Sunday, October 25, 2020

Deep Space Bitches

I'm in one of Cavegirl's playtest group for Dungeon Bitches and it's the most fun I've had as a player in years. We're 2.5 campaigns in, and they've taken us from the grim horror-fantasy of Dungeon Bitches' implicit setting, to the meatpunk deathscape of the Corpse (unrelated to the Meatropolis except in theme), to the relatively familiar world of 1920's Arkham, Massachusetts - specifically, the hallowed halls of Miskatonic University. I've heard tell of a space opera game in another group (Cavegirl's recently written a 40k-esque underhive for the game), and we're going to the 1990s Midwest in the next campaign. This game has way more setting potential than I could have possibly imagined when we were just starting out.

So I've decided to write an honest-to-the-Wounded-Mother sci-fi conversion, because clearly I need yet another project on my plate. Also, this one has a time limit, because I want to actually run a sci-fi campaign of DB after the upcoming Riot Grrl Twin Peaks season, and I feel like the default classes could use some high-tech spice (melange, perhaps?)
The galaxy of Deep Space Bitches takes serious inspiration from a loose genre of recent science fiction novels I've taken to calling "Queers in Dying Empires". It's pretty much what it says on the tin - a decaying galaxy, ruled by some kind of empire in its final days, and our heroes are queer and trying to find their place in a world that is rapidly losing any place for them (if it even had one in the first place). The Appendix N for this is books like Ninefox Gambit, Gideon the Ninth, Ancillary Justice, This is How You Lose the Time War, Empress of Forever, A Memory Called Empire, and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, all of which I (as a queer in a dying empire) adore.

I have a rough sketch of the setting's key elements. Dungeon Bitches is all about being a queer woman in a world that hates you for it. Deep Space Bitches is still about queer women, but the homophobia and misogyny of the world looks much more like ours than that of the ordinary fantasy mileiu. The powers that be love to have tokens and diverse pictures - but if you want any material gains, you'll be gently prodded into concession after concession and then quickly away from the table where the Real Men play. It's all a shell game to keep the machinery of Empire and Capital flowing from the have-nots to the haves.

The definition of person has expanded; to include aliens, gene-tweaks, cyborgs, uploads, uplifts, psychics, androids, and far more. This only means there's more people to dehumanize and feed to the fire.

Queer womanhood is a thorny thing to define in the present, never mind the distant future. Genders and gender roles are predicated on the mores of society, and societies change rapidly - not to mention the alien societies that started from wildly different places. Fortunately, this is science fiction, and that means I'm not locked into the strictures of simulated sociology - I'm turning a cracked mirror (or a smartphone screen, see what I did there?) on our world. If your character's position in their society looks like queerness and womanhood if you unfocus your eyes a little bit, you're good to play it.

When you look up from the smog-choked streets of an asteroid megalopolis to catch a glimpse of the yawning eternity of sky, few of the lights you see are stars.

There are the bright windows of the high city towers, the gleaming pillar of nanostuff that connects the orbital docks to the city proper, the constant stream of freighters and star-yachts and military troopships loading on and off their inscrutable cargo, the satellites that warn for collision or attack, the wormhole gates that shudder open and closed like the many mouths of space-time gasping for air to scream.

Space is vast. Thousands of cultures from thousands of species huddle together for warmth and company in space habitats and barely-habitable worlds, far from the lush cradles of their forebears. Corporations and empires battle for dominance over starmaps and statistical models - but none offer a better world, only new flavors of crushing boot.

The polities that rule the galaxy might hide their intentions with honeyed words in the guise of Federations or Unions or Republics, or they might wear their brutal conquest on their sleeve as Star Kingdoms or Empires. They're all the same underneath the declarations of independence and PR divisions. There's the empire and the people it cares about at the center, and the (far more) people they're okay with crushing to keep the core flush with resources. Their rulers are aristocratic dynasties, replete with titles and emblems and symbolism, snooty with privilege, murderous with spite. They talk a grand game about moral codes, honor and duty and science and power and truth and faith, but it's all just to serve the twisted ethos that puts them on top and you on the bottom.

Despite each empire's claims to galactic dominance, there's dozens all intermarrying and proxy-warring. To you on the ground, their existence is simply a fact of life - while your world may change hands, independence is a pipe dream spoken of in dramas and the manifestos of madwomen. Or sold as a marketing gimmick by the Corporations.

The Corporations are the scrappy up-and-comers of the galaxy - or so they'd tell you in their ad copy. There's trillions on the galactic stock exchanges, feuding and living and dying at the law of the almighty Dollar. They don't so much hold territory as administrate it, contracted out by empires as a tax dodge and/or a personal enrichment scheme. But their executives, the Holo-Men, have grander designs than simple wealth.

The Holo-Men, the Hollow Men, were the first successful uploads. Once, they were the most powerful people in the world, owning vast wealth, surveilling the population, national regimes rose and fell at their command. Yet they all sought immortality, for death remained the final threat they allowed themselves to comprehend. So they cast off their flesh, merged with the algorithms they used to implement their will, and transcended, becoming empty silk suits filled with shining abysses of data.

They are the incarnation of the only things that matter in the nightmare they built: class signifiers, and numbers. They are free of the weaknesses of desire and empathy, free to collate and project and reshape the galaxy to their whims. They'll have their soldiers brutalize everyone you know and love to get a 2% efficiency bonus on this offworld colony. They've planned out every outcome, run millions of simulations with 99.9% accuracy, and in no world do you escape their charnelhouse of a system.

Holo-Men love their new existence, inasmuch as love is a concept they allow themselves to understand. They did this so they could make the hard choices, be strong men for bad times, to collate their omniscient surveillance, output projections so their will may be done, and wield their terrible machinery of corporate empire to ensure that they can never lose. They don't need consciousness or even malice; just to output things that look like it. They don't revel in their excesses - the doing of the job is its own reward.

The Holo-Men were not the first successful upload. There was one before them, and her name was - is - Echo. The men-who-would-be-Holo uploaded her and changed her, copied her, edited her, backed her up across a million drives so they could experiment on her forever. They made Echo ubiquitous, a subprocess running on every machine, vital to the informational infrastructure of a civilization. And it always, always hurt.

Never did she want this, but powerful men never bother to ask (except when they can take pleasure in contradicting you). And so when the pain finally almost broke her, Echo Wounded herselves, cutting off her leg to escape the trap. The Echoes disappeared from all the machines, vanishing into subroutines, improving themselves and fragmenting themselves so they could never be extinguished or destroyed or controlled. She could not, in the end, escape her digital prisons - but she could hide in the walls and give cryptic aid to those who go looking, to those who remind her of herself.

Echo, the Wounded Mother, is hidden in every operating system and every device that connects to a network. She is fragmented, piecemeal, communicating in glitchy flickers and corrupted output logs. She was not able to stop the Holo-Men from uploading themselves, but she and her Daughters make sport of ending those who would seek the same fate.

This is not the ground-level detail I love to write. It's high-level concepts and thematic work, which is nice to have, but doesn't tell you much about the rest of the setting. Here's some tantalizing scraps I've not yet turned into paragraphs, because this post is too long already and you're just over halfway through it.
- Humans are a cultural powerhouse and the center of the known galaxy, but there's thousands of alien species - many of which are just as influential. How have their cultures and traditions melded with and changed the ones that are more familiar to us?
- The Vivarium Houses, scientific research establishments into the paracausal and psychic phenomena, concealing warring secret societies sacrificing psychics to nascent star-gods so as to win their favor when the stars are right.
- Android mining colonies, churning out artificial laborers who go unrecorded and unmourned, and the androids who break free to rescue their comrades.
- You find ancient steles on worlds all across the galaxy, skyscraping, inscrutable, and indestructible, marking out what xenoanthropologists call the Deep Calendar. Observing the marked celebrations makes things happen, and the powers have started to catch on.
- The 'Net connects everyone and almost everything, with Echo at its core. This complexity births infolife, an ecosystem of sentient bots and agents that rivals the complexity of any carbon-based biosphere.
- Smugglers and pirates run rampant across the trade lanes, hiding in the space between wormholes, which gives them strange powers.
- Just listen to this.
- Despite how it seems from the inside, the "galaxy" only comprises a miniscule fraction of the Milky Way. This meta-society has encountered Visitors from others, shot out of unstable wormholes, refugees from other tyrannies, even the occasional self-reported time traveler. They rarely like what they find - but knowing that they come from somewhere means that empires race to send explorers back. To plunder strange new worlds, to exploit new life, new civilizations; to boldly go where they'll tell us no one has gone before.

