Monday, June 11, 2018

One Dozen Wicked BFRPG Wizards

This is mainly a brainstorming exercise of how wicked wizards might exploit spells that don't have obvious Evil Overlord applications to become menaces regardless.
Also I think a lot of these spells are totally crap but oh well, maybe I'll do a 'one dozen wicked GLOG wizards' next

I assigned spells by simply giving wizard 1 the first spell from each level, wizard 2 the second spell, and so on, up to level 5 spells. Level 5 only had 10 spells, so i kept wizards #11 and 12 with no level 5 spell, but working as a team.

Wizard #1- The Saint of Sunlight
1- charm person
2-continual Light
3-clairvoyance
4-charm monster
5-animate dead
Actually this is awful similar to Damon Kars but oh well.
https://danielshawsmith.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/the-saint-the-lion-copy.jpg

The Saint of Sunlight  is indeed a wicked wizard, but he masquerades as a non-spellcasting saintly character bringing peace between all beings to the realm. His stronghold is totally lit with Continual Light and kept spotlessly clean by tireless skeletal maids(who are in disguise, naturally). He is renowned for being able to convince anyone and anything of the goodness of his cause, but in fact simply spams charm person or charm monster, and if that doesn't work, he uses his already charmed servants to kill people in corpse-preserving ways like poison or stabs to the heart, then raises their corpse to parade it around as proof of 'conversion.' He charms noble beasts like lions and unicorns to accompany him as proof of his saintly nature, and if possible, acquires breeding pairs of them to train their offspring to be friendly without the use of charm spells. To aid his poisonous assassinations, he likely charms poisonous things like giant spiders or serpents, though such creatures are not considered good for his image and he keeps them as secret guardians of his bedchamber, much like the well-preserved and/or disguised undead servants.

Having the charmed 'support' of key figures that once opposed him has given him a loose unification of the local military and religious organizations in a certain town and he is working his way up to usurping the pope-equivalent by demonstrating his superior saintliness compared to the wicked and materialistic clergy of the day, who spend all their time teaming up with murderhobos to loot old crypts. This strongly espoused anti-adventurer stance is mainly just to bring him in conflict with the PCs, but has a side bonus of letting him use dungeons as a source of monsters and perhaps loot. Rival adventuring parties with a Charmed leader do such looting for him, of course.


https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-U6pl896JrBQ/TjjAY0Fo0_I/AAAAAAAAAI8/pNVqiqNLUmY/s1600/jeita_grotto.jpg

Wizard #2- Otto of the Grotto
1- Detect Magic
2-Detect Evil
3-Darkvision
4-Confusion
5-Cloudkill

A middle-aged, bald, villainous hoarder of magical trinkets, with a small cabin set near a perilous cliff, from which he peddles various minor magical items and adventuring gear. He uses Detect Magic on people to see if they have any magical items worth looting, and if they do(or if they just prove to be stinking rich by buying his expensive items), he'll tell them that a lost hideout of a famous, anonymous highwayman who raided and pillaged the region for years is rumored to be in the forested mountains nearby near a grove of dead oaks.

Said hideout is incredibly easy to find with the hint of the dead grove, and it is in fact Otto's hoard, and the grotto is basically his personal bankvault+bait. The grotto is nothing but a single cavern with a 20' deep pit, at the bottom of which lies the treasure, a wealth of coins and trinkets, and a simple rope pulley elevator to allow people to ascend or descend.

Otto's plan is simple- follow the players with Darkvision, wait for them to descend into the pit, then gas them all with Cloudkill. Confusion makes it harder to escape the deadly fumes, and he can cut ropes of the pulley or any other ropes set up to make the gas trap harder to escape. Fleeing with darkvision through a mountainous forest at night makes him hard to catch, and if confronted at his own home, he has a cunning escape route that also takes advantage of his darkvision- a reservoir of water, with a short flooded tunnel that emerges up into a 3 way intersection. Any torches of pursuers will be doused while his Darkvision keeps him able to flee down the correct tunnel to escape in stealthy darkness, the other tunnels being trapped with deadfalls and small spiked pits, and even the correct tunnel having a pit trap that he jumps over. If he still has Cloudkill available, it can cover his escape as well.

Otto's Hoard
A kings ransom of assorted coins and jewels, assembled via a good 30 years of banditry and preying on absurdly wealthy adventurers who fell victim to his schemes(in the early days, before he mastered Cloudkill and confusion, he probably relied heavily on just kicking people into the pit). Some of it has been spent on his cabin and fine foods and luxuries, but it's still an impressive sum.

Otto's Goods for Sale- All manner of magical and mundane items could be for sale, looted from all the adventurers he's slain over the years. They are unmarked by violence, as the owners died of poison fumes, though a bit of an acrid smell may be smelt from the armor.
Sold for bargain prices intended to tease out if the players are rich enough to be worth robbing.
Likely Things For Sale- Y'know, if you don't have a list of 'fun lesser items I want to use someday'
1- Wand (No charges)
2- Sword/Shield +1 (He's got them coming out his ears by now)
3- Cursed Backbiter Spear (his favorite trap item)
4- Niche Potion (like 'control lycanthropes')
5- Healing potions (useless against his tactics anyway)
6- Platemail to make sure everyone is bad at climbing, swimming, etc.

Otto's Personal Gear
Potion of Speed- for extra haste in escaping
Battle Axe +2- for use in quickly chopping ropes, though Otto's no fighter.

http://orig03.deviantart.net/7c27/f/2014/269/0/d/pirate_wizard_by_kashivan-d80k9cm.jpg

Wizard #3- Abductor Captain Ronglio

1-Floating Disc
2-Detect Invisible
3-Dispel Magic
4-Dimension Door
5-Conjure Elemental

Ronglio made his living at the start of his career catching fugitive wizards with the aid of a few hired thugs, at first being nothing but a way to carry abducted people atop the floating disc, then learning how to counter those who attempted to hide via invisibility, then acquiring an all-purpose wizard-foiling tool via detect magic, and finally getting Dimension Door to simply teleport his targets into waiting ambushes. With that mighty development, he has gone freelance, and become a ransomer of kidnapped prisoners and rescuer of criminals(for a price, of course). His typical asked ransom is to fill up his floating disc with treasure. Having become inordinately wealthy via his extortionate practices, he has a pirate-crewed prison-ship, the Abductor. crewed by faithful knaves who he rescued himself from certain doom via Dimension Door. Abductor is nigh-uncatchable thanks to his summoning of air elementals to fill its sails or water elementals to push it directly, and due to its cargo of prisoners, those interested in saving them can hardly dare attack it for fear of the prisoners safety. Magical means of attacking or infiltrating are often foiled by Detect Invisible or Dispel Magic.
Bonus-If it comes to a dramatic confrontation, have him dangle a chained prisoner off the side of the ship atop floating disc- you kill him, and the prisoner falls into the briny deep! Also dimension dooring intruders 380 feet away into the ocean is always good.

http://www.ecoforumjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Fire-Forest.jpg

Wizard #4 Keeper of the Pass
1-Hold Portal
2-ESP
3-Fireball
4-Growth of Plants
5-Feeblemind

Years ago, invading barbarians raided a small kingdom in the mountains. The court wizard escaped the sacking of the keep and the slaughter of the royal family and peasantfolk and fled to the guard tower that overlooked the mountain pass and sealed the invading army in with a nigh impenetrable thicket of trees and bushes clogging the past. The invading army, fat with looted booty and wishing to return to their home, attempted to cut their way through, only to find themselves in the middle of a forest fire as the vengeful wizard hurled fireballs into the overgrown plant life, and save for a few survivors, they perished in the raging flames.

The wizard still lurks in the watchtower, crazed and utterly xenophobic, preventing any who still live in the sealed-away kingdom from leaving or any outsiders from entering. He casts Hold Portal to delay entrance to his watchtower, and ESP on those attempting to trick their way past him. After the Feebleminding of the wizard Brandi, few wizards are willing to risk their valued brains against the madness of the Keeper. Hallucinatory terrain is used to give an impression of the area around the watchtower being clear during the 18 hours or so per day the wizard is awake, but this is a ruse- the flame-blackened stone walls have grasping creepers and vines outside the very doors of the tower, and all trespassers will burn if the wizard spots them and ignites the patches of vegetation.

