration.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Rite of Wode for Basic Red

Rites of Summoning allow you to commune with the spirits that make up, hell, everything in 666th Edition. Think of it as democratic magic, a people's magic, folk a lot of more dismissive histories probably "women's magic." Most people still never seek out these Rites and those who know them mostly don't use them. This is not a thing you pull out every time it would be convenient like Mage Armor because even the simplest Rite has a chance of going wrong and angering the spirit, causing you some kind of discomfort or danger. One person in a 1st level party knows 1 Rite and each player may roll against their Experience to see if they know any others. Perhaps the most commonly known around the Idle Lands of Corrine is the Rite of Wode. Please note that the examples below are not meant to be exhaustive but should give you an idea of the way Rites are structured around the power and intimacy of a spirit. You will meet many disparate spirits in your travels, some of whom may become patrons, fonts of great power, or familiars, servant-extensions of your own will in the spiritual realm.

Aspects (elements of the spiritual, folkloric qualities of a spirit of a thing which you can manifest to influence yourself, your team, your environment, your situation)

Shade (+1 Sneak)
Roots (Detect at a distance of 1 Room/Area)
Bark (+2 to Constitution saves)
Thirst (Heal 1HP/round from water)

Forms (required for a lesser spirit to effect its presence and influence; these spirits are, for example, the spirit of A tree, not the spirit of a forest...if you want a spirit to not only lend you its strength but also act on your behalf it will need Form)

Talking trees
Animate piles of leaves
Divining rods
Burning bushes

Demands of Compact (spirits of intelligence and will may only agree to manifest and/or serve you for a particular price; these spirits may be of a forest, but they are not the spirit of Vines, the spirit of Trees)

Protection from a particular threat or hazard
Consecration of a plant-filled region against Demons or corruption
Sacrifices for the loaming
Tending to a rare seed or stripling

Entities (whole concepts of our world flow from them, or they have come to embody pre-existing concepts. These are the powerful agents of Vines, Trees, and the pantheon of green life...will only appear if beckoned by their True Names)

The blossoming of flowers
The weeds which choke the life from young trees
The lichen woven into the new flesh of the forest
The renewal from ash

So as you see the idea is to be fairly flexible according to the exact supplications and demands of the environment. Using the tools available and beseeching for specific requests. You can think of this as a mechanization of a party arguing for hints or favors from the DM, or an alternative magic system to emulate That Pat Rothfuss Bullshit. But it requires investment and role-playing and materials from the players in return.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Basic Red Conversion for D&D

Conversion from normal D&D to 666E, Rules Found Here.
You get your normal D&D spell slot allotments total worth of spells before you take a Strain penalty. Strict memorization and preparedness is not required. You do not gain new spells automatically and you cannot Learn spells higher than your character level. Ignore a spell's usual components and instead pay a Price of 2X Spell Level, which can be offset by Artifacts.

Feats, Magic Items, Mutations

You can transfer over one of each, and it is effectively unique to you among players and NPCs, though some monsters or enemy types may duplicate or approximate its effects. DM will track Advancement separately for these aspects of your character, so they can progress faster than your pawn.


You can retain all spells you know but if you want a Mana Die to cast with or you want to be able to use spells in combat then become a Magician. There's no differentiation in spell lists or magic sources. Clerics, Monks, Warlocks and Druids might consider becoming Sages. Barbarians, Rangers, Druids, and Thieves might consider becoming Hunters. Thieves, Fighters, Paladins, Barbarians, and anyone else looking for a combat focus should look to Fighters. Any character whose main focus was utility, skill use, and versatility (including dungeon crawling, seduction, streetwise types, Tyrion, etc) might consider becoming Explorers. Bards should consider playing literally anything else.


...of nonhuman cultures all come with a Mana Die and an ability pool. You can be a half-this or half-that by choosing 2 options from a race's pool. You can mix and match between the different nonhumans and even certain draconic or infernal bloodlines or bestial forms to build your person but you are at most half this, half that, never a mix of three or more. Most half-breeds are mixed with humans because humans will let anything fuck them and have worse decision making skills than the Elder peoples. Since humans don't have an ability pool just choose 2 abilities from your other heritage and give yourself +1 Mana right away. You can't be just a dragon or a hellspawn under these rules but if you want to be just a big cat instead of a cat-man then okay.

