UL BANNER

2/28/2011

Dungeon-Funk Status Report

We are FOUR entries away from having a fully funk-tional table of freaky dungeon diseases! Just the names of these things make me wanna reach for my Vitamin C tablets and lube myself up with hand sanitizer:
  • Tomoachan's Insidious Revenge
  • 1d4 Magic Mites
  • Dungeoneer's Jock Itch
  • Nose-rot
  • Eye Bogies
  • The Raging Doom
  • Tenebrites
  • Flay Mites
  • Luminarium
  • Bite Tongue's Plague
  • The Dishonourable Member
  • Mini Me
  • Ghosts of Dead Fleas 
  • Burning Urine  
  • The Lucky Shits
  • YOUR
  • FUNK
  • GOES
  • HERE
  • Green Thumb
  • Stalagmorphosis
  • Oil Spores
  • Crave Fungus
  • The Writhing Darkness
  • Undead Head Lice (UHL)
  • Magus Worms
  • Giant Seed Ticks
  • Lich Lichen
  • Stray Neurons
  • Mind-fever 
Awesome. Brutal. Funk-tastic!                     

2/27/2011

Whence the Gorgon-milk flows?

(Inspired by the Lagomorph.)

Is the gorgon-milk
coming from the Medusa's teats
or from the snakes atop her head?
For the first is good to drink
but the last will make you dead.

Gorgonmilk's First Law

All socio-political arguments shall eventually devolve into dick-judging contests to determine whose junk is the most Christ-like.

2/26/2011

The Crypt Cockerel: A Dungeoneer's Best Friend

Like the near-extinct grimalkin and the ubiquitous dungeon cur, the crypt cockerel is a domesticated beast bred to serve those who venture underground. More than a pet or companion, these animals are specialized scouts trained to communicate simple details and warnings to their masters. 

In the words of Dalt Doogins the Delfer, the notorious explorer and tomb-pilferer: "I'd trade ye five cowardly henchmen for a single, seasoned crypt cock. For one, the fowl is smarter. For another, he's more loyal. And of course he'll taste better when ye've reached the end of yer rations."

An adult of the Archplume variety.
Appearance & Characteristics
Leaner and somewhat longer than their common yard bird cousins, crypt cocks are keen of eye and eminently skilled at squeezing through small spaces. They can fly short distances horizontally (usually 10 feet, but some have achieved up to 20). Most notably, these birds are completely silent until they are required to communicate. Feather colors vary according to the several sub-breeds available, with the blue-and-red Archplume being the most common.

Skills & Habits
Until his services are called for, the crypt cock is well-adapted to riding in a light basket which can be slung over his owner's shoulder. His need for sleep is minimal and his feeding requirements are modest -- a handful of dried corn and a bit of water will keep the bird sated for an entire day. Crypt cocks find rancid goblinflesh to be incredibly delectable, and owners must be cautious to keep their birds from over-gorging themselves when such fare is available.

Crypt cockerels have 60' infravision.

The creatures have three distinct modes or skill sets and will carry out instructions given in short cluck-commands. They prefer to travel five to ten yards ahead of the party while on-task and will usually (90%) report back to their masters immediately when hand-signaled.
  • Cocks can zero-in on sources of fresh water (springs, streams or underground lakes) with 4-in-6 accuracy from distances of up to one mile.
  • Cocks can scout out rooms and tunnels in advance of the party and then relay both the number (5-in-6 accuracy) and the type of occupants (varies; usually 3-in-6 accuracy) through a system of scratches and clucks. They are trained to act with extreme caution in such situations and possess the ability to Hide in Shadows equivalent to a sixth level thief.
  • Finally, in a combat situation crypt cocks will attempt to blind their foes either by pecking or scratching out eyes. They attack as fighters of a level equivalent to their age in years (cocks are adults at one year and may live up to twenty years or more), maxing out at 12 years as the equivalent of a 12th level fighter. Each successful attack does 1d4 points of damage and has a 2-in-6 chance of blinding one eye. Cocks have 1d6 HP.

Cost
An adult (1-year-old) cockerel typically sells for 50gp. Seasoned (3 years in the field or more) cocks can fetch up to 400gp in some cases.

Additional Notes
Most goblins (5-in-6) have an instinctive dread of crypt cocks and will flee from them on sight as though they are under the effects of a Fear spell.

Crypt cockfights are a common occurrence behind taverns frequented by adventurer-types.

The oldest crypt cockerel on record, Molf's Brigand, lived to be 86 and 1/2 years old. Rumor has it that he was regularly given healing potions in lieu of water.

2/24/2011

Gods of Law, Chaos and Neutrality: An Alternate Take

Quoted from Doxies & Deadmeat:

Lawful gods tend to be aloof and generally uninterested in the affairs of mortals. They are the meta-mechanics of Nature, keeping a careful eye on the universe's clockwork guts to be certain that things run smoothly till the End of Time. They cherish predictability and are disturbed by the random and anomalous. The most powerful among them can shape time and space effortlessly. Compared to their enemies, the demonic manifestations who give form to Chaos, the lawful gods are few in number. As a rule, they are reluctant to set foot in the Material Plane or interfere in the predetermined flow of eternity. They are stern gods, and their cults tend to echo their austerity.

Chaotic gods all stem from a single, cosmic principle that is known by many names and to many civilizations. The forms these beings take on are aspects of this principle -- though many believe themselves to be distinct personalities with unique qualities and aspirations. In this sense the gods of Chaos are wildly fecund, for they produce endless variations and "offspring" to populate and trouble the cosmos. While the purest among them are neither good nor evil, many chaotic gods have been perverted by lust, envy and hatred. These willful powers assume the character of evil and rejoice in the horrible liberties it reveals to them. Their cults are many and prosperous.

Neutral gods seek a balance between Law and Chaos. Like the gods of Chaos, many neutrals are quite interested in the Material Plane and take an active hand in the events that unfold there. For this reason they are the forces most often called upon by those not given over to the evil gods. Sometimes dubbed the Happy Lords or the Trusted Ones, neutrals are typically worshiped most fervently in villages, towns and cities. Houses of Healing are invariably dedicated to the service of a particular neutral deity.

Dungeon-Funk Your D30s

Re-reading the deliciously sick and twisted entries on our D20/D30 Table of Dungeon-Funk I'm again struck by its sheer awesomeness. Great job, guys. At present there are still nine spots open and ready for funktification, so please feel free to comment and gross me out! Can't wait to unleash these on my players...

Revised Dungeon-Funk Contact Rules

I changed the rules on the D-Funk post to reflect these new procedures.
  • Sometimes circumstances require PCs to be uncomfortably close to monsters. Coming into physical contact with a monster may warrant a Funk Check (see below).
  • Funk Check: There's a 2-in-6 chance that the dungeon-dweller in question will be a Funk Carrier. If this is the case, the unfortunate PC must make a save vs. poison. Failure means that he/she has contracted some form of Dungeon-Funk.
  • Determine the Potential Severity: The afflicted PC must make a CON check. Success means a d20 roll on the table below. Failure means it's time to roll the d30.

Vancian MIII Memory Cell Chart (Revised)

Touched this up a little. For info on the Vancian MIII system, go here. Playtesting begins this Tuesday.

I Want Your STDs*

(*Subterraneously Transmitted Diseases. What did you think I meant?)


We are currently 12 items away from having a complete TABLE OF DUNGEON-FUNK! Check it out and scrape some of your own into this collective Petri dish.

2/23/2011

Aarelis Campaign Session 1 Recap

Check out the recap here. Everyone seemed to have a really good time. 

