Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Shape of Everything (Campaign Setting, Races)

 anime christian wandering in the ruins of a post-Judgément system-scale megastructure

touchstones: blame!, kenshi, sunless horizon, evangelion, angel;s egge, revelation space, hellgate london, weta workshop concept art for neill blomkamp movies, deprecated lore for a starsector faction that i didn't make, that one homestuckesque browsergame about the sad lost aliens

36,000 hours ijn wholly uncited wikipedia pages on apocryphal jewish and christian theological texts


In addition to the regular GROG stuff, three-fifths of the types of folk have an extra stat called HUM (Humanity) to represent how recognizable their biometric data is as, well. This stat is always negative because all the baseline humans are long dead, and is generated by rolling it on some negative d4s directly. If you don't have any negative d4s, you can just roll regular d4s and subtract them from zero.

  1. Pilot
        The most common denizens of the Structure look much like you or I: Mostly hairless; brightly colored; six long, delicate fingers on each hand; plenty of flexible joints; several orifices to make Smells out of. An overloaded adrenal system allows them to react with preternatural speed in crisis scenarios, at the cost of severe stress to the vascular system.
        Pilots can take 1d6 damage in order to act immediately, even retroactively interrupting an action taken by someone else. They have minus 2d4 Humanity.
  2. Gammaprole
        The primary defining feature of gammaproles, also known as direfolk or shreks, is their size; eight feet tall on average; nearly as wide; cartoonishly blocky proportions. As a gammaprole ages, the dense bony plates which protect their organs push to the surface through their thick, rubbery skin to form keratinous scutes⸻an exceptionally painful process.
        Gammaproles have an extra 2 HP per HD on account of their transdermal bone armor, -1 DEX on account of their big, clumsy sausage fingers, and their STR operates on a different scale; they're always stronger than anything that isn't likewise Big or Hydraulic, and can bend gates, lift bars, or bench press a reasonably priced used Japanese automobile without issue. They have minus 3d4 Humanity.
  3. Locust Gibbon
        A friendly creature despite its alien bodyplan, the locust gibbon is six-limbed; fiercely chelicerae'd; tufted with shocks of stark white fur which spring forth from the joints of its chitinous exoskeleton. It speaks its own strange, chittering language and is an obligate mechanic who tends to wander⸻perhaps it is no wonder that so few have survived.
        Locusts Gibbon have an extra +1 INT on account of their efficient cataloguing of stimuli, -1 STR on account of their inefficient-at-scale musculature, and can ascend and descend sufficiently handhold'd passages as fast as a man can run⸻though they aren't much better at difficult climbs than anyone else. They can't speak⸻which is to say, actually vocalize⸻human languages without a translator, and are not Human.
  4. Ghoul
        Were the scientists of the past geniuses, or merely insane? Ghouls, also known as cyberpsykos, are undead; husks of prostheses and neuromuscular overrides animated by inbuilt subintelligent personality models⸻or, if you prefer, haunted by their own ghosts. They are often uncanny to speak to, at least those which have not yet fallen into completely violent incoherence over long centuries in the dark.
        Ghouls have an extra -2 CHA on account of their nonpersonhood, and don't need to eat, sleep, breath, or age. They have minus 1d4 Humanity, but roll checks against it with disadvantage on account of their mortally challenged condition.
  5. Skeleton
    So called for their fleshlessness and the general shape of their limbs, skeletons are purely artificial beings constructed with enough personality and independence to be readily distinguished by that means⸻even putting aside their uniform shape and size⸻from dumb Robots or universally hostile Archons. Although generations old as a rule, they cannot be coaxed or coerced to speak about the past. Do they truly not know, or do they just have a really, really good reason for not telling?
        Skeletons have enough going on mechanically that they're a race-as-class. In order to be a skeleton, you have to take at least the א template before you can multiclass into something else. I can tell you right now that they're not Human.


  1. Methuselah, a sort of wizard.
  2. Solar, a type of magical girl.
  3. Fisher-Man, you know, like a fighting-man
  4. Kenshi, a sword and swordplay enthusiast.
  5. Stalker, a ranger, arguably.
  6. Traceur, a thief-acrobat.


Something like this.

On Game Design, I Suppose: Big and Little Distinctions and How Much Space a TTRPG Has for Them

I'm not dead, I'm not, fuck you, I'm not. I'm not dead.

Before I start, I should probably explain what I mean by 'size' here.

I mean, like, conceptual size. How much of the book does it take up, how much does it impact the gameplay, and how much is it supported by mechanics to make up an interesting and meaningful choice for the player, a way to differentiate characters from one another.

And now I want to talk about Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e for a bit. 

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e (or '.5e for short) is the biggest dungeons and dragons, and also the best officially published one. It has a lot of very big systems. It's got races, some of which are huge; it's got skills which are pretty big, huge if you include skill tricks; it's got feats which are practically huge enough to be their own game; and of course it has both classes and prestige classes which interact with everything else and let you dip in and out of them to build you own thing.

This is obviously way the fuck too much. '5e also birthed the d20 system, which I think resulted in a massive waste of potential because nobody understood that it was too much.

'5e had to have all of those things, of course, because it was the generic. The point was never to play with all of them at once, it was that you'd prune the bits you don't need away and keep the one or two that you did. 

It is my strongly held opinion that d20 system games would be excellent if they had held to this design principle instead of building their own additional scaffolding over the teetering ruin of the entirety of '.5e.

Unfortunately this was never explained anywhere and probably isn't true. 

Ah, well, nevertheless,

I think a TTRPG generally has, on average, enough space in it for one big distinction, one little distinction, and stats.

Look at most GLOGs for an easy example: Race or species is your little distinction, you can be a beetleling or an elffolk or something and it probably gives you a perk and a drawback and maybe a little bit of culture. Class is obviously your big distinction, the main thing that makes your character different from the other characters. If a species gets big enough, it probably gets made into a class. And then you also have stats. This is nice and tidy, it works well, it's about as many things as a pl*yer can hold in their tiny brain at a time.

This is also backed up by my personal experience: I used to run a post-apocalyptic d20 system game. It started out with the d20 modern rules, for the first campaign. No species, everyone was human, but still a very big system: Classes, feats, skills, and stats. Still way the fuck too much, which rapidly became evident as I was trying to teach it to a bunch of people who had never played a TTRPG before. By the end of the third campaign, it had feats as a big distinction, skills as a small one, and stats. Then it ran smoothly.

Similarly, I am or have been in a handful of G20 games. These are notable because they don't even really have 'species' in the same way a lot of fantasy games do; you've got a race, which is actually a race, and that gives you a little bump to one derived stat and maybe a special ability if your Xharisma is high enough (in classic GLOG style). You've got a skill but it doesn't even have a lightweight system attached to it; it takes up no space at all. And you've got your stats. And you've got your class, which is most of what makes this PC different from that PC. And that's enough. It is probably the smoothest-running game I've had the pleasure of playing.

This interacts with other design elements that take up space, too, of course.

I have a GLOGhack. It started off much too big. I can say this quite confidently after playtesting it. But it has relatively small species, a lightweight skill system, big classes, stats...

Well, that's already two small distinctions (species and skills) when it should really have one, but both of those are pretty small and could probably fit in together. I think they're forgivable. GROG/the Mountain wosn't too big because of species and skills, not specifically.

But those aren't the only things taking up 'space' in it. It had a cool, innovative, novel dice mechanic, and weapon tags. The realization here is that those take up space too, I guess, in a less easily categorizable way.

I dunno where I'm going with this and it's been sitting in my drafts for over two years and it's probably fairly self-evident to you if you're the type of person who would read this and it's rambly as all hell, so I'm just gonna post it now.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

They Are Neither Renowned As Great Warriors, Nor Counted Among The Very Wise (two-page RPG)

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet. 


