Sunday, March 29, 2020

Lord Wyrd's Library


Lord Wyrd’s library is massive and sprawling. It is also messy and disorganized with no categorization system that anyone can determine. His family’s collection of ancient tomes and treatises is unmatched outside of academic circles. The library contains information on a wide variety of subjects, but most of the collection deals with the Wyrdwood and its environs, inhabitants, and history. There are no magical tomes or spellbooks to be found here.

Lord Wyrd deeply values his ancestral library and does not allow just anyone access to it. PCs will either need to sneak in or gain the trust and confidence of Lord Wyrd or his daughter.

Research Rolls
If you have access to Lord Wyrd’s library, ask a single question about the Wyrdwood and spend 1d8+8 hours in research. Roll 2d6+INT.
  • 6 or less: Your search is fruitless. Your time is wasted and you lose any accumulated +1s to your research roll. But the GM will tell you some unrelated but interesting (if not necessarily important or useful) rumor, bit of trivia, or lore that you stumbled across in your research.
  • 7-9: You haven’t found the answer yet, but you’re on the right track. Take +1 to the next research roll you make regarding your question.
  • 10: You have found the answer to your question. Your GM will give it to you as a single statement. Any follow-up questions you make can be researched with a +1 to the roll.


If you want to help someone in their research, spend the same amount of time with them, and roll 2d6+INT
  • 6 or less: You are a distraction and a font of bad information. Your friend takes -1 to their research roll.
  • 7-9: You neither help nor hinder your friend, but you get a +1 to your next assistance roll.
  • 10+: You find some helpful information or leads. Give +1 to your friend’s research roll.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Wyrdwood Village

I've got a new campaign idea in my head, because clearly I don't have enough projects to keep me busy. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it right yet. Once the plague leaves our far lands, I'm probably going to propose it as the next campaign for my home group. Or, if I ever get room for another online game I might run it as like a virtual open-table.

It's a spooky (but not horror) rustic hex-crawl setting centered around a haunted forest and anchored by a little village full of eccentric NPCs. I'm going for a kind of dream-like weirdness more than horror. it's a gothic fairytale vibe without going into full-blown Burton territory, like a Roger Corman meets Guillermo del Toro thing. System-wise I think Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is the best fit.

Here are my vague and poorly organized concept notes...

Wyrdwood Village (Setting)

Keys: Dreamlike, folktales, decay, mystery
Specifically not a horror setting, despite some of the folk horror trappings.
A small village spread around an ancient manor house occupied by the mysterious Lord Wyrd and his household.
Lord Wyrd is mysterious with vaguely-defined supernatural influence on the area. Of an alien mood, but surprisingly benign. His family has been here as long as the village has, with no records showing their origin. Lord Wyrd has been the master of the Manor as long as anyone can remember.
The Wyrdwood is a primeval, spooky fairytale forest full of strange ruins, monsters, and secrets. The village has only one path in--the old covered bridge.
People (PCs and other weirdos) just “show up” in Wyrdwood village, coming across the bridge. Sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by invitation from Lord Wyrd. Designed to facilitate bringing new characters/players into the campaign.
Visitors are welcome, and Lord Wyrd is quite happy to provide rooms for guests within the Manor, as long as they behave themselves.
Every week, a masked man driving a wagon comes into town to resupply the merchants and take their money to deposit “back in the city.” This "city" is never discussed in detail. Anyone who attempts to follow the wagon driver when he leaves the village never returns to Wyrdwood. None of this strikes the villagers as unusual. Wyrdwood Manor
  • Many secret passages and hidden chambers
  • A strange art gallery
  • Lord Wyrd’s bored and lustful daughter
  • The locked bedroom of Lord Wyrd’s dead son.
  • Distressingly cheerful Halfling groundskeeper
  • Competent if uncreative cook.
  • Necromantic butler overseeing ghostly staff.
  • Guest rooms available for use by adventuring types
  • Library full of cryptic answers
  • Family crypts


Wyrdwood Village

  • Tavern, where hirelings and torchbearers can be hired.
  • Church dedicated to a forgotten god
  • General store with a very friendly proprietor (Runcible Hawk and his old dog Blue). He’ll buy pelts and monster skins from adventurers.
  • Smith who can make weapons and simple armor, and can order heavy armor for you (delivered next week!)
  • Several empty houses that can be rented or purchased from Lord Wyrd (so PCs can set up their own homes, temples, guilds, etc.)
  • Apothecary who sells potions and buys weird ingredients from the PCs.
  • Handful of farms with quarreling families.
  • Maypole and old menhirs where seemingly random holidays are celebrated.
  • Crusty old bailiff/sheriff who keeps the peace.