Helioptica has morphed into Doxies & Deadmeat. While the URL is the same, the title (and tone) has changed to suit the balls-to-the-wall nature of the campaign notes that Andy and Ant and I generated. This first session owes a helluva lot to Jeff's Miscellaneum of Cinder. I applied his take on goblins to the critters dwelling in Dyson Logos' one-page dungeon, and the mixture turned out nicely. The action continues next Tuesday.

2/22/2011

New Cleric Spell: Cure Greg's Migraine

Well today the new campaign starts. And my head is slightly better than it was two days ago. Still have some lingering funk behind my left eye. Top it off with half the normal crew being sick unavailable and two new players being called in on short notice... Here's hoping Lady Chance is on my side tonight.

2/17/2011

Community Project: You don't know where that monster's been. (D20/D30 Table)

Is he looking at you or me?

Your dungeon is too clean. Maybe it's not your fault. After all, those gnomes on the second level are pretty OCD. They must spend several hours per day picking parasites off the hides of their pet bugbears and giant rat-steeds. And then there's that gelatinous cube on level four -- sliding its bulk through the corridors and dissolving every little tidbit of septic filth in its path. But despite the efforts of your clean-freak gnomes and acidic jell-oes, the general state of the average dungeon should be just... appalling. I mean, can you imagine how obscene the stench rolling off your run-of-the-mill lizard-man must be? Something like a wet bag of poo collected from a Newfoundland who ate too much leftover Indian food. Yes. That bad. You can't tell me that one of those guys isn't ground-zero for some sort of unspeakable crotch-malady.

It just seems that -- Gygaxo-naturally speaking, of course -- the environment of the dungeon and especially the creatures within it would be carrying all sorts of creeping crud. Disfiguring diseases, skin conditions, noxious butt parasites, eye-warts, etc., etc. Sure, there's rot grubs -- one of my Top 5 flavorite classic monsters, btw -- but they're just the tip of the old iceberg. Or they should be anyway.

The Idea
  • Sometimes circumstances require PCs to be uncomfortably close to monsters. Coming into physical contact with a monster may warrant a Funk Check (see below).
  • Funk Check: There's a 2-in-6 chance that the dungeon-dweller in question will be a Funk Carrier. If this is the case, the unfortunate PC must make a save vs. poison. Failure means that he/she has contracted some form of Dungeon-Funk.
  • Determine the Potential Severity: The afflicted PC must make a CON check. Success means a d20 roll on the table below. Failure means it's time to roll the d30.

The Community Angle
  • Fill in the blanks in the table below by commenting. Designate a result number to go with your entry. 
  • Results 1-20 should be various weird and unearthly types of dungeon-funk (magical illnesses, fungal crusts, and various other pesky/gross conditions) that are NON-LIFE-THREATENING.
  • Results 21-30 are along the same lines as the conditions described above but HARSHER and POTENTIALLY DEADLY.
  • Specify what sort of cure or method would be required to get rid of your dungeon-funk. Cure disease is acceptable, though needn't be the only way. Or perhaps your funk exhibits magic resistance? Hey, they're your genital worms.
  • This table is designated open-source gaming content. No rights reserved. 
  • Names of contributors with links to their respective blogs (if any) will appear next to their entries.

------------------------------------------------------------ 
D20/D30 TABLE OF DUNGEON-FUNK 
  1. Tomoachan's Insidious Revenge. Just like the middle-aged man at the barbecue in countless television commercials, the need to . . . you know . . . will happen at the most inopportune time. For our purposes, that time is combat. The afflicted player makes all rolls at a severe penalty unless he opts to "just let go," which will have the effect of immediately attracting every large, carrion-eating monster within a three mile radius. Skillful magic-users armed with some kind of "create food" spell may attempt an "instant fiber" variation. If successful, the now-almost-cured player will have two combat rounds of movement available to him before he is obliged to, er, sit out on this particular melee because of other obligations requiring intense concentration and a really long book. (Next time, think before you drink. Just because it's a well of standing water in a dark, dank dungeon doesn't make it safe.) [Bigby's Left Hand]
  2. 1d4 Magic Mites. The character has become a host for microscopic vermin of the eldritch variety. Different from mundane fleas or ticks, however, magic mites feed off dweomer released with magic activity. If the infected character casts a spell, uses a magic rod, ring or staff, or reads a scroll, the fleas imbibe enough dweomer to begin their transformation into gigantic pests. Not only does the spell or scroll fail to have effect, now the character must deal with the gigantic, hideous monstrosities attached to their hide. Roll d6 on the following table to determine the equivalent to what the mite has morphed into: (1) Stirges (2) Giant ticks (3) Giant crabs (4) Carrion crawler (5) Giant centipede (6) Rot grub. Note that DMs should inform the player that their character feels itchy all over when magic mites are contracted, but that there are no penalties to action and the reason is unknown. If the character pays a Sage 100 GP to check, they will find the mites. For an extra 100 GP they will also teach the remedy - bathing in a solution of orc's blood and unicorn piss. Good luck questing for both of those while unable to use magic! Note also that magic weapons and most items are immune due to the contained nature of their dweomer. [Tedankhamen]
  3. Dungeoneer's Jock Itch. PC develops an extremely irritating and itchy rash in his or her groin area. Cure Disease will remedy this, but otherwise, the condition lasts 1d4 days. The condition is so discomforting that Dungeoneer's Jock Itch sufferers get a -1 penalty to all attacks and actions while the rash persists. [Carter Soles]
  4. Nose-rot. Free-floating particulates from the creature's backside have invaded the character's nostrils and begun gnawing into the flesh of his/her nose. Chronic nose-bleeds begin in 1d6 rounds. Without treatment the character's nose will completely disintegrate in 1d3 days, giving him/her that 'skull-faced' look that typifies the veteran dungeoneer (4-6 point CHA loss). Nose-rot can be abated by a cure disease spell or the application of cloths soaked in the foetid juice of the black gnostra berry. [G. Gorgonmilk]
  5. Eye Bogies. A type of fungus/amoeba, the Eye Bogies enter the eyeball (d6: 1-3, the right eye; 4-6, the left eye) and nest on the retina, where they quickly multiply. Within 1d4 hours, they will have completely covered the retina. From that point forward, the PC's vision in the afflicted eye will be subject to strange visions and hallucinations as the light hitting the retina is filtered through the magical cytoplasm of the Bogies. The nature of these visions can vary, but possibilities include: seeing into the Astral or Ethereal Plane, seeing every living creature as dead and decaying, seeing double, triple, or more, seeing in two dimensions, losing sense of the fourth dimension of time (such that everything appears to happen at the same time), etc. Unless extraordinary precautions are taken, there is a 50% chance per day that the infection will be transferred to the other eye. [sirlarkins]
  6. The Raging Doom. During combat, there’s often a lot of blood flying round. The Raging Doom parasite is transmitted via blood and once inside its victim makes its way to the gland centres that produce adrenaline and testosterone. For the latter reason, this parasite does not seem to affect females as such; males are its primary vector. Once it has arrived at its target glands, it causes them to produce many times more hormones, causing aggressive and irrational behaviour in its victims. They tend to seek out combat situations and initiate actions that will lead to bloodshed and further transmission of the parasite. The parasite also has a secondary effect inasmuch as it stimulates production of pheromones that act as a signal to nearby predators and other creatures, causing them to home in on the victim’s location. This is probably an insurance policy to make sure that there are enemies to fight. In practical terms, this means that anyone infected with Raging Doom will cause a doubling in wandering monster rolls. [Daddy Grognard]
  7. Tenebrites. In the very darkest cave pools, there is a parasite that, when it enters its victims, causes their skin to become very photosensitive. Over the course of the following 42 hours, the skin becomes more and more sensitive, taking damage as follows: (0-7) Victim takes damage from full sunshine only, 1d3 hp per round exposed, the skin will begin to flake and blister; (8-14) cloudy days -- the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double; (15-21) twilight -- the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double; (22-28) moonlight -- the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double; (29-35) continual light -- the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double; (36-42) torchlight -- the skin will take 1d3 damage per round. The previous category of damage will double. The parasite will, however, stimulate the sight of the victim, causing them to become progressively better at seeing in poorly lit situations until by the 36th hour, they are able to see extremely well with no light whatsoever. The parasites will leave the body by means of its excrement but short of a Cure Disease, there is no real cure once the victim is infected. [Daddy Grognard]
  8. Flay Mites. These tiny organisms thrive on sunlight, but in order to get their nourishment, they produce an alarming side-effect. As soon as they enter a host, they begin to spread to all the skin cells on the body. Once they have completely infected every cell, which may well take up to seven days, they start to absorb sunlight and produce a by-product which causes the skin to become invisible. The invisible nature of the skin actually increases the nutritional effect of sunlight for the parasite, which will continue to produce the substance. The victim therefore takes on the appearance of a flayed body, although he will suffer no other adverse effect. Needless to say, his new appearance will cause considerable alarm and upset amongst those who see it. [Daddy Grognard]
  9. Luminarium. A strain of micro-organism that, once inside a victim, stimulates the dermal layers to produce a substance that glows with a vivid brightness (the same effect as Continual Light). The effect of this is that the victim is almost impossible to hide in the darkness of a dungeon environment and of course, achieving surprise is very difficult as well. A rumoured cure is to imbibe a potion made of the crushed glands of Drow Elves. [Daddy Grognard]
  10. Bite Tongue's Plague. Originally created by the ancient alchemist Bite Tongue to smite his enemies from afar, BTP is a fast-moving disease which infects the victim's mouth and throat. Those infected wtih BTP immediately find the inside of their cheeks, their tongues, their gums and their esophagus swelling with small white nodules that seem annoying and painless at first, but eventually burst and emit noxious fumes and fluids, causing much pain. This fluid itself is toxic, and is also the primary method of infection. While infected, the victum loses the ability to speak.