The passage seemed to go on for miles, and always the chill air flowed over them, rising as they went on to a bitter wind. The mountains seemed to be trying with their deadly breath to daunt them, to turn them back from the secrets of the high places, or to blow them away into the darkness behind.

Here is a game you can play with one or more friends. If you plan to run it, you should read both pages. If you plan to play—but not run—it, you should only read the first.

It is a silly little game that takes about two hours, maybe less. We do silly little games here sometimes. I have playtested it once, which is good enough to convince me it's fun. Ready for the prime time, on the blog circuit, bnaby.


Our intrepid two test hobbits, Snowdrop (Hobbit: 12; knife; boots; breakfast; cursed ring) and Bigby (Hobbit: 7; sling; cloak; tobacco) set off towards Murdor with fresh water in their canteens and a song in their hearts.

The first day saw them into the Razor Swamps, their path ahead blocked by spurting fire geysers as a gaggle of rich jerkass hobbits tracked them from behind, certain they had stolen something of theirs. Thinking quickly, they smothered themselves in bacteria-ridden muck from the swamp and dove through the fire, accepting some infection for safe passage. They drank nothing all day, keeping the good water filling their canteens in reserve.

Seven hours journey the next day saw them come along a gritty, poisoned stream, where dancing lights enticed them to submerge themselves and swim. Snowdrop waded in cautiously to investigate and was grabbed by a slow-moving bog mummy, but managed to distract it and pry herself free. Once they had made some distance, they drank their clean water and camped for the night.

A full eight hours travel on day three brought them to the Dark Gate, a hulking fortification amidst the horrid mountains that ring Murdor. They began taking sporadic boltfire from the battlements while caught in no hobbit's land, and suffered bacterial infection in the scratches and glancing wounds they obtained while scrambling for cover, plus more as they were forced to drink from the murky pools in the mountain foothills that night.

The hobbits continued to make good time with seven hours march on day four, which brought them high into the greasy, dust-slick slopes before they began to hear hissing shrieks from the skies above—ringseekers, mounted on horrible flying snakes! Snowdrop used her good boots to brace the pair on the slopes while Bigby covered both of them with his cloak, and they waited there for the ringseekers to disperse. Camping for the night, Snowdrop collected some flint from the mountain so as to be able to make fire in the future—though they decided not to risk one that night in fear of the patrolling ringseekers, and instead drank cold, bacteria-ridden water from the murky pools on the mountainface.

Day five saw the hobbits high into the mountains, where they crested a peak and were unexpectedly tumbled into the snow-filled valley beyond by a rogue gust of wind. They dug themselves into a hollow and, finding overproof whiskey and dried bread among the provisions of Snowdrop's hearty breakfast, burned those to keep warm. In this impromptu igloo they were approached by a ghostly dwarf-presence, which Bigby immediately mollified by offering it some of his tobacco before it was able to make any grim demands. As the snow was not specifically poisoned nor infected with bacteria, the two melted some with which to drink, clean their wounds, and refill their canteens.

Six hours on day six brought the hobbits to the numerous trapdoors and cave entrances which would let them into the Goblin Mines, all of which seemed frighteningly rickety and decrepit. Bigby confirmed that some trapdoor-paths were frayed rope ladders, and pulled two up to braid one mostly-sturdy rope from them which they could descend safely. As the pair abseiled down into the tunnels they heard something huge shuffling about below them, but Bigby slung a few stones down a side passage and whatever it was that they heard chased after the noise into the darkness.

On day seven the hobbits broke through into a lower layer of caverns—ancient dwarf tombs—when a distant rumbling shook the tunnel and broke several nearby urns, which began to emit a noxious poison fog. Bigby gathered the two under his waterproof cloak while they ran, but it did not prove gasproof and both suffered heavy metal poisoning from the fumes. Worse, their headlong rush drove them into a tunnel faced with the source of the rumbling they had heard: An enormous digging machine which ate through the dirt towards them. Snowdrop attempted in vain to dig a hiding-burrow while Bigby cast about for some (famously flammable) goblin grog and, finding some, set it aflame and hurled it into the behemoth's grinding maw where it caught something internally and stopped the monster...filling the tunnel with choking oilsmoke and further poisoning the hobbits as they ran. Later that day, stopped to rest, the pair risked a fire in the tunnels to boil some brackish water to drink.

Five hours into the eighth day, the hobbits spied a group of orcish secret policemen searching through the tunnels ahead. They took up some discarded goblin mining coveralls from a breakroom and attempted to sneak by, and while briefly halted in passing they managed to keep their cool and lie proficiently when asked if they'd seen any trace of hobbitses. Fleeing the encounter, a trick catwalk tilted down under them and threatened to slide them feetfirst into a goblin limb grinder—Snowdrop, being further down, sacrificed her good boots to save her hairy hobbit feet while Bigby, further up, was able to hurl bundles of nearby mining tools into the grinder to jam it.

Day nine, four hours in, Bigby led the way through a series of underground and mostly-abandoned records offices as the mines gave way to the barrack-warrens beneath the Training Grounds. Opening a door with uncharacteristic caution, he luckily and hobbit-ly managed to prevent a makeshift noise alarm from being sounded. A seemingly never-ending armored column of orcish war machines trundled down a vast underground highway ahead, but the pair managed to cross by reusing their goblin disguises from earlier along with invoking the names of some orcish officers found in the records and reports of the offices they had just crossed.

Bigby continued to lead the way on day ten, six hours into which he blundered directly into the wrist-thick strands of a giant spiderweb stretched across the tunnel, and Snowdrop became entangled as well when she tried to free him with her knife. The rough clatter of bone and metal heralded the arrival of burned-dead infantry who proceeded to roughly cut the hobbits free, inflicting heavy metal poisoning with nicks from their jagged, rusty blades. Bigby took advantage of this to break out of their grasp, but Snowdrop was further wounded by the bacteria-laden clawed fingers of the burned-dead as she failed to struggle free and had to be rescued by Bigby.

The eleventh day saw the hobbits finally back above-ground, winding their way through a network of mazelike trenches while the evil eye of g_d searched for them with burning gaze. Fortunately a trench network is a fairly easy place to hide from such, and no special precautions were necessary. Snowdrop collected some handfuls of shrapnel for later.

Seven hours into day twelve, the two crossed a cratered and bone-dry wasteland under Bigby's cloak while a last, forlorn ringseeker flew circles overhead in fruitless search. Both badly fatigued this late in the march, they failed to take proper care around the coils of concertina wire stretched through foxholes and barricades and suffered more poisoning.

After six hours of marching on the thirteenth day, the hobbits came to the foot of Doom Mountain, and rested by a stream laden with metallic sand (of which they drank deeply). While they were doing so, a piteous voice warned them of "great danger from the skies above" and bid them join it in a muck-filled dugout by the side of the water. Not trusting it, Snowdrop turned her face skyward and was instantly and permanently blinded when a column of burning golden light scorched down from the heavens—Bigby managed to wrestle her into the stream to save her from being cooked alive, and chased off the piteous hobbit mutant when it mocked them for not heeding it. He kept watch through the night to make sure the creature didn't return, and was vindicated by continued signs of its presence.

On the fourteenth day Bigby led the now-blind Snowdrop to a fractally sharp forest of obsidian spikes. He wrapped his cloak around his arm for protection and smashed through the brittle glass with his canteen, which ruined the cloak but allowed him to escape with only lightly infected scratches. The hobbit mutant awaited them on the other side, but they threatened it away, and Snowdrop stayed awake through the night to keep it at bay with hurled handfuls of shrapnel targeted by ear.