Nearly a generation has passed since any news came from the sealed-off kingdom. There may yet be a few survivors locked behind the overgrown forest's ash-eating roots, and there are certainly melted treasures the invaders carried beneath the embered underbrush and forgotten in the sacked castle.

All you'll typically see of Kalavor
 Wizard #5  Kalavor the Merciless
1-Darkness(We had Light earlier so I reversed it)
2-Invisibility
3-Fly
4-Hallucinatory Terrain

5-Hold Monster

Kalavor Lives near the Akkadian Waste, a desert of small size, annoying location between several  kingdoms, but still a danger to cross unprepared. Traders and armies alike of nearby kingdoms must leave monthly tributes at gallows constructed by the wizard, or face his sorcerous wrath. He uses Invisibility, Fly, and Hold Monster to slay or kidnap those who defy him, via the following method.
He has a camel trained to remain calm when Fly and Invisibility is cast upon it, and enters settlements either in disguise or invisibly. Then, via a lasso or net, he has a variety of ways to inflict his wrath upon his target.
1- Kidnapping- Ideally aided by Hold Person, he can snag people and fly away with them invisibly, returning to his desert fortress via camel with his prisoner. Pursuers may be bamboozled by Hallucinatory Terrain leading them to false oases and landmarks, causing them to become lost and either abandon the pursuit or risk dying of dehydration in the desert. Those who pursue tenaciously will be led to his lair in the Black Crack, a desert canyon, and Kalavor will conceal the canyon as desert with Hallucinatory terrain and cast Fly, then pretend to ride over the safe desert and lure the pursuers to a death by falling.
2-Public Hanging- A ghastly fate, where the victim, either captured beforehand or snagged via a dangled lasso from the flying invisible Kalavor and/or Camel, is dragged through the skies over their town(or caravan) as they are gradually asphyxiated by a noose round their neck, horrifying the populace, until they are dropped into a public location.
3-Unleashed Monster- Having captured a desert monster with Hold Monster, Kalavor tows it into the bedchamber of his target if possible(a basket with a snake or scorpion captured via Hold Monster will do if no monsters can be found), or simply unleashes it as near to town as he can get to wreak havoc.

Kalavors actual lair is a simple hut stuffed with finery atop a perilous spire of rock in the Black Crack, reachable only by flight or climbing. If confronted, he has various tricks to lure people into falling to their doom, like casting darkness near an edge of the spire and flying a few feet out over the fall and waiting for bold enemies to charge in, or (in the event he has but a single foe) debilitating them with Darkness to their eyes or Hold Monster. A trick for escape he likes using in case he cannot fly for whatever reason is to cast darkness on the ground at his feet, then turn invisible and sneak away while people investigate the darkness.
magic jar is a lot like a bootleg phylactery
 
 Wizard #6 Keyless
1-Magic Missile
2-Knock
3-Haste
4-Ice Storm
5-Magic Jar

A retired adventurer of poor moral character, Keyless has turned to the dark practice of bodysnatching to buy more time. His tower is 3 stories tall, and 3 stories deep, and his corpse lies in stasisin a hidden chamber on the ground floor, in a secret crypt beneath the floor of a room with 4 doors, all barred from the inside. He demands tribute in the form of servants from the nearby settlement, who live and maintain the tower for the wizard Keyless, who takes one of their bodies for himself every so often via Magic Jar, the Jar being a large ruby set in an amulet engraved with the spell in pixie runes. While in a servant's body, he leaves the ruby with his own corpse, but if he were to ever leave his tower, he would take the Magic Jar with him and likely use his own form(unless he was to, say, infiltrate an adventuring party via taking over a character...) but the only reason he'd leave the tower and expose himself to danger would be if tempted by a less precarious form of immortality.

In any case, there are many doors that are barred from the other side and lead to hidden areas and research laboratories below ground, or to high balconies with no apparent means of access, and it is from these places of cover and high ground that he would prefer to smite intruders foes with magic missiles and ice storms and Keyless uses Knock to enter these areas. Use of Haste allows him to get these doors between him and potential enemies, and if cornered in a servant's body, he will likely abandon it, then possess a random new victim if his body is not found before he can recover spells. If worse comes to worse, he may even possess one of the rats in the tower, but would prefer to take a strong or influential body that could help him in his quest for immortality.

Wizard #7 Prince-Burier
1-Magic Mouth
2-Levitate
3-Hold Person
4-Massmorph
5-Passwall
This wizard is all about trickery within his own lair, a castle that was drowned in a mudflow from a nearby volcano along with all its treasures and royalty. He uses Massmorph to disguise himself and his 2d4+2 graverobbing friends to avoid direct conflict, and has enhanced mobility inside the half-drowned keep, able to pass through the earth to isolated air pockets and cleared out chambers, levitate up broken tower interiors, and so on.

His nastiest trick is to open Passwalls to areas of the castle that have no exit to the surface and lure people inside with Magic Mouth, then close the passage behind them and either leave them to die or use their well-hidden position and certain doom as leverage to manipulate anyone who cares about the trapped soul. He can also claim that he is the only way anyone can reach the treasure of the sunken castle and so hopefully have people spare his life if he's cornered. His other nasty trick is Hold Person while people are swimming through muddy water, forcing people to rescue their paralyzed comrade lest they drown.

He would also be dangerous in the event that players had their own fortified place to defend, but man, this guy was tricky to make into a crediblemenace and I think would work better in a 'rival adventuring party' situation where the issue is getting to the treasure of the sunken keep before he does.

Wizard#8 Anfar the Beastmaster
1-Protection from Evil
2-Locate Object
3-Invisibility 10' radius
4-Polymorph Other
5-Telekinesis

 Owner of a traveling circus(really more of a grim selection of cage-wagons with sullen creatures inside them ala The Last Unicorn), Anfar's exotic bestiary is entirely composed of polymorphed people who have crossed him, and the occasional kidnapped VIP. A good place to throw NPCs you haven't used in a while. He has grown quite wealthy in unremarkable ways doing things like turning horses into elephants, mice into dairy cows, and other wheeling and dealing of livestock, and has turned to turning people into monsters as a way to entertain himself and get political connections by meddling in the affairs of nobles by kidnapping targets lured by the promise of entertainment at his circus.

He is often attended by 4 faithful but stupid thugs- his own loyal hounds, polymorphed into humans to better assist him. Though of doggish knowledge and sophistication, their unwavering loyalty in their master and simplemindedness can make them 'too dumb to fool' for people who believe them to truly be human hired thugs. He occasionally will stalk targets on a horse or with his dog-men under the cover of invisibility, and clever use of Locate Object helps him follow people he seeks to add to his circus.

In the event of things going badly, he has a few tricks, most involving Polymorph Other aimed at turning an enemy into a monster that will maim whatever is closest, or aimed at one of his dogs to create a more useful, but still controllable beast to attack with or flee upon.
  • Alicorns are dangerous, cruel, and often invisible, but can be warded against by Protection from Evil, and are a popular choice of what to turn his dogs into.
  • Flame Salamanders are exceedingly dangerous and intelligent, but can be used to roast everyone within 20' of the polymorphed target regardless of the new salamanders intentions, and cause huge flaming distractions to cover his escape as flammable things ignite.
  • Basilisks can be good for surprise-petrifying masses of people
His final combat trick requires time to set up, and involves him lifting a 450 pound iron cage into the air and dropping it on people with Telekinesis to either capture them or squish them. If outmatched, he will use Invisibility or a Polymorph to turn one of his dogs into a Pegasus to flee.

