Monday, November 27, 2017

Moon Slave VDND World Tour- Corruptor (a Rogue Path)

The Ichor Within

At level 3 you gain proficiency with a Poisoner's Kit. You do not have to have the physical kit on you in order to benefit from this as long as you deal 1 damage per level to yourself, using your blood as the physical components of your concoctions. You may only have a number of poison doses prepared equal to your proficiency bonus and you must save against each of these when you take Bludgeoning/Crushing/Falling damage to avoid breaking their containers and exposing yourself. You are only adept at creating contact poisons, which take effect on the target's next turn.

Crow Touch

At level 3 you may use your Cunning Action to perform a Sleight of Hand check in order to safely expose a target within 5' to a contact poison. You may also attempt to "splash" this on more than one target within range but you must yourself make a Constitution save with Disadvantage in order to escape the effects yourself.

Toad Touch

At level 9 you gain proficiency with an Alchemist's Kit and gain the ability during a short or long rest to convert a magic potion to take effect on skin contact.

Moth Touch

At level 13 you may create alchemical poisons that cause the target to be affected as if they were a different category of creature, such as Undead or Infernal or Elemental. The target will be affected as if they were the type of thing in question.

Collector Mentality

At level 17 successful check of both your alchemical and poison use and access to the corpse, willing essence, or unconscious access to a monster will allow you to distill a monster ability such as mummy rot or petrification into one of your contact poisons.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

REVIEW: Bastards on Horseback, by Dex Logun and Lady Croose

Rodney Matthews

When the Second Age dawned on a gray kind of sand and a copper manner of ash there turned out to be a much reduced emphasis on the classic cam-pak, or adventure or anything resembling the modules of other companies. Certain of Adder Entertainment's releases began to feel more like some kind of madman got hold of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and thought that was prescriptive. The kind of dense lore exposition and world building infodump involved would make even a viral YouTube simplification shit bees with confusion. Perhaps the worst offender of these would be our old friend Nathan Goodwrench Hosea, late of Cyclopean Romanse and then-most-recently of the now infamous Stigma Systics. Easily the true champion of this sort of funhouse-mirror-version-of-a-historical-fantasy-novel approach was Japanese-Indian metal guitarist and pog doper Fear Star, alias Jane Mahuri, whose epic exploration of the un-trilogy we will ruminate on later since the story of Time Colossus Go Fuck and its strange transformations is a column unto itself.

What if that box text and crowbarred-in Mary Sue shit didn't just make you go "kill me now?" What if a story could actually talk you to death? The establishment-challenging mixed race marriage of a traditional Æ apocalypse romp and the new hotness of "anthropology textbooks that ain't happened" was put together by one of Æ's unsung giants: The Black Knight. Trapmaster Cosmodamus - founder emeritus Dex Logun, the woman who could trick you.

Bastards on Horseback ride from the horizon in a very literal sense intent on sacking a city. Again, very literal: they are going to break every person, creature, and thing into a smaller more manageable form and then bag up the whole enterprise to schlep back to a between space to be reassembled into a new kingdom and people of their liking. In this way potential always grows, until the tipping point where potential must needs become necessarily kinetic. You could call this a fight with heaven if you like, except we all know Æ actually published that one. This is a pillaging from the Frankenverse.

Lore is a punishment when time is of the essence. Stopping the wildfires takes priority over finding out which fucking teenager carelessly started them. Should the riders breach the defenses erected by the party over the course of their preparations then they are treated to more information about their enemy. There is a hard ticking clock here, though - sunup to sundown - and your enemies have the benefit of paralyzing tiny mortals with the enormity of themselves. The more you know the better you can fight but you lose your greatest weapon: chrono-ammunition. You could always elect to investigate your foe ahead of time but that gives you less opportunity to prepare defenses, even though those defenses would be more elaborate. Bastards on Horseback is a book about making you ask to be told how you lose.

Appendix abuse is rarely so egregious as this publication's Appendix Gray, a brief outline for rules regarding combat, locomotion, magic, and death elocution in the strange horizon would should you choose a pre-emptive strike or actually roust the invading cavalry and chase them back to their homefield advantage. While there is enough here to play a session, a whole campaign even, (we've all made do with less) it is a criminal sin unforgivable from anyone else but from Dex...I like to consider this part of a meta-trap, a grander snare she has set for us all. Some have argued this might be a backdoor cosmology for a company who always deliberately resisted anything approaching continuity. When I first came to this hobby I assumed it was basically a resume' since the writing was by far on the wall in a big fucking God Is Dead And The War's Begun font and AE's second age was already on the precipice of Sickboy territory, not nearly dead but preparing for a long period of glowing embers before their comparatively recent snuffing. They would withdraw and remain Galadriel, Dex Logun as much as any.

