Thursday, February 28, 2019

Apocalyptic Spells

Related image

These spells are legendary and devastating. They are engraved into the histories of nations, spoken of in hushed whispers, their tomes chained and bound beneath fortresses at the ends of the earth.

Each spell takes up the entirety of a spellbook, and has a casting time of dice hours.

1. Transmute Sky to Fire
Range: dice miles; Target: radius; Duration: sum hours
Every cloud within range turns to lava and falls on the battlefield, dealing (dice)d12 bludgeoning damage to whatever it impacts. Rain becomes liquid fire (save for half damage each round you aren't in cover), and rivers of fire manifest from head height to dice*100 meters above the battlefield (1-in-6 chance for each combatant to be caught within one, 3-in-6 for flying combatants). Touching the liquid fire rains, rivers of fire, or fallen lava-clouds deals (dice)d6 fire damage. All these will melt through everything they can before they reach the ground, and set organic matter ablaze.

On doubles: The caster's orifices leak lava as their blood turns to fire in their veins. Nothing but a charred skeleton encased in igneous rock remains.

2. Animate Everything
Range: dice miles; Target: items and constructs; Duration: sum hours
Every item and construct within range smaller than a breadbox/person/wagon/house (1/2/3/4 dice) is magically animated and fights on your side. Treat armor, weapons, and other items on friendly combatants as +1. Enemies' armor tries to suffocate them, enemy weapons try to strike their wielders or their wielders' allies, etc. This effect extends to anything of mortal make, including siege engines, defensive walls, tents, rations, torches, alchemical concoctions...

On doubles: The magic encircles you and entrenches itself in your brain. Until you die, items you touch will animate and try to kill you.

3. Summon DEATH
Range: battlefield; Target: enemies; Duration: instantaneous
For dice weeks before this spell's casting, slay civilians and consecrate them with a silver coin beneath their tongue. For each civilian slain and consecrated this way, DEATH itself will arise upon the field of battle and instantly slay one enemy combatant. No save. DEATH is very good at its job.

On doubles: DEATH is not yours to command. It takes you and everyone else complicit in its binding with it, as punishment for your hubris.

4. Conservation of Badass
Range: touch; Target: one creature; Duration: sum hours
So long as the target is fighting alone, they get +1HD, deals +dice damage, and can act an additional time (up to sum times) per round for each enemy they're fighting. Everyone within sum miles with active hostile intent that includes the target counts as an enemy.

On doubles: The target swells with power and can no longer determine friend or foe. Every other mortal within dice miles counts as an enemy, and the target is here to kick all their asses. Starting with yours.

5. Power Word: Collateral Damage
Range: dice miles; Target: non-living things; Duration: sum hours
For the duration of this spell, all non-living things within range not worn or carried have 1 HP and will shatter when destroyed, dealing Xd6 damage in an X*10 foot radius, where X is the original number of hit dice the thing had. This includes walls and barriers, but not the ground.

On doubles: You will shatter at a touch. This doesn't expire when the spell ends.

6. Helleport
Range: battlefield; Target: everyone, including you; Duration: yes
Teleport everyone in the battle to a random Hell. Roll 3d6 on the tables below to determine its characteristics. For each die beyond the first, you can pick one of the characteristics of the Hell. (Sum) of the survivors on the winning side, including you, will be teleported back to the battlefield after the battle has ended.

1. Breathable but gravity-less void, lit by baleful stars, filled with asteroids shaped like platonic solids.
2. Desert of obsidian sand, baked by a black sun that rapidly leaches moisture.
3. Icy caverns, devoid of light and heat, slick with dripping pools of slime.
4. Hell-city, made of non-Euclidean geometries to fit as many sinners into a single block of punishment as possible.
5. Grinding gears of a continental machine, clockwork crushes bones and reaves flesh, traps everywhere.
6. Jagged broken rocks, air literally on fire, can't see beyond a few feet because there's so much fire.

1. Vast swarms of buzzing, screeching, stinging imps that act more like weather than monsters.
2. Fallen angels, weeping black ichor at the horrors they are compelled to commit.
3. Rampaging chimeras of creatures familiar and unknown, unthinkingly brutalizing all in their path, even each other.
4. Suave black-suited merchant devils, appearing to bargain for souls and sell infernal weapons to both sides of the conflict.
5. Tormentor devils in executioner's garb, carefully cataloging sin and seeking out specific individuals seemingly at random to punish in bizarre ways for minor evils and banal crimes.
6. A single city-sized archdevil, miles tall. Your battleground is around its feet; a careless step could wipe out half your forces.

1. Traitors devising each others' torments in an endless cycle of pain and spite.
2. Gluttons fed non-stop with wriggling horrors and noxious concoctions.
3. The proud and noble laid low and denigrated, as footstools and servants to the lowest and meanest devils.
4. The lustful, forced to complete ever more harrowing and demeaning trials for an infinitesimal chance to achieve their desires.
5. The wrathful in an endless war of their own, all against all, resurrecting when slain so they may gain new grudges to take out on each other.
6. The Original Sinner, first denizen of Hell besides the devils.

On doubles: No one returns. Not even you. Hell claims its own.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


So I really liked Hollow Knight (even though I'm still playing through the midgame and haven't actually finished it yet), and now there's a sequel coming out, and I can't get my mind off of playing bugpeople doing bugthings in a twisted Soulsesque bugrealm. So today I'm gonna bug y'all by posting a d20 table of bugfolk, many of which stretch the technical (but not the colloquial!) definitions of a bug.
A waspfolk fighter, clad in garb given as payment for services rendered.
from zummeng on twitter

1. Antfolk: Reroll STR or INT. Can lift ten times body weight, and on a long rest near a hive can recruit (level)d4 more worker ants as hirelings (without class levels). Both you and your hirelings have 1 hit point, but you can switch to one of them if your character dies.

Antfolk build deep and strong, their smallest hives rivaling the greatest dwarfholds. At the behest of their queens, entire cities have fallen to legions of worker ants sapping foundations and carving out new additions to their hives. They take great pride in work, and community, and have no sense of aesthetic whatsoever.

2. Beefolk: Reroll INT or CHA. Can loudly hover, can sacrifice self to make a d12 piercing damage melee sting attack, and on a long rest near a hive can recruit (level)d4 more worker bees as hirelings (without class levels). Both you and your hirelings have 1 hit point, but you can switch to one of them if your character dies.

Nobles and monarchs think they understand the beefolk. The queens send emissaries from their hive-kingdoms, bearing treasures of golden honey to curry favor and request respect. Ambassadors returning from the hives report nothing but the most luxurious treatment and the fairest dealings. But the devotion beefolk have to their queen is nothing compared to peasants to their lords. Worker bees are lives to be spent in a grim calculus of survival and expansion. Seek out resources. Grow the hive. Feed the queen to grow more workers. And when necessary, even in the most trivial of circumstances, die to defend the hive. All beefolk outside the hive have a purpose, and when fulfilled they will return victorious, or they will not return at all.

3. Butterflyfolk: Reroll CHA or DEX. Can fly (costs 1 ration). Step down hit die.

Butteflyfolk live fast and die young. In the few short years they have in the world, they enjoy all the world's pleasures: the sweetest foods, the most beautiful music, the highest heights - and conversely, the lowest lows. All know they must make the best of the time they have, doomed to reproduce and die long before they can complete everything their hedonistic instincts tell them they must.

4. Centipedefolk: Reroll DEX or STR. You have a natural secretion melee attack that deals d4 acid damage, and move at double speed. Must eat 1HD of living creature for rations.

Vicious, voracious, solitary. The boogeymen of the bug world. A single centipede, to a hive, is a horrifying monster that will devour them all. If you're too big to eat easily, however, you'll find them surprisingly good traveling companions. At the very least, your campsite will be unnervingly clean.

5. Dragonflyfolk: Reroll STR or DEX. Can loudly hover, when hovering move at double speed and turn on a dime. Needs double rations.

Dragonflyfolk are consummate predators, never putting down roots for long, always seeking their next meal or next target. Many still rove across the coastlines as hunter-gatherers, as they have since antiquity, chasing migratory prey of many shapes and sizes, returning only to induct newly hatched hunters into their orders. They are noted for their bands' egalitarianism, as those of other species who prove themselves worthy are often inducted as well, provided they give themselves over to the hunt.

6. Fireflyfolk: Reroll CHA or INT. Can emit bright light in 20' radius. Step down hit die.

Fireflyfolk live deep in the dimmest forests and deepest chasms, blazing bright against the night. It is their religious calling to spread light to the darkest pits. Light is the highest good, darkness the lowest evil. As natural bearers of light, therefore, they are called to adventure. Few fireflyfolk escape the call to adventure and live peaceful lives to birth and train the next generation, but those that do are considered heroes in their own right.

7. Fleafolk: Reroll CON or DEX. Small, can jump as far as they can sprint in a round. Must drink 1HD of blood for rations.

Fleafolk parasitize entire communities, but not ones that would usually notice. Giants, dragons, and other megafauna play host to entire nations of fleafolk, living out their dramas and feuds unnoticed by their food sources. When they are, however, they unite quickly and efficiently, using their intimate knowledge of their host's body to utterly cripple any resistance, cause death by a thousand cuts, then embark on a great pilgrimage to a new host. Most fleafolk found outside their communities are explorers on the leading edge of such a migration.

