Wednesday, October 18, 2017


In times long past, the SCREAMLORDS descended to the bottom-most layers of their ZIGGURATS as GONDWANA fell into decline, in no small part due to the inability of the world to bear their power.

Each layer of the ziggurat contains a phrase of their scream-songs, hidden in the noise of howling monsters or iron hinges squeaking. Woe betide those unable to decipher the song and gain appreciation of ANCIENT GONDWANAN MUSIC, for they will surely rouse the ire of the SCREAMLORD and have naught to defend themselves with.

Layers 1-26 of the Ziggurat- Typical dungeon nonsense, though you can increase your AGMA score by one per level unless the music is just too deep for you

On the first round of combat, the SCREAMLORD asks if the PC's are ready. If they do not raise their torches in assent, the SCREAMLORD will give them 1 round to make ready and take the opportunity to gargle some embalming fluid.

Round 2, or possibly round one
The Ziggurat is destroyed utterly as the SCREAMLORD does the soundcheck on his sound-amplifying staff. Those present who are prepared due to deafness, earplugs at least 4 levels in bard or music or AGMA, survive the initial soundcheck, but all others are annihilated with no save

The Round After That- The song itself starts, and you have a number of rounds equal to your ANCIENT GONDWANAN MUSIC APPRECIATION(That's what AGMA stands for) score before you are destroyed. The world comes to an end if the song is completed and the local area is coming to an end around you

Delaying your Demise & saving the world
Breaking the Staff of Amplification buys everyone another round of existence, but also summons 1d30 GONDWANANS who have returned to life thanks to their appreciation of no-frills live vocal concerts. 1d30 of them are POSERS who actually just have an appreciation for hanging out with their buddies, and 1d30 of them are HARDCORE who will turn on the SCREAMLORD if the slightest hint of plagiarism is revealed to them (requiring a D20 roll under your AGMA score, +Cha mod) to pull off. If there is an overlap of HARDCORE and POSER, treat the overlap as the default GONDWANAN.

Cutting the SCREAMLORDS throat or otherwise damaging their body has no effect on sound quality as they have transcended the need for a physical form(they still have a WANT for a physical form as evidenced by the mummified groupies of level 7), but the manager will summon BACKUP VOCALISTS against the SCREAMLORDS will just in case, which will detract from the purity of the solo performance and cause a cumulative 5% chance per round that the SCREAMLORD will abort the song and storm off to sulk, which will cause any GONDWANANS in the audience to riot.

You may also attempt to supplant the SCREAMLORD's dominion via challenging them to a rock off. You must have either a legendary musical instrument or mythical singing skill to stand a chance, and both are almost certainly required to have more than a one-in-a-million chance. However, you must prove your superiority in half the allotted rounds, as doubling down on the amount of rocking is twice as damaging to the frail and mortal world. Your task could be easier or harder if GONDWANANS have been summoned to either appreciate or hate your tunes

Also probably like 15hd or so and nobody can hear anything

There's no way this will make it into a campaign as is

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Dragon of Sness

It is about 30 feet long, and as tall as a horse at its hump though much thicker. Its hide is plates of interlocking bone, and underneath the seams there is what looks like more bone, but smooth and shiny, not like the rough stuff of the outer hide.  Occasionally the dragon of Sness sheds scales, which can be polished up, the dirt and rough edges filed down, until you find yourself with a smooth and unbreakable dragon scale that can be used as a table, or a door, or a shield, or a dinner plate, or a coaster, or as a coin, depending on size.

The Dragon of Sness crawls around with its head under the ground, plowing up dirt and leaving a trail of earth behind it. Why it does this is a matter of speculation
1- It eats buried corpses, and so is constantly looking for them
2-Its eyeballs are its only weak spots, so it hides its head underground
3-It has very sensitive hearing and underground is the only place it can get peace and quiet
4-It is from a moon, and Helios will smite it if it ever shows its face to the light

Things known about the Dragon of Sness
1- Wolves haven't come near Sness since the Dragon showed up
2- Everyone attempting to kill it has died, so it must be dangerous, and there has never been a scratch seen on the beast itself, so it must be very tough indeed. Visitors and dogs sometimes go missing too. But it has never eaten an inhabitant of Sness, that anyone knows of.
3-It does not truly burrow, and animals do not seem to recognize the great white body as anything to fear- cows rub against it, and sheep lie in the shade cast by its bulk on hot days. If it ever eats them, it does so very infrequently and very cleanly.
4-After it killed Sir Denslry, a bounty of 10,000c was placed on it by the lord of the region at the behest of his distraught daughter, who was to be Sir Denslry's wife.

People who died after swearing they would defeat the dragon of Sness, and what parts of their equipment are on display in the Barrow of Heroes.
1- Sir Denslry- Found drowned in a small stream. Commonly accepted theory is that the dragon tossed him through the air, he hit his head on a streambed rock, and drowned face down after being knocked silly. His gear was recovered by his squire, who was a mere 12 years old and much beloved by the town, so the gear is of wood, and a dragonscale imitation of his heraldic shield.
2- Dratos the Helognostic- Found burned to death and reeking of alcohol. Commonly accepted theory is that his attempt to burn the dragon backfired and the molotovs he carried were all ignited by accident when he was tail-slapped when lighting one. His burned boots are on display.
3-Jalan the troubadour- found beaten to death near town, his plan to poison the beast by pouring poison down a molehill presumably a failure. Probably was trampled and almost made it back to town before succumbing to his wounds, a noble effort considering his crushed genitals. His broken lute and feathered hat are on display.
4-Masked Knight Aradiccio. A brave and noble knight who was found dead with no apparent wounds, perhaps suggesting a poison breath or lethal gaze capability of the dragon. His simulated gear is wood except for the mask, which is an appropriately sized dragon scale with eyeholes painted on- his rapier was never found, which was quite regrettable as all the villagers will describe how valuable it looked. Perhaps in the dragons' hoard, if it has one.
5- Forester Blooker- An exceptionally large and hairy man who preferred the company of animals to humans, he was found dead with several deep puncture wounds in his back, suggesting that the dragon may be quite snaggle-toothed, but with needle-like teeth, perhaps as a snakes. His curious weapon, a sort of battle-shovel, was preserved in the Hall of Heroes, along with one of his braids.
6- Merchant Phillip- Though it was surprising that a merchant would try his hand at dragon slaying, he never returned from the dragon's fields, probably dragged into the dragons earth-mound while still alive, and the town regretfully inherited his oxen, wagon, and vast quantity of fine wine, an empty bottle of which is kept in the Barrow in his memory.
7- Prince Ibn-Al-Haffir and his 20 retainers. Found reeking of alcohol, with throats cut. Low moral character led to the hypothesis that they all had a preemptive celebration, got blackout drunk, and were slaughtered in their sleep by the dragon's claws, or maybe fangs if it has any. His scimitar is on display and is covered with a dark stain of blood, doubtless from his attempted slaying.

Can you deduce the dragon's method of attack or perhaps its weakness? The villagers will urge you to preserve your own life and not to worry about their really quite tolerable predicament, but 10,000c is quite the sum...

8 villages

Koiphos- A fishing village by the sea.
Problem: Fish aren't selling well and village is having trouble obtaining manufactured goods. Everything is falling apart.
Notable Person(s):
Old man Mekephelon. Lives alone out in his shack on the beach. Fell in love with a mermaid once upon a time but that was in the Deep Islands, and he has no boat to return and his memory of the route probably isn't trustworthy.
Special Services: Fishing nets and rods of low quality but great abundance can be purchased for 1c. Going out fishing all day yields 1d6 days worth of food on a successful stat test.

Droi- Seedy town.
Problem: Ravaged by the Worlds Most Evil Dog
Notable Person(s)
Seripos, the old man who people think is the dog's owner but isn't. Needs this misunderstanding cleared up before he's lynched. Actually is the criminal mastermind of the town but is helpless to stop the dog and has lost control of his thugs.
Kalys, Moonlander exorcist who had his spellbook stolen by the Evil Dog. Would be VERY keen to get it back.
Alais- Blonde, perky-nosed assassin from King's Point, out to kill the mayor. She doesn't believe in evil dogs.
Kuruturuduruburu- Entity summoned by (now slaughtered) cult. Won't enter town until Dog is gone. Is wicked, but not unreasonable.
Special Services- Criminal element has a small but quality stash of Elric and moondust.
Has a bank that charges a pretty penny to open an account but doesn't ask where the money came from.

Meirrat- Fruit-harvesting village
Problem- Fruit groves were first plagued by snakes, then birds, now tarantulas. The emir looks poorly upon the lower yields.
Notable Persons- Trapper Alibn. Trapped the snakes in bucket traps, trapped the birds with poisoned nails in branches, but doesn't know what to do about the tarantula. Already accepted payment to get rid of them and spent the money, his hand will be chopped off if he doesn't come up with a solution.
Special Services- Bananas. Long and yellow. The peel is inedible and incredibly slippery. They come from the Beast Islands normally, and Meirrat is one of the very few places in Saresare that they grow.
Trained Tree- Rats- There are lots of rats in the banana farm that have grown friendly and indolent towards humans, and are oft kept as pets.