I have since approached a new scheme: Appendix Gray is two traps. The first is a way of convincing you to get your whole party killed by trying to warhammer the unknown to death. "You can fight the devil" only means you can beat the devil if you can beat the devil. The option raises the question but does not beg it. The more insidious trap is convincing multiple generations that the story within and the rules within were the same thing. Here's how you don't play the game, it says, which means the rest of the book is how you play the game, and that Gray are special edge rules which must be similarly strictly adhered to. Remember, this was a glacial epoch shift for the company and they needed them a ferryman well versed in punishing players who thought they were smarter (and therefore morally better) than the designers. Here was a candleflame that decoding the epistle was always the aim and invited these brainteasers to a new Gordian challenge. In actuality this was simply Solomon Kane methadone designed to instill some new addiction you wouldn't know you'd acquired until the shakes began.

Dex Logun's ghost work on the Fire, Ice, and Steel era releases from Æ went largely uncredited and since record keeping is an art form even when some nutless fuck isn't setting buildings and people on god damned fire we have a hard time pinning down the scope of her contributions. Memories differ and blame is ping-ponged around and all we come away with is a looming miasma continent-like in drift. It is possible she designed deaths and devices for almost any notable Æ release except for their earliest efforts right through to the end of the Second Age. Her personal life is less the enigma, subject of the Oscar nominated short documentary Row on Row. Their name was in the papers a few years ago for her continued efforts to sue the British government to release Thatcher's body for "reverse-autopsy," a campaign which lost a lot of supporters when she started mailing major news outlets frozen blood phalluses. All the stranger behavior since Dex Logun is from Colorado. Lady Croose for his part was an underground comic book artist who took a for-hire gig in between painfully confessional zine appearances. Their dalliance in the gaming world left them screaming for the mildewed hotel conference centers of home.

You twist yourself into strange postures when you're trying to pleasure a partner seemingly incapable of direct communication. Anything to elicit a response. It's enough to just do something, just to see if it works. Remember with charity that it was a strange time, and gaming was changing faster than many in a faster world. There are treasures to be found in what I call the "histories" of the Second Age but they are largely buried in the very heap which defines them as works. They are sapphires in compost, and like that loam they would give fertile root to better trends in time. They were a kind of trap that Æ had to walk itself out of after building its own cage on all sides. But that, I think is where Dex Logun's Bastards on Horseback really shines. See, puzzles that aren't designed to be solved aren't good puzzles any more than a painting of a door on the wall is a great door for anyone not in a Bob Clampett joint. No, riddles are meant to be answered. Maybe not all devils can be beaten but you also don't have to try to fight the devil, or THAT devil, or on the devil's terms.

The greatest gift Bastards on Horseback has to bestow is splitting the veil and showing you the pharisees are just doing puppets back there. It is a work that invites (fair dares) the player to go "Actually fuck this" and run what they like out of the book and only that, using what rules they choose and agree upon amongst themselves. Game companies are not often in the habit of reminding their consumers that they are not required. It takes a confident creator to make that statement even in between the lines. True a thousand wrong lessons were learned from this in the same way that Dylan led a parade across decades of imitators with voices like cicadas murdering table saws but those were not Dylan's sins. As Faberge egg Bastards on Horseback is a rewardingly intricate museum piece. Shame it's nards as an evening.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Time and Tech for CaBH + Forte and the Rust Belt

Generally, unless specified, the nations of this world as a whole have a tech level roughly analogous to what we have now, with different countries or regions corresponding more to say an impoverished state (so the tech levels in the definitely-not-ghettos-why-would-you-ask in Johannesburg) to an ultramodern upper class one (Akihabara or Silicon Valley). Broadly speaking most people have access to a phone, of not a cell phone, though exact tech will vary.

Chevalle, for example, has a kind of high-tech-60s-to-70s, Archer-the-tv-show aesthetic of outdated Soviet style machines made to work for the modern world through great effort. While there is not a Japan or USA in this world per se the kind of culture we enjoy with our technology would be a step or two beyond what we have now, about the advancement level we'd be if everyone's Alexa was instead Deep Blue and that's about it. There are, as detailed below, exceptions.