    Those affected must Save vs. Disease, or become infected and remain mute for 1d8 days, and at the end of that time period, Save vs. Poison or suffer 1d10 points damage. All those within 10 feet of the victim when the nodules burst must Save vs. Disease or become infected.

    Cure disease spells and potions have a 5% chance of curing the infestation. Otherwise, the only known cure for BTP is gargling this recipe recently discovered written in Bite Tongue's cramped handwriting in a tome stored under a leaky wine cask in the cellar of the Rutting Rooster Tavern in Eastern Opfalkam:

    1 owlbear beak, ground to a fine powder
    1 manticore claw, crushed
    3 drams oil of mistletoe
    2 drams oil of oregano
    1 flask fortified wine

    (Anyone can mix this curative--no special knowledge or skill check required.) [Matthew Schmeer]
  11. The Dishonourable Member. The victim of this extremely embarrassing disease will not notice any effects until the night following infection. His dreams will be particularly erotic and memorable, perhaps involving a recent conquest or infatuation. However, during these dreams, his manhood acquires a mind of its own and is able to detach itself and go off looking for nearby sleeping females to bother. In its detached state, it is likely to be mistaken for a large slug or invertebrate. It is not particularly fast-moving and can be easily trodden on. However, if this happens, the luckless owner experiences the pain even though he may be some distance away. The dishonourable member will return to its owner and reattach once its nightly business is done, full of smug self-satisfaction. If its owner is woken in the middle of a period of absence, he will realise the awful truth and must save vs WIS or become temporarily insane (either 1d10 rounds or until the dishonourable member is located and reattached)
    It is said that experienced houris (White Dwarf #13) know a spell or incantation that can cure this affliction. Otherwise, a very strong strapping device may (at DM's discretion) keep the errant part in place. If this is done, there is a chance that the victim may go insane due to overwhelming and unfulfilled carnal urges. [Daddy Grognard]
  12. Mini Me. An infestation which triggers an unusual effect if the victim takes any damage. The stress of the wound causes the sufferer to reduce in size over the course of 1d4 combat rounds. He will become the size of (assuming that he is human)

    1.Dwarf (4' tall)
    2.Hobbit (3' tall)
    3. Pixie (2.5' tall)
    4. Sprite (2' tall)
    5. One foot tall
    6. Six inches tall

    This transformation will last between 1 and 4 hours, whereupon the sufferer will return to his normal size. Note that his clothes, armour and possessions will not shrink.

    The most commonly known cure for this affliction is to imbibe a potion made from the pulped brains of hill, stone, fire or frost giants (the efficacy of the cure increases with the strength of the giant). However, there is a 10% chance that drinking such a concoction will instead inflict the victim with Supersize Me, in which he grows rather than shrinks to the following sizes

    1 Bugbear 7' tall
    2 Ogre 9' tall
    3 Hill Giant 10' tall
    4 Fire Giant 12' tall
    5 Frost Giant 15' tall
    6 Cloud Giant 18' tall

    The DM may wish to assign a slight risk of any one of these states becoming permanent. [Daddy Grognard]
  13. Ghosts of Dead Fleas. These minuscule spectral parasites are nearly invisible, appearing as translucent blue fleas. Their bite is; however, extremely discomforting and results in an itchy, scaly rash. Those afflicted suffer a -1 penalty to all attacks and actions while the infestation persists. Ghost fleas are semi-incorporeal and are very difficult to remove. Bathing in holy water or having the fleas turned usually clears up the problem. [The Drune]
  14. Burning Urine. Reputedly only caused by engaging in the good kind of dungeon-funk (aka Dungeon Lovin'), the true source of this affliction is unknown because no one will admit to doing the deed with the Harpy in Room 3A. 3d4 days after the act, the afflicted will start to urinate pure streams of fire (per Holmes doing 2d8 points of damage per turn) for 2d4 days to follow. Urinating comes randomly and causes the afflict to "fire" in any random direction, the pain causing him to lose control. Also, there is always a chance of "splash back" causing the afflict to burn himself. [JJ]
  15. The Lucky Shits. This highly contagious intestinal germ causes the victim to have intense diarrhea for 1d4 days, ultimately resulting in the victim shitting a gold piece.

    If immediately swallowed upon excretion, the gold piece will permanently increase the victim's DEX and CON by +5 each, but will also permanently lower the victim's INT and WIS by -5 each.

    If the gold piece is not consumed within one round, it will disintegrate into a fine powder, and everyone in a three-foot radius must Save vs. Disease or be infected with the Lucky Shits themselves. If the victim drinks an entire flask of vinegar before passing the gold piece, a normal copper piece will emerge instead, and the victim's CHR will be permanently raised by +1. [Matthew Schmeer]
  16. Stirge Styge, or the Blindness of Bats. Reputed to occur in those who have been exposed to the guano of stirges, this disease initially causes a mild itching and watering of the eyes (for 1d4 days with a -1 to Attack Roll penalty for that time).

    If the infected dungeoneer remains out of direct sunlight for 72 hours after exposure, they will adapt a infravision of up to 30 feet in distance and not suffer the -4 penalty to hit in complete darkness, if human. If dwarven or elven, they will have their infravision halved (down to 30 feet...) and dwarves will also lose the ability to detect traps, false walls, hidden construction, or notice sloping passages.