  • Elf Sight- Roll in place of Detect for far sight, localized awareness, or seeing in dark
  • Elf Resistance- Roll in place of a Save to avoid anything that would fetter your movement, like entanglement, paralysis, petrification, or sleep
  • Elf Majesty- Roll in place of any Skill check when not in an Elf community
  • Elf Experience- Roll in place of an Experience check about the events of the last 150 years.
Choose any 2 Elf abilities and gain either +1 Mana or any 2 abilities from another race.

  • Iron Constitution- Roll this instead of a Constitution save against a physical effect or hazard.
  • Iron Will- Roll this instead of a Willpower save against a mental effect or trauma.
  • Ignore Weight- Move as if not Weighed Down for 1 combat or 3 Rooms.
  • Attention to Detail- Employ a level of scrutiny as if you had lots of time to think about something or had some magnifying/fine measurement apparatus at hand.
Choose any 2 Dwarf abilities and gain either +1 Mana or any 2 abilities from another race.

  • Mana Damage- Roll to deal your Level in additional damage on any attempt to attack or break.
  • Feat of Strength- Do one big physically impressive thing not covered by normal combat or exploration rules, like throw a gnome or split a shield or break through a wall.
  • Sense Memory- Roll if you have been close enough to a target that you have smelled it or tasted its blood. You can now detect that target easily, which is useful for tracking or avoiding ambush.
  • Orcish Fury- Make a Willpower save to gain 1HP. You may do this when reduced to 0HP.

Choose any 2 Orc abilities and gain either +1 Mana or any 2 abilities from another race.
  • Duck n Cover- Avoid an ambush or roll in place of Dexterity to avoid a hazard
  • Briar Step- Move undaunted through brush, roots, or other vegetal hazards, or roll in place of Sneak among the same.
  • Scarper- Roll in place of Fitness to move through tight spaces or move safely through a battlefield
  • Fortunate- Roll to gain +1 AC for 1 combat or 3 rooms. 
Half-Halfling would be a stupid name. Choose any 2 Halfling abilities and gain either +1 Mana or any 2 abilities from another race.

(...are all just half dwarf and half elf anyway so...)
  • Elf Sight
  • Attention to Detail
  • Iron Will
  • Elf Majesty
Very rare. Choose any 2 Gnome abilities and gain either +1 Mana or any 2 abilities from another race.
(a very generalized template used to make all the weird half-animal races in D&D, but you can also just use it to be a cool dog I guess?)
  • Beastly Locomotion- Roll to get some special movement benefit, such as increased speed, aqua-mobility, avoiding Fitness rolls, or brief flight. Failure doesn't necessarily mean you can't use this special movement but it will mean that some penalty is levied for it.
  • Natural Weaponry- Gain a benefit from a Weapon type for one Unarmed attack.
  • Animal Tongues- Use in place of Experience checks to communicate with simple beasts, +10 bonus if they are the same type of creature as you.
  • Spirit Animals- Roll instead of a Con/Dex/Will save when Summoning an animal spirit.

 (Anything can become a Goblin, gradually, losing one of their pool abilities and gaining one of these. PCs may not begin as full Goblins and those who become full Goblins are forfeit to DM as enemies)
  • Detect Evil- Roll to intuit a specific sin from an individual or to roughly rank everyone in eyesight by degree of corruption.
  • Living Artifact- Roll to deduct your Level from the Price of a spell.
  • Recover HP- Roll to successfully extract 1d4HP from innocent blood, 1d6HP from vile blood.
  • Goblin Summoning- Roll to avoid Summoning Failure penalties when Summoning Goblins or Demons.

