Sunday, May 31, 2015

VDND Tieflings I Like Better

...and ones I'm going to be asking for in my G+ games and my Whiskeyworld game at the store.

Something I usually dislike in games that split race and class are races which basically exist to be race-as-class in addition to their class. These are laden with innate spell effects or racial features that make them either uniquely suited to a particular class (like how Goliaths are a race of Conans so they suit the Conan class well, to become Double-Conan) or better than a given class (like how 5e playable minotaurs put a level 1 monk to shame in the area of unarmed attacks and moving-while-attacking). It's like a free multiclass or class level instead of being at least a new way to do something in the world, or, failing that, at least a new CHOICE.

Tieflings and Aasimar being ethnic groups owing to tainting from extraplanar sources ages ago also bug me for other reasons, but the only characters I've ever seen from these camps have actually been pretty cool, played by some pretty creative, mellow people. And I want that in my games, so if these races be the price I pay for something like that, so be it. But I'm going to make it palatable to me, and especially where Tieflings are concerned throw in some fucking chaos in the mix.

Some of this is not so much stolen from +Zak Smith as it is me trying to duplicate something of his I read years ago without actually going back to find it, hopefully resulting in something of a different product. I also nuked Darkvision because I've been reading +Arnold K. some more lately.

Fukkn' Tieflings

Ability Score Increase: Roll 1d6 where each value 1-6 corresponds to the way your Ability Scores are laid out on your Character Sheet. Reroll sixes. +1 to the Ability Score corresponding to your d6 roll. +2 to Charisma.
Age: same.
Alignment: I don't care.
Size: CHOOSE: Small or Medium.
Speed: 35' for Small, 30' for Medium.
Hellish Resistance: You have Advantage on saves against fire damage.
Ancestral Chaos: Roll 1d6. 1- you also have resistance against fire damage; 2- you also have Advantage on saves against cold damage; 3- you are trained in Insight and Persuasion; 4- you do not need to eat or drink so long as you routinely warm yourself by the fire or smoke; 5- you do not incur two failures when rolling a 1 on a Death Save; 6- you gain a long jump and high jump from a standing start equal to your Strength score in feet.
Freakish Appearance: Consult the Freakish Appearance table in order to determine what you look like.
To Every Task Set They An Tool: CHOOSE ONE: you do not need to breathe or sleep; you gain a +1 cumulative bonus, up to +5, on Stealth checks made to hide for every round you stay shrouded in complete darkness; you learn the cantrip speak with normal flame; you may roll again on the options given for Ancestral Chaos and keep both results.
Languages: You can speak common and you may read, write, and understand Infernal. Speaking Infernal in polite society is an unthinkable taboo saved for curses and castigation.

Freakish Appearance

Your hair is...
  1. like quills
  2. shocking and white
  3. constantly wet and smells of smoke
  4. an elaborate wig
Your eyes are...
  1. deeply set and alive
  2. like snakes', always open
  3. like a cat's.
  4. solid yellow
  5. clouded like a blind person
  6. black and reflective like sunglasses
 Your ears...
  • Even: are rounded with long, dangly lobes
  • Odd: are pointed and tilt away from your face
Your voice is...
  1. soothing
  2. alluring
  3. like razors
  4. like sandpaper
 Your nails are....
  1. long and black
  2. yellow and thickened
  3. not there, just smooth flesh where a fingernail should be
  4. raised and gnarled
Your skin is...
  1. smooth and red
  2. rough and alabaster
  3. scaly and ash grey
  4. yellow and black in oil-pool swirl patterns
  5. striped with jungle greens and leathery
  6. covered in fine soft red hairs...let's just say you've been flocked
Your ancestry has left you with a vestigial...
  1. tail
  2. horns
  3. set of wings
  4. tail and wings
  5. horns and wings
  6. horns and tail
Your tail is...
  1. long and muscular
  2. thin and whip-like
  3. pointed at the end
  4. ridged along the back with dark hair
Your horns look like...
  1. ram horns
  2. devil's horns
  3. steer horns
  4. ibix horns
  5. four horns
  6. one horn, sprouting from the back of your head
Your wings look like...
  1. a bird's, but burned
  2. a ragged and malformed bat's
  3. an insect's, broken and asymmetric
  4. little nubby stumps
On odds/evens, your...
  • TEETH are/are not pointed and fanged
  • TONGUE is/is not forked
  • LEGS are/are not goat-like in shape
  • FINGERS do/do not number six
  • SHADOW does/does not mirror your movements exactly
 speak with normal flame

Choose a normal torch, candle, hearthfire, campfire, lantern, or other mundane light source from non-magical fire. Until you dispel this effect, or until you look away from the flame, the flame tells you in its dance, a language only you understand (even if others around you know this cantrip, they must also cast it for this effect to work), how many other living creatures can see the light of the flame. For the purpose of something like this mattering I guess it would be a Divination School spell.


