Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Dreaming Death

There are many, many worlds, but there is only one dreamland. Or rather, there are as many dream worlds as there are dreams and dreamers, but they are all connected to each other by the simple act of dreaming.

And so of course, it's very possible to die in your dreams.

Note: CW. take care with this list, I've been saving it for halloween month cuz it got a lot darker and more horror-y than I expected. This is some Last Gasp level dark shit, if I do say so myself. Or maybe they just freak me out 'cuz they're *my* dreams

Wrote this to solve the problem of spells like nightmare where you apparently can die of a dream, but who has time to make up a nightmare on the fly? Well, me usually, but here's some good inspiration

by Bogdan Rezunenko

D10 ways to die in your dreams

1. Giant horned beast hunts you through an e endless maze. Each twist and turn requires you to backtrack, and the beast gets closer. You can smell its rank stench, hear its breathing far away in the corridors. You come to the grey wall of a dead end. Starting up at the wall, you know that the beast is right behind you.
2: you eat and eat, but you never seem to get full. You eat your whole bowl of food, than another, then you are shovelling the contents of the table into your jaws, running to the pantry and pouring flour spices directly into your mouth. You turn on your family, seeing nothing there but food that tries to flee you. It is only lying there, bloated to the point of rupturing your guts, lapping lazily at the blood spilled across your chest, that you start vomiting blood and you finally feel satiated
3. You know your brother is a wolf. Maybe he's been replaced, maybe he always was, but you saw his ears, his yellow eyes, his tail, watching him talking with someone else. He feels you watching, meets your fearful eyes. 'It's alright' he says to you. 'There's nothing you can do to stop it.' No one else hears. No one else believes you. One by one they start turning up dead, or vanishing, until you are alone in the empty house. Except for him, of course. He saved you for last.
4. You are being walked up to the gallows. The jeering crowd. As the noose is placed around your neck, you think, this is mistake! But you look down at your hands (why didn't they tie up your hands?) And they're soaked in blood. You're covered in scratched from where they fought back, but they couldn't beat you. As the bag is placed over your head, and the door opens beneath you, you wish and try to remember why you did it. Why did you kill t
5. It's started raining. You're outside by the ocean. The raindrops fall through you, washing away your realness. You start to fade. The ocean and the beach. You open your mouth to scream but you have no mouth, no body. Just the sound of the wind and the waves and the pebbles bring washed ever more smooth
6. The tower is on fire. Backed up against a window, but it's so far up you can't bear to look out. You know if you look you'll have to jump, to escape the flame, so you force yourself to look straight ahead as the red fingers creep across the floor, begin to caress your skin. As the skin on your face peels, you smile. At least you didn't jump.
7. You have been sneezing for days. There's so much pollen in the air. You have a rash, and as you scratch you find little seeds embedded under your skin. You scratch your skin raw to get them out, the green tendrils of them growing so fast. You can't reach the ones on your back. They're drinking your blood, making you weaker. You stumble your way through the deserted city. Everything is so green, so hot, so many flowers, clustered like people clinging to each other for comfort. You find a cool spot where you can rest. Just for a minute. Just until the mass on your back stops wriggling dry much. Stops digging in.
8. You are lost in the desert. In the distance, an oasis shimmers, and you drag each ffoot as you walk towards it. Your lips split from the heat, but they don't bleed, you dying have enough moisture. You try to lick them, but your tongue is leathery and dry, you can barely move it at all without choking on it. You're so close. The sand burns you as you drag yourself over the crest of the Dube-but the oasis was gone, another mirage. In the distance an oasis shimmers, but you know it is too far away for you to ever make it there. It's probably not real anyway. But you never get to find out.
9. Dawn breaks dull and grey and still. Alongside your best friend, you walk into the clearing, breath fogging in the cold crisp air. Your opponent is waiting there for you, sword drawn. A duel to the death. You circle each other like dogs, then leap together. Swords clash. You parry weave, trying every pattern you know, searching for their weakness. Your opponent matches you stroke for stroke, and then, just when you think you've found an opening, twists and strikes you. You stare at the point impaling your chest, then fall back on the grass as blood spreads out across your white shirt like a drop of ink in water. You stare up at the first blue appearing in the morning sky. It's going to be a beautiful day.
10. The teeth in your head twist and writhe, escaping some whining noise that emanates deep within your skull. With little claw-like legs, their hard bodies twist out of your gums, filling your mouth with blood. Some you spit out, but others burrow upward towards your brain, as the keening sound in your head reaches a fever pitch, masking some but not nearly enough of the pain.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

d100 Trash and Junk Table

Sometimes Many Goblins find a weird piece of garbage. Sometimes a slaad turns your sword into a random object. Sometimes a murderhobo is grubbing around, clearly unable to move on from this area until they find SOMETHING, but there's definitely no treasure, so you throw them a bone (entry 39) or an oversized moldy boot (entry 20)

I wrote these over quite a long period, so let me know if there are total duplicates and other things that I missed. Also, thank you to my D&D players for helping me crank out the last 10 or so! Very excellent garbage, team <3