(PCs never play full Dragons but they can have a draconic ancestry, choosing 2 of the following and mixing it with another race or gaining +1 Mana)
  • Dragon Flight- Roll to fly, failure does not always mean you cannot fly but it may carry other penalties.
  • Swift Flight- Move at a rate of +2 areas, only usable when flying.
  • Mana Drain- Roll to harvest +1 Mana from a target, who is at -1 Mana until they sleep or somehow re-center themselves.
  • Magic Experience- Roll in place of EX concerning the qualities, history or lore of magics
  • Breath Weapon- Roll to distribute 1d6 damage among every target you are facing within 1 room/area.
  • Form of Man- Assume a mundane guise, failure means your disguise is unconvincing in some major way
  • Terrifying- Roll to strike fear into someone's heart. Those who succeed may not advance on you this round, those who fail must flee from you at full speed this round.
  • Keen Detection- Roll in place of Detect when somewhere familiar to you such as a lair or hoard or home town.
  • Multi-Attack- Roll to deal 1 damage to every target within reach.

(PCs never play full Hellspawn but they can have this ancestry, choosing 2 from the following and mixing it with another race or gaining +1 Mana.)
  • Silver Tongue- Roll instead of Speech to get what you want.
  • Ignore Heat- Roll instead of Constitution to avoid damage or fatigue from fire or heat
  • Binding Rite- Roll instead of a normal saving throw when Summoning. May only be used once per Summoning.
  • Veteran Magic- Roll to avoid the penalty for casting spells in combat for 1 combat.
  • Burden- Force another to bear the effects of your Weight for 1 combat or 3 rooms.
  • Guile- Roll to void a Control failure for Diplomacy.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

50 Types of Fighters I Was Able To Think Of In Like Ten Minutes And On Benadryl

  1. Vigilantes
  2. Cowboys
  3. Bandits
  4. Knights
  5. Hunters
  6. Bounty Hunters
  7. Watchmen
  8. Guards
  9. Executioners
  10. Stranglers
  11. Berserkers
  12. Centurions
  13. Nomads
  14. Samurai
  15. Bodyguards
  16. Mercenaries
  17. Assassins
  18. Cavalrymen
  19. Gladiators
  20. Wrestlers
  21. Vikings
  22. Grenadiers
  23. Boxers
  24. Crusaders
  25. Hooligans
  26. Gang Members
  27. Martial Artists
  28. Guerillas
  29. Pirates
  30. Soldiers
  31. Spies
  32. Sharpshooters
  33. Snipers
  34. Double Agents
  35. Zealots
  36. Ghostbusters
  37. Witch Finder
  38. Vampire Killer
  39. Commandos
  40. Seamen
  41. Circus Showmen
  42. Strongmen
  43. Deserters
  44. Survivors
  45. Conscripted
  46. Saboteurs
  47. Smugglers
  48. Abolitionists
  49. Messengers
  50. Ronin
This doesn't even have things like cowardly, stoic, baleful, or things like hammer expert, swordsman, archer, or really weird shit like boomeranger or hangman or kickboxer, or entire class concepts like thief paladin ranger and monk. The next time someone can't think of anything to do with a fighter because they're too boring remind them that Fighters can cover a ton of ground. Carcosa-style Fighters and Magic-Users only is not a bad way to look at these games, because all the other classes are basically these. Next time I'm on Benadryl I'll add another 50.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Using Feng Shui to Run D&D in 60 Seconds

Dwarf - Big Bruiser
Elf - Archer
Halfling - Everyday Hero (I know Everyman is gendered but this sure is clunky appellation)
Half-Elf - Don't play a half-elf
Half-Orc - This one either
Gnome - Scrappy Kid
Orc - Bandit
Cleric - Magic Cop
Magic-User - Sorcerer
Thief - Thief
Fighter - Ex-Special Forces (but almost any Type would work since the whole game is more combat-focused than D&D, which has that reputation but as oldschoolers know is actually much ...oh whew glad I caught myself, this was almost a blog post)
Assassin - Ninja
Paladin - Bodyguard
Ranger - Bounty Hunter
Druid - Supernatural Creature (or a modded/ported Geomancer from the previous edition)
Bard - Cyborg
Monk - If you can't find a good kung fu type my dude then you might have picked up Mouse Guard by mistake.