...and if anybody asked me to make a Feat so their nails, horns, claws, wings, teeth, etc could be more useful, I'd work something out for them as that came up.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Second Book of Moon Slave

  1. There were many men before the first man
  2. he burned and destroyed, shining down on lakes full of monsters
  3. and there were others there with him, brothers and fathers and other mothers and motherfuckers and sinners and destructors
  4. Smoke shit all over the sun
  5. The sun burned all the dirt and turned it into old bones
  6. The grass was swords and the swamps were death, black and bottomless, tooth home, beast hearts
  7. In the days of the first man was the first wind
  8. This wind was fire. This wind was earth. A wind of pain swept all softness and weakness in life and polished it into smooth, thin, glass edge kill-kill
  9. These were the first men and from them came the first man
  10. There was the mother of the first man and we sing of her and call her goddess-fucker, great she hate, Mother-before-First, Creatrix, The explosion
  11. Nothing else but all life, the sanctified skeleton of this ancient almost ape
  12. Call her Meatgiver Killextra
  13. Of her sons, ten, and the living envied the dead, five stone babies at the beginning of the world
  14. Second came the great man of beasts, and third the great man of ale,
  15. next the seeker and seer, lastly and youngest to stone brothers the son who was Prima Female, the first girl in a time of Only Sons
  16. A time of only sun, in the shadow of the reflection, the reflection of the shadow, Gurin-Within-Unus-Muun-Maxes, the world and that which reflected the world
  17. But the First was
  18. The first was the strangler and made flesh in Prima Female and MEatgiver Killextra and made soft stone of beasts, ale, seer, and was the first mother, Motherfucker X, and was names Mother.
  19. And on the goddess before the god he made flesh and she the first and second lifemaker, and he the first Mother
  20. Thence Last Became First And Best
  21. There were many men, and many sons, and many homes, and many marks, and many tracks, and within this there was First Mother and his sons
  22. Consecrated to shadow-of-shadow, mirror-of-mirror
  23. sword sword sword sword sword
  24. Rising and destroying
  25. On fire and so very very on fire
  26. Muun infants set foot in the baked world and burned her forever
  27. First came Moon Father who would have the first Moonchild
  28. The first Moonchild died in one hundred days.
  29. There came Moon Killer the greatest and earliest murderer
  30. Moon Killer laid low by his own hands, his own throat, by the hands of another, by The other
  31. Then it was Moon Bastard
  32. Who slew the only good monster
  33. Who perverted seven colors
  34. Who ruined all desert
  35. Moon Bastard who could not stride
  36. Moon Bastard who could not stand
  37. Moon Bastard in his own blood, bubbling, burbling, alive, not alive
  38. The First Mother in every land, with every people, his sword long, the sword which reflected the First Sword, his blood his own
  39. A hundred thousand mothers in love and desperation and tribute and conquest
  40. Moon Killer is there, Moon Bastard is there, Moon Father is there, Moonchildren are there
  41. They are everywhere
  42. Cities burned and all mothers rose up and slew the fathers with rocks
  43. The first rain was blood rain
  44. The rain of the first blood, the blood before the world, washed the rocks of the Mother's blood
  45. and the First Mother became bone dust and red ash
  46. And Moonchildren
  47. Moon Bastard Moon Father Moon Killer
  48. And the women of the first world, all women, became the Moon Killer Killer, the ur-ur, the second goddesses, each, as a woman
  49. They were the First Women, and there were women before them, and their children were not the First Mother's
  50. And the blood washed blood and the rocks became a fire, and the fire became a new world
  51. This world within the world was blood within blood within blood, and blood from blood and blood
  52. And the swords of Mother and his children became the new lights
  53. And the First Women became extra gods, small in their world, and great within the burning world of blood
  54. They the goddesses
  55. And there was rain for a thousand years, red, as the world burned, and the world cooled like steel
  56. And the heart of the new world was steel and the heart beat with a life it should not have
  57. And the heart of the world was a child
  58. It was the first child
  59. He was the first child
  60. Heir smoke smoke smoke
  61. And the world heart beat and the heart was that of Thunder King
  62. and there was life and magic and horror and blood
  63. There stirred within stone and hate and rage life
  64. There came the child of the First Women, Moon Killer Killer, from the first mother but not the First Mother, not his to claim
  65. And there was the word and the word was MOON SLAVE