    The disease will cause a blindness in humans, which only becomes apparent when the character returns into the daylight of the surface world (-5 to hit when attacking in daylight). Dwarves and elves will have teary, blurred vision with a -2 to hit in daylight.

    Any other light source, magical or otherwise, will have no effect on the diseased character's vision.

    Cure Blindness will result in the restoration of full infravision in elves and dwarves, however:

    If the victim is in direct sunlight when the Cure Blindness spell is cast, the spell will result in the afflicted experiencing extreme blurred and painful vision with a -6 to hit rolls for the next 3 days.

    After 3 days, the -6 penalty will drop to -3 and then decrease by 1 for each day thereafter until their normal vision returns.

    Cure Disease will only be successful if cast before the afflicted enters direct sunlight. It will allow any dwarves to regain their detection abilities, but not their full infravision.

    It will not affect the penalties or bonuses to elven or human vision.

    A Heal spell will remove all the effects that the disease caused and will result in any penalties and/or bonuses being removed, irregardless of when it was cast.

    Half-Elves will be immune to the effects of this disease. [biopunk]
  17. Mite Be, Mite Not Be. The tiny creatures that carry this infection are believed to have originated either in the temple of the god Kuantum where the high priest Heisenberg is said to have created them as a punishment for those who relied too much on certainty, or in the laboratory of the mad wizard Schrodinger, where they lived on his pet cats for many years before moving on.

    The infected character becomes the vector for an intense uncertainty field which causes any die roll made by them to be rolled twice. A d6 is then rolled to determine which of the two rolls apply. 1-3 the first one, 4-6 the second one.

    Curing the disease means eradicating the mites, which is tricky as they are both there and not there at the same time. Strangely enough, the bite of a blink dog is a potent cure for this condition as is the venom of a Displacer Beast. [Daddy Grognard]
  18. Balding Dandruff. This annoying disease starts out as a scaly rash on the scalp and brow which develops over 1d4 days. The rash itself is only an outward sign of the disease's manifestation, and the dandruff, while severe, is merely an irritant.

    However, on the day of full infection, all of the victim's hair falls out.
    All of it. Even eyelashes.

    The infected must make a Save vs. Disease, or suffer a -3 to both CHR and CON until their hair regrows to at least a 6-inch length (normal human hair grows at 6 inches per year). Bearded dwarves suffer the penalties until their facial hair regrows to at least a 12-inch length. Halfling thieves suffer an additional -3 to DEX until their top foot hair regrows.

    If victims are already devoid of body hair, then they just get a bad case of the itchies and suffer a -1 to DEX, CHR, and CON for 1d20 days.

    The only cure for Balding Dandruff is to lather the scalp and brow with troll dung for 1d4 days. Those applying the cure suffer a -7 to CHR and CON for the duration of the cure, because troll dung is just gross. [Matthew Schmeer]
  19. The Black Blessing of Nibbith-Abn. This is often acquired by those dungeoneers who are loathe to remove their helms while sleeping. It manifests as a hazy coin-sized black diamond shape in the center of the sufferer's forehead. If spotted by a companion early on, it may be rubbed off with alcohol. If not spotted by a companion, it will begin feeling odd, much like a sweaty brow, about 24 hours after infection. If rubbed, the afflicted may notice a weird oily ash on their finger. At this point, a Cure Disease will still stop it.

    Within 1 hour of the 'sweaty brow' sensation, the center of the black diamond takes on a tacky hardened-pitch quality and begins to lose feeling. At this point, only knowledge and ingredients gained in a quest related to the Great Old Ones will reverse the process.

    Over the next 24 hours, the skin immediately around the diamond shape blackens, peels back, and falls off, leaving a roughly 3 inch patch of open skull, weeping at the edges. The skull shades darker inward to the diamond shape, which remains pitch-like in consistency but shines like jet or obsidian. During this period, the afflicted is plagued with horrific thoughts: black gulfs and yawning chasms seem to open in the fabric of the world around them; cyclopean non-euclidean ruins; etc. Insanity pts. are garnered if present in the campaign.

