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.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Steel-Shod and Nostrils Flaring (Class: Knight-as-Superweapon)

I want to talk about lance charges.

Vaguely medieval lance charge.

In the three point fifth edition of the World's Most Popular Role-Playing Game, that being the one I grew up playing, a level 3ish fighter with a lance and a horse can do about 48 to 20748 to 69 without a critical hit, nice #nice (nice)—damage with a lance charge if you're pretty strong and know what you're doing, for example if you built your character to be Central European Minor Land-Holding Warrior Nobility Orc Cavalry Mulan. In a system where stuff of that level (including you) has 20ish HP, give or take.

What I'm trying to say is, I've always felt like this is something that is missing from old-school play. I grew up with a very specific sort of mechanical fantasy simulation where lance charges essentially vaporize people, dragons, ogres, castle walls, &c, and most systems I've played since then don't deliver that.

This is, obviously, a flaw to be corrected.

Very Fantasy lance charge, of the type which we are discussing.

Class: Knight-as-Superweapon

You are a member of the Broadly Fantastical European Minor Land-Holding Warrior Nobility. You have been trained since birth in Athletics and Warfare and fed on a diet of blood and milk; but more importantly you are huge, and you will become even huger, and the hoofbeats of your steed shall echo both forward and back into myth and history, and you know how to fight.

Every template of Knight you have gives you +1 to-hit.

Skills: Athletics, Etiquette, and one of 1. Warfare 2. Heraldry 3. Stewardship

Starting Equipment: Three heavy lances (2 slots, 2 hands, 10' reach1d10+STR), a breastplate (4 slots, 4 AC), a destrier (4HD, 50' speed, for warfare and jousting), no food (shouldn't you have a squire for that), one chivalric artifact from the big list at the end.

If you want a list of special horses instead, there is a good one here.

A Knight's Charge, Mounted Combat
B Ride-By Attack
C Split Lance
D Pierce The Heavens

A: Knight's Charge
When you charge at least 10' and attack, damage you deal is further multiplied by 1 plus the number of the following which are true up to a maximum of 1 plus [templates]:

  • You're mounted.
  • You're wielding a lance.
  • You've issued a direct, personal challenge to your target.
  • You've reached template D in this class.

A: Mounted Combat
When damage is dealt to you or your mount, you may split the damage received between it and yourself in any arrangement.

B: Ride-By Attack
When you strike something with your Knight's Charge, you don't have to stop. You can keep going up to you (or your mount's) full movement, and probably turn around to do it again next turn.

C: Split Lance
By shattering your lance as a part of a Knight's Charge, you may reroll your attack roll against adjacent targets in order to distribute attack damage in excess of your original target's HP among them. I envision this as an explosion caused in much the same way a gas-piston combusts fuel by compressing it but you can interpret it however you like.

D: Pierce The Heavens
Your Knight's Charge trails swirling rainbow vortices, becoming charged with BATTLEFIRE and dealing damage to any target (including g_ds and spells) as if it were the most advantageous material or element applicable.
Whenever you would be able to achieve a x5 multiplier with your Knight's Charge, you (and your mount) may charge in any direction you can currently perceive in order to deliver it.
Targets reduced to 0 or fewer HP by your Knight's Charge disintegrate utterly, beyond the ability of any mortal magic to resurrect or make whole.

16th-18th century Hussarite lance charge.

