Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sanctum of Sharpie the Sword-Mage [Wini-Wap Wednesday]

Sharpie the Sword-Mage (who is, by all credible accounts, quite insane) makes his extradimensional home in the Plane of Blades. In his secret sanctum he continues his study of martial magics and thick black lines.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

LotFP "Summon" Spell in Carcosa

I've got Carcosa on my mind lately...

I've been playing in an online Carcosa campaign for about a year now. For most of that time I've played a sorcerer. It's been fun, but to be honest, my PC never felt very sorcerous. A Carcosan sorcerer is, for the most part, just a fighter with a higher XP requirement, some slightly different saving throws, and the ability to maybe, maybe, cast one or two rituals over the course of their career. The ability to read the language of the Snake Men is occasionally useful, and my GM gave sorcerers a "Lore" skill that was handy, but without the ability to cast spells, sorcerers don't feel very magical. Sure, a sorcerer has access to rituals, but given the complex and specific conditions required to cast a single ritual even once, I can't imagine PC sorcerers ever get to use much actual sorcery.

So, how do we fix this while still keeping the right flavor for our Carcosan sorcerer?

We could let them cast spells like a regular D&D Magic User, but I don't like that. I don't envision The Fate of Eternal Midnight tossing fireballs and magic missiles like Raistlin. The magic rituals of Carcosa specifically deal with summoning, binding, and banishing horrible monsters and alien beings.

Well now, that certainly sounds like the Summon spell from Lamenations of the Flame Princess, doesn't it?

A sorcerer dedicates himself to learning how to manipulate beings of terrible alien power. But before they can master these powerful rituals, a sorcerer must start small. The Summon spell lets a sorcerer call up a minor servitor of the Great Old Ones and (if he's lucky) bind it to his will for a short time. Ritual sacrifice makes this spell easier, which gives the neophyte sorcerer plenty of practice in being professionally unpleasant. 

My Proposal: A Carcosan sorcerer can cast Summon a number of times per day equal to his "Lore" skill (or half his level, rounded down, if there is no such skill in your campaign). This will allow a PC sorcerer to actually sorcer once in a while. It lets them feel like more than just a learned fighter, and justifies their high XP requirements. 

Given the inherent dangers of the Summon spell, a GM might decide to allow sorcerers to cast the Summon as often as they like. A sorcerer is very likely to get eaten before he breaks reality. 

As an aside, if you're going to use the Summon spell (in any setting) I highly recommend +Ramanan S's Summon Spell Web App. It cuts down on a lot of rolling.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pangloss [Mini-Map Monday]

I'm not sure when I'm going to get to run D&D 5th Edition, but when I do, I've already got a map made up.

Click it to big it!

Uth-Goliad and Midyam are the two largest nations, each ruled by rival theocracies.
Vancia is a decadent free city controlled by merchant families.
Xoth is an island recently transported from Hell, connected to the mainland by a bridge of gold and glass. 
The Ashen Queen maintains her immortality by bathing in the ashes of cremated youths.  
Permanence is the center of dwarven culture.
Oneiroi is where high elves settled when they first arrived from the Feywild.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Vaults of Man (an adventure locale for Carcosa!)

I haven't talked much about Geoffrey McKinney's Carcosa on this blog, but I absolutely love Carcosa, thanks in no small part to the excellent game +Doyle Tavener has been running on Google Hangouts for the past year.

I ran a one-shot of Carcosa for my home group a while ago, using a mini-map I made for this blog. This weekend I redrew the map and rewrote and expanded my game notes. Now I'm going to share it with you!

The Vaults of Man is a short little adventure location that can be dropped just about anywhere in Carcosa. It was designed to give the PCs a chance to find some weird things, fight some goopy monsters, suffer some traps, and maybe get a bit of treasure.

The entire adventure is below. You can also Download the PDF from Google Drive.

The Vaults of Man

For use with Geoffrey McKinney’s Carcosa Weird Science-Fantasy Horror Setting

The Vaults of Man can be placed in any underground locale on Carcosa. The place the PCs are leaving lies west of the Vaults. The place the PCs need to be lies east of the Vaults. To get from one place to the other, the PCs must pass by the Vaults of Man as well as the lair of Rama-Mekhet and his minions.