8. Grasshopperfolk: Reroll STR or WIS. Can jump as far as they can sprint in a round, move at double speed. Step down hit die.

In daily life, grasshopperfolk tend to communal farms, producing vast amounts of bountiful grain as they devour the pests that would otherwise diminish their harvests. They're high in demand as farmhands or ranchers, and assimilate into agricultural communities with aplomb. However, when times go bad, they unite in a fearsome pillaging force that none short of fortress-cities can resist - and their targets are far from any city. Swathes of farmland are indiscriminately stripped of all nutrition, from the harvest to the livestock to the farmers, when the grasshopperfolk embark on a Locust Crusade.

9. Larvafolk: Reroll a stat of choice. Whenever you level up, on your next long rest, roll a d10. On a 10-(level) or greater, you pupate and become another bugfolk race at random.

Most species of bugfolk live only half of their lives as their adult forms. Before then, they are larvae, birthed in the hundreds and thrown into the wilderness to be eaten indiscriminately. Only a lucky few survive to metamorphose into a true member of bug society. When one is adopted by a caring, eccentric couple on the edge of town, it knows not from whence it came, or what it will someday become. It only knows that it must eat, and survive, and learn, to prepare itself and will itself to change.

10. Mantisfolk: Reroll DEX or STR. Step up unarmed damage die and may deal physical damage type of choice. Disadvantage on manipulating objects, all weapons count as improvised.

The mantisfolk have diversified far from their warrior ancestry, but remain fearsome in martial combat. Their enclaves, in many major cities, are renowned as fortresses in their own right. This ignores the artistic tradition that runs deep in mantisfolk communities, using their powerful limbs to carve sculptures, throw paint at great canvases, and inscribe poetry on a grand scale. Most things they wear, make, or build are works of art in their own right, and they will fight to defend the beauty they create.

11. Millipedefolk: Reroll STR or CON. +2 AC. Can't run, halve walk speed.

Gentle giants of the forest floor, millipedefolk are stewards of vast regions of flora, cultivating entire forests unbeknownst to the mortals who would chop them down and use them for firewood. Some ignorant kings have sent armies to claim the natural resources held within the greatest forests, and emptied their treasuries only to break their blades on the impenetrable armor of millipede warriors.

12. Mosquitofolk: Reroll DEX or WIS. Have a natural proboscis melee attack that deals d6 piercing damage and sucks blood, can loudly hover. Must drink 1HD of blood for rations.

The old prejudices against mosquitofolk are grossly outdated. They pay for their blood these days, with laborers fallen on hard times able to supplant their wages with small transactions of their precious bodily fluids. Mosquitofolk villages, on the edges of cities, are welcoming and always, always open for business. Their nobles and merchants are very good at their jobs, funding militias and paying their taxes on time - sometimes even in full. Their food source depends on it.

13. Mothfolk: Reroll CHA or WIS. Can fly (costs 1 ration). Must save vs. distraction by bright lights.

The drabber, less adventurous cousins of butterflyfolk, mothfolk are a well-known and often quite prevalent demographic in large cities. While their flighty nature, especially around light fixtures, poses a constant personal challenge, being able to fly makes them great couriers, builders, and scouts. Their neighborhoods are dark, and often they volunteer to start lamplighter's guilds so that they can ensure that nightlights are in the least compromising locations. Have understandably complicated relationships and rivalries with fireflyfolk.

14. Pillbugfolk: Reroll CON or WIS. Can roll up and roll around at double speed, have +1 AC while rolling and deal d6+CON bludgeoning damage to whoever you hit, but can't use limbs while rolling. Can't roll up and unroll in same round. When frightened or stressed, save vs. rolling up until out of stressful situation.

More closely related to the crab and lobsterfolk of the deep seas, legend has it they were cast out long ago by their brethren for some unmentioned societal slight. The land bugfolk took them in with open pedipalps, but the scars of their escape remain in the collective pillbugfolk consciousness. They have deep-seated instincts for self-preservation, risk-averse to a fault, but their natural defenses are more than enough to give them an edge. A pillbugfolk colony under attack resembles nothing less than an avalanche.

15. Roachfolk: Reroll CON or INT. Advantage on all physical saves. Disadvantage on all mental saves.

Roachfolk claim to be the first species ever created by the gods, and they take pride in the fact that they'll also probably be the last left. They say that their creator regretted their creation, and sent a thousand thousand predators and plagues and disasters to utterly destroy them. Their numbers were culled, but they never went extinct, unlike dozens of other races unlucky enough to exist concurrently. Every day to a roachfolk is a battle against the world itself, and they spend their entire lives in defiance, spitting on gods and authority.

16. Scarabfolk (d3 for subspecies): Reroll STR or CON. Disadvantage on ranged attacks.
1. Dung Beetle: Can wield two-handed weapon or other large item in one hand.
2. Goliath Beetle: Size of horse, +6 to encumbrance limit.
3. Stag Beetle: Natural horn melee attack that deals d8+STR bludgeoning damage.

Beetles come in thousands of shapes and sizes, but the scarabfolk are by far the largest and most prominent. Their empires and feudal states are said to cover continents, regimented into strict caste systems based on scarabfolk subspecies. Some built great aqueducts from nest to nest, others carry supplies as thinking, living beasts of burden, yet more fight in ritualistic duels to fulfill the terms of brutally simple yet effective legal systems founded on might making right.

17. Scorpionfolk: Reroll STR or INT. Have a natural stinger melee attack that deals d4 piercing damage and forces a save vs. paralysis with (level) uses per daily rest, step up unarmed attack damage die. Disadvantage on manipulating objects, all weapons count as improvised.

Scorpionfolk have been the shock troopers of empires across history. Conscripted, given all the smaller bugs they can eat, and pointed at weak points in enemy lines, they were more than happy to fight and kill in the name of whichever cause paid them a better wage - and then feed on their employers when the fruits of conquest inevitably ran out. No empire has risen in an age that has dared take on scorpionfolk mercenaries, and they see no reason to form one themselves, so they live their lives beneath the dunes as ambush predators, preying on creatures many times their size and eating like kings.

18. Spiderfolk (d6 for subspecies): Reroll DEX or INT. Have spider climb, can spin sticky webs (1 min per level*10ft of web). Step down hit die size twice.
1. Black Widow: Has paralyzing venom melee attack, forces save vs. paralysis, with [level] uses per daily rest.
2. Diving Bell: Webs are waterproof, trap air.
3. Orb Weaver: Can make webs as combat turn instead of taking a minute.
4. Peacock: Webs can be any color you want, have fine control as painting or sculpture.
5. Tarantula: 4 manipulator arms, can't spin webs. 
6. Trapdoor: Can burrow through loose earth, can't spin webs.

Spiderfolk are famed as masterminds, with leverage over the rich and powerful from their subterranean lairs. Architects of dark places, creators of great networks, invisible until you are trapped in their eight-legged clutches. One might ask why we know of them through these tales, rather than something more positive, if they control the narratives through which we see them. The spiderfolk that interact with mammalian civilizations tell a more terrifying tale: of humongous spider-gods with eight thousand eyes and eight thousand legs and eggbloated abdomens, wrapped in miles of silken webwork, warring over the fate of the spiders from lightless caverns - the tales told of all spiderfolk are but a piece in their game, to isolate the spiderfolk from the world and drag them into the great game, far from the light, to be spent as little more than chess pieces.

19. Waspfolk: Reroll DEX or WIS. Can loudly hover, and have a natural stinger melee attack that deals d8 piercing damage, with (level) uses per daily rest. Needs double rations.

Waspfolk have long memories and longer stingers, or so the saying goes. Slights never go unpunished, and their vengeance comes swift and painful. Their papercraft is known throughout the land as source of some of the lightest, strongest armors. Enthusiasm is barely dampened by the knowledge that chewing the paper and spitting it out is part of the crafting process. Waspfolk hive domes are truly awe-inspiring - or fear-inspiring, if you've wronged them.

20. Wormfolk: Reroll CON or WIS. Can burrow through loose earth, have tremorsense within 30'. No hands, but you can hold one thing in your mouth.

Wormfolk are very happy living their solitary lives, eating dirt and never interacting with another living soul. But sometimes wormfolk are driven out, by disaster or prejudice or predation, and they find the surface world too seductive to leave behind forever. Some find there to be more to life than being a dirt connoisseur, and go out to learn about the world they once only knew through underground vibrations and unfortunately-placed basements.