Where Feng Shui is concerned when it comes to technology the key things it's concerned about  is time period or Juncture, and even this is 90% concerned with what kinds of guns you have access to. The remaining 10% is focused on whether you are stuck with a horse or can have a hoverbike. For our purposes we'll need to flip those numbers. First things: as FS assumes a default swath of proficiencies implied by your Type, CaBH assumes any racer proficient with their own Vehicle no matter the tech level of their background or the vehicle involved. Since the appearance and description of these will vary pretty wildly that's...good.

Apart from that there's nothing especially preventing a character from 1350s Mongolia from picking up an AK47 and figuring it out. It'll just take different rolls until enough practice is under their belt to imply proficiency, and this is using action movie definitions of "enough practice" where random dishwasher Jackie Chan can effectively use a bazooka when he needs to.

An exception to this is what the game dubs Scroungetech, weapons and body-modifications designed using machines from the far future designed to warp reality to the same extent as magic. The default setting's Scroungetech stuff is in flux due to plot shit, like the future blowing up and being run by monkeys. For us, though, Scroungetech simply represents a technology that is beyond. Perhaps it comes from a pocket of AI-assisted potential, or was designed with help from the future in some kind of Contact-cum-Looper situation. It might be the result of some kind of unique Holtzman-Spengler genius, or the kind of strange Tesla machines Lovecraft had in mind when he first wrote Nyarlahotep, technology created with understanding outside our world which allows for impossible things...

Very few Types make use of Scroungetech as a core component. If you're one of these Types you are either from one of the following places or your transformation was rooted there. Just finding such devices in the world, however, may not carry any geographical significance. It could have come from anywhere and, with some trial and error, is anyone's to use. People from high-tech nations will just have an edge, is all.


Forte is a kingdom with one foot in tomorrow. The seat of all technical advancement and medical breakthrough is one where every man is just a bit machine and every machine is just a bit man. AI capable of a level of independence, bio-assisted computing, smart prostheses, and other advances mean every person you speak to in Forte may be several "people" with their own identities and ideas. Forte is a futuristic paradise in many respects but at the cost of uniform participation as a requirement of citizenship - those who wish to abstain from any form of Communion or who see Derived Beings as inherently lesser are not punished except by forced emigration, before which any Fortean 'assistances' are removed. They share much of their gifts freely with other nations but require both a share-back guarantee for other advances and representation within that local government - an ambassador who is themselves a whole embassy. Tracking their leader is nearly impossible for someone unconnected to their framework so dealing with any sort of department head or group spokesperson should be dealt with as if dealing with Queen Victoria herself.

Dumesk was once a nation rich in all manner of natural resources. Many of those were stripped in preparation for a secret war which never ended up happening anyway, the Thrilight Krieg, for which neutral Dumesk was a seat of production for many nations. Abandoned factory and housing complexes nearly cover Dumesk now and she has little left to sustain her people, bartering with the leverage of incalculable debts racked up by other nations. Its head woman, affectionately known as "Babushka Brunn," has turned the processing power and monolithic thinking engines which fueled her nation's drive to its current state to a new task: developing infinitely within. Other nations can tap into the richer "metaverse" Dumeski peoples enjoy with some great expense or effort but here even the least citizen is able to neuromance with the best of them, creating marvels impossible in physical space into which the wind-snapped citizenry escapes. These are projected onto physical space in changing tides so that no visitor ever sees the same Dumesk from one visit to another....or from one street to another. They call it the Square, a nation increased by its own power, but everyone else on the planet calls this anti-apocalypse world "Dumesday."

To the distant west of Dumesk's capital it borders an old rival, Erlin. Erlin's progress has come largely through its mastery of the atom. They are chief when it comes to finding new and strange sources for the world's energies, though they don't always get things quite right. The consequences of this, lamentable though they are, also are inevitable. That's fine: Erlin excels at containment, making them powerful allies for SEDAN. Their society and politics can be a bit old fashioned and Chairman Holland, their effervescent elder statesman and executive leader, can be severe in the finality of his pronouncements. Nevertheless, Erlin is a place rich in transformation, discovery, and growth, not all of it planned.

