Thursday, July 30, 2020

Rocker (a class for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth)

Mike Evans recently dropped his Barbarians of the Ruined Earth rpg, and I'm hella excited for it. It's groovy combination of Thundarr, He-Man, and Mad Max with awesome art and a simple and hackable system. I was eager to make some custom classes for it. 

The Rocker is my take on a heavy-metal rock-n-roll post-apoc bard. They channel their magical powers through special guitars. Since their magic comes from the electrical might of rock-n-roll, they don't have anything as subtle as a sleep or charm spell. Their magic is brash and loud. I wanted to make their magical songs work different from the Sorcerer and Death Priest's powers, so I cribbed the magic rules from Mike's own DIY RPG Rules Playtest. I think they'll work pretty good for what I want. Spending HP to cast seems like a good way to balance power abuse, too. I haven't had a chance to playtest this class yet, so I'm eager to see how well it works.

Enjoy!

Rocker

Far beyond the broken moon, behind the burning stars lies the Screaming Electric Void—the primal roiling chaos of pre-creation. Certain people, the Rockers, can channel this power through their body and soul to create amazing magical effects, shaped by the force of their own will and their custom-made super-guitars. Rockers are heavy metal warrior-poets, empowered by ecstatic rites and dedicated to bringing rock-and-roll freedom to the enslaved and oppressed!

“You might kill me, but you’ll never kill the power of ROCK!”

  • Staring HP: 1d8+4
  • HP Per Level/Resting: 1d8
  • Weapons & Armor: Light armor, all shields, daggers, all swords, all axes, energy weapons, their personal guitar.
  • Attack Damage: 1d6/1d4 Unarmed or Improvised

Special Features

Rock-n-Roll Lifestyle: The Rocker has advantage on all tests against drugs, alcohol, or poisons, both mundane and magical. Additionally, the Rocker can live on booze and drugs alone. Treat alcohol as water and narcotics as rations. 

Mosh Pit: If the Rocker can hear loud music while fighting they gain +1 DR and inflict normal weapon damage with unarmed attacks. 

Axeman: The Rocker has a custom made tricked-out electric guitar (their “axe”) powered by the Rocker’s own life-force. This self-amplified instrument is an extension of the Rocker’s own body and soul and is used to play all their powerful songs. It is their connection to the Screaming Electric Void beyond the stars. If the Rocker should ever loose their Axe, they can build a new one with a week of downtime and access to scrap metal and spare parts. 

The Rocker’s Axe gives them advantage on all rolls related to mundane musical performance. The Axe is also tricked out with spikes, blades, chainsaws and other dangerous decorations that allow the Rocker to use his guitar as a melee weapon. When wielding the guitar as a melee weapon, the Rocker can use it either one handed or two handed.

The Magic Power of the Music in Me: The Rocker can use their Axe to play powerful rock-n-roll songs that have magical effects. To play a song, the rocker must have both hands free to play their guitar and must be able to sing. This music is spiritually and physically taxing. The Rocker makes a CHA roll. If the roll succeeds, they successfully perform the song and the effort costs them 1d3hp. If the roll fails, they still successfully perform the song, but the effort costs them 1d6hp. If they roll a 20, the song doesn’t work at all, the rocker loses 1d6hp, and they cannot play the song again until the next dawn. If the roll is equal to or less than both the Rocker’s CHA and their Level, the song is performed successfully and does not cost the Rocker any Hit Points. 

Despite the name, some “Songs” are just quick riffs of blazing guitar chords. Others are full songs that must be played to completion. The CHA roll should be made and Hit Point cost paid when the song is completed.  

The Rocker knows two Songs at first level and learns a new Song every even level thereafter, to a maximum of 7 songs at 10th level. 