The Wyrdwood
  • Ruins of unknown history and make
  • Dungeons of various sizes
  • Creepy druid cults burning sacrifices inside wicker animals
  • Talking beasts
  • The tower of a reclusive, but good-natured wizard.
  • Coven of sinister witches and their goblin minions
  • The Parliament of Spiders
  • Ancient statues covered in moss
  • Small village of devils
  • Bearlike hermit
  • No standard “humanoid” monsters, aside from some beastly goblin-folk.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Gasp, Posion!

Remember Black Dougal from the Moldvay Basic set? Of course you do! Did you know that after he died, he opened up a poison shoppe called "Gasp, Poison!" in the Underwolrd? It's true!

Here's a thing I put together for my now-ended LotFP game. I never got a chance to use it. It's been on my Patreon since July, but now I'm sharing it with the wider world. The prices below assume a silver standard. Yes, they are expensive, perhaps more than they should be. Adjust according to your game's economy and how much poison usage you want.

Gasp, Poison!
Black Dougal was a thief and dungeon adventurer, way back in Times of Old. He was famously unlucky. A poison needle put an end to his adventuring career, as well as his life, but that didn’t stop his entrepreneurial spirit!

Black Dugal is now undead and operates a profitable poison shoppe down in the Ghoul Market. Gasp, Poison! stocks exotic toxins from across the Nameless World, catering to a discerning clientele.

Popular poisons are listed below. Prices are per dose, with a silver standard.
  • Blackadder: Injury; Save or 4d6 CON damage. (1500sp)
  • Iocane Powder: Injury, ingestion, contact, inhalation; colorless, odorless, dissolves instantly in water; Save or die in 2d4 rounds. (2000sp)
  • Spiderbite: Injury; Save or paralysis for 1d4 turns. (1000sp)
  • Red Rage: Injury, ingested; Save or berserker rage for 3d6 rounds. Victim makes pressing melee attacks (+2 to hit, -4 AC) against closest target each round. (750sp)
  • Demoncap: Injury, ingested, contact; save or suffer nightmarish hallucinations. 2d6 WIS damage, and confused (as spell) for 1d4 turns. On save, disadvantage on all rolls for 1d4 rounds. (1000sp)
  • Sandman: Ingested, inhaled; Save or deep sleep for 2d4 turns. (1000sp)
  • Slugwort: Injury; Slowed for 2d6 rounds. (600sp)
  • Venombane: Ingested, injected; Allows new save to resist poison if taken within 1 turn of exposure. (500sp)

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Troika! City Encounters


Hey look! Actual gamable content!

I'm running Troika! with my Saturday online group ("The Germans"). The characters are mostly new-comers to Troika, so I'm running it as a light city-crawl (with a lot of influence from Dark Heart of the Dreamer). As the PCs travel from district-to-district I roll to see what kind of weird encounters they have with the locals. 

I'll need to come up with more of these soon, as my players are burning through this original batch pretty fast!

City Encounters

Roll 2d6 whenever the PCs travel from one part of Troika to another.
  • 2: Demonic Incursion
  • 3: Illicit Magic Dealer
  • 4-5: Drinking Contest to the Death
  • 6-8: No Encounter
  • 9-10: Musical Debate
  • 11: Dwarf Artist
  • 12: Lamassu Fashionista


Demonic Incursion
A gate of bone and obsidian opens in the middle of the street. A demon and a demon hunter stumble out, mid-combat. She is Bianca Sten, a young woman with white hair, a facial scar, crimson cloak, and massive silver sword. He is Skathe, a demon of Rage, eight-foot tall with red scales, a lion’s head, tuxedo jacket, and eye lasers.