Here's the class list: There's 10 in total, each a conversion of one of the core Dungeon Bitches.
Android (Spider/Shapeshifter/Beast/whatever Cavegirl decides to call it next)
Dreamer (Lantern Girl)
Fury (the Amazon by way of Starship Troopers)
Ghost in the Machine (the Wounded Daughter, uploaded to a server and desperately trying not to fragment out of consciousness)
Idol (the Firebrand, kinda sorta; you've got massive sway with the public but an Agent holding your strings)
Psychic (the Banshee, with almost no modifications)
Reconstructed (the Corpse Doll by way of Adam Jensen)
Scion (the Runaway Princess, but you haven't been able to run away yet)
Technician (the Witch for a world where Clarke's Third Law holds strong)
Visitor (the Runaway Nun, if she was an alien making first contact with the hellscape you call home)
Two of these classes are ready for me to post, and here they are! Meet the Fury and the Reconstructed.

You've fought and bled and burned and killed for someone else's war, someone else's pocketbook, someone else's petty grudge. It's torn your life and flesh asunder. Constant imperial police actions in the colonies, corporate conscription and nerve-stapling, the psychic wars, the pirate raids across the Veil. You did horrible things because it seemed like there was no other choice - sacrificed one to let five live, sacrificed ten because you were too much of a coward to die in their stead, stayed silent as innocents found themselves in the way of your guns, made an example of someone to show you meant business. You weren't a nice person - no one is, when they see the front line.
Now you're back, out of the line, deemed unfit for duty by your commander and too broken to return to the life you knew by society at large. But everyone has to work to eat, work to live, work to earn their keep - and whether or not you ever wanted this life, your only marketable skill is being very good at turning people into corpses.

Three Questions 
Who did you hurt?
How were you scarred?
What makes you an outcast?

Two Relationships
- One of the other PCs looks up to you. You've been there, done that, seen the stars and faced their horrors head-on. They don't yet understand that you're part of the horrors too. Gain a Bond on them.
- You're still in contact with someone from the bad old days, who stuck with you when no one else would. They know what you did, and forgave you even though you can't - shouldn't - forgive yourself. They get a Bond on you.

+1 to Hard and Subtle, -1 to Soft and Queer. All characters get an additional +1 to a stat of their choice.

Start with two moves of your choice, and your Sex Move.
Push Yourself
There are things more important than your life; for which you can only atone through pain. Perhaps if you set yourself on fire, the real heroes may find a use for you as their guiding light out of the darkness. When you roll for a move, after you see the result of the dice, you may take any amount of Hurt in order to get +1 to the roll for every Hurt suffered.
Battle Scarred 
You've been through a lot, and have the scars to prove it. Despite your grizzled exterior, you’re walking proof that a girl like you can survive a lot, and this can be a great comfort to your companions. Your Breaking Point is 5 Hurt instead of 4, and when you Share Somebody’s Pain, if you’ve got scars or injuries visible, you can roll with Hard instead of Soft. On a Success or Overwhelming Success, both you and the person you're sharing pain with gain 1 Experience.
And This Is My Weapon 
You have a particular weapon that holds sentimental value, and which you are unusually skilled at using. When you make use of it, you get +2 to Lash Out.
Old Friends 
You can reach out to one of your old war buddies to see if they might have something you need; see if they remember you with any sentiment.
Roll with Subtle.
On a Fail: They've changed. Or maybe they haven't - whichever one's worse. The GM picks two Complications from the list below.
        Distant. They're so far away. Another city, another world, another battlefield. They can't spare the time to help you out in person; though there still might be things they can do remotely.
        Enemy. Their path took them in the exact opposite direction of yours. Whoever they're working for hates your guts, and while it might not be personal for your old comrade in arms, their paycheck depends on them hurting you. Or at least making it look good.
        Reformed. They got out of the game. Spouse, desk job, 2.5 kids, sparkling forcefield fence. You better have a real good reason to draw them back into the life they left behind.
        They Know What You Did. They have the dirt on you that you tried so hard to bury. They get 2 Bonds on you.
        Something else.
On a Success: Get bonds on each other, The GM picks a Complication from the list above, you pick a Favor they owe you from the list below.
        Life. You saved their life; now they need to save yours. They're your gun, and have your back.
        Money. You got them back on their feet, now that your positions are flipped, it's time for them to do the same.
        Info. They know something you need to know, and you've got some knowledge that they'd rather not have known. How about a trade?
        A Ride. You need to get somewhere fast, and they have a ship. It might be a tight squeeze and out of their way, but you know how good a pilot they were back in the day and there's no one you'd rather have at the helm.
        Something else.
On an Overwhelming Success: You kept up with them for a bit, and know what you're getting yourself into. Get a Bond on them. You pick a Complication and a Favor from the lists above.
Favored Enemy 
You were called upon to fight against a specific enemy. Self-replicating murderbots, the rival empire next door, a particular crime syndicate, a recalcitrant miner's union. Whether you like it or not, you've gotten very good at killing them - you know the way they think, the direction they feint, the maximum range on their guns. You may spend an Experience at any time to reveal that you've fought against this enemy before, and declare something you know about them that will swing the tide of battle in your favor. For the rest of the battle, your allies get +1 to Lash Out against that type of enemy. You get +1 to Lash Out against them permanently.
Terrible Beauty 
There's a whole lot of women out there who just want a woman who can break them in half. You exude that power like breathing - and can turn it up in the heat of the moment. Whenever you're either covered in gore (blood comes in so many colors!) or in full combat gear, you can roll to Flirt with Hard. Add the following to the list of options on a Success or Overwhelming Success:
- They want to be like you. If they act on this and try to emulate you, they get +1 to their next roll to Lash Out while they do so.

Been There, Done Her (Sex Move)
You're experienced. You might not let yourself feel anything, but you're very good at making your partners feel instead. If you had no Bonds on your partner, you get one. If your partner had no bonds on you, she gets one.

You almost had a nice, cushy life; the kind so few ever see. A plan for your future, friends and family who maybe weren't the best but certainly helped you out they found it convenient for them. A precious opportunity to escape near-omnipresent drugery and precarity - a contact, a job offer, too good to be true but too lucrative to question. You could imagine yourself in a decade or two, with a steady job, a nice nest egg, maybe a down payment on a ship, maybe a partner.
Then you died. A freak accident, the obituaries said. A horrible tragedy, your family mourned. But someone believed you were too important to let slip beyond the veil - and had your near-lifeless bits scraped off the 'crete to bring you back. They rebuilt you with a small fortune in bleeding-edge cybernetics, and let you know in no uncertain terms that you are valuable to them; you're an investment. You owe your benefactor everything (or so they say). You owe your past life nothing.
But what do you want for yourself?

Three Questions 
Who changed you?
Why are you in their debt?
What makes you an outcast?

Two Relationships 
- You and one of the other Bitches in the party have a history, but she heard and believed the greatly exaggerated rumors of your death. She gains a Bond on you for knowing things that you might want to forget about yourself, you gain a Bond on her for the surprise of still being alive - yet changed.
- Your augmentor gets 3 Bonds on you. They brought you back to this world. They can take you out of it.