Chivalric Artifacts

  1. Heavy Lance. Need two hands to properly stabilize this bad boy, even from horseback. 10' reach, can't be used against adjacent enemies. 1d10 damage, 2 slots.
  2. Breastplate. Probably includes some shoulder and waist protection, too. You don't carry a shield, so this is what your heraldry goes on. 4 AC, 4 slots.
  3. Destrier. A heavy warhorse of the most expensive and prestigious sort. 4 HD, 50' speed, well-trained in warfare and jousting tournaments, unafraid of cannon or ogre. Buying a new one of these is probably going to run you a cool 50 gp in a silver standard game, and require you to be somewhere with a really nice stable.
  4. Courser. A medium warhorse of the next-most expensive and prestigious sort. 3 HD, 60' speed, well-trained in warfare and hunting, unafraid of rifle or boar. Buying one of these will run you about 25 gp, and require you to be somewhere with a proper stable.
  5. Rouncey. A light war-and-other-purposehorse of respectable quality. 2 HD, 60' speed, well-trained in any purpose you could want it for. A rouncey is something like 10 gp, and the nicest horse at any given farm will probably count.
  6. Mule. Not, technically, a horse, though I guess you can ride it in a pinch. 2 HD, 40' speed, well-trained in labor and fieldwork. Unafraid of heavy loads or dragging a plow, comes with saddlebags filled with 70 onions. I bet you can get one of these for 5 gp in any thorp or hamlet worth the name, sans the onions.
  7. Riding Basilisk. Something like a six-legged Komodo dragon, only bigger and more colorful. The lizardmen of Sem ride these through the forests and plateaus of their kingdom, I think. 4 HD, 40' speed, AC 16, mesmerizing frills about its neck. Buying one of these would be tricky, anywhere else.
  8. Shock Lance. Sacred tool of the Northern Paladins. As heavy lance but can be triggered to project a bolt of lightning out the front for an extra 30' of reach or extra 2d6 damage, once only. Can be recharged in 1 hour with a proper electrical hookup or 8 hours rigged up to a waterwheel.
  9. Hunting Lance. Sacred tool of the Western Paladins. As heavy lance but explodes for an extra 2d6 damage to everyone within 5' of the target (not including you, it's 10' long), DEX half. One use only.
  10. Fire Lance. Sacred tool of the Eastern Paladins. As heavy lance but it's also a decent handgonne, dealing 2d6 damage with a 20' range when used in that fashion. Can't really do both at once since you have to choke up on it to light the fuse.
  11. Sun Lance. Sacred tool of the Southern Paladins. Can be triggered to go off like a flashbang, causing everyone nearby to roll STR or be rendered blind and deaf for 1d6 rounds.
  12. Pocket Lance. Not a sacred tool, just a handy one. As heavy lance but telescopes down to forearm-size, taking up only 1/3 slot when so compressed. Unfolds automatically when you press a button.
  13. Rocket Lance. Another handy tool. As heavy lance but you can light the fuse and then hold on for dear life as it blasts you about 200' in a straight line. This counts as being mounted for your Knight's Charge, but you take 2d6 damage, DEX half at the end of your travel if you hit anything.
  14. Knight Light. A sort of lantern designed to work just fine despite being swung around on the end of a lance or a charging warhorse. Dynamo-powered; doesn't need fuel, just needs to be swung around on the end of a lance or a charging warhorse. 1/3rd slot.
  15. Plastic Tabard and Cape/Poncho Thing. Traditional Knightly battle-garment, worn over the breastplate. Transparent, covers the whole body. Prevents you getting aerosolized dragon/footman/other knight on your clothes when you lance charge the aforementioned. No slots.
  16. Plate Harness. Proper, full-scale armor for tournaments and glorious battle. 8 AC, 8 slots, custom fitted, intricate scrollwork, massive codpiece, hideously expensive.
  17. Superlativesword. A lance won't always fit in the dungeon. This won't either, but it's the thought that counts. Eight feet long, with cruel parrying-spikes and an extended cruciform guard. A massive weapon, 2d10 damage, 4 slots.
  18. Barding. Armor for your horse. Gives it AC 16. Pretty important for keeping it alive. 12 slots if you have to carry it around, effectively none for your horse (horse inventory works on a different scale).
  19. Squire. A youth, aged 1d6+8. Feeds your horses, polishes your breastplate, carries spare lances around. Really quite useful. Would no doubt like to be a Knight themself someday. 10 slots, but you shouldn't have to carry them much.
  20. Something weird. Roll 1d6:
    1. Cursed teaset. Appears full and pleasantly hot at all times. Is completely empty at all times, even if filled. If disposed of, reappears in your bag at dinnertime. 1 slot.
    2. Perfectly reflective gorget. Blinds in sunlight, redirects arrows, bullets, laser beams to random targets, the works. 1-in-6 chance for it to be hit whenever you would be. 1 slot.
    3. Penetrating lance oil. Allows a weapon to hurt g_ds and spells. Works on non-lances too, if you're okay with using it wrong. 10 doses, 1 slot.
    4. Lance quiver. Something like a beeg golf bag. 3 slots, holds like, I don't know, 10 slots worth of heavy lances and superlativeswords.
    5. THINGS USED TO BE BUILT TO LAST. Sort of a poll-chainsaw—a chainsaw lance, if you will. As heavy lance but deals an extra 1d10 exploding damage whenever fueled up, can be refueled with any liquid even though you're not a proper Chainsaw Wizard, and screams like a cat made of knives caught in a garbage disposal. Perhaps it's lucky you don't understand what it says.
    6. Wizard squire. A doofy sort of sorcerer like one in a storybook for children, aged 2d20+60, uncomfortably sleepy and criminally forgetful. Knows Polish Armor, Summon Lance, and Whoops!. Has 1 MD and wears a wizard robe for 1 MD more.
Classic illustration-ish lance charge from a clip art website.