Blayou- Pigfarmer village.
Problem- Teramis the Witch who hasn't been seen in years has nonetheless been blamed for the theft of a prize hog. She lives somewhere east or west or the village.
Notable Persons- Wut- Village idiot. Common opinion is that he should be traded to the witch for the prize hog. Says 'wut'
Bronsen- Biggest baddest boss of the bog and don't you forget it.
Special Services- Sells piglets and mushrooms for cheap.

Sness- Pastoral highland sheepfarming village
Problem- Local dragon is menace to visitors but has kept Sness wolf-free for decades. It also recently ate a prince who wanted to slay it and now has a bounty of 10,000c on its head.
Notable Persons- Mad Mitty, old widow who has declared herself the dragons bride. Stays well away from it so she can't be THAT mad.
The Janes- Triplet shepherdesses who are the pride of the village (though the dragon is a contender too). Want to marry into wealth and have the looks to do so, but visiting eligible bachelors keep getting eaten.
Special Services- For a copper penny you can tour the Barrow of Heroes, which is where the Sness villagers keep all the shields and armor of would-be dragon slayers, or at least wooden replicas if the originals were lost or reclaimed by interested parties.

Al-Sar- Oasis village between neth and geth but not directly enough to be well-known.
Problem- No problem at all, but visitors must have a cat assigned to them during their visit.
Notable Persons- Baba and Iaba, a cantankerous old couple who aren't as amused by the similarity in name as you are. They have no cats and could tell you a thing or two about the beasts.
Special Services- You may(must) purchase a single kitten to go with you, to guard your pack from rats and insects.

Dostoll- A foresting town.
Problem- The lord in his castle has developed a taste for running down criminals with his dogs, and has had no shortage of criminals. His daughter hasn't been seen in weeks.
Notable Persons- Eagre- a massive man who is clever, strong, but direly ugly, hunchbacked with bulging eyes and protruding tongue. Wants to get out of town.
Hej-upirs- Foreigners from Saresare who run the bakery. Worried about the lord's daughter, their #1 customer
Special Services-The fortress provides safe asylum when moons roll overhead, and there is a crude oil well in the castle basement, meaning flammable oil is quite common (though it makes for dirty and smoky lanterns)

Serint- A farming valley with a tradition of sending youngsters to the old moon temples in the mountains as a rite of passage.
Problem- Strange noises have been heard from the temples and the rite of adulthood has been postponed.
Notable Persons-Derek, young man considered a boy because he fled from the temple. Regrets his cowardice and makes up for it with anger.
Oizan- Heleognostic assigned to village to study moon temples. Believes them to be sinister and is glad the villagers have ceased visiting them.
Special Services- Soporific flowers grow in and around the temples. Whiffs of their crushed bulbs can knock out a small person for a few minutes. Dried, their potency va inhalation is reduced but ingestion potency increases. Normally travelling doctors and alchemists buy the lot, and so prices are high.

Monsters, Mystery, And the Supernatural vs 20 henchmen with crossbows

A player (presumably only half-jokingly) brought up how great and honestly not that expensive it is to hire many mercenary bands to just march in to a dungeon and overwhelm the inhabitants after they did just that, or just stay outside and bombard the place with catapults, or whatever logical strategy having a bunch of troops naturally lends itself to. There's a fun blogpost on this subject here

This sort of thing is well and good for domain-level play when you settle down from adventuring a bit and send troops to destroy or capture other strongholds of mundane (And even slightly magical) natures. Maybe it's even FAIRLY magical and you have some Age-of-Mythology style play with giants-as-siege weapons or whatever.

However! I'd say this is a failure state of the wondrous if it becomes an effective go-to solution to every threat. If 200 guys with crossbows in a skirmish formation can own a dragon, your fantasy isn't fantasy, it's become realism in a rubber suit. And y'know, realism can be fine if that's what you're after, but you have to ask some hard questions. The big one being 'why are monsters not extinct, with prejudice.' And if you come up with an answer to that, 'why are monsters a big deal if a squad of yahoos with spears can take them down?' The real world had big spiky monsters and you know what? Humans killed and ate them and now their remnants are kept around to entertain children and scientists. 
12HD, still deader than disco
So! If a dungeon is just a bunch of less socially organized humans and like, a pet tiger in a cave, your dungeon should probably have been cleared out like a thousand years ago by superior organized forces. And if you've come up with convoluted reasons for your lame dungeon to not have been dismantled by 20 guys with a bad attitude, (Or hell, even a good simple reason like 'island far from any society') you still probably don't have any answers as to why the players shouldn't be able to hire 20 guys with bad attitude to take it apart, and so either you give the players a strategic victory or you have to talk them back down into senseless genre conventions for the sake of the game. And though it may seem like I'm badmouthing those options, so long as everyone is having fun, it's fine- players who understand and stick to genre options are great, and stomping a lame house-of-cards dungeon with an unorthodox strategy is great too.

But! It's not very fantastical to have the players reduced to troop commanders who exploit quantity over quality, and it usually pretty much invalidates even pretending to care about the rulebook. RIP mythic age of heroes and monsters, hello Advanced Squad Leader.
Apparently this is some sicknasty hardcore World War Whatever action
And if you're playing  a Fantasy Role-Playing game and want to keep the FANTASY part relevant, you can either have players who will intentionally act stupid and gimp themselves for the sake of the genre, OR you make a setting that actually supports the genre and is internally consistent so the players can play smart without metagaming.
This is the heroes journey which, while not 100% relevant to RPG games due to the unscripted and emergent plot, isn't 100% irrelevant either. I've made a simplified version as related to my ideas about fantasy roleplaying and how to keep it from degenerating into a very modern affair with standardized tactics and the domination of more powerful but ultimately mortal creatures by 20 humans with spears.
Yeah that's the Orb

A dungeon full of goblins, hell even a cave with a dragon- that's Known at this point. Werewolves, vampires, you know how to deal with that crap. It's no wonder some players want to establish a basecamp and have a bunch of hirelings do that dirty work for them- it's a known problem with known solutions. Why WOULD they walk into a dank murdercave with 4 guys when they could besiege the place with 20 guys? You can't pull the 'uhhh NPCs are too scared to adventure' if adventuring is basically no different from being a soldier fighting humans and maybe something scary like a helicopter- sorry, 'Dragon' every so often.

So, how to keep the game within the reins of an RPG and not a logistical wargame? Social stuff like 'oh only lords can legally muster troops' and so on only delays or obfuscates the issue
Exhibit A- <Monster> can only be hit by magical weapons.
 Demons, golems, elementals, many undead. Don't have a magic weapon? Then you can't fight it really effectively. This effect really got weaksauce in later editions, turning it into 'well it's just 5 damage reduction so if you're a big strong boi with 18 str which of course you are, you can fight it anyway it just takes a while and shouldn't your GM have given you some appropriate wealth by level and magic items to keep things balanced?' and man that was missing the point hard.
The point being that if a monster like that showed up, ANY NUMBER of NPCs are screwed.
go watch Big Trouble in Little China instead of this blog
The cops have better things to do than get killed!
You don't need an army, you need an exorcist or a hero. You need someone whose seen the Unknown and got stronger for it. Of course, people like that are a little Unknown themselves and probably aren't trusted. But if the alternative is licking mud off the hooves of Mayor Imp, well, you can probably tolerate some weirdos for a bit.

Exhibit B
This is from the Nightmares Underneath Free Edition, of course

Saying 'you might die fighting some goblins' is one thing. Saying 'you'll probably go mad from corruption and have your dreams and soul harvested by unknowable darkness as fuel for another blight upon creation if you spend even ONE HOUR in a dungeon' is a whole 'nother can of worms. If you marched 100 men into a nightmare incursion (the dungeons of the game) you're probably going to end up with like 5 more nightmares and like 50 lunatics. Nice job.

The threat of corruption by the 'Other World' or the 'Unknown' is honestly a lot more terrifying than mere death, and it's a venerable trope in both literature (See all those norse heroes corrupted by cursed treasure) and in D&D (spawn-creating undead, baby). If hordes of humans can quickly be twisted into hordes of monsters, well, keeping your group to a tight band of fearless heroes and leaving the henchmen at home starts to make a lot more sense.

Similar concepts get brought up in the Mythic Underworld concept, where the dungeon itself is a liminal space between location and enemy- the dungeon ITSELF is a warped reality trying to kill you, not a safe and known pile of bricks that you can respectably and predictably besiege.

Exhibit C- Dungeons tend to be tight spaces where not more than 1-6 men can fight at one time. If they get matched up against individually superior foes and can't use their numbers, a tagalong army can start looking more like a waste of dice rolls. Also, morale checks and logistics can become a threat worse than the actual whatever it is that made you want an army in the first place.

Anyway. It's good to think about what your setting is meant to be so you can in turn come up with ways to make a setting that supports the verisimilitude of a narrative of exceptional individuals, without relying too much on 'just cuz.' If a lot of problems could be solved by 20 guys with a crossbow, you really need either better problems, or at least better mass-combat rules because everything is gonna come down to numbers and grand strategy, not how much big Bruno The Barbarian's biceps are.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall of the Korozong After-Action-Report, and GM Rambling

So the recent adventures of the players in the BFRPG game I run/ran depending on your time of reading, Sarkomand's Fault, was to unite various disparate factions and stomp a bunch of oppressive mutant cannibal ghoul demon-worshippers and their volcano-demon-god into the dust.