Wizard#9 Anzu The Scourge
1-Read Languages- labeled traps
2-Mirror Image
3-Lightning Bolt
4-Polymorph Self
5-Teleport
 A pest on every country in creation, Anzu rides the winds in the form of a great eagle(and in fact is thought to actually be some sort of monster, rather than a wizard), and terrorizes any location reached via outrageous demands in the language of the land once Anzu has had a chance to Read Languages and learn enough of the language to be an asshat. Able to escape by land, air, sea, and the warping of space itself via teleport, Anzu arrives, makes demands and demonstrates the power of lightning bolts, then vanishes once tribute is given(and certainly before enough people with bows can be mustered to shoot the 'thunderbird' out of the sky). As if this direct extortion wasn't bad enough,. various bandits calling themselves the "Talons of Anzu" make extortionate demands in this wizards name, and while most of them are almost certainly pretenders, the "Talons of Anzu" have become a phenomenon all over the world due to Anzu's antics, and some of them actually do enjoy erratic support from this mysterious wizard.

Wizard#10 Cursebreaker
1-Shield
2-Phantasmal Force
3-Protection from evil 10'
4- Remove Curse
5-Wall of Stone

Apart from providing free construction, I don't see a lot of potential to be extra-wicked here without basically just relying on charisma and money and mostly ignoring the spells. So I'll have this wizard be someone who was Geas'd to help everyone who asks for curse removal, but they're just selfish and antisocial, so they try to get around their Geas by lurking in a labyrinth that has expanded a little every day with Wall of Stone. The trick is finding the wizard in this giant maze, and avoiding the monsters naturally drawn to inhabit such a place. The wizard is protected from the monsters via protection from evil so they focus on eating people who come to compel the wizard's help and laughing at the suffering of cursed petitioners.

Wizard#11 Crimson Fever Dream
1-Sleep
2-Web
3-Protection from Normal Missiles
4-Wall of Fire
Wizard#12 Reflected Ocean Dream
1-Ventriloquism
2-Wizard Lock
3-Water Breathing
4-Wizard Eye

Maybe I've just run out of creativity, but I'm having a rough time with these two. I guess they could mislead people, lurk underwater, be well-informed, be able to have annoying doors, and have decent crowd control and resistance to getting killed by arrows, but they're still not especially mobile or blessed with the ability to much beyond maybe kill people and maybe not be killed, and maybe be tricky in preset situations. Maybe they could be the quirky duo of apprentices to Prince-Burier, another wizard who basically needed a specific context to be anything but ignorable.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Pyromancy

PYROMANCY
 
For wizards who don't want to be clever they just want to kill things with fire
Becoming a Pyromancer involves embedding a fragment of the sun(or Undersun) into your hand, reducing your HP by 1 die class(or just -1 per level). Using the embedded sunshard requires the hand to not be holding anything or covered up. It is as bright as a candle by default, but can become torch or brighter if you blow on it or if there's a wind to stoke it. You can learn spells by burning yourself badly-if reduced to 1 or less HP by fire or lightning, save to learn a new pyromancy spell (or any spell that's fiery n stuff, really).

Your magic dice(if any) become HEAT DICE. You can recover 1 heat die by dealing yourself 1d6 fire damage. If you wanna use this class outside of GLOG-style magics, just roll 2d6 for spells and assume [dice] is 2 and then deplete em vancian style, and by dealing 2d6 damage to yourself, you can restore a spell slot.

Whenever you roll a 6 for pyromancy effects, roll another HEAT die and add it to the sum and total dice rolled for all purposes except determining dooms and miscasts.
Finally, HEAT dice return to your pool on a 4-6, as the flames rage higher, and are removed on a 1-3, as they dwindle. Bonus HEAT DICE generated by rolling 6's are always removed.

Solar Pyromancies

Immolation- Enemies attacking you in melee without a long weapon take 1d4 points of damage, and ignite on a 4. They may have to make morale checks to dare the flames. You also take 1d4 damage per turn until you extinguish yourself. Your unarmed attacks deal +1d4 damage as well. This spell either wards away swarms, or kills them in seconds.
Dragon's Desperation- blow onto the shard in your palm to billow forth flames, dealing 1dcurrentHP+[dice] damage to everyone within a wide cone of throwing weapon range, and yourself. If this would kill you, make a save at +[dice] to survive with 1HP.
Fireball- A flaming orb appears in your hand, dealing 1d6+[dice] damage to you,+1 per additional target you wish to hit. Targets take [sum]+[dice] damage, but may save for 1/2.
Grip of Cremation- Successfully hit in melee to deal damage=to your remaining HP-1 to a target and to yourself. If this kills them, they are reduced to ash.
Heat Blade
- Imbue a blade with [sum] heat points. Spend heat points before rolling to hit. Heated weapons take 1HP to swing.
    Torchlight- Weapon glows as candle for X hours, or torch for X minutes, X being expended heat
    Liquid Flame- Weapon inflicts damage on misses = to damage rolled -#points missed by. -1 Heat.
    Carbonize- Weapon inflicts +1 damage per point of heat expended
    Heatwave- Weapon Inflicts hit on +1 random target per heat expended within 10'
Steam Cloud- Smack water to create large cloud of scalding steam that deals [dice] damage to those engulfed, -1 per round, until it is just obscuring steam. Lasts [sum] rounds
Dawn Prayer- The Sun arrives in the sky in 2d6-[dice] hours. This is a placebo effect according the the Heleognostics and astronomers.

Miscasts
1-Lose 1 HEAT die from your pool, spell does minimum damage.
2- Choke on smoke, lose next action
3- Carried flammable items ignite.
4-All nearby flammable items ignite.
5-Spell has maximum effect.
6-HEAT dice increase in dice size one step for the day, up to a max of d12.

Doom
1- You are badly burned and reduced to 1HP. Learn a new pyromancy spell at random
2- You are badly burned and reduced to 0HP. Learn a new pyromancy spell of your choice.
3- You have been consumed by the flames, and your spirit ascends to join Glorious Sol. If any heleognostics witness this, you are canonized as a saint. If it happens underground, you cause a minor volcanic eruption as you burn through the stone.
I considered making this post go on about the metaphysical natures of Sun, Fire, and Lightning in my setting but then I was like naaaaaaah
Lightning- In howling winds and thunderstorms, pyromancy flames can be stoked to greater powers and channel the wrath of Glorious Sol, becoming Lightning, a purer manifestation of the sun than the degenerate flame is.
All Lightning spells deal +1 damage per HD of the target if the target is Darkspawn or Moonspawn(or Chaotic or Evil, to give some cross-system compatibility) and the thunderous booms generally cause terror in ones foes, forcing a morale check.

Charged Body- As Immolation, but long weapons are no defense.
Chain Lightning- As Desperate Dragon, but all enemies may be struck.
Call Down Lightning: During storm, calls down lightning bolt in 1d6-[dice] rounds dealing 3d10 damage to most conductive/hateful object and half to all within 20'. During rain has [dice] in 4 chance to call down lightning bolt in 1d6 rounds dealing 3d10 damage to most conductive     object and half to all within 20'. Continues to call lighting for [sum] rounds
Lightning Blade-As Heat Blade, but imbued weapon ignores metal armor, striking as though target was unarmored. Deals extra damage based on HD as above, nearby enemies save or also take a hit as the lightning jumps and thunder strikes. Sparks and crackles as torch light every blow.
Conduct Wrath- As Steam Cloud, but everything in water within [sum] feet of caster takes that much electric damage.
where undersun pyromancers hang out
Undersun Pyromancy
Overlaps spell lists with Sol Pyromancies,  but without Dawn Prayer or the ability to use enhanced lightning spells in storms, and in fact cannot function in daylight as these spells draw from the nameless and sunken Undersun, not Ascendent Sol.
The following spells may only be case underground.

Brimstone Stench- Nearby creatures with less than [dice] HD save or die each round they stay in the gassed cavern, and all take [dice] damage.
Well of the Undersun- Ground becomes lava. [sum] damage each round lava is not escaped.
Rain of Magma- Ceiling drips magma in a line from wall to wall. Those attempting to cross save or take [sum] damage, then half that again next  round as it continues to burn.
Grip of Slag- Destroy [sum] item slots of melee target and on a 12+ they save or have armor destroyed and take [sum] damage.

Random Undead

I think that making undead fit neatly into 'categories' goes a long way to make them not-scary and yes-boring in terms of encounters. My 'fix' was making every undead a semi-random horrible monstrosity that instills the dread of the unknown.

