Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Whips, Wrestling and Other Combat Minutiae.

Combat rules yay.
An updated house rule document is coming, but for now here are some tweaks to combat in my game currently.


Wrestling in LotFP works super well.
Contested roll, 1d20 + melee bonus. Winner chooses what happens to the loser.
It's simple, it makes Fighters better at it than other classes, if you fuck it up the enemy gets to turn the tables, it's just generally a good time.

Grapply monsters get double attack bonus when wrestling.
Piling on someone means everyone rolls and you take the best.
Armour doesn't matter when somebody's got your head in a vice.

I've tweaked and codified it for players as follows:
Wrestling: Roll off against your opponent. 1d20+melee attack bonus. 
The winner decides whether they Brawl, Disarm, Hold, or Kick Away. 
Brawl means attack with a weapon or fists. Weapons must be Small size or less, normal fists do 1d2 damage.
Disarm means seize something in their hands or knock it away in a random direction.
Hold means you're trying to immobilize them. Hold someone three times in a row to pin them completely.
Kick Away kicks them in the direction of your choice.

I just looked up wrestling in pathfinder and fuuuuuuuuuuuck how do people manage.
I would also allow Disarm to steal anything the loser is wearing on their head so you can steal their helmet or fancy hat or number one headband.

Truthfully I don't know what is going on here.


I have long been satisfied by the Last Gasp weapon rules. They differentiate weapons in a way that's interesting without making them magical, and it lets non-Fighters get some little combat bonuses.
Also, weapons vs armour in a way that's not fussily actuarial, what's not to love?

But - flails.
Nobody takes flails.
Apparently nobody ever took flails?
Anyway, in Logan's rules it's like a souped-up Hammer with a disarm and a chance to nut yourself.
My players are too conservative for that, apparently.

Instead I'm replacing them with Whips.
- No damage vs any level of armour.
- Can be used to melee attack at range and initiate Wrestling from a distance
- In a wrestle the Brawl option is replaced with Get Over Here which pulls the loser to the winner.

This enables Indiana Jones shenanigans like whipping their weapon out of their hands and catching it or lassoing someone's legs so they can't move. It also means you can whip someone towards you for a shanking next round. The Kick Away option with a whip probably means you run up and power-kick them or maybe spin them like a top cartoonishly so they stumble in one direction or another.
Of course if you lose the wrestle the enemy can pull your whip out of your hands, drag you into shanking range or do these ones.

I also found Logan's "If you haven't been hit this round roll twice for damage, take the best" thing with swords to be surprisingly difficult to keep track of because I always forget and blah blah. I just made it apply to whichever side won initiative.
With some of the effects I had them apply on evens which makes it a fairly easy to adjudicate and means crits always trigger the thing. Greataxes on a charge are absolutely brutal, by the way.

Currently my adjusted weapon types go as follows:

Choppy: Axes. Damaging on evens does double damage to Light armour or less.
Smashy: Hammers. +1 to hit vs Medium armour or better, damaging on evens reduces Heavy AC by 1.
Stabby: Swords. If your side won initiative roll twice for damage, take the best.
ShankyDaggers. If you hit someone you can grab hold and shank the fuck out of them. Auto-crit on each round you win a wrestling roll. Anyone with a Medium weapon or larger can’t attack until they kick you off.
Whippy: Whips. Zero damage against armoured foes but can be used to melee attack and wrestle from 10’ away. Brawl option is replaced by Get Over Here which pulls the loser to the winner.

If your weapon can do more than one thing (like it’s got a hammer end and an axe end) or you’re dual-wielding, choose one modifier when rolling to attack.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Shopkeepers of Fortress-City Fate

How do you make a city unique?

My players have recently reached Fortress-City Fate.
This is the capital of my campaign's map, and I know a fair bit about it.

It's intended to be the perfect city. It's expensive as all hell. It's tightly controlled by an ever-changing system of tariffs and taxes balanced by the Royal Actuary Corp. It's the only place in the world where you can raise the dead. The palace in the centre is an enormous sundial and people give directions like "One-four at 6:45, just past the baker, you can't miss it". It's circular and got trams and drugs and a quarter of the city is taken up by a whole load of farms. Water runs everywhere under the city, a series of sewers and high-pressure pipes that keeps out the Dead and powers deeper machines.

But what do they players care about?
My players are new here. They don't know anyone. More importantly, nobody knows who they are. 
It's hard to ensnare nobodies in a web of city intrigue.

What are they likely to do here?
Get information. Buy things. Carouse.
These are the ways to ensnare them. Tie them together and with luck I'll rope them deeper into the intrigues of the big city.

To this end, I have compiled a list of various specialty shopkeepers and information-givers and proprietors of places they might like to frequent.
These are people and places to be sought out. In a big city it doesn't matter where a location is, just that you know about it. Default to Vornheim as usual if greater detail is required.
The shopkeepers sell things that are better than normal. There is no downside to not knowing them or visiting their shops, since you can buy stuff off the regular equipment list no problem. Any schmuck can head into the first clothes shop he sees and buy a shirt, it just might not be the best price or quality.
These people can sell you interesting things or offer services that are not widely available.