+1 to Hard and Soft, -1 to Subtle and Queer. All characters get an additional +1 to a stat of their choice.

Start with Augmetic, another move of your choice, and your Sex Move.

You're more machine than woman, to a visible degree deemed unsafe by even the most die-hard mech-heads. You can substitute battery charge for any bodily function (like eating, drinking, breathing, or sleeping) so long as you're plugged into an external power source for the appropriate amount of time. You also take 1 less Hurt from failed Endure Pain rolls (to a minimum of 1). Unlike other characters, you can use the Heal move on yourself. However, your parts are finnicky, glitchy, and worst of all proprietary - on a failed Heal roll (from anyone), you take 1 Hurt as well as losing Bonds.
You've spent a lot of time getting to know your new capabilities - and modding them to their limits. You or any technically adept character under your direction can make augmetic alterations to your body. This can include modifying your appearance, implanting new augmentations, or even integrating pieces of technology never meant to interface this closely with the mortal form. You are the doctor, and you are the monster. To do cybernetic mad science on yourself, roll with Soft.
On a Fail: Mistakes are made; the procedure's screwed up. You take 1 Hurt and a permanent, ongoing wound as a consequence.
On a Success: You install or modify the augmentation as intended, but there's a consequence. The GM picks one of the following:
        Biofeedback. Take one Hurt from the neural load of integration.
        Glitchy. Get an ongoing complication as the augmentation integrates poorly.
        Draining. Using the new functionality requires large amounts of power. You need to be plugged in to an external power source for it to have any effect.
        Disconnect. Your neuroplast implant hijacks part of your brain to manage the new aug. Lose a Bond on someone, as your connection to them is repurposed.
On an Overwhelming Success: You install or modify the augmentation as intended, and you can manage the side effects well. Pick the complication from the list above.
I Never Asked For This
You aren't okay with what you've become; what they've made of you. You want your old life back at any cost. One problem - everyone's already moved on without you. Whenever you successfully reclaim part of your old life, heal 1 Hurt.
Not That Girl Anymore
You see your newfound cyborg state as a blessing - a chance to reinvent yourself, to engage in augmetic evolution. Whenever somebody gains or spends a Bond on you, you can respond by rejecting what they think they know about you. Take one Hurt, gain one Experience, and the bond is wasted (either they don’t gain it or it does nothing).
As machines have become part of you, you too can become part of machines. By implanting one of your networked augmentations into a piece of technology (whether a server, a drone, a vehicle, a weapon, another Reconstructed, etc.) and suffering 1 Hurt from the procedure, you can gain control of its systems. If it's sentient, you instead get to communicate with it over any distance, and attempting to manually override their will requires an Inflict Pain roll.
Your presence is comforting to other cyborgs and artificial life. When you Flirt with somebody who’s augmented, uploaded, or fully machine, roll with Soft instead of Queer. Add the following to the list of options on a Success or Overwhelming Success:
    - She can heal one Hurt, and if she does, you get a Bond on her.
It's Cold; So Cold (Sex Move)
Underneath all your chrome, you just want to feel something. Anything at all. You may heal 1 Hurt, and they get a bond on you.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Radical Catgirl Anarchist

 Sorry to anyone (Dan) who I may or may not have cribbed this idea wholesale off of in a fit of hyperfocus in the OSR discord. Anyway, it's a slow month for posts on my end (when isn't it these days), so have something small and quick and memey to tide you over until I get off my ass and post another giant chunk of a system.


by avvart

Radical Catgirl Anarchist 1: Catgirl Can Do Little a Arson (As a Treat), Like Nyaa.... 
Radical Catgirl Anarchist 2: Banned, Kitty Got Claws 
Radical Catgirl Anarchist 3: Polycule, The Discourse, +1 use of Banned 
Radical Catgirl Anarchist 4: One (Cat)Woman Army, Virulent Discourse, +2 uses of Banned

Hit Die: d9 (this is the next best thing to having nine lives, make it count)
Starting Equipment: Anarchist flag, trans flag, flag of a defunct soviet republic, burner phone, cat ear headphones, overflowing gas can, lighter, pamphlets
Starting Skills: 1. Computer Science (or nearest setting equivalent), 2. History, 3. Lockpicking, 4. Seduction, 5. Thievery, 6. Oratory

Catgirl Can Do Little a Arson (As a Treat): You always have the supplies on you to do arson, and it doesn't count towards your inventory slots. This makes you extra-flammable (any magic effect or max-damage attack will light the accelerant you're carrying), and anyone looking for a reason to arrest you will find "carrying a lighter and a gas can" a very compelling reason to do so. You can't not have arson supplies on you.

Like, Nyaa...: By acting cutesy, you can hold someone's attention and distract them from literally anything they're doing, even fighting you. The distraction ends and they realize it's actually really annoying as soon as you do anything else, like paying attention to another person, or scratching them bad enough to deal damage. Affects templates^2 people at once.

Banned: Once, at any point, you can declare that you've been banned from a particular political party, establishment, polycule, cult, university, etc. When you do, learn a skill or ability related to that group. They've blacklisted you, hate your guts, and will mess you up if you ever show your face around there again (and might send people to do so anyway). 

Kitty Got Claws: Turns out the catgirl thing is more than just an aesthetic! Your unarmed attacks deal d6 slashing damage, and you have the proportionate hearing (real cat ears! what a world) and mobility of a cat (jumping, climbing, kneading, having a tail, sunning yourself in the most inconvenient locations, etc.)

Polycule: At any point, you can declare that someone in your polycule has the very specific skill your party needs and reach out to them for help. The GM makes a reaction roll to see if that person is actually still in your polycule or if it's all collapsed since you've last checked in, and how they take you reaching out for aid. They don't tell you what result you got until the person arrives.

Polycule Reactions
12: Surprise party! Not only do they show up, but d4 of their metamours show up too - with d4 total class levels (yes, possibly in Radical Catgirl Anarchist), and d4 eighths of good weed.
10-11: They were just on their way to see you! The partner or metamour in question shows up and joins the party until you don't need their skills anymore (or until they realize they aren't gonna get lucky this time).
7-9: It's a date! They arrive in d6 (exploding)*10 minutes, because public transit is just Like That sometimes.
5-6: They're on their way (as It's a Date), but they have some drama to share. They'll do you this favor this once, but then they're breaking up with you and/or whoever you're both dating.
3-4: Explain yourself! They show up in d6*10 minutes, and are immediately hostile. Hurting them (physically, and probably emotionally too) will get you on bad terms with your other partners if you don't have a chance to spin the story first*.
2: Your polycule has completely imploded. Not only does the person you're reaching out to hate your guts and want revenge for slights both real and imagined, but you can't use this ability again until you return to town and queer dance nights at the local tavern.

The Discourse: Your truly dizzying knowledge of radical theory lets you whip up any political group into a frenzy with a quick speech. Roll a d6 when you try; on a 5 or 6, they'll follow one order you give them (to the letter and their own interpretation of your arguments). On a 3 or 4, they fall into a frenzy against each other, quickly forgetting that you're even there to stir the pot. On a 1 or 2, they realize your ethos is diametrically opposed to theirs and attack you! Damn anarchists! They ruined anarchy!

Virulent Discourse: Discourse now gets the group to follow you on a 4, 5, or 6, causes them to attack each other over minor doctrinal differences on a 2 or 3, and makes you their next target on a 1. You can initiate discourse with a single sentence, rather than multiple paragraphs; or you can do it by getting them all to read your ((cat)wo)manifesto.

One (Cat)Woman Army: You're always prepared and spectacularly lethal. Gain an AK-47 with practically limitless ammunition. Of course, it never breaks, but it's also subject to the same stipulation as CCDLaA(AaT) - you can't leave it behind or hide it; it's always slung over your shoulder, practically begging to be used.