When generating a random undead, I roll 2d6, with 6s causing another die to be rolled, then divide the final sum by 2 to determine HD, rounding down or up depending on my whim. Fire kills them because fire is magic and burns the evil out of them, not because you can realistically incinerate human flesh so easily, and physical damage kills them because you cut them to pieces. Piercing attacks and blunt attacks do half damage, though against skeletal creatures blunt attacks are fully effective. Cold attacks are effective because the dead tend to be colder than living targets and can be more easily frozen and shattered, even if they won't die of hypothermia.

The Lesser Dead- Gross and hard to kill, but ultimately nothing more than a bunch of creatively murderous physical meat. Up to 4HD.
HD-in-6 chance of human-tier intelligence, otherwise as a rabid animal at best and a mindless murder-husk at worse. 1dHD ghastly powers.
  1. Rib cage functions as giant maw. Auto-hitting bite for 1d6 in grapples.
  2. Intestines function as whip/tentacle with 20 foot range.
  3. Tibia/Ulna function as retractable bone shanks for legs/arms respectively. +4 to hit via surprise the first time they are used.
  4. Flesh is green and putrescent. Save v disease on hit. Explodes in wave of pestilence when slain.
  5. Tough, mummified, jerky-like flesh, or bloated and corpulent rolls of fat. +2 AC.
  6. Crawling hands scuttle like spiders.
  7. Spine turns head into extra flail-type attack.
  8. Cannibal Integration- devouring body parts adds them to the undead's form, though supernatural abilities are lost.
  9. Vomits liquids down nose and into mouth, save or drown each round after the first
  10.  Has some vile fungus growing on it. Yellow Mold, Shriekers, whatever.
  11. Has some vile insects infesting it- rot grubs, killer bees, a big centipede...
  12. Nothing To Lose- AC as unarmored, extra +5 to hit people who have hit it that round. It'll slide down your sword to eat your face.
  13. Muscle Slugs- upon "death," muscles crawl free as a swarm of bloodsucking leechlike undead
  14. Skeleton- upon "death," bones reassemble into skeletal version, leaving meat behind.
  15. Gore- upon "death" viscera and blood become crawling undead ooze that smothers and crawls 
  16. Skinless, flayed, bloody. Skin functions as fragile glider of 1HD and a smothering attack, or +1AC while worn. Skin persists after death of main creature.
  17. Can bend iron bars, smash through crypt doors, etc, at the cost of 1d4HP as the flesh is deformed by unnatural strength unless Greater Dead
  18. Moves at a dead sprint, as unarmored run speed, even if armored. -1d4HP per round of high speed due to body falling apart, unless Greater Dead
  19. Undying- HP damage cannot kill this creature, though it is considered immobile at 0HP. 
  20. Spits teeth as sling bullets with 50' range. Collects new teeth from victims.
The Greater Dead- Eyes glow. Power on par with typical vampires, ghosts, and other horrible beings. Most create spawn if they kill someone in a particular way. Greater Dead have a HD-in-20 chance of being known to the church or other organizations likely to really dislike the undead. They are all intelligent.
+1 Greater power per 2 HD past 3, in addition to 1d6 lesser powers.
  1. Echoes of Death- Can enforce mode of its first death upon people if they fail a save. Examples- Force wings to fail and ropes to snap for death by falling, cause flammable objects carried to ignite for death by fire, cause wounds to bleed without end (-1HP per hit), freeze people, spread plague etc etc. Needs line of sight.
  2.  Can turn invisible.
  3.  Eye contact or a bite or (gruesome delivery method) causes the living to fly into a berserk fury, unable to tell friend from foe but wishing to slay all, then themselves.
  4. Melee attacks also drain damage*10 (or 100, or even 1000, or just a level) XP. Alive with fairy fire.
  5. Being within 5' forces a saving throw each round, or 1d10 year of aging. Looks incredibly aged.
  6. This creature will return from death in a few months or years regardless of how it is killed, unless its spirit is sought out in the underworld and stopped at the source.
  7. Flies around like a meatpuppet on strings.
  8.  Alternate swarmform of burning cremation ash, grave dust, swarm of worms, etc
  9.  Those in its presence lose 1HP per round, and it heals HP lost this way. Mouth appears to be sucking in light and life, a black moaning pit.
  10. Reaper's Tools- Cannot be harmed by weapons. 'impromptu' weapons like rocks and shovels work, axes and swords and fists do not.
  11. Mortal beings save or be paralyzed with fear upon viewing the creature for 1d6 rounds. Hirelings check morale each round.
  12.  Vampiric, heals self equal to damage dealt with its overgrown fangs.
  13. Those damaging it take equal damage themselves. Appears as a dead version of whoever looks at it.
  14. Has learned terrible secrets of death. As spellcaster of equivalent level.
  15. Can masquerade as a living creature.
  16. Doesn't need eyes to see, can detect life within 60 feet.
  17. Fossilized- 20 AC. At least 10,000 years old.
  18. Ghostly form, passes through physical objects and immune to most forms of attack.
  19. Melee attacks force a save or your spirit is knocked out of your body, If struck in spirit form, save or have your soul eaten, body can be coup de graced if no one interrupts. Can repossess your body to come back to life, or someone elses body if it's missing a soul or can be healed of whatever killed that body.
  20. On max damage hits, takes off limb which transforms into 1HD monster. Crawling hand, gut snake, etc. Reattaches to the Dead in 1d6 rounds, returning HP, if not destroyed. Applies to own limbs and other people's.
Weaknesses
  1. Powerless in sunlight/dormant during day
  2. Whatever killed it in life forces a save or die when applied in death. 
  3. Cannot set foot over holy grounds/houses/above its grave-level/ships/roads
  4. Must check morale when faced with fire/salt/beans/water/silver/whatever, ignites as though it was oil soaked on contact
  5. Blind.
  6. Missing 1d4 limbs
  7. Cannot harm one of- Women, Children, Dogs, Fools, Nobles, Priests
  8. Pursued by psychopomps seeking to drag it back to hell, must constantly be on the move
Example Greater Dead
Skratti. 10HD. Fell while climbing into the Great Rot.

High move speed
20 foot attack range via haunted ropes
Infested with mold, save or lose a turn choking on spores striking it in melee. Has a rare and valuable mushroom growing on it.
Can command things to FALL AS I FELL, snapping ropes, ruining flight, crumbling footholds, etc on failed saves.
Uses climbing ropes to swing around like spiderman, can rise up on them to 'fly' up to 50 feet in the air
Can't see things further than 60 feet away

Mounds of the Old Lords

Lungfungus and I were working on similar ideas about miniburialmound dungeons and this is my version.

Barrow mounds of the Old Lords- 1/6 chance of outside guardians each visit and upon exiting
 Outside Guardians
  1.  Aspiring Necromancer hoping to take control of dead within
  2. Descendants visiting dead elders(eldead?), not fond of grave-robbers
  3. Exorcist seeking out Greater Dead to banish them. Could be helpful or meddling
  4. Gang of thieves seeking to rob the place. Betrayal inevitable but deferrable. 
  5. Random monster from inside barrow mound
  6. Random monster from local encounter tables


Entry- Chamber behind large stone slab, opens into room 1d4
Descent- Staircase to room 5
Key to room 7 is located in room 1d6, guarded by trap/monster if applicable

All Mounds have the same 7 rooms, rooms 1-4 on the upper entry level, and rooms 5-7 below.
Upper Layout-
1- Upper Layout Square with rooms on the 'corners,' descent in room opposite of entry
2- Upper Layout 'Plus' shape with rooms on ends, Descent in central intersection.
3- Straight line, with rooms 567 doubling back under 432, descent in room 4
4- Spiral path down 50' pit with spikes and dead people at bottom, rooms separate chambers dug in wall at regular intervals. Lower chambers also in this layout, though 3 is still the 'top' of 6.

