Tuesday, September 13, 2016

into the rust

The Rust Belt is a kind of apocalypse.

Midwestern America has entered a post industrial stage of economy, just like most of the US. For the previous steel and car manufacturers, this means a slow ruination of the whole economy, spurring mass exodus among the working class to the cities (though that doesn't always help).*

Much has been said about the use of apocalyptic fiction in a game world - arguably the kind of game practiced around here depends on it - so of course it was interesting to notice recently that one such apocalypse has been occurring for near forty years right on my doorstep in Ohio.

I want to game in this place: a Wild Midwest, full of the lost mines and scraps of a dead industry. Rusting fences and edifices in quiet woods. Sleepy farms covering wrecked engines. No one remembers what happened here.

Vaporware 2016: Into the Oddwest?

*In the interest of factual clarity, much of the Midwest is currently on an upswing economically, having switched to service and online industries. There are literally one thousand colleges here too so lots of bright young minds are at work solving problems etc

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

other druids, part one

So druids. They are basically paladins of philosophy under a certain understanding. The natural world is a certain way, therefore there is an appropriate way to live and ideals to strive for. I've been thinking about what other worldviews druids might hold, and how they might go about presenting them: 

WHITE: The Perfect Circle

from DeviantArt

Nature is simple, in its purest form. Time and corruption has complicated it. Purging the world of its mutants and mechanisms will return it to the ideal.

Part Luddite, part medium, part math savant

Usually on a purging mission. Focused on their purpose.

Allies: earth elementals, ghosts, angelic architects on early creation, snakes, crystals, modrons

Abilities: alkali touch, posterize, disenchant, abstractify form, devolve

Appearance: simple, even low-poly garb, symmetry, geometric mandalas, eager to debate principles

Names: the higher the rank, the fewer sides. Twelve-Sided Chua, Keme the Heptagonic

BLUE: The Empty Circle
also from DeviantArt

The truth is that this world is an illusion. Only through the power of intellect will one be in harmony with it.

Part Zen monk, part Loki, part Neo, part 4chan

Speaks in riddles and lies. This is supposed to lead the worthy to a deeper understanding.

Allies: pixies, magpies, foglings, tanuki, Enitharmon

Abilities: Naruto-style clones, wuxia jumps, alter appearance, disguise animal, maze

Appearance: obscured faces or masks, affected accents, nondescript looks beneath garish disguises, minimalists

Names: Usually a number of chosen aliases. Unknown Joshua, Riddlefist, and Master Nameless are likely one individual

Monday, June 13, 2016

Class: Fashionwitch

You are the offspring of a fairy and their changeling couturier. A half-breed aristocrat.
Saves & attack progression as thief

You know one spell you can cast once per day/long rest. Roll a d6 and a d8:
1. Flesh into Clay
2. Flesh into Salt
3. Flesh into Amber
4. Flesh into Snow
5. Flesh into Tallow
6. Flesh into Ruby
7. Flesh into Glass
8. Flesh into Frogs
1. Bones into Wood
2. Bones into Ice
3. Bones into Lead
4. Bones into Bread
5. Bones into Eels
6. Bones into Magnets
7. Bones into Clockwork
8. Bones into Bells
1. Skin into Leaves
2. Skin into Paper
3. Skin into Verdigris
4. Skin into Moss
5. Skin into Chrome
6. Skin into Leather
7. Skin into Scales
8. Skin into Beetles
1. Blood into Maggots
2. Blood into Vinegar
3. Blood into Crude Oil
4. Blood into Wine
5. Blood into Espresso
6. Blood into Perfume
7. Blood into Honey
8. Blood into Steam
1. Become Rodents
2. Become Rain
3. Become Moths
4. Become Parrots
5. Become Shadow
6. Become Song
7. Become Chalk
8. Become Marshfire
1. Command Candles
2. Command Needles
3. Command Songbirds
4. Command Breeze
5. Command Flowers
6. Command Moonlight
7. Command Hair
8. Command Shoes

Talk to your GM about the effects. Any saves or damage are modified by CHA, duration is CHA bonus + lvl rounds unless reason suggests otherwise. Each time you level you may roll for another spell

Your clothing is like armor to you. Costs triple the relevant type (leather chain etc) but weighs nothing. Also gives its bonus to rolls regarding the will (persuasion, saves against fear, etc).  However, wading through sewage, bleeding, walking through fire or otherwise dirtying it have a1 chance in 12 to ruin them, then it no longer gives any bonus. This chance increases by one each time it is rolled, but a long rest resets it to one. Ruined clothing must be replaced.

Start play with leather equivalent (+2 in most systems)

Look at the list of weapons. Like the ones you start with  or can buy in shops. You aren't proficient in any of those. You can reliably slap somebody for like, d3 damage, but otherwise no no.
You can attack with your clothing. It animates and deals damage with a die closest in size to double its bonus, plus you compel it to do more so add your CHA bonus. (So a +2 dress deals d4 damage on a hit, plus CHA bonus). Usually this is in the form of some kind of animal part or weapon shape worked into the design. In fact you should probably be pretty detailed in describing your clothing and make sure you have a picture. Draw one (or google a crazy designer) each time you get a new outfit.