Friday, May 29, 2015

MONSTER TRUCK- A LOTFPish BXish old school class I am writing DRUNK

HD: d10
Saves: as Fighter
Attacks: as Fighter
Advances: as Dwarf
Requirements: Constitution 11 and Charisma 11
  • MONSTER TRUCKS may wear no armor and wield no weapons. Their default AC is 2/19 and their default unarmed damage is d4.
  • MONSTER TRUCKS have a speed of 160/40.
  • MONSTER TRUCKS have a 30' leap.
  • Every morning a MONSTER TRUCK gets a tune-up. During this tune-up it is customized. It may have a number of customizations equal to its level. You may select from the Customization Codex, selecting a customization whose entry number is equal to or less than  the level of the MONSTER TRUCK. Alternately, for every customization you forgo, you may increase the MONSTER TRUCK'S unarmed damage by +1.
  • MONSTER TRUCKS may advance to level 9.

Each customization may be taken once per tune-up.

  1.  You may pin a target of a successful attack, and may sustain this grab effect in future rounds.
  2. Any target your are on top of or are pinning takes additional damage equal to the amount of time you have been on them, e.g. 1 damage the first round after pinning, 2 damage the second round after pinning, etc.
  3. Once per level per day doors can fuck off.
  4. Add 10' to all modes of speed
  5. A fully customized MONSTER TRUCK always does maximum die damage on a successful hit.
  6. Your unarmed attack increases to d6.
  7. You gain a spin attack, usable 1/day per 3 levels, which attacks all creatures within 40' of you, and allows you to roll twice for each attack roll.
  8. You gain an extra attack in a round where you move your full speed first.
  9. You gain a fly speed equal to half your land speed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cannon Pits of the Bullet Dwarves

2. Robin Zinc writes very well in his own blood:

"a dungeon outline for the old, sealed-off temple of a forgotten Dwarf god. Monsters, traps, whatever, dungeon stuff. Back story unimportant unless amazing and necessary. My tastes lean towards the weird".
Dwarves knew there was a hell because they found it. They kept digging and boom, there it is, right next to the salt vein and the drow opera house. Dwarved knew there must be a heaven, but they never found it. It wasn't on the surface, that they knew from maps and exploration, and it wasn't in the sea, which they knew mostly thanks to the drow and their underlurking gods. It had to be in the sky, then? But you'd see it if it was. Logic dictated that it was beyond the sky, behind it, which is also why dwarven prayers were never answered: that's a lot of rock to get through, and the sky must block all prayers which make it. It should be noted here that these so-called "quicksilver dwarves" lived in a mining community centered around the Dripping Castle and...well you can guess how level headed they all were.

The dwarves set out to kill the sky, erecting a temple up through the ground, opening into the surface world, and they fired their greatest warriors at it. These trajectories inevitable ended up inneighboring kingdoms and their pissed off armies crawled down the cannon and wiped out the quicksilver dwarves.

Their charges was an explosive untested by man, and any alchemist, conqueror, academic, or historian would pay a fortune for it. Any dwarf lord would pay that much to keep it a secret.

In this temple you will find rivals or allies in (roll), who are trying to find the secrets of the bullet dwarves, but hampered by the temple's new permanent residents, (roll).

1. Elves that look like Iron Maiden Ed.
2. A race of short, bald humans who speak like Bizarro.
3. Cannonball modrons who finally found a religion which makes sense to them; they have no limbs, they manipulate things where their hands would be, like the Powerpuff Girls.
4. Frost-encrusted apes.
5. A hippie commune of mercury-mad bards, who have the god-beyond-the-sky in their eyes, man.
6. Big psychic ants.

The temple will have 4d6 rooms +4. The four rooms it absolutely has are the cannon mouth/main temple, the powder room (hidden behind a secret door in a room adjacent to the main temple), the heirophant's chambers (2 cleric scrolls here), and the Quarrantine Zone (a series of caved in dead-end tunnels with warnings in multiple languages about mercury poisoning; there are some abandoned homes here, and some corpses that lay where they fell a century ago).

For every room roll a d6. On a 1-2 it's emptry, on a 3 it's occupied by one or more dwarf corpses 80% mercury contamination on they and all their goods, on a 4 it's occupied by (first party rolled above) and on 5-6 it's occupied by (second party rolled above).
For every 3 rooms a door is LOCKED.
For every 4 rooms a door is TRAPPED.
For every 6 rooms there is an underground MONSTER.
For every nine rooms there is TREASURE, 25% mercury contaminated.
For every 14 rooms there is a MAGICAL ARTIFACT, 5% contaminated.

Traps are either poisonous needle (mercury, roll d4, lose 1 con and 1 wis a day until you've lost an amount of each equal to your result, unless Healed) or massive explosions (nonmagical, but as fireball). All traps are obvious.

