Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Alice But With Fixed Font Thanks Skerples

In preparation for my upcoming Castle Nowhere campaign, which I shall certainly get around to putting up a proper come-one come-all advertisement for, one of these days, in my neverending quest to get a properly populous west-marches style player pool going, I needed the lotfp Alice class to serve as the counterbalance to the Gothic Villain class but I decided it also needed a sprinkling of the noncombatant

and also some tinkering to get rid of the boring entries. If I'm rolling on a crazy d100 table I don't want +1 to stats to show up. Stats don't matter!

The Alice or Alistair or Fool is an individual haunted by strange circumstance, or perhaps, is an entity that itself haunts strange circumstance. They might be bastard offspring of the gambling chaos god T'liki, or nascent Sorcerers whose inner reality warping light acts subconsciously, or people whose souls have gotten quite dark indeed (dark as in <three pages of oc donut steel worldbuilding lore redacted> dark, not 'bad' dark).

On a meta-level, they are a good choice for players who are mainly playing to react to weird nonsense and play more peacefully rather than assume tactical battle superiority. Very 'journey not the destination' sort of class. They are also fairly chaotic, without being disruptive as say, some exploding wild-magic sorcerer (no hate on my sorcerer player mind you I'm just saying Otto, you DID explode. Twice.)


For purposes of HP and saves and XP treat as Thief. The thief with d4 hp, mind you.


In times of unusual stress Alices may become Exasperated. This Exasperation causes fate to take notice of the Alice, and then to aid her. The Alice says or thinks something like "Oh I can't conceive how I ever fell into this deplorable circumstance!" or "We are indeed doomed and the rats will gnaw our eyes."

Practically speaking, an Alice may express Exasperation once every real-time game hour. In my slow-ass text games that's like 2d3 times a session which seems aite. When this happens roll the dice.

At 1-3rd level roll 1d4, at 4-5th level roll 1d6, at 6-7th level roll 1d8, at 8-9th roll 1d10, at 10th level and higher roll 1d12:

  1.     A secret door is revealed where none had previously been detected. If the GM has made no provision for a secret door, it leads to the nearest unexplored area.
  2.     The Alice realizes she has something in her pack, her hair, or otherwise secreted about her person. The object can be anything non-magical and generic (a key, not the key) that exists in the setting and that is small enough that the Alice could reasonably have it hidden it in her current condition or smaller than a breadbox, whichever dimensions are smaller at the time. The Alice may choose what this is.
  3.     An ordinary animal--cat sized or smaller--appears. The Alice cannot directly control it but it will not under any circumstances hurt the Alice.
  4.     A fact about the situation at hand occurs to the Alice--a piece of local or monster lore, perhaps something she read or was once told in a parlor or a lesson or in a kitchen.
  5.     Someone of the Alice's choice falls down. (Line of sight.)
  6.     The weather in the immediate area changes in a way decided by the Alice--the change is general and may not be targeted (no aimed lighting bolts or gusts of wind).
  7.     A nearby creature is charmed by the Alice for an hour. (Line of sight.)
  8.     An inorganic device or object of the Alice's choice breaks. (Line of sight.)
  9.     Something not ordinarily able to talk (GM's choice) begins to speak to the Alice.
  10.     Creatures present completely forget the Alice is there for as long as the Alice keeps making saves vs spell.
  11.     Someone is sent to fetch the Alice out of her current predicament. If there is an obvious candidate from among the local NPCs (giant eagles, a friendly knight...), that's who it is. If there isn't, then: hey GM, time to make up a weirdo. The NPC does not automatically have the ability to extricate the Alice from the situation, s/he merely appears as close as is plausible
  12.     Someone or something of the Alice's choice begins to shrink at 1 foot per round down to playing-card size. (Line of sight.)

At first level and every time you level up, roll twice on the table below. What happens if you roll a thing twice (consecutively or otherwise) is also explained.
The commonest 0-70 results are the Noncombatant class abilities sans my least favorite one, and this horrid hybrid class is designed to pick up most or all of the noncombatant abilities sooner rather than later. Once you have all the Noncombatant abilities, you can pick up an individual Thief ability like Pick Locks instead if you keep rolling those results.

    01-08 You are really good at resolving situations without violence. As long as no bloodshed has yet taken place, you get a +1 bonus to all reaction rolls as long as you are the one doing the talking. This stacks with any bonus you may get from a high Charisma score.  If you reroll this, pick another ability from the 0-70

    09-16 Your noncombatant status is obvious to everyone, and enemies won't treat you as a threat unless you give them reason to view you as one. For as long as you are cowering, hiding, running away, etc, all enemies will always ignore you until all your more threatening comrades are dealt with, and will not use lethal force against you unless they have a strong reason to leave no survivors. Once they see you inflict real damage on someone, this no longer applies. If you reroll this, pick another ability from the 0-70
    17-25 Because they don't take you seriously as a threat, enemies won't bother to defend themselves properly against you unless you give them reason to do so. If you attack an enemy who is currently ignoring you, or who is fighting you but has not yet been given any reason to view you as a real threat, you get +4 to-hit and inflict double damage, as a Sneak Attack. For as long as these attacks keep missing, enemies will continue to not take you seriously (although they will try to stop you attacking them, in a low-priority sort of way), but once one of your attacks actually hits and does damage then this bonus no longer applies. If you reroll this, pick another ability from the 0-70
    26-34   You are fantastic at knocking out unwary enemies by whacking them on the head with blunt objects. Any time you are able to sneak up behind someone, either because they don't know you're there or because they're ignoring you, you can try to whack them on the head with a table leg, rock, vase, etc. Make a to-hit roll (with your +4 bonus, if appropriate): if it hits, your victim must make a FORT save or be knocked out cold for 1d6 rounds. (Enemies in helmets get a +4 bonus to this save, and enemies without heads or brains are, of course, immune.) Once enemies have seen you do this, they will start to take you seriously as a threat, so this ability will usually only be usable once per combat. If you reroll this, pick another ability from the 0-70
    35-43   You have an almost supernatural level of luck when it comes to dodging and ducking things. Once per day per level, you may declare that a single attack automatically misses you, or that you have automatically passed a single REF save. You may make this declaration after the to-hit or saving throw, turning a hit into a miss, but not after damage has been rolled. If you reroll this, pick another ability from the 0-70
    44-52   Any time a ranged attack would take you to Zero HP or below, any other nearby PC may elect to take the hit instead by yelling 'NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!' and jumping in the way of the bullet / arrow / whatever. They take the same damage you would have done. This can only occur once per encounter. If you reroll this, pick another ability from the 0-70
    53-61   You are surprisingly adept at sneaking around. For as long as there are things to hide behind, you can sneak from place to place without being spotted except under the most extreme circumstances. People looking for you will never find you unless they have the time and opportunity to exhaustively search the location you are hiding in. If you reroll this, pick another ability from the 0-70
    62-70   Any time you surrender to your enemies, they will always tie you up and take you prisoner unless they have a very strong reason for doing otherwise. You will always be tied up in such a way that you will be able to wriggle your way free in 1d6 hours, and your captors will never notice the looseness of your bonds until it is too late. If you are subsequently recaptured by the same group of enemies, however, they will treat you in the same way as anyone else.  If you reroll this, pick another ability from the 0-70

    71 You're very perceptive, if nothing else. For each combat round you spend just watching someone (i.e. you're not doing anything except maybe moving and you are not being attacked yourself) you get +d10 to hit and +d10 to damage or +d10 to any attempt to trip, grab, or otherwise mess with the target when you finally do decide to attack. This only works on targets that are engaged in combat while they are being observed. The ability can only be used once per fight on anyone smart enough to notice what you're doing. Also: only works on things with organs (like, not on oozes). Re-rolling this raises the die to d12 then d20. After that you start getting 2d10 then 2d12 then 2d20 etc.

    72 Alice liked pies, although sometimes people did not want her to have them. Add your level to any attempt to locate any foodstuff of any kind. Re-rolling this this just adds +1 more up to a maximum of 10. After that the bonus applies to any organic material. After that it's a wasted roll.

    73 She closed her eyes and said the words as she'd been taught... You have learned one magic-user spell. It functions as if cast by a 15th level wizard or your level whichever is higher. Determine the spell randomly (d8 for level). It works once, that's it.

    74 Oh, I do so apologize... You can super-easily trip any basically human-sized creature that is otherwise engaged with someone or something else on a successful roll-under dex d20 roll. This only works once per fight unless the enemy is mindless like zombies or for some reason can't see you pull off this tactic. Re-rolling this result means the trip does damage: d4, then d6, then d8 etc.

    75 Her aunt had mentioned them ... You are cousin or niece or otherwise secondhand related to an aristocratic NPC you meet. Additional relations per reroll.