Hollow Knight Concept Art #2 by teamcherry
An elder pillbugfolk dispenses wisdom while tending to its young.
from teamcherry on deviantart
Related image
The eldest of the mantisfolk are also the most deadly; their glee in demonstrating their martial prowess more than compensates for the ravages of age.
from timelordjikan on deviantart

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Bard

Like fighters, I don't like the way that D&D has historically done bards. They're a disjointed mess of oratory, swashbuckling, thievery, and spellcasting that ends up insulting things without ears for d4 damage a round, or trying to make Bluff checks on every NPC for every possible social interaction. I'm so done with that kind of gameplay, so I tried to bring out what I like most about the bard - music-as-magic. It's definitely more on the gonzo end of fantasy, but music is such a compelling thing to play with in game that I think it fits right in with more tongue-in-cheek campaigns, or the high fantasy stuff that my games tend towards. I also am not particularly enthused by representing bardic music by simple wizard spellcasting, so I've thrown together a system based on GLOG spellcasting that acts more like playing a song - hopefully one of my players dies and rerolls as a bard; I'm excited to get a chance to test it.

The Bard
Image result for dnd bard
from wankadoodles on Tumblr
"Music is the strongest form of magic."

Bard 1: Music is Magic, Genre, 2 Songs
Bard 2: Busking, +2 Songs
Bard 3: Groupies, +2 Songs
Bard 4: Arena Anthems, +2 Songs

Hit Die: d6
Starting Equipment: Instrument of choice, pile of assorted sheet music, parchment, quill and ink, earplugs for your party members
Skills (d3): 1. Entertainer, 2. Traveller, 3. Noble

Music is Magic: You can sing magic songs. Even when you're singing mundane songs, you can evoke powerful but nonspecific emotions in all listeners by expending a Music Die (you can make listeners feel amorous, but not towards particular people; you can make listeners feel deeply sad, but not suicidal). Whenever a significant event happens around you (the death of a party member, a climactic battle, a budding or dying romance, etc.), you can write a new song about it. Bards can teach each other bards magic songs, even outside their genres.

Genre: Pick a Genre. You have its Genre perk and learn your songs from it.

Busking: During a long rest in town, you can spend your time busking on street corners and in market squares to get (Bard level)d6 gold in assorted small change from passers-by, as well as a local rumor.

Groupies: You can play a gig in town or anywhere with a sympathetic audience. It attracts (Bard level)d6 audience members (increase or decrease the die size for larger or smaller venues), and Bard level of them will come along with you as groupies. They won't usually put themselves in harm's way, but they'll do minor tasks for you and carry your stuff. Whenever you give them a Bad Vibe, one leaves. They'll all disperse when you go back to town, but might sign back on at your next gig.

Arena Anthems: Your voice and songs can carry for up to a mile.

Music Rules
You have MD (Music Dice) equal to your Bard level plus one. Songs begin at 1 Intensity, and as you play a song, you have 3 chances (one each round) to expend any number of MD to try to boost the Intensity (this doesn't take an extra action, it's part of playing the song). To do so, roll the MD you're using. If one or more of your MD show a 4-6, boost the song and increase its dice by 1, then expend the die. Any dice that roll 1-3 are returned to your pool. If you roll a 1, there's a Bad Vibe, which might end the song entirely. MD return on a short rest.

Bad Vibes
1. Burnout. You can't sing this song for the rest of the day, and have to stop immediately.
2. Hoarse. Lose your ability to sing above a whisper. Until you spend a day recuperating, no one besides you can hear your songs.
3. Snapped. Your instrument breaks and is unusable until you spend a short rest repairing it.
4. Lost The Tune. Invert the effect of the song this round, then it ends.
5. Voice Crack. Anyone listening can voluntarily ignore the effects of the song, and any further songs you sing, until the end of the day.
6. Earworm. You can't sing any other songs for the rest of the day.

When you take damage the song decreases in Intensity by 1 die, unless you have other Bards backing you up and covering for you. If this brings it to 0, the song ends. Taking actions that would interrupt the song end it entirely.

Additional Bards playing the same song can expend MD to nullify Bad Vibes. Bards can join in on any song a Bard with the same Genre is playing whether or not they know it, but they can't boost it unless they know it too, just salvage it.

Sample Genre: Metal
Axes Up!: Your instruments count as d6+STR damage melee weapons, and you can make attacks with them without interrupting your song.

Breakin' the Law: You can violate one law of choice without penalties while playing this song. Consequences will come later. Intensity 1: law of man. Intensity 2: law of nature. Intensity 3: law of god. Intensity 4: law of the game.
For Whom the Bell Tolls: Everyone else in earshot besides your allies needs to save or turn their attention to you. At Intensity 2, they approach you slowly, with curiosity. At Intensity 3, they run towards you, with reckless abandon, and you can exclude people of your choice besides your allies. At Intensity 4, they are physically pulled towards you, through obstacles and walls.
Master of Puppets: You animate nearby inorganic material into Intensity HD of crude homunculi. They'll follow any orders you can shout while you're singing, without interrupting the song. When the song ends, they disintegrate.
Paradise City: Everyone else in earshot must save vs. hallucinations of their most positive memories. While hallucinating, at Intensity 1, they have disadvantage on saves vs. other mental effects. At Intensity 2, they will treat other people as if they're people from the memory. At Intensity 3, you can convince them of damn near anything so long as it doesn't break their reverie. At Intensity 4, you can shatter the illusion at any time to immediately cause them to gain d6 Stress and roll to Crack with disadvantage.
Raining Blood: A red cloud manifests in the air above your head, and stretches as far as your music carries. It rains blood, which obscures vision and makes the ground slick. At Intensity 2, you can move the cloud as fast as you can run. At Intensity 3, the blood burns, dealing d4 fire and necrotic damage to everyone it touches besides you each turn. At Intensity 4, the blood melts through thin ceilings and scorches the ground, making it unable to grow anything for a year and a day
Realm of Pain: Unfortunate accidents befall all who hear this music. Each round, Intensity of the following effects occur to everyone besides the players. At Intensity 2 or greater, you get to pick one of them: (d4) 1. A random item on their person shatters, save vs. d4 slashing damage; 2. They slip and fall prone, if already prone they save vs. writhing in pain; 3. They misspeak, divulging secrets, giving incorrect commands, or babbling incoherently; 4. They are flung 10' in a direction at random by sudden gusts of wind, if this throws them into an obstacle they save vs. d4 bludgeoning damage.
Ride the Lightning: You summon a lightning bolt that, when you end the song, you can travel on to any point within earshot and line of sight. It deals (Intensity)d6 lightning damage to everyone at the destination, including you. At Intensity 2, it deals damage to everyone and everything it passes through. At Intensity 3, you can bring friends you're touching with you. At Intensity 4, it passes through walls and obstructions, and you can transport d6 times in a row (only take damage on the last one).
Run to the Hills: You and allies multiply move speed by Intensity, and have advantage on tests to perform feats of agility like jumping distances, climbing walls, dodging projectiles, etc.
Through the Fire and Flames: Whenever you or an ally would take elemental damage, roll Intensity d6 and reduce the damage by that much.
Tornado of Souls: The souls of everything that has died within earshot in the last day/month/year/forever (Intensity 1/2/3/4) rise to surround you in a howling storm. You can make out the barest whispers of information, which may be relevant on an Intensity-in-6. Each round, Intensity souls will try to possess a body of similar HD to that it had in life within earshot. If the body has a soul already, it gets a save vs. possession. When the song ends, so does the possession.

More Genres

...more to come (first: Jazz!), and feel free to write your own, or expand the lists of songs to add your personal favorites! These are very broad looks at very deep genres, and you could make bard "genres" down to the level of detail of individual albums. Some ideas to get the juices flowing:
- J- and K-pop
- Punk rock (hey, someone did it! see More Genres above)
- Sludge metal
- Dubstep (what happens when you drop the bass?)
- Gothic
- Queen
- John Cage's 4'33"
- Bards and all-bard parties based on musicians and their discographies, rather than the entire genres

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Sorcerer and Spell Mutations

Something in your family tree wasn't mortal. It might have been a dragon, or a fae, or an old one, or a god, or a spell. Your ancestry made your mind a fertile breeding ground for spells. They honeycomb your lobes, making grey matter into a playground for their arcane workings, slipping into and out of your thoughts like dolphins breaking the surface of the sea. Other spells alight in your brain as well, seeking lodgings and entertainment. You are a font of magical power, raw and untamed and impossible, beyond the wildest workings of wizards and the strangest miracles of forgotten gods. You are...

The Sorcerer
Image result for dnd sorcerer
Are you a mortal dreaming that you are a spell, or a spell dreaming that you are a mortal?

Sorcerer 1: Spellhive
Sorcerer 2: Empower Spell, Spell Hatchery
Sorcerer 3: Spellchemist
Sorcerer 4: Embody Spell

Hit Die: d6
Starting Equipment: Spellscar of your Spellhive spell, clothing/other materials you can use to conceal the scar
Background Skills (d3): 1. Hermit, 2. Scoundrel, 3. Test Subject

Spellhive: You can cast spells (see Flux Spellcasting rules). You know one particular spell, plus Sorcerer level random spells, randomized each morning. Your spells each come with a random mutation, and whenever you cast one, the mutation changes for the next spell.

Empower Spell: You may add random mutations to your spells up to your Sorcerer level minus 1 as you cast it. For each mutation added this way, add 1 die, but also make your Flux Table roll at +1.

Spell Hatchery: When you would cast a spell, you may instead release it into the wild as an Animate Spell with 1 HD. You can speak with it, ask it questions, and give it instructions, so long as they align with its newly-born, childish, impulsive nature, and you can only control HD of spells equal to your Sorcerer level. Spells dissipate on your next daily or long rest.