Monsters include:

1. Poisoned and confused rust monster, half HP and -2 to hit but if it hits you have to save vs poison or react as the needle trap above, because its jaws are filled with mercury.
2. Order of Iron Drow in hermetic suit set here forever to ensure this kingdom never rises again and produces so much damn noise.
3. galeb duhr with robot brains, most half dead
4. Bats made of silver, AC as plate, fruit eaters.

The heirophant is a mad mummy swimming in mercury and with the power of magnetism. It can use these magnetic gifts to sling mercury at you, or to manipulate the corpses of long-dead dwarves covered in the stuff. He can also attract your weapons and armor, save or he'll pull you 10' for every point you failed by. You're allowed a new roll each round to see how far he can pull you.

Monday, May 18, 2015

REVIEW: Sweat of a Sun God, by Bloom Rose and IVANOV.

1995. Things weren't great at Adder Entertainment. The company was running in a dozen different directions, tied together at the tail, slowly skinning itself with its own momentum. It was an ugly company at the time. Naked. Raw. It was trying lots of things and none of them were firing. There was a conflict here, between being the company Æ was and learning how to make that profitable, even if it meant shrinking down, and the people who wanted to be as big as ever. Bigger! And, in fact, who wanted to use the might of their size to crush all pretenders to the throne. For a few people this was ego. Where Andrew William James was concerned, it was a cocaine addiction that would stop a Belushi in its tracks. They must never know.

In this chaos a lot of things were getting released with minimal oversight. Editorial, including Bloom, were just too busy trying to herd cats. She was so busy, in fact, that she could not give much notice when her office was broken into. The ledger was untouched, petty cash was there, seven completely disassembled snapdragons were individually filed in her cabinet, piece by piece, but otherwise nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

Hindsight can make things seem obvious but you have to remember: Bloom Rose saw Ivanov die.

All of Æ did, during its disastrous inaugural team building exercise at a North Carolina white-water rafting firm. They saw him jump. They saw his tattered, bloody rags. They lost a weekend to his funeral, made without his input and without any personal mourners. (This is remarkable mostly because of how Ivanov's most recent funeral went, with his ashes being mixed into the ink for 111 members of the infamous Æ Tatoo Society. 57 are incarcerated today.)

As a result of faking his death to avoid service in Vietnam (Ivanov was doing a lot of ketamine and storm chasing during this period), Ivanov had not been paid in a while. He casually broke and entered with the intention of leaving a notice of change of address, and it was during some light pilfering and looting that he came upon the text for Bloom Rose's abandoned masterpiece Sweat of a Sun God.

Bloom had accidentally created the ultimate lure for Ivanov, a godcrawl through the fallen corpses of slavic deities where each body represented a distinct post-collapse region of the former Soviet Union. A strange squeezed-out vision of failed optimism, bloated grime, open-faced despair, lurid propaganda of the dead, bastard ass fire orthodoxy, nobody there at all, hollow follow walkers, cave rockets, spacemans all naked and silver and shining like starlight and marching in formation, the wet and hungry sucking roads sodden with the blood of all failure, cold, dark, colder, darker, mathematics, slavery, freedom, unofficial slavery.

Hey, it was the 90s. As usual with Bloom of course, this was about someone else. Bloom had a friend, little written about but dear to her, named Rapella Kruskin, and Bloom was by her side through the bulk of her father's esophageal cancer. If you've never had a family member who has suffered from it holy shit. It is the blackest most metal thing I've ever seen. Imagine drowning in the physical weight of your body. Your lungs filling with themselves. I imagine it daily in a "Spirit are these the shadows of things which may be only" kind of way.

This is not technically the first megadungeon but this is the first big, proper, high-profile megadungeon. Dazboh alone is a mini campaign to itself, whence the title hails: all the treasure here takes the forms of lasers your characters can make, but the longer they stay to loot lasers the more black holes the fight, and the more they are on fire.

There's also the pillar, deep in Vostok, which represents a perfect idea, different for each PC. A dead child at its base decided the pillar should be protected from all other minds, and so the longer you dwell at the pillar dithering on a course of action, or the more you come back, the more powerful opposition you meet. Compelling you to taking a desperate action, rather than letting beauty out into the world. People like to read into this as Bloom describing her own situation but I like to think that the woman who watched the American 60s die from its own kind of esophogeal cancer saw a kind of kindred suffering in the slow-crumble moldering of the eastern bloc.

Anyway, it was considered unfeasibly unprofitable and, so, was shelved by Bloom at James' request.

Ivanov. flipped. out.