    76 All that hiding in the dumbwaiter has finally paid off. You know a secret. One of two kinds of secret, to be precise: either a piece of useful lore about a legendary treasure or magic item that you encounter or an embarrassing fact about an NPC. Mechanically: once per session you may astound your party's condescending wizard by pulling this lore or rumor out of your petticoat or pantaloon by making a successful roll-under int check. If you fail, screw it, you can't do it this session. Re-rolling this means you try for this twice per session, then 3 times, etc

    77 It seemed nearly everything was dangerous if handled improperly. You've become very skilled with improvised weapons--they do one die category larger than they should If you garotte someone they automatically lose a turn on a successful hit, if you drop caltrops or marbles and someone with two legs steps on them they will automatically fall down (at least the first time). Re-rolling this result adds damage to any of these +2, +4, +6 , etc

    78 It was very shiny and stuck out like a soup spoon... On a successful melee hit, you may immediately  grab an item (other than the target's weapon) off a target. This won't work twice on anyone above zombie-intelligence who sees it. Re-rolling this result means you get a bonus to hit if you're just grabbing things, +2, +4, +6, etc.

    79 “But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. You may either cause insanity, or cure it, in a single individual, once. Insanity will be determined randomly from the luridly inaccurate tables of the AD&D DMG. Rerolling gives you extra uses, naturally.

    80 Alice then did something quite astonishing... You are surprising. +(entire charisma score) to hit with any suddenly improvised weapon the first time you strike against any intelligent foe (who knew what you could do with a gingerbread man?) and add your whole charisma score to the damage. This trick only works once per fight. Re-rolling this adds +2, then +3, then +4 to the damage, etc.

    81 The blue one certainly did make you taller, of that Alice was sure... Gain a 1-in-6 chance to identify Potions and Drugs on sight. Gain knowledge of a Potion Recipe upon rerolls.

    82 She could be very charming when she needed to be. Your silver tongue ensures someone of ordinary intelligence you can talk to will pretty much automatically believe one lie you tell per day. If you re-roll this result, extra lies per day.

    83 "It really was curious," she thought--"How many times could this kind of thing happen?" You may escape death or another equally awful fate exactly once. You must spend at least a round playing possum to build tension but....surprise, you jumped out of the way just in time! Re-rolling this means you get to do it again.

    84 She knew to curtsey at times like this, and so she did. Despite the low company you keep, you've been working on your manners. Members of the upper classes instinctively recognize you as one of their own. +1 to reaction checks when dealing with them for every time you roll this.

    85 It was so lovely, and--according to the book--it was right there. The dress made of manticoreflesh, the house full of lilacs, the magical fishgutting knife---whatever the thing that you always wanted is, it's there. 4 sessions worth of adventure away or less. Tell your GM, who then must place it.
    You must have a fair shot at it--like any other reward, but there's no guarantee you will get it. If you don't get it by the fourth session you can keep trying or let it go and roll again on this table. However if you choose to roll again and then you do get the thing somehow anyway, you lose whatever gimmick you rolled. GM think up some clever reason why.

    86 She had not known her mother's cousin very well, and decided that it was a bad thing that she had died...You have been willed 5000 units of the local currency (GP? SP? Kroner?) worth of random mundane (nonmagical) objects. Here's how it works: you have exactly ten seconds real time to say what you bought. You now have all that stuff, assuming it adds up to less than 5000gp. You do not get xp for this treasure.

    87 They kept talking as though Alice was a rhododendron in a pot. Add +1 to enemy chance to be surprised each time you roll this.

    88 She knew from school what the word meant, but did not know if it was rude or not. Choose a new language to read and speak.

    89 Alice quite liked drawing, and had an impressive box of crayons at home. You are adept at forgery.  It's a your Int vs. their Wis roll, assuming you have access to about 40 gp worth of stuff or the kind of materials you'd find in a civilized area. Every time you re-roll this you get +2 to the check.

    90 She thought it might be a saltcellar, or at least that seemed like the right word for it. You can appraise treasure to a nontrivial and nonboring degree: you can estimate the value of nonmagical things flawlessly and if a piece of treasure is not what it seems on any level you will get an inkling. As in, you'll go "Is this not what it seems?" and the GM will go "Yeah, you've seen a lot of jade urns in your day and this is not what it seems somehow--you're not sure how." If a treasure has some unusual or hidden feature of a mechanical or physical nature you will sense that it is there on a successful Int roll. You won't know what it is, but you'll sense that it is there. You also have an extra +1 (in 6) and + int bonus (if any) chance to notice unusual features or traps in rooms if you are familiar with the culture that built the room. If you re-roll this result you are reading now, just roll again.

    91-93 She did seem to offend people (and animals) wherever she went. You've become adept at dueling. You may add your dexterity bonus instead of your strength bonus to hit with a foil, rapier or similar weapon (if the mechanics of your game already allow that, you can add it to damage). Each time you roll this result thereafter, you are at +1 to hit in any formal (challenged and accepted) duel with any dueling weapon you have used as a weapon before.

    94 They all listened attentively as Alice told her tale. Though you don't find it particularly alarming, you suddenly recalled some hideous secret knowledge that you thought everybody knew.

    95 They began to throw stones, and Alice began to avoid them  +2 to reflex save or whatever saves can plausibly be derived from "jumping out of the way" in your system. If a save normally means you take half damage, you take none.

    96 She began to feel somewhat neglected. If you are attacked in a round that you spend doing nothing but dodging and your attacker misses, s/he or it will not only miss but also lose his or her next turn (if s/he or it has multiple attacks, s/he will lose a number of attacks equal to your level). This only works once on anything of better than zombie intelligence that sees it happen. If you re-roll this result, you get it twice, then three times, then four, etc.

    97-98 She tried to remember what she knew about stoats. +1 to reaction checks or charisma rolls from all ordinary animals and talking-but-otherwise-ordinary animals.

    99-00 Alice had seen so many unusual things lately, it had become usual. You've seen and done so much that nothing phases you--you are immune to insanity or confusion in any form. Even mind-altering cosmic horrors from the far edge of the cosmos are like whatever. You still do fear. Fear is good. Fear keeps you alive. Re-rolling this means any allies who can see you likewise get a bonus (+2) to their saves on account of your steady eye.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Sunset Realm Calendar

Continuing this blogs trend in posting setting-vomit likely useless to anyone but me, here's a calendar. I gotta make a dungeon or something

In the absence of continual solar presence or seasons, Moonlanders developed various ways to mark time- hunger or sleep or decay. In the age of the second sun Yg-A, dragon growth cycles marked time, but after Yg-A was trapped in the center of the earth and became the Undersun, there are more serpents than dragons and only hardcore snake-librarians of Yg stick to this method. In the age of the third sun, the Alf-Star, various magical and/or mechanical marvels were constructed, but on account of the fractious nature of Alves, each such device set a unique and competing standard. Some modern societies have unearthed and learned how to operate these devices, such as the great Clocktower of Vint. But the method that gained widespread traction among humans and human-adjacent societies was the Stellar Calendar, developed by Heliognostics in the intersolar period between the 4th and 5th sun, measured by the relative movements of certain stars in the inconstant sky. Due to the irregular motion, sometimes certain weeks simply don't happen.

Festivities by Week and a note on Seasons, Day, and Night

  • Bold indicates holidays which are official and known to 99% of the human populace(unless it's endemic to a specific culture). They will happen culturally even if the stars are not quite right.
  • Italic indicates the astronomical designation for times that only astronomers care much about. These weeks have a 4-in-6 chance of occurring and are otherwise skipped. Years are not fixed in length.
  • The Calendar starts at the beginning of spring, and ends at the end of winter. Each season is a maximum of 13 weeks long (usually a few weeks are lost). Years, or 'Solar Patrols' can be down to less than half as long in event of truly unusual stellar motions (which the sun reacts to) but on average, a year is 40 weeks long.
  • The Noonlands do not have seasons- for 3/4ths of the year, they are a roasting tropical hell of eternal day where people can barely survive(but the Noonlands are also relatively monster-free so they have their advantages), and in the final 1/4th that passes for their 'winter', the sun is merely low and small in the sky, roaming the horizon in an eternal sunset. The large island of Heleologos is the center of the Noonlands and has never known night save for intersolar periods, but apart from a few of the Beast Islands and the coast of Saresare, the Noonlands should more accurately be called the Noon Sea.
  • The Daylands, most similar to the real world, do have seasons and day/night cycles, as the sun comes and goes, a circular patrol. Seasons are named for certain moons, who do not make appearances due to the constant patrol of the sun and the The Moon Lumar, who has shadowed the sun's path since time immemorial. Seasons are otherwise pretty much as you'd expect, though a few naive godlings who have never seen the moons Spring, Autumn, and Winter occasionally purport to be in command of the seasons.
  • The Moonlands do not have seasons or day/night cycles, and mark 'days' as 'sleeps.' The Sun is a random encounter, as is the light of the moons, and so the only guaranteed light is that of flame. They are not as cold as you might expect, for Moonlight provides warmth in the absence of the sun, though at the cost of various reality-warping effects. Humanity does not reign here, they only reside and survive in small pockets.