d100 Trash & Cool Junk Table
  1. A monster that wants to eat you! 1- carrion crawler, 2- fungus (yellow mold, purple fungus, etc), 3- Otyugh, 4- Rot Grubs
  2. A paper wasp nest. Maybe a 50% chance it's full of wasps?
  3. An ornate table leg that can be used as a club
  4. Lead coin somewhat unconvincingly painted gold
  5. bag of 100 small balls, like golf balls. May actually be golf balls.
  6. Jar filled with live snails
  7. Urn filled with ashes
  8. tangled bundle of string. Very dirty, but quite sturdy
  9. A ten-foot pole that's been duct taped back together
  10. A large shell with a crack in it, in it you can hear static instead of the ocean
  11. set of bone dice, poorly shaved in attempt to cheat
  12. Bag of bent and rusty caltrops
  13. A fishing net, holes in it badly repaired
  14. Many socks. Do any match? Sort them to find out!
  15. Rusty straight razor
  16. Axe handle
  17. Cool rock (1-purple band, 2- yellow speckles, 3-weird face shape, 3-almost perfectly round)
  18. Shovel, blade split nearly in half
  19. jar filled with green stuff. Food? Just algae & mold now.
  20. single oversized moldy boor
  21. Box of mostly unspoiled potatoes
  22. Bag of crumpled pieces of colourful paper
  23. A basket with a broken handle
  24. Very stale scones, can be thrown as projectiles dealing 1d4 damage
  25. Spoiled healing potion. Will heal you, but will also make you sick for 1d6 hours
  26. Book missing many pages. 1- manual for operating mining equipment; 2- Harlequin romance; 3- hysterical religious text; 4- cookbook for cooking monsters & other dungeon creatures
  27. Almost entirely used-up batteries, made of copper, light (nondamaging) acid, copper.
  28. broken radio-type machine, only plays (loud) static
  29. Several rope scraps tied together to make a 50-ft length. 25% base chance it breaks when used.
  30. Many expired credit cards
  31. Very scratched CD(s), records, or other recording media
  32. Pens with broken nibs, leaky inkwells
  33. Quite a few burlap sacks
  34. fragment of a spell scroll. Not salvageable, but reading it gives you a minor headache and dizzy spell
  35. Can of paint with 1/2 inch of goey paint at the bottom
  36. Cracked amphora, no lid
  37. Large candle stub 
  38. long string, tangled and fragile but suitable as wick/fuse
  39. A well-chewed femur, heavy enough to be a club
  40. Bottle of wine turned to slightly sludgy vinegar
  41. A thumbnail-sized ballbearing
  42. A lot of somewhat moldy straw
  43. Ripped pillow cases 1-polka dots, 2- zebra/leopard prints, 3- black, 4- cut animal prints (owlbears, froghemoths, etc)
  44. Half a roll of tape-bandage. Not clean enough to use as bandage safely, without disinfectant etc
  45. jack-o-latern, dried into a somewhat-sturdy container
  46.  Stuffed toy, 1 - owlbear, 2- froghemoth, 3- behir, 4- displacer beast
  47. chess set missing 1d10 pieces. Chess pieces are 1- dragons, 2-modrons/slaad, 3- geometrical shapes with arcane significance, 4- birds vs the church (very heretical)
  48. Deck of cards, only 5d12 cards (if more than a normal deck, then its' several incomplete decks mashed together)
  49. Book,  paper written on so many times as to be completely black
  50. White Ink
  51. Tin soldier (livery of nearest sympathetic empire, geographic or historic), bent, one arm missing
  52. Sword bent entirely around like a pretzel
  53. Tattered black cowl, blood will wash out
  54. pretty gross smelling soap, too much lye in it so it stings
  55. Perfectly fine boots, but they're a really obnoxious lime green
  56. Manacles, locked, no key
  57. A black box from an airplane. Doesn't matter whether your campaign has airplanes.
  58. Single glove with six fingers
  59. Fake skull. Kinda convincing, but not THAT convincing.
  60. extremely scratched magnifying glass
  61. Psychic paper, but it shows a random thing instead of 'what you expect to see' (1- picture of your/theirs/someone else's kids, 2- the number 'they were thinking of', 3- a queen of hearts, 4- a diary entry of one of the characters, 5- animal facts, 6- porno) 
  62. Key (to a random locked door nearby, ideally)
  63. Feather duster missing half it's feathers
  64. Broom with all the bristles broken off way too short. 
  65. Abacus with only 2d6 remaining beads, some broken runners
  66. Burnt-out lightbulbs (1d6)
  67. Painting in a frame. It's not very good (but that doesn't matter), and it's ripped and stained.
  68. Beartrap, rusted shut
  69. Bucket with a hole in  it
  70. 2d6 cracked and chipped plates and/or saucers
  71. Bent fork
  72. A perfectly good sewing needle
  73. Helmet, three-quarters melted
  74. Shard of broken mirror
  75. Small box with different fishing weights
  76. Fused-up tanglefoot bag
  77. Collection of 2d8 worn, faded, and cut up periodicals (Nat Geo, but with dragons... Unnatural Geomantic?)
  78. A cheap trophy for an unpopular sport (1-lacrosse, 2- curling, 3- quidditch) 
  79. A towel!
  80. A chair with one leg that's quite a bit too short
  81. 1/10th of a roll of tape
  82. Bent & ruined lockpicks
  83. preserved peaches so old they've turned into a kind of weird slurry- still edible tho!
  84. Terracotta flower pots, 1d6 (stacked), 50% cracked
  85. Quarter 'ration' of oil
  86. Battered storm lantern that won't stand up straight
  87.  bag of broken glass, safely wrapped
  88.  Old atlas, out of date but not SO out of date to be particularly  historical
  89. A full can of whipped cream. All the nitrous is gone. Nearby are a gang of whippet-high goblins
  90. mold-saturated blanket
  91. A jar of mismatched buttons
  92. A single sandle, slighty magic, falls apart and bits float away if handled roughly
  93. Large rotten molar covered in tooth-fairy dust
  94. A tattered portrait of a decorated admiral with the face of a frowning cat. Did he ever really exist?
  95. Leather bound journal filled with scratchings of a madman, final entry is only discernible sentence: "It's all true"
  96. torn-off cover of a wizard's grimoire
  97. 3d10 mismatched letters for typesetting
  98. 1d4 strings of cheap beads (mardi gras style)
  99. Shred of map. May show one useful landmark, not much more
  100. actual kind of treasure! Use your favourite 'minor items' table or roll here.

Look at all that useless crap! And, maybe this list will be less useful to you if you run a more 'medieval' and less anachronistic fantasy game, in which case tweak the items to be more grounded, or use the short list below
  1. turnip peels
  2. old boot
  3. string
  4. nothing

And last but not least, a 5e version of the randomize object spell- although with that spell, less of the objects should be broken, so tweak the descriptions. And/OR add the seventy or so objects from the Goblin Punch 'Slaad' entry (including in the comments), and we're almost up to a d200 table! 
Randomize Object
2nd-level Transmutation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V S M (bit of clay)
Duration: Up to 1 hour
Classes: Bard, Sorcerer, Wizard
This spell transforms an object no larger than a breadbox that you can see within range into a random new form. An attended object held by unwilling creature may get a Saving throw (wielder's Charisma save) to resist. The transformation should be as random as possible, and the caster has no control over the result of the transformation. At the end of the duration the object may get a second save, otherwise, permanent.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Catalogue of Demons

I find the traditional and 5e versions of 'monster types' to be a little cumbersome. It's un-intuitive. What actually links a slaad, mind flayer, and a beholder as 'abberations?' They're not from the same place. They're all otherworldly, but if a ranger, say, devoted themselves to the study of otherworldly creatures, wouldn't that also include demons?