The Vaults of Man are the resting place for thirteen ancient human heroes. No mortal being remembers their names, their deeds, or how they came to be buried here. Recently, the mummy Rama-Mekhet made his home in the chambers near the Vaults. In his solitude he continues his occult research and performs his obscene rituals to Nyarlathotep. He has little interest in the contents of the Vaults and has investigated them only slightly.

1) The Vaults of Man
The Vaults of Man consist of thirteen tombs sealed with stone doors of different colors. The individual vaults vary in their exact dimensions but tend towards 16 feet wide by 24 feet long with 8 foot ceilings. The doors are heavy and thick but somewhat brittle with age. Each door requires a standard “Open Doors” roll to batter down. Characters can make multiple attempts to open a door, but each attempt takes one turn. Battering down a door is noisy and has a chance of attracting 1d4 of Rama-Mekhet’s Diseased Guardians.

The chance of attracting Diseased Guardians starts at 1-in-6. If a roll indicates that Guardians do not show up, the chance on the next roll goes up by one (2-in-6 on the next roll, 3-in-6 on the next, etc.). Once the wandering monster roll is successful, the chance drops back down to 1-in-6. Rama-Mekhet commands eighteen Diseased Guardians in total.

A) Red Door
The skeleton of a Red Man lies on a plain stone plinth. He wears bone chain mail. A matched pair of bone short swords lie at his sides. If a character has a way to analyze the armor and swords’ material, they will discover that the bone originally came from this very Red Man, although his skeleton seems complete.

B) Blue Door
The desiccated body of a Blue Woman rests on a slab of baked clay. She wears a cloak of velociraptor feathers but is otherwise unadorned.

C) Yellow Door
An alien plant grows out of the skeleton of Yellow Woman lying in the rubble of a broken slab. A jeweled bronze longsword (worth 150gp) and spiked bronze shield are tangled up in the plant’s roots. The plant attacks anyone who comes near.

Alien Plant
HD: 3
AC: 16
Attack: (Thorn Lash x2) +3 to hit, 1 die of damage.
Move: 0’ (but its thorny vines can reach anywhere in the room)
A wounded character must save vs. poison or be implanted with seeds. These seeds will germinate in 2-8 weeks, bursting through the host’s abdomen, killing them painfully.

D) Green Door
The body of a Green Man lies on the bare ground, bound in elaborately-knotted ulfire twine. The man’s head has been removed and is placed at his feet. If rejoined to his body, the head shrieks the formula to Canticle of the Crawling God, allowing any sorcerer present to instantly learn that ritual. A non-sorcerer hearing this shriek suffers 1 die of psychic damage (save vs. sorcery for half damage). After shrieking, the body dissolves into powerful acid (3 dice of damage to anyone in contact).

E) Purple Door
The mummified body of a Purple Hermaphrodite lies on a baked clay slab. Their yellow silk wrappings have mostly rotted away, but the iron helmet with brass wings they wear is still in serviceable condition.

F) Orange Door
The preserved body of an Orange Man lies in a glass coffin filled with honey. He wears only a loincloth and holds an iron staff. Descent of the Six Thousand Steps is tattooed across the entirety of his skin.

G) Brown Door

The door to this room was battered down ages ago. The tomb is entirely empty.

H) White Door
The desiccated body of White Man in rotten cloth armor lies in a rusted iron coffin. If touched, the body instantly falls to dust and releases mutagenic spores. Everyone in the room must save vs. poison or suffer a mutation rolled from the GM’s favorite mutation table. The disintegrated body leaves behind two pearls worth 50gp each (the White Man’s gizzard stones).

I) Black Door
The rotting body of Black Man with four arms rests on a low wooden table. He clutches a lead-lined iron box holding a chunk of radioactive thorium to his chest.

J) Bone Door
The body of Bone Woman in rotten leather armor lies on a wicker bier. Her once-clear flesh is now milky and yellow with decay. Three plasma grenades hang from a rusted chain bandolier across her chest. The grenades inflict 3 dice of fire damage in a 10 foot radius (save vs. device for half). Each grenade has 1-in-4 chance of being a dud.

K) Dolm Door
The left half of one Dolm Man has been crudely stitched to the right half of a different Dolm Man. The composite body has been strangely mummified and lies on jagged slab of basalt. The body’s conjoined brain is still alive, immortal, non-psychic, and thoroughly insane.

L) Ulfire Door
The body of a Ulfire Woman, perfectly preserved, lies on an ornately carved plinth of pink marble. She wears a bikini made of gold coins (worth 100gp).