  1.  Adulation of the New Sun- a yearly(such as it is) festival to celebrate the coming of the 5th sun. Festivities include a massive game of tag, where the most athletic individual of the society, dressed in pale gold circlets and a white robe, defends an offering to the sun from various people symbolically dressed to represent the moons. Those chose to play moons are typically charity cases who are given community support by the chance to snag valuables, or clowns whose role is to mock the moons and reassure the populace that the sun and humanity will surely triumph over adversity. Players who wish to participate can donate treasures to the offering of value equal to their current XP total to reroll saves to try to throw off curses, diseases, mutations, and other corruptions, try to beat other sun-contenders in footraces in the days leading up to the festival, or sign up as a Moon if their costume or community support is good enough, and have a chance to snag donated goodies if they can get to the offering before being tagged by the Sun.
  2. Locust Found- A star lost near the end of winter typically returns. Random encounter tables are restocked by region and monster lairs and dungeons are recolonized if appropriate, and an additional encounter is added to regional encounter tables. If Locust does not return and this week is skipped, the encounter tables are left empty (assuming the players depopulated monster lairs and so on) and the lands remain safeish another year.
  3. Mole Pursues Locust- Animals and animalistic monsters have morale +1 and reaction rolls +1 due to a combination of post-winter hunger and spring breeding.
  4. Vigil for Riikhus- A solemn  wake observed by followers of the ancient faith of Riikhus and Mokkhus. Riikhus is dead and Mokkhus is lost, but dogma states that Mokkhus is seeking his brother in the moonlands and, as a death-god, will someday return with his fiery brother and once more enslave the errant gods into a hierarchical pantheon. Naturally, cultures who were once enslaved by the Mercian empire led by the Slave-Pantheon of Riikhus do not look fondly upon these candlelit walks, but even so, this wake is especially popular among societies who found themselves in the Moonlands in the era of the 5th sun, where in the reign of the 4th sun Riikhus they enjoyed reliable day/night cycles and no Moons. Players wishing to participate simply keep a candle lit until the sun arrives. If Riikhus ever returns, perhaps they will be rewarded, but the 4th sun has been dead and gone for 2 centuries and betting odds are against it.
    Places extremely opposed to this vigil(such as Yuba) sometimes call this day Townlocke's Triumph and give some small thanks to the prophet of M'shesh who threw down Riikhus(aka  the Tyrant Sun by his detractors) as well as some minor attendance to their usual gods.
  5. Ice In Tiger's House- no festivities, frequently thought of as the last week where there will be snowfall in spring. If, in the aseasonal Moonlands, a Moon arrives, it will be the Winter Moon pursued by the sun shortly thereafter.
  6. Tiger Swims Counterclockwise-No festivities, though astronomers use the spiral path of the star dubbed 'Tiger' to guesstimate Moon schedules with increased accuracy.
  7.  House of Tiger (or Ant, if you utilize Saresaren astronomy). Random monster lairs always have maximum monsters and treasure encountered at this time.
  8. Locust Takes Leave From Ant's House- no festivities, but frequently an extra work shift creating impressive and fragile constructions meant to be broken, meaning even unskilled people can find work, and people will be up late.
  9. Tribute To The Lord of Calamities- a festival in which people dress themselves as monsters and spirits, get drunk and wreck shit, and even undergo scarification and self-mutilation if they're serious. Like emo halloween but with incense and vandalism instead of candy. Especially popular among the pregnant who wish their infants to be spared mutation and disease, lords wishing their fortresses to be spared from earthquake and war, and peasants wishing their fields to be spared storms. Players who wish to participate will have plenty of opportunities to undertake anonymous mayhem and either attract or avoid the attention of Murulu, whose blessings and curses can be a little hard to tell apart either way. But they will earn XP for the value of property damage they inflict, and if they inflict enough damage to gain a level, they will automatically pass their next save vs mutation or death and dismemberment.
    For most civilized people, they constrain their activities to the destruction of the false constructions built the week before (PiƱata houses) but people can and do go further, and those that go too far can get in trouble with the law.
  10. Hawk Hunts Locust- no festivities, but known as a week of cleanup after the tribute to the Calamitous Lord.
  11. Hawk Crosses Ice-no festivities. Doubled chance of moons, monsters, and inclement weather.
  12. Hawk In Roost-no festivities, preparations for Spring Effigy, add Spring Cult encounters
  13. Burial of Spring- A Noon/Daylands exclusive festival on the last day of Spring(the season, not the moon that inspired the season), where an effigy of Spring is burned to make way for Summer. The effigy is traditionally made from various aromatic and psychoactive herbs, and reveling near it may open ones minds to other realms and gain secrets, spells, cooking or alchemical recipes, or at least just a really good time that may help fog the memory of past trauma (and possibly some amnesia due to brain-fug). Moonlanders will likely see this Dayland ritual as an abominable moon cult ritual at worst, and a dangerously misinformed display of idiocy at best.
    Tribute to Spring
    -The moonlands version, where the effigy is made of scraps of Spring-spawned jungles and monsters and burned, to ward off the Spring moon- players may participate by offering Spring monster parts to gain respect and another hit of XP. Occasionally moon cultist revelers of spring will attack these rituals, so players may also find easy work as hired security. Those seeking to illegally deal in monstrous moonspawned eggs and seeds and mosnterparts may find buyers and sellers in larger settlements as well. Whether spring is repelled or drawn to the smell of its own burning spawn is unknown, but at the very least if it does appear, so too will the sun to drive it off within 24 hours.
  14.  Hangover Week- a recovery period after the Burial of Spring that even astronomers are hard pressed to remember the name of. Afterwards, remove Spring Cult encounters, and, assuming one is in the daylands, declare it to be summer.
  15. Nameless Triskaidecagon Stellar Arrangement-Dicerolls of 13 result in unfortunate consequences or 'critical fails'. An unlucky week. Despite the inconstant movements of stars, astronomers always manage to see a new accursed arrangement and mark it down in the Triskaidekaridion, a smallish tome detailing each unique arrangement.
  16. Ant in Tiger's House (or Tiger in Ant's house, in the Saresaren astronomical method). All random encounters will be of the 'conflict of (roll twice)' variety. The wilds echo with the snorting of monsters in territorial disputes.
  17. Day of Our Lady of Gardens- the most popular day for summer weddings and proposals among people of 'good breeding.' Particularly well-formed piglets and other domestic animals are brandished about, horse races are had, studs are exchanged, etc etc. Less of a festival and more of a glorified sort of 'business as usual but look how good my business be' sort of thing. Players can typically purchase usually not-for-sale animals of exceptional pedigree on these days and marriage proposals have a +1 to reaction rolls. A much bigger deal in the lands of King's Point, Queen's Coast, and Prince's Spit, which are the home of Our Lady of Gardens but as a very low-impact event it is fairly popular everywhere there is lawful civilization.
  18. House of Hawk- Encounter distance doubled during day, halved for night.
  19. King/Queen/Prince's House- A past king insisted a stellar holiday be arranged for his glory. He is now forgotten and the three fractious nations of King's Point, Queen's Coast, and Prince's Spit tend to have annual bar brawls over 'whose star it is.' Reaction rolls between patriots of the same origin are at +1, and of differing, -1.
  20. Alf Day- Commonly bastardized to 'Elf Day' outside the Moonlands and seen as an excuse to marvel at the inability of elves to get drunk. In the Moonlands and rare areas of the Daylands, flowers are gathered, floral masks are worn, and iron objects are marked by small flowers. This is meant to ward of the wrath of any Alves, Goblins, and Ogres escaped from the Iron Moon, but is not taken very seriously and is usually just a diversion to keep young children occupied and perhaps get them to help pick up flowers after any weddings from last week. It is a popular wedding time for those who missed last week.
    Players may be interested in finding actual elves during this time, or throwing around 100c to get child labor to ID and obtain a solid, if informal, overview of all flowering herbs in the region which could be of use to herbalists, alchemists, and so on. This week contains the summer solstice.
  21. Exquisite Charnel House- All rolled dice get +1 due to stellar arrangements. The Carnage Moon can be seen all over the world, very high in the sky, almost the size of a star. For the bloodthirsty cult of the Sons of Nalil, this is a week where they are free of their worshipped moon, either to show softer sides, or to try to murder double-time to call it back sooner.
  22. Eight Dog Days- A holiday endemic to Yuba, where prisoners are sacrificed and their hearts eaten to glorify the Jackal God of Yuba, directly transferring all their XP to the ritualist. In the absence of prisoners or presence of more humanitarian Jackal-Priests, horses are sacrificed instead, in memory of the lost Horse God of Yuba. All excess flesh is fed to dogs, naturally. Players may find it possible to recruit Really Good Dogs as retainers during such celebrations. It is a common mistake to mix up this and Charnel House, though not one a proper astronomer would ever make.
  23. Renewed Motion of Ice-A subtle motion of the Ice star in relation to others. Apprentice Astronomers able to perceive the precise day are typically promoted, no one else cares.
  24. Exodus From Tiger's House- Chance of surprise in random encounters (for both sides) increased by 1.
  25. Ant Stands Alone- Wandering monsters that would be surprised are instead found dead, smote by the wrath of the Sun and marked with lightning-strike damage. 
  26. Farewell to the Sun-A festival of more sun-offerings, where people bid the sun best wishes as it starts to leave its position over Helelogos to swing further along the border of the Moonlands, chasing off cocky moons and providing a bit more light to the Moonlands in the coming months. People in the Noonlands give sacrifice to give the sun strength, while those in the Moonlands give sacrifice to hopefully earn the sun's favor and see more of it. Players may participate by sacrificing burnable things on the pyre, and if they sacrifice value equal to their current XP total they may reroll their HP or one statistic. This is the last day of Summer.
  27.  Time of Justice-A week-long Saresaren holiday where crimes are re-examined with an eye for either mercy or further condemnation. Even criminals with bounties on their heads are free to argue their case in court without being apprehended. Canny players may wish to scope out juicy bounties in preparation for Gazelle Pursues Lion, or work to exonerate certain criminals(such as themselves) of their sins. This is the first week of autumn.
  28. Gazelle Pursues Lion- A week of notorious bounty-hunting and vigilante justice in Saresare. The most common result on encounter tables will be bounty-hunters, and the next-common result, outlaws.
