Wednesday, November 19, 2014

feathery asshole generator

Kenku (or tengu if you are of that persuasion) are obnoxious and caw a lot. Names are vaguely japanese sounding - I had my players name their pregen'd PCs for the first game we played and the kenku's player came up with "Doseki Su, of the Clan of the Pitted Eye" so that's what I've been working from ever since.

Clans are big, so multiple families make up each one. They're named after something vaguely related to some legend or other - Andy's was "the first of the clan had one eye and he died and a tree grew from the empty socket and we all live in the tree" so good luck finding something equally rad

The final syllable is the branch name, and the first three are the self name. Roll four times (d8,d6) to build these:

1 D
2 J
3 K
4 M
5 R
6 S
7 T
8 Y
1 a
2 e
3 i
4 o
5 u
6 ai
So d8:4 and d6:2 would be Me, etc etc. Made for the off chance my PCs will go to the kenku refugee city

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Quick places: Voldset

A little different than usual, more drama? or just interNPC bullshit

On the edge of the Sweetwater Basin in the midst of the thick, boggy jungle there. Curiously built with stone, it is a tiny outpost on an outmoded trail through the jungle. A portage was cut near the river a few miles away, so passage and water became easier to get for travelers elsewhere. It is abandoned more or less.

Castle built by the Kleppers to defend against elves. They were convinced the natives were all devil worshipers. Now interred in the crypt below, Othaniel and Avis Klepper brought a band of blind gargoyles they controlled with them to make building easy. They were reluctant but obedient servants and can shape and move stone very easily. Several still perch around the empty palisades, still as statues.

The Kleppers had two children who took over Voldset, maintaining its use as a waypoint for travelers. They also inherited their parents' fear of elves and devils, however, so the gargoyles will brutally attack anyone they hear to be elvish or associated with known demons.

Cultists of the Subtle Mire now meet in the crypts. They are led by Fastred Klepper, granddaughter of Othaniel and Avis, who regularly speaks with dead to receive xenophobic advice from her gruff grandfather and gossipy grandmother. She uses tar conjuration against anyone interrupting her consultations, but welcomes non-elves to worship with a drink of black milk. She wants to recruit an army of black-weep cultists to join with her in wiping out or enslaving the "subhumans" and has already begun poisoning the water of the basin against them. Drinkers or swimmers have a 1/6 chance to encounter dark motes in the water and must save against poison or start going blind and puking up tar over 1d4 days.

Haveran Klepper, Fastred's estranged cousin, lives with his elven wife Uyle across the lake. He witnessed the bound elemental within a gargoyle escape in his youth and developed a desire to help the good of the whole. He seeks to undo the damage his family has caused to the basin and is a disciple to the elf shaman. His adopted tribe has taken over the duty of helping travelers that Voldset once held, and offer perception- and movement-increasing magics.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

not your daddy's grimoire

I have been playing as an archivist (from Heroes of Horror) and while I like the flavor it's shooting for, the actual experience of finding scroll after ancient scroll with yet another 2nd-level druid spell on them (much obliged to the hospitable DM, Andy) sort of lessens the effect. 

Where are the forbidden tomes, the shards of forgotten lore? So I made a little listy thing. Your mileage may vary.

Saikomi Ka
a population map of the dark side of the moon dated from one year hence (with notes on recent developments)
Ibn Battuta
one hundred ways to convince someone to die by their own hand (a random three work on any given person, but using three incorrectly makes them immune to all)
Beobert Rothmund
the method of shedding one’s skin to grow (can continue manyfold)
Tannhauser Gate
a well-known national hero’s story, but revealing the truth (his cowardice and the evil it caused)
Dissident Priests
a pressed flower from the Buried Gardens of Ur, sickly sweet and muddy. It charms earthen creatures and calls the bearer downward
the Silvering Path
a drawing of a formulaic braille-key to the grinding Pyramid Calculative, quietly clicking
the Honored Dead
preserved skin-scrip from the Mummified Market, valuable to Nyarlathotep's slaver-priests
Westford School
notes on discerning venomous arthropods (and on living as one of them)
Birds, Summated
instructions to the path between stars (your heart will traverse it endlessly, with or without your body. It will never rest. You will never again be at home wherever you go)
Sun’s Dark Sister
guide to speech with the spirits of the sun (they are knowledgeable about many things but asking more than one question alerts their uncalled siblings. Shadowy companions seem to follow you in the memory of others, though never in the present. Eventually those around you begin to be killed by the dark sisters)
the Middling Kings
a process whereby the doors of far-future time could be unlocked (their contents flood into your body, your mind, your home. You are now future)
Salt and Glass
a history of a violent people who never lived. Reading it further causes history to change to fit
Western Queens
a massive genealogy, revealing the breeding machinations of an ancient order of witches (you may be related to this culminating person, or not, but you are in a position to help complete this plot. The sleeper must awake)
the War Without
knowledge of 4th dimensional movement and its application to unarmed combat
a living inscription; reading it will make it crawl onto your skin and hide under your clothes until a more suitable host comes along. You have no idea what makes a suitable host or what it even wants. It looks horrible
Massa di Requiem par Shuggay
instructions on the summoning and binding  of a white demon (depicts a dove, but insists that the protective circles are necessary, that it is a being of pure evil, and that it has some ancient and inscrutable plan to which you are an insect in comparison)
the Burnt Emperor
memories of your past lives. Gain their wisdom and experience but also their trauma: ember rings traced into your skin, lungs half full of water, a hyena snatches your liver
Lost Opak-Re
musings from the Mirror of Prophetic Irrelevance (it is signed up to a varied but arbitrary collection of twitter feeds)
Prusalto Gabon
observations of Gnollish frenzy-fires and the spirits they call
A Faire Wood Withering
blood-writ runes that would call the demons of the fifth and seventh planets (the sixth planet is itself a demon)
Apologies to Clark Ashton Smith, and various others.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Creature Design: Giants