Add to that 5e's reduced emphasis on creature types defining stat blocks (remember in 3.x type would determine everything from saving throws to hit dice), and this feels like an exercise in futility. And even worse, under-utilized design space!

So for a long time I've been using my own world-specific creature types. They're based on where the creatures are from, including geographically, historically, and dimensionally. They're supposed to be more akin to natural groupings. This has the benefit of allowing me to come up with unique looks and behaviors consistent to each group, which means when it comes up during games, players are more likely to be able to intuit what kind of creature they're dealing with, even if they've never seen this specimen before.

I've included examples of creatures after each entry. These are suggestions of statblocks to use to represent those creatures, not always a 1:1 ratio (for example, a tweaked lycanthrope might work for either a Raksha or a Xibalban).

Here are the first few: The Catalogue of Demons.


From BEFORE. Chaos demons, holdovers from an early universe. Of the same age or older than the gods- in terms of species, not necessarily individuals. Because the world as we know it hadn't been built yet, their forms tend to be extremely alien- not just tentacles and insect parts, but WEIRD tentacles and insect parts. Their design almost never references the human form, unless they're some sort of possessing demon, parasite, or shapeshifter (like a mimic, probably the first Uktukku most adventurers encounter.) Their abilities should be powerful, but idiosyncratic, like they're optimized for a different environment than this one.

Utukku are weak to salt, silver, and certain runes of making and binding.

Example Uktukku: Mezzoloths, Beholders, Aboleths, Slaadi, Oblexes, Carrion Crawlers, Chuul, Cloakers, Darkmantle, Ettercap, Gibbering Mouthers, Hook Horror, Otyugh, Piercer, Purple Worm, Roper, Rust Monster, Stirge, Astral Dreadnought, Balhannoth, Alkalith, Dybbuk, Sibriex, Wastrilith, Dhergoloth, Deep Scion, Maw Demon, Morkoth, Flumph, Sea Spawn, Trapper,

Slaad are a great exasmple, because even thought they're more 'normal' looking, they're perfect chaos avatars. Total chaos isn't always random- slaad are the multiverse insisting on answering every question with 'giant toad!'

Giant Toaaaad


Doesn't get much more Utukku than that.


From OUTSIDE. Raksha are energy/conceptual beings from 'beyond' the multiverse, taken on physical form through the act of entering reality. They commonly access reality through people's dreams, or appear in areas of nature and pure natural energy, but they can arise anywhere. Many creatures that would be categorized as 'elementals' are Raksha who have not taken on a fully material form. Others incarnate themselves more fully, and appear as fey or demonic creatures, often in impossible shapes or strange animal-human or part-object hybrids. Almost all Raksha retain some ability to shapeshift.

Examples: Animated Objects, Bugbears, Drow, Displacer Beasts, Faerie Dragon, Yochlol, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Green Hags, Harpies, Lamia, Manticore, Peryton, Pixie, Rakshasa, Satyr, Sprite, Blink Dog, Eladrin, Meazel, Nagpa, Sorrowsworn, Banderhob, Boggle, Darklings, Shusoova, Draegloth, Annis Hag, Bheur Hag, Korred, Leucrotta, Meenlock, Nilbog, Quickling, Red Cap, Yeth Hound, 

Raksha are unable to lie. As conceptual beings, they are their thoughts, their self conception. They can no more lie than a regular person can turn themselves purple or grow donkey ears.


Of the DIVINE. Servants set up by the gods to tend to creation. Dragons, giants, many elementals, even primordial dwarves. They are less mutable than the Raksha, and almost all have some human-like aspect. I had some trouble finding the 'visual line' to separate Grigori from Raksha, or Raksha from Xibalban for that matter, but in this case the behavior should give a boost. Grigori are a lot more solid than Raksha, being fully of this universe, perhaps more so than anything else.

Another key difference: Grigori are in some way spirits of the land, tied very closely with a sense of place. Raksha are never localized in this way, unless they have been bound by powerful magic, or unless the 'landscape' they're associated with it itself some otherworld pulled from the land of dreams.

Examples: Dryads, Dragons, Azer, Angels, Blights, Centaurs, Coatl, Cyclops, Dragons, Dragon Turtle, Empyrean, Ettin, Fomorian, Galeb Duhr, Genies, Giants, Gorgons, Griffins, Hydra, Elementals, Minotaur, Nagas, Owlbear, Pegasus, Quaggoths, Roc, Tritons, Sphinx, Kraken, Tarrasque, Treant, Unicorn, Invisible Stalker, Water Weird, Xorn, Duergar, Eidolon, Elder Elementals, Modrons, Marut, Catoblepas, Flail Snail, Ki-Rin, Wood Woad, 


of the DEAD. These are the spirits of the underworld, formed of ghosts of mortals, fallen angels and demons, and so on. At the bottom of the underworld is an infinite void, from which nothing returns, and the spirits of the dead are inexorably pulled towards it. The Xibalbans are residents of the city built on its brink, holding themselves off from oblivion through a baroque commerce in souls- they send the lesser ghosts into the void in their stead.

Xibalba has six 'houses,' essentially overlapping dreamlike layers of the plane. There isn't always a clear line between which demons are part of which house, and many don't have a specific house, but here are some general themes.