If the PCs do nothing, the fight will last for another 3 rounds. After that, roll 1d6 for the results. 1-4, the demon wins. 5-6 the hunter wins. Either way, the winning side will berate the PCs for not helping them.
  • Bianca Sten: Skill 8, Stamina 13, Initiative 2, Armor 2, Damage: greatsword (silver)
  • Skathe: Skill 9, Stamina: 20, Initiative 2, Armor 2, Damage: eye-beams (as fusil), double damage from silver. Gold and jade nose-ring worth 50sp.


Illicit Magic Dealer
PCs are surreptitiously approached by Gambolpuddy Spree, a weasel of a man with a long gray cloak and battered hat. He offers them a deal on several bits of contraband magic.

Gambolpuddy Spree: Skill 5, Stamina 6, Initiative 1, Armor 1, Damage: knife
  • No-Pants Powder: Blow this fine pink powder at your target. They must make a Luck roll (Skill for enemies) or their pants will fall to their ankles. 15sp
  • Double Trouble Bubble: A fragile glass orb that, when shattered, will create a duplicate of the last person to touch it. They will have identical clothing and equipment, but an entirely different philosophy and moral outlook. 100sp
  • Healing Liquor: Potent alcoholic distillation that may or may not heal damage. Roll 1d6. 1-2: nothing happens, 3-5: Instantly regain 2d6 Stamina, 6: Transform into a box tortoise for 1d6 days. 10sp
  • A small red book containing the Zed spell. 50sp


Drinking Contest to the Death!
A large crowd gathers around one of the many small beer gardens in this part of the city.
Two women sit across a table from each other, among dozens of scattered jugs and steins. What started as a simple IP dispute between the two women has escalated beyond reason.  Juliette Spank and Marva Ritter have decided to settle their affairs with a drinking contest… to the DEATH!

If the PCs do nothing, one or both will succumb to alcohol poisoning in 1d6+3 rounds of drinks. Roll 1d6: 1-3: Juliette dies. 4-5: Marva dies. 6: Both die.

Pennyweather Plunk, a chip-nosed dwarf takes bets. Giving 3:1 odds on Juliette.
  • Julliette Spank: Skill 4, Stamina 8, Initiative 2, Armor 1 (leather apron), Damage: hammer
  • Marva Ritter: Skill 3, Stamina 9, Initiative 2, Armor 0, Damage: pistolette
  • Pennyweather Plunk: Skill 4, Stamina 8, Initiative 1, Armor 0, Damage: sword.


Musical Debate
A large group of rough-looking men come tumbling out of a near-by tavern, violently punching, kicking, and shouting at each other.

The men are divided into two camps, who strongly disagree on popular music of the day. One group thinks that Trace Crystalis is the freshest voice in contemporary acoustic vapor-gaze. The other group asserts that Luna Sixx is breaking boundaries in nouveau autobiographical mope-core.
The violent men will demand the PCs settle their debate.
  • Angry Music Lovers (12 per side): Skill 6, Stamina 13, Initiative: 2; Armor 0. Armed only with their fists.


Dwarf Artist
Crimbo Caspacian is carving a large sculpture in the center of Casternally Cross, a busy intersection. He is currently carving a giant topaz into a 6-foot tall sculpture of flame at the behest of the Red Church. When he finishes his work in 1d6 days, the sculpture will glow and flicker like a real fire.

He is constantly pestered by territorial owls, who are displeased by this intrusion into their prime brooding space. Crimbo will gladly pay the PCs 20sp a day each to keep the owls and other pests away.

On the final day of crafting, Crimbo’s hated rival Jangle Handspan will run out of the crowd, screaming curses, and angrily lob a bomb into the workspace.
  • Crimbo Caspacian: Skill 5, Stamina: 12, Initiative 2, Armor 0, Carving tools (treat as daggers)
  • Jangle Handspan: Skill 5, stamina: 13, Initiative 2, Armor 0, Bomb (20’ radius, damage as fusil, Luck roll to avoid)


Lamassu Fashionista
Uk-Ululu, brazen-maned lamassu attended by seven beautiful androgenes dressed in fragile gold and buttery samite.