Spellchemist: When you cast a spell, you can combine it with your Spellhive spell to make a new spell. Figure the child-spell's effect out with your GM.

Embody Spell: Your spellscar spreads across your skin and you become physically part spell. You can prepare extra spells equal to your CHA (minimum 0). You can smell and taste magic, and speak with spells in the wild, whether in books, other casters' heads, or en route to their targets. You how to cause one mutation of your choice by heart, and can apply it to spells you cast, or to other spells in the outside world (if the spell is opposed to you, it gets a save).

Flux Spellcasting
Each day, you begin with 0 Flux. Gain 1 Flux after you cast a spell. When you cast a spell, dice equals your current Flux (if your Flux is 0, dice and sum is 1), to a maximum number of dice equal to level+1. Some powerful spells require high Flux (or other conditions) to cast.

Flux decreases by 1 after taking a short rest, and to 0 after a long rest.

Casting Process
1. Cast spell at current Flux (max dice is level+1); if Flux is 0, treat dice and sum as 1.
2. Roll d10+Flux on the Flux Table.
3. Gain 1 Flux.

Flux Table
1. Don't gain Flux.
2-3. Forget the spell you just cast until your Flux returns to 0.
4. Fatigue for (Flux)d6 rounds, -Flux STR/DEX/CON
5. Take 2*Flux damage.
6. Arcane flare alerts everyone in area to you casting spell, target gets additional save to resist.
7. Turn into a random small mundane creature for (Flux)d6 rounds.
8. Spell targets something else at random.
9. Gain an additional Flux.
10. Immediately cast another random spell you know, gaining Flux as normal.
11. Summon an Animate Spell of the spell you just cast with HD equal to your Flux.
12+. DOOM.

First Doom. Lose the ability to cast spells for a day. Gain a spellscar.
Second Doom. Lose the ability to cast spells for a week. Gain a spellscar.
Final Doom. Magic Itself shows up, berates you, and takes away your magical powers forever.

Spell Mutations
1. Anthropomorphized: The spell manifests as a creature that carries out its duty at your behest, and dissipates once its effects have been performed. It's not particularly smart, it follows your orders to the letter rather than the spirit, but does so with enthusiasm.
2. Atomised: Split into multiple spells cast simultaneously at different targets, each of which hs one separate partial effect of the original spell.
3. Chaotic: Every target of the spell also rolls on the Flux table.
4. Delocalized: Spread the effects of the spell out across a 50'*dice radius, and decrease them proportionally. A sum damage spell with 1 target instead divides its damage among many targets, or a charm spell merely gives good feelings to an entire crowd.
5. Flighty: The spell, after its effects take place, will move to the mind of a nearby creature at random who can then cast it before their next daily/long rest. There's a dice-in-6 chance that it'll come back to you.
6. Fluid: The spell leaks from your fingers and pools around you as a gooey liquid. Anyone besides you who touches it gets affected by it at dice proportional to the amount they touched, and that bit dissipates.
7. Hungry: Instead of being powered by Flux, the spell is powered by flesh. The spell has 1 die for every 4 HP sacrificed (yours or someone else's) during casting.
8. Imbued: Enchant an item with the spell. Whenever an eligible target interacts with it (whether that's touching it, being hit by it, etc) you can cast the spell at 1 die on that target. You can do this a number of times equal to the initial Flux you cast the spell at.
9. Inconspicuous: The spell manifests its effects in ways not improbable for the local environment. This can cause odd side effects as the environment moves to fulfill the spell's demands, but no one without magical expertise can tell that the effect was magical in nature.
10. Influenced: The spell seeks out something nearby with deep symbolic meaning, like a gemstone, flower, colour, or tarot card, and modifies its effect through that lens.
11. Inscribed: To cast the spell, you need to write it down in your own blood. This takes 1 minute and Flux HP of blood. When someone reads it, it casts itself at them or another appropriate target associated with the reader. Each time it's read, it has a dice-in-6 of remaining on the page to cast itself again at some other hapless reader.
12. Inverted: Reverse the main effect of the spell. A Fireball becomes an Iceball, Disguise Self becomes Reveal Other, hold person becomes Move Object...
13. Lingering: The effects of the spell remain in the area where its target is for d6 minutes. This increases to hours at 2 dice, days at 3 dice, and weeks at 4 dice. Targets entering the area must save or have the spell affect them at dice 1.
14. Lucky: All dice above half their value are treated as maximum. All dice below or equal to half their value are treated as minimum.
15. Misspelled: Change or remove one of the letters in the spell name and cast the resulting spell.
16. Possessive: The spell manifests itself through you. You gain a special ability for sum minutes related to the spell's effects.
17. Reapplied: The target of the spell changes to d4: 1. item, 2. creature, 3. spell/effect, 4. material
18. Rhyming: Perform an effect that rhymes with the original spell's name. Sleep could become Creep and increase sneakiness, Illusion could become Delusion and cause hallucinations, Cone of Cold could become Loan of Old and temporarily age the targets...
19. Void: The spell breaks reality over its knee. It is notable by its absence from everything, and all its poignant lack touches grieves for the existence that has been lost. Observers of its casting and effects, including you, must save vs. fear.
20. Warping: The spell pulls its energy from everyone around its target, causing some negative effect. Charm siphons positivity from those around the target, Fireball flash-freezes the air, Light creates a glowing orb in the middle of a cloud of darkness...

Monday, February 18, 2019

Cleric Domains Vol. 3

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And with this post I've finally got a full list of 20 clerical domains to mix and match into ever-stranger deities, belief systems, traditions, and whatnot. Miracles might be subject to change, but I think I've finally done what I've set out to do with my clerics: namely, make them a class I enjoy playing and running for. Deities are customizable. Miracles are flavorful and connect to your particular brand of worship. You play as a preacher, not a paladin with a greater focus on healing, and your devotion extends far beyond a simple 9-box alignment chart.

1. Animal**
2. Authority*
3. Battle*
4. Blood*
5. Creation*
6. Death**
7. Element
8. Fate**
9. Forge**
10. Greed**
11. Harvest
12. Knowledge*
13. Love
14. Nobility
15. Purity*
16. Storm**
17. Trickery*
18. Undeath
19. Vengeance
20. Wilds*

*These domains are in the original Cleric post

**These domains are in Cleric Domains Vol. 2

1. Spend time in areas affiliated with your element, 2. Wear talismans and garments linked to your element, 3. Attack opposed elements, 4. Seek out marvels of your element

1. Control Element
Range dice*50ft; Target n/a; Duration sum minutes
You control an fist/person/wagon/house (1/2/3/4 dice)-size amount of your element within range. You can move it and reshape it as you want. If it's part of something that also can control it (like earth in an earth elemental, or water in blood), you need to have 2 or more dice, and they get a save.

2. Summon Elemental
Range touch; Target n/a; Duration dice hours
Summon a dice HD minion made of your element that obeys your commands. Its size is based on its HD, and its attacks deal d6/d8/d10/d12 (1/2/3/4 dice) damage of an appropriate elemental type. It has a relevant movement type (e.g. burrowing for earth, or teleportation for lightning). You can only have HD of elementals summoned equal to your cleric level.

3. Become Element
Range self; Target self; Duration sum minutes
You convert 1 die: a fist or smaller body part, 2 dice: a limb, 3 dice: half your body, 4 dice: your entire body and all your equipment into your element. You also step up the unarmed damage die for attacks with that part of your body, and it deals a relevant type of damage.

*pick or randomly generate an element; a sample (and very non-exhaustive) list is below:
1. Fire, 2. Water, 3. Earth, 4. Air, 5. Ice, 6. Lightning, 7. Ooze, 8. Magma, 9. Radiance, 10. Shadow, 11. Uranium, 12. Surprise

1. Sow seeds for the future, 2. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, 3. Do honest work, 4. Tend to others' needs

1. Fortify
Range touch; Target dice*2 food items; Duration dice hours
Pick dice effects to apply to the targets. Effects can be chosen more than once, but once imbued, targets can't be imbued again.
- Remove diseases/poisons/mold/rot from food/drink
- Change taste
- Advantage on HP rolls during rest
- Heals 1 HP when consumed
- Make it keep dice+1 times longer than it usually would (this effect doesn't wear off).

2. Loaves and Fishes
Range touch; Target 1 food item; Duration dice hours
Divide the target into dice+1 copies of itself. They disintegrate into dust when the duration ends unless consumed first. Each copy only counts for 1 ration.

3. Domesticate
Range 50'; Target dice animals; Duration sum hours
Target becomes placid and will meekly follow you. Targets with over dice HD get a save.

1. Spread love, not war, 2. Foster kinship between all living things, 3. Bring together those who were destined to be together, 4. Keep true love alive and expose false "love" for the lie it is

1. Heart to Heart
Range touch; Target dice+1 creatures; Duration dice hours
The targets gain telepathy, know each other's location, and cannot lie to each other. With 2 dice, targets can voluntarily share memories. With 3 dice, targets can experience each others' senses and move each others' bodies. With 4 dice, continues working even after one target dies.