Rocker Songs

  1. Blazing Electric Death (play time: 1 action): All creatures—friend or foe—within Nearby distance of the Rocker take 1d6 damage from fire, lightning, and deadly guitar licks. Armor will not protect them.
  2. Face Melter (play time: 1 action): Inflicts 1d6 damage on one target and liquifies their eyeballs (armor will not protect them). The target is rendered blind until the hp damage is healed. At 10th level, the damage increases to 2d6 and the blindness is permanent.
  3. Screaming for Vengeance (play time: 1 action): The Rocker chooses a target that wounded them or an ally within the last round and unleashes their anger in a furious sonic attack. The target takes 2d6 damage. Armor will not protect them.
  4. Bow-Chicka-Wa-Wa (play time: 3d4 minutes): Choose two creatures within Not So Nearby range and include both their names in the song. If they have sex with each other before the next sunrise, they will both get pregnant, regardless of age, health, or biology. 
  5. Triumph of the Glory of Me (play time: 1 action): All friendly characters within Nearby range have advantage on the first roll they make the following round. 
  6. You're the One They Can't Beat (play time: 1 action): A creature within Nearby range is healed for 1d6hp. The Rocker cannot heal themselves. 
  7. I. Am. Iron. Man. (play time: 1 action): The Rocker's skin turns to living metal and gains DR: 3 for the next 2d6 rounds. 
  8. Blow the Doors Off the Place (play time: 1d6 minutes): All doors, windows, or other portals instantly and violently blow open, even if held shut by magic or super science. 
  9. Bat Out of Hell (play time: 1 action): The Rocker sprouts giant flaming bat wings from their shoulders. For the next 3d6 rounds, the Rocker can fly as fast as they can walk, but they must continue to play their guitar the entire time. If they stop playing, the effect ends and they fall. 
  10. Hard Rock Zombies (play time: 3d6 minutes): The Rocker can resurrect a dead corpse as a Hard Rock Zombie under his command. The zombie has 2hp per level of the Rocker, DR: 1, and inflicts 1d6 damage. Hard Rock Zombies are stupid but will follow the Rocker’s commands to the best of their ability. If given instruments, they are surprisingly competent musicians. The zombies exist until destroyed. The Rocker can create and control a number of zombies equal to their level (though they must perform the song multiple times to do so). However, if the Rocker ever has more than 1 zombie under their control, they must roll 1d10 every sundown. If the result is equal or under the number of zombies, they decide to kick the Rocker out of the band and immediately attack their former leader. 
  11. Power Ballad (play time: 2d4 minutes): State an emotion when playing this song. Every thinking creature within Not So Nearby range is instilled with that emotion for the next 2d6 minutes. This duration increased to 1d6 hours at 5th level. Social interaction that play upon that emption have Advantage on any associated rolls. 
  12. Stage Effects (play time: 1 action): The Rocker’s song creates minor audio-video illusionary effects within Not so Nearby range. The illusions can be as large as a bear and/or as loud as a trumpet. At 5th level, these effects can be as large as an elephant or as loud as an amplified guitar. The effects last for 2d6 minutes. The Rocker must continue playing his Axe for the duration or the effects end instantly. 
  13. Through the Fire and Flame (play time: 1 action) For the next 3d6 rounds, the rocker is utterly immune to mundane or magical fire. However, they must continue to play their guitar the entire time. If they stop, the effect instantly ends. 
  14. The Hellion (play time: 4d6 minutes) The Rocker summons a minor demon to lend him aid. The hellion has 3HD, DR:2, and is immune to fire. The hellion is intelligent, but not terribly bright. It acts as the Rocker’s friend—but that kind of troublesome friend that always wants to borrow money and drinks all your beer. The summoning lasts until the next sunrise or until the demon is destroyed or banished. At 5th level, the summoning lasts for a week. At 10th level the summoning is permanent or until the demon is destroyed or banished. The Rocker can only have one Hellion summoned at a time. 
  15. Cities on Flame (play time: 1 action): The Rocker’s guitar is imbued with the power of demons and dragons, letting the instrument spew fire. For the next 2d6 rounds, the Rocker can use their guitar to make Ranged attacks up to Far Away range and inflict 1d6 damage. If the damage die rolls a 5 or 6, the target catches on fire and takes 1d4 damage each round for the next 1d6 rounds. 
  16. Highway Star (play time: 4d6 minutes): The Rocker’s song conjures a badass car from the depths of Hell. It’s a killing machine--big bad tires and everything. The summoned vehicle functions as a normal Raider Hot Rod in all ways, but the paint job is hella’ sweet. The car remains for 1 hour per Rocker level or until destroyed. At 10th level, the summoning is permanent until the car is destroyed. The Rocker can only have one car summoned at a time.
  17. Heavy Metal Thunder (play time: 5d6 minutes): The Rocker calls up a violent thunderstorm that effects an area 1 mile across for each level the Rocker has. The storm produces punishing rain, strong winds, and damaging hail as well as lighting and thunder. The storm lasts for 10 minutes per level of the Rocker. Despite its furiosity and supernatural origin, the storm functions in all ways like a powerful but mundane summer storm. 
  18. I’m a Lumberjack, Baby (play time: 1 action): The Rocker’s Axe is temporarily augmented with a nuclear-powered chainsaw. For the next 2d6 rounds, roll all melee damage for the guitar with advantage. 
  19. Beat on the Brat (play time: 1 action): The rocker chooses a target within Nearby range. For the next 1d3 rounds, all attacks against that targets are made at advantage. The Song does not affect targets with more HD than the Rocker has levels. 
  20. Don’t Fear the Reaper (play time: 1 action): Choose a target you can see and whose name you know. If they are taken Out of Action within the next 1d6 rounds, when they roll on the OofA table they can roll twice and take the result they prefer. 