Uk-Ululu and his entourage will loudly berate the PCs for their poor sense of fashion and style.
However, if the PCs show grace, humor, and wit in the face of such harsh criticism, they will earn Uk-Ululu’s favor. The Lamassu will treat them to a shopping spree to the tune of 1d3x50sp in fine clothing and accessories.
  • Uk-Ululu the Lamassu: Skill 9, Stamina 20, Initiative 2, Armor 0, Claws (as sword) and Hooves (as club), Spells: Amity, Illusion, Peace
  • Beautiful Hangers-On: Skill: 3, Stamina: 9, Initiative: 1, Armor: 0, Unarmed. Spells: Light, Befuddle.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Support my Friends' Zines!


QAGS is the Quick Ass Game System from Hex Games. It has been a part of several charity bundles on Drivethru, so chances are good you already own it.  QAGS was created by Steve Johnson and Leighton Connor. I bought QAGS 2nd Edition at Origins in 2005. I was immediately taken in by three things:
  1. How simple but effective the system it was. 
  2. How fun it was to read. 
  3. How genuinely useful its GM and player advice was.

I started writing for Hex in 2007 with The Dungeon of Moderate Annoyance for their fantasy-parody setting, Qerth. Since then I have written a whole bunch of stuff for Hex Games, including the Ennie-winning Hobomancer’s Companion. Everything I wrote for Hex was in collaboration with and/or under the editorial pen of Steve Johnson and Leighton Connor. More than anyone they’ve probably had the biggest influence on my writing style, in both subject and form. They’ve also become dear friends.

All this is to say that if you like Sanctum of the Snail or Druagr & Draculas, then you have those guys to thank. Also, you’ll probably very much enjoy the stuff they write.

Steve and Leighton both currently have Kickstarters going for Zinequest 2. I urge you to check them out.

Steve is writing Tales from the Lusty Minotaur, detailing the titular fantasy tavern, its staff, and regulars. It promises rumors, adventure hooks, and random tables. There’s also rules for “Fate’s Hand” a tarot-based card game. Tales is designed to be system-agnostic but uses QAGS where stats are needed. Steve’s bringing on several Hex Games artists for this project, including me.


  
Leighton brings us Akashic Titan. This is a supplement for DCC that revolves around the titular Akashic Titans, giant robots powered by magic who travel across the endless void. It’s dream-like and sublimely weird. Leighton’s doing all the writing and art on this one.



Give them a look, and also look at Them's Monsters why not?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Them's Monsters! now on Kickstarter


Kickstarter Link!

Q: What are those?
A: Them's Monsters!


In 2018, I put together a manga-sized zine called Them’s Monsters! that I passed out to people I met at Gencon (it’s better than a business card!). The zine was a collection of various monsters for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game. I’ve never officially published Them’s Monsters!, and that original print-run of 50 was all the world has even seen of it.

But now Zinequest 2 gives me the opportunity and excuse to share Them’s Monsters! with the wider world! The Zinequest version of Them’s Monsters! includes the original 10 monsters, several new ones, as well as new and improved art.

Those Monsters...

  • Carrion Knight
  • Cleric Lick Monster
  • Cybersnail
  • Eyeless Dead
  • Humababa
  • Iron Medusa
  • Millennium Tortoise
  • Muldasynkovi
  • Pumpkin Knight
  • Sanity Assassin
  • Sludge Dwarf
  • Sludge Golem
  • Terrible Infant
  • Weremoose 

And Also…

  • The Dungle, a new DCC class of hardy little beetle people.
  • A never-before seen Moonblossom & Chance comic.

If you've enjoyed Sanctum of the Snail  or Draugr & Draculas, you're sure to enjoy this one as well. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Wizard Hand (a spell for Dungeon Crawl Classics)

One of my wife's favorite spells to use back in our D&D 5th Edition game was "Mage Hand." Her arcane trickster used it to great effect, swiping things from a range, causing distractions, or handling hazardous materials (like a chunk of burning star). 
When we were recently playing Dungeon Crawl Classics, she was disappointed to discover that a comparable spell doesn't exist in that game. "Invisible Servant" does serves some of the same purpose, but doesn't quite fill the gap.
So I wrote up "Wizard Hand" for DCC. It creates a floating magical hand controllable by the caster. The higher your spellcasting roll, the stronger the hand is and the more control the caster has. With high rolls, you can even use the hand to attack with weapons or use touch spells. 
You can red the spell below or download it from Google Docs.
Read and Enjoy!