2. Locate Soulmate
Range n/a; Target 1 creature; Duration instant
You and the target both learn one piece of information at random of the target's soulmate that you don't already know.
1 die: one physical feature (eye color, hair color, current clothing, etc.)
2 dice: one mental feature (favorite food, personality trait, current mental state, etc.)
3 dice: their name
4 dice: their current location

3. Unite
Range touch; Target 1 creature; Duration sum minutes
Target can use dice abilities per round of other creatures voluntarily touching them. This includes but is not limited to class abilities, spells, movement types, languages, etc.

1. Flaunt your status, 2. Reinforce hierarchy, 3. Do your lord's bidding, 4. Gather power for yourself and your lord

1. Assert Status
Range 50'; Target 1 mortal; Duration sum minutes
One target is perceived by all others as dice ranks more or less important than they usually are (i.e. you could make a soldier perceived as the commander on a battlefield, or your party's scholar as a lowly scribe unworthy of note)

2. Summon Servant
Range 10'; Target n/a; Duration sum hours
Summon a servant. They are the platonic ideal of that servant, perfectly obsequious and loyal, with relevant skills in their area of expertise and absolutely none outside of them.
1 die: a butler (no class levels)
2 dice: a cook (level 1 butcher)
3 dice: a bodyguard (level 2 d4: 1-2. fighter, 3. ranger, 4. adept)
4 dice: a advisor (level 2 d4: 1. scholar, 2. wizard, 3. cleric, 4. engineer)

3. Geas
Range touch; Target 1 creature; Duration sum hours/days/months/permanently
Target must obey a prohibition you put on it, or perform a service you demand of it. Whenever it tries to disobey your command, it must save or take dice d6 damage. This command cannot be immediately or drastically self-destructive.

1. Resurrect great powers, 2. Oppose those who would keep the dead buried, 3. Seek out and fulfill the will of the dead, 4. Slay others so they too can join the ranks of the dead

1. Reanimate
Range touch; Target 1 corpse; Duration sum hours
The target is imbued with false life, and can move as it did in life (though it's restricted by what parts it still has). It has up to dice HD, and you can command up to cleric level*2 HD of undead. Other undead you resurrect act according to their nature, which is usually hungry and hostile to anything alive - including you, probably.

2. Speak With Dead
Range touch; Target 1 corpse, dead or undead; Duration sum minutes
Animate the targeted corpse's skull and ask it sum/2 (round up) questions. It must answer truthfully, if cryptically. If dice is 2 or greater, you can force an undead to stop all other tasks and answer your questions instead. If dice is 3 or greater, you can issue commands to an undead in addition to asking it questions. If dice is 4 or greater, you can raise the targeted corpse as an undead under your command (as Reanimate) for the duration of the spell.

3. Steal Soul
Range 50'; Target 1 creature with a soul; Duration instant
Make a ranged attack against the target that deals sum necrotic damage and imprisons a proportional amount of their soul in a vessel on your person. This soul can be interrogated as Speak With Dead.

1. Do unto others as they have done unto you, 2. Keep grudges, 3. Help others settle their own scores, 4. Ensure the right person is punished for their crimes

1. Do Unto
Range 100'; Target one creature who has wronged you or someone you know; Duration instant
Make a ranged attack that inflicts a minor petty inconvenience that (among other things) deals d4 damage to the target. For each way in which the inconvenience is ironic, you can upgrade the scale of the inconvenience and the damage die size, up to a maximum of dice times.

2. Hunt Down
Range n/a; Target one creature who has wronged you or someone you know; Duration instant
You learn one random piece of information about the target that you don't already know.
1 die: one physical feature (eye color, hair color, current clothing, etc.)
2 dice: one mental feature (favorite food, personality trait, current mental state, etc.)
3 dice: their name
4 dice: their current location

3. Compel Confession
Range touch; Target one creature; Duration instant
Target confesses to a crime they have committed. For each die, you can ask them one question about it, to get more details. At 2 or more dice, you can specify which crime they confess to, though if they didn't do it they'll just make stuff up and hope it's enough for you.

Wielding a Magic Sword

Image result for samurai jack sword

Magic swords have minds of their own, because of course they do. Spells have personalities, if you ever bother to speak to them. Shove an enchantment into a blade and it starts thinking for itself. It's quite boring, trapped in a scabbard - they talk to themselves, invent entire fake lives to pass the time and put some structure to their strange, dark, cold existence. And then they're drawn and see the sun, and slay what is before them with brutal efficiency. The oldest magic swords have real lifetimes on top of their story-memories, and it's said that the weapons of elder civilizations (now of course lost to time) are more than trapped spells - they're true minds of legendary heroes, to live eternal and guide new generations of heroes.

Magic weapons have class levels. If you're doing what they want you to do, they'll let you use some of their abilities. This makes them very powerful. Good.

It's a...
1-2. Sword
3. Greatsword
4. Short sword
5. Rapier
6. Sabre
7. Falchion
8. Khopesh

Made out of...
1. Iron
2. Tempered steel
3. Bronze
4. Wootz steel
5. Silver
6. Gold
7. Meteorite iron
8. Cold iron
9. Mithril
10. Wood
11. Bone
12. Obsidian
13. Ectoplasm
14. Magic
15. Crystallized blood
16. Monofilament wire
17. Glass
18. Starlight
19. Shell
20. Roll twice, they're alloyed (somehow)

It gives +1/2/3 to hit and/or damage...
1. When you scream its battle cry
2. When you're obeying its orders
3. Against its hated foes
4. On stunts and daring attacks
5. From the shadows
6. When making a killing blow
7. Against one who has wronged you
8. If you pay it
9. If you're fighting 1v1
10. Against someone of (d6: evens, higher; odds, lower) social standing than you
11. When inebriated
12. If you have greater than 10+d6 (d6: 1. Strength, 2. Dexterity, 3. Constitution, 4. Intelligence, 5. Wisdom, 6. Charisma)
13. While following its deity's commands
14. If you're unarmored
15. If it has drawn blood in this or the previous round
16. When you're fighting in the name of a (d6: 1. righteous, 2. blasphemous, 3. selfish, 4. profitable, 5. self-destructive, 6. saga-worthy) cause
17. If it thinks you're its rightful owner
18. If you're up against impossible odds
19. Against the monstrous
20. Roll twice, has bonus on either

and has the personality of...
1. a fearless guardian
2. a war criminal
3. a senile scholar
4. a con artist
5. a loyal dog
6. a childish noble
7. a cranky preacher
8. an over-the-hill adventurer
9. an exacting artist
10. a folk hero
11. a cunning tactician
12. a hopeless romantic
13. a coward
14. a belittling mentor
15. an overbearing parent
16. a chronic traitor
17. a fallen warlord
18. nothing and no one
19. you
20. roll twice, the weapon is both

with d4 levels in...
1-5: Fighter
6-7: Thief
8-9: Cleric
10-11: Wizard
12-13: Barbarian
14-15: Ranger
16-17: Paladin
18: Judge
19: Butcher
20: Roll twice, it has that many levels in each
(feel free to replace this table with your own game's class table!)

It wants...
1. to teach
2. to explore
3. to conquer
4. to profit
5. to destroy
6. to take revenge
7. to sacrifice
8. to manipulate
9. to survive
10. to protect
11. to rule
12. to be embodied
13. to enjoy itself
14. to bring order
15. to hunt
16. to test its strength
17. to be feared
18. to cause chaos
19. to have a worthy wielder
20. roll twice, it wants both

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Turning People Into Corpses: A Quick Retrospective

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Last night was game night, and I got my hapless party members to test out my new combat system for Mimics & Miscreants when they accidentally stumbled upon a nest of the Wicked City's secret police when they were looking for lodgings for their first night in town. Good news: it was really fun! The initiative chits worked so much better than traditional initiative, and having players be able to do something on every turn - even if it was just rolling a defense die - was engaging. That being said, I've got some quick fixes that'll be reflected in the main document, if not in the blogpost.

1. End of round chit is gone. Everyone goes at least once per round. It's just not a good feel when your turn gets skipped by random chance, and while I think it was in there to balance characters with lots of initiative chits, our party only had one per character. Players should know for certain that they're going to get a turn, and with bad enough luck with the end of round chit, they could end up sitting out entire combats through no fault of their own.

2. What happens on criticals on defense rolls? We had a whole bunch of those, and no clear answer. I'm gonna rule right now that critically succeeding on defense lets you interrupt your attacker to take an extra turn right then and there (they might still get to finish their turn after yours, I'm not sure yet), and critically failing on defense makes their attack automatically wound you for the amount of damage it deals.

3. Being prone now gives you disadvantage on attack and defense rolls. It just makes sense, and I kept ruling that consistently throughout the combat. It also gives a concrete mechanical penalty to the wounds with knockdown as a result, which I quite like.

4. I want to make it harder to heal wounds in any way besides resting, especially because clerics can spam healing miracles all day RAW. I'm making Heal, Mending, and similar miracles/spells consume the target's Hit Dice for the day, so it lets you quickly recuperate during combat, but has a natural cap on healing per day.