    Commonly mistaken as 'Lion Pursues Gazelle' by astronomers not of Saresaren education, due to it being a cultural, rather than astronomical, name.
  29. Festival Of Kispiritis-In which offerings are made to the missing and probably dead pirate-god of the waves, at least in coastal settlements. An unmanned 'merchant ship' is loaded with offerings and then pushed out to sea, then 'attacked' by available ships and sunk. As usual, players may offer valuable to be sunk for double XP, though the very bold might think to rob the treasure-ship, though they'd be risking the wrath of the populace, actual pirates(who often happily participate in this festival) and, if rumors are to be believed, the massive Ningen of the sea who are the true recipients of this bounty. If true, players could expect the favor of the Ningen for making sizable donations...
    In some, typically smaller communities, this has been replaced by the Day of Saint Bridget, where lovers seek to gift each other the best fish they can catch and hopefully ensure their relationship will be blessed in contrast to all the ways Saint Bridget's were cursed.
  30. Annual Eclipse- The Moon of Day, Lumar, occasionally catches the sun. In the age of the 4th sun this was seen as a garment-rending heretical occurrence, but nowadays it is seen as more of a confirmation that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and that the 5th sun and Lumar are still getting along well (though both entities are notoriously noncommunicative so this is hopeful speculation). However, the obscuring of the sun does allow for moon-rituals and darkness magic to run rampant in lands where it otherwise should not. People react at -1 to wizards during the eclipse, and wizards can cast and memorize spells regardless of level requirements.
  31. Worm and Mole- Largely agreed to be the boringest day of autumn, especially after the pirates and wizards of the last two weeks and with the promise of skellingtons later this season. All reaction rolls from random encounters are 7.
  32. Day of the Skull- No relation to the accursed undead moon Skull, but a memento mori for humans, and a reminder that they would do well to prepare for the afterlife, lest they linger on as undead and eventually find themselves embroiled in the eternal Skeleton War in the deep earth.
    Skeleton War recruiters occasionally arrive from the deep earth to look for fresh bones, which ties in well to the Tomb Vigil if they have living relatives. Adventurers may be tempted to follow a skeleton into the veins of the earth to join the skeleton war early as a fleshbag for gold, glory, and other such weaselly notions.
  33. Tomb Vigil- A sort of day of the dead where the common folk go to visit their dead ancestors and ensure that all is well. This can simply mean confirming that a corpse remains a corpse and has not been possessed by its own soul(or anything else, for that matter) or actively speaking to an undead relative and determining what, if anything, needs to be changed in the tomb to ensure the dead continue to rest in peace (or at least ensure their nonstop disgusting undead drug-fueled-orgy-parties will stay in the tombs where they belong, ew). If anything, this is probably the day that has the least problems with the undead, for gravetenders usually spot such problems far in advance of the Tomb Vigil, and indeed part of their job is ensuring that the resting places of the dead remain restful. Players may be intrigued by the possibility to commune with the dead, hire on as assistant gravetenders to finish up last-minute undead-bashing, or try their hand at tomb-robbing where their presence among the dead will not immediately arouse the suspicions of gravetenders.
  34. Ill-Omened Tiger- Wandering monsters encountered have maximum HP and personal (but not lair) treasure.
  35. Nox Sanguinus Veritae- A 'festival' found only in Vint and Savoth, whose goffik cities lie near the grave of the Blood Moon, where hooded supplicants file through churches to have their blood let into chalices. Depending on the facilities available, this can diagnose diseases and moon-corruption, or simply be a hopeful bloodletting ritual to ward off such. Anonymity is a sacred part of this ritual and the priests in charge can only make generalized guesses about infection rates in the populace to determine whether or not a Hunt must be proclaimed, or if people just need to use more soap.
  36. The Hunt- In most the daylands, a simple hunting competition where scoring the biggest beast nets you the biggest prize. In Vint and Savoth, a concerted effort to hunt down those who have been infected by the blood moon- from plague victims to werewolves to worse. Of course, the Hunt is sometimes used as a front to exercise political control within the cities themselves. The Hunt goes on for 1d3 weeks, culminating in the Autumn harvest, which in Vint-Savoth will likely be a more solemn affair on account of lost friends and family.
  37. Locust Rebuffed By Ant- Monsters in lair always surprised due to being bloated by preparation for hibernation and overeating.
  38. Worm Flees Ice- Wandering monsters have -1 morale and only 1d4hp per HD, due to drawing the short straw when it came to finding pre-winter forage.
  39. The Autumn Harvest-Typically a day celebrating the culmination of weeks of hard agricultural labor, followed by a night of enjoying the literal fruits of said labor. In places that venerate the minor but well-known goddess Hefon, blood feuds are either renewed or put to rest via a feast or a wedding. Adventurers typically have no place in such proceedings unless they're swearing eternal vengeance against someone, but more potato-diggers are always welcome if you care to earn a handful of silvers or at least free room and board until the harvest is over.
    Rusted Leaves- In the moonlands, there is an alternate ritual(as harvest cycles in the moonlands are madcap and irregular), similar to the tribute to spring, where an effigy of the Autumn Moon is burnt(or rather, smelted down, due to the high metal content in Autumn Moonspawned plants and monsters). The crude mass is then typically beaten into a plow or other agricultural implement which will never be used, but buried in secret. Adventurers interested in finding these moonish implements may wish to infiltrate the proceedings, and as one might expect, it is common to see the Autumn Moon make an appearance, pursued by the sun a few hours later. Whether the ritual attracted the moon, or led to it being driven away by the sun, is anyone's guess.
  40. Black-as-Ice- The reasoning for this name is unknown, though its earliest confirmed use is from the reports on clockwork and gunpowder sanctions engraved by Mercian dwarves in the stone library of Stonefast Three. It sometimes marks the first day of winter though, and so has been fastidiously remembered.
  41. Stonegate-this is the week where the dwarves of Mercia decide whether their impregnable stone fortresses will remain open for another year to deal with humans, or if a large purchase of foodstuffs will be made and the dwarves will seal themselves away at least until next Stonegate. It is a time of great commerce and travel, but there is an edge of survival and politics to it. If the gates are closing, anyone with a wagon or horse can make fast money running various mercantile errands, and any bandit will likely find a plethora of ill-equipped traders to loot. If the gates are to remain open, prices of goods will likely remain more stable during winter.
  42. The Black Stars Behind The Pale Stars- Named not for any stellar configuration, but for the anniversary of the Saresaren astronomer whose blasphemous writings resulted in his very name ebing expunged from the annals of history, who ventured far out into the black sands to observe the writhing of the darkness of the sky in the absence of sun, moon, or stars. This reminder is a warning not to follow in their footsteps, not a recommendation. Though there is no appreciable effect in the daylands, the Moonlands will have neither sun nor moon. Technically this can happen multiple times per year, but it is only in mid-autumn that astronomers take note.
  43. Ice Stalks Mole- Wandering monsters do not fail morale due to losses and damage taken, fighting to the death unless truly and utterly outmatched, perhaps out of hunger. One less check per day/night, though.
  44. Allnaughts- The festival of the gambling trickster god T'liki (the name comes from the sobriquet 'all for nothing' which itself is a play on 'all or nothing'), to distract the populace from the growing gloom of the world. Valuables may be gambled away for the potential of winning similar trinkets- gold for gold, spells for spells, etc etc. Only decadent cities and very bored wilderness camps tend to partake seriously- T'liki is an unpredictable god and vulnerable communities such as villages shun his gambling rambling ways and will at best make token offerings by playing for pitiful stakes such as old chickens and individual corn kernels while sensibly rationing for winter.
  45. Lost Locust- The Locust-star, among others, becomes invisible. Nights are darker, making humans and other night-blind creatures surprised on an additional +1-in-6, and Nightmare Realms may be formed from those who die horribly (1-in-6, or 2-in-6 in Saresare)
  46. World's Sunset-Typically the darkest day of the year for the Daylands, the only day of the year the island of Heliologos sees Sunset, and a day that everyone in the entire wide, wide Moonlands can expect to see at least an hour of sunlight and have any squatting moons chased away. Though no celebrations are typically in order, it is expected to wear colorful clothes on this day, and if your clothing is the most garish in the room you can expect to get +1 to reaction rolls (and -1 if you're a stick in the mud who doesn't at least don a bright handkerchief.)
    Light sources also lose 5' radiance. This is the winter solstice.
  47. Vultures Feast-A Saresaren festival where food is purchased and prepared as normal, but is thrown out without being eaten, so that the Vulch, the sad, sacred vulture-folk of the desert have something to eat, while the humans fast. Vulch retainers can be recruited at this time, though the recruitment must be subtle indeed, as Vulch neither accept explicit charity nor do labor for payment.
  48. Ice Clad In Furious Raiment- Monsters and weather makes reaction rolls at -1. 'Dead' encounter results are likely frozen solid.
  49. Old King Winter- Monsters and weather makes reaction rolls at -2, though if surprised many monsters will be hibernating. In the moonlands, all moons rolled will be the winter moon.
  50. Mole Calls Upon Worm-A week of nightly checks, wandering around cold halls wrapped in fur blankets, wielding candle, where cellars and other subterranean areas are double-checked to make sure they have not undergone dark-corruption and turned into dungeons or nightmare realms. It is diligent to check more often than this, of course, but most people never discover anything unusual save for a few items that may not have been in the cellar before and so if they bother at all this is usually the time they finally get around to it.
  51. Names Written In Light Upon The Face of Darkness- Darkspawn that are found in cellars are traditionally driven out by fire and pitchfork around this time of year, or if they proved reasonable tenants, shown to dinner guests and given an official name so that they may be illuminated and join the world of daylight(or moonlight) and ordered forms. This is a ritual with origins shrouded in antiquity, and the more predominant the worship of light, be it from the sun, moons, or gods, the less common this will be, and it doesn't occur outside the Moonlands apart from, perhaps, deep in the earth or sea or sky.
  52. Worm in the House of Mole- no festivities, but preparation for the Adulation of the New Sun festival. The stellar name of this week is relatively well known simply due to it being the anticipatory period of the biggest festival. It is the last week of Winter(the season, not the moon)