    After this 24 hr. period, the 'wound' stops weeping and is unsightly but 'healed.' (-2 CHR) The Black Blessing now has a life of it's own. At will, and for its own purposes, it may extend and grasp as a black tentacle up to a distance of 6 feet. It knows, however, that the death of its host will waste its time, as it will have to wait for its spores to find another living host. [migellito]
  20. Green Thumb. One morning, adventurers might awake to discover that one or both of their thumbs are painfully swollen and a light shade of green. Over the course of the day (assuming no magical healing is forthcoming) the thumb continues to swell, becoming unusable. After six hours, the thumb secretes a mucus that quickly hardens while the base of the thumb withers. One hour after this, the thumb falls off. An hour after this, it completes its transformation into a goblin and scurries off into the dark. Although as wicked as the average goblin, the thumb will retain a strange fondness for its former owner. [Matt]
  21. Stalagmorphosis.The fungus that causes this lives in clusters on the sides of stalagmites and appears to be a slight encrustation that may be anything from a deep red to a warm amber in colour. However, should anyone brush against it, the fungus at once sends out a cloud of spores that, once breathed in, begin to grow in the victim’s lungs. They do not kill the victim at once, or even affect the breathing much, although the victim may well develop a hacking cough that could cause problems in a dungeon environment from the perspective of silent movement. What is actually happening is that the fungus is producing a substance which enters the blood and starts to travel round the whole body. As it does so, it begins to affect the body tissues, causing them to swell and enlarge. After about eighteen hours, the victim will begin to resemble more a doughy parody of themselves, at least 50% larger in all aspects except height. Movement will slow considerably, and no clothing or armour will fit. The victim’s size will increase by 10% per six hours thereafter until they are too heavy to move. When they sink to their knees, the doughy flesh will begin to calcify and harden; the body will lose shape and harden as it does so until it is very similar to a normal stalagmite. Once the hardening process is complete, the fungus appears on the outside of the new formation. [Daddy Grognard]
  22. Oil Spores. Floating in some areas of water is a slimy black oil-like substance that appears to be harmless. It will not burn or sting, and merely adheres to the skin of its victim. A scrubbing with vinegar or lemon juice will be enough to kill it. However, if its victim has any open wounds (in this case, if any combat damage has not been healed completely), the oil-like substance will enter the body and its true nature will become known. It is a colony of tiny spores which secrete the mucus that binds them together. Once inside the body, they will attack the blood, using the cells as breeding grounds to produce more spores. Over the following 12-36 hours (d3 x 1d12) the victim will begin to turn grey as his blood becomes steadily more and more oily. He will die at some point within those 12-36 hours unless a Cure Disease is carried out. No wounds he has sustained will heal and after a while, they will begin to weep black oil. [Daddy Grognard]
  23. Crave Fungus. When disturbed, this fungus shoots out a cloud of spores. If any person inhales these spores, they become filled with a strong hunger for the fungus (save vs. poison to avoid this effect) and are driven to consume as much of it as possible, of course disturbing it and causing the release of more spores. The fungus, once inside a human body, will begin to produce more of itself, slowly taking over its host and causing their body to become bloated and distended until it can take no more and bursts, at which point the fungus will finally consume the remaining flesh, forming the basis for a new colony of fungi. A careful examination of the outcroppings of the fungus in this area will show that they are growing on bones and the remains of armour and clothing. Once the fungus is inside the body, only a Cure Disease spell will be able to eradicate it. [Daddy Grognard]
  24. The Writhing Darkness. These little beauties are black worms about an inch long and need to roll to hit their victim, with a THAC0 of 20. However, if they do hit, they at once burrow into the skin and make their way deep into the body, where they locate the vital organs and lay their eggs within them. The eggs then hatch into tiny larvae that slowly eat the organs away over a period of days, during which the victim sickens and withers. However, he does not die straight away. The worms are more cunning than that. As they eat, the larvae release a chemical into the blood of the victim that causes him to crave immersion in water as a respite from the pain. Once total immersion is achieved, the body bursts open and the myriad larvae are released into the water. Once the eggs are laid within a victim, only a Cure Disease can kill them. Once the larvae hatch and begin to eat, there is little hope although the DM may wish to specify a cure that will halt the deterioration. [Daddy Grognard]
  25. Undead Head Lice (UHL). These little beasties are the animated corpses of common head lice, created when common head lice infect zombies and other contagious undead. They are a common dungeon parasite, sucking the vital fluids of their hosts, but like other undead they cannot breed by normal means. UHL are only present in their adult form. If UHL are present, the DM should roll 1d6 to determine the severity of infestation: (1-2) minimal (10-25 UHL) -- hair loss and rash. -1 to CHAR or CON per length of infestation; (3-4) medium (26-50 UHL) -- hair loss, rash, minor skin decay. 1 hp damage per day if left unchecked; (5-6); massive (51+ UHL) -- undead contagion, save vs. disease. PCs making their save suffer at medium infestation level. PCs failing their save will contract Zombie Leprosy and die in 1d3 days, and will reanimate as Leper Zombies in 1d6 rounds thereafter. If a PC is infested by the common head louse, then it should be assumed that the UHL turns that common infestation into a medium or massive infestation of UHL (the DM should adjust the above table roll accordingly). UHL cannot be turned by clerics, and normal Cure Disease spells do not work to cure undead contagion inflicted by UHL. The DM may wish to specify an alternative cure for this contagion.
    A medium size infestation can only be cleared by shaving all body hair, burning said hair and all clothing worn by the PC, and full immersion of the PC in Holy Water or full body anointing by Holy Oils. Alternatively, a DM may wish to specify a cure, potion, spell, or ritual that will halt the infestation or cure the effects of undead contagion. Those slain by UHL-inflicted undead contagion will reanimate as Leper Zombies in 1d6 rounds. Undead Head Lice: HD 1; AC 9 [10], Atk 1 (bite); Move 1; Save 187; XP 1/25 Special: disease [Matthew Schmeer]
  26. Magus Worms. These can be found in the fur of, well, furred creatures. They are harmless, and will enhance magical powers... As long as there's only one group. To determine the effects, roll d4: (1-2) One group. All spells are cast as though the caster is d6 levels higher than they are; (3) Two groups. These will cast any spells that the host knows against each other. What did you say a magic missile does if cast inside someone? (4) 3 or more groups. Effects are as two, but worse. [C'nor]
  27. Giant Seed Ticks. The nymph or larval form of the giant tick, these arachnids are about the size of a typical adult tick. A total of 1d6 ticks will attach to the victim. Due to their small size, it is common (75% chance) for the initial bite of these creatures to go undetected. If giant seed ticks are found within the first few hours of attachment, removing them is almost effortless. The ticks; however, will begin drinking their host's blood and rapidly grow in size. During the first 6 hours the victim will lose 1 hp per tick every two hours. After the 6th hour, the ticks will be sufficiently large that they will be noticed by any conscious victim and they may be removed and killed with some effort. Also, at this point, the bites will cause 1d4 hp damage per hour if the ticks are not removed. This situation will be particularly dangerous if the victim sleeps without noticing the ticks. After 8 hours of blood drinking the monsters will be full grown giant ticks (2HD, AC 4, 1-4 damage per round). There is a 50% chance that each tick will transmit to the host Eiglophian Mountain Spotted Fever or some other horrid disease. [The Drune]
  28. Lich Lichen. This scaly grey-green malady can be found on any corporeal undead, but is most common with ghasts, wights and liches. If infected, patches of dry lichen-like growth will begin to show 1-3 days after exposure. After becoming apparent, it will spread rapidly, covering an area equivalent to 1 limb per day.

    For each day after it starts to show, the victim loses 1 pt. of charisma. For every 2 days of growth, 1 pt. of dexterity is lost as well. Scrubbing with holy water or oil will remove visible lich lichen, but will not cure the disease, with more growing visibly again in another 1-3 days. Only a Cure Disease spell will end the infection.

    After becoming apparent, flakes will fall from the skin regularly, and anyone coming in contact with these risks infection as well.

    Those familiar with the infection will advise against picking or peeling the dry scaly lichen. Although it will painfully (1hp per 1/2 limb peeled) separate from the raw, pus-covered skin beneath in big chunks and sheets, these will then surprisingly animate in 1d4 rounds, attacking the nearest animal life as a 1hd creature. The shape of the area peeled off might have an effect on combat.

    If allowed to entirely cover an individual, lich lichen will then turn inward, killing the victim in 1-3 days. They will thereafter rise as an infected ghast after a further 1-3 days, unless burned or otherwise entirely destroyed. Mere dismemberment will result in a multitude of the 1hd creatures instead. [migellito]
  29. Stray Neurons. The chaotic neural fibres of dungeon monsters are rarely content to stay put inside a single skull, and may leak out of a monster's ears, eyes or nose. Characters coming into contact with these sticky secretions have 1d2 rounds' grace period to try and wash them off before the stray neurons make for the nose and enter the character's brain. There they will gestate for 1d4 days, before beginning to take over. Ever subsequent day the character must make a saving throw against poison, with failure indicating that the monstrous neurons have become dominant that day, causing the character to behave as if he or she were the monster which 'donated' the stray neurons. The save operates on a daily basis, meaning that the character may behave normally some of the time. Cure disease kills the stray neurons but has a 50% chance of permanently reducing the character's Int by 1d6 points. A regeneration spell allows the character's native neurons to destroy the invaders and returns the brain to normality. [Gavin]
  30. Mind-fever. This foul affliction destroys all links of the brain to the muscles, save those needed to sustain life. The victim must make a save vs. petrification or be trapped within themselves. [C'nor]

2/15/2011

Free Paranoia Table PDF

 
Matthew at Rended Press has gone above and beyond and rendered the community-produced Paranoia Table into a handy PDF form. Download and enjoy watching your PCs lapse into disturbing psychotic episodes today!

Thanks again, Matt!

The Vancian MIII Spellcasting Engine for Old School Rules Simulators

What follows is open-source, completely non-proprietary stuff. If you post about it (and I'd be flattered) or even use it (which would be awesome), please link back to Gorgonmilk. It's less a complete system than a bunch of related ideas at this point.

VMIII Fundamentals
  • Spells are complex magical formulae that must be transferred to the magic-user's memory in order to be triggered later.
  • Spells are acquired through game-play. They are found, purchased, stolen or created.
  • The memory of a magic-user can be abstractly represented as a series of cells. (See chart below.)
  • A first level magic-user can memorize and cast only first level spells; a second level m-u can cast and memorize first or second level spells; and so on with mastery achieved at ninth level.
  • A spell's level indicates how much of the magic-user's memory is required for it to be memorized. For example, a third level spell requires three cells, while a seventh level spell requires seven. These cells must be adjacent to each other. (See chart below.)
  • Theoretically, a spell can remain in a magic-user's memory permanently.