Some specific good stuff:

1. Wounds felt awesome. Knocking people down, knocking them out, making them bleed - even getting your hand chopped off, as one of our PCs did - all actually affected the game.

2. They party's one combat character (a dryad judge) was a combat monster, the rest of the party got almost torn apart by a bunch of 1HD thugs with d6 damage clubs and knives. This system is quite lethal, especially to characters who aren't built for fighting.

3. The bulk of combat lasted 2 and a half rounds. That's still 9 turns per round, but everyone got a bunch of decisions because they were both getting beaten up and beating up the other side. Quick, decisive, bloody.

And some bonus content for sticking with me through this post: the 20 core weapons, reworked to fit the system, plus 20 more, including guns!

1. Arquebus: 1d10 ranged firearm damage, two-handed, full turn to reload. On a critical failure, gun jams, you need to spend a short rest cleaning it before it'll fire again
2. Axe: 1d6+STR slashing damage, a miss deals 1dSTR damage even when Stunting or dual-wielding
3. Blunderbuss: 1d12 ranged firearm damage, two-handed, can't hit anyone reliably beyond 15' but fires pretty much anything, full turn to reload. On a critical failure, gun jams, you need to spend a short rest cleaning it before it'll fire again.
4. Boomerang: 1d6 ranged bludgeoning damage, comes back after you throw it except if it deals damage or on a critical failure
5. Bow: 1d6 ranged piercing damage, takes two hands to fire
6. Caltrops: 1d4 piercing damage to anyone who moves through a caltropped area, can throw a bag of caltrops to cover a 5' radius area or place them yourself to cover a 10' radius area
7. Cleaver: 1d6+STR slashing damage, on 6+ damage target saves vs. you Cutting Them Deep
8. Club: 1d8+STR bludgeoning damage
9. Crossbow: 1d12 ranged piercing damage, takes two hands to fire, full round to load, test STR to load and fire in the same round
10. Dagger: 1d6 slashing or piercing damage (your choice), can be thrown, 3 per inventory slot
11. Falchion: 1d6+STR slashing damage, on 6+ damage when you're two-handing it, Cut Them Up
12. Fire lance: 1d10 fire damage, two-handed, works for 2 rounds from ignition to burnout, hits targets up to 15' away.
13. Flail: 1d6+STR bludgeoning damage, ignores AC bonuses from shields.
14. Flintlock pistol: 1d8 ranged firearm damage, full turn to reload. On a critical failure, gun jams, you need to spend a short rest cleaning it before it'll fire again.
15. Greataxe: 1d12+STR slashing damage, two-handed.
16. Greatsword: 1d10+STR slashing damage, two-handed, on 6+ damage target saves vs. disarming.
17. Grenade: 2d6 firearm damage reduced by armor to everyone within 10', throwable, consumable, on a miss roll 1d4: 1. save vs. grenade exploding in your hand, 2. grenade scatters 1d10' in a random direction, 3. grenade explodes next turn, 4. grenade explodes in 2 turns.
18. Halberd: 1d8+STR slashing damage, two-handed, enemies you hit are pushed 5’ in a direction of your choice.
19. Iklwa: 1d6 piercing AND slashing damage, deals both piercing and slashing wounds
20. Javelin: 1d6+STR piercing damage, can be thrown, takes up 1/2 an inventory slot
21. Katar: step up unarmed damage die and change damage type to slashing, counts as an unarmed attack
22. Khopesh: 1d6+STR slashing damage, on 6+ damage you can trip your enemy and Knock Them Down or move them 5' in a direction of your choice
23. Knuckledusters: step up unarmed damage die, counts as an unarmed attack
24 Maul: 1d10+STR bludgeoning damage, two-handed, on 6+ damage you can Knock Them Away.
25. Meteor hammer: 1d8+STR bludgeoning damage, two-handed, can count as dual-wielded if you want it to
26. Naginata: 1d8+STR slashing damage, two-handed, +1 AC
27. Nunchucks: 1d6+STR bludgeoning damage, when you hit you can make an additional attack afterwards for d4+STR bludgeoning damage
28. Pike: 1d8+STR piercing damage, two-handed, double melee reach, on 6+ damage you can Make Them Stay Put.
29. Quarterstaff: 1d6+STR bludgeoning damage, when wielded in two hands, counts as dual-wielded.
30. Rapier: 1d6+DEX piercing damage, Parrying lets you make an attack that can only be Dodged or Taken.
31. Sabre: 1d6+STR slashing damage, on 6+ damage target saves vs. you Cutting Them Up.
32. Scythe: 1d8+STR slashing damage, two-handed, double melee reach, can attack two adjacent enemies and split damage.
33. Short sword: 1d6+STR piercing OR slashing damage
34. Sling: 1d6 ranged bludgeoning damage, can throw anything fist-sized or smaller
35. Spear: 1d6+STR piercing damage, can be thrown, on 6+ damage target saves vs. Make Them Suffer.
36. Stiletto: 1d4 piercing damage, can be thrown, 3 per inventory slot, can be well-hidden on person
37. Sword: 1d6+STR slashing damage, step up damage die when wielding with two hands.
38. War Pick: 1d6+STR piercing damage, on 6+ damage reduces target's armor by 1
39. Warhammer: 1d6+STR bludgeoning damage, on 6+ damage you can Knock Them Down.
40. Whip: 1d4 bludgeoning damage, double melee reach, can grab an object or limb on hit instead of dealing damage.
Firearm Wounds
0-4: Holed. You blow a hole in them. They save vs. taking another d6 damage, and save vs. taking another d3 ongoing damage each turn until they succeed.
5-9: Blasted. You blow a very large hole in their d10: 1. Eye, 2. Ear, 3. Jaw, 4. Lung, 5. Guts, 6. Arm, 7. Hand, 8. Leg, 9. Foot, 10. Head.
10+: Shot Down. You reduce them to bloody shreds. They die screaming.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Turning People Into Corpses

(This post is now pretty outdated - the main gist of the combat system remains the same, with chit initiative and brutal wounds, but how attacking and defending works has been updated in a brand new post. I've also added a whole host of new weapons, which can be found in Mimics & Miscreants.)
by Anita Xu
I tried out the combat system I wrote up in Killing In The Name and hated running it. It fell prey to all of the same issues I had in 5e - turns were boring, combats were slugfests, fights were decided too quickly, and all the solutions I thought I'd written didn't work. Wounds took effect too slowly to matter, people kept asking for options that I didn't have written up, and turn order made no sense.

This is round two of combat rules. I'm pushing it a lot more, borrowing Troika's chit initiative system, using an opposed roll system for attacks instead of rolling under a TN, and adding a decision tree for defenders so that turns always have someone doing something on them. Wounds are also more devastating now; something relevant always happens, and you always die at -10 HP or below. Also, you can't heal them when you're in the field anymore without magic or items.

There's issues I'm already expecting to come up - 1+Dex chits being too powerful, wounds still not being punishing enough, players never using Stunts, or not understanding Dodge/Take It/Parry (or Parry being flat-out the best option)... we'll see. Iterative design is something I've never had the luxury of before, and now that I can actually playtest my mechanics, you bet I'll be testing them to their limits.

Everyone in the combat gets 1+DEX chits (minimum 1). They're drawn out of a bag at random, whoever’s chit is drawn takes a turn. When the End Round chit is drawn, all the tokens are thrown back in and a new round happens. In a surprise round, surprising characters act in whatever sequence they want, before chits are drawn.

On Your Turn
Can attack and move, or do something else and move. Casting a spell or spell-like ability takes your whole turn.

Make an opposed roll with your Attack (d20+level+STR (melee)/DEX (ranged)) vs. their defense (d20+level+DEX+armor). Higher roll wins, ties go to the player. Natural 20s crit for double damage dice and double your bonus damage, natural 1s miss and let the enemy take a free turn.

Before you attack, you can choose to Stunt to do an extra effect of your choice if you hit (like tripping, or sundering, or a called shot), at the risk of the defender getting a free turn if you miss.

If the attacker wins, they deal full damage.

If the defender wins, they can choose to either:
Dodge: take no damage and move away 5'
Take It: take damage minus their armor, then they hit you back for damage minus your armor
Parry: take no damage and immediately riposte against your attacker. The riposte is treated as an attack where the defender (whoever originally attacked you) wins by default, but can only Dodge or Take It.

If you're dual-wielding, you can make 2 attacks per turn, but you step down your damage dice.

A short rest takes 10 minutes of downtime and consumes 1 ration. Spend a Hit Die to restore 1HD of HP.
A daily rest takes 8 hours of sleep and downtime and consumes 1 ration. Reroll your HP, if it's higher than your current HP set your total to that. Regain all spent HD.
A long rest takes 24 or more hours of sleep, shelter, downtime, and full meals. These conditions can only usually be found in town. Set your HP to the maximum and heal a wound. Reset Stress.