I don't plan on a blow by blow session account because there's already a session log for that and the people most likely to care were already there. But it was a very successful case of the sort of emergent gameplay that OSR style play is about. An epic battle against pure evil is the stuff a great many story based campaigns are supposed to be based around, and a great many story based campaigns crash and burn a few sessions in because either the GM strangles the life out of the players with a crushing grip on their shoulders steering them through the 'plot' or the players derail the campaign in another direction and the GM is forced to walk the plank into an ocean of his own salty tears because he had no interest in running a game and only wanted players so that his novel would have a captive audience.

Another great thing was how a lot of old bits of the campaign resurfaced to relevancy. This wasn't a case of me carefully planning out for the players to just so happen to have key evil defeating elements, oh no. They hired a demonology expert a long time ago to help advise them how to face a succubus without getting brainwashed, and that demonology savant also made mention of greater demons who cause/live in volcanos and are destroyed by sunlight.

But of course, the greater demon in question (A Vega) has access to the Darkness spell, so is sure to block out the sun with a disk of darkness before ever emerging from the lava where it resides.
But one player had a Continual Light-enchanted glowing bell-clapper, which could dispel the darkness. So the thief was able to climb up with that and dispel a hole in the darkness and so destroy the demon as the others kept it in place with heroic last stands (that turned out to be not last-stands at all thanks to multiple natural 20s allowing them to catch themselves on a growing rope of people and actual rope as the Vega hurled them into the volcano one by one)

Also successful- the use of NPCs. The classic bad use of NPC is to have some uberwizard follow the players around holding their hand and showing off his badassedness while the players are made to feel like 3rd wheels.
These NPCs were along for the ride because the players wanted them to be, though. The Riikhite sun paladins, the fallen-from-star-trek-tech-levels King Gondalo, a retired PC turned leader of barbarians and new prophet of the Jackal God... they had history with the PC's, but for the most part it was history the PC's had a choice in making, not tomes of backstory vomited upon them or GMPC's tagging along. And though they were a little higher level than the PCs, they didn't get any special treatment- I was fully prepared for each and every one of the NPCs to die horribly if that's what the dice said. Instead, they served to give support at key moments, had some tense 'are they gonna die' moments that they barely squeaked through, and the players still had the lion's share of cool moments. Which, even in  a merciless meatgrinder OSR campaign, is how it should be.

Speaking of, this was a nice change of tone for the campaign, even if its only temporary. A lot of it has been the players sliding quickly into dark moral grey areas for power, then realizing that there wasn't exactly a super-shiny heroic option to begin with. Or the simple realization that they fucked up, like when they got Castle Gondalo shrunken to 1/1000th scale by ifrit who definitely were more vengeful and less reasonable than initially hoped. Or unleashing the snake-supremacist Reptile King after leading a killsquad of fomorian giant adventurers to a poorly-defended but friendlyish snake encampment in the hopes of killing some sketchy bandits being employed by said snakes.

So! Having a moment where they killed a bunch of of demon-worshipping undead cannibals AND their evil demon-volcano god who had been enslaving the local mutant amazons and leading them against other human settlements for human sacrifices, via leading a diverse collection of people they had helped was nice because they got to be Big Damn Heroes for a change, instead of Jerkass Murderhobos, and their victory wasn't tainted by 'well we sorta won but now unleashed something even worse.' And they worked for it on their own account, with their own money and own schemes and own desire to do this. No GM meddling on my part, they were free to do as they pleased. Good times for everyone. They won against a small army of ghouls and a seriously nasty demon and made the world a better place of entirely their own volition.

(Also the RNG was on-point that night, dramatically speaking. D20 games can be swingy as hell,  and while that's good for tension and unexpected developments, it's pretty shit for 'standard' drama graphs with a build and climax. Which is why you shouldn't try to build in plots that require standard drama graphs. Don't do it! Don't you do it! But I have to admit it's cool when it emerges naturally)

Waxing nostalgic for something that happened 2 days ago (as of this writing) is well and good but I also want to bring something up on the GMing side of things. Actually, no I don't, not in this post.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

World of the Wolf Moons, Painted In Broad Strokes
Stuff to Do The thematic elements of the game are somewhat divided by geographic location. As
players this is good to read to get an idea of what sounds nifty and where you'd like to adventure.


The Noonlands, King's Point and Queen's Coast are where you'd go for political scheming between rival kings and queens and their Lords and Ladies in their castles scattered throughout the land. Overt violence is rare, but not at all unheard of, and there's plenty of fleeing to mountain monasteries to hide from wicked knights and plots to steal the pope and similar nonsense. People are the interesting part of this landscape. King's Point is where the seedy criminal business and stupid plans come to fruition, whereas Queen's Coast tries to hold itself to higher standards of refinement and upstandingness.

Heliologos is where you'd go to have wizard-school shenanigans among a bunch of wine and sun-drenched islanders, with new entertainments coming in monthly from the Beast Islands and stranger things coming from the Astral Gate, if you can get access to it. Good if the entire party is wizards, or if the party wants to blow off some steam with a weird cross-world adventure.

Geth is in the Noonlands and has a lot of politicking between the offspring of the Caliph. And within the old city below, it also has a heavy criminal and 'heist' element in the underclass- rooftop runnings and sewer crawlings alike. And below the city that is below the city, is a Megadungeon, a layer cake of the Geths of old, buried but not dead. The entire campaign could take place within Geth, if a citycrawl is what was wanted.

Roads lead to established setpieces, generally villages and fortresses. Going offroad leads to strangeness. These are frontier regions, with warring barons in keeps and castles every 10 miles or so claiming land for King, Queen, Prince, or even themselves.
Vint- A port city that the Blood Moon has never risen over directly. Doesn't believe in the Scourge, attributing it to peasant superstition and baronial mismanagement. Vint is a city of sea merchants who build boats and sell boats and use their many boats to extend military power down the coast. Vint is a city in denial, blind to the creeping scourge rats in the sewers and the serial killer nobles in their ranks, and you should go here if you want to be a street-sweeping vigilante out to either clean up the city and wake up the ignorant populace, or to do dirty deeds that must be done and let the city stay blissfully ignorant of its own problems.

Savoth is a foresting city, and while they see the Blood Moon every so often, their Scourge incidence is pretty low and they do not fear their forests from which they get their wood. Savoth is a craftsmans city, producing goods so Vint can trade them. Foresters who aren't from small villages are generally from Savoth, and it's a good frontier outpost for adventure. Go here to boast about slain beasts and make boisterous friends in taverns, and to meet people too radical for Vint.

Prince's Spit has masked knights and swashbucklering duels and 2nd-story streets over swamp canals and foreign embassies and parties constantly and lots of romantic intrigue and all in all it's a good place for upper-class drama queens and poets and lower class gossips and rumormongers. Go here if you wanna be fancy and political, but don't want to leave your rapier and history of wrongs at the door like you would in Queen's Coast.

The Canal of The Bog- A line of castles watching over a crumbling canal across the Daylit kingdoms, ruled by lords fair and foul, in a terrain that even the rustic swampfolk admit is a little unpleasant. Feudalism and swamp banjos- come here if you've been reading the feudalism posts at coins and scrolls and want some of that, and/or if you want to go on swamp adventures and roll for diseases and rusty armor all while trying to retrieve a prize pig from probably a witch or something. It's like redneck king Arthur.

Neth- The closest thing to vanilla 'The Nightmares Underneath' style play. Invest in institutions, gain in social class and advance through the 3 walls of wood, stone, and iron to the mountain court of the New Caliph, maybe do light wilderness exploration and town roleplaying, and make most of your money retrieving anchors from nightmare realms and selling them to sketchy dudes while patting yourself on the back for vanquishing a nightmare. Meet weird desert cults, little oasis villages, exotic nomads, but rest assured that so long as the nightmares do not grow unchecked, you can protect the Law from the onslaughts of chaos

Random Villages and Random Beast Islands of the Daylit Kingdoms- Each village has a few interesting NPCs, a few interesting bits of local history, maybe a dungeon, maybe a monster, maybe a cruel overlord, maybe a poisoned well, maybe this, maybe that. Go muck about in the towns and villages if you like 'a stranger comes to town' style plots and exploration without it being a grueling expedition through empty wastes.
Around Vint and Savoth, it's more 'Grimm's Fairy Tales'
Around Saresare it's more 'Arabian Nights'
Naturally the beast islands are more 'gulliver's travels' with a bit of Pirates of The Caribbean , on account of the necessity for boats.

The Moonlands
Wilderness crawling with very few established areas. Charts and random rolls determine what is over the next hilltop, and the ruling forces are Moons and Monsters, not Men. Beware!

It's scary out here. In the daylands, villages are notable if they have a monster nearby. In the moonlands, monsters are everywhere. No one knows what all is out there in the moonlands, because nobody with a lick of sense takes one more step away from their place of safety than they have to. The Moons hang, low and leering, not for hours, but for weeks- Helios isn't coming to chase them off, they only leave when they're good and ready. And without the moons, there are only the stars, and you need a torch to see- and the dim light of Helios chasing off a Moon in the nearby Daylands only does you any good if the moon was vaguely in your direction- you can go to sleep 4 times without seeing even indirect sunlight, some times.