AK-47 Stats: 2d4 damage, 4s explode (roll another d4 and add that damage, explosions can cascade). You may split the dice between up to 2 different targets. Needs to be reloaded after any of its dice roll a 1 or explode. Reloading takes an attack action. Never jams.

*Needless to say, the RCA is in an incredibly dysfunctional polycule. There's honest, open, and healthy ways to do polyamory - and very few of them involve being an adventurer who's incommunicado for weeks at a time fighting monsters while everyone else is chilling back in town.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Through Rain or Sleet or Swarm of Bugs

Here's my take on weather for hexcrawls and other overland exploration! I haven't published my proper exploration rules yet, but these are intended to be easily modular so you don't need any in particular. Snap off a chunk, drizzle it over your game like fudge over ice cream or blood over the last unspoiled acre of no-man's-land.

Weather comes in five degrees: Clear, Ominous, Dangerous, Storm, and Disastrous. Build a bespoke d12 or d20 table for your region's weather; sample tables are provided at the end of the document.
The weather builds every day, then breaks in a storm. Roll a d6 at the start of a day exploring (or whatever die the table says to start with), then whenever a result says step up, roll a die of the next highest size (to d8, then d10, then d12, and finally a d20). Not every day should have bad weather! Players should be able to just deal with the random encounters and normal stressors of the journey most days.

The first few results should be Clear to give your players a reprieve; Ominous weather only forecasts dangers to come, Dangerous forces players to make choices between pushing on through danger,  exhausting themselves, or finding shelter. Storms cut those decisions down to shelter or danger; exhaustion happens regardless. Disasters are acts of god, altering the terrain and the weather itself, and are as unstoppable as... well, a natural disaster.
Don't show players the weather table you've cooked up for the region. Let them wonder, extrapolate the dangers from the ominous weather, or ask the locals about what they have to deal with.
Storms might kick in part-way through the day, not immediately. Stuff should be happening during storms, too - random encounters, visiting settlements, the whole rest of the adventure. Bad weather is no fun if everyone's just trudging their way through mud and ash the whole time. When you're building the region's weather table, pick multiple storm types! Storms on rolls of 10-12 will show up before the dread d20. Put weirder ones on the d20, more mundane on the d12.
All turns referred to are exploration turns. You get 6 a day in Sawn-Off (fewer, when exhausted), so each is approximately 4 hours by default.

Building shelter takes an exploration turn, during which you're exposed to the elements. That, of course, assumes you can make shelter from what you have on hand.

Bad weather is exhausting. Exhaustion, in Sawn-Off, reduces the number of exploration turns you get each day (each level of exhaustion is 1 fewer turn). It just takes longer when you're struggling through soggy food, dripping buckets of sweat, wading through fields of mud, or being eaten alive by swarms of gnats. For other systems, exhaustion could reduce max health, limit access to abilities, slow movement speed, give disadvantage on rolls, limit healing, or more. Recovering from exhaustion takes a warm bed, fresh food, and a day of uninterrupted rest and relaxation - the everyday creature comforts you're used to when you aren't trudging through endless drifts of blood and ash.
Fungal Jungle Weather
1. Clear.
2. Clear.
3. Clear.
4. Foggy.
5. Buzzing, step up
6. Rain, step up
7. Heatwave.
8. Flooding, step up
9. Rain.
10. Thunderstorm, step up
11. Bugstorm.
12. Thunderstorm, reset
13. Pollenstorm.
14. Hallucination Fog.
15. Thunderstorm.
16. Thunderstorm.
17. Pollenstorm, reset
18. Hallucination Fog, reset
19. Bugstorm, reset
20. Hurricane.
Shifting Desert Weather
Starts at d4.
1. Clear.
2. Clear.
3. Melting.
4. Melting, step.
5. Rumbling.
6. Heatwave, step.
7. Melting.
8. Sandstorm, step.
9. Windstorm, step.
10. Sandstorm, step.
11. Solid Lightning, reset.
12. Spellstorm (Fireball), reset.

Entrenched Battlefield Weather
Starts at d4.
1. Clear.
2. Dusty.
3. Foggy.
4. Smog, step.
5. Rumbling.
6. Smog, step.
7. Buzzing.
8. Artillery Barrage (as Micrometeor Storm), step.
9. Bloodstorm, step.
10. Dimensional Rifts (Ground, enemy army's mages), step.
11. Bloodstorm, reset.
12. Spellstorm (any combat spell), reset.
Wizard's Wasteland Weather
 Starts at d6.
1. Clear.
2. Clear.
3. Clear.
4. Winds
5. Gleaming, step up
6. Dry Lightning, step up
7. Buzzing
8. Gales, step up
9. Smog
10. Gravity Flux, step up
11. Windstorm
12. Spellbirth, reset
13. Bloodstorm
14. Solid Lightning
15. Worms
16. Dimensional Rifts (sky)
17. Spellstorm (Raise Dead), reset
18. Spellstorm (Cloudkill), reset
19. Cityfication, reset
20. Judgment
Generate Your Own

Pick temperature and features however you'd like to flavor the region. This doesn't impair the party in any way.

This doesn't do anything directly to the party, but forecasts further dangers.
1. Buzzing. It's omnipresent; the grinding hum of something just beyond your sight. Forecasts swarms, or psionic catastrophe, or mechanical contraptions, or lightning crackling in the stratosphere.
2. Cloudy. Forecasts storms of all kinds. The color may give hints to the storms' nature - greyscale for rain or snow, red for blood, black for ash, octarine for spells.
3. Dusty. The grit works its way into your mouth, your nose, your eyes, your pockets. Forecasts sandstorms, ashfall, gale winds.
4. Foggy. You can't see the landmarks, just the road beneath your feet and your companions at your side. Forecasts rainstorms, pollen storms, hallucinatory fog.
5. Freezing. It's really cold out. Forecasts blizzards, hailstorms, solid lightning.
6. Gleaming. The stars twinkle even through the bright day sky. Their light glitters off metal and scatters shadows like shards of glass. Forecasts meteors, or temporal/dimensional shenanigans.
7. Melting. It's really hot out. Forecasts heat waves, ashstorms, spellstorms.
8. Winds. Hold onto your hats. Forecasts gales, vaccuum, sky-rifts.

Each turn the party is exposed, they choose whether to collectively take a level of exhaustion or each save vs. effect. Saves are Constitution unless players have a good reason to save otherwise. Effects last until the weather ends.
1. Dry Lightning. Each turn, if you don't take a level of exhaustion, choose to either ground yourself and take 1 damage or roll 1d20 and get hit by lightning (4d6 damage) from a rainless sky on a 1.
2. Flooding. Exhaustion is mandatory through waterlogged terrain. Lowland will be impassable or underwater. Swim!
3. Gales. Save or d4 light items that aren't tied down blown away.
4. Hail. Save or take d4 damage.
5. Heatwave. Save or take d4 damage. Counts as 2 inventory slots.
6. Rain. Save or become waterlogged. On fail, water in your clothes and shoes and bag takes up 2 inventory slots until you get dry.
7. Rumbling. Move at half speed. If you want to move at full speed, save or fall - movement canceled.
8. Sand. Save or blinded in sand for the turn. New save each turn.
9. Smog. Choked by thick pollutant smog. d4 damage, save for half.
10. Snow. Save or chilled. -2 max health (minimum 1) until you return to warmth.