I came up with fashionwitchs a while back when thinking about Jonathan Strange and wondering what half-elf in such a world would look like in play. That coalesced with a handy picture of Alexander McQueen dresses into the last post. Since then I've assumed that the only elves are fae and the only half-elves are witches, but recently realized they actually needed some rules. This class combines my love-hate for maxing out equipment stats and a sorta tumblr "constantly redraw characters with new outfits" mentality.

Monday, May 30, 2016

strategy "traps"

Regarding this video about Dark Souls and the nature of traps.

1 - single big melee threat/multiple melee enemies engage on ground while ranged attacks from above
2 - single undefended ranged, but after engaging two hidden melee attackers charge in
3 - narrow entry; two slow enemies part and flank
4 - ranged on ledge; back route covered by another ranged
5 - noisy stairs/alarm alert hidden enemy behind
6 - multiple slow enemies in middle of area hazard
7 - single strong slow ambusher, route to easy counter-ambush
8 - extremely strong but almost stationary enemy guarding door

I grew up on 3rd Edition and its strategy fetish and love of granularity, and it never quite worked for me running games. Traps in 3rd are a curious thing. They have Encounter Levels because it occurred to someone that they should give XP and things that give XP need to have Levels in order to be Balanced. They are disabled with a short series of flat Skill rolls. Most deal some normalized amount of damage that is related to their EL and concept, such as an arrow shooting out of the wall, or a more accurate, poisoned arrow shooting out of the wall.

None of these things are necessarily bad, but the way a younger me read them lead to the impression that they were all what Arnold K called “the band kind” of traps. In Skinnerian conditioning this could be called a positive punishment reinforcer, but without any focused behaviour to be conditioned in an exploration-based game it ends up producing paranoid style behaviour from players, or a fatalistic “life is pain” philosophy.

So back to Dark Souls. A trap encounter can just as easily be a monster placement. These are a few setups from the early game; one just needs three enemy types: normal melee attacker, slow but heavily armed and armored, and ranged.

Monday, May 2, 2016

a couple classes

Planning on running Maze of the Blue Medusa at some point and have been tinkering with the Pernicious Pamphlet/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen world as the frame setting so here are a couple classes using Pierce Shea's ROT format. The first is an amalgamation of 3.5's Archivist and a handful of other blog classes like the Dungeon Hacker, the second is a reformulation of Hill Canton's Black Hobbit mixed with an angry 99%er. Still working out the numbers etc

Primary stat: INT
Hit Die: 1d4

You work for some kind of college or museum and hunt down and recover artifacts for them. You are a nerd

~may only use light weapons and armor
~know one additional language
~have advantage when using grimoires to answer a question
~knows read magic and one other cantrip, and one of the following: Cure Light Wounds, Hold Portal, Light, Protection from Evil, Sleep, Ventriloquism. Can cast each spell you know once per rest.

and knowing your allergies you will be resting often
+1 XP an enemy successfully Saves vs your magic
+LEVEL XP return an artifact to your institution

Roll 1d100 on this table twice every level, including first. You can pick any entry below 60 instead of rolling the die. You can repick anything you’ve already rolled if re-rolls are mentioned. Roll again if you get a result that offers no further benefit.

01-20 learn a spell written in a scroll or tome
21-30 +1 to all Saving Throws
31-45 +d4 HP
46-60 choose one: gain proficiency with Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion. If already proficient, gain advantage on checks with that skill instead
61-70 gain one free correspondence with distant lands per session. Must have at least the name of recipient
71-80 +1 Intelligence or Dexterity
81-90 can Identify a magic item with a successful skill check (depends on type of item). Must take a long rest, and only one try per item. Rolling again means it is possible with a short rest, and it can be used with magic wards or constructs. Rolling again allows disabling and potentially reprogramming of such magic effects
91-95 can now recast used spells by sacrificing a willing or helpless creature with HD of at least the spell’s level. Rerolling adds 1 to the save of any spell cast this way
96-00 can speak with spells in spellbooks or scrolls, or those stored in a wizard's brain, which can sometimes be convinced to cast themselves at a target of your choice.  Roll a d6: 1 = spell is cast on the target you desire, 6 = you piss off the spell and it casts itself on the worst possible target. Rerolls increase your chances by 1 each time.

Primary stat: STR or DEX
Hit Die: 1d6

Take back Albion for the common man

> may use any weapons and armor except for heavy
> speaks Lament in addition to English
> can manufacture molotovs that deal 1d8+1 damage in a 10-foot range and set things alight. They can make one per long rest with £30 worth of material
> advantage on Charisma skill checks when exhorting others to perform acts of mischief and mayhem
> -1 on Reaction rolls from members of the government

+1 XP for failing a save
+LEVEL XP for deposing a noble, tyrant, boss or other leader

Roll 1d100 on this table twice every level, including first. You can pick any entry below 50 instead of rolling the die. You can repick anything you’ve already rolled if re-rolls are mentioned. Roll again if you get a result that offers no further benefit.