Monday, March 25, 2019

Svart Alf Dwarf Elf, Part 1

In the common parlance of the kingdoms of day in the sunset realms, dwarves are stubby but sturdy underground-dwelling folk, and elves are haughty and aloof tree-huggers with pointy ears. Both are rare and a bit weird, but not TOO different from humans at the end of the day.

That's because they are human-adjacent beings, on the borders of humanity but not removed. They mainly exist because they are in the BFRPG book and new players expect them to exist after reading through the book. I don't actively encourage players to play as elves, dwarves, or halflings, but the sky is broad enough to encompass them and I do take an approach where the setting has familiar starting points before it veers off into madness, so this is another lengthy setting document that will, alas, likely be far more useful to me than to you.

If you want to play a cool beauty,
Or at least someone who thinks they're a cool beauty
mysterious and much better looking than the average medieval peasant, with keen senses and fast reflexes, elves are the go to. They have slow but efficient metabolisms, slight frames, and feel cool to the touch. Elves are cool-headed, and do not panic as humans do when caught between flight-or-flight adrenal crises. They do not sweat, and so to manage body heat they tend to rely on cool baths after the battle or race or whatever, which is often misinterpreted as them being obsessive about cleanliness. They barely age, due to a superior elemental contract where their bodies are not taxed as severely as humans are for hosting non-elemental souls, and instead of relying on any external being or collective religion to support an afterlife, their souls reincarnate into new (soulless) elf babies after said baby is washed in a Lunar Mirror, a name for a body of enchanted water from the days of the 3rd sun. It is questionable if new elf souls can even be created at this point, or if it's all recycling. Elf cities(what few remain in the age of the 5th sun) exist for the sole sake of fortifying these soul-pools and keeping their existence secret and safe, and ensuring that no elf finds themselves inadvertently drawn into the Iron Moon after death. Their cities also exist to identify reincarnated High Elves and either contain them, either creating an illusion of continued elvish superiority and world domination to keep the Alf distracted and happy, or keeping them in formidable prison-dungeons that human treasure hunters inaccurately identify as magical item vaults ripe for audacious heists. Elves who leave their cities often decide to do so out of disillusionment with their single-minded, isolationist societies, and are willing to risk death, or more specifically, willing to risk reincarnating into the Iron Moon, for the sake of their own lives, or perhaps for the sake of some ideology spawned within the elven city. Some have no city or Lunar Mirror, and live in the wild as hermits or loose tribal units, untethered, for better or worse, from the chill and stagnant glory of elvish civilization.

They can see in the dark, but only in the kingdoms of day where true darkness is far away. Many elves who enter the moonlands are shocked by this development and feel a closer kinship with humans when faced with truly alien life-forms, out there in the dark... though they can still see by starlight. They are immune to the paralyzing touch of ghouls and infection from the Grinning Plague, but willing cannibalism will cause them to develop into ghasts. They lose 1hp if they force themselves to touch or speak to something really ugly, and elves with positive charisma modifiers are a bit Alfish and lose 1hp when touching iron. They do not have stat limitations, as is standard for all species, but otherwise are read-as-written.

Half-Elves and Quarter-Elves and 'Oh yeah I'm totally one thirteenth Elf' people exist and though they have varying degrees of pointy ears, slender bones, and small pores, they only 'count as elven' to other elves if their souls are drawn to Lunar Mirrors, and then after their first reincarnation they'll be pure-strain elf, but with a human cultural background. Due to the whole reincarnation thing, elves don't really go in for hereditary inheritance, but aren't above hijacking human inheritances that way and replacing hothead human political leaders with more cool-headed (and pointy-eared) elvish ones if that would avoid war.

To human visitor(for humans are not allowed to live in elf cities), an elf city is quiet, clean, stable and beautiful, but also unsettling, like a museum of a city. Elves lost a very high-intensity war against the Witch-Queens or the High Alves(depending on whose side they took) two whole suns ago, and they are still worn out by it, still remembering the wild excesses of sorcerous combat and the exiling of the High Elves to the Iron Moon, still dealing with the occasional reincarnated High Elf megalomaniac. Humans have forgotten, and elves have forgiven(not the megalomaniac high elves tho), and so the elves remain isolationist, keeping birth rates staggeringly low and carefully managing their environment to serve them in case of further calamity. Any conflict that would require mass mobilization is a conflict they will quietly defer from, and those who press the conflict to their gates will be met with a hail of elf-shot heavy enough to dissuade all but the stupidest would-be conquerors, and kill the stupid ones outright. Most Elves would prefer to simply outlive mortal problems while they concentrate on the eternal problems of the corrupted High Elves and the cycle of Suns and Moons.

not gonna lie I included this mainly for that lovely cartoony donkey
If being ashort, wide, gruff, grizzled, no-nonsense human just isn't good enough, there are dwarves. They hail from the mountains of Mercia, and have long held a relationship with humans as a societal bedrock, where their long lives temper ambition from corrupting their tenets (at least on a human timescale) and dwarf society provides a constant backdrop to the roiling strife and eternal war of human society. Nigh-unassailable cavern fortresses, open to humanity in times of peace and locked implacably shut in times of war, retain vast stone libraries of information and hoards of goods and materials, the carefully curated and chosen contents offered out piecemeal to humans. There are two main pieces of tech the dwarves work to keep a monopoly on- clockwork, and gunpowder. Saresare, the perpetual rival of Mercia, has no dwarves, and as such Saresaren alchemists have developed gunpowder and dwarves have not been able to suppress the proliferation of the technology outside of Mercia.