Why Is This Interesting?

I think it's an extension of the theory of a "Fighter as the member of an expeditionary force of specialists, who specializes in Fighting as opposed to Medicine or Dinosaur Psychology". This class is a hyperspecialized version of that idea; a Fighter who is not only capable of Fighting anything they meet, but probably trivializing it, as long as they have their horse with them, and enough room to wield a lance, and at least 20' to maneuver (have to charge at least 10', and the lance is 10' long). They have some ability if not all those things are true, but ultimately what it comes down to is that if your DM lets you line up on someone with your mount, your lance, and 20 clear feet between you they know exactly what they're doing and it oughtn't be that disruptive for you to vaporize them with your lance.

Properly, I suppose that means that their party should be comprised of other hyperspecialist classes. Dinosaur Psychologist indeed. I guess that was what 3.5e did, in the end, with the miles of supplemental books and the involved character builds - though most of it was, as this is, focused around combat. Very specifically, very specific ways to win fights. Hmm.

The Knight-as-Superweapon is a very powerful tool (lance charges) with very specific applications (trolls, drawbridges, fortress walls, other knights, dragons, et cetera). I think it's, paradoxically, probably most interesting in a game where you don't fight all that much.

Another thing I like about it is that it's not reliant on a magic horse or magic lances. Your horse is a real horse, with all the attendant not-wanting-to-go-in-a-dungeon-or-being-able-to-climb-ladders that that entails, and your lances shatter. You need to bring horses and lances around. That's cool, to me.

I also think it implies something very funny about the setting. This is a world that will never invent the tank, probably, because why would you when a guy can sneak up on it with twelve feet of wood and a quick little horse and lance charge it into next Tuesday. Knights-as-Superweapons indeed.

S'also a power fantasy, of course. I dunno, I think that's kind of fun. 

I have a few more lance charge pics that I didn't fit in yet, here they are. As you can see, lance charges have been used throughout history, and will be used throughout the future as well:

American Civil War lance charge.

I know not with what weapons World War II was fought, but World War III will be fought with lance and steed.

Lance charge in the 41st millenium, in the grim darkness of which there is only war.

lance charge. lance charge. lance charge. lance charge is the fastest, it is faster than anything. it is faster than light, it is more than we can comprehend. it is a beam of pure thought directed from my shoulder into your solar plexus at a billion miles a second.
i lance charged someone today and when the smoke cleared we were both 10 years younger. he tried to feint me but before his brain could even send the impulse to the nerves in his body telling him to point over my shoulder, i had lance charged him twice. sometimes i do it so quickly i don't even know it happened, i am just instantly surrounded by mountains of bodies, shields splintered and chests crushed like old fruit. 

i have tested this, i have tested it in my cum fort. it is hopeless. i send this message from the distant future, lance charges have trapped me in the time and space i do not recognize. send help. lance charge a trauma kit and it may end up near my epoch.


About fifteen months ago, Gorinich put forward an interesting idea and there was some discussion of Kings. What separates them from dwarfs and elfs and Man. 

It's good to be the King.

What Defines A King?

Size. They get bigger as they eat, and live, and grow. Petty Kings, of the sort that abound these days, are about twice as tall as a man. The High King, who has lived for a century and a half, is as tall as a tower.

Mindset. Kings are inhuman, hungering, imperious things. They do not think, nor feel, nor act like a people. The King demands pearls! Cattle! Riches! Dancing girls! Dancing boys! Dancing bears! Whales! Forests! Industry! Knights come and carry off your granaries and if they're not full enough then oh well, mark off your least favorite sun or daughter. The King needs to eat.

Diet. Kings eat one another and common folk too. They can restrain themselves from the latter if well-satiated with meat and grain, but if you put two Kings of approximately similar size in the same Kingdom one of them is going to kill and eat the other one. It's just a law of nature.