1996. Barely.

The Æ New Year's party at O'Charley's is interrupted by a courier, slightly bleeding, with a bulging pocket and explicit instructions. For a moment, just that, it is sleeting thick and angry. Seventeen enormous canvases are toted into the O'Charleys, most depicting maps, some depicting bizarre portraiture, each with a K-Mart price tag attached for an entirely reasonable sum of money. Except for Ivanov's masterpiece, Perun Falling, where, in lieu of signature or price sticker, Ivanov wrote "chruck (sic) + ketamine."

No one knew what they were. Nobody knew where to put them. Nobody knew Sweat of a Sun God was pushed through production behind their backs and was in stores at that very moment. Ivanov hand-delivered a shipment to a nearby American Legion post, which cause no shortage of constarnation regarding Soviet terrorism from the near-dead legends. The Donnybrook O'Charley's still has one of the pieces, in which sharp-eyed fans spotted several hidden instances of coitus. At last count it was seventeen.

This was one of the biggest, fanciest, most gorgeous, original, well-thought out pieces of product Æ had put out in years. It is one of their single finest products ever, one of the single finest RPG products ever. It wasn't chasing a trend or trying to beat one of their new competitors at its own game. Andrew William James lost his fucking mind over it. The story of what happened next is known, but we'll get to it next.

It was a profound profit for the company. Some still say that this move could have saved the company, had Bloom lived, had the fire not happened, had Ivanov been more forthcoming up front, or if he hadn't tried to reinvent himself as a tiger motorcycle guy in his sixties. It's hard to say, though, because here's the fucking crime:

I have been researching this book since I started these reviews and I've never found someone who has finished it. Fact. Oh people played it, sure, and they loved it, fine, and they think it looks great on a shelf and they support every decision within it IN THEORY. But life always seems to find a way of pulling people away from the table. Sweat of a Sun God is a widowmaker for RPG campaigns.

Some people think that's perfect in a way and they make some horrible allusion to Marilyn Monroe or John Lennon or other rich white people and I say horseshit. I think that's just wrong all directions. But I do think it is a fantastic legacy.

Bloom Rose never set out to be a great games designer. She set out to be a great person, to change the world, to be respected in a field that thought of her as a creature, to achieve excellence in everything she did, to constantly read and explore, to care about other people, to make the world make sense with her typewriter. She just happened to make games along the way. Sweat of a Sun God is a perfect example of a singular, pearl-like creative expression from two individuals at the top of their respective games and at the end of their respective ropes, and it is perhaps the perfect example of the perfect game book as un-run-able thing. Because the perfect inspiration for any game you run isn't a bunch of monster math, it's INSPIRATION in the face of fear and suffering and wonder and beauty and trying and forward and better and vision and A Person as a whole, and that comes from life.

Forgive me for waxing a little Lovin' Spoonful but it's the truth. Bloom lived her life believing the world is a place we go to make a better world, and that such processes never really stopped. She applied those ethics to her work. To her company. It showed. It always showed. The idea that people draw enthusiasm and inspiration from her work, even if they never use it in a manner consistent with its presentation, is a hell of a way to live on and I should be so blessed. By I suppose the loss of all other media.

The slide toward the inevitable concludes with the end of the Bloom Rose Sequence, Lain to Rest At Last, At Last. At last. And then, I promise, a few more of these, at least, which aren't a bummer.

HUNTERS- Doublecrossroads Wildermen, Trackers, Snipers, and Beastkillers

  • Hunters require a 9 Constitution and a 9 Wisdom.
  • Hunters use a d6 for their Hit Die.
  • Their Defensive Number is 16.
  • Hunters can use any Normal weapon (d8).
  • Hunters may also use rifles.
  • You begin the game with 3/6 in Wilderness (formerly Bushcraft). This improves by 1 point every 4 levels after that, at 5, 9, and 13.
  • They use different rules for Aiming than other Classes. Making a successful Wilderness roll allows you to add your Wilderness rating to your damage for your ranged attack. 2 rounds of successful Wilderness checks in a row allow you to instead add your Wilderness rating to both to hit rolls and damage.
  • You receive twice your Charisma bonus for the purposes of interacting with animals and many other creatures. An animal which considers you its friend, with a week’s training, may become a Helper.
  • At level 7, you roll Wilderness twice when tracking a specific target or specific prey.
  • At level 9, you either embrace the wild and attract up to your maximum of animal Helpers (consult DM to determine type) or you establish a Hunting Lodge, attracting level 1 Soldiers, Hunters, and Professionals.
  • Hunters advance until level 16.
Features Level XP HP
Great Aim
Wilderness 3
1 0 1d6+1+Constitution bonus

2 1750 +1d6+Constitution bonus

3 3500 +1d6+Constitution bonus

4 7000 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Wilderness 4 5 14000 +1d6+Constitution bonus