Dwarves tend to be impatient with humans, and you must realize, from the point of view of a single dwarf(though not quite as immortal as elves, dwarves mostly just get rockier, not decrepit with age), humans are a gibbering horde of morons who undermine their own efforts constantly and are too short-lived to learn valuable lessons or ever truly master a profession. Unlike elves, who are typically isolationist and willfully ignorant of human society, a dwarf will see every step of their social engineering efforts wasted as crowns pass innumerable hands until they are sold as curios from a dead nation, a nation a dwarf probably outlived. Nonetheless, they soldier on, trying to forge the bad iron of humanity into a straight bar of steel, for the kingdoms of day are human-dominated, and for all their faults, humans are easier to get along with than the madness of the moonlands or the deep, dark earth. Some dwarves resent this simultaneously patronizing but servile role in relation to Mercian human society and leave, while dwarves who try to stay but do not conform to the rigid life in the underground are banished.

While humans surge and fall like the tide, dwarf society is crumbling from the bottom up, the darkness of the deep earth gnawing at their roots as it did their progenitors. Their subterranean cities tend to be half abandoned, with forgotten dangers in the lower levels that have been festering since the days when elves ruled the world. This is not well known to outsiders, but it is not a secret, it simply isn't talked about outside of grim and impossible quests to reclaim the lower levels from the dark. The dwarves are, so to speak, caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to choosing whether to live above the ground or below it, unable to shape human society to their satisfaction but lacking the ability to stand against the deep dark forever.

Dwarves do not technically see in the dark. They love fire, and glowing bugs, and eerie phosphorescent mushrooms, but in the absence of these things, they learn to navigate like bats via echoes of clicking tongues or tapping picks, callused but exquisitely sensitive hands tracing the stone, and to fight like this, though they prefer to have flame. This does not work well except in enclosed spaces. Dwarves do not like weapons- a tool that can only be used to kill is a tool that is a waste of space and iron 99% of the time. Dwarves also do not like ranged weapons- their subterranean hunts are very different from chasing a deer through thickets in the wilderness, and in the close quarters of the underground, even throwing weapons are a risky business. What a dwarf does like is a good trap. Bear traps, deadfalls, nooses and snares, caltrops. All very easy to set up with a bit of time and an almost assured path the enemy must travel. They can even automate and time traps with their clockwork contraptions ticking away in the darkness. Dwarves name their gear that they've had for more than one session out of a combination of code-efficiency and sentimental hoarder attachment, and lose 1hp if they lose a named piece of equipment.
This is not a dwarf city. A dwarf city looks like the inside of a very cramped dungeon room with some dwarf-runes informing you whose house/workstation you're inside, because dwarves don't have empty space for the sake of empty space.
To a human visitor, a Dwarf city is cramped, smoky, undersized, and impossible to navigate naturally. They are often given lodgings in a large cavern to give them a break from the claustrophobia, and,are rarely told that caverns are weak points in dwarf defenses, bubbles of old chaos in the earth, at odds with an orderly and regimented maze of tunnels. The only thing a human visitor is likely to enjoy are the mysterious mechanisms(usually clockwork) that pump water, move elevators, and keep air circulating. These mechanisms are also commonly retrofitted into deadly traps if the fortress is compromised.

The Beast Islands have little people living on them. They are the most like humans, simply shorter and more resistant to exotic ailments that are so common on the Beast Islands. Humans believe they shrunk to fit their small islands like the pygmy beasts and minimals so often found on the islands, while halflings believe it is humans who grew huge and clumsy when they found their way to the mainland from some lost island home in forgotten times. Some halflings adhering to this theory often call humans 'hugemans.' It is patently obvious to halflings and dwarves that they have nothing in common, though ignorant humans may confuse the two.
If you're playing as a human child, you may as well just use the halfling 'race.' The only difference is that you won't have any island-specific traits that a halfling would (low-light vision out to 30' being a common trait of Moonlander halflings).

Apart from a tendency towards individual halfling islands being a pastiche of whatever form of government I've read about most recently, I pretty much treat halflings as humans, just with frayed nerves from everything being bigger than they.

no, not this

True/High Elves, or Alfs, or Fey, have souls derived from the nameless and forgotten First Sun, self modified via the sorcerous Third Sun that begat the lesser Elves, then warped by exposure to a mote of True Darkness that brought about the end of their world-spanning civilization, combined with the revolt of the 'lesser bipeds.' Elven ruins scatter the moonlands, filled with bizarre wonders and terrors and things you recognize from legends only in how they aren't like the legends after all.
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You can think of them as Elves+, beautiful enough to make people go blind, more graceful than a cat, able to pick up a spell after seeing it cast once, with dance moves for combat and an unbridgeable cultural gap between them and mortal races. 99.9% of them are sealed away in the rusting hulk of the Iron Moon, where they plot escape and create new servitor races in the crumbling darkness. Each one is like elf Lex Luthor or something, hardly a unified species, just a bunch of immortal supervillains all nursing old, old grudges.

Unable to produce new elven souls after the Iron Moon debacle, they have swelled their ranks with the Fey, servitor creatures spun out of shadow and dream that are better suited for escaping the Moon. Fairies are actually spells. Goblins have no name, and their shapes are ill-defined save for being wretched, humanoid, and shadowy. If they can steal a name, they'll become much more real and human. Hmmm, best not to think too hard on that, eh? Moving on to Ogres, the muscle of the bunch, you get tough bastards who can turn into anything they've eaten, of a size of anything they've eaten. It's these 3 types of Fey you see most commonly in the trenches and ravines the massive chain of the Iron Moon digs into the earth as it wanders the sky, trying their dimwitted best to usurp the realms of men and usher back in the age of the Elves.

The original Dwarves, or Svarts, have souls indirectly derived from Yg-A, the undersun, and an accompanying greed that cements their true nature as dragon-kin. They are stone statues with bellies of fire, and must work constantly to balance the composition of their forms with the nature of the flame within, lest they hatch into a Dragon, or fade away into a lifeless statue (or more disturbingly for delvers in the Veins of the Earth, an almost lifeless and very hungry statue). They eat gems and gold and ore to gain experience, and flammable materials (especially alcohol) to fuel their inner flames. They also can devour light itself to fuel those flames, either from torches or souls. Their civilization is a thousand years broken, their deep ruins haunted by Grues and worse, their people lapsed into quiet dormancy. The last two great works of the Svarts were the Iron Moon, to contain the madness the Alfs fell to, and the Dwarves, who were instilled with soulfire of the 3rd sun, not the voracious 2nd Sun Yg-A, but not overcoming, their more fleshy sunlit forms. They fed upon light, but were consumed by darkness. Some are still born from the flaming wombs of the earth, stalactites dripping from the ceiling of magma chambers and forming a Svart instead of a Stalagmite. But they are born alone, and likely to succumb to the terrors of the deep earth before meeting another of their kind. Some Svarts live amongst Dwarves as semi-captive curios, each typically unaware of the other's true nature.

Preemptive link to Part II, in which I stop waffling on and on about ancient made up history and start waffling on and on about 'race as class' and possibly Ningen and Ghouls as well
Or maybe not, after all

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Meta-class: Secret Badass

This is not a 100% serious post. But it's not 100% unserious either. It is 100% a shallow exhortation to go watch Thunderbolt Fantasy though.

There's a trope in fiction of the god in disguise walking among mortals, or the ancient kung-fu master in disguise as a harmless janitor, or a witch who seems like a nice old lady but is also straight up Baba Yaga, or perhaps, on the lower power levels, simply an old military veteran slumming it with the rookies.. It's a fun trope, but at odds with the osr playstyle, definitely leaning more story-gamey. But perhaps it's not totally incompatible after all.


me writing this metaclass and you reading it, probably

First, pick a regular class (or maybe like a monster like a vampire or werewolf or something). You start at level 1 just like everyone else, but for you, that's where you want to stay, ideally. Your experience works backwards. You *lose* xp while others gain it. You are hypothetically already at the levelcap of your campaign no matter how much XP  is written on your sheet, and your apparent xp level is how far you've been pushed and forced to reveal your true power, whereas gaining XP represents you spinning things to appear less impressive, blowing money to remind people you're just a useless drunk, people retconning their memories of your actions to fit your pushed narrative of not being anyone important, etc etc.
I call this OVEREXPERIENCED for shorthand reference

The most obvious way you can be pushed to reveal your true power is by running out of HP. You can instantly gain levels until your HP is positive again, and then say something like 'Tch, I guess I'll have to take this seriously..." or some such anime rot. You can also gain levels if you fail an attack or saving throw, gaining enough levels to hit or make the save instead, or instantly gain levels to use class abilities you'd get later- such as suddenly getting a few extra % points in Open Locks, or suddenly revealing that you can prepare Explosive Runes. The GM might require Hidden Powerlevel and  Stashed Hoard to declare you have specific spells+the spellbook for 'em, otherwise they may be randomly determined spells
I call this the HIDDEN POWERLEVEL.

