Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Hate People

The iron god made dwarves and the forest god made elves and the war god made orcs and the illusions god made gnomes and the logic god made modrons and the snake god made snake people and the fire god made fire people.

And then there was The Hate God.

The Hate God made Hate People.

They didn't make evil people, because they made people who hated evil. They just didn't create good people, per se, because they created people who hated good. They made the Scoren.

Scoren are beings made for the biological purpose of hatred, as sure as they are created to survive and reproduce. Different Scoren hate different things. When you are born, you are born into a First Holy Hatred. This is usually adopted by a community through necessity, from isolation or proximity to a kind of hazard. Like a Scoren village in a forest may have "forest" as their First Holy Hatred. Much of life in this village and the work of the day will be concerned with beating back the forest, cursing the forest at prayer, gritting and screaming about the forest in the street, and championing anything which blights the forest, even if it blights your crops as well, even as you starve to death...

Except you won't. Because your First Holy Hatred sustains you. This is part of why the Scoren never leave the forest: hate provides, and the harder you hate the more robust and excellent a physical specimen you are. Food is YUMMY. Water is REFRESHING. But hate and air are all you really need in life.

At this point.

When you reach the Age of Rage (which is determined by your physical development at puberty really but custom varies by community) you come into your Vendetta. You don't choose this, and it may make your life very difficult in your current community (getting ahead of this, other Scoren are a common Vendetta of Scoren). The develops independent of you, and denying the nature of your hate (for sunshine, for tall people, for dwarves, for war, for purple) makes you actively sick and can kill you. You may have to leave home when this happens because you have to find the nature of your enmity and incorporate regularly hating it into your life; in fact, one of the holy duties of hate priests is to help a young person discover the nature of the hate within. This gives you the built-in resolve of a berserker, so that you may endure a great amount of pain, wounds, or disease by sustaining yourself with the healing power of hatred. It doesn't give you any cool magical powers though.

At this point.

This is when many Scoren begin their apprenticeships. In addition to any formal guild or trade training the receive, they apprentice themselves in hate, choosing a rancorcerer of a study of their choosing (hatred of the sky, hatred of drow, hatred of the country next door). They spend five years immersing themselves in all aspects of that which they've chosen, hating as hard as they can every day, their ire being guided and shaped by their masters. At the end of their apprenticeship, their master piece is internalizing all the hate they've learned and turning the gift of the Hate God to their advantage. For example, someone who hates water can swim in it without breathing. Someone who hates fire can burn without being consumed. Someone who hates the ground can hover. So on.

This ability starts off weak but becomes quite powerful as their hate builds and their understanding of the Hate God and his ways deepen.

Scoren are a very practical people. Because they are kind of born with a deadly addiction that also frees them from the concerns of much of agrarian society, they want to make certain that everything has a specific purpose or will speed them to some specific end. They don't make statues, except as hate fetish items. They don't have the same relationship many of us do with necessity but that doesn't mean they spend their time on frivolous things.

That said, they are a curious people, always interested in learning new things, since it may deepen their existing hatreds. They find devotion to other ideals and emotions bizarre and are skeptical of religions which teach love or forgiveness. They are skeptical of anybody driven by only altruism or pragmatism and not a holy hate. Particularly because, since their powers grow in connection with their god/fire of their ire, they are a very ambitious people, always hoping to rise to greater strength through darker hates.

Scoren stand about 5' and are generally ostentatious in dress, because they consider clothes the people around them hate to be haute fashion. Their hair as a people is fair and wiry, and they can be spotted at a distance by their deep, deep-set eyes. Scoren typically don't become adventurers unless their apprenticeship has been completed and they have their eye set on some higher prize of power or something bigger to find and hate. A common Masterpiece of Scoren seeking this lifestyle is hatred of light crossbow bolts, which they may "fire" away from them without use of an actual crossbow.

They can be swayed to a cause with an impassioned fury, because they find pedestrian hatred exotic, inventive, and sexy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