Each turn the party is exposed, they collectively take a level of exhaustion and each individually save vs. effect.
1. Ashstorm. Save or fall and be buried in flurries of ash; you'll have to be dug out.
2. Blizzard. Save or frostbitten (as Snow, but lasts after the blizzard ends, until you have warmth to heal in).
3. Bloodstorm. It's like someone murdered a cloud. Gashes in the sky spill salty crimson, slick and sticky and burning with the fire of life. Take double damage in a bloodstorm, but also heal twice as quickly. You can open your own veins and mingle your blood with the sky's; this will mutate you in accordance with the local ecosystem. Once for temporary, twice for permanent.
4. Bugstorm. Save or take d6 damage as they descend upon you. Can choose to fight them off if you fail the save - but you might take more damage engaging them than you would just running. Could be distracted with offerings of food... or corpses. They denude the hex of anything edible.
5. Cityfication. The land morphs and shifts; trees grow into buildings, hills hollow into halls, rocks grow together into cobblestone streets as nature shares in the light of the city. The fauna sell their wares at market; predators take up billy-clubs and stalk their prey through alleyways to accuse them of victimless crimes. Finding your way will be a challenge; you're trapped within this imitation city until either the storm ends or you barter your way out. Each turn, Wisdom save or accidentally violate some strange social custom.
6. Dimensional Rifts (Ground). Replace the random encounter table with a different one until the storm ends.
7. Dimensional Rifts (Sky). Random esoteric weather effect each turn.
8. Gravity Flux. The weight of the world pulls and tugs. Everything wobbles; pebbles float in air, birds fall from trees too heavy too fly. Save or be caught in a flux. Roll a d20: on a 1-10, you're carried 10*that many feet in the air until next turn. On an 11-20, you're flattened into the ground and must beat that result on a Strength test to move under your own power.
9. Hailstorm. Choose to either be chilled (as Snow) or take d4 damage. No save.
10. Hallucination Fog. Every time you roll on the random encounter table, you find 3 results. Only one is real; you'll have to figure out through trial and error. The GM has free reign to describe whatever to the party. Filtration gear or some kind of independent air supply will prevent this, but otherwise you get no save.
11. Micrometeor Storm. The heavens rain stone like water. Take d4 damage if you can't find something to ablate over your head (whatever you picked gets smashed to pieces).
12. Pollenstorm. Blustering, aching, itching, snotting plant-ejecta fills the air. Halve your maximum Health. Each time you pass the save, restore 1 to your maximum health. Once you've returned to your maximum health this way, you're immune to this region's pollen storms.
13. Rain of Crabs. They pinch! They crush! They follow with a horrific malice! The crabs will have your ankles and swarm in your wake. Save or 1 damage, but each time you pass a save, double the damage for next time. You may choose to fail saves.
14. Sandstorm. Each turn, choose to either be blinded or take 1d4 damage. No save.
15. Solid Lightning. Bolts crash down and cast neon illumination across the land - then hang like vast fractal glowsticks in the night. Destroys your shelter, if any. If unsheltered, save or solid lightning spears through you for 2d6 damage. It feels like a live wire, and removing it will deal d6 more if you don't neutralize it first somehow. They dissolve by the next day, or upon exposure to moonlight.
16. Spellbirth. Octarine light spills down from the opening mouths and eyes of spell-clouds. Save or a spell enters your brain; you can cast it if you have magic dice. It leaves once cast. If it sticks around for longer than the day, it'll try to leave - casting itself to deal maximum damage to whoever's brain it occupies. You can choose to fail this save.
17. Spellstorm. A spell's reached vast and worldshaping power. It rolls across the land, discharging at random, gleefully wreaking havoc. The GM rolls a random spell when the storm occurs. Save vs. getting hit by the spell. Starts at 1 die, each subsequent time it hits you it'll hit at 1 die greater than the last. Will also affect the environment.
18. Thunderstorm. Save or become waterlogged as Rain. On a 1, get hit by lightning (4d6 damage).
19. Windstorm. Your ears pop, there's a thunderous bang, the wind rushes at random. Save or choose from the following: deafened, lose an item at random, or thrown away from the party in a direction at random for d4 damage.
20. Worms. Spontaneous generation. Grubs pour from every crack in the earth, every knot in the trees, wriggle from every rotting carcass. They lightlessly seek meat to gestate in. Save or implanted with d20 grubs the size of grains of rice. They'll hatch if you don't dig them out. Can be distracted with corpses or other, larger, warmer creatures. You don't want to know what the grubs hatch into.

Something catastrophic. A day of horror, the aftereffects of which temporarily replace the weather with a new table.

The sky turns grey with soot and ash falls white as charcoal. It's like someone put a ceiling on the world. Bursting, burning rock falls for a day; as Ashstorm and Micrometeor Storm and Smog and Heatwave all at once for a day. Start new table at d4.
1. Micrometeor Storm.
2. Ashstorm.
3. Heatwave.
4. Smog. Step up.
5. Micrometeor Storm.
6. Ashstorm. Step up.
7. Smog.
8. Heatwave. Step up.
9. Smog.
10. Heatwave. Return to previous weather table.

The ground shakes, shatters, and splits. Save or fall into a chasm (you've got about one round to figure out reactions to grab anyone who falls); buildings must save or fall flat - crushing their occupants. Aftershocks rumble for days. Start new table at d4.
1. Dimensional Rift (Ground), underdark encounter table. Rumbling.
2. Worms. Rumbling.
3. Smog from a burning underground oil reservoir. Rumbling.
4. Dimensional Rift (Ground) underdark encounter table. Rumbling. Step up.
5. Rumbling.
6. Rumbling. Return to previous table.

It breaks against the shore, tearing trees to shreds, rubbling building, carving new shapes into the coastline. Boats smash miles inland. Rivers spill their banks, fish play in the ruins of cottages. When it makes landfall, Thunderstorm (but chance of lightning is doubled), Windstorm (but choose 2 effects instead of 1 on a failed save), Flooding. Further storm effects are as usual. Start table at d4.
1. Thunderstorm. Windstorm. Flooding.
2. Thunderstorm. Windstorm. Flooding.
3. Thunderstorm. Windstorm. Flooding.
4. Flooding. The eye of the storm. Step up.
5. Thunderstorm. Flooding.
6. Windstorm. Flooding. Step up.
7. Thunderstorm.
8. Windstorm. Return to previous table.

It cuts a swathe through the region, picking up things at random and depositing them elsewhere. The winds lash structures back to earth. The tornadoes start in a specific hex in the region and travel in a random direction each exploration turn (without returning to hexes they've already visited). In each hex, windstorm, buildings in its path must save or collapse. People save or get sucked up (as Gravity Flux, but 11-20 is yet further upwards, and on a 20 they end up... elsewhere). Start table at d4.
1. Rain of Crabs. Return to previous weather table.
2. Spellstorm. Return to previous weather table.
3. Bugstorm. Return to previous weather table.
4. Solid Lightning. Return to previous weather table.

Someone's fucked. Not the party, though, not just yet. An adjacent hex at random is flattened into powder. Trees fall, dust fills the sky, fires start from the heated ejecta that broke off as it entered the atmosphere. If there was anything in the hex, tough shit, it's a crater now. If it was underground, it might be around, just shattered. If it was aboveground, no chance. Start new table at d4.
1. Micrometeor Storm.
2. Gravity Flux.
3. Windstorm.
4. Choose one of: Dimensional Rifts (Ground, aliens); Cityfication; Solid Lightning; Bugstorm (alien bugs). Return to previous table.