Vint-Savoth- Scourged nobles, twisted and strange, in castles long forgotten by the wars of men. Villages swallowed by the woods, or turned to moon-worship and druidry. Primordial Wolf-Spirits that have never seen a man, and aren't impressed. Foresters too experienced for their own good patrolling a frontier overrun by monsters. And the Blood Moon, never too far away. Come here if you seek darkness and the beast within man, but stay away if you fear the forest.

War. Wonder. Murder. Wander. Weirder. Border. Etymology unclear. There are grim fortresses, some still manned by men and guarding villages, others lost to the dark and lying in wait. There are roving barbarians, disciples of Demurge, the cruelest god of man, but still one of men's gods. Those turning foolishly to the gods of the outer dark will find the torments of Demurge soft-handed indeed. The moon of Winter hangs heavy in this realm, and sources of flame are essential. The Worderlands are a vast wilderness of strangeness and pockets of civilization too far apart to be said to be of any united civilization.Come here if you have grown weary of civilized men, their lies and laws, and seek strangeness and solitude, and perhaps if you seek something that can be found nowhere else.

Black Dunes-Though the sand is not actually black, this desert lies in perpetual shadow- the dim light of Helios in Saresare is blocked by the mountains. It is said this is the land of Death, and those seeking death are sure to find it. Come here if you have business in the underworld, otherwise stay away- your time in the lands of shade will come soon enough, mortal.

Legless Jungle- An abominable and otherworldly place known only by the ramblings of madmen and the unlawful depravities of strange cults that claim asociation. Lurid and fleshy fictions of that place are spun by transgressive storytellers, and occasionally strange golden worm-idols are sold in markets, allegedly from that place, but it is beyond the realm of conventional knowledge. If even one in a hundred stories are true, there is no sane reason to go here.

Auroral Reaches-Strange heights indeed, locked behind a frozen sea. These mountains have few clouds, just shimmering lights, and are tall enough to reach the drifting moons, and perhaps the sky beyond, if one is mad and skilled enough to make the climb and leave the realms of Man behind. Come here if you seek audience with the celestial and divine.

Deep Islands- Beast Islands locked in sheets of ice far from the light of helios, or simply dark and treacherous places where luminescent fish are kept in water-filled jars in the absence of oil to burn for light. Those who dare the black sea are brave indeed, but it is not a place without a certain morbid charm, and the islands, dotted like stars, range from monster-haunted spits of rock to thriving whaling towns- though the term is inept, for it is not whales that swim in the black sea. Come here if you have a stalwart crew and a need to find what is not only unmapped, but so far off the edge of the map that you may as well have sailed off the face of the sea.

Old Empire- The emperor being Ice, or Darkness, or the King of Moons, depending on who you ask. The ice was there before, and it will be there after. Perhaps there's something out there, Beyond.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Noonlanders, Daylanders, and Moonlanders random backgrounds

it' 5:16 am and WHAT is that banging noise from the walls ??? probs needs some editing
these are independent of class and starter equipment, though there may be slight bonuses to each

1- Near Beast Islander
3-King's Point
5-Queens Coast
6- Pick once or roll twice or Exotic

1-Vint or Savoth
2-Beast Islands
3-Prince's Spit
6 -Pick once or roll twice or Exotic

1-Vint-Savoth Wildman
2-Saresaren Nomad
3-Lost Bay Ice Wrecker
5-Deep Islands
6-FROM BEYOND(okay probably not, roll again and if it's a 6 you're from beyond, otherwise exotic)

Near Beast Islanders
1-You are from one of the port cities of the Beast Islands. You have the Sailor skill, and are totally jaded to other cultures- you've seen Noonlanders ranting about how guns are an affront to the divine mandate of the rule of kings, you've seen Saresarens who thought Noonlanders are superstitious barbarians, you've seen a man from Vint-Savoth who swore to never come within sight of a living tree again.

2- You are (or were) a scurvy no good rotten pirate, until THIS happened
and you got 1 coin out of a treasure of thousands, maybe millions. Start with the Logic skill, a strong distrust of pirates, and the knowledge that I plagiarized this background from Coins n Scrolls but couldn't find the right link

3-You spent a brief stint as a Beast for a Beast Bottler, until you were soundly trounced by a half-man half-lobster that breathed fire in an arena match and both you and your Beast Bottler agreed that this really wasn't working out. Start out with a wicked nasty scar, the Gladiator skill, and no fear of monsters, possibly be cause you looked out on the bloodthirsty crowd and decided MAN was the real monster, or possibly just because nothing can compare to that man-lobster.

4- You have never seen the Winter Moon and prefer to go around shirtless all the time, just like on the banana farm. Heat doesn't encumber you, but Cold does so doubly. Gain the Farmer and Climbing skills.

5-You served on a merchant vessel, and either stole from them (gain a gold coin) or served loyally and made a friend (gain a retainer). Either way, you also learned how to be a Sailor.

6- You were a stowaway. Either you were caught and thrown overboard and spent 3 days in the briny deep 'hallucinating' sea nymphs (+2 reaction rolls to sea things and Swimming) or the crew never found you (gain Stealth as a skill)

1-Once upon a time, Helios stayed for 24 hours straight. That was the day you were passed out blind stinking drunk in the sun, and you baked half your body black as night in the raging heat and almost died. But you didn't, which is impressive to other worshippers of Helios and you've spent a lot of time talking to priests about it in exchange for free temple wine. Get the Theology skill and a bottle of wine.
2-You worked the vinyards of the noonday sun, as your parents did, and their parents, and so on. Gain the Farmer skill, and the Wine Snob skill- no matter your origins, your taste in wine is exquisite. Drinking low-quality wine doesn't make you happy drunk, it makes you an angry one. Like, hulk angry. It's amazing to see, but probably has a lot to do with why you're a scurvy adventurer instead of a respectable grape-grower.
3- A guy in a rowboat can make it from Heliologos to the coast. You were that guy. Gain the Smuggler skill and an item so illegal that you can't find a place to sell it- but it's worth 1000c if you do.
4- Yeah, you were ALMOST a wizard, it's no big deal. Start with either 1 spell, or +1 magic die per day due to innate magical skill. If you're actually a sage, instead start with 1 gold coin- pfft, you don't need to graduate, you learned enough freshman year AND saved a pretty penny in wizard loans.
5-Pearl Diver- Diving in the Noon Sea is great- it's warm near the surface, refreshingly chilly below, and the days are long and bright so pearl clams are easy to find. Gain the swimming skill, and  the first pearl you found, which will crumble and save you from your first failed save, or is worth 50 coins
6-You grew up on Heliologos, and you know what? It was too damn hot. Maybe you had a Moonlander ancestor or something, but you are sick and tired of seeing that daystar. Reroll your HP with advantage after long rests where you don't see the sun, but with disadvantage where you do. Gain the Astronomer skill, so you know when that hot bastard is coming.

King's Point
1-You know what they call people from King's Point? King's Pricks. And people like YOU are the reason why. Write down as many people who you've wronged as you can in 2 minutes, and get an appropriate item for each, and of course their eternal enmity. Gain the Con Artist skill.

2- They also say that if you came from King's Point you also came from the King's Point, if ya know what I'm sayin, because King's Point runs on crude sexual innuendo and seaminess. You can tell people you're a bastard of the king himself, and there's a 1/6 chance it's true. Either way, you don't know your father and have the Street Rat skill.

3-You were a privateer, which means you were a state-sanctioned pirate. Gain the Pirate skill and a pistol, though you better keep that a secret when in the Kingdoms of Day. And maybe find some bullets too.

4- You have 1 goat that probably isn't yours. It can be ill-tempered billy that butts everything, or an ill-tempered nanny goat that you'd rather throw off a boat than try milking. Gain Goatherd as a skill and know of a secret path through the mountains to something kinda neat.

5-You were conscripted once. Start with a wooden shield and spear and a rough idea of which is which. You either did nothing in the war but used the experience to lord over your fellows and earned their hatred and a gold coin, or you fought bravely for your liege lord on the front lines and got diddly squat, but at least the younger males in your extended family think you're a cool veteran guy. Gain the Soldier skill.

6- You either were a prostitute, or were on the managerial side of things, depending on if you want the Prostitute skill or the Pimp skill. Due to your refined taste in ale and whores, you are great to go carousing with, and you and everyone with you rolls with advantage on carousing tables.

1- There's a stereotype that Geth is full of corrupt but extremely dogmatic bureaucrats. Gain the Law skill, and your choice of 1 gold coin or 1 Faith Point with the Law.

2- The other stereotype is that Geth is full of beastmen, on account of all the zoophilia those filthy foreigners undoubtedly get up to. Interestingly, Geth has the same rumors about Noonlanders. Anyway, mutant freaks like yourself are probably the source of these rumors- you're basically a beastman and you don't know why. Reroll on this chart, and if you get this again, not only are you a weird mutant, you're an orphan Street Rat.