Leveling Up

Roll all Attributes to see if they increase, roll twice for CON and CHA. 

Starting Equipment

Weapons: Your “Axe” and two daggers
Armor: Leather jacket (1RP)
Additional: Narcotics (1d6), booze (1d6), bedroll, torches x6 (d6), healing salve (1 HD of HP restored)

Interesting Trinkets (1d6)

  1. Cowboy hat decorated with tiny skulls
  2. Jar of corpse-paint
  3. Several brightly colored silk scarves
  4. Shoebox full of Molly Hatchet 8-tracks
  5. Lucky guitar pick on a thin chain
  6. Silver lightning bolt keychain

Life Event (1d8)

  1. Your lover was kidnapped by an evil sorcerer. 
  2. Your family was enslaved by a religious cult dedicated to the elimination of free thought. 
  3. You used to travel with a group of three other Rockers, but you had some sort of falling out. Now you’re all bitter enemies and rivals. 
  4. You learn how to play guitar when you made a deal with a rock-n-roll demon at the crossroads. At some point he’s going to demand payment. 
  5. You spent a week black-out drunk on a klartesh bender. You woke up here, thousands of miles from where you started, unsure of how you got here. 
  6. Your Axe used to belong to the old guitar-master who lived in a cave atop a storm-wracked mountain. He taught you all you know before he ascended to Rock-n-Roll Heaven. 
  7. A rival Rocker humiliated you in a guitar contest.
  8. You once died, but a beautiful heavy metal Valkyrie brought you back to life for some unknown reason. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Electric Bastionland: Addermouth

What with the world on fire, and projects to focus on, I am not currently running any games (although I am still playing in several). I didn’t realize how much games-running was bundled up with my identity, and it feels weird not prepping for anything (aside, of course, for those previously mentioned projects).
However, someone in my Friday evening group (possibly me) had the idea of running Electric Bastionland, with each of us making our own District and rotating Conductors (GMs).
Chris McDowall’s Electric Bastionland is a beautiful, groovy game that spun out of Into the Odd. The mechanics are dead simple, and the setting is based in a sprawling electro-fantasy city. It touches on everything I love about Troika! and Blades in the Dark. The book gives detailed-but-simple instructions for creating districts and other zones to explore. It was fun to put together my own chunk of Bastionland.

A rough map, quickly executed, but serviceable.