I have a card in my wallet. It's a blank playing card. I have taken up both sides game information. The information in question is four character sheets for four systems for four characters who are one character. So now if someone is ready to play VDND or LotFP or Feng Shui 2 or even Fate Accelerated Edition I am prepared to roll. It's actually come in handy a couple times since I made it last year.

The gag is a simple one and derives from some common conventions: a young prince and warrior of the realm might be eligible for governance when his lordly father passes away but his aunt the duchess or his uncle the vizier or whatever frames him for poisoning his father and banishes him, along with any soldiers/guards/servants/retainers loyal to him. This ends up being a far larger number than the Bad Guy expects so they are forever fearful that this aggrieved retinue will one day return, even while under threat of death, perhaps after raising a larger/stronger army. To secure their power base the BG sends out mercenaries and assassins and brainwashed warriors and unwitting NPC adventuring parties all out after the prince and his followers.

This necessitates a peculiar survival strategy.

The prince and all his assembled loyalists split up into groups of four, each of them identically outfitted and groomed, each of them identically armed, and spread out through the land. Even if you find one of these cells, you will have no idea which one is the real prince and which ones are the loyal imposters. That's assuming the real prince ever even is in the group that you find! These days he calls himself Oom and, therefore, so do the servants following him. Occasionally an enemy is successful in striking down the man purporting to be Oom, prompting another retainer to step forward and declare they were the real Oom all the time, taking up his place.

Next time they're in town this trio will be seen drinking in a few bars and the next morning they will be four again. A life of adventure or simply a life outside of village drudgery that comes with the added security of three men pledged to watch your back and the promise of favors should the kingdom of Oom ever be rightly restored? A tempting offer for many a townie, and indeed many a veteran and guardsman. There are warriors everywhere if you know where to look and when there aren't where do warriors come from in the first place except for where Circumstances meet Will?

This is in fact a popular enough strategy that other bands wholly unconnected from the original loyalists have adopted it, traveling the countryside as Ooms. That's not to say that all Oom bands are identical - some may be dressed for Sherwood Forest, others dressed for Kyoto - but while height and weight and countenance may change they are within the band. Even bands of orcish Ooms or Oom women are not generally remarked upon because this story has been kept so deliberately vague, the details so changed from band to band, that who's to say what the real original story was? Maybe there never was an Oom.

Of course there was, and they're still out there doing their thing, but the Duchess Or Whatever never needed to worry: they hated that kingdom and are glad of the back of it, having a blast playing a cup and ball game with the entire world, and never had any intentions of going back.

Oom bands will sometimes run into one another, mix, and separate, to keep things fresh. Other times one band may send for help or counsel from one or more other quartets. These are kept rare when not in outright crisis: staying apart is a key piece of the scheme, after all.

In 5e you can do this really easily with only class and background features, never mind feats to round things out. When it comes to LotFP you just kind of buy them along with your gear. For both of these in the interest of fairness I think you have to pay for every piece of equipment and food for all four in your band and keep that up as you progress, which gets easier. And you may have to go a while with an incomplete group. I'd also say in the interest of fairness only one person in a group should be actively fighting and doing PC shit, though the rest can help like watch for people following your carts or help break camp or climb over a wall.

In Feng Shui (2) I just used the Ex-Special Forces type and just changed the skills and weapons to make them more period appropriate. In FAE I just make these whole core concepts into Aspects and take the "You didn't get the original Multi-Man!" shit and turn them into Stunts 1/session. I have never ever had a human say "Let's play Fate" in person (not "have you tried FATE" but "FATE seems like fun let's play it") but enough of my friends purportedly appreciate the idea of playing it that I have it on hand.

Keep in mind that losing an Oom and having the 'real' Oom step forward means starting from scratch with XP and advancement and shit, they just retain knowledge of what has gone on so far. So it's the same character but it isn't, and they likely have different ability scores and shit where the DM feels that's fair. Honestly the version in my wallet has good-but-not-great scores so I think he's fine.