-Umbral. Shadar-Kai, shadows, shadow demons, nightwalkers, banshees, shadow dragons, driders, Will-o'-wisp, Wraith, Shadow Mastiff, 
-Zoztnian. Bat-demons. Vargouilles, Nabassus, Nycaloths, Berbalang, 
-Balmoran. Barghests, were-tigers, barl-guras, goristros, arcanoloths, nalfeshnee, jackelwere, Bulezau, Orthon, Howler, Gnolls, Tannaruk,
-Cryoyek. Ice demons. Gelugon, Remorhaz, Yeti, 
-Chayim. Razor & metal. Mariliths, spinagons, kytons, hamatula, barbazu, Chasme, glabrezu, Osyluth, Boneclaw, Armanite, Merregon, Retriever, Canoloth, Babau, 
-Ignalti. Fire demons. Immolith, balors, cornugons, hell hounds, magmin, nightmare, salamanders, Narzugon, Firenewts,

General Xibalbans: Could use stats for imps, vampires, mummy lords, ghouls, medusas, erinyes, death knight, demilich, Dretch, manes, hezrou, vrock, dracolich, flameskull, night hag, Nothic, death dog, deathlock, Maurezhi, Molydeus, Rutterkin, Abishai, Amnizu, nupperibo, Skull Lord, Stone Cursed, Sword Wraith, Hydroloth, Merrenoloth, Oinoloth, Yagnoloth, Bodak, Devourer,  . In addition, any Grigori, Raksha, or Nephilim can fall to death, and become Xibalban.

Xibalbans are immune or resistant to fire, and they aren't undead- although about half of the 'affects undead' spells and weapons in my game are in fact 'affects Xibalbans.'

Devils are beings, often Xibalban, who have been bound by the church. As part of the many layers of enchantment and oath (same thing) they are unable to lie or break contracts. This is not like the physical inability of the Raksha- the devil may be able to get around the magic on it, or lie in a specific way. Vampires, and their inability to enter a house without permission, are a good example of this.


Of the MORTAL. The universes' early mortal species, mostly extinct, and their descendents/creations.
The five nephilim species are:
-Ether Gaunts
-Mind Flayers
-Spell Weavers
-Grave Worms
-Wind Dukes

Humans are kind of also nephilim, being descendents of the nephilim's creatures, but they're treated as separate for purposes of ranger abilities, and most spells. For spells, basically assume everything that affects nephilim affects humans, but not everything targeted at humans will harm a nephilim.

Example Servitors & Descendents: Behir, Bullywugs, Grell, Grick, Grimlocks, Intellect Devourer, Kuo-Toa, Merfolk, Merrow, Myconid, Ogre, Oni, Orcs, Neogi, Umber Hulk, Ultroloth, Yuan-Ti, Choker, Gith, Skulk, Star-Spawn, Steel Predator, Chitine, Froghemoth, Girallon, Grung, Neothelid, Vegepygmie,

Up next: Mutants and Robots and Dinosaurs!

Maybe: a player-facing aid, like a handout, mentioning various lore about demons?

How much of this is gameable? I don't know! Maybe it will be possible to make gameable material out of it... Still, gotta dump all this lore somewhere!

Thursday, 4 July 2019

+1 item replacements

Some items, designed to be generally but not strictly more powerful than my 'd40 Misc Magic Items' table. Where as those were aimed to be 'odd and probably useful if you're creative' with a few more straightforward items mixed in, these are mostly weapons, in the vein of the 'replacements for +1 swords' posts of yesteryear

1- Mirrorblade
Once per combat you may, instead of rolling a d20, use the value of a d20 one of your opponents just rolled. You must declare this when they make the roll you want to mirror, and it must be used to do approximately the same action (attack for an attack roll, trip if they tried to trip someone, etc)

2- Chainsword

3d8, doubles deal double damage, triples deal triple. If you hit with this, you can't make any more attacks this turn.

3- Tent-Spear
1d10 piercing and force damage. When thrust into the ground (can be done as a reaction), creates a bubble of force. It has 20 hp and all attacks against it hit. If the hit points are reduced to zero, the spear is nonmagic for the purposes of attacking until the next dawn.

4- Kinetic Armour
Absorbs 5 damage from an attack, up to 25 damage total. The stored energy can be released as extra damage on a melee attack, or all 25 damage points can be released in a 10-ft nova around you Dex save for half).

5- the Pendulum
Metal sphere on a long cord. Changes weight, size, & length to maximize impact of it's swing. Targets within 10 ft take 1d10 damage, within 20 ft take 2d10, and within 30 ft (max range) take 3d10, but at a -2 to hit because they have more time to dodge.

6- Conceptual Sword
Looks like the minecraft sword, or what you picture in your mind when you think of a sword. Deals 1d8 psychic damage in addition to regular sword damage. Can be 'stored' in the wielders mind, in which case it appears as a tiny sword-cross-like tattoo on the temple. If it leaves your hand you can re-summon by imagining, so it can be thrown but not perfectly (it's a conceptual sword, not a conceptual throwing axe or whatever), so attack at -2.  Needless to say it can deal damage to ghosts, demons, faeries, illusions, etc- anything that's 'conceptual' or 'imaginary' in nature.

7- Mathematical Blade

Angular blade covered in numbers, squiggly formulas. Looks a bit like a very long right-angle triangle, complete with trigonometry markings. Could be found as a anything from a dagger to a greatsword. As you fight (has to be an actual fight), collect numbers rolled in combat (from damage or low d20s) until you have a full set (1-4 for a dagger, 1-12 for a greatsword, etc). A full set can be turned in for an auto hit with the blade (declare before you roll), or to turn a hit with the blade into max damage (can be used on critical hits for truly stupendous results.)

8- Ancestor Sword
Forged in a fire kindled from the bones of a revered ancestor, or a bear or something strong and awesome if an appropriate ancestor is unavailable. You have advantage to Strength checks and saves, and on Wisdom saves, while the sword is in your hand. The sword also deals damage to ghosts and spirits- it's actually two swords, one real and one ghostly, so enemies who can be struck by both (like many demons/devils, liches, slaad, etc) take both damages.

9- Mace of Many Metals
Studded with adamantine, silver, cold iron, oak, etc etc. Deals 1d8+str damage, and probably bypasses any and all damage resistance or immunity based on physical materials. Enchantments woven into the mace mean that it even deals 1d4+str damage to

10- Inevitable Sword
Every time you miss with this sword, you get a stacking +1 to your next attack with it, and +1d6 damage on your next hit. If you switch opponents, start over at 0- very similar opponents might count as the 'same' for these purposes.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

What Are Goblins?