Upper Rooms
#1-Lesser caskets and urns of cremated people and preserved skulls. Tripping hazard.
#2-Pillar room holding up roof. Bad rolls in combat tend to dislodge pillars
#3-Room is pit with narrow bridge crossing it and alcoves high on walls, 20' drop to 6.
#4-Altar, provides hints as to nature of curse and method of curse removal.

Lower Rooms. Layout is either a straight line, a triangle, or a L-Bend.
#5-Statue of Lord- a preview of any magical arms/armor they may have
#6-Retainers coffins.
Entry to 7 sealed by locked bronze door.
#7-Lord in/near Sarcophagus + 2 treasures. Has a decorative Central Pillar, Pit, Pedestal, Pool, or Pendulum.


Room Specifics
Each room has 2 things
1 Monster
2-Nothing
3-trap- defends treasure if there, doorways if otherwise.
4-Treasure


Trap-
  1. Hallway Portcullis + Bell- Seals easiest route to exit (or route to deeper inside if there's a tie)
  2.  Burning Oil
  3.  Summoning Circle- save vs surprise, 1d6 HD random monster(s) appears
  4. Unleashed Plague Spirit. Animates corpse if it fails to possess a human. I like the diseases here
  5. Inflicted Curse
  6. HP Menacing trap- Rolling boulder, Launched Spear, Arrow Hail, spiked pit, scything Blade

Curse of...
  1. Pyrophilia- Fire damage taken and dealt deals max damage, if ignited you need water to extinguish it or you'll burn forever and you gotta save vs catching on fire if you take even 1 point of fire damage. Cured by casting a being with more CHA than you into a volcano.
  2. Unlife- When killed, you will rise again as an undead. Undead cursed in this way will rise again and again, losing 1HD each time as their body, mind, and soul crumble. Only curable by purifying ritual suicide, sorry.
  3. Beasts- Grow hairy, growly, and bestial. +1 physical stats, -2 mental stats for each stacking application of curse. Cursed monsters have +2AC(not v silver) and Damage. Cured by having your hair braided by a city-dwelling prostitute.
  4. Elf-Curse- Iron and Steel burn you horribly, for double damage or 1HP per round of skin contact. Cured by being forgiven by a fey creature.
  5. Water- You can't swim and will sink like a rock. Cured by kissing a merfolk.
  6. Darkness- Grues stalk you, and will devour you in 1d6 rounds if you ever enter pitch blackness. Cured by sunburn. Grues don't eat undead, but lurk in their tombs all the same.
  7. Instant death! Or actually 1d4+1 magic missile damage striking the cursed one.
  8. Nemesis-  1 Monster per encounter has maxHP per hit die(and max personal treasure if applicable) until you surrender to an enemy.
  9. Bats- You can't see lightsources beyond your own lightsource, and can only see half as far with your own light source. Must descend to the bottom of the Lightless Library, with no light, and read the secret braille name of the King of Bats and squeak it aloud to cure.
  10. Metamalus- -1 to all your dice rolls (or +1, whichever is most often bad). Stacks. No save. Remove one level of this curse whenever a nat 1 or 20 is rolled.
Treasure-
1- Small Stone Chest of tarnished antique coins worth 1d6x100c.
2-Embalming jar of organs. Mummified or pickled, worth 30 coins to sketchy necromancers.
Eating them acts as random potion that slaps you with dungeon curse on a failed save.
3-Massive Silver-runed pottery tablet the size of a chair. A fragile 'spell scroll' that weighs 100 pounds and is worth 1200c intact.
4-Skeletons in steel jewelry (2d4 each worth 10 coins). Monsters here will also wear jewelry bits!
5-Stone Statue holding magnificent Bone/Stone/Bronze/Iron/Silver/Gold Spear (400coins) in both hands. 1/6 chance of being Cursed and Magical(not necessarily dungeon curse, could be like a Backbiter style spear or summat)
6-Treasure Map to 1-5 Another Mound 6- distant hoard of type H treasure+warning of terrible guardian monster.

Monster-
  1. Skeleton Skirmisher- throws bones, rocks, spears, burning oil, flees if menaced. 1hd but immune pierce and resist slash, and pretty speedy.
  2. Ghouls- dug up from below to eat corpses here. Hungry again now. Rationality and cowardice proportional to fullness.
  3. Tomb Scorpion- Injects acid, save or d20 damage. 1 point of stinger damage. AC 16 but loses 1AC each hit  HD=1d4, # appearing= 1d6-HD (minimum 1) Surprise indicates lurking in burial pot or beneath earth, usually
  4. Warrior Zombie- Largish weapon wielded 1 handed to go first hitting for d8 or 2handed to go last & hit for d10, 2hd, ac 13. Less sluggish than most zombies.
  5. Barrow Wight- XP drainer and well-armed, accursed weaponry drains XP from those hit and wielder. 4HD, AC 15
  6. Cursed X- Reroll, but entity is cursed with dungeons curse and spreads said curse with melee attacks.

Lord Monster of room 7
  1. Greater Dead- See below or just use a vampire, or something
  2. Lesser Dead- as regular monster, just with fancy gear.
  3. Tomb Queen- Giant scorpion that has eaten the corpse and is clad in smaller offspring
  4. Regular Dead Guy- No fight, just loot
  5. Dreamwraith- Appears as harmless corpse, but appears on future encounter tables as dreamwraith to hunt the living and reclaim gravegoods. Only dies if dreamwraith and corpse simultaneously destroyed, as one reforms the other.
  6. Angry Ghost- as Greater Dead but noncorporeal, or just generic ghost. Can't rest easy till the ghosts desires that tether it to the earth are sated. Usually vengeance.
Greater Dead- Wields 1 1/2 handed sword and breastplate (AC15). 8 HD.
1-Dies The Fire- Takes minimum damage from fire. Touch inflicts cold damage, freezes liquids. Fire in melee range saves or is snuffed. An ice-rimed barbarian corpse crackling with every step.
2-Soulrender- Save or be knocked out of body. If struck in spirit form , save or die, body can be coup de graced if no one interrupts. Glows with sickly light and looks half translucent.
3-Dismemento Mori- Every 8 damage takes off limb which transforms into 1HD monster. Crawling hand, gut snake, etc. Reattaches in 1d6 rounds,  returning HP, if not destroyed.
4-Foulblight- Expels gas that explodes light sources in fireballs. Self explodes if hit by fire too. Green, bloated, stinky, corpulent.
5-Flayedlips-Pyromancer Still smokes from failed cremation. Skin like burnt hotdog
6-Skellord- Glowing bones, makes your bones glow and animate before death. Dominate limb on hits as your skeleton rebels against you. Is a glowy skeleton with a scimitar, skeleton damage resists.

Tomb Queen- 8HD scorpion, 1d8 damage, AC 20, -1 per hit taken. Gets -4 to hit unless it attacked the same target last round, chooses to attack whoever hurt  it worst or (if no one did) sticks to one target. When slain, 1d6 baby tomb scorpions begin to eat corpse & defend it. Acid glands powerful and valuable if you can harvest them, armor plates good for shields.
  1. Grab- open 1 claw, aim at target. Save to escape if grabbed, 1d4 squeeze damage each round.
  2. Twin Shear- Wave two claws furiously- 2 attacks
  3. Block- Save to block frontal attacks, up to 1 per claw.
  4. Jab-Only used vs Grabbed opponents.  tail injects acid on hit, make 2 saves. If both fail, you melt from the inside. If 1 fails, acid sprayed on you, lose 1d3 AC and inventory slots/items.
  5. Acid Jet- Tail bulges like cartoon firehose and it quivers in targets' direction. Save or doused in acid, save again or knocked prone, each round doused lose 1d6 AC of armor, Inventory slots, and HP. Damage doubled if no armor or inventory items,  tripled if neither. Save each round to end acid, or dive into water or something.
  6.  Shake off Juvenile- Baby scorpion leaps from back to join melee.