Welcome to Addermouth!
  • District built around the Addermouth Canal and the Canterwaller Pediwalk.
  • Once affluent district, now fallen into disrepair. Crumbling art-deco facades and blue-cobbled streets. Rusting artistic ironwork.
  • Many areas adopted by artists and bohos. Gentrification becoming a new threat.

Grand Satori Opera House
  • Once majestic, now fallen on hard times.
  • Recently started showing motion pictures in hopes of attracting new audiences.
  • Entirely staffed by mockeries.
  • Home base of mockery gang, the Top Hats.
Personalities
  • Professor Edelweiss. Mock vulture, house manager. Not entirely sold on the whole “crime” thing.
  • Bartram Shank. Mock goat, gang leader. Totally sold on the whole “crime” thing. Very large gun and a small collection of oddities.

The Snake Den
  • Trendy but sketchy nightclub, popular with the bohemian artist set
  • Absinthe, klartesh, and esoteric dancing. Scandalous music. Cocteau-Punk fashions and decor.
  • Front for the Diamondbacks street gang.
Personalities
  • Bethany Pitt. Hostler. Punkish aspect. Venom injector hidden in bracer.
  • Baron Von Slink. Giant snake, criminal genius, lairs in basement. Will hire PCs to go on expeditions to Underground. Wears a monocle and sash.

Dr. Tungsten’s Modern Electrical Spa
  • A wellness center utilizing the latest in “Galvanic Medicine.”
  • Dubious applications of electricity to muscles and organs to stimulate health, along with strict diet and exercise regimes.
  • Actually provides functional healing for critical wounds.
Personalities
  • Dr. Adonis Tungsten. Director. A muscular mountain of a man. Not a real doctor, but well-intentioned.
  • Yasmine Spry. Head nurse. Narco-vegan. Acolyte of the angel Crystal-Herald-of-Things-Unseen.

Gardens Under Glass
  • Large, sprawling greenhouses and botanical gardens.
  • Hundreds of exotic plants and flowers, some from the underground or even beyond the stars.
  • Side business of crafting weird and exotic poisons and narcotics.
  • Claimed by the Diamondbacks.
Personalities
  • Thistline Bloom. Groundskeeper. A plant-like alien of feminine seeming. Disdains humanity’s binary notions of good and evil. 

Addermouth Dynamic Electrical Plant
  • Hunkers on edge of the canal. Massive waterwheels. Fairly new, but already falling into disrepair. Lack of funding and petty vandalism.
  • Rumored connections to the Underground.
  • Guarded by automatons who just showed up one day and made the place their home.  
Personalities
  • The Amazing Dynamo. Head of security. Hulking machine of brass and onyx. Likes to electro-stun vandals the throw them into the canal.
  • Isadore Strang. Chief engineer. Tiny of stature. Secretly terrified of the automatons.

Unknown Mausoleum
  • Large pyramid of matte black stone that has no business being in this district. Objectionable architecture from an unknown source.
  • The poor, unknown, and unmourned are interred here.  A grand potter’s tomb.
  • The rich and influential pay high prices to be buried elsewhere.
  • Rumored to house an angel, and/or hide gates to the Living Stars.
Personalities
  • Mr Gorgophone. Spokesman for the white-clad Undertakers who maintain the pyramid and read newpapers the dead. Distastefully gregarious. Older than anyone cares to guess.

New Electric Clocktower
  • Large tower with a bright, four-sided clock that glows at night and can be seem from every corner of Addermouth.
  • Only completed last year. The pride and joy of the district. Paid for by the Addermouth Benevolent Merchant’s Guild.
  • Fancy shops and cafes within the lower floors of the tower. Tourist attraction.
Personalities
  • Isabella Strang. Head electro-chronologist. Isadore Strang’s twin sister. Quite a fan of machines.
  • Cuthlebert. Chief custodian. Mock pigeon. Keeps the clock faces shiny and clean.
  • Alistair Primm. Guild representative. Fastidious and rabbitish. Desires security but fears the Dog Boys. Will hire respectable PCs as guards for special events.