      The Memory Cell Chart
      • The numbers running along the left side of the page correspond to the magic-user's experience level. Each level grants the magic-user five more cells of storage until he/she reaches the maximum at 15th level. A fifteenth level magic-user has 75 cells of storage, not including the five marked "LT" which stands for Long-Term Memory. That's equivalent to seventy-five first level spells or eight ninth level spells with some space to spare.
      • When a spell is cast (successfully or not) it is erased from the Chart.
      • Long-Term Memory is normally not used for spell storage. However, if a magic-user's need for storage space is dire, he/she can sac an LT cell at a cost of 1/5 his/her total experience points and add it to his/her overall spell storage. Once a spell occupying Long-Term Memory is cast, the cell(s) revert back, and another 1/5 total XP must be spent to use an LT cell again. 

         Example: Voor-Hing the Mage

        Yggoa, the Crystal Bark
        • Yggoa is a psychoactive agent that expands the memory. It is highly addictive. Long-term use leads to the formation of mnemonic cavities that permanently impair a spell-caster's overall ability.
        • The drug is harvested from a rare crystal tree type that is difficult and expensive to obtain. These plants are for the most part cultivated by powerful foreign cartels. When a tree reaches maturity, its crystalline bark is carefully stripped and ground into the fine, luminescent powder called yggoa. Often the pure powder is "cut" for market with an additive called jinth that increases its addictive qualities.
        • When a magic-user uses a single dose of yggoa, he gains access to 1d8 memory cells that would normally be beyond his experience level. These cells are always adjacent. After the spell(s) occupying these cells is cast, they revert back to their inaccessible state.
        • Each dose used in this way carries a 5% cumulative chance of causing a mnemonic cavity to form. A cavity destroys one of the magic-user's normally accessible cells. The particular cell is randomly determined by the DM, who will black it out with a marker. The magic-user then returns to 0% chance of mnemonic cavity formation, but every dose of yggoa thereafter increases the risk to 10%. New cavities are always adjacent to the original, or adjacent to adjacent cells thereof. These can even extend into Long-Term Memory. LT cells lost in this way deduct 1/5 total XP each. Additionally, the magic-user loses one point of Constitution for each LT cell lost this way. Once all LT cells are lost, the magic-user can no longer increase in experience.
        • Extreme yggoa use leads to a total black-out of normally accessible memory cells. In these cases, magic-users become totally reliant on yggoa to memorize spells.
        • Yggoa-addicts often appear gaunt and listless. Their eyes are often rimmed with a green discoloration.
        • Withdrawal is taxing on the Constitution. Following the grace period of three doses, every new dose of yggoa has a 1-in-4 chance of causing a habit to form. Habits require daily intake. One point of CON is permanently lost each day without a dose of yggoa. Habits can be broken by cure disease and various esoteric treatments.

        Coteries and Collective Memory
        • A coterie is composed of an Archmage (20th level magic-user or higher) and four to twelve cohort-mages.
        • Each member of the coterie shares his/her accessible memory cells in a common telepathic network known as a Memory Pool.
        • The Archmage alone adds spells to the pool and it is he/she who grants a cohort access to specific spells.
        • Coteries notoriously dominate the merchant trade and accumulate vast wealth in this way to devote to their clandestine agendas.

        2/13/2011

        A pinch of goblinpubes, a splash of gorgonmilk...

        Here's what's cookin':
        • I've created a character for NetherWerks' Zalchis campaign. I will write up a proper intro to Yarrow the Ponderer (imagine Dale Cooper as a plane-hopping gewgaw-hunter) here very soon-ish.
        • I'm gearing up for my own Helioptica in-person-at-my-table campaign. Still ironing out the schedule but it looks as though we may be meeting on Mondays.
        • Il Male, one of our Italian OSR cohorts, is working on a Middle-Earth supplement for OD&D! I'm excited to see this project reach fruition.
        • Next post will be devoted to the Vancian MIII, a spellcasting engine I will be using for Helioptica in lieu of the standard rules set out in Labyrinth Lord.

        2/12/2011

        Sasquatch Birth Journal 2

        Straight from Sundance. Naturalism doesn't get any more Gygaxian than this.


        And while you're stopping by why not take a gander at the (dun dun dun) PARANOIA TABLE?? Feel free to comment/add your own flavor -- she's almost complete.

        2/07/2011

        Community Project: Paranoid Fantasy

        Naked Lunch (1991)
        "Sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts."
        WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

        Paranoia is something I really strive to get from the players while DMing. When they're paranoid, you know that their involvement in the game has passed from the purely abstract to a kind of belief in the drama that's unfolding. Players are left a little unnerved or worried in a pleasantly omniscient sort of way. It's similar to the experience of reading an especially effective piece of horror lit.  They never approach the level of terror that could induce an actual panic attack. Not that I want to inflict that experience on anyone necessarily, but what if that degree of paranoia befell the character? What sort of bizarre behavior might result? And how would paranoia -- as a game element and system -- affect play overall?

        The Idea
        • Paranoia is a PC and NPC condition.
        • Certain creatures produce a musk that is psychoactive to humans and demi-humans. Exposure to such creatures (e.g. standing at/within a 10 yard radius of musky creature) will have a 5 to 75% chance to render the N/PC paranoid based on the musk's potency.
        • Some intoxicants work along the same lines.
        • An NPC (5% chance) might suffer from paranoia as a default condition, in which case the effects described below are considered permanent or intermittent.
        • Paranoid characters must roll a d6. 1 - 3 = no effect on character; 4 - 5 = roll 1d12 on Paranoia Table; 6 = roll 1d20 on Paranoia Table.

        The Community Angle
        Fill in the blanks in the table below by commenting. Designate a result number to go with your entry. Results 1-12 are short-term (number of rounds or turns) while results 13-20 are long-term (number of days, weeks, possibly months?). Try to keep the long-term effects playable -- we don't want to render the characters completely useless to the players. This table is designated open-source gaming content. No rights reserved. Names of contributors with links to their respective blogs (if any) will appear next to their entries.