Dreamwraith- Dreaming and dead, their skull, their spirit will hunt those who disturb their body or their treasure as roaming. The spell The Happy Hunt can be learned from the inside of their skull and more details can be found there.
 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Thoughts on Veins of the Earth

Disclaimer: I haven't actually read Veins of the Earth
But I've read blogposts about Veins of the earth
me IRL
What is Veins of the EarthVeins of the Earth is a dungeon written by Skerples(http://melancholiesandmirth.blogspot.com), famed original creator of Goblinpunch, describing how the world is actually the corpse of Ymir, and as such caves and tunnels and so on are the 'veins' of the earth.

Now you might think it's just a reskinned underdark, and you'd be right, but it's 'osr' so it's cool and W*zard of the Shoreline can **** my pulchritudinous wang(stats as ogre). But lets get into what makes this dumb cave dungeon so popular and gave it the title of 'The Dark Souls of OSR dungeons'

First off, it does away with the annoying aspects of real caves that would make them difficult to adventure in. In fact, the only 'cave generators' it supplies is a bag of cheetos and a link to Dyson Logos which is actually a pretty good deal, from a certain point of view. But it includes a lot of rules for caloric intake and cooking, and if there's one thing I've learned from watching my flatmate play overrated JRPG games, it's that a robust cooking minigame is the cornerstone of interesting gameplay. With the players entertained by pretending to eat fungus men with a side of cave lice, they won't even realize they haven't found any treasure in 3 sessions.

But let's give a breakdown of the dungeon.

Veins of the Earth, Level One
 The entrance to the Veins is a one-way crack you have to wriggle through, leaving all your items behind and forever being unable to return. This may seem harsh, but it's actually great, because it's a 'fresh start' with an old character. The 'Intro level' of the Veins is pretty easy in theory, but in practice everyone's naked and wielding stirge-beak shanks, so it's actually pretty interesting. The players are supposed to take as much meat as they can kill from this first level, but if they're not genre savvy, they'll probably leave behind the meat of the 'Cave Goblins, Cave Bandits, and Dave Zombies(I'm not sure if that's a typo or a shoutout to one of the original playtesters of Veins who died on the first depth but I think it adds a lot to the game) and starve on level two.

Veins of the Earth, Level Two
This is where the real veins starts according to everyone. Every hall is described as a 'maze of twisty little corridors, all alike' and is all about IDing things before fighting them. Stuff like the deR0 (hacker dwarves who use leetspeak, they make more sense once you hit the gonzo crashed spaceship sublevel) and the Olm
Statblocks a bit weird but totally compatible with the GLOG, so
have to be dealt with totally differently. One thing I really liked were 'waterfall traps' that are just curtains of water to menace light sources, they're almost as foreboding as a locked door despite being nothing but water. That's the sort of clever dungeon design the Veins is all about, you see.

Veins of the Earth Level 3
This level gets some flak because it's the 'lava level' and it's honestly not deep enough to be in the mantle, but I forgive it because it has a LAVA KRAKEN.
'But Wiz,' you say, 'Isn't that just a lazily elemental reskin?'
WRONG
The Lava Kraken is the sort of 'Boss fight' that some people think has no place in the OSR, but Skerples has done it again(the first time being his rad basilisk encounter) with this astounding fight.
First off, the scene is in a giant lava lake, where the lava kraken resides. There's an island of treasure with a dead dragon skeleton on it, but there's no way to get to it- or is there?

Ignoring spells or the (frankly lame) option to flood the lake with water from level 2 and seal the kraken inside cooled volcanic rock, the way to get the treasure is twofold- you can either navigate the stalactites over the lava lake (just don't grab a piercer) OR knock the stalactites loose(or piercers!) and use them as stepping stones to cross the lake. Of course, there's 8 magma tentacles trying to kill you during this, and then there's phase two, which I actually don't know what it is because I don't have the book. If someone DOES have Veins of the Earth, please leave a comment telling me what phase 2 of the lava kraken fight is.

Veins of the Earth Level 4 
Here we got a twofold thing- a city of ghouls, and a crashed spaceship in the middle (the dEr0 are there)

This is all pretty much food based politics as far as I can tell. Feed ghouls to get hirelings, feed dEr0 to ghouls or let the dEr0 do whatever they do to advance their faction. I've heard people complain about the '1v1' aspect of the faction conflict but I'm pretty sure the Olm and Mindflayers are factions too. Also there's another weird option to flood the ghoul city with the lava from level 3 that actually turns into a 'gotcha' because that just turns them all into 'pyroclastic ghouls' which is cool but apparently has TPK'd most playtesters.

"Deep Veins"
Remember I haven't actually read this, so a lot of this has been assembled via deductive reasoning. Or possibly inductive.

In any case, you got several veins to go down now, and some arteries too. There's the one that leads to the Paleontological Depths, which has stuff like fossil dinosaurs and your mom's prom dress and for some reason a lot of bird sublevels. Something about 'the three Bird Ages?' In any case I really think it's great that the players can do archaeology to learn more about the dungeon, and use radiocarbondating to determine monster stats within a 1-10000% degree of error. Because it's not just about running out of food and dying, it's about learning about a strange environment and mastering it. Speaking of, the Civilopede is here with it's P-zombie historians, so all in all this is the reward for thoughtful 'explorer' type players.

There's also the 'living vein' which is connected to Ymir's beating heart and is sorta a reminder of 'oh yeah, the VEINS of the earth' ya know? Anyway, it's like a 'go inside giant monster level' only it's all made of ice because Norse Myth. That's the sort of thing that reminds you it's a FANTASY setting, and that real-world considerations of cave delving are tots lame and you could never make good content out of them.

There's also what I've seen described as 'Furry Catholic Hell,' which is pretty much what you'd expect, only it's the Foxlings and Buglings and Slothlings trying to tempt you to sin while the demons act as the fun police. Apparently this section is nearly unplayable unless you have the FATAL tables to cross reference stuff, and since it's the intended 'respawn point' for slain characters, but I think that's a nice callback to old references to CHAINMAIL rules, and in the true spirit of the OSR.

Finally there's the Undersea, which has your giant crabs, mind-flayers-but-not-trademarked, dream whales (aka oneirocetaceans) and similar stuff. I believe it's meant to be Ymir's stomach, though I couldn't say for sure.

In anycase, it's important to note that these are all open-ended, so they're less of a dungeon 'end' and more of a 'Here be GM Improv' zone beyond them, which is nice in theory but in practice, basically just an excuse to put an advertisement for the 'Veins Hexcrawl' which you can only buy for $99.99 (plus tip) and by all accounts is the same as regular Veins of the Earth, just in a different layout.

In conclusion, I'd give this an 8/10, like skyrim but underground.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Spells for Moon Rats, and thoughts on Spell Lists

This is a reference for the various Maze Rats style generated spells in my current game, in terms of how they're cast both in pseudo-vancian 1/day style, and how they'd be cast in GLOG style magic for anyone who delves into the Old Magic. They're mostly level 1-tier spells.

If you don't care about the spells, there's rambling about spell lists after them.


Earth Song
Sing to stone or earth to gain a reaction check from it. 2d6 if vancian, or 1d6 per magic die if GLOG.
1-5 Bad
6-8 Neutral
9+ Good
If 3+ dice are used, the stones may shift in ways that ignore gravity. Stones can collapse, trip people up, roll a little. Mud  and Earth may become firmer or softer, sand can avoid blowing into eyes, that sorta thing. Bad or Good reactions basically just indicate whether these effects favor the caster or not. Neutral effects indicate the stones trying to settle themselves more comfortably- worked stone tends to favor trying to maintain or repair its own architecture, while natural earth and stone just want to follow gravity.

Plague Amber
Lures a disease to inhabit some dried treesap instead of whoever is currently infected. Actual Amber is required to catch great spirits of plague. Breaking the amber releases the disease on whoever's nearest.
Dice Invested/Level of vancian spell
  1. Can catch non-lethal diseases
  2. Can catch lethal diseases.
  3. Can catch extremely virulent plagues ala Black Death, requires Amber
  4. Amber Prison become a permanent ward vs one disease, allowing all who touch it to be purged and immunized so long as the prison holds firm. Requires a large and quality piece of amber worth several thousand GP.
Gate of the Knife
Stab a knife into a doorframe, and anything passing through automatically takes damage as though being slashed by the knife. 1 Knife per level can remain active in this fashion, or if casting Glog style, one must roll higher than the # of currently active knives to place a new knife, and 3+ dice allows the placing of Swords.