I printed each of these shop profiles out, and hand them the slip of paper with the shop on it when they go to visit. It's worked quite well in play since while some players are at a shop ogling wares I can interact with other people at my increasingly large table.

An aside -  In Courtney Campbell's Numenhalla there is a whole dungeon sector dedicated to being a shopping district. The first time I joined a game and rolled up a new guy I asked what the deal was with buying gear.
"Awwwww no don't say that, I wanted to get stuff done today" said one person. We went elsewhere and I geared up from the various magical refuse that had built up in Mad Bill Danger's tower.
In a later session we actually visited the place. Way cool! So much stuff! Magical weapons and armours and trinkets to buy! Whole lists of stuff! Everything an adventurer might need!
But midway through hearing the rope merchant's rope stock of various weird and wondrous ropes, I realised that sometimes all you want is 50' of no frills hemp bought out of the equipment list vending machine so you can get back to the dungeon.
That's the main reason why these shopkeepers are optional extras with benefits, not gatekeepers to regular items.


Here is a pdf of the shops and locations for printing.
Here is a spreadsheet of the locations, shopkeepers, and personalities.
Here is a crude map of Fortress-City Fate.

Directions in the Fortress-City

The city is shaped like a sundial, with the enormous palace in the middle as the gnomon. That's the sticky up part of the sundial, so's you know.
It is a rigidly structured and stratified city beneath a rigorous, almost fascist, system of taxes and administrators that ensure the city is always as perfect as it can possibly be in the eyes of the Fated King.
More on the city itself some other time. This post is meant to be about the shops and stuff.

You will note that the city is split into sectors along the hour lines. While these labels are not strictly true, there are temples and shops and housing all over the city, they tend to congregate in the correct districts due to encouragement from the taxation system.
The second and third rings are tram lines. Automated trams apparently magically animated constantly move on rails around the rings in both directions. They are spaced maybe 5 minutes apart and do not slow down to let people on, you've got to jump on while it's moving.

Directions are given as a couplet of Time and Arc.
Time is how far around the city the place is, as measured by the hour lines of the sundial.
Arc is how far from the centre the place is, as measured from the inner circle. The innermost circle is 0, the next is 1, and the outermost is 2.

The Thermae (marked "f" on the map) is thus at Arc 1.2 and Time 08:18, said like "One-Two at Eight Eighteen".
This will hopefully confuse the players at first which is sort of the point. They'll be able to ask people though.

The populace would probably be more accurate than this and break the time down into seconds and the Arc into longer decimals, but that's by the by.
In general the closer you are to the centre the more prestigious the place is.

This is mostly useless information unless a citycrawl becomes necessary.

How to Use

The ways in which players find out about these places are the important part.
I've been delivering knowledge in the following ways:
- Rumours
- Requests
- Requirements

The way I do rumours is to have a few global rumours the players will hear anywhere, then individualised results for specific locales.
Big cities are locales all on their own, so if they go listening for rumours in Fate they'll hear Fate-specific gossip. If they hear about a shop or landmark in a rumour I give them the slip of paper. They find out the address and can go there at their leisure.

Requests are when a player asks "I want to buy a horse" or "I really need to cure this disease". In this case I require a reaction roll (a la Vornheim) and give them pertinent slips of paper depending on how well they did.

Requirements are stuff where they'll just come face to face with it as a matter of course. Everyone entering the city is going to see the giant stables complex of the Fifth Labour and the towering Sciotherico, and anyone Carousing away more money than they have will awake to find themselves in debt to Slim Jimmy and his small army of thugs.

I should note that in the case of the various landmarks I have noted the ultimate boss of the place, like the Arch-Bishop of the cathedral or the CEO of the bank. These are people the players are unlikely to meet but tied to the place in the city's pop culture, their names never far from talk of the places they work.

When they players enter a shop or other location, check it out on the spreadsheet. I mostly give NPCs animal personalities because they're a good shorthand for a range of traits and include exaggerated mannerisms.
A reaction modifier is included which may improve or sour over time depending on how the players act. Charisma is the god stat in a city.

If and when my players start getting to know the shopkeepers better I'll start tying them together in little webs of intrigue. I'll wait to see who they like most first though.

Contacts and Shopkeepers in the Fortress-City

Slim Jimmy’s Reputable House of Credit

Pre-loved adventuring gear
Treasures bought and sold
No credit history necessary

Slightly damaged arms and armour available for loan at 50% cost price.
Lines of credit extended to honest gentlemen (and ladies) at 30% monthly interest.
Items of uncertain provenance and dubious value fenced for a 20% cut of profit.

Gunman and Son

Highest quality firearms
Custom weaponry made to order
Concealed weaponry a specialty

Firearms will never explode when broken.
Proprietary breech-loading technology reduces reload time by 2 rounds.
Arms and armour can be purchased with a built-in pistol for +500sp.

The Body Shop

Cadavers sold by the pound.
Every corpse certified fresh and ethically sourced.
Public dissections every Wednesday.

Vials of blood, bone powder, etc – 50sp ea.
Whole cadaver – 20gp ea.
Experienced physician halves injury recovery time for 10gp/mo.