        ------------------------------------------------------------

        PARANOIA TABLE
        1. Mumbles irrational commentary and non-sequiturs uncontrollably for 1d6 turns. Can't communicate coherent instructions or advice during this period. (G. Gorgonmilk)
        2. Homicidal Mania: In a moment of clarity, the character realizes that another character in the party (determined randomly) is secretly a monster in human form, possessed by a demon, or controlled by an outside entity. Only by slaying the other character can the rest of the group be saved. Luckily, this effect will wear off in 2-5 rounds. (Beedo)
        3. Hypervigilance: Constantly scans surroundings for danger, for 2d6 days. This gives +1 to avoiding surprise, and initiative in the first 1d4 days, but also causes reactions of others against the afflicted to be worse given their behavior. If the effect lasts for over 5 days, sleep becomes impaired, causing a -1 to all combat rolls. (Trey)
        4. "What do they want with me?" The character develops the creeping feeling that all of his or her thoughts and actions are being controlled, puppet-like, by some extra-dimensional entity. This effect lasts for 1d6 turns. (Gavin)
        5. Falling: The character has the sudden sensation that the ground is dropping away and clutches at the nearest solid object. The character is incapacitated for 1d6 rounds and may act defensively only during this time. (Porky)
        6. The character gains the sudden and shocking 'insight' that his soul has been switched with that of one of his companions, and that the companion in question was maliciously responsible (in some imagined way) for this transference. This odd state lapses after 1d6 turns. (Gavin)
        7. Reality: In a moment of insight, the character realizes he or she is not paranoid, but that someone or something nearby really is out to get him/her. GM immediately rolls on the Random Encounter table (if no encounter, roll again). The character is the only PC targeted in combat, although the monster(s) will mount suitable defensive maneuvers as warranted. (Matthew Schmeer)
        8. Geophagia: The character believes he or she is a fabled Dirt Eater from the Northern Reaches and will only eat earth, even if other edible delectables and delicacies are presented. Dry dirt, chalky earth, clay, sand, mud, dust--whatever the texture of the soil, the character desires it and will eat earth until his or her desire is sated for 1d8 days. The character believes that whatever dirt he or she eats is of the finest and most delicious quality, and will comment on such ad nausem. Eating dirt for more than four days will result in a -1 penalty to all combat rolls on the fifth day, a -2 on the sixth day, and so forth, due to hunger and lack of nutrients. Additionally, while under this delusion, the character desires to drink only water, and will refuse any other beverage offered, complaining that it takes away from the flavor of the earth. (Matthew Schmeer)
        9. Photophrenia: Acute sensitivity to all sources of light that is believed to be revealing all their innermost thoughts and most deeply repressed secrets to anyone who just looks at them. The brighter the light, the more is revealed, or so they believe. The more they catch someone, anyone looking at them, the more irrational and potentially violent they are likely to become. There is a 20% chance that their skin will react to any light source, producing a painful sunburn effect from anything stronger than a candle. (NetherWerks)
        10. Delusional parasitosis: Is convinced that insects are larva are under their skin. At first, they will merely try to wash often, and annoy others by presenting small bits of lint or the like, claiming these are examples of the infestation. In later stages, only a saving throw will keep when from cutting or otherwise injuring themselves to get out the parasites. Effect lasts for 2d6 days on a successful save, 4d6 on a failed one. There is a 20% chance their paranoia has uncovered an actual infection. (Trey)
        11. "They're trying to poison me!" Character refuses all food and drink (even potions) for 1d6 days. If the affect lasts 3 days or more, cumulative penalty to all combat rolls is incurred (-1 on day 3, -2 on day 4, etc). Movement rate and carry capacity suffer as Referee sees fit. (Booberry)
        12. Metallophobia: The character develops an intense fear of any object made of any kind of metal for 1d3 days. During this time, the character will refuse to wear or hold any object made of metal, including weapons and armor, and will attempt to keep a ten foot radius between himself/herself and any metal. If the character should come into direct physical contact with any metal object during the time this delusion is in effect (whether by force or by choice), there is a 25% chance that the character will immediately faint and be unconscious for 1d6 rounds. (Matthew Schmeer)
        13. Creates an imaginary friend. 10% chance that imaginary friend will become an invisible manifestation (treat as invisible stalker or poltergeist) in 1d6 days. Such phantoms will be hostile to a randomly determined party member. (G. Gorgonmilk)
        14. Experiences a steadily growing feeling (over the space of 1d6 days) that the innocuous chatter of birds and animals really contains a sinister message -- if only the language can be deciphered! 5% chance that the affected character really gains the ability to understand the speech of birds / animals for the duration. (Gavin)
        15. Jumpy: Character must have a weapon in each hand at all times, cannot run unless it is away from actual danger, and if surprised will shit self. Lasts until the character does not shit self for 1d6 consecutive days. Roll number of days when paranoia is first developed. (Aberrant Hive Mind)
        16. Querulous Paranoia: The afflicted is convinced that specific forces, often institutions or individuals of authority in the real world, are conspiring against him. At every available opportunity, he will seek to set the law upon them. Sheriffs, town guards, knights of the realm - none are exempt from his heartfelt and incredibly detailed requests to prosecute justice against those who vex him. He explains the entire, detailed and complex conspiracy, adamantly insisting his nemeses be brought to justice. (migellito)
        17. Develops an intense fear of own shadow and will go to great lengths to avoid lighting conditions where the shadow will appear. This condition will last 1d6 days and may (5% cumulative chance daily) lead to an irresistible compulsion to retreat into total darkness with a 25% chance that the paranoid will also develop a fear of the darkness and be reduced to gibbering. If the sufferer sees his or her shadow on the last day it is 25% likely to manifest and attack. (the drune)
        18. "I won't do it!" The character develops the feeling that his or her life is following a predetermined course, and to some dark end. The character will accept collective decisions unwillingly, endeavour to change plans and make sudden and unexpected movements all in an attempt to cheat the fate believed to be approaching. There is a 25% chance at the outset of a combat that the character will refuse to engage actively, an effect lasting until injury is suffered or until he or she is persuaded otherwise by the undivided efforts of another character, or the divided efforts of two or more, over 1d6 rounds. (Porky)
        19. Insists that there is someone talking to him or her -- 50% chance that it is actually a side-effect of their exposure, and they have developed telepathy. Scope is at GM's discretion. (C'nor)
        20. Believes all conversations s/he hears are, secretly, about him/her self. Will spin elaborate theories to explain how. (Zak S) -- Zak, what sort of time frame do you want to put on this one? xdx hours/days?

        2/06/2011

        Courtney Campbell's Treasure

        Fly over to Hack & Slash and download this pdf. Why? Because it's f**king awesome x5. More than just a bunch of loot, Campbell's Treasure is a refined approach to the whole business of shiny-dispersal. Essential stuff. Thanks be to Underdark Gazette for lighting the way.

        Helioptica

        I built a blog for the new home campaign, Helioptica. I'm taking a deliberately minimal approach and starting with a hexmap that is only partially complete. This is advantageous not only because it involves a lot less work, but also because I like the possibilities a "holy" map creates. Helioptica is going to be a survival gauntlet that will likely claim a few incautious PCs.

        Who's Pissing in My Cornflakes? (A Brief Deflection)

        You're not having fun, so instead of turning your critical eye inward, you whine about a perceived lack of imagination and new ideas in the OSR, or even in tabletop RPGs in general. The problem with your stance is that many folks, in fact, are having fun. That much should be obvious. So the issue isn't really with the current state of role-gaming -- a hobby that continues to provide dividends for many of us -- it's strictly with you

        (WTF am I on about? Check out Bat in the Attic. Old School Jump is conducting the service.)

        2/03/2011

        Campaign Cash as Game Pieces

        As much as I dislike loathe contemplate the burning of the game of Monopoly -- the Most Tedious Bored Game Ever Created -- I do have to admit that it has some nice props. The board is pretty cool, the little miniatures are neat, I like the property cards, and the money! (I guess I really only dislike the game in practice. As an artifact it's quite interesting.)

        Anyway, I like the idea of porting that play money idea to D&D games. It connects the player to his character in a unique way. Money is one of those things we're constantly tabulating as soon as the party hits the town -- or at least this is the case in my campaigns. By handling it as real wads of cash it becomes more meaningful than that scrap paper covered in chicken scratch. And as a consequence it becomes more valuable to the player.

        Back in the day I devised some paper money for the home campaign. There were six denominations. Here's an example.

        100 Crown Note (front)
        100 Crown Note (back)
        In this campaign the Sea Merchants had an ironclad grip on local economics and produced their own currency which was recognized in many realms and city-states. I think I posted about the Guild Notes way back in Eiglophian Press days. Recently I've been thinking about making up some cash notes for Hidden Planet. If I had a way to find a crapload of Connect Four chips, I would probably use them to represent coinage.

        New Acquisitions: The Sorcerer's Skull and Others

        Robert E. who? At least now we know where Trey gets his
        material from. :-)

         Kinda wishing they had the first volume of Vardeman's series there. 
        I mean, World of Mazes? It doesn't get more D&D-tastic than that.

         I've been hearing about this series for a while and just
        happened to spot the first volume today. Great cover.