Crow Scare-Summons a cawing, flapping crow in front of the face of the target. This is extremely shocking and the target must save or spend their next action attacking the crow, jumping back in shock, shielding their face, as opposed to any useful action.
This spell cannot be cast within line of sight of a scarecrow.
If cast with 3+ magic dice, an entire murder of crows will be summoned to scare as many targets as the caster wishes.

Transport Sunshard- Telekinetically shift existing fire or lightning to another place in sight at a rate equal to your own running speed. Once the target is picked the shard moves in a straight line to its destination. Any fire bigger than a bonfire(1d12 damage) is too big to move. The fire will likely go out upon hitting something unless the target was flammable.
With extra magic dice, it may be sent to strike multiple targets beyond the first. With vancian casting, it strikes +1 target per 5 levels of the caster.

Mesmeric Sphere-
Creates a hovering, gleaming bubble with 1HP and ac 10. Save or be unable to look away. Entranced people obliged to stare it it are easily flanked, as though they can continue to fight, they may be limited to peripheral vision. The caster need not save as they can look away, and anyone with forewarning can avoid catching a glimpse of it. Combat near the sphere forces extra saves each round(barring clever placement), much like trying to avoid a gaze attack. It lasts until someone pops it, or 1 minute per level(vancian) or [sum]minutes rolled (GLOG)


Oil Colossus- S
ummons 5-foot wide flame-eyed blob of oil(light as candlelight) to rise from the ground near the caster. If struck, degenerates into flaming pool of oil about 5 feet wide that burns for 2 rounds. The blob obeys commands, but can do little but scoot around at knee height and cannot climb stairs or steep slopes. If struck by an attack(it is automatically hit) or if it just jiggles too enthusiastically (1/6 chance every minute) it ignites and becomes a flaming pool of oil.

Compelling Touch-
Touch someone- they won't willingly break physical contact until you do, or outside forces separate you. No save. Also nothing prevents them from shanking you, but your death will not end the effect.
Each 3 levels or extra magic die invested allows an additional target to be compelled in this manner, either from your touch or the touch of someone currently under the spells effects.

Conceal psyche- your mind and spirit are shielded from detection. Nightmares and undead animated by Nightmare will be entirely unable to detect you, and mental effects from creatures that can see you will have a blindness penalty to hit (or a similar bonus to your saving throw). You also can probably bluff spirits into thinking you've already sold your soul. Last until you wake up from sleep. You can only conceal yourself.

Encoding Sand
 Sand whirls like a tiny tornado the size of a pen, etching [sum] words (or 2d6 for vancian casting) down in the blink of an eye.
Alternately, coded symbols or simple drawings can be etched, like a stick figure.
Using 3+ magic dice allows you to instead make complex drawings, like realistic art, copied maps, or as many words as can fit  in [sum] square feet.

Tendril of Screaming Blight, 
which sounds dreadful but what it does is rots some wood and grows a mushroom that will scream if something comes near it. Deals [effect level]d6 damage to tree monsters.
 Dice Used/Maximal effects at Level/2
  1. Rots something up to a door or chair. Mushroom as whistle.
  2. Rots something up to a wagon. Mushroom as flute
  3. Rots a large tree.  Mushroom the size and noisiness of shrieking child or trumpet
  4. Could rot an entire wooden wall. Mushroom tree-sized, a deafening siren wail.
Rainshaping You can make rain coalesce into various shapes with a high degree of precision and control. Lasts as long as the rain does. Douse people in water, create shadowy illusions out of rain. Each extra die or 3 levels allows an extra thing to be done simultaneously.

Water Cubes
Makes water adopt a resting position of a cube, instead of a puddle. Permanent. Works on solutions, but not purely non-water liquids.
Up to one 10x10x10 cube per level or [sum] can be formed

Thunderous Gate- Utterance of a Word of Power creates a pulse of air pressure strong enough to send small objects flying, slam doors shut, send projectiles off target, etc. It is cast via shouting a single word and can be done as a 'reaction' interrupting other actions regardless of initiative. If 3+ dice are used, it deafens those nearby and forces a morale check against anything afraid of thunder or with sensitive hearing.

Ember Cauldron- A way to keep a container heated without fire so long as you continue chanting. Heat will be up to 'Boiling' in the vancian style.

Dice Used
  1. Lukewarm
  2. Boiling
  3. Red Hot (may destroy nonmetal containers)
  4. White Hot (Will destroy most containers sooner or later)

Sealing Script-Creates a 'scroll' that activates when placed on something. If the name written on the scroll matches the true name of the being it is attached to, it activates. Truly nameless beings are immune so long as no one names them, but even animals may have 'names' in the form of specific cries/smells that are difficult, but not impossible to transcribe. All effects allow a saving throw to resist, and automatically end if the paper is removed or damaged to the point the name is marred.
Dice used/Difference between target HD and personal HD
  1. Sealed- Prevents use of spells or supernatural abilities like basilisk gazes, werewolf shapechanging, etc.
  2. Paralysis- Can think, breathe, etc, but can't move voluntary muscles.
  3. Stasis- Target untouched by passage of time. Does not breathe, eat, think, age, etc.
  4. Imprisonment- Target sealed inside nearby object, essentially ceasing to exist till seal is broken.
Speak to Crow
Allows you to speak to crows for a single conversation. Doesn't compel them to talk back, but they're gabby beasts you can bribe with scraps of food.

Throne of Foresight- Sit in a chair (or handy branch or rock) and determine who the next person to sit in that chair will be. Their name echoes in your mind and the casting is as subtle as a thought.


RAMBLING
So in typical D&D, there's 'The Spell List.' If you're a wizard (hairy or otherwise), you have a pretty good idea of what spells you'll use, and why. You meet goblins, you cast sleep. You meet a high AC monster, you use Magic Missile. Known solutions to known problems.

So what I'm trying to do with the introduction of a bunch of weird spells that I make up off the top of my head from some words strung together is more of 'give the players weird shit to play with and see what they do.' The power level is definitely weaker than D&D spells, but the weakness of the spells has made being a 'wizard' more about creative application and combination of strange little cantrips than about having a set number of specific answers to specific problems per day.

Some of my favorite uses of the 'weird spell list' have been

A shrunken character using Crow Scare and Speak With Crow to arrange his rescue from being stranded in the sky.

Using the Throne Of Foresight to learn about a bunch of Sludge Vampires pretending to be elves in a giant dead treestump

Use of Crow Scare and Monsterize to get a save or stun + a quick monster

Thunderous Gate was used to blow a falling flying canoe onto a more favorable trajectory

Using Oil Colossus to scout ahead providing light and a nasty firetrap to any lurking monsters

Using Transport Sunshard to turn a burning oil trap against its creator

In any case, I'm not saying this approach to spells is 'better' than the D&D spell list, but it's certainly been an interesting one. I always liked the weird magic items like Immovable Rods that have no 'intended use' and are just potential 'ins' for creative plans, but they're often limited use or very rare, so shifting 'weird, possibly useless item' into 'weird, possibly useless spells' gives more opportunities to come up with a kooky scheme. Grease is one example of a D&D spell like this, though I wonder why it became a spell and not just a purchasable item.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Easy Access Polytheism, plus an old incomplete pantheon

This is something I've done in settings with polytheistic pantheons where pretty much everyone attempts to get on the good sides of the gods.

Anyone can cast cleric spells! Hooray! However, you don't automatically get spells- you pay for them with Favor, and don't have 100% certainty of what will happen. You get favor by doing things that specific gods like. Donating 1000 coins, a magic item, or other things of great value to one of their temples or doing a quest for the church is a solid way to get a favor point with most gods, as is converting more people to the religion.