Lamister’s Roost

Specialist tools sold
Spelunking equipment in stock
Keys cut while you wait

Specialist’s tools grant +1 to Tinkering rolls
Range of specialised ropes on offer
Keys cut without original for 5gp

The Spükhaus

Bodysnatching crime ring

Delay someone’s resurrection by a month – 10gp
Inconvenient corpses disappeared – 20gp
Fresh cadavers purchased at 10gp ea.

Derring & Do

Ruffians available at short notice
All staff trained in Torchbearing 101
Find the henchman that’s right for you

Torchbearer – 4.2sp/day. Labourer –  5.6sp/day. Man-at-arms – 10sp/day.
Employee Life Insurance – 50sp/mo
1d4 first level characters of random classes available per week

The Emporium of the Odd

Purveyor of potions of love and health.
Mysterious items of grim import identified.
Experienced alchemist

Love potions – 5gp ea. Health potions – 10gp ea.
Items identified (takes 1 week) – 5gp ea.
Alchemist prevents lab explosions – 400sp/mo.

Flower’s Bower of Power

Protective charms and gewgaws for sale.
Anti-paranormal weaponry available.
We buy monster parts.

Charms grant a one-time 50% chance of instantly passing a saving throw – 4gp ea.
Silver and cold-forged iron weapons can be purchased here.
Will buy monster claws/teeth/glands/etc for 1gp per hit die per monster.


Dogs of the world.
New and unusual breeds imported weekly.
Dog armour custom fitted.

All dogs are loyal and well trained. Know Attack, Heel, Stay and Roll Over.
Choice of two dog breeds per purchase.
Leather dog armour with spiked collar – 30sp.

Honest Bill’s Used Horse Dealership

Budget mounts for the discerning rider.
Low mileage, high quality, all inspections passed.
For when your horse is knackered TM

Half price horses, mules and ponies. Random flaw each.
Horse loans available at 10% monthly interest.
Will buy horses in any condition for 50sp

The Whip & Bridle

Beautiful thoroughbred riding horses.
Fast, graceful, elegant.
Quality leather riding equipment.

Horses cost triple but are legitimately beautiful and impressive.
Unencumbered horses have +60’ movement rate, +12 miles/day overland.
Riding gear allows maximum movement rate in most off-road conditions – 6gp

The Fifth Labour

Pets pampered and beasts unburdened.
Safe and simple self-storage supplied.
Free for citizens of Fate.

Per person’s belongings stored – 1sp/day or 5sp/week
Per animal stabled – 2sp/day or 10sp/week.
Per axle per vehicle stored – 5sp/day or 25sp/week.

 The Wild Inventoria

Marvels commissioned
Impossibilities realised
Pushing the limits of Science

Builds heretofore unknown marvels at your request.
Prices and build times decided on a case-by-case basis.
You will likely have to test the prototypes.

The Beaming Barber

Stylish haircuts at the forefront of fashion
Range of dyes, wigs and extensions
Sorry, no bloodletting

Haircuts grant +2 to your Charisma score within Fate.
Haircuts count as a helmet for Death and Dismemberment purposes.
Men’s haircut – 1sp. Women’s haircut – 10sp

The Happy Haberdasher

Hats and headgear from the protective to the pompous
Mystery headpieces available in association with the Beaming Barber
I’m not mad!

Standard helms and helmets – 2sp ea.
Hat or haircut chosen at random – 5sp.
Fancy headgear may be sacrificed to pass a single saving throw.

Wizzbang Will’s

Rare and wondrous mind-altering substances
All drugs certified to have no post-rebirth impact
Guided experiences available

Bawlers, Cacklers, Howlers and Blinders – 5gp/dose.
Range of specialty substances rotated monthly.
Vision quest shaman gives +2 to saves vs bad trips – 10sp/hr

Panacea Parlour

A physick for every malady.
Humours balanced, bad blood bled
The Suppository of All WisdomTM

Diseases diagnosed – 1sp.
Treatments administered at varying prices.
Side effects possible.

Atrox Morbus

I will cure you
Do not question my motives
I am a Golden Chirurgeon from afar

I will diagnose your malady for a single gold piece.
I will administer several treatments if I deem it necessary.
I will cure you. I will set the price. You are safe. You will be whole.

Royal Post

Messages delivered across the land
Pigeons trained to fly to all major cities
PO Boxes available for rent

Messages delivered to any civilised locale.
Carrier pigeons can be bought for any city.
PO Box – 2gp/mo.

Landmarks of the Fortress-city

One of the other advantages of having shops on slips of paper is that I can lay them out on the table as a vague representation of where they are in relation to each other.
To this end, I put several landmarks and pubs and non-shops the players might be likely to investigate (or end up in) on slips of paper too -

The Figgin & Yelp
Upper class establishment.
Proprietor: Susan Sassafras
Posh drinks and cocktails.

O’Flannagan’s Eirish Fuckhoel
Raucous alehouse.
Proprietor: Billy O’Flannagan
The best of the worst.

The Copper Bucket
Surprisingly quiet pub filled with grim men stoically drinking.
Proprietor: Ralph Stubbs
Never any fights.

The Stone Starling
Gambler’s pub.
Proprietor: Edmund Cote
Lots of ways to lose money.

Trendy pub.
Proprieter: Harry Pelvister
Sells dark, intense, horrible ales in china cups.

The Sullied Maiden
Traveller’s brothel.
Proprietor: Madame Charlabelle
Weird stuff costs extra.