On the fifteenth day, very near the peak now, the two happened across something exceedingly unlikely: a small spring of cool, pure water issuing from the side of Doom Mountain. Not trusting it, they lured the hobbit mutant toward them by promising it the ring (it was desperate, and very stupid) and shoved it in. When no ill effects befell it, they chased it away again and rested and drank and bathed luxuriously until a lavaflow forced them to find higher ground, where Bigby again kept watch through the night.

On the sixteenth day the pair of hobbits reached the summit, the ring above the glowing, lava-filled caldera where the ring must be destroyed. The hobbit mutant charged them from behind in a last, futile ploy, but Bigby tripped it easily into the fire below. Inching out over the edge, Snowdrop produced the ring, paused... and, failing her final hobbit check, put it on. Fortunately Bigby was waiting for this moment and wrestled her down, and, knowing that he would never be able to dispose of the ring himself if he possessed it (due to the bacterial infection and heavy metal poisoning having by now entirely suppressed his already low hobbit-ness), he realized what must be done: He pushed the blind, screaming Snowdrop bodily into the pit, cursed ring and all.


And that was that. Nobody actually started dying of bacterial infection nor heavy metal poisoning through the whole game, mostly due to luck, but they still provided a nice sense of urgency and did force a few hobbit-roll failures near the end. 

The encounters got ahead of the hazards early and forced some interpretation to make them fit, but a two-page RPG was always going to require some interpretation anyway.

If you play this and have fun, let me know. If you play it and hate it, I meant for that to happen; fuck you, I guess.

"The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo; adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on—and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end." 
—Jolkien Rolkien Rolkien Tolkien, I assume 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Farewell to the Forests, Farewell to the Torrents (LANCER setting)

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow on the mountain. But when I look up, 
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don't cut that one.
I don't cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,
an unseen nest
where a mountain 
would be

Despite the Best Efforts of my Biggest Haters

I am still alive.

Also, my real-life friends want me to run a LANCER game. There are several things about this that worry me. I will enumerate them:
  1. I have not thought about Tabletop Role-Playing Games in any productive (as opposed to lazily, purely consumptive) manner in well over a year, and am massively intellectually unprepared for anything approaching a Creative Endeavour
  2. My friends have a high opinion of me and aren't sandbox-B/X-brained OSR layabouts and thus expect some sort of detailed Setting and/or Story
  3. I don't know shit about LANCER

That's okay. I have played at least one Video Game and I am going to Cheat, and Lie, and I will never be punished

Here's a prayer for the body buried by the interstate
Mother of a soldier
A tree in a forest up in flames
Black valley, peace beneath the city
Where the women hear the washboard rhythm in their bosom when they say
"Give me good legs
And a Japanese car
And show me a road"

This is the map for Elden Ring, the fifth—or seventh, depending on how you count 'em—game in the critically acclaimed (I assume, I don't pay attention to critics) Kings' Field series of Japanese Videogames, and the first one in it that I played or liked at all.

LANCER is a rules-heavy small-force cooperative skirmish wargame dressed up as (and grafted to a vestigial version of) a tabletop rpg, much-but-not-exactly like Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition or Chainmail II, which is the same thing but exists only in my head, and somewhat less like but still similar to Pathfinder 2nd Edition, I think, at least in action economy and general visual layout, I don't know, I haven't read it. I personally think it works quite well as one of those (rules-heavy small-force cooperative skirmish wargame) and rather terribly as a tabletop rpg. 

This works out pretty well when you intend to steal and pilfer and thieve from a from software action, rpg, because those spend a lot of time on Fights and a little on exploration and have some Sad, Giant Men and Weird ,Unhelpful Fuckers and OSR Aesthetics Of Ruin to spice things up along the way, a rhythm I think would lend itself well to LANCER. Perchance.

Furthermore, clever readers will note that the map has a big glowy thing in the middle. You know what else has a big glowy thing in the middle? That's right. Solar systems. And you know where LANCER is set? Yeah. Space. It's all coming together, baby.

There's a forest on whose branches, 
    Stretching forth like withered arms, 
Clusters hang of fruit that blanches
    In the sun — but never warms.
'Neath the leaves are ravens tenting,
    Kites are hovering on the wing
Round-about, the harvest scenting,
    In the orchard of the King
Ye who love or pity cherish
    Come not near these laden boughs,
Here must hearts in terror perish
    Or to rebel thoughts arouse.
What's this sound the wind is bringing?
    Do the foul birds dare sing?
'Tis the croak of corpses swinging
    In the orchard of the King.

So we can generate cute little planets with a website as long as we time our use of the snipping tool correctly to get them in good lighting, and google image search "low poly sun" and "low poly tree" and "low poly space station" and so on for the others, and put it all together in photo shop with a little violet prose. Assume these planets are star wars style: Lava Planet, Ice Planet, Lake Planet, Grass Planet, Cursed Poison Swamp Planet ,et cetera. One to four or so important locations each, five tops. Happily that also works out to how many the game's got if you ignore minidungeons. I'm crushing Weeping Peninsula and Limgrave together because they look the same and the castle is the only interesting thing in Weeping Peninsula.

We're stealing the tone, too. This is a cursed system, long forgotten or abandoned, populated by withered husks in creaking hardsuits grown together with one another over long centuries, the Giant, Sad Men so bountiful in soulsgame population. Lots of tree-theme. Weird fucking merchants—actually, I think those are already LANCER canon. Easy.

The players, I want to fuck with the tone of as little as possible, so I don't have to redact or correct anything present in the player book. With that in mind I suppose they're regular Union lancers in service of the Administration, sent to make dangerous First Contact with this supposed ancient colony, and when they appear in a dark hole on Fascimile it's a surprise; intercepted—killed instantly—by an anomalous blinkspace effect, probably related to the fact that there's a giant space tree growing over the local gate. They wake up as subjectivity-overridden flash clone in some sort of pirate lab, ticking the box of soulsgame protagonists being undead and likely explaining some of the corruption undergone by the rest of the populace.

The stated 'goal' of the campaign after that point is escape—or at the very least finding a way to get word back to headquarters.

I left the Elden Ring map in there at like 3% opacity, as a little treat. Little Eastere'd Egg. Private little joke just for me, that I can point to if and when my players figure out what I'm doing.

What miracle is this? This giant tree.
It stands ten thousand feet high
But doesn't reach the ground. Still it stands.
Its roots must hold the sky.

I don't know! Fuck! I do this in vain hope, I suppose, that this kindles the cold, dormant spark of Editing (not Creativity, that one's all-the-way extinguished or maybe never existed in the first place) in ym Brain and I can finally think RPG thoughts agaibnm, g_d fucking willing. In which case I guess there might be Posts in it, for you. Not necessarily related ones, just ones with a frequency greater than whatever the gap is between now and September of 2021.

Also, I might try to post play reports or mech stats for elden bosses or something, purely as a masturbatory exercise.

Our piss will fertilize next year’s zinnias as we rut atop decaying tomato vines. Eating out each puckered cavity, draining one another of all sweet salty goo. Ah, what a joy it is to recline with you in the sex forest. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

To Truly Master the Art, You Must Be Prepared to Die for It (Class: Wizard, also Monk)

 A base class for BLACK STAR OF THE CANNIBAL KINGS. This one draws heavily from several wizards and also a saint and at least one more (commercial) source which will, I imagine, rapidly become obvious.

The Fool.

Class: Artist

I consider the positions of Kings and rulers as that of dust motes. I observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles. I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags. I see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and the greatest lake as a drop of oil on my foot. I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusion of magicians. I discern the highest conception of emancipation as a golden brocade in a dream, and view the holy path of the sacred alchemists as flowers appearing in one's eyes. I see meditation as a pillar of a mountain, enlightenment as a nightmare in daytime. I look upon the judgment of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of a dragon, and the rise and fall of beliefs as but traces left by the four seasons.