Each point of favor is the equivalent to a spell level. Invoking a miracle involves praying for divine intervention. Make a WIS check or a saving throw or something, maybe with a -1 per spell level of the miracle you're praying for. Maybe you have to roll under Favor-Requested Spell Level if you want it to be hard. Anyway, if it works, burn favor and the gods will bestow an appropriate cleric spell of a level up to the amount of favor burned in response to your request, assuming your request is in-line with their goals. If it fails, you can keep praying for a cumulative +1 bonus per consecutive round spent praying.
NOTE: To prevent this from being an exercise in 'mother may I' with the GM, god motives and methods should be pretty obvious, not super sophisticated character studies , and as usual, saying 'yes' will almost always make for a better game than saying 'no'

If something dreadful would happen to you and you have some banked favor, the god you have the highest favor with has a favor-in-20 chance of them attempting to save your bacon independently, though they'll be the ones choosing how much favor to burn(all of it, typically) and what exactly to do with it in that case. They might just blow favor at a 1-1 ratio to increase your saving throw vs getting owned or similar simple mathematical tweaks in your favor if they don't have any truly appropriate spells to save you.

Doing things they don't like will likely incur loss of favor, and doing things they REALLY don't like will result in Wrath- the turning of any positive favor to negative.  Negative favor is similar to positive favor given to your enemies, to be used against you at inopportune moments.


Anyway, here are some examples from my last campaign. The might be bad examples to steal wholesale because there's a bunch of setting-specific divine politics implied, but having factional conflict and conditional alliances and so on makes religion interesting.
you get angels of Riikhus &Mokkhus, cuz Riikhus is just the sun and Mokkhus is just a big goffik dude


Riikhus- The King in the Sun, the Flames Of War Which Purify All, The Unconquered Light
Mokkhus- Counter of Bones, Gatekeeper of the Dead, The Unmoved

+1 Favor- Smite an undead or demonic creature of more HD than yourself, or an enemy priest
+??? Favor- Subjugate a divine spirit and add them to the slave pantheon of the Brothers
-1 Favor- Gain more favor with a slave god than your current total with the Brothers
-1 Favor- Act against the interests of the Church
Wrath- Intentionally gain favor with M'shesh or Lumar
Common Miracles
Riikhus's Trumpet- Garb allies and self in arms and armor in fanfare of light and angelic wingbeats
Wrath of Riikhus- As Inflict Light Wounds but Holy Fire damage, or in sunlight, as Magic Missile
Underworld Manacle- Strip immunity to nonmagical weapons from one undead.
Ancestor Spirit- As Animate dead, but animated dead are lawful faithful of Mokhus and will return to the underworld after their task
Intervention- Angel dispatched to smite evil or spirit the faithful away to safety.

Slave Gods/Saints of the Brothers Riikhus and Mokkhus
Lady of Gardens- Law, Plants, Domesticity, Society
+1 Favor- slay monsters and mutants
+1 Favor- officiate lawful proceedings such as marriage, peace contracts, etc.
-1 Favor- polymorph, mutate, sow chaos, minor crimes
Wrath- Intentional polymorph, mutation, seriously destabilizing crime
Common Miracle- Entangle, Grow Plants

Jackal God Of Yuba
+1 Favor- Eat the warm hearts of your slain foes. +2 if higher HD, +3 if over double HD.
+1 favor- Save a Canine from peril
Common Miracles- Charm Canine, Scare Animal, Curse: Lycanthropy.

Hefon- Goddess of Bonds
+1 Favor- save a friend or family from certain death
+1 Favor- avenge a wrong done to your kin or ally
-1 Favor-Abandon allies in need
Wrath- Betray blood or bondsman
Common miracle- bless, healing, or reversed spells when pursuing vengeance

M'shesh is a nice goddess if you agree death was a stupid idea and a world of zombies would be better
No pain! No need to kill living creatures to eat! Stable population!




Free Gods
M'shesh- Mother of Undead, She-Who-Bars-The-Way, the Black Wind
M'shesh opposes death and pain and will never grant a spell that inflicts harm.
+1 Favor- Spare your enemies rather than slay them this session. Also, kill nothing to eat.
+1 Favor- Convert or slay a priest of Mokkhus or Riikhus- those who do not oppose death are welcome to it!
-1 Favor- Slay fleeing or surrendered foes, or kill without necessity.
Commonest Miracle- Breathe a dead soul of a M'shesh faithful into a corpse, creating an intelligent zombie hireling or raising a faithful player as undead. Immune to poison, discomfort, disease, but still vulnerable to level drain and feel like they need to breathe and eat and sleep. If they don't, they start going crazy. Also zombie PCs break a lot of inherent assumptions about the game, like food, need to breathe, etc etc, and you should be careful with this at low levels.


You can't comprehend Yg's true majesty because you're not a snake
But if you were this image would be majestic indeed

Mother Yg- She-of-Skins, the Long Librarian, Egg-Keeper, Serpentine Matron
+1 Favor- Complete a task for a snake
+1 Favor- Retrieve knowledge unknown even to her
+1 Favor- Consecrate a monster egg to be born as a monster snake instead
-1 Abandon a snake in mortal peril
Wrath- intentionally harm a snake

Common Miracles- cure poison, sticks to snakes. Snakify Egg, cause poison, speak with snake(but never charm snake, you can hire them as hirelings for the usual half share of gold. It is a mystery what they do with it.)
Getting Raise Dead'd makes you a bit more snakey each time.
This is what carved wooden idols of T'liki look like. Only even more annoying.
T'liki- Coinflipper, Shuffler of Souls, The All-(f)or-Nothing
+1 Favor- gamble your most prized possession as an offering to T'liki with 50/50 odds. If you can fool T'liki, you might be able to fake sacrificing it.
+1 Do something risky and stupid, and pull it off. Adventurers can rack favor up pretty quick...
-1 Be boring. Festivals of masks and wanton revelry are held to amuse T'liki and ward off his attempts to 'spice up' peoples lives.


Common Miracles- as a chaotic trickster god, T'liki grants random spells of illusion and confusion.
T'liki can be called to intervene directly with no loss of favor by drawing from a deck of cards, rolling a die, or similar, but his intervention leans towards making situations more chaotic and random, rather than any reliable aid. Certain players will take great joy in having T'liki be blamed for bad rolls and praised for good ones, others will despise the addition of extra RNG to an already unpredictable game.

Lumar, One From Nowhere, The Unfathomable, Shines-In-Dark, Bliss-In-Ignorance

 A strange and obscure goddess from the mirror realm, which was once a blurred land of reflections in water and ice alone but has expanded with the creation of humans and their mirrors and glass and metal. Riikhites despise her for the creation of the moon, but is imitation not the sincerest form of flattery? No clerical powers reach into the mirror realm save hers, but regardless, she grants imitation miracles to visitors regardless, and they never know the difference.
not even once they've returned to the world of nonreflected light and shadow
Maybe there never really was a Lumar and the real holy spirit was inside you all along, kid
Or maybe the real miracles were the friends you made along the way?
knowledge drowned in the sea, better left alone
Something like that. 
+1 Favor- destroy knowledge of the true nature of the world and its purpose in the plan of the gods
-1 Favor- learn knowledge as to the true nature of the world
wrath- spread the word of the true nature of the world 
Common miracles- mental manipulation, illusion, moonlight and seafog and information, & planeshifting

BUT WHAT ABOUT CLERICS
The above rules are for everyone. Clerics are still clerics, but they're zealots, fanatics, who serve one god and one god alone. Their favor with their chosen god is indicated by their level and typical spells-per-day business, and while negotiating with other gods and spirits is part of their duty as religious icons, gaining favor with gods and spirits beyond their own is closer to 'leverage' than it is to a healthy religious relationship. 

BUT WHAT ABOUT ANIMISM 
Animism is great for this, though creating a pantheon of gods as factions is a lot easier than being prepared to run everything as a potential spiritual entity. Everything can potentially be a source of favor, be it an old ghost, a river, a tree, a stone, another PC, linguistic concepts... it's a rabbit hole that can go infinitely deep. Imagine Dungeon-as-God, where breaking down doors and strewing goblin entrails about infuriates the dungeon, but properly finding keys and arranging goblin entrails neatly may earn the favoritism of a dungeon. But this post is rambly enough as is, so let's call things quits for now.