South of Dumesk is what once was the Temple Sea, now something of a ruined heap of oxidizing scrap. When Thrilight Krieg was averted every nation began quickly looking for somewhere to offload its killdroids and death machines. Whoever dumped first is hotly debated but under the logic of "who will notice one more load" thousands of loads of advanced weapons and silver warriors were abandoned in the now-filled salt sea. It was actually a decade or more before the no-man's-land was noticed to be active - alive. Someone forgot to switch something off and a robo-nation made out of itself developed like a slime mold unattended. Since this was something of a no-man's-land already when the machines declared themselves the independent state of Ping their new neighbors decided to, well, roll with it...after all, they certainly didn't have the resources to fight Ping since Ping WAS their resources. The Clients of Ping modify themselves constantly, some serving as edifice one week and individual another. Peer, their representative to the rest of the world, has long reigned over an order of mandatory peace, these fearsome but gentle machines utterly lost without a manmade drive for death.

Finally, the tiny mountain nation of XXXThrill0 is little more than a series of volcanoes bound to endothermic industry. Constantly belching tons of black smoke into the world the small population here which hangs off the mountain faces in its black metal coffins are almost entirely concerned with maintaining mother nature's own imperfect boilers. Theirs is not an aspirational or forward thinking population but when it comes to Making The Thing Do The Thing few can surpass them. Their leader is the long-bedridden Count Dude, his advisor and voice in all matters of state the fearsome and canny Desdemona Troyer, and their most famous citizen....well, no one will officially say he hails from XXXThrill0 but we all know who we're talking about, don't we?

Sunday, October 1, 2017


Stripped of their blood and limbs by the enemy, stripped of their arms and mail by the common scum, stripped of their reward eternal by victorious but strange gods, the dead inherit only loam. Murder, misadventure, disease, happenstance, age, these all find homes under consecrated circumstances. Not so the battle people. They are Carted, claimed and carried, to one apocryphal blind box canyon where they are planted like ragged roses line in line awaiting a torpor and flourish that time and rebirth can bring only. The damned have been sown for centuries in gravel and clay made redder than God by unceasing hours of bony-fingered determination. They have been lain up a store, like pickles of apocalypse. Apickleypse.

Poorest imagination will reveal the purpose for this charnel pantry - it will comes easily to lips if you attempt to describe it - but the when: when is this hellcrop due for a mortal harvest? At what hour comes the Reaping Which Stands? Well here is a fear long heeded by the cleverer nations: The Deaths Will Come For You When You Come Looking For It.

The city state of Nuydeqag did not get the magical memo. Young and starving they have set themselves as a kingdom upon the goal of the tallowed valley. A bid for power or an ill-conceived attempt at smiting a known and stationed evil in the name of a boring sky-dad, that much is unclear: Nuydeqagites (hey real quick piss off with these names Ozco) are merely carrot and stick to justify spiriting your cast to the brink of high stakes disaster in a strange race where nobody wins unless no party reaches their destination.

Other forces are...well, not on your side, but opposed to the Nuydeqagites, and you'll have to deal with those as well. There are also the mundane mad and the wild people of the hills, disciples of pacifist war gods in search of a cause worth blaspheming for, a veil breached only by watching dispassion and the strange deer-faced insects who linger past the fringes all waking perception. Die and become the danger. Fight and feed what's coming. Follow....but steer clear the Carter and his nine forms of finality.

Illison Ozco writes, Monster does the illustrations.

A word about ghouls -

Ghouls are not undead, they are simply of-dead. They are perhaps most traditionally, most respectfully, a type of being, or perhaps a shade which an uncareful man might pass through, becoming something not themselves but also not just Send More Paramedics. Closer to a Wendigo, but for once not a WENN-DIII-GOOOO.

A Ghoul is compelling when they are not just another thing that wants to eat you, or another thing which is dead and naked aggression, or another thing which is some kind of faerie or some shit. A Ghoul is compelling when they need to eat you. More specifically, primarily, they need to eat the dead, and not the recently dead either. The buried and moldering bone case where your snout gets all pinochled up. They have been pushed to this by desperation because even the fallen and ripening have been long cannibalized due to circumstance, or else set on by wild animals whose lives are relatively comfortable compared to a Ghoul's own. You must eat the dust, low thing. You must dig for poison, cursed shape. That is all that is left. A Ghoul is a one who in their need has become so base that in all aspects they are diminished but in a strange way hidden to the sight of the gods they have become...if not more, exactly, no, not more, then only ah... deeper. Leatherface was not a Ghoul, Gollum was. A Ghoul is not one who likes a nice long pig now and again, a Ghoul is that one guy from Lovecraft whose house was so old and shitty and he ate so many people that he went so crazy his house exploded.