Male brothel.
Proprietor: Griff Husky
Get cocky.

Posh brothel.
Proprietor: Max Busty
Classy gals for classy gents.

Voluntary Conscription
Sergeant major: Basil Wotsit.
We turn your girls and boys into MEN.

King Construction
Manager: Dave King
No job too small!

The Thermae
Public baths for citizens of Fate.
Manager: Richard Landwick
Hit the showers.

The Impound of Flesh
Head warden: Edward Hyde
A fate worse than life.

St Cuthbert’s
Chief of Medical: Jenny Joy
28sp/day or 280sp/mo. Free for Fate’s citizens.

Fortress Bank
CEO: Cedric Ernest Obermann
Put your cash in our hands.

Alchemist’s Cradle
Head Alchemist: Fergus Fizz
20sp/day to use potion-brewing facilities.

The Glob
Chief Playwright: Billiam Shanks-Pierre
Popular with the masses.

The Church of Nine Corners
Archbishop: Reginald Cage
The seat of the Nonanist faith.

National Library
Head Librarian: Catherine Quinn
20sp/week for use of library facilities. Free for Fate citizens.

Sortitus College
Chancellor: Hubert Mews
A beacon of knowledge in a world of ignorance.

The Sciotherico
Monarch: The Fated King
Est. 1066

Huge marketplace
Landlord: Tesco Sainsbury
Rations bought here heal +2HP when you take a break.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Cost of Living & Downtime Activities

Finding ways to bleed cash from PCs has been a fairly standard struggle since D&D began. If you're not careful they'll have piles of it!
The main things I'm doing are giving people better healing rates if they pay for a place to stay, and giving them the ever-popular option of frivolously wasting their money in exchange for exp.

And so -

Carousing and Philanthropy prices and tables here
The "Mead &Mayhem" referred to in the Carousing effects table is this rather excellent product - http://www.rpgnow.com/product/141550/Mead--Mayhem

The Cost of Living

LotFP's equipment list differentiates between four different levels of food, drink and five different qualities of lodging
5e has no less than seven available lifestyle levels, ranging from lowly squalor to lording it up with the toffs.
And really, who cares? It's all fluff, and if there's one thing I can be certain about when it comes to PCs it's that they won't spend a single coin if they can get away with it.
I once had a player say that he was eating dog food for the rest of his life because it's a fraction of the cost of standard rations in Labyrinth Lord. That's the kind of people you're dealing with here.

So I made better sleeping conditions mean better healing, and cut the choices down to an easily graspable set of three tiers.
- Vagrant is living in a bin
- Comfortable is living at an inn
Splendid is living like a king

The costs are different based on whether you're in a village, town or city.

The main mechanical difference is healing.
Vagrant is even worse than default LotFP crappy healing rates and healing to full health might mean weeks of recovery at higher levels. Not so bad if you're good at Bushcraft because you can live in the woods and catch rabbits.
Comfortable is the standard room at the inn or sleeping in a barn option. 0 to full health in 3 nights.
Splendid is best. 0 to full health in a single night. Stay another night and you get a bonus HD-worth of health.

Vagrant: This is what you're doing when you're hunkering down like a hobo or living in the woods.
Gain your Bushcraft score in HP.
If you try this in big cities you can get flogged for vagrancy. Pass a charisma check every night to avoid getting flogged within an inch of your life.

Comfortable: This is standard lodging in inns and people's houses and stuff. You can manage a Comfortable night's sleep if you've got a tent and hot food (read: cooked standard rations) in the wilderness.
If you've got no health, gain 1 HP. If you've got less than half, heal up to half. If you've got more than half, heal up to full.

Splendid: Five star accommodation, baby! This is staying in the best place in town and living in style. Peasants look at you in envy.
Splendid living heals you to full in a single night! Now that's some cushy living! If you've already got full health, you get an extra HD-worth of bonus health. Extra HP above max wears off at the end of the day.

Downtime Activities

It's been more than 5 years since the famed Mr Rients invented carousing, ending an age of people getting drunk for no reason. Since then, many adventurers in my campaign have pissed away in a night more money than your average joe makes in a year.
Hell, even 5e has Carousing now.

Keeping people poor via downtime activities is remarkably easy, and so I've recently expanded and codified my available activities into the following:
- Carousing. The classic. Swap a random amount of hard-earned cash for experience points, and maybe accidentally make interesting things happen.
- Philanthropy. Give your money away to the needy. Swap a specified amount of hard-earned cash for slightly less experience points, and maybe have good things happen.
- Investment. Risk your hard-earned cash on investment opportunities where you might earn more cash. Make your money work for you!
- Banking. Just put your hard-earned cash in the bank for a small but reliable return and the knowledge that your money is as safe as it can be in these troubled times.
- Construction is so you can make your own house to live in and store all your loot! Amazing.
- Magical Research. Spend your hard-earned cash on spell research, transcription, scroll-making, and all the rest. Something of a gamble if you rush it.