You are a Wizard, a practitioner of a Secret Art, one who seeks after the secrets of the cosmos—and has already learned more of them than is strictly good for a person. You have the same ability as the cleric to perceive the spirit world, but spend your Magician Dice to interact with it in a much more personal manner. You don't get any direct bonuses to-hit or anything like that, but read The Self Remade below.

Skills: Esoteric History, Occultism, and one of 1. Acrobatics 2. Musicianship 3. Alternative Medicine

Starting Equipment: Two elaborate ornamental weapons of your choice, one slot full of muscle, sinew, or fat, martial artist's wrappings, simple robes, a pouch full of pre-fried flour, a canteen of water, one occult instrument from the list at the end.

A The Self Remade, Secret Art, 1 MD
B Dark Studies, Secret Tongue, +1 MD
C The Art Realized, +1 MD
D Mastery of Life and Death, +1 MD

A: The Self Remade
You may fill up to [templates] inventory slots with muscle, sinew, or fat, through a day of focused effort (working out, stretching, eating a lot) per slot filled, emptied, or changed. Each slot of muscle grants you +1 STR, each slot of sinew grants you +1 DEX, and each slot of fat grants you one point of damage reduction.

A: Secret Art
You are almost a spellcaster, having the ability to see and communicate with the spirit world and a pool of Magician Dice which work very much like MD generally do, except you know no spells. Instead, you may decide before rolling to perform a feat of strength, agility, or endurance to add any number of MD, which exhaust just like they would when casting spells. When using MD in this way you may perform the feat with any part of your body; grappling with your bare feet, lifting heavy objects with one finger, etc.

You may define and name your Art, which will grant you a benefit and a drawback. Here are some examples, but feel free to make up your own with the GM's assistance.

    Associated with the sign of the Queen-in-red. A careful style of barely-controlled momentum and frantic movement.
    Benefit: You may expend MD when touching a target to harm (requiring a successful unarmed attack) or heal them by [sum].
    Drawback: Failing to honor a promise causes you to immediately roll all your MD (exhausting them as usual) and suffer the [sum] as damage - though this never causes serious wounds.

    Associated with the sign of the Judge Arbiter. A languid style that appears as drunken swaying to the uninitiated.
    Benefit: Those that interact directly with you treat all critical successes as fumbles.
    Drawback: You treat all critical successes as regular rolls.

    Associated with the sign of the Witch-in-the-woods. An elegant, defensive style which is beautiful to observe.
    Benefit: Look into someone's eyes and roll opposed CHA. If you win, they obey a single not-obviously-suicidal command. If they win, they're immune. You win ties.
    Drawback: This is basically mind control and survivors will, once the command is discharged and they've had at least a day to think about it, be appropriately horrified.

    Associated with the sign of the Nomad Inquisitor. An unassuming style with little grace but much power in its movements. Includes instruction in horse archery.
    Benefit: Once per round on your turn, you may transport yourself up to 100' in a flash of white light without spending an action.
    Drawback: You take 1 damage each time you do this, which is impossible to mitigate.

    Associated with the sign of the Captain of Industry. A precise style with few applications outside of violence.
    Benefit: When you enter a fight, choose peace or violence. If you choose peace, you gain [templates] points of damage reduction. If you choose violence, your attacks ignore armor and can, with effort, shatter stone.
    Drawback: When you choose peace, you become incapable of dealing direct damage. When you choose violence, attacks against you always hit. These effects last until the end of the fight and you may not switch.

    Associated with the sign of the Madwoman Demagogue. A flowing, artful style which exhausts its users quickly.
    Benefit: You may edit your number of arms with an hour of meditation. Your final number of limbs may not exceed 6.
    Drawback: Each time you do this, take 1d6 damage. Walking around with a nonstandard body layout is considered freakish and undesirable.

    Associated with the sign of the Eternal Crone. An occult style whose practitioners appear to be in many places at once. 
    Benefit: You may roll CHA to order around creatures of the night (spiders, bats, black cats) and fish.
    Drawback: This does not convey the ability to converse with or understand them. They'll try their best to fulfill valid orders, but only have normal animal intelligence.

    Associated with the sign of the Firebrand Vanguard. A vicious style incorporating powerful shouts and focused anger.
    Benefit: When you shout while making an attack, your hands and/or weapon become wreathed in crackling blue flames, deal an additional 1d6 damage, and ignite targets that fail a DEX check.
    Drawback: You take double damage from fire.

    Associated with the sign of the Tradesman Father. A brutish style which absorbs blows and crashes through defenses.
    Benefit: You have +1 HP per template and cannot lose your footing or be moved against your will.
    Drawback: You weigh ten times as much as normal.

    Associated with the sign of the Revenant Spectre. An arcane style which channels energy into the duplication of matter.
    Benefit: You may manifest a twin self which acts separately from you, but may not range beyond 10' from your body.
    Drawback: Your twin shares your pool of HP - any harm dealt to one of you is mirrored on the other.

    Associated with the sign of the Knight Myrmidon. A defensive style heavy on feints and parries.
    Benefit: Those you have not acted against cannot bring themselves to harm you directly.
    Drawback: When wronged, roll CHA or swear an oath of vengeance. You must fulfill these oaths when able.

    Associated with the sign of the Nobleman Gambler. A style which shifts effortlessly between artful flourishes and sudden, deadly strikes.
    Benefit: You deal double damage to those in positions of power (mayors, officers, nobility) and quadruple damage to Kings.
    Drawback: You fumble on d20 rolls of 2 as well as 1.

    Associated with the darkness between constellations. A grim, utilitarian style focused on lethality with no elegance or beauty to it.
    Benefit: Your feet are light weapons which deal an additional +[templates] damage.
    Drawback: Your soul is accursed, and will be dragged down to the underworld by devils upon your death.

B: Dark Studies
You have a [templates]-in-6 chance to understand ancient writings, witchcraft, curses, and other matters of mystic import immediately upon encountering them. If you fail, you may try again for the same matter upon gaining another template.

B: Secret Tongue
Choose something weird, like minerals, plants, water, beasts, or corpses. For deep metaphysical reasons, you may not choose birds. You may converse with things of that nature.

C: The Art Realized
You are able to fully manifest your Art, gaining her as a spell. MD exhaust only on a 5 or 6 when invested in her, and when using your Secret Art ability she can be seen inhabiting your body and enhancing your movements. You may use your Art to exert non-impacting force (push, lift, carry, throw, etc) on things within a stone's throw as if you were standing next to them, without spending MD.

The exact effects of your Art when cast as a spell depend on her name and nature:

    Animates target corpse of [dice] * 2 or fewer HD that used to have blood, raising it as undead for [sum] hours under your control. If [dice] is 3 or higher, the effect is permanent. If [dice] is 4 or higher, the undead is sapient and not under your control, though it will be inclined towards gratefulness. Red ribbons extend several feet upward from major veins and arteries, driving it around like a puppet.

    Tells you something the target is ashamed of, without alerting them. Higher [sums] yield more cutting insights.

    Plunges [sum] golden needles into the target's heart. Each time they act against you while needles remain, they roll CHA or take [dice] damage as one is ripped out. They understand this perfectly, even if you share no methods of communication.

    Summons a horse and bow, each made of actinic blue-white radiance. The horse has [dice] HD, and the bow conveys a +[dice] bonus to hit and fires bolts of lightning which deal [dice]d6 damage. Each lasts [sum] rounds.

    Topples target structure up to [dice] * [sum]' in its largest dimension.

    Pours forth [dice] ^ [sum] gallons of water from your mouth. The water mirrors the composition of the last water you drank.

    Submerges the targeted area [dice] * 10' in diameter (which must contain you) in a hadeal, lightless pocket dimension filled with cold, dark seawater for up to [sum] hours. You do not need to breathe while in this space, but others do. The portal appears, on the mortal plane, as a pool of the same diameter which accepts anything but light. Unwilling targets may roll STR to avoid being sucked in when the spell is cast.