Wizard Hand
Level: 1 Range: 30’ Duration: 1 turn per caster level  Casting Time: 1 Action Save: None

General: The caster summons a disembodied hand made of pure magical force. The caster can direct this magical hand using their own actions to guide it, allowing it to act as an extension of their own body at a range. 
Manifestation: Roll 1d6. The hand appears as: (1) an exact copy of the caster’s hand, (2) a skeletal hand, (3) a glowing yellow energy construct, (4) a scaly red demon hand, (5) a mailed gauntlet, (6) A white, three-fingered glove. 
Corruption: Roll 1d5: (1) The caster’s hand turns transparent, like glass. (2) The caster’s hand withers and turns skeletal. (3) The caster’s hand glows in the dark. (4) The caster’s wrist grows 2d6 inches longer. (5) Minor corruption.
Misfire: Roll 1d4: (1) The hand makes a very rude gesture at the most high-status person in range. (2) The hand undoes the caster’s belt, allowing their pants to drop to the ground. (3) The hand pokes the caster in the eyes, blinding them for 1d4 rounds. (4) The hand smacks the caster in the face, inflicting 1d4 damage. 1: Lost, failure, and worse! Roll 1d6 modified by Luck: (0 or less) corruption + misfire + patron taint, (1-2) corruption, (3) patron taint (or corruption if no patron), (4+) misfire
2-11: Lost. Failure. 
12-13: The caster summons a magical hand that can clumsily shove stationary objects with up to 5 lbs. of force. 
14-17: The caster summons a magical hand that can lift up to 5lbs and is dexterous as the caster’s own hand. It is not quick enough to handle weapons or make attacks. 
18-19: The caster summons a magical hand that can lift up to 10lbs and is dexterous as the caster’s own hand. It is not quick enough to handle weapons or make attacks. Additionally, the caster may choose to make the hand invisible if they desire. 
20-23: The caster summons a magical hand that can lift up to 15 lbs and is dexterous as the caster’s own hand. The hand is deft enough to use one-handed weapons, and the caster can use it to make melee attacks with their own attack bonus and may add their INT modifier to attack and damage. Additionally, the caster may choose to make the hand invisible if they desire. 
24-27: The caster summons a magical hand that can lift up to 20lbs and is dexterous as the caster’s own hand. The hand is deft enough to use one-handed weapons, and the caster can use it to make melee attacks with their own attack bonus and may add their INT modifier to attack and damage. The caster may also use the hand to deliver touch-ranged spells. Additionally, the caster may choose to make the hand invisible if they desire.
28-29: The caster summons a magical hand that can lift up to 30lbs and is dexterous as the caster’s own hand. The hand is deft enough to use one-handed weapons, and the caster can use it to make melee attacks with their own attack bonus and may add their INT modifier to attack and damage. Without a weapon, the hand can still inflict 1d4 damage (modified by INT). The caster may also use the hand to deliver touch-ranged spells. Additionally, the caster may choose to make the hand invisible if they desire.
30-31: The caster summons a magical hand that can lift up to 50lbs and is dexterous as the caster’s own hand. The hand is deft enough to use one-handed weapons, and the caster can use it to make melee attacks with their own attack bonus and may add their INT modifier to attack and damage. Without a weapon, the hand can still inflict 1d6 damage (modified by INT). The caster may also use the hand to deliver touch-ranged spells. Additionally, the caster may choose to make the hand invisible if they desire.
32+: The caster summons a magical hand that can lift up to 100lbs and is dexterous as the caster’s own hand. The hand is strong and deft enough to use even two-handed weapons, and the caster can use it to make melee attacks with their own attack bonus and may add their INT modifier to attack and damage. Without a weapon, the hand can still inflict 1d8 damage (modified by INT). The caster may also use the hand to deliver touch-ranged spells. Additionally, the caster may choose to make the hand invisible if they desire.