So Carousing. 1:1 silver-to-exp exchange, spend a random amount of money depending on the size of the town you're in. Since you already got exp for claiming the loot from dungeons, carousing effectively doubles your exp per coin. Hurrah!
The downside is, of course, that you could get yourself into all sorts of interesting trouble.
Your Wisdom modifier applies to the Save vs Poison to see if you get in interesting sorts of trouble.  You might think if would be Constitution, but a wise man who can't hold their drink knows when to stop.
It's also worth +10% exp on the weekend because I enjoy the idea of people saving up their cash for a big weekend blowout.

While Carousing is pretty excellent, sometimes people go "oh I don't think my character would get trashed" or "I don't want to spend a random amount of money" which is fair enough.
For gentle flowers such as these, Philanthropy is available.
It's like carousing, but you have the possibility of good side effects (amazing!) and you choose how much you spend. As a downside, you only get 80% of the value as exp.
There is a minimum spend based on the size of the town because a huge act of charity in a podunk village doesn't even ping the social radar in a big city.
Your Charisma modifier applies to the roll on the Philanthropy effects table.

For those who want to make their money work for them, Investment opportunities are available. All is as per LotFP standard, save that your investment is calculated monthly. Considering the general pace of my game, a year is way too slow.
I make people invent what they're investing in because it means they might be able to influence their investments via their actions.
You'll have to travel to wherever your investment is to pick up your earnings, of course, unless you've made other arrangements.

If you want something safer than Investment, you can put your money in the Bank. It's reliable and gives you a steady 2% p.a. interest rate, compounded monthly. Yes, I have a spreadsheet for it. No, I do not actually use it for my own finances.
If your character dies you can withdraw your cash with another character. A 10% death tax applies, but your new character is going to be way better off than the usual handful of coins you start with.
Conveniently you'll find a bank in any big city, making it an easy way to keep your savings safe as you travel across the land. The Knights Templar are my "no look it totally has a historical basis" defence of this policy.

Construction is because getting a castle and minions to lead is pretty Classic, I've never had it happen in a game yet, but the option is there.
They'll have a choice between choosing something off the 5th ed stronghold list, in which case it'll be a fairly generic example of the form,  or they can DIY it off the ACKS list and thereby customise it.
Domain-level play unconsidered at this time, especially since early modern Europe wasn't exactly big on the feudalism.

Finally, because it definitely fits into Downtime activities, Magical Activities are as specified in the LotFP book.
Everything as per LotFP baseline because it works out fine in play.
The best thing about Magical Activities is that they present a natural (and player-chosen) way to skip the timeline forward, meaning all sorts of crazy stuff can happen in the interim. The way things usually work out in the game so far, it's the Magical Activities that really dictate how long people hang around and carouse for. While the wizard's up in the tower his friends are wasting all their money in the town below.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Snakes and Ladders: Nature's Pursuit Mechanic

This is a simple one, but so good.

Behold, the game board of OS&L (That's Original Snakes and Ladders to you plebs).

Basic idea:
- It's Snakes and Ladders, everyone knows this game.
- Your encumbrance dictates the die you roll.

That's it!

Die Sizes
Going by LotFP's 5 encumbrance tiers:
1d12 - Unencumbered
1d10 - Lightly Encumbered
1d8 - Heavily Encumbered
1d6 - Severely Encumbered
1d4 - Overencumbered

Just eyeball monster based on their movement speed.
Zombies pursue at d4, Wolves pursue on a d12.
Spiders pursue on a d30 or something. They're faster than speed.

In general you don't have to outrun the bear, just the other guy.

Other issues (You know how your game works and can work it out as you go along, but here's what I've been doing)

- Each square equates to about 10' of movement. If it's a dungeon, give the old "left or right?!" whenever people run far enough to reach an intersection/door. It's generally assumed that people are fleeing (and pursuing) towards the most obvious exit point. Also useful when it comes to ranged weapons.
- Fleeing people roll first, then pursuers. Animalistic pursuers fall upon the first person in their path, more intelligent pursuers might leave one of their number to tie up prey and keep chasing.
- People can run in either direction. This might come in handy if they're running back to save a friend.
- If you roll low/high or hit a snake/ladder, feel free to invent why that happened. "I tripped on a tree root!" or "I scampered up a tree!" are opposing examples.
- You will notice the ladders take you STRAIGHT TO HEAVEN. This means you escaped by hook or by crook. Make up a reason. Pursuers treat ladders as "CATCH UP TO THE NEAREST PERSON". Same with the last square.

Unexpected but welcome effects of using Snakes and Ladders to model pursuit

- Everything is fucking chaos in the first round of pursuit. Things start to even out once the laws of averages begin to assert themselves and people get into a rhythm.
- Everyone understands what's going on, even newbies.
- People can evade via snakes and head back towards the starting point, splitting the party in a way that feels natural.
- Big groups are less likely to escape easily than small groups. Some idiot is going to roll a 1 as they try to escape, and suddenly everyone else is wondering whether they should run back to help.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Pygmy Marmaduke - Eater of Tongues

Greg Acker asked and, despite having been distracted by the Santicore summary project, I SHALL ANSWER!

Pygmy Marmaduke
Eater of Tongues.