01-20 +1 to ranged attack rolls
21-30 +1 Saves
31-50 +d6 HP
51-65 +1 to ranged damage
66-80 +1 to Stealth
81-90 +1 to Dexterity or Charisma
91-00 create dynamite instead of molotovs, d12+2 damage. Additional rolls increase the number you can make per long rest by one

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

i encounter the knight automatonic

1 - Washed ashore, covered in barnacles; seaweed-entangled limbs and sand-clogged guts (clean out inner workings)
2 - Shattered, limbs blown off in some ancient catastrophe (reassemble)
3 - Inert in coffin, chest open. Bright arcing heart in crucible (replace in chest)
4 - Bound tight in an empty vault, hung from a dangling chain (free bonds)
5 - Frozen in clear sea-ice, swimming midstroke (thaw and dry)
6 - Strapped to table, attached to lightning rod apparatus (flip switch)
7 - Buried in sand, its fine filigree circuits scoured (retrace circuit connections)
8 - Embedded in a tree, branches and undergrowth grown around its limbs (cut away plants)

1 - Fist sized bronze cubes, rippling like a pixelated figure. Can stack up to 20ft as climbable blocks
2 - Marble statue of a buff princeling. A valuable, attractive piece of art when motionless
3 - Etched coils of silver curls flow over each other like snakes. Can fit through small holes
4 - Brass armor like stylized flames. Immune to cold; speeds up in heat, faster until it melts
5 - Boxy green-enameled armor. Helmet plume from extinct bird. Plant & animals never attack it
6 - Head like security camera, cloaked and hooded. Bonus to stealth
7 - Golden likeness of a many-armed god. Roll twice on WEAPONRY
8 - Oxidized iron body, top heavy like Superman. Can fire six chest missiles each long rest

1 - Estoc (exploding d8)
2 - Hex wrench tetsubo (d20, loses a turn on miss)
3 - Radium broadsword (d8, glows and save vs poison radiation on hit)
4 - Rack of wakazashis in its back (2d6, always has another if disarmed or thrown away)
5 - Morningstar steam-fists (d8, rolling sends them flying)
6 - Spinning saw blade (d6, save or lose a limb)
7 - Oversized grabbing claw (bonus to grapple, crush d6)
8 - Drillbit lance (d8, odds ruin armor)

1 - Rex Talionis. An iron crown on its head. It claims to have memories of a king
2 - IG-77. A bandolier across its chest. A mercenary
3 - Knight of the Cartridge. Wears a round table emblem. Has romantic fixation on member of royalty
4 - Master Nameless. A black bandana. Assassin-hunter
5 - Newer Elements of Our Defense. Face of a human soldier. Tomb guard
6 - Unknown Joshua. Childlike naivete. Plays tic-tac-toe with anyone willing
7 - Three Interlocked Pigeons. Quotes engraved excerpts of Hidden Leaves. Ronin knight
8 - Turagapadabandha. A chess knight atop its turban. Might actually be a hoax.

1 - Two grinding metal disks produce one-word shrieks
2 - Resonates body and floor to speak in resounding echoes
3 - Alters shape of holes in latticed head to create a fluting voice
4 - Silent. Etch-a-Sketch face shows pictographs
5 - Only expressive whistles and pops
6 - Tinny voicebox in head. Precedes with description: “Query” “Command” etc
7 - A calm seemingly male monotone from its one pulsing eye
8 - Totally normal human voice. Ridiculously complicated workings for proper imitation

1 - to enact revenge on a conquering nation
2 - to guard its sleeping masters
3 - to bear an urgent message to a foreign monarchy
4 - to map the poisoned wastes of the beastmen
5 - to recover a holy relic for its clergy
6 - to preach holy writ to the dominant heathens
7 - to activate a great weapon on behalf of a guerrilla group
8 - to ensure the prosperity of its creator’s descendants

1 - they are in hiding, a persecuted minority
2 - by all accounts they never existed
3 - that was on the other side of the world
4 - it has forgotten who they were
5 - they are rather well off now and wish to hide what it knows
6 - it appears similar to a legendary demon of theirs
7 - they have been gone for an age, but its reactivation heralds their return
8 - they were horribly cursed or mutated by an event that it caused

1 - Wind-up alarm clock
2 - Fist-sized perpetual motion machine
3 - Sample of reverse-engineerable alchemist’s fire
4 - Wiring and generator, like a janky taser
5 - Sliding puzzle key to the Pyramid Calculative
6 - Polished slate prophecy of the prehistoric serpentmen
7 - Salvageable mainspring and winding mechanism
8 - Chaos Butterfly fossil

See also: Asimov, HAL, Prehistory, Time Travel, Robots, Rip Van Winkel, Arthuriana, Chivalry, Programming, Droid concept art

wip for fun 4 by Reza-ilyasa