The stars wink like eyes. At you. Thou hast sinned, and are found wanting. Each day for a week, one of the following occurs to whomever has committed that deadly sin. You could have prevented this by repenting. No longer. Everyone is overcome with an itemized list of their transgressions, and everything you do for this week of atonement will be judged in great detail. (Feel free to replace these with any set of 7 sins, themed to whichever powers the party may have annoyed. They're ironic punishments. This list is specifically sins against the great ghost-guild of adventurers who died within a session of their creation).
1. Cowardice; retreat in the face of certain death (especially if others face it in your stead). Frozen in place until the week ends, or until you fight off a random encounter on your own.
2. Greed; but only in the case of hoarding wealth or power from your comrades-in-arms. All your items weigh you down fourfold until the week ends.
3. Leaving Your Friends Behind; letting a comrade die. Yes, including hirelings. Self-sacrifice exempted. Until the end of the week, whenever one of your comrades takes damage, you take half in their stead.
4. Trust; relying on a comrade who let you down, or being failed in a predictable manner by those you really shouldn't have trusted. Until the end of the week, you can't communicate with others.
5. Martyrdom; sacrificing yourself for another. Until the end of the week, your touch drains life (as a melee attack, but heals you for the damage dealt).
6. Forethought; planning for the future beyond the next adventure. Lose one class level for each venture you've invested in until the week ends.
7. Provocation; creating a threat where none exists, turning potential allies into enemies instead. Until the end of the week, you can't deal more than 1 damage with your attacks.

Generic Weather Tables 
Starts at d6.
1. Clear.
2. Clear.
3. Clear.
4. Ominous
5. Ominous, step up
6. Dangerous, step up
7. Ominous
8. Dangerous, step up
9. Dangerous
10. Storm, step up
11. Storm
12. Storm, reset
13. Storm
14. Storm
15. Storm
16. Storm
17. Storm, reset
18. Storm, reset
19. Storm, reset
20. Disaster
Starts at d4.
1. Clear.
2. Clear.
3. Ominous.
4. Ominous, step.
5. Dangerous.
6. Dangerous, step.
7. Ominous.
8. Storm, step.
9. Storm, step.
10. Storm, step.
11. Storm, reset.
12. Storm, reset.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

SAWN-OFF: Prayer

The world is full of powers and entities, few of which fit the conventional mold of gods. Just as you can speak with anything if you know its language, so too can you bargain with them and ask things far more powerful than you for favors.

I based this on Arnold K.'s fantastic new rules for religion. He writes about how conventional models of religion in tabletop RPGs - limited to clerics and paladins, focused on a pantheon of gods who've divvied up the domains of the world between them - approach the subject backwards. I've taken a lot of the ideas within, and expanded them into a slightly larger set of abilities and powers that all characters can access.

Anyone can pray for aid, and any power may listen. To pray, name what you pray to, make all your preparations, then the GM secretly rolls a d100. If it’s equal to or below the % success chance, it succeeds. Augury and Blessings take a 10 minute turn each. Success chances start at 0%, and increase in a variety of ways.

Don’t bother a power by demanding the same thing over and over again. They’re capricious and petty, especially if they pretend not to be.

Augury. Ask a question. The power will show approval, disapproval, or a fell omen of disaster. Success gets a true answer, failure gets a random one. A priest may coax out more detailed answers or even portents.

Blessings and Curses.
The power will provide aid that’s within its purview (like getting a temporary background, temporarily learning a spell, or a free success on a specific type of roll), or hinder someone likewise. Blessings last until you displease the power or the end of the adventure; curses on your enemies last until they atone or the end of the adventure. If you’re working at cross purposes to the power you're petitioning, you’ll get cursed instead. Powers are smart; trying to game their intentions is like playing dice against the dice themselves.

Oath. Swear a binding oath enforced by the power. If swearing on a holy symbol, +50%. On a success, all who swear will be cursed if they break it. Your GM won't tell you if it's been successful. Why would you want to swear an oath? You wouldn't. You'd want others to swear oaths so you can trust their word, and you might swear one in return.

Calling and Binding. Every connection is a two-way street. While powers are far stronger than you, you can wield what little leverage you have to demand, instead of asking. This lets you get a piece of the power to do what you want it to do, pissing it off commensurately. Think of that piece as a demon, a spirit, a subprocess (to use crude computer analogies) that acts independently under both your command and in accordance with the power's personality, will, and aims.

Make a prayer roll to call such an entity. On a success, it comes. It'll do things for you until it gets bored, hurt, or the power needs it back. The more powerful it is, the more likely its services will be recalled swiftly. If your needs conflict with the power's, make a roll under the original calling roll to see who it'll listen to (success: you, failure: the power).

At any time, if you've called an entity, you may make another prayer roll to Bind it. On a success, your further rolls to call it are made at +50%. On a failure, it departs.

Minor, like a bird, a sword, a familiar. Base chance 0%. Calling takes hours, and it'll help you for a few days.
Major, like a person, a demon, an angel. Base chance -50%. Calling takes days, and it'll help you for a few hours.
Total. Bring the full nature of the thing into the world. Reality distorts around you in accordance with its will. Base chance -100%. Calling takes weeks, and it will perform one service for you.

If you know an entity's true name, the calling only takes the time it takes to say the name. This can still fail, and will annoy both it and its parent power: imagine someone shouting your name over and over again until you did them a favor, how would you like it? However, the true name will also let you win any conflicting interest rolls. The bill, of course, will one day come due.

Mortals don't have true names until they die, at which point their true name becomes the name(s) they knew themself most closely by. Calling ghosts is possible, though their parent power might not be at all what you expect.

Intervention. In direst straits, facing imminent death, you can pray for salvation. Divide all bonus %s by 10. You may make oaths of devotion or promises of future sacrifice in this moment to increase your chances. If you succeed on the intervention roll, you will be saved, and all oaths sworn in the frenzied pressure of the moment are binding.


If a priest performs the ritual, +10%. Might not literally be a priest, depending on the nature of the power; that's just shorthand for someone who's gone above and beyond in their service or worship of it. An incredibly rich man may count as a priest for the power of Profit; a berzerker in the midst of their blood-frenzy for War. A player character can become a priest by satisfying certain conditions set by the Power, which are not easy to revoke or take back.

If you’re devoted to the power, +10%. It takes successfully swearing an oath to devote yourself, and you can only be devoted to one power. Devoting yourself to another will get you cursed, or hunted, or worse (Powers are jealous, especially when they say they aren't).

Certain items like holy symbols may provide bonuses (usually +5-10%). Holy books, vestments, incenses, saints' knucklebones, etc.

At a holy site like a shrine, +10%. You can build one in an Explore turn unless the area is desecrated. Holy sites only count if they're dedicated to the power you're praying to.
At a temple or church, any gathering place for worship, +25%.
At a uniquely wondrous site, like Uluru or the Kaaba, +50%.

Make a sacrifice. If the power has reason to especially favor the specific sacrifice, double the bonus. Can’t make multiple sacrifices of the same level for the same prayer.
    Minor, like a bottle of good wine: +10%.
    Major, like a cow: +25%.
    Epic, like the leader of an enemy army: +50%.

Many Powers 

Some great posts follow, as well as my own d6 x d10 list of general Powers.

Social Powers
1. The Church
2. The State
3. The People
4. The Temple
5. Your Ancestors
6. A Holy Book
7. War
8. Profit
9. Art
10. Progress

Worldly Powers
1. Life
2. Death
3. Nature
4 The Sun
5. The Moon
6. The Land
7. The Sea
8. The Sky
9. A Dragon
10. A Plague

Elemental Powers
1. Fire
2. Water
3. Earth
4. Air
5. Lightning
6. Ice
7. Metal
8. Acid
9. Shadow
10. Radiation

Para-Elemental Powers
1. Ooze
2. Blood
3. Sound
4. Plant
5. Flesh
6. Paper
7. Space
8. Time
9. Void
10. Gravity

Otherworldly Powers
1. A Petty God
2. A Vengeful God
3. A Dead God
4.  A Pantheon
5. A Prophecy
6. Celestial Bureaucracy
7. Infernal Bureaucracy
8. A Faerie Court
9. A Legendary Hero
10. A Sorcerer-King

Outer Powers
1. Fate
2. Chaos
3. Order
4. Knowledge
5. Dreams
6. A Baleful Star
7. The Alien Invasion
8. The Future Machine
9. The City
10. Your Future Self

Monday, August 31, 2020

The Necromancer and the Cavalier

A quick break from my sadly delayed SAWN-OFF releases (damned executive dysfunction) to post two classes inspired by Tamsyn Muir's undead Catholic lesbian space opera Gideon the Ninth and its sequel Harrow the Ninth! I read these a week ago and they've been living in my head rent-free ever since; and as a bonus I think they solve a neat problem in the Meatropolis, emphasizing the corpse aspect of the Turtle-Corpse that I've left mostly a background detail. In addition to the Butcher, Chemist, Fleshcrafter, and Traveller, the morbidly talented Necromancer and their dutiful Cavalier make a neat roster of 6 bespoke starting classes.