HD 3, MV unencumbered man, AC leather +2 (agility), ATK 1 DMG Special, ML 8

The Pygmy Marmaduke eats language.
Upon first encountering the Pygmy Marmaduke, show this picture to the first player to walk into the room. They have up to one minute to describe it without using words.
For the duration of the player's interactions with the Pygmy Marmaduke, they cannot use words to talk or to describe their actions
Words cover both writing and speech, and thus the players may make use of mime, drawings, symbols, and other such contrivances in order to make their intentions known. Take too long and your go gets skipped. This effect persists for as long as the players are in the creature's vicinity.

The Pygmy Marmaduke attacks by springing onto one's face and placing its skull against the forehead, draining a language that person knows into itself. It will automatically hit on subsequent rounds unless the victim succeeds in a Wrestling roll to throw it off.
Each language eaten invigorates the creature:
1d4 HP if the language is local to the area (classically "Common").
1d6 HP if the language is not local to the area (foreign dialects, local Demihuman languages).
1d8 HP if the language is considered to be exotic (English versus Japanese, seldom-spoken or rare Demihuman languages).
1d10 HP and a permanent additional hit die if it is an ancient, dead or dying language. (Latin, Duvan'Ku)
This can heal it over and above its maximum HP, but any excess is lost after 24 hours.

In LotFP, when the creature has drained all languages players know it starts draining points from the Language skill. This heals it for 1d6 HP per pip.
If not using LotFP's retroactive language thing, skip straight to the tongue gobbling and catatonia.

When the last Language point is drained the victim goes catatonic. They are unable to subvocalise, unable to frame thoughts, and incapable of thinking in anything but raw concepts. With months of specialised psychiatric care they may recover.
As the victim falls drooling to their knees the Pygmy Marmaduke steals the person's tongue and leaps away. The stolen tongue dangles beneath its skull-jaw and enables the Pygmy Marmaduke to speak in the victim's voice.
It often uses this ability to pretend that the victim's consciousness has been swapped with it. Allow the player of the catatonic character to play as the Pygmy Marmaduke (the deception is perfect) until it has an opportunity to strike again. It should go without saying that a party that sleeps in its vicinity will be rolling up fresh characters by morning.

The Pygmy Marmaduke seeks to eat all language. It has a particular fondness for the culinary delights of foreign, rare and old languages. The anachronism-laden speech of player characters is a strange but somehow moreish treat.
It is highly intelligent and able to speak in the voice of any person whose tongue it is wearing. It uses this ability solely to concoct plots in which it can eat the tongues of scholars and speakers of obscure languages.
Its fondest wish is to savour the tongue of the last speaker of an ancient and beautiful language. It will go to any lengths to achieve this goal.

If slain, the Pygmy Marmaduke's brass necklace can be removed after cutting off the creature's head.

Necklace of the Marmaduke

This necklace allows the wearer to replace their tongue with the tongue of another.
The wearer knows any (and only) languages the donor of the tongue knows or knew. They speak with the donor's voice.
Casters take 1d4 days to get used to the new tongue before they can cast spells, unless it's something ridiculous like a lark tongue in which case spellcasting is impossible.
While actually bonding a tongue is painless, ripping out your tongue deals 1d6 damage.

Hey but I'm running LotFP how does anyone even re-learn languages

Dee-dubs, Doom Cave room 5 has you covered -

a character
is considered conversant in a language after
6 months of full immersion, fluent after two
years. A language can be taught by a tutor, but
that takes two years of at least five lessons a
week (at 3sp a lesson!) to become comfortably
conversant, and fluency does not come until
being immersed in the language.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Santicore Breakdown: Monsters

Next up on the Santicore breakdown - Monsters!
HD supplied if applicable.

As before, all content will be collated into Adrian's spreadsheet.



Extra Gribbly Arachnid Facemunchers for Old School D&D. Peitsa Veteli for J.
Spiders. Think Esoteric Creature Generator but JUST for spiders. Tables for No. Appearing, size, hunting method, poison, and 50 goddamn fantastic spider mutations. You should read the now-destroyed Monstrous Television's spider post on the Wayback Machine if you haven't yet commited it to memory.
If your players don't nope the fuck out when they see evidence of giant spiders already, this entry is here to help.

Hellacious Die Drop Tables. Kálmán Faragó for R.R.
Die drop hit location tables. It covers, get this, humanoid (+extra limbed), quadruped, and winged creatures with a variety of critical effects based on what you rolled. 5's have a variety of weird spiritual effects like smacking a dude in his Third Eye Chakra or inverting someone's sense of balance. Honestly you could make an entire Monk class with this baby, just have a Fighter who rolls on this when he fights bare handed.
You can hit people in the dick. I never knew this was something I needed until now. Quality.

Daughters of Terror. Erik Jensen for J. A.
Medusae. Tables for creating ladies who turn you to stuff. Tables for what she does, how she does it, what she looks like. Results such as (roll roll) a lady with a long, prehensile tongue who transforms you into a black cat when she speaks your name.

Fever Dream. James Aulds for T.S
Viral infection zombies who (1/6) turn into oozes after a while. Both vomit multicoloured pus-vomit to spread contagion. Patient zero can, under the right conditions, become an unstoppable rolling juggernaut of "colours and hate and teeth".
Intended for weird non-gonzo modern horror and thus easy to convert to any game.