They need to eat you because they see it in you, a glimmer of everything that was lost, and you are a map to them back to love and light. They will grin and laugh and seemingly delight in the hunt as they paw at you down corridors dark enough for their grayed eyes to tolerate. Giggling scratchers, theirs is instead a damned jog after the last lifeboat on the Titanic. They are sinking. They do not know you cannot save them.

Illison Ozco missed her chance to go insane on dat good-good radioactive cocaine thanks to growing up without a communist shadow looming overhead but she didn't let a little thing like that stop her. Naval hero and one of the only historical uses of the phrase "Polish Invasion" that isn't immediately followed with "OH SHIT," Illison came to the second generation of Adder Entertainment with something to prove. In word this was that Eastern Bloc mysticism and a century of light bulb jokes could still produce a new generation's Ivanov but, in practice, it was positing the entire Eurasian clash-up as a spiraling gravity bigger than nations and bad ideas, a weighty ink like the aforementioned HP's bottomless Massachusetts. This is most evidenced in Abandoned Abaddon Abandon, her third of five projects for the company, in the web of Ultimately Assured Destruction woven between the local state-nations. Also, the Carter himself serves as a sort of Uncle Creepy koriphyos-cum-Guy-Who-Pretends-To-Kill-The-Shark-On-The-Jaws-Ride. Trusting him is not foolish because he will betray you. Trusting him is foolish because evil always wins out the prisoner's dilemma of entropy and expecting anyone to have any effect on the grinding of galaxy wheels is like counting on a maggot to stop a volcano.

If your cast elects to follow the Nuydeqagites' trail on the road then you get to see a series of nations braced for murder-by-suicide and the opportunity to patch things up along the way as their communities fall to shit while the Big People pretend at plans. If your path takes you over the mountain then looping, interconnected concentric trails must be carefully navigated or you join the Snow, one of my favorite examples of ghost-as-geography in gaming history. Go through the mountains and you have a harder time than Gandalf's slowest-pitch adult league softball team, coming face to face with home-grown parasite purgatories who looked at the attempt to build a physical world hell and went "hey, let me on that titty." There's a good generator for these but they end up way gonzo and that's me saying that: I let people play a bag. The three off-the-shelf options are much better.

Actually, speaking of the Gore Chief, let's talk about Monster, the prog botanist whose art adorns these pages. It's minimal. It's spare. It's affecting. It's completely wrong. Monster's art for Abandoned Abaddon Abandon was famously mixed up at the printer with the art it had completed for the licensed Tazmania RPG that Warner Bros. planned to put out. That means that while Monster's strange interpretations of John Astin's forgotten resume are captivating they are entirely alien to the text, which gives them their own weird horror vibe. The proofs that escaped into the wild from the quickly-scrapped Tazmania book show something like a true Coleridge experience while also serving to underline the hubris in flying too low to the common denominator with this particular pitch. (I'll try a Spinning ability score, that's a neat trick!)

There's your meme history for the week: this is why the Gore Chief lovvvves pepperoni pizza.

Ozco did not actually collaborate with Monster again although its artwork graced three of her four efforts for Æ. Monster would go on to heights of its own with a little cam-pak we'll discuss next time. As for Ozco, her jet accident left her with limited manual dexterity and cataracts in her focus but she still serves as advisor and ambassador for the Red Raj series of books over at Pinnacle.

Final note: the doomed Æ miniatures line was never reborn to see Carter cast in pewter but a 3D printer file for a pitched Reaper commemorative protoype made its way online last year thanks to an enterprising Tattoo Society member (among whom, unsurprisingly, a figure like Carter has proved popular). You can download it here for free but any donations you make over on the right go to efforts helping to free Skinny Tim, still in prison from 2015's GenCon Gridlock event at the Marriott.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Different Thieves

This is sort of based on the T&T Rogue and that "good at/bad at" system someone put together (I forget who?) and Telecanter's famous rogue but adapted for a FLAILSNAILS style experience and with an eye on this setting I've been creeping toward. Normal Thief proficiencies/restrictions/XP thresholds/saves/HD.


Each level choose 1 thing you are Skilled at. Whenever you would roll to do that thing, you roll an extra die of whatever kind you're rolling (usually a d20 or d6). You may always elect to take the higher roll or not, for the rare situations you might want to roll lower. If more than one roll is successful then the DM may either improve or multiply your success effect or grant you some additional boon, at their discretion.

At first level and at every even-numbered level you may either choose two Skills or one Expertise, which is a Skill that grants you two extra dice.

At third level and at every odd-numbered level you become capable of using a different kind of magic item. First comes scrolls/potions, then rings/clothing, then weapons, then armor/shields.