Or on a more meta level, upon finding a fortress full of brigands, you could rocket up to level 9 fighter and be like 'At ease lads- they're with me' and then the rest of the party is all 'wtf Ol Barflozz is actually LORD Barflozz' and the brigands are all 'Ah yes Lord Barflozz, didn't recognize you in the fake beard sir, come on in.' Extra retainers and allies fall under this as well- you can gain a level to declare individuals are your retainers, pets, cowed past foes, satisfied former employers, etc etc.
I call this NAMELESS DOMAINLEVEL and if your GM's main objection to the class is the shared narrative control (that's storygames) this is the ability that should be cut first.

Another use is by revealing you have a magic spell, item, or ability that you've been sandbagging with. Like your waterflask is actually a Phial of Water Elementals, or your sword is actually the very same +5 Holy Avenger the church has been looking for. The GM must adjudicate the cost of this ability, but as a rough rule, each +1 or ability an item has is probably calling for a mandatory level-up. If you simply know where you stashed it instead of it being on your person, the GM may relent the multi-level gains required to use this ability and just throw it in a dungeon to be recovered unfair and square instead. It also works for monster abilities if you wanted to be a secret vampire or summat.

 Also, if you ever actually reach the level cap or are more than double the level of the lowest leveled party member, you get to finish up the scene you're in and then must walk into the sunset, never to be seen again, not even as an NPC. This is the FUCK OFF, ELMINSTER principle and assuming your players aren't trash you shouldn't really need this, but I also just read a forgotten realms sourcebook(0/10) and I really wanted to get that bold text out there.

And finally, there's the reason(s) you're lying so low. You probably have to roll a d20 each session and if you roll under your current level, your past shows up to bedevil you somehow.
  1. Pursued by 4+ Overt Badasses who are out to get you for whatever reason, each one being your equal and together being damn near unstoppable.
  2. Haunted by guilt over past failures and misdeeds. Unable to confront your past, if you lean too hard on your old tricks, the bad memories come back and you'll end up running away again, possibly all the way to hell this time.
  3. Curse stating you'll drop dead if anyone speaks your true name to your face. As you were super famous, you had to flee and adopt a new identity.
  4. Ancient prophecy about blah blah chosen ones, one of the other PCs fits the bill and you're caught in a balancing act of protecting them from the Dark Lord and calling down the Dark Lord's minions on everyone's head by your mere presence.
  5. Your power is stolen in some way, and the original owners are looking to collect. Deal with a devil, stolen goods, does it really matter?
  6. You just really hate domain level play and are trying to recapture the fun of being a low-level adventurer. If discovered, you'll have to slink back to your palace and go back to levying taxes and going to dinner parties where nobody even gets killed.
  7. Secret agenda you're pursuing. Has to remain very secret, lest rivals/enemies catch wind and shut you down, so you absolutely must avoid drawing attention to yourself.
  8. You're a gruff mentor figure with a dim suspicion that your role is to die after helping some young male take a few steps on the Hero's Journey, and so are doing your best to swerve the narrative into a different genre that's kinder to elderly people. Romantic Fantasy is probably too much to hope for, but Swords & Sorcery seems survivable enough so long as you avoid the lurking Survival Horror and Cosmic Horror on the edges.
just look at the detail on this puppet

Design Thoughts
This is pretty much the epitome of 'play it once to get it out of your system' design, allowing players to taste the high levels or play as a high HD monster and realize it's less of a big deal than they imagined. The trick, I think, with exotic oddball classes and so on is to scratch an itch a player might have, without making everyone else itchy in the process. Some oddball classes end up fitting into the world well enough, while others get quietly dropped after a while, and this is actively designed to fit into the latter category. Curiously enough, I think this class is actually less of a problem the lower the powerlevel of the game is. A level 20 BFRPG character honestly doesn't have all THAT much going for them in a vacuum- someone who organically reached that level would have all sorts of odds and ends, but shooting up to level 20 in an already bad situation might do nothing but buy you a few extra rounds to live... and since you CAN bloat your levels, you're more likely to try that instead of something sensible like hiding in a coffin, and so end up dying anyway. In later editions like 3e/pf, 4e, or 5e, it would be a whole nother story of course.
It also might be fun to run a semi-cooperative semi-competitive game where everyone is a secret badass with conflicting secret missions going through somewhere very lethal like Tomb of Horrors, but their true powerlevel is kept secret (true powerlevels being 10+1d10 I expect) so the idea is to suss out everyone's capabilities. And of course if you manage to stay at level 1, everyone else has to tread carefully lest they be banished by the Elminster Principle.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Fairies are the Elf Spell List

Fairies, as in the Tinkerbell variety (or the GDGD Fairy variety if you're weeblord like me),

and they said there was no good cgi anime
 are anthropomorphized spells. High Elves are behind this, of course. More on them later. That's why fairy personalities lean one note and its never really clear what their society is or what they do all day. Because what they do all day is whatever their creating elf mage told them to do, filtered through their dim-bulb artificial minds of rune-logic 2 suns out of date.

Elves have reasons for turning their spells into fairies beyond elvish weirdness, of course. For one thing, it allows them to delegate the casting of useful but low impact things to their fairies, and to adjust the purpose and scope of a spell via plain-elvish instructions rather than involved and expensive thaumaturgy. For another, it appeals to their vanity to have slavish minions. And non-elves are likely to interact with fairies as though they were people and not anthropomorphized spells, which gives Elves a vague advantage via the power of misinformation and deceit. (There's a reason all elves were sentenced to eternal imprisonment within the Iron Moon, after all- they're dicks. But worry not, 99% of the elves you meet aren't real elves).Anyway, fairies don't cast very powerful spells, but they can cast them at will, forever.
Fairies, and also the Elf Spell List (that is probs partially stolen from someone(s) but I initially wrote this list on the back of a scientific research paper I dug out of a university dumpster 6 months ago so don't expect any citations)
They tend to be encountered in groups of 1d8, have 1hp, AC as plate +3, and about can fly as fast as a horse, while others must slowly creep about like mice (and have AC as chain). They can use their own spell at the lowest power setting infinitely, or one step up if they work together in a group of 3 or more.

Lower numbers tend to all know different spells, while larger groups tend to all know the same spell. Use a d8 to determine which, the 9th and 10th spells were never mass-fairyfied.
Wizards can eat them to learn the spell, and swatting them with a rolled-up-newspaper equivalent causes them to revert to spell-form and turn into a scroll. Their cute appearance and desire to continue living may be nothing but elvish self-preservation rune-programming, but at the end of the day its up to you if you really want to be this guy.

  1. Glamour
  2. Mirror Image
  3. Eye Game
  4. Fairy Gold
  5. Elvish Override
  6. Slumber
  7. Jewel Wings 
  8. Elf Shot
  9. Elf Shield
  10. Fairify

1. Glamour- Clothing and makeup becomes awe-inspiring, providing your choice of a bonus to reaction checks, friendly morale, or a penalty to enemy morale. +1 hour and bonus/malus per spell level/MD expended.

+2. Also go read dungeon meshi already jeez
+3, obviously in the 'intimidation' sense

at +4 things get kinda weird but it's all illusion don't worry about it
Glamour Fairies
These are basically the fashion police. If you don't accede to their demands to change out of your armor and into whatever garments they have on hand/are already making minutes after seeing you, they will be forced to go to increasingly extreme lengths to make you fabulous. Tricking you into a garbage pit and stealing your clothes while they're hung out to dry is plan A, after that things start to involve rust monsters, slandering your identity to local townsfolk by describing your clothes so you have to adopt a disguise, hiring mimics to turn into your clothes then leave you naked later, and if need be, stripping your corpse and dressing that up instead, possibly allying with a dread necromancer to make your newly adorned corpse walk down a fashion catwalk.
Or you could just put on the clothes. And the ones after that. And after that. And...

2-Mirror Image- Though the obvious combat use is creating a mirror image of yourself, you can create a mirror image of anything you can see. It is silent and insubstantial, but otherwise totally visually convincing... at least in terms of what you can see. If you copy a castle, the side you can't see and the interior will be nothing but fuzzy static. Once touched, the illusion pops like a soap bubble. Whip up up to 1d6 copies per dice/spell slot level.