Gawd, the final version of this post failed to upload, I assume 'cuz of the influence of some conniving goblin, so what you got were my half-finished notes. Updated now with my three-quarters finished notes, but I'm leaving the scraps of bullet points at the intro here because I figure maybe they're a good framing device and I kinda like them


Spirits of the land
    - original 'goblin' monster

Corrupted, squeezed out like a cyst

Plantations created by the elves, the hedge
     - dreamscapes, land grows tangled, ruined, both in material and otherworld

The gods of the land are overthrown. In many places, the tame gods of the Church maintain a pastoral form of the natural order. But there are dark tangles, stains showing through the whitewash, places of divinity with no gods left to rule them.

God can die. The Church has proven that again and again. In ancient times, before the crusades and the pogroms, that fell afoul of some enemy or calamity would be reborn at the font of their power, either in old form or new. The gods were the land, as as long as the land prevailed, so would they. 

The Church changed that. They severed the ties between the gods and the font of their power, and once dethroned they were whittled away and cast aside. But the sacred locations remained. Where it was possible, the resident god would be replaced by a custodian divinity loyal to the Church. In other cases, the god was not slain, but chained- in sigil, architecture, and dream. And some gods were too strong, or some deaths too brutal, and they left a permanent scar on the land- a bubbling wound.

From this wound emerge the 

Goblins are a result of the land trying to reincarnate its avatar, in a world where that reincarnation is rendered impossible. Rather than a powerful, singular force, they are split. Small enough to fit through the bars of a cell.

Forests, standing stones, sacred hills, people's dreams, emerging from the masses of filth in the sewers: Goblins are everywhere

This also helps explain why goblinism is so contagious.

the Elvish Plantations
Wood elves take advantage of this phenomenon to create 'hedges' around their territories. Tangled lands bristling with thorns, a maze of trees and rocks, and teeming with needle-toothed goblins, these are an effective deterrent against incursion. True, goblins offend elvish sensibilities of beauty to such an extreme degree that they frequently murder any goblin who strays outside of the blighted areas of forest set aside for them (elves refer to this as 'weeding'), but wood elves tend to be more pragmatic than their high elf kin, and besides the goblins have to pop up somewhere. Creating the hedges ensures these revolting blemishes stay well out of sight of the delicate sensibilities of the elves.

In other areas, untended by the elves, and only distantly monitored by the Church, goblin blights fester in the wilderness. Instead of well-bordered hedges, these are sprawling, crawling infections. Often at their centre can be found ruined temples, rings of stones- defiled sources of the divine wound. Something of the supernatural influence over the land lingers in all these goblin-woods, with paths that double back, and trees that seem to conspire and watch, and a creeping fear. 

Gremlins and Sewer-Goblins
The surfaces of cities are well-maintained by the Church, often with a temple of some kind in every district. Even the worst of slums has it's shrines, and medicant priests tending to the destitute. These institutions form an unbroken net of ward and faith. But in the under-city, the twisting magic of the goblin-force awaken strange paths. Culverts that once flowed clear become snarled. Passageways exist there that show the mark of the worker's hand, but appear nowhere in any worker's memory. The brick and mortar of the above-city becomes quick and strange, here in the depths. The infection, forced downwards, hollows out the rocks, extending impossibly far into the rock. The city becomes little more than a shell, like a rotten gourd which looks ripe and healthy until broken open, and the putrid guts come spilling out. 

The sewer-goblins are the most revolting of their kin. Barely distinguishable from a rotting corpse, so bloated with pestilence are they. The cower in fear of the sun, but during the night creep out to scrounge for scraps and find drunks and beggars to murder.

Machines and invention inspire a fever all their own, and another kind of goblin haunts the city. An endless trickle of scrawny goblins seek to throw themselves in the gears, to gnaw on the electrical cables, to deface the sacred geometries of the architecture by drowning themselves in a grey tomb of concrete

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Dragon Heist Session 4

Session 4

the Party:
Bronson Ford, fighter, mercenary
Travers Sløt, barbarian
Grelf, poet and burglar, and...
...Pickles! a VERY good dog
Tawny Thunderthicc, Drowned Wizard
Bromund Sowfield, philosopher & gentleman farmer
Old Nan, Thief, grandmother, bridge playe

Tain the 14th:

Grelf & Bronson are justifiably outraged when Volo confesses to them that the money he was going to pay them for rescuing Floon hasn't come through. Travers would likely be outraged as well, but he's still in the hospital having his wounds treated. Volo assures them however that he can offer something else 'which I'm sure will satisfy you as being worth far more indeed than a paltry 500 silver coins.' He presents them with the deed for a building, called Trollskull Manor.

They agree to take a look. They find the building run-down, but immediately get very excited, running around picking rooms for themselves. Volo is happy, assuming this means they'll accept his offer, however Tawny, introducing herself as their 'financial agent,' expresses their outrage. As a Drowned Wizard, she has the power to detect gold and other precious metals, and she can see Volo has a gold ring, and a shield-shaped broach of precious metals, and she demands these as part of the payment. After some back and forth with the group, it comes out that Travers lost a limb. Volo is aghast at this, and promptly offers up his ring as payment.

Satisfied with this deal, the team begins brainstorming business ideas for their new space. They quickly decide to rename the tavern 'the Unquenchable Thirst' and turn it into some kind of a sex club/hideout. Because of course they do.

They visit the magistrate to have the deal finalized. Renaer shows up, and pays the 20-gold worth of fees and taxes. Old Nana is surprised and somewhat disappointed to see him, as after the escapades the day before, she had stashed him on the Bridge Club's 'Party Boat' for safekeeping (and in juuuust in case there was some ransom money in it, maybe?) A constant touring around the bay had gotten too much for him, and at one point when they made a stop at shore to pick up more party supplies, he'd given the elderly ladies the slip.

Renaer, Floon, and Nalza come back to the Thirst for a proper thank-you party. Renaer says if there's ever anything he can do in retrun for rescuing him and Floon, he'll happily oblige. The party drinks the night away, along with Volo, who brings some wine ("Champagne du Corbeaux") to christian their new venture. Grelf seduces Floon and Nalxa into a threesome, which ends in a three-way argument, which each side thinks they decisively won

Travers is fitted with a proper pegleg, and some special salve for his burns. He won't be in fighting shape for awhile, but at least after a couple days he's able to move around. It's an expensive treatment, but the gold ring just about covers it.