3-Geth has a city below the city, and it's not a nice place. You grew up there- gain the Street Rat skill, and an antique but effective something or other from the city that's below the city below the city. It's cities all the way down, man. Your antique whatever can be magical, but if so, it's also a Nightmare Anchor, whatever that means. Probably nothing to worry about.

4-One way in which Geth holds itself to be much more civilized than the Daylit kingdoms is that there are professional soldiers in the middle class who work constantly to defend Saresare from whatever it needs defending from, rather than the Daylit method of nobles with a monopoly on violence and hordes of hastily conscripted peasant militia. Gain the Soldier skill and a shining scimitar that marks you as a noble defender of Geth, though you probably have some explaining to do as to why you aren't currently nobly defending Geth right now. Or maybe you are?

5- Another way in which Geth asserts superiority over the western barbarians is that anyone can become a noble, simply by becoming rich enough. Easier said than done, but there's at least the pretense of rising through the social classes. Gain the Merchant skill and a foggy grey area of whether you're a real noble fop entitled to do nothing in particular, or just a merchant offspring who should get into the family business.

6- Of course, the REAL noble is the caliph, and all the towers of 'nobles' that spring up around the palace like a forest pale in comparison to the true leader of Saresare. Anyway, being a son or daughter of the caliph is hard work, 'cause they're always trying to kill each other and there's no concept of being a bastard in Saresare- EVERY haremspawn is potentially legitimately the next Caliph. It's no wonder you have the Disguise skill and have left the palace behind. It's a madhouse!

Queens Coast
1- You have documents proving you are an official Heleognostic court wizard. If you aren't a sage, this probably means you tried stealing ones identity, and have Disguise and 1 GP and probably a bounty on you. If you ARE a sage, well, good for you- you have a noble sponsor who is probably wondering why you aren't doing wizard things for them right now, and the Etiquette skill

2-The peasants of the Queen's Coast have it pretty good- the nationalistic love for the Queen, deep religious convictions, and overall sense of community even between rival lords keeps everyone getting along pretty well, and the alliance with Heliologos means that even though you're a filthy Farmer, you're used to seeing the occasional miracle and even had a lucky scroll written for you by a saintly Heleognostic. If you ever see a Moon though you'll probably either faint or be so outraged that you decide to fight it, right then and there.

3-The monks of the Queen's Coast are actually in the mountains and have some interplay with King's Point, but the exact politics aren't important. What is important is that they're safeish places to hide away troublesome or valuable persons, and they administer Theology like a sheriff administers Justice. If you're faithful, you stared at Helios with one eye till it went blind, though it can see magic stuff. If you're unfaithful, you were probably in the abbey only semi-willingly and may have nicked something on your way out as payback against the tyrannous Sister Hekos

4-Being a sailor in the Queen's Navy means you do a lot of chasing pirates and not a lot of catching pirates. Gain the Sailing skill and the ability to make the best out of disappointment and keep your spirits up- whenever a vile enemy escapes, or you fail to get treasure, or otherwise suffer a significant loss, you can reroll your HP.

5-You were a Sheepherder, and were gifted a wool sweater that is totally useless in the Noonlands, but looks so warm you kinda want to go to the Moonlands to try it out. You also have a sickly lamb, whatever good that does you.

6-You were conscripted into a war between some lesser lords, both of whom served the Queen. It kinda soured you on the whole patriotism thing, but you did learn how to use a bow, which was neat. Soldier skill, bow and 24 arrows, and a certain cynicism.

Vint or Savoth
1-Vint is slightly in denial about the Scourge of the Beast. Savoth is only in denial about how bad the Scourge is. Your own powerful delusion will protect you from the first scourge point or mutation you get, and from the first fear check you get upon seeing the Scourge in action. You have an innocuous city profession, like Barber or Baker or Candlestick Maker.
2-People who live in the lower-income district have fewer illusions. You've seen scourged rats, and now you can make a dagger from ANYTHING, and you REALLY don't like being without a dagger. Gain the Street Rat skill.
3-Vint builds a lot of ships, but aren't big sailors themselves. Gain the Carpenter skill and an aesthetic appreciation for boats, but only from a distance. There's a 1/20 chance per 5 years of age you got that you worked on any given ship you encounter. Start with a hammer and nails.
4- Savoth has a nice big lumber industry, and for that, it needs nice big lumberjacks. You start with a huge woodcutting axe and you roll with advantage when regaining HP on lunch breaks if you can eat twice as much as is natural.
5-You're actually from a village between Vint and Savoth, near the small forest where they train Foresters. You start with a torch and pitchfork and a nose for trouble- Gain Stableboy as a skill and horses trust you implicitly if you are seized with nameless dread, which you often are.
6-You are an Astronomer who has studied the Blood Moon extensively, and are frankly disappointed you haven't seen it in person. Start with Astronomy and a spyglass, and a dozen crudely written requests to come work in various backwater village in Vint-Savoth. And a few almost creepily well-written ones too.

Beast Islands
1- You have an outrageous tale of a seamonster. 1/6 chance of it being absolutely true. Fisherman skill.
2-You have a crusty old treasure map to buried pirate treasure. Your skill is 'Village Idiot' but you're pretty sure THIS treasure map is 100% legit.
3-You were a Sailor, but you were shipwrecked in uncharted waters and survived a year on a forsaken island before being rescued. You either turned to Religion, or to Cannibalism to endure your ordeal.
4-You were a Slaver. Either you are a soulless but wealthy bastard (+1 gold coin) or you have a freed slave who rather counterintuitively swore to be your slave as thanks for freeing them, and a reputation as a soft-hearted fool.
5- You were a gambling man who bet on hardcore Beast Battler matches. Either you tried to fix a match and were run out of the bizness (Con Artist skill, off-limits island) or you were a legit Gambler who just ran out of luck (debt of 1000c) and had to come up with a get rich quick scheme fast
6- You were a pirate, but after seeing some seriously creepy stuff after Skull passed over head, you decided you wanted to be a pirate somewhere else. You are slightly haunted by a dead crewmate when on the high seas whenever Skull comes by- for a ghost they're pretty alright.

Princes's Spit
1-Everyone knows about the elegant masked knights of the Prince, and how it is said one of them IS secretly the prince. You write poetry in the hopes of meeting this prince and joining their illustrious ranks
2-Slightly less elegant are the Bog Castles of the Canal and the muddy peasant battles in those swampy fields of blood. Conscripted soldier, you either deserted and lost your gear, or stuck around and have defense 4 wooden armor and a halberd, and a nasty scar that just makes you ugly, not badass.
3-Another popular destination for conscripts is the shores of Saresare, where the forces of light battle the forces of barbarism. Gain the soldiers skill, a crossbow with 12 shots, and 1d6 outrageous lies about Saresarens that people in the kingdoms of day will totally believe.
4-Also not elegant- the white canals of the capital city? Yeah, you gotta scrape those suckers daily or the algae turns 'em green. Gain the Gutter Rat skill and being Dirty no longer encumbers you.
5-And guess who maintains all those elegantly trailing rosebushes in the upper levels of the city? Not the Prince, that's for sure. Gain Religion as your skill and a point of favor with Our Lady of Gardens, and become immune to plant thorns.
6-Ah yes, a young Masked Knight, out on a quest for glory and adventure in shining armor and a porcelain mask. Anyway, you're his butler, and you have to keep the poor bastard alive by any means necessary, or your head's on the line too. At least the pay is good- take 1 gold coin

1-You know the music skill (banjo) and have 200 feet of rope. That's all anyone knows about you.
2-If the mountains of King's Point has goats, and the valleys of the Queens Coast has sheep, well, the bogs of Prince's Spit has pigs. You are a Pig herder and your choice of a possibly oracular piglet or a mighty boar that you can ride into battle.
3-You gain the swimming skill, and can swim in anything that's arguably liquid if you're unarmored. Being Dirty and Wet does not encumber you, as you a a true Bogbilly, born and bred.
4-Your momma was a witch, or maybe you just got on good terms with a witch. You have no real grasp on how magical or not she really is, but you have Herbalism as a skill and your witch is your closest confidant.
5-Make up 1d6 ridiculous lies about the bog. Anyone not from the bog will not believe you until they are in the bog themselves, anyone from the bog will go along with these lies to play pranks on outsiders. Con Artist as skill.
6- Under the light of a forgotten moon, in the depths of the swamp, you perfected a device that haunts your dreams- the still that produces alcohol from ANYTHING. Brewery skill, and a sad story of how you lost this miraculous contraption, which has a 1/6 chance of being a delusional vision from a nightmare incursion.