6 28000 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Great Tracking 7 56000 +1d6+Constitution bonus

8 112000 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Wilderness 5
Hunting Lodge
9 224000 +1d6+Constitution bonus

10 336000 +2

11 448000 +2

12 560000 +2
Wilderness 6 13 672000 +2

14 874000 +2

15 896000 +2

16 1008000 +2

Monday, May 11, 2015

Jingling, the Abandoned Shadows

The sky is low and heavy with candlelight on the witching face of night, a still, no-moon bright. Just the Furtive Men are about, running crouches, always looking where they've been. They are all glances, and their knives are bright like absentee star shine. They are hungry and well fed. They are wan with fear but quenched with courage. They circle their houses at a run each night, following each other, preying on one another, brothers until they catch the others.

There are other men here this night.

They are patient of something, minding together in a road without squares. They are not tall but high, not large but thick. Their coats are deep, their hoods luxurious, their masks unsettling and bottomless. They are whistling to one another, harmonizing a tune which echoes down the angles and makes a monsoon laugh through the crumbling and shallow grave of best of intentions.

They are stooped and move slowly. They step cautiously, testing the cobbles, prodding the curbs. They keep a circle between then large enough another could stand there. An empty space pregnant with implication. This is their primary sexual taboo: an unconsidered touch, a casual brush of a hand, the jostling of a crowd.

They slide their balance carefully on velvet pads, and as they do they whistle, and as they do they bobble, and as they do they go ching clink ching clink

the sound of promise. The sound of fortune. The patient animals are loaded with the flesh of choice for the Furtive Men. The hard cold eyes of dead men.

They swarm like bats round the fattest mosquito, the Furtive Men, til the waiting visitors are unseen. Knives are brandished. Knives are hidden. Hands fumble for purchase. The sound is maddening, that jangle and trickle of fortune and luxury, driving the crouching hungry stalkers to frenzy. The visitors will not go down. They won't die. A man strikes out....

There is gold in the night, pouring from darker darkness. There is fear brighter than knife, in the eyes and sweat of the Furtive Man, his hand in the heart of the patient passerby and clutched around...what?

Kavarrnus. Skin Men. Whistlers. Glassbadgers. Kin of Holding. The Shuffling Void. The Hollow People. The Empty Serfs.

Hood and veil falls from face before nothing, the Furtive Man's hand closes over and again against nothing, the jagged flesh of broken chest digs into his own. He looks around for men he knows.

Some have run. Some are dead. These new men he knows now all too well from terrorwet nights and heathfire warnings. Their bushy coats fall open and they draw from porcelein-white flesh, brighter than missing moon. There are razors. There are hammers. There are ropes and nails and stakes and oil.

The Furtive Man is no longer hungry. The Abandoned Shadows always have room.

Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Witchmaker General

Your skin is a Fireball. Your blood is a demon. Your nails are screaming cats. Yours is made to sow magic and chaos in this world, and to empower others to do the same. Power can be addicting, and if there's anybody who knows about addiction it's Moon Slave. You have the making of a horrible sorcerer and lifeline to the magic that burns the world, a towering mage whose shadow touches everything that can be compromised. You will get there. We'll start with the army. We'll start with evolution.

Witchmaker's Counsel

Beginning at 2nd level, the time it takes to copy a spell FROM your spellbook is halved if you are there, and you can teach a spell you have memorized to anyone without expending it; that is, they can copy from you, not your spellbook.

Witchmaker's Touch

At 2nd level, you can invest your power or knowledge in others. You may touch a willing living creature or inanimate object and invest them with some of your spellcasting ability. You lose a Spell Slot of any level, which is now invested in a target you have touched.

If an object is invested, you choose a spell you have memorized. Any being wielding that object may now cast that spell once, casting it at the level of the Spell Slot you sacrificed.

If a living creature is invested, they have access to the Slot itself. They may use that Slot to cast a spell they know, or to cast a spell which you have memorized, at the level of the Slot which you invested.

You also gain proficiency with Leather Armor, Shields, and all Simple weapons.

Empowered Reclamation

At 6th level, when you use your Arcane Recovery feature, you may recover Spell Slots whose total levels add up to your wizard level. That is to say, as a 6th level wizard, that you may reclaim up to two 3rd level Spell Slots or some other combination which adds up to 6. Other restrictions on Arcane Recovery still apply.

Body of Knowledge

At 10th level, you may use your action to touch any target, living, inanimate, friend, enemy, and set a Trigger. These are usually "if/then" statements and are attached to a spell you have memorized. IF these conditions are met, THEN the spell you designated is cast at the lowest level it may be cast, spending a Spell Slot. If you have no Spell Slots left then the Trigger is broken and there is no effect. All Triggers are broken when you take a long rest. Triggers may not be applied to cantrips. You may have as many Triggers active as your Intelligence Modifier.