At first level whenever a Robber employs a non-combat skill while engaged in combat their allies EACH gain a damage bonus for that round equal to the Robber's level. If the Robber is off opening a safe during the gnoll fight then this doesn't apply.

Thieves who reach level 9 do not choose a normal Skill that level but instead gain either an Expertise in an existing skill or Supremacy in an existing Expertise. Supremacy grants an additional die as well.

At level 9 a Robber decides whether to become a Fighter or Magic-User and levels up from there using the Robber XP chart, gaining any abilities by-level as if they were the new class and the capability of using any magic items they can't use already. She no longer gains Skills, Expertise, or Supremacy. You do, however, gain a new ability score: Fortune. Once per day per level of Fighter or Magic-User the Robber possesses, they may take their Fortune roll in place of an attack, damage, or saving roll.

So what are Skills? They're something any character may attempt but they get only one die per shot, while Robbers get up to 4. This includes metagame concepts like the wandering monster check (which you can chalk up to the Robber's evasiveness) , initiative, surprise, navigation through wilderness with a map, etc. It includes pure combat elements like to-hit rolls, maintaining a grab, two-handed fighting. It includes old skills like Rope Use, things like LotFP's Architecture, 4e's Endurance, 5e's Persuasion, and Cooking and Herbology and Mapmaking and Tattooing and Seduction and Camouflage and Smithing and Disguise and Impressions and Handling Your Ale.

If you ask for something weird for a Skill it's up to the DM, who always gets to define when your Skills are appropriate. Don't go thinking you can just take Skills in Fighting and Stealing and call that lunch.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Strange Monks

Image result for fat cobra


HD: as Dwarf
Save: as Dwarf
Attack: as Dwarf
Advance: as Dwarf
Requirements: No ability score lower than 9 (or qualifying for the class with a Requirement Roll)
  • Boxers may use any armor and may use any weapon. They may not use a shield but gain a shield bonus if holding a two-handed weapon.
  • A Boxer's stances and techniques are limited by any armor, however. When a Boxer is the subject of an attack, hazard, or effect targeting their AC the Boxer rolls 1d20 plus their Wisdom bonus. If their result is higher than their own AC, the attack fails or is mitigated. If the Boxer's result is higher than both their own AC and the aggressor's to-hit result, the Boxer may make an unarmed attack as a free action. In this way an unarmored Boxer is always a safer, more fluid fighter.
  • A Boxer may also fight unarmed, doing less damage overall but gaining an added benefit. A Boxer's unarmed damage is equal to 1d3+Level. This unarmed damage is considered to be whatever type of damage the Boxer's target is most vulnerable against, including elemental damage or silver or holy water. Enemies who can only be harmed by magical attacks will be harmed by the Boxer's unarmed strikes.
  • At each level from 1 to 9 you may choose to make an additional unarmed attack per round or elect to learn a Special Move. Special Moves can be performed on your initiative and may duplicate the effects of a single piece from the Equipment List for a round. There is no limit to how weird you can get with this but a movement technique will always take place during a movement phase, an attack effect will always take place during attack phase, etc. This extends to armor and weapons; while armor bonus gained this way will not count against you for your evasion/counter rolls, the higher damage potential from unarmed damage duplicating weapon effects will NOT benefit from your normal unarmed damage's ability to bypass resistances and exploit weaknesses.
  • At level 9 Boxers become Masters. They may elevate level 0 characters to level 1 Boxers with only a day's instruction. Additionally they must choose to walk the path of perfect body, perfect mind, or perfect spirit.
    • Mind- At each level starting now you may pick one Skill or Language from your game and consider yourself 95% proficient in it, only failing in your attempt on a 1/d20.
    • Body- At each level starting now you reduce all physical damage, including from poison or elements or falling or other hazards, by half your level.
    • Spirit- At each level starting now you may choose one spell of any level from the list of your campaign. You may cast this spell once, and you are forever immune to its effects from other casters.
  • Boxers may advance to level 16. At level 16 you WILL be killed and one of your pupils will gain +5 levels in order to seek their revenge.

    Monday, August 28, 2017

    Rogue Time Lords

    Related image 

    HD, Saves, Advance as Cleric. No armor or shields, no weapons. Time Lords never gain XP from treasure looted but do gain XP from treasure they deny their enemies. They may use any magic item or scroll. They may advance to level 16.

    Time Lords have five abilities.