    Transforms you into a giant ram-headed monkey demon for [sum] minutes. While the duration lasts, you are [dice] stories tall and have [sum] STR and [sum] times your HD additional HP, which are lost first.

    A second skull erupts from yours and encases you. It extends [dice] * [sum]' in radius beyond your own body, has that much HP, and is permanent until destroyed.

    Chains the targeted soul (actual soul, ghost, spell, etc) to the targeted person or object for up to [sum] hours, so long as each has [dice] or fewer HD. Chaining a person's soul to their body makes them immune to death, provided their body is repaired before the duration runs out. Chaining a spell to something will often prevent it from taking effect at range. Further interactions will be adjudicated on the spot by your GM.

    Sets a table for you and up to [dice] targets, and compels you to conduct a tea party for [sum] rounds which can only be interrupted by damage. If 4+ MD are invested, the effect is permanent until interrupted.

    Permanently abolishes the target touched, erasing them from the present, past, and future and preventing them from rising as undead. Sapient targets may roll CHA to suffer only partial effects. Works on progressively more powerful targets depending on MD invested:
    • 1 MD - Dead or dying.
    • 2 MD - Unnamed.
    • 3 MD - Of little specific metaphysical import.
    • 4 MD - Anything.

    Does not answer to her name, or any other. Her powers are therefore unknown.

At this point you are also capable of commanding other spells, should you persuade one to follow you.

D: Mastery of Life and Death
You are no longer bound to the eternal cycle, and are not affected by disease or age. Unless killed, you will not die before your time. Should you die, your next character may appear as a suspiciously similar sibling, clone, or reborn form and begins at the minimum experience point value necessary to have the same level, regardless of class.

In addition, you attract a student, who you are expected to teach in the ways of the occult. They are a level 1 Artist of the same Art as yourself, played by the GM. Should they die, you will attract a new one within 1d6 days.

Occult Instruments

  1. Bladed Hat. A stylish accessory and a deadly weapon. A medium (1d8) weapon, 1 slot. If you start with this, you know how to throw it such that it'll return to your hand except on a fumble.
  2. Twin War Fans. A pair of light (1d6) folding blades designed after paper fans but made from high-quality steel, 1/3 slot each. If you start with these, you know how to throw them such that they'll return to your hand except on a fumble.
  3. Three-Line Rifle. A heavy (2d8) bolt-action rifle, decidedly anachronistic, can be fired once per round maximum. 2 slots for the rifle and another 1 slot for 10 cartridges, holds 5 rounds at a time.
  4. Four-Section Staff. Some idiot chained two nunchucks together and now it's your problem. A heavy (2d6) weapon that folds for easy concealability or storage and takes up only 1 slot.
  5. Blowgun. Not one of those wussy little ones, this one's about five feet of hollow bamboo and launches foot-long darts hard enough to lodge them in wood. A medium (1+STR) ranged weapon. Comes with five darts, but you can make more with a knife, five minutes, and access to woodland. 1 slot for the pipe, the darts are negligible.
  6. Six-Foot Jian. A massive (3d6) bronze blade with tasseled ring pommel. 4 slots.
  7. Broomhandle Mauser. A medium (1d8) semi-automatic pistol, also decidedly anachronistic. 1 slot for the beeeg pistol with 10 rounds already in it, another 1 slot for another 10 cartridges.
  8. Fighting Umbrella. Metal fabric, reinforced ribs. A medium (1d8) weapon that can be unfolded into a shield that grants cover (+4 AC and saves that make sense) when held in two hands, but can't be fought with in that configuration. 1 slot.
  9. Meteor Hammer. Nine feet of sturdy cord or fine chain with a heavy mace-head at one end. A medium (1d8) weapon that requires two hands but can strike at any distance out to 10'. 1 slot. If you have another melee weapon with something to tie it to, you can, and wield both at once.
  10. Ten Ring Broadsword. Nine on the back of the blade, one on the pommel. A medium (1d8) weapon. 1 slot.
  11. Martial Artist's Wrappings. Tight bandage-like wrappings across the abdomen and chest, for compression and to keep everything in place. No slots.
  12. Simple Robes. Crude linen, undyed and untreated. A utilitarian garment. No slots.
  13. Pre-fried Flour. A good way to keep it ready-to-eat, used as porridge when there's water and fire available and eaten straight in emergencies. 3 rations, 1 slot.
  14. Canteen. A bulky tin with a screw-on lid. Filled with good, clean water. 1 slot.
  15. Cursed Horse. Ill of temper, cloven of hoof, long and forked of tongue, fond of eating carrion, and refuses to be ridden. 3 HD, much too big to carry.
  16. Tarot Cards. Nobody plays with these anymore, they don't have enough suits. The magus card is blank. Negligible weight/bulk.
  17. Embalming Fluid. 3 flasks, each enough to preserve the corpse of a horse or anything smaller. 1/3 slot each.
  18. Fire Powder. Unlimited use as long as you're careful with it, comes in the color of your choice, turns flames that color. You could really freak the hell out of some peasants with this. 1/3 slot.
  19. Apprentice. Currently in the form of a frog. They don't listen too well (hence being a frog) but are literate and somewhat canny. 1/3 slot.
  20. Something Weird. Roll 1d6:
    1. Talking Bust. Your own likeness. Hates you, but hates everyone else even more. 2 slots.
    2. Wizard Blanket. Manifests cutlery, plates, cups, a basket etc. when spread across the ground or a table. Doesn't manifest any food or drink. Manifested items wither to ash when removed from the blanket. 1 slot.
    3. Death Incense. Summons the most local ghost when burned, and allows communication with it. 10 doses. 1 slot total.
    4. Cursed Wooden Nickel. Tails on both sides. Once ever, allows you to replace any die roll made by anyone with a natural 1 after the fact, at which point the coin disappears and passes on to a new owner. Negligible weight/bulk.
    5. UPSETTING TO WITNESS, name known instinctively. She is a +0 medium (1d8) cut-and-thrust sword of ironwood, with sharkskin-bound hilt and elaborate guard. Summons a completely normal frog, toad, or regional equivalent (gecko?) when name is spoken. 1 slot.
    6. Baby Clone. One day, this'll be a whole new you—but for now it mostly just poops and cries. 2 slots.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Very Heart and Substance of Metal (Class: Cleric)

Two of Cups.

Class: Sacred Alchemist

Guilt upon the conscience, like rust upon Iron, both defiles and consumes it, gnawing and creeping into it, as that does which at last eats out the very heart and substance of the metal.

-Robert South, a cleric by most definitions 

You are a priest, a cleric, an adherent to to the cult of one of the sacred metals of creation. You are blessed with the ability to perceive, communicate with, and command motes (also known as sprites or angels) with Metal Dice, a process that functions exactly identically to that for casting spells with Magic Dice. You don't get any bonuses to-hit or anything like that.

Skills: Metalworking, Alchemy, and one of 1. Natural Philosophy 2. Logistics 3. Oratory

Starting Equipment: As per adherence.

A Adherent, Alchemy, 1 MD
B Friend, +1 MD
C Panic Brewing, +1 MD
D Secretary, +1 MD

A: Adherent
You are a member of a holy cult, and people know you as such by the garb and tools you bear. You may rely on the good nature of Kings and Men to feed and house you in any populated settlement, and may call upon your order for assistance when required.

You are also a spellcaster. You begin with the service of the mote known as Homunculus, and roll 1d6 on your cult's list for an additional spell at each template including A. If you get a duplicate, choose the next one above or below it that you don't already have.