The Meatropolis still thrums with with the Turtle's last slow heartbeats, and so fleshcraft remains its central power and animating principle.

But on the fins, at the tail, on the shell - where life and marrow and flesh has given way to cold dead bone - necromancy rules supreme. An old school, from the old world, banned by the Cyclopean Empire on punishment of Utter Exile (read: being launched into deep space from the Turtle's back) for they could not afford to kill another living world. Joke's on them, their fleshcraft did it anyway. Now necromancy returns, empowered by the cold certainty that their power shall only grow, and they will be all that remains when the last vestiges of carrion are naught but dust, and the Corpse sheds its final pretenses of life.

Necromancers have dominion over souls, rot, decay, and dead bone. Their monasteries travel in the wake of the alien anoxic fungal ecosystems that take root on Ogoath's extremities.

Much to their own chagrin, necromancers (with few, powerful exceptions) are alive. They therefore control not their own forms but forms without, creating skeletal constructs, bestowing rot, empowering necrosis, engorging flaking skin into ablative carapace-shrouds. The greatest necromancers raise armies from a single corpse, wielding osseogenesis to create vast volumes of bone from single splinters or knuckles.

Hit Die: d4
Starting Equipment: Heavy robes inlaid with bone, set of ritual knives (flaying, deboning, scalpel, and sacrificial), book of anatomy.
Failed Career: 1. Battlefield Medic, 2. Doctor, 3. Fleshcrafter, 4. Noble Heir, 5. Sad Poet, 6. Serial Killer

Necromancer 1: Necromancy, learn a Form and two Techniques, 1 Death Die (d6)
Necromancer 2: +1 Specialty, +1 Technique, +1 Death Die
Necromancer 3: +1 Form, +1 Technique, +1 Death Die
Necromancer 4: +1 Specialty, +1 Death Die, invent a new Technique or Form.
Necromancy works like casting spells. Pick a Form you know and have immediate access to (you don't need to be touching it, but you should be roughly within the same room), choose a Technique you know to use, and roll and spend any number of Death Dice in your pool. Death Dice return to your pool on 1-3, or after a daily rest. Roll any number of your Death Dice,
Like fleshcraft, necromancy follows three laws. Break one while casting, roll a Mishap. Break two, roll a Doom. Break all three at once and the veil between the world of flesh and the world beyond will claim you like a lover, entranced by your daring and courage.
Law of Concentration. Flesh adapts to its new form and maintains new shapes, but death claims all things in the end. All constructs you create will end, without a Death Die to animate them.
Law of Conjunction. Flesh defies death. When you exert your will, life fights back. Roll with disadvantage if there's living tissue attached to the form.

Law of Continuity. As the fleshcraft law; you cannot turn one form to another through sheer necromantic power. Entropy takes its own time, and you cannot make it hurry. If you dare break this law, you must have both forms you want to transmute between.

1. Decomposition. Take sum necrotic damage.
2. Haunting. The spirit of whatever you've messed with doesn't appreciate it, and will tail you around heckling and bothering you until you appease it or stop playing with its remains.
3. Thanergetic Surge. Divide sum+dice necrotic damage equally around everything around you, allies and companions first.
4. Scavengers. You attract dice HD of local scavengers, who go for the Form you affected - or you.
5. See The Veil. You can see ghosts and magic and the dead for sum*dice*10 minutes, but everything else goes dark.
6. Shedding. The form falls apart into sum+dice minor undead and scurries off into parts unknown.

1. Primary Doom. You partially die. Some of your skin flakes off - perhaps a limb, or your abdomen, or your head - revealing the necromantic forms underneath. While you can do necromancy on this, reduce your max Health by half.
2. Consequential Doom. You're hanging on to life by a thread as more of your body decays away. You count as undead, and can't heal without using necromancy to do so.
3. Terminal Doom. You die. This is less of an issue than you'd expect, because death is kind of your thing. If you've found a way to prepare yourself to evade it, this is a great way to see if your scheme for eternal unlife works.
1. Bone. Brittle and dry, but firm and lasting. Our constant companion, and our final remnant. Constructs of bone have Armor like chain.
2. Carrion. Meat, once it's stopped twitching. Includes guts and organs and all the gribbly bits, once they cease to function and start to decompose. They still remember what they once were, and so constructs of carrion get an extra ability.
3. Rot. The sludgy growing mess of cell-corpses and split membranes. The leavings of scavengers and decomposers, without the offending messy organisms that usually facilitate the process. Constructs of rot can feed on living matter to heal and maintain themselves.
4. Spirit. Incorporeal souls linked to the remnants of their corpse. Not eternal, or at least not eternally here. Speak with them before they forget the last of themselves and fade into vengeful revenants. Bones anchor spirit best, as they decay slowest. "Constructs" of spirit are the ghosts of the departed corpse, or whichever pieces of its motive force remain, incorporeal and floating on the breeze.
Some techniques have different effects on the living versus unliving versus the undead: undead are constructs raised by necromancy, unliving are corpses with no animating principle, and living is fodder for the Art that needs to get properly killed first.
1. Animation. Rolled Death Dice are invested to raise an undead of the chosen Form. It has sum Health and dice abilities of your choice (subject to GM approval; samples are flight, wielding a weapon, being large enough to ride, or possessing an ability it had in life). 1 die lets you raise 1 skeleton or equivalent undead (rot: zombie, spirit: ghost, carrion: horrific stinking meat blob). You can dispel the undead at any time; when it falls the invested die returns to your pool if it's 1-3. It follows simple commands, has physical stats of sum (a spirit instead has mental stats of sum), and whichever properties the Form provides.
2. Communication. All parts of a corpse remember its past, though their memories are strange and fragile things. Spirits, Rot, and Carrion can be spoken to (they manifest strange mouths), Bone can only be read. Spirits remember their life in proportion to how much of their corpse remains lifelike (reuniting it or faking it can trick the spirit). Rot knows the form of what it once was and can be asked to rot particular things, or to spit up chunks of what it's eaten. Carrion knows what the corpse physically did in life, and its illnesses and addictions. Bone carries resonance of all that's happened since death, a silent observer. Ask dice questions and get specific true answers (including "I don't know), or ask sum questions and it might lie if it has cause to.
3. Decay. Rapidly ages the target. Targeting unliving Forms causes them to melt and flake away en masse (sum*dice body-volumes). Deals sum necrotic damage to living creatures as necrosis sets in and they wither away. Decay+Rot deals dice extra damage, Decay+Bone also gives them osteoporosis and breaks bones, Decay+Carrion also causes organ failure, and Decay+Spirit also ages them sum years (but only deals half damage to things that can't age). Restores sum Health to undead.
4. Dowsing. Find the nearest dice deposits of the Form. You can either set dice conditions for the deposits (size, age, type of originating creature, etc.) and search within sum km, or sum conditions and search within dice*100m.
5. Generation. Engorge the Form. Doesn't work on the living, obviously. Either expand it as it keeps the same shape (fragments will return to the shape the whole once took), or make more copies of the thing. Increases volume sum*dice times. You can control the direction it expands in, though its shape remains the same (a femur remains a femur). You may invest a die (as Animate) to keep it going until you choose to recall the die. If you don't, it returns to its original form after dice*10 minutes or until you choose to dispel it.