At level 16, choose one:
  • You may have as many Triggers active at any time as your Intelligence Score.
  • You become proficient in Medium Armor and Military Weapons and Shields. You also gain the 2nd level benefits of another Arcane Tradition.
  • When you would use your Arcane Recovery feature, you instead recover all Spell Slots you invested using your Witchmaker's Touch feature.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Unbreakable- A BXish Class of Immutable Chi Prodigies

HD: d6 (For whenever that actually matters for spell effects)
Save: as Wizard
Attack: as Cleric
Advance: as Dwarf
Requirements: Wisdom 9, Strength 9, Dexterity 9
  • An Unbreakable's default AC is their 1+Wisdom (for ascending) or combines their Constitution, Intellect, and Charisma bonuses rather than any bonus from Dexterity (for descending).
  • A full day of disciplined concentration and rest allows them to heal 1d6 plus any bonus from Constitution. At level 4 this improves to 1d8. At level 7 this improves to 1d10. At level 10 this improves to 1d12.
  • As their action in a round, if they do not move, they may act as a font of lifeforce at a touch, healing a target by as much HP as the Unbreakable is willing to sacrifice from their own HP.
  • Unbreakables cannot benefit from healing conferred by spells, environmental conditions, or magic potions.
  • Unbreakables may not use shields or armor.
  • Unbreakables are proficient with daggers, clubs, quarterstaff.
  • At level 1, an Unbreakable begins play with 100HP. This number is never modified during advancement; they are considered to gain HD until level 9 for the purposes of spell effects or class features of other types but will never have more than 100HP.
  • At level 9, Unbreakables can stay awake, hold their breath, and go without food or water indefinitely. Their aging also slows to Elf speed.
  • Unbreakables may advance to level 10.
I wanted to take the notion of the support class and also the idea of hit points as kung fu to their logical conclusions. Unbreakables will survive better at low levels - at any levels - and are a lifeline parties may come to depend on. However they get no other special boogies. They aren't great in battle, they can't find doors, they aren't immune to petrify or anything, they're just...really fucking hard to kill because of their inner harmony.

I'll be honest, this is one of those ideas I enjoy not so much as an idea on its own but in the notion of getting it to table. They represent an Easy-but-less-interesting mode for low level stump grinder dungeons, in some respects, but they can still fall down an acid pit or onto a stalagmite and die. Just slower. They can still get turned into a statue or Death-Visioned. They just have a static bucket of life because they were born fonts of chi.

Smoke Assassins

This has nothing to do with anything, I just like it.
Forgive me for belaboring the world above ours. Not in the heavens, but over ours, around ours, wrapped like wool on a sheep, an intrinsic part of all things that the dermis and sebaceous glands hold no conscious knowledge of. Forgive also my once again reminding you that we are never talking about one world but worlds within and without worlds, circling through one another, and entire levels of beings separate from ours. It's said we come from these places. It's said we go to these places. It would be nice if these whole spheres of reality we cannot perceive had no effect on us, did not shape our destinies, were not fearsome and enormous. It would be fair. Bear with me for pointing out the obvious that this is not the case and the invisible environment, the souls before they come flesh, the dead and gone but not quite gone after all, touch the world we inhabit and send horrible little ripples and whorls out, distorting everything like moonlight.

For simplicity's sake let's use the word Ghost from here. They leave ghost traces, they're usually only experienced in a way you're barely sure you experienced at all. That's not always true. Sometimes whole places are ruined for centuries. They draw death. Or they draw dead. Or the not yet dead, the never-lived, or they draw out the spirits of the world and wood. They ruin hope and life in these places and make everything poorer.

We are not without our antibodies.

There is still blood in this world, unbroken from a fabled time of the True One World when all was as all else, not the invisible whorls and layers of being. Maybe they were dipped in magic from an age of still-mostly-fishes. Maybe the universe protects its own, although when has that been the case? Perhaps it is a single spell which persists across generations. A better word for that than spell might be will. I like to think that there's a sense, an insight, which all can attain which these people possess from birth. Wise in the cradle, eyes fully open, hands clenched, little knuckles white, not crying only resolved.

They come from the Smoldering Forest in the shadow of Ten Finger Mountains, and the ash and snow they pray in, naked, shows no footprint of the world above and beyond and below. Still these people from beyond the Plains of Torturous Beating walk freely in all worlds, plainly, with full knowledge of the horrors surrounding us all. They speak the tongue Gil-Foy-Ram, ancient and forbidden and aphrodisiac and demonic and powerless and Correct. They throw down their sabres in the haunted places. They are peace to the catacombs. Touchists, Visionaries, Mystics, Overkind, Beyonders, they are Too Many Named.