So I needed a reason for some borderline science fantasy stuff to exist in my otherwise colonial-africa style campaign world, including a way for the coeurls to have shown up, and I figured aliens are as good as any. Naturally I watched Alien for the relevance and the ancient exploded pilot really stuck out. Having an old derelict ship helmed by a dead member of a extraterrestrial race of Goliaths is good stuff for a twist on a ruin.

Scrap Princess' mothfaced Cloud Giant has stuck out in my head for a while now and this would be a baller place to use it. Some kind of silent (because doesn't breathe with lungs) robed ascetic, 12 feet tall. Real cool for the PCs to find in the driver's seat of some bizarre metallic dungeon in the middle of a crater.

(Also, relevant to the campaign: I had named a location Puzzle Tower a while back to sow the seeds of just setting off into the jungle to explore, and later when it worked I realized there was actually nothing there, so the ship became long and thin and half buried vertically in a swamp. I really only spend a lot of thinking time on things I plan to be able to use, so its place in my world informed some of the thinking later:see below)

Also this and this and maybe this? and the second part of false machine's this joined the slow roasting redesign soup and eventually I had a dream about giant pale green moth samurai floating down from the moon, their feathery antennae wafting in the air. Add that they are watching the sleeping people and maybe helping them sleep? helping them dream. watching them sleepwalk about their business as usual. so thank you all, no further design needed

But wait, how shall they engage in the play of things??? you say. Well alright

They're silent but telepathic (and I mean for real telepathy, like psychic. No radio waves here) and generally peace loving so the discussion and broadcast of ideas is vurry vurry popular - on the moon. They do not breathe in the normal way and in fact do not need to breathe at all. They are sustained by the ideas themselves. They have fluffy skin and wear long robes which keep them warm as they migrate along with the shadowed portion of the moon each month. They do not understand why terrestrial creatures don't make a similar trek, and similarly why they do not burn up in direct sunlight. All strange mysteries, hotly debated among the craters

the Tycho Symposium

So they love ideas so much but are always sharing their own and as a race are bored or can't get sustenance from them anymore. They travel down to the multihued orb above their homes, hooking their minds together like a series of parallel processors to design and calculate spaceflight missions to collect the thoughts of the natives. Eventually they get bored of the humdrum thoughts of everyday life and begin spying on them at night, when they seem to do a weird thing where they stop moving for several *orbital period percentages* and create vivid thoughts that seem to be a mash of various other thoughts. To the giants this is like a delicious but novel salad - often familiar ingredients in an unusual mixture. These dreams quickly became the currency of fashion among them, rapidly leading to varying castes and economic classes. For the first time in their history the great soup of shared thought became quieter as members hid away to exchange valuable dreams away from eavesdroppers and riffraff. They started crafting swords for themselves, because moth samurai are to good to pass up.

Dreamers with particularly fanciful dreams are highly prized, and many are the morning they will wake to find shreds of greenish fur and pale feathery bits on their lawn - the sign of a territory feud between two dream giants. The giants' limited understanding about breathing and pressure means the dreamers are safe from kidnapping - the first few tat were tried suffocated or exploded so the giants have agreed not to do that kind of thing anymore. The sleepwalking thing is still troubling, though - unscrupulous giants will use their telepathy to suggest to dreamers to get up and walk, gathering together in a field or some such place away from nocturnal eyes, so a small group of giants might harvest all of their dreams at once, They are usually caught by the giant police after only a couple nights, but occasionally a community will find themselves waking in a peat bog two miles from town everyday for a month. This farming behavior is looked down on but is the most efficient way to gather new thoughts for the people. How then to proceed????

(this is where my campaign rears its burgeoning head.)

An artificial replacement for humans would be ideal. No reliance on a foreign race, no resorting to ugly farming to meet demand. Luckily an idea had been making the rounds regarding a particular dusty ore found on the planet below. It was still not fully understood by the natives, but they knew that its dust would cause madness if inhaled - hallucinations and extreme emotional swings, sometimes permanent. This seemed to do the trick, but now to get it.

(thus the long vertical ship is in fact a drill, or the casing of a drill, long descended into the earth. It has some sort of link still with the moon in order to transport the ore directly from the site to the refinery. It has broken into a cavern of madness ore thralls and perhaps slaad-to-be. It carries resources and technology from another world, and has a slightly creepy magical intelligence aboard to help the crew, who it actually viciously killed in order to fully make the reference.

So now dead moth giants lie in a ruined tower full of science bits and a tunnel deep downward to an ore patch, where sleepwalking spelunkers and semi-slaad cultists fight with escaped pets and specimens in a big cavern. Sounds like a place I want to keep the door down

we can talk about their fractal eyes and things particular to having them but i forgot til now so that stuff was left out of THE VISION so sorry so sorry

looking back at this i realize it has become a bizarre commentary on environmental policies going from animal farming to fossil fuel exploitation but it's all jumbled and i don't understand so sorry it's five a.m.

more to follow