How to Train Your Giant. Legion for J.T.
Giants. These seem to be "small" kind of giants that are 10' tall or so. Skyrim not the one at the end of Troll Hunter. A variety of means by which one might break a giant and rules for training your new giant in a variety of skills. Rules for multi-headed giants included.
You could use these rules for breaking and training human beings too for extra fucked uppiness.

Secret Glyphs of the Minotaurs. Arnold K for T.H.
Glyphs in the style of the Symbol spell that fuck you up if you see or walk on them. Ten different glyphs including Vanity (stay protecting the symbol),  Fire (detonates all flammable materials on your person) and Naming (steals your name).
Loosely tied to a minotaur theme which is why they're in this section I guess.

Temerity Creatures. Dan Shiovitz for M.C.
Alien monsters. Flora and fauna of a strange planet from which "the boiling hot tide rises from within the earth every 24 hours to drown all but the tips of several small but lush mesas". Said mesas could be turned into a strange island chain for standard fantasy.
Creatures are cool, strange, and alien. Each entry leads into the next which is real neat, contains Butcher Birds that create jaggedy metal sculptures in which to trap prey who wander into the spikes.

Boars, Bears and Tigers. C. Weeks for A.F.
Various overworld encounters in a weird and foreign section of the world. Table-heavy, heaps of content. Runs the gamut from animals to weird foreign animals to supernatural foes to botanical threats.
Wacky results rare but possible like a 0.0001% chance for any encountered animal to be a primordial Deity beast. Mooses (meese?), deadly tigers, crazy natives, environmental troubles, hyperlocal gods, and other stuff rare and wondrous.
Tables easily taken on their lonesome if you want to split them up. Real cool!

Monsters! Joey Lindsay for J.D.
Sci-fi serial killers. A variety of killers in the vein of Jason Voorhees and other movie baddies. One guy hunts you down to eat your ego, another eats your brain and crawls in there himself.
Pictures supplied for each baddie, and each would make a good monster for any game with the right fluff twist. My favourite is the guy who pretends to be a henchman while subtly leading you to your doom.

Evil Yeti Wizard. Lucien Reeve for H.S.
A wicked sweet drawing of an evil yeti wizard. This dude's like an orangutan with bell-draped horns and a skull stave and badass robes.
If I got killed by this guy I wouldn't even be mad.

Spider Mother. Matt Adams for J.S.
Jesus fucking christ.

Ophiotaurus. Peter Seckler for M.E.
Giant 8HD flying creature. Includes a picture of a Halfling being ambushed by said creature, although I almost prefer my initial impression of a giant horrible snake monster picking the dude's pocket. Main schtick - impales you with its stinger then flies off to eat you and drain your stamina.
Burning its entrails and breathing in the smoke gives you a boost.
Stats supplied for DCC and thus easily convertible to whatever system you're using.

Mamesk. Henry Stokes for J.B.
A new god, "He of Too Many Tusks". Images of Mamesk, the high priest of the Mameskites (or "Skites") that worship him, and Mamesk's holy symbol.
Mad cool.

A variety of fiendish beasts with which to kill my players!

 - You've got a month or so until the deadline for the One Page Dungeon Contest.
 - The Chaos Request Line is a sort of year-round Santicore and is running right now.

This summary/review/opinion piece/whatever is also available on this spreadsheet along with the other sections written by my collaborator Mr Ryan.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Santicore Breakdown: Adventures

There is an absolute shedload of content in Santicore this year.
Turns out doing this gives me a good reason to go through them properly!
Comes with authors and initials so you can search for yourself if you, like me, forgot what you asked for.
I'll go through them in order in subsequent blog posts because not even my refined mind can do all this in one burst.

Looks like Adrian is also on the case and collating it all in a nice spreadsheet
By our powers combined, we can do this!



Plague of the Vermin Guild. Tim Snider for M.R.
Dungeon crawl through caves full of diseased rats and ratmen. Skaven-analogs lose control of the sentient rot they were going to use to destroy the surface world.  Lots of baddies and treasure, town above will be destroyed if the players don't do something.
I will definitely use this because I've got ratmen and a mold disease and I need adventures for characters level 5-7.

System Generator. Matea Diaz for A.R.
Sci-fi solar system/adventure maker. Two 1d6 tables and leans towards the gonzo. Entries are real cool and suggest their own adventures.

Super Lucky Cat. Dyson Logos for K.M.
Modern-with-magic weird adventure. Chinese defectors and double agents being stolen by magical conspiracy beneath a Chinese Takeaway. They become addicted to magic cat milk and die if they leave. Final boss owns tigers and lives in the dimension behind the skin of the giant catmother in the basement.
Should be fairly easy to translate into the generic fantasy game of your choice. I'll use this as a city adventure for sure.

The Grotto of Corruption. Eric Hoffman for J.S.
Dungeon crawl beneath ruined church full of fungal fungus worshippers and other beasties. Lots of treasure and secret doors, a false tomb, mold zombies. Table of Hallucinogenic Spore Effects is excellent.
I'll use this because I've got a big mold thing going on in my campaign, and one of the players has decided he's a Cleric of the Mushroom God.
I think maybe this was for me and they got my initials wrong? In which case thanks Eric this is perfect!