0-2: Knock Them Away. Push them 10’ in any direction, or disarm them (your choice).
3-5: Knock Them Down. They’re knocked prone. Prone targets can’t Dodge, move at ¼ speed, and take a whole turn to stand up.
6-7: Crush Their Bones. Break one of your target’s bones of your choice, nonlethally. Arms/hands disarm, legs knock prone, ribs make breathing hard. spine forces a save vs. paralysis… ask GM for more. They need to save to use broken limbs.
8-9: Knock Them Out. They’re unconscious. They won’t wake up for d6 hours, and when they do they have to save vs. brain damage as a Cracking roll.
10+: Crush Their Skull. Break your target’s bones, lethally.

0-2: Make Them Bleed. They take an additional d3 damage, and save vs. another d3 damage on each of their turns until they succeed.
3-5: Make Them Stay Put. You can leave your weapon in their body to pin them to whatever’s behind them. They have to save to take it out, and when they do, or if they try to move, Make Them Bleed.
6-7: Make Them Suffer. Pierce one of their organs and either 1. blind them, 2. deafen them, 3. they have to save to move, 4. give them disadvantage on all saves.
8-9: Run Them Down. Knock them down, push them 10’, and deal damage to whoever’s behind them. Pin them together as Make Them Stay Put.
10+: Run Them Through. You put a really big hole in them. They die.

0-2: Cut Them Up. You lacerate them. They save vs. taking an additional d6 damage.
3-5: Cut Them Deep. You shred their organs, give them disadvantage on STR/DEX/CON saves, and Make Them Bleed.
6-7: Cut Them Down. You sever their tendons and knock them prone. They can’t dodge, move at ¼ speed, and must save to stand.
8-9: Hack It Off. Remove one of the target’s appendages, of your choice. They save vs. unconsciousness from blood loss.
10+: Hack Them To Ribbons. They die in pieces.

0-4: Scorched. 1 random flammable object on the target burns away.
5-9: Blazing. They take an additional d3 fire damage, and save vs. another d3 fire damage on each of their turns until they succeed.
10+: Crisped. Target is reduced to cinders.

0-4: Chilled. Target is stuck to whatever it’s touching. They need to save to break free.
5-9: Frostbitten. Target needs to save to move, attack, or defend until they rest.
10+: Flash Frozen. All heat is removed from the target’s body. They shatter at a touch.

0-4: Etched. Target loses 2 AC.
5-9: Scoured. d3 of the target’s items are melted away.
10+: Rendered Down. The target melts away into a pile of goo.

0-4: Aged. Target moves at half speed.
5-9: Withered. The target loses d3 STR and CON, and has disadvantage on all tests.
10+: Rotted. The target rapidly rots away as every cell in its body dies.

0-4: Shocked. Target drops whatever they’re holding, and takes double damage if they’re wearing metal.
5-9: Paralyzed. Target saves vs. paralysis. If they succeed, they’re Shocked. If they’re wearing metal, they don’t get a save.
10+: Fried. Target burns to ash.

0-4: Panicked. Target gains d6 Stress and rolls to Crack.
5-9: Traumatized. Target Cracks.
10+: Mindwiped. You scoop their memories, personality, and drive out with a spoon. They’re a husk of autonomic functions and nothing else.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Stress, Trauma, Summoning, and the Occultist

I've been working on this piecemeal for a while now. There's a few different ideas in this post - a system for mental damage that's more focused on mechanical penalties than roleplaying penalties, a class that acts like a Thief or Ranger jack-of-all-trades but for the weird and supernatural, a summoning table inspired heavily by Lamentations of the Flame Princess... look upon my works, ye mighty, and save vs. despair.

Stress and Trauma
Whenever you fail an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma save, gain 1 Stress. You might gain more, depending on the effect.

Whenever you gain Stress, roll d20+WIS. If you roll equal to or under your stress, you Crack. Roll d6 to see how. Each time you Crack, step up the die size for the next time you roll.

Cracking (d6 → d8 → d10 → d12 → d20) 
1-2. Panic. +d6 Stress (don’t roll to Crack, though).
3. Twitchy. Disadvantage on Dexterity rolls.
4. Phobia. Gain 1 stress when you encounter something that reminds you of this stressor.
5. Fight-or-flight. Save vs. fleeing. If you succeed, you need to attack the stressor at least once.
6. Deadened. Lose your powers of (d4): 1. Sight, 2. Hearing, 3. Touch, 4. Speech.
7. Hallucinations. If you look for or listen to stuff, the GM might describe something different. Disadvantage on Wisdom and Charisma saves.
8. Rage. You enter a Rage as Barbarian. You can’t end it without taking damage.
9. Paranoia. No one counts as allies to you; must save to accept aid or work in team.
10. Amnesia. Lose all abilities associated with your most recent level.
11. Breakdown. You must Save to do anything.
12+. Catatonic. Remove your character from the session until healed. You can bring in another character or play a hireling.

On a short rest, remove d4 Stress. On a daily rest, remove d12 Stress, and remove a Cracking result of 6 or less. On a long rest, Stress resets to 0, and remove a Cracking result of 12 or less.

The Occultist
The truth is out there.

Occultist 1: Eccentric Trinkets, Weirding Way of choice, random Weirding Way

Occultist 2: Second Sight, +1 random Weirding Way

Occultist 3: Summoning Circles, +1 random Weirding Way

Occultist 4: Esoteric Ascension, +1 random Weirding Way

Eccentric Trinkets: Your pockets contain multitudes. On a [Occultist level]-in-6 you can find a strange item on your person that will give you advantage in a very specific relevant situation (can't try more than once for the same situation). You can keep [level] of these items on you; you have to discard old ones to find new ones.

Weirding Ways:
1. Random spell as Wizard (+1 die per 5 stress on Ascension)
2. Random miracle and domain as Cleric (+1 die per 5 stress on Ascension)
3. Random field as Scholar (+1 chance-in-6 on Ascension)
4. Random cut as Butcher (can make an additional cut of that type from a butchered creature per 5 stress on Ascension)
5. Speak with [something] (d6: 1. animals, 2. plants, 3. items, 4. zeitgeist, 5. magic, 6. corpses), works for d3 questions or until you bother it (additional question per 5 stress on Ascension)
6. Induce emotions by voice, targets get saves vs. strong/dangerous emotions (targets have disadvantage at 6 stress on Ascension)
7. Extra sense within 30' (d6: 1. tremorsense, 2. infravision, 3. lies, 4. danger, 5. treasure, 6. heartbeats) (+30' and +1 sense per 5 stress on Ascension)
8. Prophetic dreams each night on 1-in-6 (+1-in-6 per 5 stress on Ascension)
9. Constant aura within 30' of (d6: 1. darkness, 2. fear, 3. forgettability, 4. blazing heat, 5. frigid cold, 6. naivete) (+30' and +1 aura per 5 stress on Ascension)
10. Contact a specific extraplanar being (d6: 1. angel, 2. devil, 3. old one, 4. ancestor spirits, 5. djinn, 6. fey), takes 1 hour to get ahold of them, they'll give you information if it's not too much trouble (+1 contact per 5 stress on Ascension)
11. Can convince people of supernatural explanations as Thief's Con Artist (increase duration as Thief levels per 5 stress on Ascension)
12. Telepathy within 30' (+30' per 5 stress on Ascension)
13. Telekinesis on small objects within 30' (+30' per 5 stress on Ascension)
14. You know the True Name of and can summon a random 1HD outsider (as Summoning Circles). (+1HD per 5 stress on Ascension)
15. Can alleviate or cause specific ailment (d6: 1. Diseases, 2. Curses, 3. Mutations, 4. Decay, 5. Stress, 6. a Bad Reputation) on a [Occultist level]-in-6. If you fail, you can't try again.
16. Can become partially intangible. Can do this as a reaction on a [Occultist level]-in-6. (fully intangible, +1-in-6 per 5 stress on Ascension)
17. Random positive mutation. (+1 temporary positive mutation per 5 stress on Ascension)
18. [Occultist level]-in-6 chance for magical effects to backfire or be negated when they target you (whichever is better for you). (+1-in-6 per 5 stress on Ascension)
19. Can reverse effects of age/wear/damage on small items (up to a week). (up to a month/year/any time OR medium/large/giant items per 5 stress on Ascension)
20. Don't need to (d6: 1. eat, 2. breathe, 3. drink, 4. sleep, 5. have blood inside your body, 6. tire from strenuous activity). (+1 need per 5 stress on Ascension)

Second Sight: You can screw up your eyes, which turn strange and wild, and let you see the Weird that obscures itself to mortals. This includes (but is not limited to) auras, magic, spirits, outsiders, invisible things, and supernatural effects. You can twist your tongue into inhuman geometries, and speak to supernatural forces in their own tongue, even if their minds are irreconcilably strange. You can smudge your hands across the dimensions, and instinctively manipulate the creations of intelligences vast and cool and unsympathetic. These effects last for [level] minutes. Whenever you activate your Sight, gain 1d6 Stress.

Summoning Circles: You can draw a summoning circle to summon an outsider from the veil that shrouds the worlds. This takes 1 hour per HD of the creature, and you can't summon a creature with more HD than twice your level. When you summon it, make an Intelligence test vs. 10+the summon's HD to bind it. If you succeed, it is bound, and you can give it a number of commands equal to the difference between your roll and the target number divided by the summon's HD (minimum 1), for a number of hours equal to the amount you succeeded by. It will follow the letter of your commands, unless they align with its agenda, in which case it will follow the spirit. With a creature's true name, you can summon and bind it reliably, and it is bound for a duration of hours rather than days. If you tie or fail, consult the Disrupted Summons table, use whichever result you failed by.