A: Alchemy
When you come across a corpse, interesting plant, or other such thing you may spend 10 minutes gathering a reagent from it. In addition, for every watch you spend traveling outside of civilization you may gather one random ingredient from the following list:

            1. Eyebark. Causes a sample-related shift to the affected's perceptions.
            2. Ringleaf. Physically manifests a sample-related transformation in the affected.
            3. Spaderoot. Creates a sample-related vulnerability in the affected.
            4. Clubseed. Causes sample-related harm to the affected.
            5. Heartberry. Heals or cures sample-related maladies in the affected.
            6. Diamondfruit. Fortifies the affected against sample-related harm.

Each time you rest, you may combine one reagent with one ingredient in order to create a potion, salve, oil, or other alchemical substance. Negotiate its effects with your GM, then note down the recipe for future use. 

For example you might combine an owl's beak with heartberry to create a potion which cures blindness (owls have good vision), or with spaderoot to create a poison which causes those affected by it to become nightblind or gives them frail bones (owls have good nightvision and hollow bones), or with clubseed to create a damaging poison which causes small scratches to appear all over their body (owls have sharp beaks and talons). If a numerical effect is needed, healing potions typically heal 2d6 HP and damaging poisons typically deal +1d6 if applied to a weapon, 2d6 if thrown, or 4d6 if imbibed.

Whenever you have significant (more than a day) downtime in a town or city, all your collected ingredients go bad and you must restart your collection. The same does not apply to reagents unless obviously vulnerable to spoilage.

B: Friend
Choose one of your spells to become a close friend. When commanding them your MD exhaust only on a or a 6, and they are usually willing to attempt tasks outside of their normal purpose (but within their capabilities) on your behalf. You may switch which of your spells is your friend each time you level up, if you choose.

C: Panic Brewing
You may perform your alchemy and immediately apply/imbibe/etc the result in a single combat round, rather than over the course of a rest. There is a 2-in-6 chance of it causing a random mishap in addition to its normal effects.

D: Secretary
Your name is known throughout your order as a champion of your cause, and an acolyte or apprentice is sent to assist you. They are a level 2 Sacred Alchemist of the same adherence as yourself, played by the GM. Should they die, you will receive a replacement within 1d6 weeks along with a sternly worded letter of reprimand.

Orders of the Sacred Alchemist

  1. Lead
    You are a member of the death cult of Lead. It is your task to destroy Kung Fu. You are expected to remove magic from the world, by murder if necessary. You may travel with Wizards and Artists in order to hunt others of their kind, but it is your solemn duty to prevent them from escaping you at the last.
    Starting Equipment: Two flintlock pistols (1 slot each, 2d6, 30' range), 10 pistol balls (1 slot), and powderhorn with 10 doses (1 slot), blue robes, and a lead teardrop pendant.
    Perk: Incoherent undead will not attack you unless specifically directed, and you may roll CHA to give them orders. You may roll opposed MD (exhausting them as normal) in order to absorb spells that directly target you.
    Drawback: Your soul is too heavy with Lead to properly bind to Gold - you gain no experience points from treasure. Wizards and Kings will send their assassins after you should you attract too much attention to yourself (or automatically at template D if it hasn't started happening by then).
    Spell List: Homunculus, plus:
    1. Ail
    2. Bolt
    3. Cage
    4. Shield
    5. Smoke
    6. Transmute

  2. Copper
    You are a priest of the Good Church of Mother Copper. It is your task to grant succor. You are expected to feed the hungry, tend the ill, shelter the homeless, and provide other aid when asked for or obviously required.
    Starting Equipment: A copper-bladed spear (2 slots, 1d10, reach), a red and green woolen blanket which can be used as a robe, cloak, or bedroll, 3 rations (1 slot), a water canteen (1 slot), and a wine canteen (1 slot).
    Perk: Food and water multiply when prepared by your hands; you can feed up to 10 with a single ration, and vessels of water and wine you bear will never run dry so long as they are not spilled or drank from greedily.
    Drawback: You may not refuse simple aid (i.e. that which you could grant immediately) to those who ask for it genuinely; doing so causes you to be doomed.
    Spell List: Homunculus, plus:
    1. Extract
    2. Fabricate
    3. Locomote
    4. Mend
    5. Radiate
    6. Shield

  3. Iron
    You are an evangel of the Iron Church, which some call a cult. It is your task to spread the word of your Church and to save all human souls by destroying them. You are expected to argue theology, deface temples and shrines to other Powers, and desecrate corpses. But don't take any of it too seriously - Iron always wins in the end.
    Starting Equipment: A rifled musket (2 slots, 2d8, 60' range) with cruel bayonet (1d8), 10 paper rifle cartridges (1 slot), ash-grey robes including a mask or veil, and an iron spike.
    Perk: You have +1 to-hit. This bonus increases to +2 at template C. You may use Iron to destroy undead, as well as create them (it's all in the wrist).
    Drawback: The corrupting influence of Iron has left you frail and sickly and scarred. You have -2 HP per template, and the unprepared recoil when you drop your mask or veil.
    Spell List: Homunculus, plus:
    1. Berserk
    2. Bolt
    3. Cage
    4. Fabricate
    5. Locomote
    6. Ruin

  4. Silver
    You are a confessor of the Argent Order. It is your task to conduct human souls through the final stages of their journeys. You are expected to banish undead, investigate conflict, pronounce judgement, perform last rites, and (of course) take final confessions.
    Starting Equipment: A medium khopesh (1 slot, 1d8), a polished breastplate (4 slots, 4 AC), black robes, 3 vials of holy water (1 slot), and jingling silver spurs.
    Perk: You can tell how long a corpse has been dead, how it died, and whether or not anyone has performed its last rites at a glance. Civilized folk are legally bound (though not always willing) to let you poke around in their business and abide by your judgements, sort of like if you had an FBI badge in real life.
    Drawback: You must tend to every dying person or corpse you encounter unless they have already had their last rites performed; failing to do so causes you to be doomed.
    Spell List: Homunculus, plus:
    1. Bolt
    2. Cage
    3. Extract
    4. Mend
    5. Shield
    6. Smoke

  5. Mercury
    You are a student of the Mercurial Path. It is your task to reach nirvana, spiritual enlightenment. You are expected to take drugs, meditate, and respond to queries with smug mysticism or slapstick violence.
    Starting Equipment: A short compound bow (1 slot, 1d8), 10 arrows (1 slot), martial artist's wrappings, a simple white robe, 3 doses of opium (1 slot, narcotic), 3 doses of henbane (1 slot, stimulant), 3 doses of fly algaric (1 slot, deliriant), drug paraphenalia (pipe, tea set, etc, 1 slot total), and a small vial of mercury.
    Perk: While meditating, you enter a state of suspended animation during which you are approximately as aware of your surroundings as a sleeping person, require no food nor water, and are immune to environmental effects. Upon reaching template D, you also become immune to damage while in this state.
    Drawback: For each day you do not consume at least 1 dose of strong psychoactive substances, you take a cumulative -1 penalty to all d20 rolls until you get real high again.
    Spell List: Homunculus, plus:
    1. Ail
    2. Berserk
    3. Extract
    4. Locomote
    5. Smoke
    6. Transmute

  6. Gold
    You are an initiate in the cult of Gold. It is your task to achieve power, of any kind, whatever the cost. You are expected to scheme, plot, seek out secret knowledge, serve dark powers and inevitably betray them, and amass wealth.
    Starting Equipment: A heavy mace with gilded head (2 slots, 2d6), rich purple robes, a fine mink or ermine cloak (1 slot), a golden diadem or tiara, and a bottle of fine wine (1 slot).
    Perk: Your soul is porous and greedy like a sponge, binding easily to blood and gold. You gain double experience points from treasure and monsters.
    Drawback: You may not willingly give up wealth, power, or proffer aid without compensation; doing so causes you to be doomed.
    Spell List: Homunculus, plus:
    1. Ail
    2. Fabricate
    3. Mend
    4. Radiate
    5. Ruin
    6. Transmute
Twist: The monkey is the Sacred Alchemist and the old guy is the spell. ;B)