This is just a reskin really of the old gag where your dwarf Gunnar dies so you cross out his name at the top and a dwarf named Sigmar with the same starting gear walks in from the next room and now he's in the party and he picks up all of Gunnar's stuff, but it's got just enough to it to turn it into a weird setting detail, encounter table entry, quest hook, or tavern rumor. It's also a reliable way to pick up backup for a big fight or a dangerous delve.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Coins of Corrine

There is a game that war men play.

A sigil beats a scar, a scar beats a staff, a staff beats a steed, a steed beats a sheaf, a sheaf beats a sigil.

Each coin has a value: sheaf is 5, steed 6, staff 7, scar 8, sigil 9.

Each coin can smile or shun, depending which side faces up. Smiles count as two of their kind, shuns instead knock out the lowest value coin from an opponent. Usually only one coin smiles or shuns per hand, but some gamblers insist playing with one of each. Playing where every coin can shun or smile is playing in the manner of gnolls, for whom the true test of skill in this game is being able to track the math, rather than how often you win.

A full purse is eight coins, a hand is five coins, a play is four coins. When you pull your coins you can pay a token of one of your highest value coins in order to take a look at your hand. Otherwise you must bet blind but you get to drop the lowest coin in your hand from play. After bets you reveal your hand and go to town.

Shuns take effect first. Coins triumph over each other as listed above. Once everyone's finished with their triumphs if there are still people in play (sometimes there aren't) then it goes to high coin, and then remaining multiples of high coin in order to determine the victorious Sceptre. Once that has been determined their opponent has one last chance for a Steal play, where they can try to make a pauper play (3 coins) from their fallen coins whose total is greater than the Sceptre's hand (or, in casual play, their highest remaining coin); the catch is that this play must contain one coin that the Sceptre's highest coin normally triumphs, e.g. You can only defeat a sigil if your play contains at least one scar and either staffs or steeds.

There are two other unofficial rules to mind.

One is the Stranger, a coin that nobody else at the table has, usually some foreign currency. If your hand has a stranger in it when you look at your hand then you do not have to discard your highest coin, you can instead drop the stranger. If you bet blind a stranger has no value but cannot be triumphed and can be used to break ties.

The other is the Slug, a token given out in lieu of normal pay, an IOU marker for soldiers. Slugs always count as two sheafs and cannot triumph or be triumphed.

If you're playing D&D 5e and you have proficiency with a gaming set that means you know how to play this game. Orcs bet brashly, halflings are little rules lawyers, dwarves try to yell everyone down and scare them off, tieflings are almost uniformly bad at this since if their genetic ancestors had much luck that didn't come from the devil then they wouldn't look like they do.

The entire story of how much action a soldier has seen, where, and under what circumstances can be told in a handful of coins. Any PC or NPC can get in at this if they have any pocket change. Like so many games that soldiers love in all realities the point of the game is not even to win but to eat up time and distract from looming concerns. Therefore circular rules arguments and bitching about obvious exploits are key parts of the process.

You will see soldiers wearing necklaces made with the coins they carry from fallen friends. They have a familiarity with currency that most treasurers would envy and can appraise and mentally convert most non-magical lucre easily enough. There are soldiers with leather wallets of strange coins they have found, like a binder of pokemon cards. Favored or lucky coins are left on the eyes of the lives they never wanted to take. You will see in the chapel a row of knights in solemn regalia and an elderly one-armed captain...he rises after the service and donates a small pouch, spilling an oft-mended pouch into the poor box. It is a small donation. It is an enormous gift.

This is a quick and dirty way of distinguishing your Fighters from each other and building in your backstory. The medic from Brescheau who only keeps sheaves and paints on the other suits. The Delt warrior prince who has had several platinum pieces smelted down and recast into a bespoke playing set. The young cadet whose purse is fat with his enlistment pay. The wounded pikeman lost in the Strangle who plays a game against a velvet voiced stranger in too-early forest twilight, a game where his opponent holds only a single smiling staff.