Mirror Fairies- These replicate via mirrored surfaces, and don't tolerate the poor copies. Mirror fairies are frequently to be found hunting down choppy 'puddle fairies' that were reflected from a puddle, viewed from below, or 'grey bulge' fairies, reflected from overly shiny breast plates. They will go to any length to acquire quality mirrors, and are intelligent enough to extort adventurers for gold via neverending mirror tricks to bedevil them, or assist them only to demand payment later. Mirrors are expensive and heavy, after all, and fairies are poor and small, so it's up to you adventurers to secure them their perfect reflection. Subsequent generations of mirror fairies are invariably slightly dimmer and off-color than before, preventing infinite replication, but a few generations of difference from a good quality mirror are tolerated. A final quirk of behavior is that mirror fairies never admit that they are anything but an illusory reflection. No matter what.

3-Eye GamesSemi-permanent invisibility to a target, but with a random twist.
1-Only invisible so long as you hold your breath. So long as no one sees you doing it, you can take a break to breathe visibly, and then become invisible again by holding your breath.  
2-Clothing and equipment not made invisible. You become visible once you get the invisibility dust rubbed or washed off from the friction of movement and so on, in a day or so or if you put on clothes/get splashed by water.
3-Only invisible so long as you keep your eyes shut. If you can see through your eyelids for some reason this won't work- it's operating on the 'they can't see me if I can't see them' principle.
4- Piece of cloth, usually a cloak, is made into an invisibility cloak that is itself invisible as is anything beneath it. Ends once you drop it or somebody not under the cloak touches it.
5-Only invisible so long as you don't hurt anybody or break any laws.
6- While standing still, you're invisible.

No See Ums- Tiny people more often invisible than not. Get super shy and tongue-tied if their location is known and they know its known, otherwise cheeky devils. Incorrigible thieves, eavesdroppers, voyeurs, and gossips of course, but you already could have guessed that. Their favorite game is hide and seek, and they often have the assistance of a scary monster to raise the stakes of the games. They'll assist you with their magic, but if you aren't a good sport, they'll assist the monster instead.

4-Fairy Gold
A trick that turns leaves and acorns into coins and gems. The transformation only lasts until midnight and is ended prematurely by contact with iron or seawater, and the bigger your scam the bigger the ensuing fallout, of course.

Typically working in tandem with other fairies, providing fake gold to tempt you into going along with various fairy shenanigans. Initially quite friendly, they will munificently buy you whatever you wish, with predictable results in a few days and one leprechaun that is just shocked and appalled at how cheap human gratitude is. They will hint at having great treasure hoards that they draw from rather than admitting their trickery, and will quickly go from friend to foe if their generosity is met with suspicion or greed. If their ruse is revealed, they will defend their actions as that of a freedom fighter, expanding upon the virtues of a gift economy and the vices of the marketplace.

5-Elvish OverrideCompels a group of fairies to perform a specific number of tasks for you. The exact number is irrelevant because if the fairy likes the task it won't keep track, and if it doesn't like you or the task, it will declare things like 'breathing is a task' and hold its breath until it falls over and passes out. They will also inevitably get bored and wander off after an hour of cleaning or carrying the lantern or whatever you set them to.

Unbeknownst to many, this works on any elf-created magical being with the proper safety overrides in place. Goblins, Ogres, guardian golems and of course any undead raised by an elvish necromancer. If they make their save vs spell they can never be affected by that copy of elvish override, but if they fail, they will immediately become nonhostile, and maybe even helpful.
Against humans, elves, and dwarves, this functions as charm person and charm person is in fact a misunderstood elvish override.
Unbeknownst even to True Elves, There is a Snake Override that works on Alfs and Svarts.

idk who this is but they came up when i searched 'pixie lord'

Fairy Lords- Inherently respected and obeyed by other fairies. Expect that respect to be found in all other living beings too, and will sic their fairy posse on those who do not show proper respect to the lord. They are inevitably found with some extra minions, and they work tirelessly to create warped imitations of royal life, demanding palaces, courts, royal balls, etc.
1- Goblins- nameless, shadowy, only able to own what they steal.
2- Ogre- Cruel, stupid, flesheating. Able to change into animals of equivalent HD they have eaten.
3-Impressionable Humans- Naive, gullible, easily overawed.
4- Cu Sidhe- Huge, intelligent green dogs with silky flowing hair. Also know an innate spell, but use them for hunting.
5- Assorted small animals, half-trained.
6-Roll twice/other

6- Slumber- Target saves once per spell slot level/magic die used.
1 fail- Target falls asleep. Can be woken by shouting in ear, splashed water, slap upside the head, etc, but will be content to ignore the current sound level and mild jostling such as being carried or tied up.
2 fails- Target falls into enchanted slumber. Progression of aging, hunger, poison, disease, etc halted. May only be woken by a specific conditional, like the kiss of royalty or the crow of a hen.

Sleepmaid-These diminutive, moth-like fairies are used as guards, medics, assassins, and sleep aids in about equal measure. Their go-to response to an uncertain situation is to put everyone to sleep, rummage through belongings, then decide what to do from there. They do not kill unless specifically ordered to, as stab-happy fairies are likely to create more diplomatic incidents than they solve, but they will occasionally send people into sleep-stasis and await further orders from command (and command has probably been trapped in an iron moon for a few hundred years, so they may be waiting a while).

7-Jewel WingsTransforms the caster and up to 6 others into hummingbirds for a day, or into hummingbird moths for a night. Equipment is not transformed, and HP is 1 and AC is as Plate+3 in these speedy but fragile forms. It is unlikely spells can be cast in this form if gestures and incantations are required, but maybe you got lucky and had a spell that was originally developed in the squeaks of hummingbirds/moths, I don't know your spellbook.

Flitfey- The joy of flight is to be shared! Flitfey are forever trying to get people to fly with them, even if that means leaving out the details of what 'the gift of flight' will actually entail. While the spell only works on the willing, ignorance is no object. Any wingless fairies traveling with Flitfey companions will likely be transformed into hummingbirds or moths when encountered.
Their wings have worth as per gems if recovered, too, you fairy-eating monster
8-Elf Shot
This is magic missile by another name, dealing 1d4+1 damage and manifesting as a bow of light that fires unerring arrows of arcane energy that tweak their effects on the fly to harm anything with HP that is not explicitly protected from magic missile.

There is a human cultural impression that elves are excellent archers and that elvish archery is the best on the planet. This has some truth- elves have good vision and lots of time to practice silly trick shots. In fact though, this impression comes from historically vague depictions of fairy killswarms, deployed in ancient times to hunt and kill anything that threatened the elvish empire. Killswarms(and the many, many variants of magic missile used by humans) are also anti-fairy countermeasures, instantly popping the hard to hit but easy to slay mobile spell platform that is a fairy. Killswarm fairies are angular, lean, and deadly paranoid- in their war, whoever is seen first by the enemy is dead. Whoever falls for bait and fires their Elf Bows at the wrong target, is also dead. As such, they are considerably less trigger-happy than you might expect, and will usually ask questions first and shoot later, and scatter for cover in a mad panic after focus-firing one unlucky target down- they're always expecting the counter-attack from a rival killswarm.

9-Elf Shield
This spell can be cast with a single exhalation of air, not even a full word. It is far from a perfect defense, but it is a VERY fast one, and it is pretty as well, a sort of opalescent shimmer, a rainbow seen only in peripheral vesion. It gives +4 AC to the caster or target, and does not stack with armor. This explains how elves can fight in such ridiculous getups and not die. Most importantly, it blocks Elf Shot, and indeed all variants of magic missile, and it falling into the hands of the Witch-Queens was a big part in the ultimate imprisonment of the high elves in the Iron Moon.

Shieldswarm- Shieldswarms were an attempted counterplay to killswarms that failed for obvious reasons- if the shieldswarm protects itself, a valuable target dies instead. If the shieldswarm protects the target, the shieldswarm is obliterated by elf shot and the shields drop. It was easier to bait out killswarm attacks with Mirror Image, or avoid them with Eye Games, or commandeer them with an Elvish Override. As such, Shieldswarm fairies are basically extinct.

10-FairifyThis spell removes a spell from a book (or whatever the permanent abode of the spellwisp is) and turns it into an adorable fairy that looks fondly upon its creator and can cast infinite uses of a spell. Unlimited power will soon be yours, right? Well...

One of the many downsidesis that the fairy is not particularly intelligent, is overly enthusiastic about using its spell incautiously, and must be treated fairly well (or constantly micromanaged with Elvish Override) to ensure its continued cooperation.
this is you trying to get out of paying your fairies
Treat it as a retainer in terms of getting half-shares of XP and treasure- the treasure goes towards keeping the Fairy happy(their tastes are exotic and varies based on the spell), and the XP is lost from the inevitable consequences of delegating adventuring instead of doing it yourself..

Fairies cast spells with 1 magic die that always rolls a 1/as a level 1 spellcaster with any variables also always rolling 1, and will almost certainly  be subject to many nerfs that the GM finds appropriate, such as Polymorph only affecting one limb at a time or Light manifesting as the fairy glowing as a candle.