Saturday, September 12, 2020

blatant appropriation - as - worldbuilding

 Now after the second sun was complete and giants were all gone, the world was all dark. The devils in hell lacked in souls to punish and so they conspired. “If men’s dark dealings are illuminated they will be driven further to sin. We will have our fill of evil souls to feast upon!”


And so they gathered all the flames of the ten hells to go out over the earth, so there would never be a time of darkness and all men’s shameful deeds would be clearly seen.

This worked for a time, and many souls hid from the terrible heat by fleeing to the newly cooled hells, but eventually they became fewer once more. You see, shrewd and wicked men reasoned that their deeds would only condemn them if they died and faced judgement. They resolved never to die, but to live off the bounteous crops granted by the fertile soil and the ten warming flames. 



The devils were furious when they learned they had been outwitted by men. They bid all ten flames to burn hotter in the sky, to reduce crops to ash and desert and to melt the frozen lands.


Now in those days there was a proud archer of the jaguar tribe who boasted far and wide of his great skill. “No man can place a target that I cannot strike,” he said. His king heard this, sweating in his palace and considered how to humiliate this arrogant man. He brought the archer, who was named Imix, before him.

“I have heard many stories of your precision in war and sport, and your great boasts,” said the king. “Now is your chance to prove it. There are some birds circling above my palace. They seek to steal the cold water that I hold in my cenote. If I blindfold you and you are yet able to strike one with your arrow, you may take a drink.”

The king did not tell Imix that the birds were the devils’ flames; great fire birds that shone as they circled the burnt lands. In this way he hoped that even if Imix were to succeed the devils would kill him and he would not have to give him any reward.

The archer agreed and was blinded. Taking up his bow, he drew back an arrow and released it toward the sound of beating wings (and towards the heat on his face). Everyone watching gasped, saying, “impossible!” When Imix removed his blindfold, he saw the arrow had struck true - piercing two birds at once!

A cool breeze was felt from that part of the sky. Quickly, the archer felled three more of the birds. Clouds began to form as he fired, and rain fell on him as he killed four more. The last one fled in panic to tell the devils.



When they heard of this, the devils roared and screamed with rage over their schemes being foiled. Nine of their fires were gone from the sky, so they instructed the last fire bird to fly higher and higher to evade the arrows of the archer Imix. 

The grateful men of the land lifted the archer high above their heads and seated him on the highest throne, declaring him their worthy king. Imix ruled the undying men of the land for a long age until the later days when he set out to kill the cold devils that continued to menace his kingdom.

The old king fled to the mountains, taking some of his warriors with him. They shiver in the cold and yearn for flight, searching the land for the fallen firebirds.

The devils in their cold underworld seek souls, and repayment for their lost flames - their fallen suns, and the undying jaguar men.





Wednesday, June 3, 2020

how I use Yoon Suin


Been talking with some folks about the recently extinct Yoon Suin and how I really like the weirdo format and excessive tables. Instead of rambling forever it seemed neater to just go through how I use it for game prep. I added page numbers so the kids at home can follow along, though since there might be a reformatted version in the near future they might not be helpful for long.

“After having generated a polity, its rivals, its problems, its assets, and its surroundings, there will be inspiration enough to draw up a list of rumours to tie your players into the campaign – or spur your creativity for a narrative campaign.” (142)


This is from Chapter 4: Làhàg and the Hundred Kingdoms. Pretty much just following the instructions and/or rolling once on each applicable table. Table rolls are in parentheses, page numbers italicized in parentheses, and bits of thought process as it unfolds are in brackets. [obviously if you have the pdf you could just copy and paste whole sections or table entries but I find that writing it out helps the memory and synthesis process]


1. POLITY (143 & 144)

Mess with some name generators and come up with “Idilsavra”

Leadership is a (6) debauched (5) mageocracy - a group of sorcerers who, though rivals, rule together [a source of magical weirdness and intrigue as they try to one-up each other? A chance to bring in some travellers to do devious jobs?]

Their symbol is a (2) crayfish and their main religion is (12) ancestor worship.


ISSUES & ASSETS (146)

I get 3 assets and, though it doesn’t specify whether or not to generate a starting issue I’m going to roll one too
Idilsavra is known for its (9) subterranean ruins, (14) velvet worm breeding pits, and (16) great forge [this has me thinking the underground will connect dungeon areas and maybe these worm pits. The forge could even be partially underground?]