While carting Travers back from the hospital to the party's new business venture, Old Nana decides to make a pit stop to raid the wine warehouse (the one she discovered next to the Zhentarim safe house where they rescued Renaer). On the wall, in large white letters: Stontie & (blank). Leaving Travers in the wheelbarrow, she takes her broom and nonchalantly sweeps her way down the front walk, and in through the door- where she is confronted by a now fully-awake dwarf, along with two drinking companions, staring at her bemusedly.

"Oh my!" cries Old Nana. "I must've been sweeping up the wrong yard, by mistake! Me in my old age..."

"That's quite alright, grandmother" says the handsome, colourfully-dressed stranger sitting at the table next to the barefoot dwarf. "Why don't you come in and have a spot of tea, and rest your old bones awhile?"

Alain, I've had it on my computer so long I have no idea the artist
Stonty, by Rémi Jacquot
"Oh no, I must be going, so much to do..."

"that's quite right" haruumphs the dwarf. "Get in a good day's work, and stop your walking in on other people's houses."

"I'll do that!" promises Nana, and she turns to leave.

"Lovely boots, by the way, Grandmother" Says the handsome stranger, sitting back in his chair and sipping his tea.

The dwarf shoots out of his chair, nearly spilling the teapot, which the stranger deftly rights. Outrage! Cries the dwarf. Scandal!

Nana tried to demure, but there is no placating the old hobnail. Apparently these sturdy dwarven made boots are an heirloom, passed down from his father. The young dwarf who has so far been sitting silently stands up, stretches, and cracks his stubby fingers. Relenting, Old Nana pulls off the now sewer-stained boots, and passes them back to Stonetie, who pulls them on with a bit of a squish.

"You came here to rob us again, didn't you!?" says the dwarf, as he struggles with the buckles.

"I never!" gasps Nana. "I'm a businesswoman, I am. Came here before to find the owner asleep, very unprofessional mind, but age is a burden as I says, and as my boot was giving me a blister I tried on this pair I found here by the door, and thought I would borrow them. I just come back to return 'em, and perchance to see if I could find some legitimate business in the wine-selling trade." She glares accusingly at the trio.

"Well, perhaps we can still talk business" says the man. "Alain Van York, at your service." (at this point several long-term players are freaking out, since this is, as they suspected, a PC from a recent campaign- and they have no idea how he got here, since last time he appeared he was several months distant by sea voyage on the Isle of Dread, exploring the city of Omu. For this campaign, I've given him part of the role of Captain Zord, as well as some other elements from the module.)

Nana stays and talks for awhile, and reveals she's just come in to property, Trollskull manor (now renamed). Alain has heard of it, and confesses he has been looking for investment opportunities since he arrived back in town. He invites her to bring her business partners to meet with him on his ship, the Eyecatcher, later that afternoon. She agrees, and before leaving, swipes a pair of unopened bottles, 'as a sample.' The label identifies this as a 'Caer Garrion white.'

Nana and Travers arrive back at the Thirst to find Davil Starsong chatting with Bronson. "I heard you sorted out your business with Volo rather nicely. I thought we could discuss our other opportunity." He lays out the problem: a series of killings, all targeting elves, all decapitations. "The Network feels the Watch could use a little help on this one." Upon finding out the job pays a hefty 1,000 silver, the group agrees. "Make the problem go away, however you can, and the money is yours." They find out that there have been four murders, that all the killing have been happening around the harbour, either in the Merchant District or in Shadowshore.

Davil also provides them a list of the names of the victims:

Before they start such an investigation, they make their business visit to the Sea Maiden's Faire. The carnival is set up on one of the piers, with two ships flanking it, and a third vessel anchored a short distance away out in the harbour. Various carnival workers are unloading the ships, setting up for the evening's performance.

C.M.O.T. Dibbler
Pickles, the indomitable hound, has his nose drawn to the scent of cooking sausages. Near the pier is a small man with a hot dog cart, selling to the passersby, and the small crowd come to gawk at the carnival. Pickles, his nose affirming for him that the sausages are 'definitely some kind of meat,' gets Grelf to buy him one- the seller manages to upsell them for 'three for a pair of coppers- and that's cutting me own throat, that is!'

Intrigued at the man's business acumen, Grelf asks for his name- "Dibbler, that's me!" - and tells him

Asking around, they discover that Alain spends most of his time on his private ship, the Eyecatcher, out in the harbour. "I've never seen him come or go on the water, though," comments the sailor they've accosted. "Just... appears. Always expecting him to walk up behind me out've nowhere, I am."
about their grand opening, being planned for during the Twin Parades, Grelf asks if he'll set up his food cart outside the venue, to which he agrees. Before they leave, Dibbler offers Pickles a bun to go with the sausage he just scarfed down, and while he's ruffling the dogs ears, whispers to him -"here boy, you bring me a couple've juicy rats, if you can catch 'em, and there's more where that came from, eh?"

On queue, Alain saunters over, and the startled sailor makes his exit. Alain is accompanied by a short, blonde woman with an enormous brass pistol holstered at her waist. "My lieutenant" he explains, "Someone needs to take care of the whole 'sailing a ship' thing."

He invites them to follow, and stepping into the shadows cast by a pile of crates, the party finds themselves in a richly appointed ship's interior. Tawny, near the rear of the group, can just about make out a shape like a door in space, framing the shadows- being a wizard, she knows where to look.

Once comfortably settled, they get down to business. They are initially just looking for someone to supply them with wine, but Alain offers them something more-25% if the business, in return for providing 1,000 silver in investment up front. They agree, as long as he doesn't mind being a silent partner, which he says he actually prefers, being occupied with "the affairs of running a successful circus, and other ventures."

He also offers to provide wine for the opening, so long as the profits for those sales go to him, and if the opening can take place during the Twin Parades that kick off the festival season. They agree, after making sure they can still sell hard alcohol themselves- visions flash through Tawny's head of using her desiccate spell to turn a quantity of the wine into brandy, ripping Alain off while still technically keeping up the deal.