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

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


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

Living Nightmare

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


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


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


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

SOLDIERS- The Fighting Men and Women of Doublecrossroads

  • Soldiers roll 1d8 for their Hit Die.
  • Their Defensive Number is 18.
  • They can use any Major weapon (always two-handed, d10).
  • They can also use pistols and rifles.
  • They speak Lawful, a language of their choice, and any languages granted by their Intelligence bonus.
  • Soldiers add their level to hit. 
  • Soldiers are the only class which may PRESS (+2 to hit bonus, -4 AC) or FIGHT DEFENSIVELY (-4 to hit penalty, +2 AC bonus).
  • If you have Intelligence 13+ you may gain a Veteran Edge when you level in lieu of a Constitution HP bonus. (I'm going to add more of these and update that post soon.)
  •  If you have Intelligence 13+ and Strength 13+ you gain both your Constitution Bonus and a Veteran Edge with each level.
  • A Soldier may build a Fort to preside over whenever she has the coin to do so, even at 1st level.
  • Whenever you level up roll 1d100. If you roll 15 or less, you attract a Pardner. Any Soldier only ever has one Pardner at a time. Roll 1d100: 1-20- Cool Monster Sidekick; 21-50- Noble Steed; 51-100- 100% loyal Compadre who levels when you level. This Pardner may be of a Classification chosen by the DM.
  • At Level 9, a Soldier (who has already established a Fort) may become a rancher baron, general, or regional governor, with all the powers that implies. They also become eligible for Presidency. They also get to make an additional attack each round.
    At level 17, Soldiers get to make an additional attack each round.
  • Soldiers may advance to Level 20.
Features Level XP HP
Fort 1 0 1d8+1+Constitution bonus
Companion 2 2000 +1d8+Constitution bonus

3 4000 +1d8+Constitution bonus

4 8000 +1d8+Constitution bonus

5 16000 +1d8+Constitution bonus

6 32000 +1d8+Constitution bonus

7 64000 +1d8+Constitution bonus

8 120000 +1d8+Constitution bonus
+1 attack every round
9 240000 +1d8+Constitution bonus

10 360000 +2+Constitution bonus

11 480000 +2+Constitution bonus

12 600000 +2+Constitution bonus

13 720000 +2+Constitution bonus

14 840000 +2+Constitution bonus

15 960000 +2+Constitution bonus

16 1080000 +2+Constitution bonus
+1 attack every round 17 1200000 +2 HP

18 1320000 +2 HP

19 1440000 +2 HP

20 1560000 +2 HP

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

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

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

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

There is a point to all of this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes we cannot avoid discovery.

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

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Shootist- My BX/LOTFP/etc Game DOUBLECROSSROADS' rifleman, pistoleer, and shotgun surgeon.

  • A Dexterity 9 and Constitution 9 are required to play a Shootist.
  • Shootists use a d6 for their Hit Die. At 1st level they begin with their Constitution in Hit Points.
  • Their Defensive Number is 15.
  • Shootists may use any Normal melee weapon (d8) in one hand, always keeping a hand free to draw down. They may also use any Normal ranged weapons.
  • They may, of course, use pistols, shotguns, and rifles. If they find it, they can even use a cannon effectively.
  • They may roll Search, even if normally inapplicable, to listen for peculiar noises.
  • Shootists may either reload and fire in the same round or aim and fire in the same round. (Normally characters may only load, aim, or fire a firearm in a round.)
  • When determining their Luck at the beginning of the game, Shootists roll 1d4+Charisma bonus, instead of 1d4+1.
  • At level 3, they may use their Dexterity to attract Helpers and determine Morale, instead of their Charisma, if that bonus is higher.
  • At level 5, your level is also a number of Trick Shots you can perform in a day. Trick Shots can be used to:
    • ignore one increment of Range penalties on a shot, 
    • roll your attack and damage simultaneously, sacrificing any amount of your damage result to add to your To Hit value to ensure a hit
    • Ricochet once, allowing you to hit targets behind cover and such.
    • Only one Trick Shot effect may be used on any attack.
  • At level 8, they may reload, aim, and fire in the same round.
  • At level 9 they establish a hideout and form a gang, attracting 1d3 Professionals and 1d2 Shootists per level.
  • At level 10 they may use multiple Trick Shot effects in the same round.
  • At level 13, so long as your target is in range and you use a pistol or rifle, you do not need line of sight to your target. This effect stands apart from and in addition to any Trick Shots. You must still roll to hit.
  • Shootists may advance to level 16.
Features Level XP HP
Keen Ear
1 0 Constitution score

2 2000 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Posse 3 4000 +1d6+Constitution bonus

4 8000 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Trick Shot 5 16000 +1d6+Constitution bonus

6 32000 +1d6+Constitution bonus

7 64000 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Great Shot 8 120000 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Gang 9 240000 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Sure Shot 10 360000 +2

11 480000 +2

12 600000 +2
Master Shot 13 720000 +2

14 840000 +2

15 960000 +2

16 1080000 +2

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

VDND Druid Path- Green Knight

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

Some design notes:

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

Now all the path features have cute little names right?

Tools of the Earth

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

Green Blood

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

Deep Roots

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

Wilderness Warrior

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

Form of Flora

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

Viridian Champion

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