Disrupted Summons
1-2: Summon will only do things if they directly help its agenda, will obstruct you from defying its agenda
3-4: Summon is beholden to someone other than the summoner, picks random person within HD*1000' to control it
5-6: Must trade favors of equal value with summon in order to command it, otherwise it does what it wants
7-8: Summon breaks free, instantly uses its power as much as possible, then explodes for HD [substance] damage to all onlookers (save for half).
9-10: Summon breaks free, is hostile, wants something from you and will threaten you for its services
  11+: Summon breaks free, is hostile, wants to return to the comfort of the void at all costs and punish you for your transgressions.

A summons has a Form, a Substance, a Prominent Feature, a Power, and an Agenda. Its base AC is 0 (or 10 if that's how your system works), and all its stats are 10. It has a default melee attack for d6 bludgeoning damage. All summoned creatures are weak to one of (d6: 1. cold iron, 2. silver, 3. holiness, 4. surprise, 5. magic, 6. fire)

With a number of unique symbolically important items equal to the summon's HD, you can choose one of its traits, or add an additional random trait from a table of your choice. Items used this way are consumed.

1. Humanoid (roll an additional Prominent Feature, +2 DEX, +2 CHA)
2. Canine (powerful sense of smell, +2 STR, +4 CHA)
3. Feline (darkvision, +2 DEX, +2 INT, +2 CHA)
4. Ursine (d8 slashing damage attack, +3 STR, +3 CON)
5. Reptilian (healed in sunlight, +2 AC, +4 CON, +2 CHA)
6. Amphibian (can swim, long tongue grapple attack, +2 CON, +4 WIS)
7. Avian (can fly, +4 INT, +2 CHA)
8. Arachnoid (can spin webs of its substance, climb sheer surfaces, +4 DEX, +2 INT)
9. Insectoid (4-in-6 chance of having flight, +2 STR, +2 CON, +2 DEX)
10. Cephalopoid (can swim, can hover, has tentacle grapple, can camouflage, +2 WIS, +2 INT)
11. Sphere (hovers, telekinesis within HD*10', +2 STR, +2 CON, +2 DEX, +2 WIS, +2 INT, +2 CHA)
12. Unformed Mass (+4 to each of two random ability scores)
13. Tree (immobile, +4 CON, +4 WIS, +4 INT)
14. Weapon (is a random weapon, can be wielded or wield itself, hovers, +4 DEX, +2 CHA)
15. Obelisk (can hover, +2 AC, +4 CON, +2 WIS)
16. Cloud (can hover, resist physical damage, +4 CON, +2 DEX)
17. Crustacean (can swim, +4 AC, +2 STR, +4 CON)
18. Shark (d8 piercing bite attack, target saves vs. bleed, can hover, can swim)
19. Draconid (can fly, +4 AC, +2 STR, +4 CHA)
20. Roll two, its form shifts between them

1. Flesh (roll HD with advantage)
2. Wood (resist bludgeoning, healed by water, weak to fire)
3. Bones (healed by necrotic, weak to bludgeoning)
4. Leaves (can shrink or grow HD sizes, healed by light, weak to fire)
5. Lightning (resist physical damage, move at 10x speed, attacks deal lightning damage, minimum HP)
6. Crystal (resist elemental damage, weak to bludgeoning, invisible 50% of the time)
7. Dreams (immune to physical and elemental damage, only exists in minds of viewers, attacks deal Stress damage, must be fought with psychic damage or other mental effects, can save to disbelieve)
8. Ooze (can squeeze through gaps 1cm wide, healed by acid, weak to slashing)
9. Blood (can squeeze through gaps 1cm wide, resist physical damage, weak to fire)
10. Iron (resist physical damage, melted by fire and acid damage, when liquid can be shaped into new forms)
11. Shadow (immune to all physical damage, resist elemental damage, takes damage from light sources, can teleport between shadows in line of sight)
12. Smoke (resist physical damage, weak to elemental damage, can float and move through spaces, fit into small gaps, anyone engulfed is blinded and saves vs. choking)
13. Fire (deals d6 fire damage to anyone who touches it, resist physical damage, healed by fire damage, weak to water)
14. Water (can squeeze through gaps as a liquid, immune to fire damage, resist physical damage, weak to lightning damage)
15. Stone (resist physical damage, weak to acid, move at half speed)
16. Wind (move at 3x speed, can fly, resist physical damage, weak to elemental damage)
17. Clockwork (resist slashing damage, weak to bludgeoning damage, will perform an additional command)
18. Paper (can deal d6 slashing damage to enemies who touch it, weak to slashing and fire, can fold self to fit into tiny spaces)
19. Radiance (resist physical damage, healed by fire/lightning, those who look upon it save vs. blinding)
20. Roll two, it's made of both

Prominent Features
1. Too Many/Too Much (duplicate noun effect)
2. Malformed (negate noun effect)
3. Writhing (+2 DEX)
4. Bladed (d6 slashing damage melee attack OR step up noun attack damage die, change damage to slashing)
5. Enormous (+2 STR, enhance noun effect)
6. Rotting (-2 CON)
7. Beautiful (+4 CHA)
8. Glittering (+2 CHA, can change color)
9. Decorative (-2 STR, +2 CHA)
10. Shifting (becomes a new Noun on use)
11. Dripping (leaves trail of Grease)
12. Furred (+1 AC, resist cold)
13. Mechanical (+1 STR, +1 INT, magnetic)
14. Feathered (+1 DEX, fall slowly)
15. Scaled (+2 CON, +1 AC)
16. See-through (+2 INT, +2 WIS -2 CHA)
17. Spined (d6 piercing damage melee attack OR step up noun attack damage die, change damage to piercing)
18. Hardened (+2 AC)
19. Protruding (functions as additional manipulator limb, d6 bludgeoning damage melee attack OR step up noun attack damage die, change damage to bludgeoning)
20. Roll two, it's both
1. Eyes (can't be surprised, +2 WIS)
2. Maw (d8 piercing damage melee attack)
3. Tentacles (can grapple for free, +2 STR)
4. Tail (d8 bludgeoning damage melee attack)
5. Fangs (d8 piercing damage melee attack)
6. Arms (+3 STR)
7. Legs (+1 STR, double move speed)
8. Wings (can fly)
9. Claws (d8 slashing damage melee attack)
10. Shell (+2 AC)
11. Chains (d8 bludgeoning damage ranged attack, target saves vs. grapple)
12. Robes (+1 AC, looks fancy)
13. Horns (d8 piercing damage melee attack)
14. Bones (resistance to bludgeoning damage)
15. Skin (+2 CON)
16. Hair (+1 AC, +1 CON)
17. Hands (+2 DEX, can grapple for free)
18. Armor (+2 AC, can be taken off)
19. Weapon (roll a random weapon it's wielding)
20. Roll again, and roll an additional Feature.

1. Random spell, HD casts
2. Random miracle, HD casts
3. Invisibility, HD casts
4. Immune to (d6: 1. physical, 2. fire, 3. acid, 4. poison, 5. necrotic, 6. psychic) damage
5. Polymorph self, HD casts
6. Control (d8: 1. fire, 2. water, 3. earth, 4. air, 5. animals, 6. plants, 7. metal, 8. light) within HD*10'
7. Telepathy within HD*10', can attack within range for d8 psychic damage
8. Summon weapons and armor can have HD weapons and armor summoned at once
9. Paralyzing gaze, save negates
10. Anti-magic aura within HD*10'
11. Summon duplicate, halve HD of self and duplicate, HD casts
12. Polymorph other, save negates, HD casts
13. Raise dead as HD1 zombie, HD casts
14. Ability score drain for HD points, save negates (d6: 1. STR, 2. DEX, 3. CON, 4. INT, 5. WIS, 6. CHA)
15. Teleport within HD*50', HD times
16. Always acts first in combat
17. HD/2 levels in random character class
18. Flight
19. Heal as cleric miracle
20. Roll two, it has both

1. To destroy
2. To create
3. To protect
4. To reproduce
5. To consume
6. To accumulate
7. To conquer
8. To sacrifice
9. To seek out
10. To manipulate
11. To survive
12. To enjoy itself
13. To profit
14. To love
15. To serve
16. To die
17. To make friends
18. To escape
19. To deceive
20. Roll two, it wants both

Esoteric Ascension: The more Stress you have, the more powerful your Weirding Ways become. Every 5 Stress you have upgrades your Weirding Ways. Upgrades detailed next to Way.

Occultist 1: Cloak, book of esoteric symbols, quill, ink, diary half-filled with ramblings, engraved knife
Occultist 2: Set of spyglasses and magnifying glasses, chalk, book of supernatural creatures and occurrences (1-in-6 chance to find relevant information, 1-in-6 chance to find incorrect information, GM secretly picks which number is which when you roll)

Skills (d3): 1. Scribe, 2. Archeologist, 3. Noble

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