1-Outsiders think Neth and Geth are awful similar because they're both Saresaren. They're fools, and you have the intricate knowledge of History to prove it. You also have 10 horns of gunpowder, and only you know why.
2-Neth has many more foreigners than Geth, and the offices of Mercy use the Law to determine how best to convert these barbarians into productive members of society. Gain skill in Law and a barbaric follower from helios-knows-where.
3-Neth is a 3-ringed city- the destitute outside the walls, the poor behind the wooden walls, the wealthy behind the stone walls, and the rich behind the iron fence that encircles the mountain. If you're a thief though, you go wherever you want- take disguise or stealth, and an extra 50c
4-Neth also has a lot of tribesmen and weird monks from the mountains and desert who decide the city is a lot safer. You're one of 'em. Take Hunter or Herder, and a longbow or a donkey.
5-Neth also has mines, awkwardly in the central mountain where the rich live. Gain the miner skill and an unworked gemstone that you hope is worth lots.
6-Neth also has churchcourts of the Law- but the truly pious seek the Vulch who live in the abandoned slums. Gain Singing and a strong stomach as skills from hanging out with Vulch too much

Vint-Savoth Wildman
1-You've lived in a village under a dark castle your whole life. The nobles there are inhuman, and have done away with outsiders who tried to help and your fellows who tried to leave. Gain Lumberjack as your skill and have intimate knowledge of a type of monster that no one else really believes exists
2-No one is coming to save you, so you saved yourself first. Gain the Forester skill- you can live in forests like a wild animal, and did so. For years. You even made an animal buddy.
3-You live on the cold, dark edges of the forest. It's normal for trees to be white snow and black needles, in your mind. Cold does not encumber you, and you feel the need to check your own breathing if you can't see your breath. But better the frozen wilderness than the soft townsfolks nearer to day- the beasts come for them first. Your skill is Winter, as is your soul.
4-You traveled with a band of vagabonds in a wagon. Bandit is a strong word- the people you stole from were all mostly dead already. You can take Music as your skill instead, but if you do, you couldn't save your friends in the wagon.
5-The village suffered from the scourge, it's true. But the fruit trees were so wonderful, no one wanted to move, and so you stayed. Start with a bizarre trick weapon endemic to your village. Take the Farmer skill.
6-You survived in a secret way. Take the Graverobber as a skill, and you are amazing at playing dead. Your shovel works as a weapon, and you have a grave good that is magical and a nightmare anchor, if you wish.

Saresaren Nomad
1-You were a supplier of Lotus for a monastery in the mountains, until one day their gates closed and this profitable trade route ended. Your skill is Trader, and your goods are three bundles of Lotus.
2-You have seen the Black Dunes, and behind the white stars, where the black stars hang. Gain a spell, and the Astronomy skill.
3-You are an escaped slave from the legless ones. Your tales of terror are too horrible to be believed, but are unfortunately all true. Take the Servant skill and an egg that you hoped would prove your story, but now must be destroyed before it hatches.
4- The desert is cold, and so your tribe makes tents big enough for the horses. People make obvious jokes, but you have a horse, and they do not., and so you forgive them their jealousy. Anyone can ride, but you are a Rider. You have a shortbow and 12 arrows too.
5-You are  a dervish, also known as 'those lunatics who fight with two swords and spinning.' You are offended by this stereotyping, and are in fact a poet of no common skill. Also you have two swords.
6- Why go to all the trouble of walking and riding around when you could just have your 20 pound eagle do all the hunting and fetching for you? Your eagle is perfectly trained, though you gotta feed it meat scraps.

Lost Bay Ice Wrecker
1-You are an Icecrafter. You can make an igloo out of snow, you can carve a canoe out of ice, you can even make serrated knives from ice. You're a bit sick of ice at this point, honestly.
2-There are a lot of strange animals in the cold waters at the ice-cliffs at the end of the Lost Bay. You mostly club them to death, skin them, and eat them, but this has made you a master of Anatomy.
3-You work as a raider for supplies. It's nothing personal, the sacking of Saresaren and Daylit Kingdom villages- but you really need the food, and you can trade goods of one place at the other place for even more food. You either focused more on the land bits as a Trader, in which case you have 20 days food, or on the boat-raiding bits, in which case, sailor and a Torch-Axe (the Torxe), which is an unwieldy torch with an axeblade in it.
4-You are a Bonecrafter. Arms and armor of bone are easy peasy for you. Stone is kinda like the bones of the earth too- if you ever learn Architecture, you'll be a natural. Take a chisel and a bone weapon and up to 4 points of bone armor.
5-You always thought outside the box. Like, why does your tribe insist on staying near this stupid ice sheet instead of sailing down the coast to warmer climes? You really didn't like the answer, or the taboo that made you get kicked out afterwards, but oh well. Gain Forbidden Knowledge.
6-You know the Siren Song of The Cold Shore, which makes boats wreck themselves. You feel bad for wrecking the boats- they didn't do anything wrong. People are trash though. Singing is your skill, but you don't think other people deserve to hear it.

1-Make up a moon. You've seen it. You have something from it. May Helios have mercy. Forbidden Knowledge.
2-You serve the Lord of Catastrophe. Gain the religion skill and 1 point of favor with Demurge. Also start with a really nasty serrated axe.
3-You were conscripted into one of the many wars between the border lords. Luckily all you had to do was hold torches so the 'real' warriors could see. Man, that battle was a really bad idea. Gain the soldier skill, and a friendly torchboy from the other side who deserted with you
4-You live on the edge, herding shaggy yaks, through hills that might be covered in glacier when next you return. You have an uncanny ear for when hearing Noonlanders complain about the cold, and can impress them with stories of REAL cold, though they may end up feeling one-upped and get spiteful. In any case, yak herding is hard and it's made you real good at wrestling big things- +1 to all grappling attempts, and +2 if you're doing it naked while all greased up in animal fat.
5-The name is a cross of Borderlands, Warlands, and Wanderlands. You think. You'll get to the bottom of who is supposed to be the liege lord of who out here someday, and then you'll be the most famous historian ever! You have a journal that has so many notes that is has become a tome.
6-Farming in this dark, chilly land was a terrible idea, so you quit. You have the farmer skill and nobody tells you what to do anymore! Those making demands get -1 morale if you fly off the handle and give 'em a piece of your mind. Take a scythe.

Deep Islands
1-You grew up, along with the rest of the village, inside a giant seabeast. You have good Anatomy knowledge, but are in a daze of culture shock out in the real world.
2-Your cold island was heated by a volcano. Save with advantage against toxic fumes, and you are a Blacksmith who can work with lava instead of a real forge.
3-Your people developed a particular ritual to hide from moonrays-stay in a bucket of water breathing through a straw until the moon and the monsters go away. Doesn't work against all monsters and moon madness, but is usually worth a shot. You have Astronomy skills.
4-You served on a merchant vessel that dealt in exotic goods to exotic peoples. You are a Sailor, and have a mental map of a bunch of interesting Deep islands.
5-You can swim, and the dark waters around your island required you to feel the currents to hunt fish and avoid being hunted. Fighting underwater doesn't alarm you.
6-You grew up with your neighboring island being the corpse of the Broken Moon. Gain Forbidden Knowledge and as much creepy-ass shell arms and armor as you want. It all has tormented faces carved into it, though it was like that when you pried it off the Broken Moon, so.

No way you rolled this, you want the Exotic Tables first, right?

1-You are from a Moon. How you got there is quite the story, but you mostly just fell off it back to earth. You brought a Moon-something with you, naturally. You were probably a farmer or something.
2-You are an animal transformed into a human, physically and mentally. It's quite distressing but your weird animal instincts could come in  handy.
3-You died, but clawed your way out of the afterworld, not that anyone will believe that. Death is your skill.
4-You are a dream-person. The dreamer died, and the dream, that's you, awoke to walk the earth. Naturally you know quite a lot about Somnabulism.
5-You are a Demigod and must add +1d6 to all your stats and have weird god-angst parent drama. Also Religion as a skill, though to you it's just gossip
6-You are an Elf. Rather impossibly good at everything, and having no business being out of prison

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Play report/Late Night Rant of James Raggi's Esoteric Creature Generator

I had a simple goal- roll up 1-20 creatures of increasing baseline HD, stick them in series of blank rooms, and throw the players against them for mostly mindless meatgrind mayhem against weird-ass squoogly beasts.
For the record I think this is pretty terrible thing to do to your monsters and players, and if you wanna read something about dealing with monsters in ways that are actually interesting you should check out

This is like the 60th session of my Sarkomand's Fault BFRPG campaign, and this blog has talked about, like, session 1, so I'm not gonna even try to provide a coherent picture of the who, where, why, when, or what of this.

1- Giant Spiked Aquatic Glowing Eyes Kangaroo 3HD, Ac 12, 2d10 damage
From a central pool, a hairy, bipedal creature with glowing eyes and wicked spikes of coral protruding from beneath its matted fur emerges, dripping wet. Your head reaches its rippling pecs.
Seeks to finish off the wounded.

So this thing was described terrifyingly, then got chopped up pretty quick by the 3 players, who are level 1-6 and bedazzled in loot that level 9's wouldn't sneer at (the game has had high lethality but relatively few TPKs and a boatload of adventure, so there are a lot of secondhand magic items floating around). This could be an interesting enemy for low level parties to figure out how to deal with early on- sort of like Ogres, but leaning more glass cannon than burly brute. 2d10 damage is insane- nobody wants to be hit with that.

2-Reptile 15 AC bite 3hd 1d10 Levitates quickly at 60ft per round. Spits phlegm that functions as Enlarge Person, increasing size by 10% for 1d4+1 turns. Cumulative. Also increases melee damage and carrying capacity. This may burst clothing, armor, etc.
A bright green floating turtle the size of a man regards you evilly. Its snap-jawed head is the only appendage extended from its shell.
Goes for lightly armored foes first, hoping to kill. Then makes new lightly armored foes with spit.