Motes of Sacred Alchemy

Where these spells refer to metal, substitute the material of the Power you serve. These are, of course, merely the motes you have immediate access to. Additional ones may be found in the wild and pressed into service.
  • Homunculus
    He is a spindly mannekin constructed from the sacred metal of the cleric he serves. Homunculi (for unlike other motes, these are markedly individual) tend to take on the prominent features of their masters—this one hunched and wizened, that one fond of wine and ostentatious dress...
    Familiar (ho, oho) to all Sacred Alchemists, Homunculus is a loyal companion and dedicated, if sometimes clumsy, helper. He may be called upon to exert up to [sum] pounds of force on objects within a stone's throw, and is easily bribed with MD to perform assorted miscellaneous tasks. Notably, his personal connection to you makes him especially useful for negotiating—or enlisting—wild motes into your service.
  1. Ail
    She is sinister in appearance, hunchbacked and wrapped in the rags of a leper. She causes her effects with the raising of a withered hand.
    Renders up to [dice] HD worth of targets within sight slow, frail, and sickly, halving their maximum HP and limiting them to one action per round. They may roll STR in order to suffer only one of the effects (their choice) rather than both. Ail lasts for a duration dependent on the number of MD invested in her:
    • 1 MD - [sum] rounds.
    • 2 MD - [sum] hours.
    • 3 MD - [sum] days.
    • 4 MD - Permanent.

  2. Berserk
    She is steel-skinned, wild-eyed, swollen with vein and muscle. Foam pours from her gnashing teeth and she moves with twitchy, erratic purpose.
    Grants the target a +[dice] bonus to melee attack rolls, a +[highest] bonus to melee damage, and a -[lowest] penalty to AC for [sum] rounds. They must make all available melee attacks, but may attempt one CHA roll per round to end the effect early. You may command Berserk without spending an action.

  3. Bolt
    She is grim of countenance, armed and armored for war. Her eyes are tired, and her hands steady.
    Fires [dice] bolts of solid metal which fly preternaturally fast and true on trails of sparks and acrid smoke. Each does damage equal to the the [sum] of one MD with no save or attack roll and can be allocated to the target of your choice. Can also be used for riveting, outside of combat applications.
    Lead bolts resemble: 1. Bullets 2. Snakes 3. Teardrops 4. Weights
    Iron bolts resemble: 1. Railroad spikes 2. Razor blades 3. Framing nails 4. Industrial staples
    Silver bolts resemble: 1. Spears 2. Arrows 3. Dueling swords 4. Bladed crescents

  4. Cage
    She is stern-featured and bears a small birdcage with a bell hung within. Metal straps are riveted across her face in a 2" square pattern.
    Encases a target that would fit within a [dice] * 10' cube in a cage of flash-forged potmetal. The cage has [sum] HP, ignores [dice] damage from each attack or other instance, and is permanent until destroyed.

  5. Extract
    She wears a simple white shift, and has kind but piercing eyes. One hand holds a scalpel and the other a long pipette.
    Extracts the named material from the touched target, and places it in a designated vessel if you desire. If used to extract something integral she deals [sum] damage, STR half, and requires a successful melee attack to use on an unwilling target. If used to extract poison or drugs, it just works. Negotiate other use cases with your GM as they occur.

  6. Fabricate
    She is clad in leather apron, toolbelts, a large rucksack, all filled with tools and trinkets and conspiring to nearly obscure her entire form.
    Creates up to [sum] inventory slots worth of low-quality potmetal items or equipment, so fragile that each individual piece will break irreparably after one use. Alternately, creates [dice] inventory slots of slightly-higher-quality objects, each sturdy enough to last until a fumble is rolled and capable of holding moderate detail.

  7. Locomote
    She is a jet-black, her massive head mounted on a roughly cylindrical body, her lower and rear parts disappearing in a maelstrom of churning levers and spinning wheels. She speaks in a piercing howl, accompanied by a deafening crescendo of pounding metal.
    Instantaneously transports up to [dice] targets (including you, if desired) [sum] * 10' in a straight line. Everything in the path takes [sum] damage, DEX half. If the transported would end up inside a solid object which was not destroyed by this damage, they take the same.

  8. Mend
    She is sturdily built, wearing a simple apron and a leather cap. She carries a rod-and-serpent in her left hand and a hammer in her right.
    [sum] + [dice] HP
     to the target, whether organic or inorganic. Alternately, can be directed to solve specific problems dependent on the number of MD invested in her:
    • 1 MD - Fix superficial damage.
    • 2 MD - Mend broken bones, reconstitute detailed surfaces.
    • 3 MD - Cure maladies such as disease and curses, mend complex details like artwork.
    • 4 MD - Reattach recently severed limbs, reconstitute ruined devices.
    • 5 MD - Regrow missing limbs or organs, restore completely destroyed objects.

  9. Radiate
    She is slender and completely hairless, clad in a loose, gauzy shift. Her skeleton is starkly visible through her skin and garment. She perceives the world in wavelengths impossible to us, and does not understand the fragility of humans.
    Causes the targeted object within a stone's throw to radiate energy for up to [sum] hours, of a type dependent on how many MD were invested in her:
    • 1 MD - Casts bright illumination out to 60', warms like a hearth.
    • 2 MD - Casts bright illumination within sight range, counts as sunlight, warms like a pyre.
    • 3 MD - Casts invisible rays of blinding heat, deals [dice] damage per round within 60', any who look at it within that range roll STR or are permanently blinded. Blocked by anything sufficiently opaque.
    • 4 MD - Casts intangible rays of poison fire, deals [dice] STR damage per round within 30' to all targets, including spells, et cetera. Only blocked by lead or stone.

  10. Ruin
    She is crudely formed, as if pieced together from scrap clay by an inexpert sculptor. Over-fond of complex plans and mechanisms. Thinks she's smarter than she is.
    Rots, shatters, withers, or otherwise destroys targeted objects within earshot, and is capable of wreaking an amount of destruction relative to the MD invested in her:
    • 1 MD - A few blows with a hammer (A handheld object, an artwork)
    • 2 MD - Two folks with tools (A door, a chest, a sarcophagus)
    • 3 MD - A half-dozen tradesfolk with block and tackle (A tunnel, a wooden building, an architectural feature)
    • 4 MD - A dozen tradesfolk with heavy equipment (A stone building or fortification, a large cavern)

  11. Shield
    She is concealed under, or perhaps comprised of, ornamented plate with complex joints, and speaks of love and care with a hard edge in her voice. Her namesake is likewise decorated, a great disk bearing reliefs of heroism in intricate detail.
    Defends you or a target of your choice within arm's reach for up to [sum] hours, granting a +[dice] bonus to AC and completely negating direct-damage spells.

  12. Smoke
    She is beatific in manner, wreathed in opaque clouds of solid white and black, clad in an unfamiliar work-uniform with militaristic detailing. Her eyes are closed.
    Creates a [dice] * 30' radius cloud of opaque smoke which lasts for [sum] hours, or [dice] minutes in strong wind. The effects of the smoke are otherwise dependent on the MD invested in her:
    • 1 MD - The smoke is sufficient to obscure details (faces, etc) and apply disadvantage to ranged attacks made through it.
    • 2 MD - The smoke is sufficient to obscure objects more than 5' away in their entirety.
    • 3 MD - The smoke is thick enough to conceal an outstretched hand, and completely opaque to supernatural vision.
    • 4 MD - The smoke deals [best] damage to creatures other than you with every breath, and they must roll STR each round or be struck permanently blind if it contacts their eyes directly. When commanded with this number of MD, Smoke instead answers to the name Cloudkill.