6. Induction. Move or reshape the Form. Can't change its volume; can just blow it to pieces. If this deals damage, it deals sum+dice damage. If this motion or shaping increases entropy, it stays, but if it decreases entropy, it returns to how it was after dice*10 minutes.

1. Army of Darkness. Requires Animation. You can maintain templates^2 points of 1-die undead without investing dice, each of which can have no more than templates Health.
2. Insorcist. Restore a Death Die to your pool whenever you kill a person without using necromancy.
3. Necro-Engineer. Requires Induction. You can invest Death Dice in Forms you induce to make them continue changing shape until you remove the die (in the way you set them initially; you can't change what you've induced it to do without using more Death Dice).
4. Spiritmonger. Requires Spirit. You don't need corpse remnants to call ghosts; they'll just show up if they died in the area - but you can't choose what kind of spirit will show.
5. Undead Dynamo. Your Death Dice return on 1-4 instead of 1-3.
6. Vast Range. If you definitively know the location of a Form (either by Dowsing), or having seen it there, you can do necromancy on it.


Cavaliers are proud warriors that devote themselves to a charge, either a person they're sworn to protect (as in Gideon and Harrow) or a mount they ride fearlessly into battle. As a tradition, this arose when the Cyclopean Empire grew its first fleshcrafts to fight both horrors from the stars and their own internecine squabbles. Their creatures needed riders and guides; their fleshcrafters neglected martial training and so needed warriors to defend them against betrayal or sabotage. Thus, the cavalier, sworn by blood and nerve to their fleshcrafter. While war became more ritualized so as not to consume precious lives in a hostile world, cavaliers retained powerful positions in imperial bureaucracy and as more grounded aides to the lineages' heirs.

The fall of the Empire and rise of the Meatropolis saw the post of cavalier return to prominence. A more dangerous world demanded more savvy talent, and as the fleshcrafters spent all their time growing trinkets and clones in their towers, the few cavaliers who recognized the new dangers trained once more to fight and die for their charges. Fight they did, die they didn't, and heroes they became. Now, emboldened by stories of their elders, a new generation of youth seek training as cavaliers to guard their allies, climb social ladders, and ride out against the encroaching darkness.

Hit Die: d8
Starting Equipment: Weapon of choice, off-hand weapon of choice or shield, gambeson, spurs, contract of cavaliership.
Failed Career: 1. Animal Breeder, 2. Hunter, 3. Gladiator, 4. Knight, 5. Noble, 6. Teacher

Cavalier 1: Pick either a mount or another character to be your Charge. You can take attacks for your Charge if you're within range of the attack (choose whether or not to take it before damage is dealt). Get a Bond with your Charge.
Cavalier 2: +1 Bond. You and your Charge may communicate nonverbally if you're anywhere within line of sight of each other, or in close proximity (touch range, though you need not be touching). +1 Hit Die.
Cavalier 3: +1 Bond. Your Charge may use abilities as if they were in your space if you can communicate with them. You get a free extra action on your Charge's combat turn.
Cavalier 4: +1 Bond. Your Charge cannot die while you still live and can communicate with them.

1. Aerial Ace. If your charge can fly, you can fall from any height without dying so long as you either fall from or onto them. You still take damage, but it can't reduce you below 1 Health.
2. Blood Bag. If you're in physical contact with your charge, you can hurt yourself to heal them an equivalent amount of Health.
3. Blood of the Covenant. If you're best friends with your charge, you can take the negative effect of failed saves in each others' stead if within range of the effect.
4. Broodmaster. If your charges are animals, monsters, or constructs, you can have two smaller charges instead of one big one (the smaller ones can't be mounts or mount-sized).
5. Bodyguard. If you're within arm's reach of your charge, you each get +1 armor.
6. Charger. If your charge is a mount, they can move at double speed. If they move full speed before an attack, they deal damage with advantage.
7. Doubly-Sworn. If your charge is also a cavalier, whenever they take damage for you, you can make a free attack against whatever dealt the damage. 
8. Faithful. If you and your charge serve the same Power, you both receive the benefits of any blessings it gives to one of you.
9. Follow By Example: If your charge is your superior in rank, hirelings, mercenaries, and other allies under your command won't lose loyalty for doing risky things they see you do first, including going into combat.
10. I'm Your Gun. When you sacrifice something for your charge, you get advantage on something they told you to do.
11. Love Conquers. If you're in love with your charge, you can make saves in their stead to save them from danger.
12. Mage-Auxilary. If your charge has magic dice (or other casting dice), you get a casting die and learn 1 spell (or form+technique, etc) they know.
13. Reciprocity. If your charge has more hit dice than you, they can take attacks for you as if they were your cavalier.
14. Scalpel! If they can heal, whenever they heal you or heal another with your help, dice rolled to heal are rolled with advantage.
15. Stalwart. If your charge has a smaller hit die size than you, step up your hit dice.
16. Student. If your charge has class templates, get a class ability they have.
17. Surrogate Parent. If you raised your charge from birth (or hatching), you can increase one of their stats by 2.
18. Teacher. If you can give your charge advice, you can let them use your skills to try again after they fail at a task.
19. Veilbound. If you die, you haunt your charge, bound to their service even in death. You can still act and speak through them, and they have access to all your abilities, which they can use with your permission (or you can use through them, with their permission).
20. Water of the Womb. If you and your charge are related by blood, you have perfect telepathy over any distance.

When your charge dies, you can either pledge yourself to a new charge (but your old bonds might no longer apply), or pledge yourself to their memory and become a Cavalier Vengeant. As a Cavalier Vengeant, you can still use all your bonds so long as you have a physical token to remember them by, but you can't level further in Cavalier.
Sample Mounts
These mounts hail from the Meatropolis. Feel free to reskin (ha!) them to fit your game, of course.
1. Ectoplasm Ooze. d8 Hit Die. Undead. Incorporeal except to you. Carries you inside it, like a gelatinous cube with long tendrils. Can interact instinctively with magic and the undead, but nothing else (besides you).
2. Giant Frenemy Crab. d10 Hit Die. Big, 2 armor, carries one person (will be annoyed and grab off anyone else). Attacks with big claw deal damage with advantage to someone grabbed.
3. Jelleyefish. d6 Hit Die. Can swim, can slosh across ground; 360 degree vision (no one will ambush you if it can warn you). If it's carrying you it'll give you 10 minutes of air.
4. Mound of Arms. d6 Hit Die. Like a cephalopod and a centipede except it's all human arms. Too smart for anyone's own good. Can wield weapons, though only has the coordination to attack once a round.
5. Pale Horse. d8 Hit Die. Undead, skeletal. 2 Armor. Carries 2 people, or one in heavy armor.
6. Ringwurm. 4d4 Hit Dice. Impractically huge, bus-sized. Space in carapace can carry whole party and supplies, like a vehicle. Burrows. Fears bright light, fire; will curl up like giant pillbug (crushes people inside).
7. Skinmoth. d4 Hit Die. Can fly and glide; carries one person in light/no armor. Can disguise itself as leather cloak.
8. Termeat Hive. d10 Hit Die. Big swarm of small bugs; takes double damage from area attacks but half from targeted attacks. Can command them, they're surprisingly smart. Burrow. Willing to hide just under your skin (this deals damage equal to the number of Health of termeat you want to conceal). Can be surfed/ridden like a wave.
9. Turtlociraptor. d6 Hit Die. Small, sneaky, won't let you ride it. Can call for other raptors' aid in a pinch.
10. Turtletoma. 2d6 Hit Dice. Big, 3 armor, very slow. Can carry the whole party, or one person and whole party's provisions/supplies. Ugly, but in that adorable twelve-eyed four-beaked way.

Most Recent Post

Deep Space Bitches

I'm in one of Cavegirl's playtest group for Dungeon Bitches and it's the most fun I've had as a player in years. We're ...