It is currently dealing with a serious (8) famine [due to the squabbling sorcerers?]

These entries are further detailed on pages 149-155 which we’ll check out later for ideas for NPCs or scenes associated with them.


FLAVOR LOCATIONS (147)

These seem like more places of interest than active parts of the polity.

Idilsavra has a system of (6) cave mausolea [obviously these will be tied into the ruins] and (29) a permanent mist hangs over the city [the description suggests it might be a curse - from one of the squabbling sorcerers? Also an obvious cause for a famine, all the crops are wilting without the sun]


2. PCs’ SOCIAL CIRCLE (156-164)

Some social groups that are active in the area and have ties to the PCs. We’ll roll two:


(1) Shrine or temple [the local religion is ancestor worship, and the honored dead are buried in the cave mausolea, so this will be a shrine attached to the underground complex]

-is troubled by (9) paranoia

Notable persons are (1) a crazed fakir and (9) a temple beggar [presumably the fakir is the paranoid one]

But (2) someone has been scraping the gold leaf from the statues and walls [thus the paranoia]


(6) Elephant Racing Stable - “Pakshi Stable”

-is troubled by (6) madness [another curse? Or something more mundane?]

Notable persons are a (7) youth who acts as the stable’s mascot, and (7) a live elephant hunter [maybe the mad one. An Ahab type].

But (6) thieves have recently raided the stable’s treasury [more theft? The famine has made someone desperate]


HUNDRED KINGDOM PERSONAGES (165)
This is one of the few tables I’d be somewhat comfortable using at the table if I needed a quick NPC, but as it is the material so far has established a number of notable people and left room for many more - the descriptions of assets and issues describe a few possible persons each. I’ll come back to this later if I need to pad out a rumor or encounter table, or near the start of play if there’s a PC who doesn’t seem to fit with either social circle and needs a local connection.


3. GENERAL RUMORS AND HOOKS (167-168)

4. RANDOM LOCATIONS AND ENCOUNTERS (169-170)

If we wanted to stop there and work out rumors and encounters for the city-state of Idilsavra this is obviously a good point to do it. I like to have just a little more of the area established though so we will come back to this as well.


5. RURAL AREAS (171)

Idilsavra is mostly “civilized” but there life can be a little different on fringes away from the city proper.


SMALL COMMUNITIES (171-179)


1 Farming village

Notably the home of a (1) mad hermit, the villagers (4) worship a nearby chu-srin, and are often (5) menaced by a Thayé [a couple leads on locals monsters and a rival religion, not bad]


3 Bandit hideout

Includes a (5) runaway courtesan - a favorite of one of Idilsavra’s rulers - these bandits have (6) an informant in Idilsavra who spies on valuable goods [the reason for the stable’s robbery! Maybe it was the courtesan and she fled after drawing too much suspicion]. They have (3) only five members and a leader, and have [if we want to go ahead and generate an AD&D treasure] 6000 sp, a pair of gold earrings set with gems (7000 gp), a gold tiara set with gems (5000 gp),  a silver tiara set with gems (4000 gp), and a wrought gold crown (1500 gp)
[it makes sense that the silver pieces would be from the stable’s treasury, but the various jewelry seem a little more high class. Perhaps the crown has a crayfish on it and matches a recently de-gilded replica in the Idilsavra shrine, so of course all of the sorcerers each want it to show their sole rulership. Other pieces could be from somewhere else and have symbolism of a different polity, an extinct culture, or far away country]


LAIRS (181-183)


(6) two Shishi guarding the (3) burial site of an artefact [this references the old town artefacts on page 127, but would be a great place to stick a macguffin or magic thingy from a blog or whatnot]


OTHER LAIRS (183)


(20) a Jackelwere sleeps in (5) an abandoned termite’s nest when not infiltrating society as a human


the hunger


At this stage I like to categorize some of the results and connect some nascent threads.

NPCs - these folks probably need names
- multiple debauched sorcerers ruling Idilsavra

- possible people found in the subterranean ruins (154)

- possible members of the worm pits (154)

- possible members of the forge (155)

- shrine fakir, beggar

- stable mascot, elephant hunter

- farming village hermit

- runaway courtesan

- bandit spy


MONSTERS & ANIMALS

- various worms

- ruin denizens

- elephants

- chu-srin

- thaye

- shishi

- jackalwere


ECONOMICS

- famine

- great forge

- worm breeding

- elephant racing

- farms


MAGIC

- ruling sorcerers

- permanent mist

- stable hunter’s madness?