    When a Time Lord is reduced to 0HP make a save vs. Death Ray. On a successful save you Regenerate. Roll d100; if you roll above your Constitution, you survive and take on a new form. You keep your XP and levels but re-roll all ability scores and re-roll your HP. You may do this 12 times. Everyone at the table except you gets to describe some new affectation of dress or personality quirk by which you must now abide.


    A low-level psychic ability allows you to speak and read any written language; the DM may roll 1d8 twice in a row to make an exception but must get an 8 both times. If dealing with creatures with no spoken or written language who are nonetheless capable of language you may get only vague emotional states.

    Plot Devices

    Once per day you may produce from your pockets some gizmo or other that allows you to roll 1d30 in order to accomplish a task. If you still fail you must make a save vs. Wands/Devices or the DM may make up some worst-case-scenario bullshit to complicate your current situation. If you roll a 30 you not only succeed but may use the same gizmo once more before the day is out.


    A target must save vs. Petrification/Gaze or be under your influence. You are considered to have Charisma 20 (+5 bonus) for purposes of extracting information from a neutral party, intimidating/forcing a morale check for your enemies, or controlling your hirelings in a complex or life-threatening situation. An ally may choose to fail this save.

    Oncoming Storm

    If you survive to 9th level or your 9th incarnation, whichever comes first, you gain proficiency with all weapons and armor, gain the Thief's Sneak Attack ability, and gain a one-time-only d100 roll with a Plot Device (though rolling 100 gets you a second use). You detect as Chaotic Evil.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017

    CaBH Magic + 4 Magical Kingdoms

    Related image

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    On the tiny islands of Pilioimoi the most dangerous thing you can meet is a stranger. That's not to say that the folk there are fearful. Far from it: the beliefs of their nations hold that kindness, openness, acceptance, forgiveness, and an overall spirit of giving to strangers is the wisest and best option. For another culture this readiness to greet your conquerors would have led to some turmoil over the centuries but, here, it means that life has progressed largely untouched by the dangers of the modern world, barring a few technological conveniences. That is because the dangerous strangers in these islands have long been the peoples' protectors, swirling these misty archipelagos with boons and wards beyond reproach by other powers. The islands of Pilioimoi are where the gods go to both vacation... and to hospice. Perhaps it's inevitable that some of the less alien among them would fancy a good race now and again...

    Hobbits As Consolation Class

    Image result for rankin bass hobbit
    Inspired by this and this and I guess this and this.
    HD, Saves, Attack as Thief. Requires 2 Ability Scores of 7 or less. You may use no armor but leather and may use one-handed weapons/small weapons/d6 weapons, but nothing that needs two hands apart from a shortbow. You may use a shield with a melee weapon but if you do then your weapons only do 1d4 damage. The shield grants you an extra point of AC bonus from what normal folk get. No speed penalty but you can carry a quarter of what a normal human can.

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

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

    At 8th level you gain any 3 Hobbit powers you don't already have, are free to establish your own private Estate and attract a bunch of distant relatives to live on your lands, are considered fluent in the language of any creature you met in your journeys, and may choose to Retire. Retirement is important because you can come out of retirement ONCE and be treated like a level 16 Fighter by those around you, also gaining equivalent to-hit and save benefits.

    The effects you get to choose from are:

    Charming Manner: +3 Reaction roll. Note that this does not confer a Morale bonus for retainers.
    Escapist: Like "shields shall be splintered" without the shield; if you can explain how being little, thinking carefully, or leaps of faith might have spared you from what might have been a disastrous magical effect, hazard, or killing blow, then congratulations - you made it. Usable once per day. You can expend your use for the day to conveniently be able to wriggle out of bonds or through bars or whatever and get away, so long as there is the narrative possibility.
    Barrel Rider: You gain a swim speed equal to the fastest land speed in the party, can hold your breath for at least 2 minutes, and do not suffer check/attack roll penalties associated with being underwater.
    Forager: You have a 3/6 chance of finding enough food to feed the party in wilderness or grassland, 2/6 in a city, 1/6 in a dungeon.
    Bravery: Whenever a fight breaks out you may elect to suffer from Fear, as the spell, and immediately make a saving throw, making a save at the top of each round. If you save against this effect then you may consider enemies you engage this round to be under the effects of Fear for a number of rounds equal to what you experienced, minimum 1, no save.
    Christina Ricci: If you wander away from the party for one Exploration Round and are not immediately accosted or killed then you may rejoin the party at any point by declaring yourself to be inside something nearby, like a chest or barrel or cabinet or monster corpse. You do not have to explain how you got there, it just has to be barely big enough for you to fit into; rooms, closets, wagons, etc are not a suitable use for this.
    Plain Hobbit Sense: You always use your best/lowest save when dealing with mind-affecting magic/effects unless the source of that mind alteration is beer or drugs, in which case you are a lightweight and take any penalties for the effects after one dose.
    Redecorating: You make anywhere you sleep more homey. A Hobbit camp lets everyone who rests there regain 1 extra HP cumulative per night they and the Hobbit have slept there/settled in. If your players automatically reset to max HP after a night's rest, don't, but if you do anyway then add this bonus instead to the first healing the characters receive between safe night's rests, under the logic that a morning's invigoration puts one on the right foot throughout the day. Add 1 to the odds of a wandering monster check when Hobbit camping in the wilderness or dungeon.
    Overlooked: Your enemies who ambushed your party literally just don't look down and see you. You never act in a surprise round but are never targeted, unless you are alone.
    Hustler: Hobbits are passingly familiar with most common games and better at learning new games. If a Hobbit engages a NPC in a game as a distraction or tries to cheat at the game they add their level to the attempt.
    Dressed For Movement: Hobbits dress for comfort and like lots of layers, because it's like taking a blanket with you. The first missile attack targeting a Hobbit always makes a hole in their clothes but leaves them unscathed, although arrows and bolts will pin them in place. When falling this has a 1/10 chance of snagging them halfway down the fall, but when climbing it has a 1/10 chance of snagging them and causing a fall.
    Far From Home: A reminder of your life back home - being able to score your favorite tobacco, hearing someone else sing an old folk song, running into another Hobbit - eases your homesickness so much that it can overcome the effects of game elements like level drain or sanity loss, and in the presence of these players who are cursed or wield a cursed object are not affected by this curse. All these examples have a limited shelf life/benefit proximity so you're not untouchable but you can endure the strange foreign lands you encounter a bit better.
    A Bit O' The Drink: You respond well to a little liquid hospitality. A tall warm pint reinvigorates you as from a night of rest.
    Sworn to Carry Your Burdens: Magic or cursed items never count toward your encumbrance.
    Friendship is Magic: If there is another Hobbit or halfling (meh) in the party you are each +1 AC. If there are three Hobbits (but not halflings) in the party you each gain +2 to hit. If there are Hobbits, FOUR Hobbits, in the party then you all gain +1 Constitution. If this puts your Constitution above 7 you do not lose your existing abilities.
    Hillfolk: You wayfind and identify herbal, fruiting, or decorative flora as a Ranger of the same level, or 3/6 chance. You also have a 95% chance of tracking foxes and sheep.
    Reputable: Your exploits have a life of their own, even if you toil in obscurity. Once per session you can confer a boastful title upon yourself, your allies, or one of your carried weapons.This duplicates the effect of an NPC's failed Morale check.
    Bill: Any ponies you ever own gain +2HP every time you level and can Hear Noise/Search and Hide/Move in Shadows/Sneak as a Thief/Specialist of your current level. You may also use a Thief/Specialist's Climb rating to keep your saddle or navigate difficult terrain with this pony. They gain Morale 12 while you are alive.
    Rally Monkey: When you suffer damage from a critical hit your allies benefit as if from a surprise round on the next round of combat.
    That Dank Shit: You can always find pipe weed when shopping, and you (and only you) can always exchange pipe weed for spell casting or alchemical services.

    Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    Brave Little Tailors (another subclass)


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

    Brave Little Tailors have three abilities:

    Looks Can Kill

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


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


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

    Possible Mods

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

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

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

    Monday, August 14, 2017

    Crazy Boys (Lovecraft Level Drain)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So, Level Drain:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Sunday, August 6, 2017


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

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

    Shopgirls have four abilities:

    Heavy Duty

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

    Cleaning Up

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


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

    Have You Seen The New BT-16?

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

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

    Tuesday, August 1, 2017

    Feng Shui Rules Not in CaBH + the Grandissimo Prix

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Weapon Concealment will not be a factor.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Friday, July 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Wednesday, July 26, 2017

    Bagginses - A Stupid Dumb Stupid BXish Class

    God forgive me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    Other CaBH Source Material + The East Wind Circuit

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

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

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

    Inevitably He-Man.

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

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

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

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

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


    Only the sincerest parts of Freakazoid!

    Establishing shots of flowers and rivers.

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

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

    "The river."

    "Like this."


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


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

    DEEP in it.


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

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

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

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

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