M) Jale Door
The decayed body of Jale Man lies in a nest of iron spikes. He wears lizard-skin trousers and clutches an obsidian-tipped spear to his chest. A ruby worth 150gp is hidden inside his abdominal cavity.

2) The Sanctum of Rama-Mekhet
The door to Rama-Mekhet’s chambers is made of dark green metal etched with golden pictograms in the ancient style of the Snake Men. The door will only open for someone possessing one of the weird seventeen-sided medallions of green metal carried by the mummy and his Diseased Guardians. Anyone wearing one of these medallions can pass through the metal door as if it were jelly.

3) Plague Chamber
A fire of jale flame burns in a pit in the center of this circular chamber. Rama-Mekhet’s eighteen Diseased Guardians (minus any already killed by the PCs) mill about the fire, wailing and gurgling alien songs in their pseudo-voices. They attack any interlopers.

Any food cooked over the jale flame becomes fatally toxic (no save).

Diseased Guardians (Carcosa page 82)
HD: 1-1
AC: 12
Attack: (Claws) +1 to hit, 1 die of damage. Save vs poison to avoid rotting disease.
Each Diseased Guardian wears an etched, seventeen-sided medallion of green metal that allows passage through the door to Rama-Mekhet’s sanctum.

4) Rama-Mekhet’s Laboratory
Rama-Mekhet’s lab is a collection of thaumaturgical devices and weird Snake Man technology, all beyond the ken of mortal men. An intricate wire apparatus hangs from the ceiling like a deformed metal spider. From this apparatus dangle thirty of the Snake Men’s multicolored lenses, used in The Many Octacled Binding. The mummy originally had ten Diseased Guardians bound to him. The other eight were created by the Guardians’ infectious attacks.

Rama-Mekhet is a haughty and arrogant mummy of middling power and influence. He mostly desires solitude and is outraged at the PCs' intrusion. He will allow the PCs to leave his sanctum unmolested if they agree to to give him one of their number to replace the Diseased Guardians they have most likely slain (“Quite the generous bargain, I’m sure you’ll agree!”). Rama-Mekhet wears regal robes of shimmering ulfire silk and wears a golden ring with a large blue gem worth 300gp. His leathery gray skin gives no clue towards his original color, and he has long forgotten.

The complete skins of a Brown Man and a Green Man are stretched and dried on frames hanging on the wall. The rituals Summon Diseased Guardians and The Many Octacled Binding are tattooed on these skins (brown and green, respectively). Diligent looters can find a canister of 1d4 alien health pills that heal all damage and illness when swallowed but require a save vs. poison to avoid mutation.

Rama-Mekhet, Mummy (Carcosa page 93)
HD: 3 + 1
AC: 12
Attack: (Bronze Sword) +3 to hit, 1 die of damage
Psionics: Mind Control, Telepathy
Rituals: Summon Diseased Guardians, The Many Octacled Binding

5) Shrine to Nyarlathotep
An obsidian statue or Nyarlathotep in his aspect of the Bloody Tongue rests on a squat stone pedestal. The statue weighs 120 lbs and is worth 500gp to a chaotic sorcerer. Lawful characters who sleep in the same room as the statue will be plagued by sinister whispers and distressing nightmares which prevent restful sleep and natural healing.

6) Chasm of Eyes
Narrow bridges of natural stone span this wide chasm. No one knows how deep the night-black chasm is, and characters who plummet into its depths are never seen again. Crossing the bridge isn't difficult in and of itself, but can be become a perilous combat location if the PCs are on the run from Rama-Mekhet and his minions.

Once one or more characters get about half-way across the chasm, a gigantic three-lobed yellow eye peers up from the abyssal depths, tracking the characters’ movement. The eye takes no other action and disappears if anything falls into it.

7) Lair of the Cybersnail
The caverns on the eastern side of the Chasm of Eyes are the territory of a steel-shelled Cybersnail, a bizarre bio-weapon from a strange age. The bear-sized mollusk never crosses the Chasm and Rama-Mekhet avoids its territory. The Cybersnail attacks anyone who invades its turf.

HD: 4
AC: 16
Move: 30’
Attack: (Laser Cannon) +4 to hit, 2 dice of damage
Salvageable Treasure: 23 feet of braided gold wire worth 230gp, one power cell, 200 lbs of edible snail meat.