- shishi & artefact


RELIGION

- ancestor worship

- shrine, fakir

- villagers worshipping a chu-srin


UNDERGROUND

- subterranean ruins

- worm pits

- cave mausolea & shrine


THIEVERY
- stable robbery

- shrine missing gold leaf

- bandits & their spy


Each of these can be filled out and developed with maps, stats, and names, and turned into hooks without much trouble. Then, extra NPCs and rumors from section 3 & 4 can fill out the roster on who’s who and what’s happening in and around Idilsavra. Here’s a few either straight from the book or from these categories.


RUMORS

  1. The beggar outside the shrine says our ancestors are punishing us for letting these magisters take over - is that why this mist never breaks?

  2. I heard the prizewinning velvet worm has escaped into the old ruins!

  3. I saw Magister Vandawar’s favorite companion fleeing the city last week 

  4. The walls of the shrine are looking a little bare - I heard the crazy fakir was licking them clean!

  5. Without the old rulers’ crown, the magisters have no way to calm their spirits! That’s why their ghosts have been wandering the caves

  6. This famine has driven some to banditry - I heard they set up a rice toll on the southern road

  7. Don’t go out in the mist at night! One of the magisters has been making people out by the old termite mound disappear

  8. Pohund Pakshi the hunter has been muttering about finding a “white elephant”

  9. Magister Bazira’s commissioned staff never arrived from the forge and she swore to turn them all into toads

  10. The elephant races might soon be a thing of the past - the Pakshis have been having money troubles on top of no one growing food

...etc etc...


We can do a similar thing to make a basic encounter table, or use Section 4 for wandering around the city. I am losing steam and unlikely to run this so gonna stop here.


Some last things before running:
- find or generate a map for the outer part of the underground complex or use like the Caves of Chaos and replace monsters with worms, ghosts, escaped slaves etc.

- maybe a basic hex map of the polity as well. Name a couple nearby ones in case it comes up, sprinkle in a OPD or bits of a module you like

- go through chargen with the players and either state up front their connections (like, your old friend is now a crazy fakir in this city and sent for your help with the weird famine) or roll up more after they have characters using the personages table on 165.

- if we want to be fancy, maybe answer 20 questions or something similar.


Obviously this is just one way to use this great campaign resource, and it happens to line up with the kind of generative process I enjoy. If you read all that and thought “oh cool, a to-do list generator” other styles might be a better fit. If you read it and want to try it yourself, what are you waiting for?


there are ninety nine more

Thursday, November 7, 2019

containers in yoon suin


d12 ways the treasure (or hostage) is trapped

CONTAINERS
1. Snake coiled around, end visible
2. Ice block, object visibly within
3. Heap of sleeping wolves, part visible
4. Concealing swarm of koi fish/starlings, glimpses briefly visible
5. Giant crab or beetle gripping in pincers
6. Chunk of amber, distorted but visible
7. Gripped in teeth of alligator/hippo
8. Electrified bird cage
9. Mostly buried/set in concrete
10. Beneath water of soporific spring
11. Held by squirming tentacles/ ever growing vines, d6/6 covered at any point in time
12. Boiling in churning cauldron, visible 1/6 of time as other ingredients bubble to surface

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

some spells of English magic

By Rovina Cai


Animam Evocare*
Range touch
Duration immediate
Draws out the subject's soul as a floating mote of pearly color. It can be caught and held indefinitely (in which case the subject cannot have their soul taken by other means) but they will grow depressed and melancholic over time. If squashed the subject must save vs poison: on a success the soul reforms and returns to them, but on a failure they immediately die.
Note: personages with claim on a soul do not take kindly to using this spell on what they view as their property.


Butler's Shade
Range: 0
Duration: 6 Turns +1 Turn/level
Requires a mask. Conjures forth a mindless, vaguely human-shaped shadow to wear the mask that performs simple tasks at the magician’s command. It can run and fetch things, open unstuck doors, and hold chairs, as well as clean and mend. It can open only normal doors, drawers, lids, and the like. It can lift 20 pounds or drag 40 pounds.
The butler cannot attack in any way but counts as a spirit if that ever comes up.
It has impeccable taste in beverages whenever presented with multiple options.