  13. Transmute
    She is blindfolded, four-armed and resplendent with alchemical symbolism, bearing a tattoo of each element on the palm of one hand. She is crowned with a circlet of a material that cannot be described, which bears an empty socket above her brow where a gemstone would be set.
    Transforms the touched target into something else. Regardless of change, she cannot grant magical or supernatural abilities. If an inanimate object is transformed into something living, use fairytale logic—rocks are slow and grumbly, tools are helpful and pragmatic, &c.

    For reasons unknown to all, Transmute refuses to work on any of the sacred metals. Legend holds that the philosopher's stone is key to unlocking the full extent of her power. Perhaps, in the meantime, a lesser stone might have some lesser effect?

    For each MD invested in her, choose to spend it on difference or duration:
    • Difference
      • 0 MD - Same nature, different appearance (sword to different type of sword, human to different human, pine to other pine).
      • 1 MD - Same size and type (sword to axe, human to chimpanzee, pine to spruce).
      • 2 MD - Change size OR type slightly (sword to shield or dagger, human to gorilla or baby human, pine to oak).
      • 3 MD - Similar size and type (sword to waterskin or wheelbarrow, human to dog or warhorse, pine to hawthorn).
      • 4 MD - Different size and type (sword to earring or sailing ship, human to dragon, pine to daisy).
      • 5 MD - Different size and kingdom (sword to dragon, human to silver spoon, pine to human).
    • Duration
      • 0 MD - [sum] rounds.
      • 1 MD - [sum] minutes.
      • 2 MD - [sum] hours.
      • 3 MD - [sum] days.
      • 4 MD - Permanent.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Alchemical Complications


  1. Metal in your possession becomes uncomfortably hot, burning you for 1 damage per round until dropped or doffed.
  2. Your muscles seize and air expels itself from your lungs in great hacking coughs, stunning you for 2 rounds.
  3. You catch fire, taking 1d6 damage immediately and a further 1d6 per round until extinguished.
  4. Metals in your possession become corrupted; Gold becomes Lead, Mercury becomes Tar, Silver becomes Tin, Iron becomes Glass, Copper becomes Wood, and Lead is unaffected.
  5. You become wreathed in a sickly glow, casting light as a candle and causing undead and dumb animals to attack you on sight or flee (as appropriate) until the next time you rest.
  6. You are stricken with a mutation. Save or it's semi-permanent - the next time you get this result, lose it and roll N+1 new mutations.


  1. Your surface turns to the Power you serve, granting you +2 AC. The touch of your naked skin rots and corrodes metals, ruining them.
  2. Your organs turn to the substance of your Power, granting you a further +2 AC and rendering you immune to sleep, hunger, thirst, disease, poison, having to breathe, and aging. Your touch rots and corrodes metal even through clothing or other protectants.
  3. Your entire self turns to sacred metal, body and soul. You become an inanimate statue (or puddle, if you serve Mercury).
Your doom may be avoided by finding the elixir of lifephilosopher's stone, panacea, universal solvent, or other greatly sought-after Alchemical goal.

Monday, August 23, 2021

What Noble Darkness At The Heart Of Man (Campaign Setting, Races, G_ds)


The Titans built the world by playing cards with a 78-piece deck. When their game was finished, they scattered them in the deep places of the earth and left.

From the cards left on the surface sprang the people we know:

            The civilized folk of the lush heartland, bronze-skinned and compact. Their suit is diamonds and their metal gold. If you're an Arcadian then you can identify swords and other magical artefacts at a glance, and if your CHA is at least +1 then you can speak and read all human languages.

            The educated folk of the southeast oases, grey-skinned and sharp-featured. Their suit is clubs and their metal lead. If you're a Yemic then you can fight like a caged animal to make an extra melee attack at the cost of 1 HP, and if your CHA is at least +1 then you can subsist indefinitely on strong tea and tobacco.

            The savage folk of the northern tundra, ice-eyed and sturdy. Their suit is spades and their metal iron. If you're a barbarian then you have +1 to-hit, and if your CHA is at least +1 then you're immune to weather.

            The arboreal folk of the southwest jungle, naked and hirsute. Their suit is hearts and their metal copper. If you're a monkey then you can hold things in your feet, do handstands, climb and jump real well and do all the other things a monkey is good at, and if your CHA is at least +1 then you know sign language—which will come in handy, because you can't vocalize in human tongues.

            Bonus monkey table
                STR                    Monkey
                +4                        Gorilla
                +2                        Chimpanzee, Orangutan, Bonobo   
                +1                        Mandrill, Baboon, Gelada, Gibbon
                +0                        Howler, Proboscis, Colobus, Spider, Woolly
                -1                         Macaque, Saki, Uakari, Langur, Douc
                -2                         Snub-nosed, Talapoin, Tamarin, Lemur, Capuchin
                -3                         Marmoset, Squirrel, Night, Tarsier

        Snake People
            The inscrutable folk of the southern wetlands, green-skinned and hairless. Their suit is eyes and their metal mercury. If you're a snake person then you are immune to poison, and if your CHA is at least +1 you can speak and understand the language of scaled things.

        Horse People
            The nomadic folk of the northeast steppes, ruddy and lithe. Their suit is rings and their metal silver. If you're a horse person then you ignore range penalties to-hit, and if your CHA is at least +1 then dumb animals will treat you, personally, as a friend.

        Rock People who became Dwarfs
            The industrialized people of the mountains, originally from the northwest where there is now only ash, who have excised a part of themselves and become something less than human. They have no suit, and their metal is uranium which is also called adamant. I don't think you can be a dwarf.

Nobody knows from whence came the Elfs (powerful, individual, capricious) and the Leeches (rain-slick, blind, hungry).

From the aces, each placed on a mountaintop, were born the sacred metals of earth:

            The basest metal, inert and dead. Lead attracts and consumes magic, and can be used as a spiritual protectant or insulator. It is dull and heavy, a dark mirror of its brother Gold, and has few adherents but the dead. Those few it counts among the living wear blue, are expected to hunt Wizards, and wander.

            The dog of metals, the mother of Iron. Copper is helpful and easy to work. Pragmatic and simple and beautiful in her way, she is man's best friend. Her adherents wear red and green, are expected to feed the hungry and shelter the poor, and are common in all territories of Man and Monkey.

            A grim substance, Iron severs the souls of those he contacts. He is a hateful thing, and means destruction, and those slain by him rise as undead when exposed to moonlight. His adherents wear ash-grey, are expected to destroy icons and proselytize, and are common in the land of Yem.

            The touch of Silver burns away curses, disease, and other maladies, and is a toxin to the undead and other monsters. She is known as the holiest of metals. Her adherents wear black, are expected to tend the dying and judge the guilty, and wander.

            Bold and capricious, Quicksilver is liquid at ambient pressure and temperature, and toxic to Monkeys and most species of Man. Their adherents—among the Snake People and Elfs who can safely handle them—wear white, and are expected to use drugs and meditation to achieve higher states of being.

            The lord of metals, Gold is most prized and studied among his kind. He is intimately connected to royalty, and accumulates spiritual weight when exposed to blood or violence. When possessed, he attaches to the soul of his bearer and adds his weight to theirs. His adherents wear purple, are expected to accumulate power at any cost, and can be found anywhere there is something to gain.

Legend holds that the First King Prometheus unearthed the King of Eyes from its hiding place deep beneath the earth in ages long since past, thus bringing the curse of Kings upon Mankind. Legend also holds that he was devoured by his knights for this crime, and his bones interred in the distant northwest before it became a land of ash and folly.

As for the truth, well, perhaps there's a hole you can die in attempting to figure it out.