Power. Besides being at least as big as a house and twice as sturdy, the word of a King is law. They possess the ability to issue Commands, which must be obeyed by those within their Domain and are difficult to resist even for those without.

Kings of appropriately distinct sizes can form hierarchies, which is how the High King rules the petty Kings of the land and why they haven't all killed and eaten each other yet (they still get up to plenty of it, but less than they would without a High King in place). Obviously, he must consume any that grow large enough to threaten him. 

In today's fallen age this is about as big as Kings can get, but the histories tell of Grand Kings the size of cities. And in ages long past there was held to be an Emperor, the First King, who if he truly lived must have been the size of a mountain range...

Kings of ages past.

Why Are Kings?

It's the essential nature of Man. We are, in the most literal sense, monstrous consumers. There isn't an easy solution. Humanity has a problem, and the problem is Kings; but the individual Kings aren't the source, they just happen to be at the top of the pile for now. If there wasn't a High King, everyone would be King, and that would be even worse.

This is probably why elfs hate you.

No Kings, taskmasters.

A Digression On Dwarfs

If you want to fix Kings, you've got to, I don't know, abolish the entire feudal system, the whole damn thing, and probably create a weapon that will destroy Kung Fu. Industrialize past it. Develop capitalism, or state capitalism. That's what the dwarfs did (both/all of the above). 

That will, of course, cause other problems, and the dwarfs are here to prove it. 

Dwarfs used to be something much like Man, but they industrialized. They evolved beyond having Kings, and the parts of them that would become Kings atrophied and withered away to leave them something somewhat less than Man. That's why they're smaller than people. 

Half of the dwarfs are capitalist and the other half are state capitalist. The two halfs are, of course, at vicious and unending war. Dwarfs don't consume, they hoard and mise. They eat only as much as they need to be productive. When Dwarf Reagan dies he'll leave behind a stockpile of cave wheat and plump helmets sufficient to feed all the Kings of Man for a day, and when Dwarf Stalin dies all he will leave behind is a pair of boots and a pickaxe (because his stockpile belongs to the state).

The capitalist dwarfs sell giant armor and cannon to the Kings for their wars against each other, then laugh about Man's backward, King-having ways once they are gone, their business concluded.

The communist dwarfs back revolutionaries among the Kingdoms of Man, sending them arms and material and subverting their aims towards bureaucratic power.

I just can't wait to be King.

How Do I Become King?

Easy, you eat one. It's hard not to, once you've done the work of killing him: A King-corpse calls to the soul (and stomach) of all true Men. If you eat a King you become a King, no tricks or gotchas. You also become an NPC, but you can make your new character at the level of your old one (that just became a King) plus one. Tempting, right?

Of course, if you get yourself into a situation where you're a King in all but name, it'll probably happen on its own anyway. Difficult to escape, the Divine Right of Kings (to eat people).

A King on his throne.

What Does It Mean To Be King?

First of all, they're huge. Petty Kings are about 12' tall with (extra) HD and +4 STR. I guess for each tier of King above that, you just double that number, so maybe there are some Old Kings that are 24' tall with 8 (extra) HD and +8 STR, and the High King is 36' tall with 12 (extra) HD and +12 STR. It's a good thing the Great Kings, Emperors, and First King are all long dead and you don't have to worry about how big they must have been.

Second of all, they're commanding. A King has one Majesty Die for each tier of size he is, which he can roll to boss people around in much the same way a Wizard uses Magic Dice to boss around spells. A King also gets +1 MD for (each of) wearing a crown, wielding a scepter, or sitting on a throne of suitable opulence for his station in the exact same way that a Wizard gets MD for wearing a sufficiently magical Wizard Robe.

Majesty Dice automatically work on anyone the King can be said to rule, and never work on other Kings (even lesser ones). PCs, anarchiststhe subjects of other Kings, and so on fall somewhere in the middle and get to save. Histories tell of Kings who could command seas to part, skies to clear, and Men to fall dead on the spot, but that art has been lost or else is being carefully concealed.

When a King eats another King that's bigger than he is, he absorbs his mass with 100% efficiency. The new King is the size of both Kings added together. When a King eats another King smaller than he is, or anyone who isn't a King, he digests them and shits out the bones.

Is this post done? Did I forget anything? How do you kill the High King and end feudalism properly, without taking his place? Where do the elfs come in? These are the questions which must be answered, if we are to progress as a people.