Chauntlucet*
Range: 40'
Duration: 2 Rounds/level
This spell “encourages the moon to sing”, bathing individuals in its pale glow and filling the area with melancholy song. The moonlight can affect creatures within a 40' radius, and may outline up to one human-sized creature per magician level. Outlined subjects shed light that makes them visible in darkness at a distance of 80' and their greater visibility grants attackers a +2 bonus to hit them while the spell is in effect.
The song also gives all those hearing it an additional save vs madness, charms, or other mind-clouding effects.


Dissuade Trajectile
Duration: 2 Turns
Range: Touch
The magician projects out a dissuasion to objects moving towards them. Against missile attacks, the spell grants the caster AC19, and an effective AC17 for all other attacks. They also receive a save vs breath whenever they are exposed to falling or flung particulates like rain or falling dust for it to flow deftly around them.


Empatheticum (from Logan)
Range 60'
Duration 1 round/level
A chosen subject shares everything that happens to you until the duration ends. Emotionally, chemically, physically. Your feelings and desires become the subject’s to act upon. Purple smoke breathed into your lungs intoxicates the subject’s mind. A knife driven through your hand opens a bloody wound in the hand of the subject. Subjects of a level higher than you may save vs. Magic, and if successful, the effect is reversed.


Foucault's Plummet
Range: Self
Duration: 1 round/level
The magician holds up a lead weight on a string. Tilting it alters the earth's pull on them as their body flees unseen stars. Efforts to drastically alter vectors forces a save vs device to avoid falling damage.


Gateau Construit (from Patrick)
Range: 0’
Duration: permanent
An unfashionable piece of magic of foreign creation. Conjures a bridge made of fairly dense fruitcake. The bridge is 10’ long for every level of the magician. Its width is equal in feet to 1/3 of the caster’s Intelligence score in feet. The cake is solid and will support weight, but is about as hard to damage as polystyrene.
It is quite edible and will attract animals, but any persons attempting to eat it for more than one meal per day will find it quite nauseating and have disadvantage on all physical rolls until they get a proper meal.


Goblin Knock (from Alex)
Range Touch
Duration Instantaneous
The magician performs a special knock on a door. The door will open just wide and just long enough for a goblin to scurry out. It is not necessarily friendly nor hostile; mostly it's a goblin, and likely a curious one. It is also not the same goblin every time. It's just a goblin. Over time, the goblins will come to recognize the magician’s knock. The disposition of summoned goblins will change in response to the magician's treatment of their kind.


Hand of Glory
Range: 30' + 10'/level
Duration 1 hour (or less)
Requires the pickled hand of a felon and a candle. This spell causes a magical slumber to come upon creatures with 4+1 or fewer Hit Dice. The magician can specify areas within range (i.e. “only those in the room on the other side of this door”) or may have it only affect 1 creature if it has 4+1 or more Hit Dice, but the spell will otherwise affect all creatures in range totaling no more than 2d8 Hit Dice. Creatures with the fewest Hit Dice are affected first.
Slapping or wounding awakens an affected creature, but normal noise does not. Otherwise they wake at the candle’s extinction.


Mists of Afallach
Range: 20’ radius
Duration: 1 turn/level
The air around you cools and smells of the sea, forming a thick fog. Vision is impossible past 5ft inside of the radius and objects become cool and clammy.


Monsen (from Nate)
Range Touch
Duration 1 hour
The target must declare that they would like to use the monsen, and whatever is done next, 20 friendly mice will appear and assist. They act as well as they can according to their abilities, even dying. They stay for an hour or until the declared act is done.


Pixie Peon
Range self
Duration instantaneous
Ring a silver bell engraved with the name of a particular sylph. They appear before you to carry out an instruction: either fetching an item of yours (one significant item) or delivering a message to someone you know. They fly off and complete the task in 1d6x1d6 rounds. If the spirit cannot bring the object, the object is not the commander's legal property, the person does not exist in this world, or a command is not given within a few seconds, it goes insane and attacks whoever rang the bell until they are incapacitated (d6 sewing needle, 5hp, immune to physical attacks).


Sanguine Seal
Range: 10'
Duration: 2d6 Turns
The magician smears a thin line of their own blood across the lintel or frame of a door, window or gate affects it just as if it were securely closed and normally locked. The blood boils and hisses for the duration, releasing an odor of burning flesh once expired or dispelled.