        This is a collection of Aldiss novelettes. Again, this
        cover is completely awesome despite the scuffing.

         
        I love CLM's Jirel stuff, and I'd heard of this
        character for quite a while, so it was yet
        another Must-Grab.
         
        This is a highly influential 19th Century novel that
        details the thousand-year escapades of an
        undying/re-morting Phoenician adventurer.

        Class Limits: Where the Levels End

        While racial level limits is something of an icky subject -- I mean, what a fun way to talk about eugenics -- I advocate putting caps on the classes across the board. Most iterations of D&D feature an upper-limit on experience, be it 20 levels or whatever. I just want to mess around with 'em a bit.

        Just how awesome does a Fighter need to get before she's reached the limits of her capabilities and begins the physical decline into middle age? How much can she learn before she's the gal that people want to learn from?

        Not all classes should share the same, generic level cap. Certain professions are more involved than others. The amount of wizardry a Wizard can learn, for example, is far beyond the upper limits of crass thievery a Thief can master. This has always been true, if you really think about it. A twelfth level Thief is just no match for his Wizard counterpart, and that's across all editions of D&D (except maybe 4th). There's a built-in inequality to the classes. While some may view this as a detriment to older versions of D&D, I find this variety in scope and abilities to be part of their appeal. Like real life, it doesn't need to be fair to be fun.

        But I digress. The fundamental criterion I'm suggesting for the experience-span of a class, summed up, would be "In terms of accumulated knowledge, how far does it go?"

        Here's what I've come up with for the classes of the Hidden Planet setting:
        Fighter ~  12 levels
        Thief ~ 12 levels
        Wizard ~ No limit*
        Mountebank ~ 6 levels
        Beggar ~ 6 levels
        Fungalist ~ 12 levels
        Players have the option to switch tracks and multi-class every time they gain a new experience level. Say, for example, when a Beggar character maxes out at 6 he decides to go Thief. Then after two levels of Thief, he picks up some levels as a Fighter. His current saving throws and to-hit table would be based on the most advantageous values among his three classes.

        Another advantage of setting the sights of certain classes lower is that the players of these classes see rewards -- in the form of experience-contingent abilities and features -- faster.

        What do you guys think?
        ______________________________
        *I like the idea that there could be 59th level Wizards doing random/bizarre experiments involving the fabric of time and space.

        2/02/2011

        Hidden Planet: Design Notes

        The Drune, who along with School Master manages the short-on-name-but-long-on-weird blog ix, asks:  

        "[W]hat system or systems do you run
        or plan to run each setting with?"

        The plan -- as far as I can wrap my head around it just now -- is to run a slimmed-down version of AD&D with a few idiosyncratic house-rulings tacked on for good measure. So a race/class, level-based system with some weird flourishes in the tradition of Empire of the Petal Throne. The add-ons and alterations vary among the three settings. 

        Here are some of the specs for Hidden Planet:
        • No dwarves, elves, hobbits, or half-orcs. Instead there's the Yeumen. Yeumen resemble humans in most respects. They have several organs that have no correlation with anything in our bodies, but like us they evolved from ape-like ancestors. [There's a background teleology to the Hidden Planet universe -- totally unnecessary info for the player, but it's useful to me as a setting designer. Basically I've applied the process of convergent evolution to the cosmos-at-large. So just like the American raccoon and the Japanese raccoon -- two species that bear more than a passing resemblance but have no direct common ancestor --  human-like creatures pop up all over the universe where conditions are suitable. It's not so much that they resemble us -- it's the formula (one head, two arms, two legs, sex junk in the middle) that we have in common that seems to be a generic offering in the cosmic supermarket.]
        • Classes include the Fighter, the Thief, the Wizard, as well as the Mountebank (a hedge wizard or magical charlatan), the Beggar, and the Fungalist. Those last three have a particularly Vancian bent.
        • Alignment only applies to monsters. It's more of a method for me to characterize their relationship to the PCs in a really general way. The three alignments are Inimical, Neutral and Benevolent. These are not the cosmic properties alignments represent in D&D.
        • Experience rewards are based on monster kills/subduals and time spent in the field. This includes the concept of training but works a little differently. Essentially each year of campaign time during which the character worked at his/her profession, he/she is rewarded 1,000 XP multiplied by 1.x, where x is the number of campaign achievements that occurred during the course of play. A generic example of an achievement would be the fulfillment of the old rescue-the-princess scenario.
        • Magic is memory-based/Vancian. I'm working on a Memory Tree diagram that will be part of every Wizard's PC records. The tree gets bigger (more slots) (a) as experience increases, (b) when the Wizard consumes magical drugs like yggoa, (c) after risky surgeries intended to augment the memory or repair damaged slots, and (d) when the Wizard utilizes certain magical implements. I think Mr. M at Grognardia may have suggested the idea that when a spell is in-memory it produces certain side-effects. I'm going with that idea. Spell access is based on membership in magical coteries and lucky finds while in the field. A coterie has a distinct focus -- think AD&D's schools of magic but with weird, obsessive twists.

        Now with less spiders!

        Still no free fish.

        D100 Table of Blogger-Loot


        Head on over to Zalchis and contribute to the fledgling D100 Table of Blogger-Loot. At the time of this writing the table contains eight weird and wonderful items, which means that at least ninety-two of you should unlock those musty trunks and take this opportunity to showcase some of your magical and quasi-mystical ephemera.

        Ggmlk's Campaign Settings / Hidden Planet stuff

        A sorceress of Cuuth flying over the Decrepitudes.

        Being at the mercy of my muse -- and she's a fickle old weirdo, let me tell you -- my output here recently always has been a little less organized than I would like. Lately all my old weirdo talks about is Jindelil, the oldest extant city on the face of the Hidden Planet. Meanwhile, my notes for Xothique sit idly by, waiting for me to type them up, and 8th Planet (my sci-fantasy venture) impatiently reminds me of that system map I need to finish. The imagination glands might overheat at any moment.

        ---------------

        Hidden Planet*
        The world called the Hidden Planet is a green-gray sphere orbiting the star Nume. Civilizations have seen many cycles of growth and decay throughout the Planet's strange history, leaving tracks across each of the six standing continents as well as the one that fell beneath the waves. Now many of the eldest towers and monuments have been decimated by the processes of Time, and many of the old races -- the Archaics -- have died off or retrogressed to a state of barbarism.

        While the Archaics lapse slowly on into oblivion, the Yeumans who evolved from the gray apes of the Tablelands continue to thrive. For two-thousand years they have dwelt in the land called Cuuth. Their most ancient city -- indeed the most ancient still standing on the face of the Hidden Planet -- is shining Jindelil, seat of the Jale Emperor.

        The Archaics
        The Archaics have been in decline since the Alteration, a solar event which philosophers ascribe to a sudden shift in Nume's radiance from a mesmeric green to its current dull blue. The Alteration had catastrophic effects on the Hidden Planet's creatures and plant-life. Jungles became wastelands. Empires collapsed. Domesticated beasts returned to the wilderness. Entire systems of life vanished or changed so drastically as to become almost unrecognizable. Many of the Archaic races are now extinct, but there are a few survivals.
        • Gorgons (Scaly Men). Cyclopic humanoids who are now primarily subterranean.
        • Windlocks (Mist Creatures). Delicate, vapor-organed monstrosities who float above the treeline to harvest vital energies.
        • Ywallu (Hairy Giants). Stupid, colossal mammals. Once the brilliant architects of a proud culture -- now reduced to a near-beast state.
        _____________________
        *Henceforth all Jindelil stuff will fall under the umbrella of Hidden Planet.