Again, many times you never make it past the triumph phase, players taking it in turn to risk their coins to knock others' coins out of contention. Again, the point is not to win. In that way it's like warfare. No, the point is to spend time with your friends and comrades before it's too late. Maybe get to know a new companion. Or perhaps have a conversation that only those thoroughly versed can comprehend, such as in enemy captivity. Pass a message by means of a distant traded copper.

Pickpockets know to steer clear of any person who jingles. That's not the sound of a dinner bell, but of a rattlesnake's warning of a weapon ready to cut its enemy down.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dawnstar Registration

Saturdays, 9PM Eastern US to roughly 11PM Eastern US, and we can go later some nights depending on whether I work or not. This will be weekly and if I know I won't be able to make it I will try to get a fill-in Referee.

You do not have to know how to play Feng Shui/Feng Shui 2, or have read the articles I've put up about it. Just know the following before the first session:

  • This is basically Studio Ghibli Wacky Races with some other cartoons and Japanese shit and 80s cartoons and (being FS) action movie stuff thrown in. Sometimes it will be mainstream, sometimes more fantastic or sci-fi, sometimes whole sessions will focus on the more pastoral aspects of these characters' lives. Don't take everything very seriously but don't roll up with Johnny Fart and the Dildo 5000...try to keep the basic gist of this in mind.
  • You only need a few D6.
  • You need to know what kind of guy you want to play. This might mean that you look at one of these documents and pick a Type you want to play, or maybe you could read the Background for the campaign or check out the individual entries under the tag. Or just...have a guy in mind and I'll pick something close enough to play for your first session.
  • That said, after the first session or two be prepared to play more than one character. If you've played certain types of RPG you're used to filling out the cast in certain situations, this will be one of those.

Our first couple sessions will be a little stripped down because I'm still getting all my video/call streaming stuff re-worked out on my computer. So have a lot of patience with me on that and I'll have a lot of patience with you regarding everything else.

Now I'm open to as many people as want to play but know that I'm not going to run with more than 6 in a week (cross talk becomes too much a problem online). If a week shows where I can't get 3 together to run then I do a shorter little session with whoever showed up and go do something else.

Additionally I would prefer to start the campaign knowing for certain that at least 3 players will more or less be able to make it every week. Things come up, people go out of town, get sick, I get that, but I want a few people on board for whom this is their Saturday night thing, not a backup. I know that can be a big ask because it is Saturday night but, well.....that's when I can do this.

Any questions just ask them here or on G+ and I'll answer. Depending on response I can start as early as this weekend but otherwise I'm going to begin 10 February 2018 at 9PM Eastern US. Otherwise, sign up below or on the G+ thread.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Wizard

Magic is not real.

Not everyone knows that. Some insist they can cast spells and are actually quite convincing but anything they can do you can do.

HD/Saves/Attack/Advance as Thief/Specialist.

You are well read and well practiced in your many talents and that's it.

When you encounter a problem - a monster, a locked pyramid, a riddling illusion, a crystalline barrier, an uncooperative sheriff - you can roll 1d100. If your result is equal to or less than your Intelligence plus your level then this is something you know about or know how to do. Your Int+Lvl is called your Theory.

You can use this for languages but a positive result doesn't imply fluency, it just means you know how to convey the specific message you want to say or decode this specific cave pictogram.

At any point you may add any number of Experience Points you've earned to your Theory as a one-time bonus before rolling d100 to determine your success. You level up more slowly but learn quickly.

If you ever want to deduce how to duplicate the effects of a spell or seemingly supernatural effect you've witnessed then you must roll against your Theory but may not add any XP to boost your chances. You get 1 chance for each spell/effect until you get another chance to observe it.

If you want to actually put your knowledge to use you have to make another roll to see if you can actually walk the walk or if you're just full of book smarts, not ready for the real world. This is a d100 roll against #x2, where # is the relevant Ability Score. #x2 is called your Practice. You may not add XP or your level to Practice but you get a +1 bonus to Practice cumulative the longer you try to grasp this new technique.

Once per level you can take some trick that you've successfully Practiced and turn it into a Technique. Techniques are a flat d20 roll equal or under Intelligence.