They are the Smoke Assassins and they can punch Ghosts.

Forgive me for the simplification. Smoke Assassins can touch what cannot be touched. They can smell the places where the outercreatures have made contact, tracking them like voles. They can see even those unaware, who cannot see us, the unseen intruders whose lives ruin mortal man only casually and collaterally.

They can punch Ghosts. They can hear the whispers of things without language beyond all ken. They watch the spirits of trees boil within their rocky and papery skins, licking out, hungry. They feel the laughter from the fire as it chortles down kindling, and shatter the smoke rising from it at their touch, sending black translucent splinters spearing into the ash.

Smoke Assassins do not magically have the ability to communicate with, or deal great damage to, or banish, or to keep separate the denizens and unseen layers of the global onion. But where others are oblivious or helpless against this Else they can perceive it, study it, interact with it, and, yes, with their bare hands, hurt it.

Their eyes are deep. Their skin is always hot. Their hair is always fine. Their children are always quiet and severe. Their old are prized beyond rubies for the many spirit worlds still for miles around them, as they were a moving storm pushing aside mosquitoes. They are taught from birth names for things we've never thought to intellectualize, and they consider the way of the waking world and the laws of man Options.

The Smoke Assassins always dine in hell, and may also elect to dine on hell. They are almost never the greatest warrior a man may meet, nor the wisest, nor the most traveled or beautiful or wealthy or talented. Their talents, their energies and interests, lie Away, and if they are nothing else then the most INTENSE person a man may meet might be a Smoke Assassin.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Shadowers- Shape-Stealing Sorcerous Skulkers for XXR and Other Cowboycrawls

  • Characters must have Intellect 9 and Wisdom 9 to be a Shadower.
  • They use 1d6 for their Hit Die.
  • Their Defensive Number is 13.
  • When in human form they exclusively use knives, machetes, and staffs, all Minor weapons.
  • They may not use Firearms.
  • They speak Lawful and any languages granted by their Intellect bonus.
  • A Shadower at first level has learned how to remove her shadow and swap it out with another. The body reflects the darkness; in this way a Shadower can become like another person, or else they may become another creature. A Shadower can cut the shadow free from any being they have personally killed but they may only take the form of creatures or persons with fewer Hit Dice than the Shadower. A Shadower grows in skill as she advances and may keep a number of shadows equal to her level. When not in use a Shadower has a Black Sack in which she stores the carefully folded shadows. Dressing in a new shadow takes three minutes. Shadows only confer the physical properties their shapes suggest; becoming a Coyote grants you their strength and claws but not the ability to create other Coyotes, for example.
  • When wearing a strange shadow a Shadower must make a Tricky Save (plus their Wisdom bonus) or believe themselves to be the person or creature they pretend to be; Shadowers failing this save take 1 Shock. The Shadower will behave accordingly until they are first wounded or until they are further Shocked. Additionally, if a Shadower stays in a strange shadow from nightfall to sunrise then they become trapped in that shape and gain 1 Shock. Finally, if a Shadower's own shadow is ever lost or destroyed they lose the ability to Shadowcraft and suffer Shock equal to the HD of the creature whose shadow they currently wear. They cease advancing.
  • At level 4, they may use their Shadowcraft ability in combat, but it takes five rounds. They may hasten this process down to 1 round but, for each round they reduce their transformation by, they take a penalty to their Tricky Save to avoid self-deception.
  • At level 7, they may change their shadow shape in 1 round without penalty.
  • At level 9, they may become living shadows: intangible, free moving, utterly silent, and with a bonus to their Hit Points and Damage for every light source within 60'. As with other shadows it is possible to get stuck in this form, preventing further advancement.
  • At level 13, Shadowers may gain access to any special abilities (petrifying vision, breath weapons, etc) normally possessed by the beings they become. If a shape would normally have spells associated with it the Shadower may only use this ability to cast Light/Darkness and Minor Illusion (focused on the flickering shadows of firelight).
  • Shadowers may advance to level 16.
Features Level XP HP
Shadowcraft 1 0 1d6+1+Constitution bonus

2 1650 +1d6+Constitution bonus

3 3300 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Swift Shape 4 6600 +1d6+Constitution bonus

5 13200 +1d6+Constitution bonus

6 26400 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Instant Transformation 7 52800 +1d6+Constitution bonus

8 105600 +1d6+Constitution bonus
Living Darkness 9 211200 +1d6+Constitution bonus

10 323000 +2

11 435000 +2

12 547000 +2
True Shaping 13 659000 +2

14 771000 +2

15 883000 +2

16 995000 +2