Leaving the ship, this time by rowboat, they note that the figurehead is shaped like a fox- (something which causes several players to freak out again, because of Alan's close association with Foxes, as a servant of Sageshi, the God of No Foxes. At this point they're trying to estimate the time it would take to sail back from the Isle of Dread, and trying to decide how possible it could actually be Alain, and how that would work--for some context, the character had an interaction with the Deck of Many Things which ruined all his wealth and potentially added a powerful unpredictable magic factor, so players are also speculating about that)

the Docks of the Merchant District

Since they're down at the harbour anyway, they decide to start looking into the whole 'serial killer' situation- avoiding Shadowshore for now, because it sounds like a real rough neighbourhood. They split up- Bronson and Tawny head to 'the fanciest bar where elves hang out,' a green, triangular building called the Zondervoze. Travers takes Pickles the dog to scope out some slummy bars, looking for anything suspicious, or maybe drunk elves they can question, and end up back at the Skewered Dragon. Nana and Bromund head to the the Pikers, the local Watch detachment, to see if they can shakedown any leads.
Brian Blood (I think)

At the Zondervose they find the menu to be less expensive than they feared, and order a couple of coffees. They strike up a conversation with an elderly gentleman sitting next to them at the bar drinking absinthe, who introduces himself as Sir Ambrose Everdawn.

Tawny gives a bit of a sob story about having lost a dear friend, Rilxxxx, to the spat of murders. Ambrose says he's been patrolling the graveyard, after a spat of 'necromancer activity,' and that he saw several of the funerals, if they want to know where their friend was buried. Upon their request, he tells them of some of his experience of elves, encountered in his many adventures, including tales of the Drow ('roses. Always, the smell of roses' and Sir Ambrose shudders), and the Bone Elves, who appear alive but have a skull for a face.

Sir Ambrose encourages them to join him at Ancestor Island one of these nights, to aid him in his vigil.

Vajra Sahfar
Meanwhile, Travers has been eavesdropping on conversations at the Skewered Dragon, and overheard a conversation about (something or other) between a woman, obviously a mage, and a rather muscular elf. Travers inserts himself in the conversation, and is introduced to Vajra, the mage, and Heldar, the elf. He rather clumsily tries to hit on Vajra, mostly by flexing his well-oiled muscled, but she is unimpressed, and leaves Heldar to talk with Travers, since they're "about an equal level of drunk."

Heldar doesn't seem to concerned about the spat of murders, but he admits he'll feel more comfortable walking around with Travers by his side, and agrees to come back for another drink at the Thirst.

Nana and Bromund find a watchman, half-asleep leaning on his pike outside the garrison. Nana does her tried-and-true sweeping routine, and tries to sweep right passed him into the courtyard, but he wakes up and hails her. After an intervention by Bromund, however, they are invited in.

They meet the sergeant on duty, named Pynia, and although she seems reluctant to help she invites Bromund to speak in her office. In the hall, they overhear a loud, muffled argument coming from behind a door at the far end of the passage- the door is marked 'Captain Staget.' Bromund is ushered into the office, but Nana, quite overcome with tears, elects to wait outside and collect herself on a bench- and coincidentally she overhears some of the argument.

Inside the office, Bromund is somewhat stonewalled by the sergeant, who refuses to give them much information on an active investigation. Bromund brings up an old law, which allows for citizenry to be deputized in times of need- "indeed" he expounds "this is where the original charters for the various district Watches largely came from!"- but Sergeant Pynia points out that they have not been deputized in such a way.

Outside, the argument has grown louder, and all of a sudden the door to the captain's office is thrown open. The opener pauses to shout back- "Your methods are as archaic as your necktie, Staget!"- and then he sweeps down the hall and almost passes Nana, before something in her countenance makes him pause in his step.
Victor Saint-Demain

"Can you help me, dear boy?" she croaks through her tears.

A handkerchief is produced, and the whole story is brought out. Not the real story of course, but a whole one! Victor Saint-Demain, for that is the investigator's name, explains that he has been looking into the murders, and promises to visit Nana as soon as he has any leads.

When Heldar, Travers, and Pickles arrive back at the Thirst before anyone else- and they find the place trashed. The tables and chairs they had lovingly assembled are scattered around, bottles are smashed, and written on the floor, the wine stains form the words 'CLOSING TIME'

"Hey Heldar, buddy" says Travers. "You're an elf, right? Can you tell if there's some magic shit here?"

Heldar closes his eyes, and when he opens them again they are glowing white. "Yes. I sense a presence. A restless spirit. Great anger at your presence." He snaps out of it again, and stops the very slight floating. "Ah well, that's unfortunate, isn't it? Now where's that drink I was promised?"

Thursday, 18 April 2019

the Muse (GLOG Class)

Another GLOG class! This is my rework of the Muse class, with a bit of the Divine Concubine mixed in to give them some more active buffing/investigation type abilities ('Intimacy'), and survivability ('Beautiful'). The charmed life table is also re-appropriated, but honestly I feel it belongs to the community.

The 'starting skills' refer to the skills & backstory prompts found in Skerples various classes. I've put together an edited document for my own games, which I'll probably post at some point, but I also link to the appropriate post and class for each skill.

The 'starting save' refers to Ten Foot Polemic's saving throw system. Rather than having a whole table of different saves, I just use Charisma as 'the saving throw ability score,' like most GLOG-like systems, plus 'proficiency' lifted off 5e (1d4 at 1st level, 1d6 at 4th). The saves are Death, Doom, Destruction, Chaos, Law, and Poison.

I kinda want to go all in, and make it Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium, but I haven't quite figured that out yet. Fodder for a future post.

A few times, the class references specific spells. I've included GLOG versions of those spells at the end of the post.