Golem Complex. Stephanie Bryant for R.S.
Dungeon crawl through a vast dormant magma-powered machine. Native robot guards and giant golem lady dormant until meddled with. In fact, the whole place is fairly safe until meddled with.
Even better, the dungeon is written without stats but with tips to scale it to your party and system.
My players are threatening some Underdark action so this comes at just the right time!

The Torture Chambers of the High Inquisitor. Joshua de Santo for S.
Dungeon crawl in torture chambers full of angry undead. Pentagram shape, keys found as trap bait in corner rooms unlock door to central room. No map but easy enough to make.
Easily placed in a city and good for about a sessionsworth of adventuring.

Drawing Down the Moon. Jeremy Friesen for S.R.
Village-based adventure wherein Kenku steal the moon. Village's traditional harvest ritual is surprisingly effective due to shenanigans. Disaster looms unless someone can find out what actually happened last night.
I'll probably swap out the Kenku for something more generic like goblins or cultists because I'm boring, but I will definitely keep their fantastic names like Wicker Vicar and Lord Pretty Feathers.

The Abyssal Bog of Doom. Victor Garrison for J.J.
A hexcrawl through bogs and swamps. Holy shit did Victor pull out all the stops for this one. 67 hexes of content and explanations of the local factions and their goals? Hexes containing such things as a man who lives in a giant catfish, a bunch of dead boars with the Alien inside them, and a centipede made out a whole bunch of crying, vomiting babies!?
This entry is the absolute tits.

All Along the Watchtower. Matt Jackson for J.H.
Fantasy caper wherein goblin PCs attempt to save the princess in her zombie-infested tower. Two wonderful tables of weird goblin traits and abilities suitable for jazzing up any generic goblinoid. Tower itself contains zombies, zombie owlbear, a slug demon that eats adventurers to make more zombies, and in a shocking twist the princess is evil.
Neat, useful, and a good session filler. Unlike Raggi's ha-ha-the-princess-was-a-ruse thing it's got treasure in it.

Howling Frontier. Conor Toleson for J.
Hexcrawl in a weird west setting. Demon-powered train leads to the suspiciously death-themed frontier town of Gravedust which the suspiciously death-themed Countess would have people believe has fallen on hard times of late. Goblinoid natives live in the hills and forests while herds of oryx roam the plains. Asks more questions than it answers which is what you want out of a hexcrawl.
I love a good undead conspiracy, and there are enough moving parts between factions that the PCs will be upsetting the precarious balance of power as soon as they step off the train.

Manon, Witch Pirate of Guernsey. Steve Albertson for P.N.
Small island chain (Guernsey) filled with pirates and Lovecraftian entities we know and love. The eponymous Manon is trying to spread her cult of Yog-Sothoth via a crazy drug. Drug effect table supplied. Competing factions on different islands and the party has been sent to capture the witch pirate herself.
Whaddayaknow, my campaign's set in a weird sorta-UK! This one's an easy one to plop down and gives me a reason to stall them if they decide to sail the seven seas some session.

A Telephant Never Forgets. Justin Davis for S.F.
Location-based sci-fi adventure for Mutant Future. Poachers on motorcycles seek to poach the brains of telepathic elephants within the ruins of your nearest zoo.
That's the long and short of it, really! The elephants are 10HD terrors with psychic powers out the wazoo so if you're joining the poachers you're in for a hell of a job.

Space Dungeon Adventure. Paul Schaefer for M.F.
This is a dope picture of space mans fighting a skull crab in space and it is dope as all get out. Quality.

The Cubemen from the Woods. Nathan Ryder for C.W.
Location-based somewhat gonzo adventure with clay people. Clay people's goal is to make more clay people, closest source of clay is nearby human settlement. Trouble ensues. Cubemen are main foes and have cube heads with different faces on each face. They shoot fire from the angry face. Various internal issues make clay people faction unpredictable.
Easy to fit into anywhere fairly remote, I'll be putting this on the road to somewhere else.

Pit of Slimord. Andrew Bellury for E.H.
Dungeon crawl in... wait did Joesky write this? Who is this Bellury guy!? This is sick. There's a shower that Nickelodeon-slimes you and makes you mutate and the final boss is a slime monster called SLIMORD who has a magic hat.
Five room one page dungeon with a big bit of page taken up by a silly "squares are 10'" pictogram and a picture of a slime skeleton playing Go Fish.
This is joyous.

The Eye of Melchizedek Antigropelos. Tom Fitzgerald for ???
A whole dungeonsworth of traps, tricks, doors, dooms and other anomalies. The framing device is some sort of pants-obsessed gnome's fever dream into which the PCs are drawn should they express an interest in his choice of trousers. 144 whacked out dungeon things from Mr Middenmurk himself, along with some delightfully renamed spells. Also present - a picture of a horrible little gnome.
There's like 20 pages of this stuff.
Very useful and immediately usable in your game, whether it's for running as presented or for stocking a dungeon. Like most things by the author, his writing causes me to form even longer run-on sentences which sound mellifluous to my interior ear but no other.

Some real good stuff this year! And the vast majority I can use directly which is brilliant.

 - You've got a month or so until the deadline for the One Page Dungeon Contest.
 - The Chaos Request Line is a sort of year-round Santicore and is running right now.

This summary/review/opinion piece/whatever will be available on this spreadsheet
once I've had a sleep. It's late here, ya know.