Scopus*
Range 100’
Duration Concentration
The spell requires a glass filled with water. If magic is detected, a white, pearl-like light appears in the glass; the light shines as bright as a torch if the magic is very close by, going down to a slight glow if the magic is at the furthest range.
Detects cast spells, magical items, or any creature or object under the effect of ongoing magic. Magicians themselves do not detect as magic with this spell, but anyone that is under the effects of an active spell does.
The spell does not identify the nature of the magic, only that magic is present.


Teilo's Hand*
Range 30'
Duration concentration
Stops the flow of anything - rain, fire, wind, coursing water or blood - limited by the span of the magician's hand. Generally most useful with the use of tubes.


Ties That Bind
Range 50'
Duration 1 round/level
Compels a rope to writhe and wriggle at the magician's command. It can enwrap only a creature or an object within 1 foot of it—it does not snake outward—so it must be thrown near the intended target. It attacks with the magician's attack bonus. The rope does not deal damage, but it can be used as a trip line or to cause a single opponent that fails a Reflex saving throw to become entangled. Once bound, the end of the rope tugs towards the creature's closest living relative.


Via Obscura
Range 50'
Duration Instantaneous
Conjures a silk blindfold over the target's eyes. This can be removed fairly easily but is tied tightly, so it takes a round and requires both hands. The blindfold lasts indefinitely while worn but melts away into shadowy strands within an hour when removed.


Winter Feathers
Range Touch
Duration 1 turn/level
Target grows thick white down feathers, protecting them from cold weather and puffing them up quite considerably, causing them to fall as slowly as a feather.
The spell can be cast with an instant utterance, quickly enough to save the magician or another creature if they unexpectedly fall, but Initiative, if appropriate, must be on the side of the magician. No saving throw is permitted.
The feathers shed fairly quickly into a fluffy heap once the duration expires.


 * With apologies to Susanna Clarke

Monday, July 29, 2019

5e chargen

So I started hacking the PHB a while back:

Orcs: green tinged germanics
Half elves: fashionwitches

But without messing with the rules it's just a hipster collage of natgeo photography. So I stole liberally from Luka's houserules over at WTF, and added some backgrounds from old posts and various OSR darlings.

Take a look at it here

Gnome hack - remove all special abilities and score changes, and give them "Quantum of smallness: If you are unobserved, your size exists in a superposition and you can fluctuate anywhere between dwarf height and six inches to reach higher shelves or fit in little holes."

Dwarves as viking miners is fine. Just read up on Vikings (or miners)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

within cells interlinked

Mothership is really cool and you can pay what you want for the pdf. It's had me thinking about hard-ish scifi games and since you can play an android here's some blade runner 2049:


So using this in a game:

You're an android and the company you work for views you as property, probably. They don't want you getting any ideas about liberation or personhood, and so something they closely monitor is your emotion subroutines.


To do this they assign you a baseline (you, the player, should choose this if you want). This is like a stanza of poetry, a verse of a song, or even an excerpt from a speech or something like that. If you want to do the full-on experience (because why else would I be writing this) you get to memorize it and the Warden gets to come up with a half dozen questions pertaining to maybe a half dozen significant words in the piece - probably mostly the nouns but some other stuff too.

So now any time you return from a mission where you rolled on the Panic table they pull you into this little interrogation room and aggressively test your emotional response to your baseline. You recite your baseline and then can do the whole questioning thing if you want. Whether you do or not, then make a Stress check - your cool responses are what assures your unseen proctor you are adhering to baseline.

Success means you relieve half your Stress (Critical Success relieves all of it!) and you receive a bonus of 1d10 x level Credits.

FAILURE means you immediately roll for a Panic effect and hopefully have some friends on the outside who can talk you out of a pickle

CRITICAL FAILURE is same as above but you are also promptly slated for termination. Other players might come up with something to save you but it's doubtful it'll work more than once.


Monday, June 17, 2019

adventures from the blogs

from deviantart

Some free adventures that I'll try and update periodically:

The One Page Dungeons are allllll free baby

Excellent intro adventures from Dungeon of Signs

The Witch's List from Graverobber's Guide

Cave Quarry of the Chalk Dwellers from Valley of the Blue Snails (map missing but you can surely whip one up)

Stone Sky River Place from False Machine

Swamp of Monsters has a number of keyed locations, if not technically "adventures"

DUNGEON MIXs from Basic Red RPG

Dungeon Dozen has some free pdf adventures down the left side

Adventure PDFs (and a bunch of rules and stuff) from Goblin Punch