A dumb enemy with a gimmick I hoped to pull off. Spoilers- it just got murdered. Still, I think an enemy that debuffs you by overly buffing you is pretty hilarious. I sure wouldn't make it a levitating turtle, though- maybe a potion ooze that forcefeeds itself to you or something.

3- 13 AC insect 1d8 4hd 30 move
A segmented ladybug the size of an ox with a bloated belly and useless limbs along its side that do not touch the ground as it wriggles around like a snake. It spits tiny versions of itself at you and as they bite and crawl on you, they tell you things that sap your sanity and will to live, intensely personal things. They are easily squashed. Projectile 1d6 damage also INT damage.
Goes after Spellcasters.

It was a good thing I actually had a character who was angsting over some decisions they made that ended up with a castle of a friendly lord getting turned into a dollhouse for a friendly Ifrit, or such a high-concept attack would have been even more subject to the players going 'well that's jarringly weird but not really that cool, i roll to attack'
The esoteric creature generator really likes stat damage, but stat damage is hard to describe thematically sometimes.

4- Five short but burly looking Lizardmen 15 AC, 3HD, 1d6 bite. They have huge, bloated tails, and can extrude a sort of sticky goo from them. They move in a pack and try to use the goo to seperate enemies. each can make 15 square feet of goo per (turn)
Goes after Spellcasters after trying to trap others.

These things were the real baddie encounter. They didn't hit hard but they hit well enough to get past the Fighter's magic armor, and worked together well enough to flank her shield, and they could take a beating. Fortunately, the thief was a snakeperson who could speak to them, or rather, taunt them mercilessly, rightfully identify them as slow, and then convince everyone to try hit and run tactics to soften em up. The lizardmen rolled bad for morale and kept falling for the taunting, got gummed up in their own goo, and generally made fools of themselves after their first attack which almost took out the Noncombatant. The way they gummed up the arena was interesting and honestly I could see using them again... though probably as like, snails or something.

5- First Wish Guardian. Big Shaggy batwolf, all dreadlocked fur and bones. 20 foot wingspan. Ac 16 HD 6 1d8 wing bash.It is hanging on the ceiling, but drops to attack at once. Goes for most remaining HP targets.
After the lizard encounter, this thing was just pathetic. I decided to have it be the relative of some other monsters in the megadungeon and give a sad dying speech. The fighter rolled a 20 and paused mid fight to cut off one of its wings and graft it to herself with the Grafter's Axe, and gave up +2 plate for +0 leather just to use her sweet new 1d8 wingbash instead of said +3 grafters axe. Madness? Turned out the enhanced mobility saved her bacon later on and the wing bash came in handy after all! Players be crazy, but sometimes they're just crazy enough to work

6- Salamander 7HD, 1d10 Bite 13 Ac prehensile tongue, swims. on 20’s or hits by 4 or more it deals an extra 1d8 damage from a second internal jaw. Damage dealt can only be healed by time, divine magic does not work.
Crocodile-sized Salamander resting in a pool. It hisses at you, and you see that within its mouth is a secondary mouth. A strange Glyph is on its forehead.
Very stupid, attacks closest.

Another disappointing encounter- lasted a round and a half. The party basically bumbles along without any healing half the time anyway so while the ability was cool in theory, it needs to be implemented on something beyond a sad sack of HP like this. That's one thing the Esoteric Creature Generator cannot do for you- fine-tune things to your campaign, and assure that the random monster stew you assemble is of any actual quality. Is that really an issue with the ECG? Not really, just an issue with randomly generated content in general.

7- owlman Monk Ac 12 1d8 beak. HD 7 Flies. 4 special. Can drain magic from items for 3d4 turns by hooting- a cone of antimagic. On 20’s or hits by 4+, deals an extra 1d10 damage- a quick neck snap.  +3 to all saves. Emits light from a backlit halo.
Attacks randomly, leaping about.

I knew this thing was gonna be bad news. When the players said "This is too easy..." after the dumb salamander and then kept going, I REALLY knew it was gonna be bad news.
I was right- the heavily wounded noncombatant halfling mutant 8-year old (longstory) tried to grapple it, and it wasted 1 turn throwing him off, then the poor little guy succumbed to the necksnap. This player had a past character die due to a necksnap with some squishy unarmored very-not-a-melee-dude trying to grapple something. It's weird how players seem to gravitate towards the same deaths- another player has gotten ambushed and killed by tigers 2-3 times, and has fought them in more regular scenarios 2-3 more times. Anyway it's late and I'm off topic, but suffice it to say that with slightly different rolls, this owlbastard could have TPK'd the party instead of just the one guy. Yikes. Still, I'm glad they're taking this place more seriously, because the Esoteric Creature Generator generates really ugly things with more base HD to work with.

And it does so in a way I really don't like, I ultimately decided. It's an interesting source of tables and charts, but despite the gamblers allure of the tables, it mostly generates totally pointless HP blobs less interesting than equivalent HD of goblins, or incoherent blobs of abilities upon abilities that have no theme. Which is just the way random creatures go, I guess, but the amount of work I had to put in to make some creatures even remotely coherent is such that I feel like I would have been better off without the generation charts at all- the good ideas like 'leaves a gooey trail' doesn't gain much by having 'bipedal sauroids with ac15' stapled on, and the good ideas get ruined by being stapled to bad ideas more often than not. And while the Esoteric Creature Generator has a lot of entries, I can't say there are a lot of GOOD entries. There's a ton of 1/2 damage from acid or +1 to surprise and similar crap that's just depressing and pointless to roll for. A chart entry that might really get the noggin' joggin' would be like 'Lives in pools of acid' or 'LOVES vinegar' but 1/2 damage from acid?  That's boring in and out of combat, and really doesn't give any springboards for inspiration beyond 'well maybe it can fight an ooze slightly more effectively I guess'

And so I haven't made the full 20 monsters, for 2 reasons, the 2nd reason of which is a spoiler to my players but one I don't mind if they're spoiled on because foisting players into situations where they don't have information to make meaningful choices and then killing them for it is BAD GM
1- I'd rather just use the ideas and do away with the randomness and work on creating a good monster that is interesting, threatening, mysterious, and gameable, and not a 1-off ball of insanity in a basement.
2- In the unlikely event that the players get past monster #9, which is an insane frankenmonster of unrelated abilities about 10 times tougher than monster #8, they are going to quit not just this mini-dungeon sub-area, but the entire campaign upon meeting monster #13. Seriously. The dice conspired to create a being of such ludicrous bullshit overpoweredness that it actually shook me out of my dice-glazed stupor and made me say "ok, these random rolls aren't going to to make for a fun campaign night, they're just killing time, and I should stop and work on real campaign material instead of this RNG nonsense in a game already wracked by RNG nonsense."

...But I kept Monster#13 in the game anyway. Because mine are the players who blew up an Ancient Black Dragon with Invisible Servant, Heat Metal, and can-do attitude. You just never know.

The players met it in a sort of bonus session running 1-shot disposable characters so I figured I'd post the full thing for laughs.
I have no idea where this is from but it is amazingly on-point

13- Great Atua, Vampire Tyrannosaur, Can fly, showers boiling volcano blood everywhere. Huge, 18 AC 1d12 bite 15 HD move 40 Flies
1/2 from crushing- too big 2 crush, also vampire
1/2 damage from physical- Vampire, yo
Only hit by +3 or greater Weapons
Muddling Gaze- Those meeting Great Atua’s gaze must save vs spell or -2 AC, -2 to hit and save for rest of battle due to their lizard brain rebelling. Averting gaze only affects your defense not your offense, as you can stare at the legs.
Blood Ignition- 15d6 to everyone in room save for half, 3 times per day.
Blind Spot- Can create ’20’ spheres of darkness. It can see through them just fine.

Kiss of The Vampire- those bitten must Save vs spells or be Charmed, letting themselves be chewed on.
Atua can choose to continue to chew on targets, dealing 1d12 automatically each round.
Goes after random targets until it can chew.

So yeah.

UPDATE- The players got through monster #10 and requested the beans be spilt on their defeated foes. They lucked out and got a surprise round against Monster #9and won, but it was dicey, to say the least.

8- Tall Eagle-Winged woman. Has a feathery but strong tail. 1d8 Kung Fu, 1d6 tail. 9HD, AC 11. Tail oozes liquid, enough to douse fires, showers herself constantly. Regenerates 2HP per round.

Alternates between armored and unarmored foes.

The low AC made this monster not a huge issue- it doesn't regenerate fast enough to get around being hammered by everyone in the party, every round. I didn't quite do its attack preferences right, but whatever. It stomped an attack dog.