You have to pay to learn how to do stuff, you have to work to actually get good at doing stuff, and after that it becomes routine and memory.

The big control on this is that pulling off a lot of Techniques requires a lot of preparation or a lot of materials. A good Wizard has a whole lot of junk and tools on them at all times in order to better improvise but sometimes actually trying their Practice roll or executing a Technique will be just impossible without a trip to the store or some rare resource being involved.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Strangleparts - A "One Day" Forest Crawl For Two Systems

Image result for kids in creepy forest
If you are an adventurer from out in the wider world, Corrindi or some other Delt people or from beyond the red mountains, perhaps, then you may well adventure into the Strangle using the rules of D&D 5th Edition, hereafter VDND. That makes sense. You are wandering heroes, perhaps basing your operations from one of the nearby towns of kingdoms. Maybe you venture into the Strangle in search of strange game, or fantastic treasures, or because some lord or god commanded it be so. You may be someone dedicated to preserving the Idle. You may even be one of the strange creatures who there dwell, such as a Wolder or Mag. That makes sense. All that seems right and good. You can use these rules here in order to do so.

But that's only one side of the coin. What about the denizens of the Idle Lands? The towns and villages and farms cut off from the wider world by the god-forest? There are no Idle adventurers, that's surely some kind of moron if not an oxy one. These people have grown up in the shadow of things stranger than deaths. None venture in cavalierly. Those who have grown up here are all old enough to know better. But you're not grown up yet.

Strangleparts is an attempt to fulfill the literalization of +Pearce Shea's Monsterhearts game, stripping it of much of its novelty and invention in order to make its "attributeless D&D" something more like something on the back of a DM screen. The idea here is to end up in less of a Pennywise place and more of a Gingerbread House place. If it helps you to think of this as "perma-death Disney" or "Clive Barker's A Wizard of Earthsea" then do so.

If you want to play a campaign heading from within the Idle Lands into the dark and menacing Strangle (or through the same, trying to get out to the nations beyond) then you can use the rules on Pearce's website or buy In The Woods and get the straight dope. To summarize as succinctly as possible as not to bite Pearce's traffic or sales:

8 Simple Rules For Playing My Green Age Daughter

  1. All characters are around 11.
  2. You are each either a Toughie, a Smartie, or a Baddie. Baddies have experienced some strange secret of the Strangle and become somewhat changed by the experience. 
  3. Every Secret you know reduces your max EP. Every round you spend in the presence of a monster or some unspeakable weirdness reduces your EP. Any attempt to convince someone of a Secret prompts an immediate wandering monster check whether you succeed or fail, and, likewise, lowers the NPC's EP.
  4. Every character has a sack with a day and a half worth of spartan rations, a good knife, their Talisman against the unknown and a Nickname to protect from the known. Smarties can read and make maps, and so they begin with a map.
  5. When you're out of EP you are helpless. The Strangle claims you or something weirder happens. Toughies have the most EP.
  6. Toughies are the best at hurting creatures.
  7. Baddies are the best at hiding and sneaking.
  8. Smarties are the best at searching or puzzling.
Additionally all your characters have 2 other items in their sacks, roll here to determine..

1. A roll of canvas to use for shelter
2. Sleeping bag
3. Good luck charm
4. Small offering to the gods
5. Rope
6. A pot
7. Flint and steel
8. Shears
9. Mask
10. Fishing line and hook
11. Net
12. Torch or Lantern
13. Chalk and charcoal
14. Paper and paints
15. Yellow thread
16. Hooded cloak
17. Climbing cleats
18. Grandparent's diary
19. Magnifying lens
20. 3x food

The purpose here is to get two different game experiences in the same setting even if your table is made up of the same people, each campaign happening simultaneously and maybe bumping into one another but being very much their own thing. These aren't meant to dovetail. In fact, the VDND party may seem very much like a kind of enemy or strange secret to many of the Monsterparts kids. You can map out the track around the Ryvern and get vastly different games depending on which direction you're traveling, even if both parties hit all the same beats. They'll occur in a different order and have vastly different impacts.

I don't know. Just something I want to do if I get the chance.