Starting Equipment: Fancy clothes, concealed dagger, sword OR pistol and 6 charges OR dagger
Starting Skill Artistry, plus (1d8 ): 1 = Dregs, 2 =  Farmer, 3 = Noble, 4 = Religion, 5 = Music, 6 = Medicine, 7 = Literature, 8 = History
Starting Save: Doom

A: Obsession, Rejection
B: Charmed Life, Beautiful
C: Intimacy, Suitor
D: Redemption, Fury

Obsession: For each Muse template you have,
you may have 1 character Obsessed with you. Obsessed characters are in love, pining hopelessly for your recognition. This does not necessarily change their overall motives; however, it does change their attitude towards you in particular. You can attempt to Obsess a character at will, the act needing nothing more than a wink, a smile, or perhaps just the light hitting your perfect skin just so. Targets must be capable of something at least akin to love (so a dog may be targeted, but a zombie may not). The target may Save to resist this effect. However, you can only have as many Obsessed characters as you have Muse templates, and the only way to end an obsession is for the character to die, or for you to Reject them (see below).

Rejection: Ending an Obsession requires an act of cruelty, performed upon an Obsessed party - something that utterly ruins you in their esteem, and poisons their heart with regret. Their Conviction to protect you becomes a Conviction to destroy you.. You may not replace this Obsession with a new one until you've had a full night's rest to process the ugly breakup.
Charmed Life: Even the fortunes love you. Whenever you roll a d20, roll a second one, making sure it is easily distinguishable from the first. Call this your Happenstance die. Whenever it shows the same number as the d20, something strange happens. This occurrence does not change whether you succeed, but brings some strange magical occurence into the mix. In addition, you can invoke this happenstance once per hour of playing (IRL), by saying something like ‘"Oh I can't conceive how I ever fell into this deplorable circumstance," or "We are indeed doomed and now birds will gnaw our eyes.” Times of great stress are of more interest to the gods, fates, or dark powers. See the Charmed Life table, below.

Beautiful: Anyone that damages the Muse must make a save at the beginning of their next turn. If they fail, they are unwilling to attack the Muse for one round. If the Muse or their allies are being aggressive, the target gets a +4 bonus on this save.

Intimacy: Yes, this includes sex, but it includes any activity that meets the following criteria: Peaceful. (Everyone must be non-aggressive and receptive), Vulnerable Everyone must be unarmed and unarmored (This includes magical protections), Willing (You cannot coerce someone into intimacy with threats/promises to ulterior motives), At least one hour of talking (Though the total activity can take longer).

Intimacy can have one of the following effects. Once per day the muse can choose, otherwise they roll 1d6.
1: Target receives the results of a commune spell (once per day.)
2: Remove 1d3 Insanity Points (once per adventure.)
3: Target gets a new save against an ongoing curse.
4: Plant a suggestion (with disadvantage on the save.)
5: Muse learns a secret desire of the target.
6: Muse learns a secret weakness of the target.

Depending on circumstances, you possibly have to roll on the Seduction Side Effects table.

Suitor: Once per adventure, at the player's will (but certainly not the Muse's), an ex-lover, former fling, or spurned admirer will appear to woo the Muse. This NPC acts as a 1HD follower with maximum Loyalty, and arrives minimally if poorly equipped for whatever task is at hand. They are clingy, annoying, and utterly devoted, but will leave in frustration at the end of what they judge to be the current adventure (unless the Muse returns their love, in which case they will run off to slay a dragon in your name or something and surely perish).

Redemption: The Muse can peacefully end an Obsession with several hours' tearful conversation. At the end of this, the Muse makes a Charisma check. If they succeed, they may attempt to Obsess the target again in future. If they fail, the target is utterly immune to the Muse's charms and special abilities.

Fury: The Muse may opt to deal 4d6 damage to an Obsessor they break up with. If reduced to 0 hp they are despondent, and Save or die from their grief. If they survive, they are immune to the Muse's abilities

Charmed Life Table
by Jeremiah Morelli

1: A secret door is revealed. If the DM has made no provision for a secret door, it leads to the nearest unexplored area.
2: The muse realizes they have something on their person- it can be any non-magical and generic item (a key, not the key) and that is small enough that the muse could have reasonably hidden it on her person at the time.
3: an ordinary animal- cat sized or smaller- appears. The muse cannot directly control it, but it will not under any circumstances hurt the muse.
4: A fact about the situation at hand occurs to the muse- a piece of local or monster lore, for example. 
5: someone of the player's choice falls down (line of sight)
6: The weather in the immediate area changes in a way decided by the muse’s player- the change is general not targeted (no aimed lightning bolts or gusts of wind)
7: a nearby creature is charmed by the muse for an hour (line of sight)
8: and inorganic device or object of the muse’s choice breaks (line of sight)
9: something not ordinarily able to talk (DM’s choice) begins speaking to the muse, and is generally sympathetic
10: creature’s present completely forget the muse is there for ten seconds, and then for as long as the muse keeps making saves vs. magic (roll whenever it comes up)
11: Someone is sent to fetch the muse out of their current predicament. If there is an obvious candidate from among the local NPCs (giant eagles, a friendly knight), that’s who it is. Otherwise the DM makes up a weirdo with d10 HD. The NPC doesn’t automatically have the ability to extricate the muse from the situation, they merely appear as close as possible and attempt to do so.
12: someone or something of the player's choice begins to shrink at 1 foot per round down to playing-card size (line of sight). The player can have the shrinking stop sooner, if they wish.

Related Spells:
Note on spell-like abilities: Roll 1 Magic Dice for each template you have of that class, ignoring doubles and triples unless otherwise indicated. The dice also aren't used up unless otherwise indicated, and they can't be combined with Magic Dice from other sources.

Adapted from Buildings are People
R: Region of Deity   T: A deity you have met   D: Special

Contact a deity you've met and ask [dice] yes/no questions. If [sum] is 10 or greater, you may ask any question using [dice] words. For a single yes/no question this takes but a moment, arriving in a flash of insight, but longer exchanges require at least [dice] minutes of meditation. You need incense or drugs to cast this spell: DMs, this is a spell component you should actually enforce. 

for the Muse, the casting time is rolled in with their class ability, and they probably get to pick the deity in question.
R: 30 ft   T: One creature with which you share a language   D: Special

The target is hypnotized into doing something or believing something, either immediately or based on a specified trigger before the duration ends. The spell lasts [best] minutes (1 MD), Hours [2 MD], Weeks [3 MD], or Months [4 MD]. The target will refuse obviously self-destructive actions.

Dreaming Death

There are many, many worlds, but there is only one dreamland. Or rather, there are as many dream worlds as there are dreams and dreamers, bu...