9- Stellar Rabbit. Dragon-sized, with the nasty hands and long fingernails of an old man. Covered in astral slime that looks like space. 11 Hd. Ac 12. Move 40. 1d10+1 damage.
Great hits rend for +1d6+3d8 damage as the rabbit grabs and tears limbs off before throwing you down and other non-survivable grapples from something that big with thumbs. Good hearing, rarely surprised (But not rarely enough, turns out). 1/2 damage from piercing attacks or no damage on save- ‘slime’ distorts light and its like stabbing a fish in water.
Teleports 1-15 behind enemies before attack, 14-19 flanking, 20 out of range. Immune to entangling plants and plant-based attacks
Can drain INT 2 points in a 60ft circle. Tries this early on hoping to befuddle stupids, but once hit goest to ‘teleports behind you’. Uses if it teleports out of range.
Dark Vision. Inflicts Blindness on attacks for 3d4 turns as the characters are slimed and unable to see anything but space. Slime is ethereal and can't be washed off.
If slain, the stars in the slime reveal themselves to be coins and gems.

Goes for foes with most HP remaining.

Players lucked out with the surprise round, otherwise they probably wouldn't quite have had the damage output to put it down before it tore them all to bits. At least the dragon-size telegraphs its huge damage. One player thought this was going to be the clockwork doll Kind-As-Night, once met in a dream, but nay- this was, once upon a time, one of her victims.

10- 2nd wish guardian
peacock Serpent- lined with feathers and ‘Eyes.’  Big fangs. 1d8 Ac 14. 10HD. ’20’ move.
Attacks randomly. What a chump. 

Died in the surprise round from invisible backstab and just regular charging. As 3 of 5 characters are supposed to be snake worshippers, killing the snake caused a schism among the hirelings, which then caused one player to try to kill the hirelings out of greed, which then naturally caused the other players to take offense at wanton murder and beat the offending player into another personality(long story), and Yg, mother of Serpents hasn't even gotten around to the real cursing of her snake-people for the heinous crime of snake-slaying! Not bad for a monster that, in combat, did less than the average goblin encounter- at least 2d4 goblins makes the wizard blow a sleep spell.

was totally lame compared to monster #9 because the esoteric creature generator is random as hell, but that's fine- the Rabbit of Lumar was plenty enough trouble.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Dominions 5 Soon

The videogame Dominions 5 is coming out soon, and I'll probably get it. The Dominions series are indie fantasy wargame brawlers with an amazing mythology, both inspired by reality and cut out of new cloth and hilarious in-game shenanigans that really tickle my fancy. They're also quaintly obsolete- multiplayer games are hosted by sending PBEM save files once a day to a random person unrelated to the devs who hosts a server that is probably just an extra computer he has. Games are rarely defined by masterful play and established tactics, and are collections of luck, stupidity, bad diplomacy, and other very loosey goosey nonsense, and that's why these games are great- they're full of almost tabletop RPG-style nonsense.

Anyway, I once kept track of a game I played via a hideous blog format  and figured hey, why not have a link floating around- I may even do it again for a Dom 5 game., but I'll do it here, not on wordpress

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Vint-Savoth Forester Background/Starting Equipments Chart

3- You survived the passing of the Blood Moon. No one else close to you did, except maybe one who fled. Start with bloody rags, a copper locket with the hair of someone precious to you, and as many Scourge points as you like (up to your wisdom)
If you start with at least 4 scourge points, start at level 2 and gain Red in Tooth and Claw.
If you start with at least 10, start at level 3 and gain Red in Tooth and Claw and Frenzy

4-You wield the Sickle Moon, a weapon inherited from your transformed huntmaster, who you now seek to put to rest. You have a brace of 5 throwing daggers, a wooden flute and the skill to use it, a bedroll, and your masters journal full of useful but increasingly disturbing and prescient notes.
(recommended starting trait- Blood Iron)

5-You start with a curious outfit of filmy veils and white leather. It gives 2 defense and keeps insect swarms and similar off you, and it takes 10c per stat damage taken and a city(or specialized town) to repair. You have a knife that is wickedly sharp and inflicts 1 point of bleed damage till your victim binds the wound, a torch, some incense, and a book on anatomy with all the back pages glued together. You fear mosquitoes, and may have a family who thinks you are crazy.
  (recommended starting trait- Bloodletter)

6-You've seen the inside of a nightmare incursion and know how to enter the Nightmare of Blood and Beasts and the ritual of the Snuffed Candle, though you'd have to be blind stinking drunk to ever be convinced to do it again. Start with a mask half-silver and half-bone, 13 candles, cultist robes that give a magic die if you wear 'em for a day, and a random spell in the form of a bloody cyst you keep in a jar, lest it return to Nightmare. Oh, and a dagger so serrated and hefty it's more like a machete or saw, even. It's for sawing through ribcages.
 (recommended starting trait-Blood Medium)

7-You are a user of the Axbalest, and have both a 2handed and a 1-handed version of the finicky weapons. You also have a bear trap, 5 pieces of chalk, 2 iron spikes and a mallet, a jar of grease and a jar of glue, 10 5-foot lengths of rope, a handful of caltrops, a molotov cocktail, and a twisted imagination.
 (recommended starting trait- Trapper)

8- You are a user of the brick n stick and have 3 notches with it, and appear as a wandering monk with a staff. You have a backpack filled with 20 coins donated to you by people you saved, 2 days of dried beef, and 3 bottles of alcohol that give 2 drunkenness each and can be turned into molotovs.
 (recommended starting trait- Blood Iron)

9- You've seen other hunters ripped to shreds, and have concluded melee combat with the beasts is a fool's game. You start with two pistols and 20 shots, a well-trained but slightly deaf war dog, half a dozen long-handled torches, a hand mirror, and a shovel.
 (recommended starting trait-Beastkin)

10- You are a skilled hunter, and in your off time you are comfortable living as a woodsman. Start with a wood axe, a tent, a bedroll, and 4 wooden stakes, rope, flint and tinder, 3 dead rabbits, and a shortbow and 24 arrows (one is silver, and you always recover this lucky arrowhead)
 (recommended starting trait- Beast Eater)

11- A lumberjack chosen by the huntmasters, you are a classically trained, if fresh, Vint-Savoth hunter. Start with leather armor designed to keep the blood off your skin and your choice of standard trick weapon, a hand lantern, and a fistful of fur from the beast that killed your fellow apprentices.
 (recommended starting trait-Blood Iron)

12-You worked as a rat exterminator in a big city, treading the sewers and hunting rats that grew more terrible with each passing day. Eventually your contract concluded, but you were left with a sense of work left undone, 10 mouse traps, a bear trap, a set of lockpicks, a silver dagger, a sling and 10 silver bullets, a wheel of cheese, and sweet poison that could kill a man as easily as a bunch of rats.
 (recommended starting trait- Blood Iron)

13-You have astronomy training, something that makes you incredibly valuable as a partner. You start with a spyglass, 50 feet of rope with a grappling hook, a gold piece, a sling with 24 lead bullets, a compass, your own astronomy journal, quill and ink, and an official document from Heliologos proclaiming you a professional astronomer.
 (recommended starting trait-Scourge Panacea)

14- You have decided pyromania isn't a mental condition, but a sound strategy. You wield a Lantern Flail(see bottom) and know of the simple alchemic distillation that turns 3 bottles of regular alcohol into a molotov cocktail. You start with your choice of 50 candles, 10 torches, or 2 lanterns, and the rest of your inventory is molotov cocktails.
(recommended starting trait- Trapper)

15- You have the massive wavy blade of a Moon Beam across your back, wrapped in cloth as it's not a weapon that sheathes well, and a combination of metal and dark leather armor (defense 4) Your backpack contains 50 feet of silk rope, 7 days of food, a bear trap, and a book on your personal skill/hobby.
(recommended starting trait- Blood Iron)

16-  You are one of those who wield a Lance Rifle and have a horse to boot. Sadly, this was your first time buying a horse and this poor creature is totally unfit for battle. At least you can ride it. You have a bag of carrots to feed your steed, a bag of biscuits to feed yourself, a bag of powder and 10 shots to feed your lance rifle, and an empty purse.
(recommended starting trait- Blood Iron)

17- You are clad in the curiously spiked Rose-Maille armor. In addition to this cumbersome thing, you carry a set of manacles and chains, and your choice of your backpack full of your choice of 10 items, or your donkey- either you left the donkey to the beast, or you left your equipment as you fled on the donkey.
 (recommended starting trait- Beast Eater or Beastkin)

18-You are nobility from house Vint, made apparent by your albino features. You start with, in order of importance to you, a floppy hat, a pistol with 6 silver bullets, a dueling rapier you painted black, a silver ring worth 1000c with your family crest, a hunchbacked lackey who will do anything you wish(but only in a manner that invariably annoys you), and an invitation to a masquerade ball from nobles long dead.
(recommended starting trait- Scourge Panacea)

Lantern Flail- Comes in 1 and 2-handed versions, and can be created with a lantern, 4 iron spikes, a hinge, a bit of rope (or chain) and a wooden haft by foresters.  Provides light as lantern, but has a 1-in-20 chance of going out with every attack, though it is easy to relight if you have fire on hand.

Passive Notch-You know how best to swing the flail to fuel the flames with oxygen. The flail deals the more advantageous of fire or physical damage and you can choose if you want to ignite flammable things like paper and wood on hits.

Active- Fuel Release- release the catch on the caged fuel, you can spray everything adjacent to you with burning alcohol/oil jelly, or on a successful hit, dump the contents onto a single creature, causing the lone unlucky target to burn until it spends a turn making a dex save.