Great District War Memorial
  • Bronze stature of a young woman in torn pants and piecemeal armor carrying a musket. “Molly Actualization.”
  • Commemorates the men and women who died in the 3-year war between Addermouth and Candle Cross, a distant district. 150 years ago.
  • Stated reasons for the war vary. Everyone’s grandparents have a different story.
Personalities
  • Charcoal Mary. Old woman. Artist of middling skill. Will sketch you in front of the memorial in period garb for only £5.

Addermouth Gazette
  • One of the largest buildings in district. Giant neon “newsboy” sign on roof.
  • Once-proud beacon of news, investigation, and social reform. Now fallen into yellow journalism and tawdry gossip.
  • Massive archives date back 300 years. A literal labyrinth beneath the building.
Personalities
  • Douglas Grump. Publisher and editor in chief. Mock badger. Will consider serious offers to sell the newspaper. Wants to move to the Deep Country.
  • Gemma Hayworth. Plucky, idealistic young reporter. Will pester PCs to join them on most dangerous expeditions. Surprisingly capable.
  • Scoop Digby. Pesky paparazzo. Outrageous luck and survival instincts. Always has his camera at hand.

Houndskeep Canine Arena
  • Dog races. Wheeled carts pulled by teams of four dogs. Controlled by drivers of small stature, often children.
  • Champion dogs are often treated better than many humans.
  • Dog Boys gang started as security goons hired by rich dog owners.
Personalities
  • Eustice P. Farnsworth: Champion dog breeder. Rich and bloated. Will hire PCs to sabotage rivals.
  • Povel: Up-and-comer. Orphan waif raised by wild street dogs. Handmade cart pulled by his dog family. Beloved by fans, hated by establishment.

Floating Market
  • Open-air market built on the piers of an abandoned shipyard and many barges moored in the canals.
  • Mostly legit and legal goods. Also exotic foods and materials.
  • Rarely deal with oddities, though some merchants can connect PCs with buyers.
Personalities    
  • Jenny Blackpowder: Weapons dealer, specializing in firearms. Large woman. One eye.
  • Jabari DeLance: Dealer in relics, artwork, and rare books. Knows-a-guy-who-knows-a-guy.
  
Angel Statue
  • Stone statue of a seven-winged angel holding a sword and trampling serpents. Neo-brutalist style.
  • Depicts the angel Our-Brother-Who-Calls-Down-Stars-With-Fury.
  • Blazing red and orange flowers in small garden arranged around statue, tended by worshippers.
Personalities
  • Brother Ignatio: Smiling priest who sells bouquets of flowers wrapped in apocalyptic doomsayings.



Gangs of Addermouth
Diamondbacks
  • Control much of the organized crime in the district, especially drugs, vice, and assassination
  • Well-coordinated and well-funded. Baron von Slink is a giant snake and criminal genius.
  • Members wear greatcoats painted with snakeskin patterns.
  • Wants to expand into the Undergound and secure the resources there.
  • Wants to become a “legit” corporation.
  • Magenta Vile. Slink’s top capo. Shocking pink hair. Fanatically loyal. Ruthless. Nasty klartesh habit.

Top Hats
  • Mockery gang based out of old opera house. As the Satori fails and the local neighborhoods start to suffer economically, this group of Mockeries have turned to crime.
  • Bartrum Shank. Mock goat. Leader. Former adventurer with the scars and moxy to prove it.
  • Robbery, smuggling, fencing, numbers games.
  • Wants to expand territory while preserving local neighborhoods. Will protect Mockeries from outside aggressors, especially the Dog Boys.
  
Citizens Public Militia (“Dog Boys”)
  • Formerly just another street gang (the Dog Boys), but recently became an ersatz police force for the more-well-off citizens.
  • Protection and extortion rackets in the guise of “law enforcement” and “peace keeping”
  • Patrols always accompanied by one or more attack dogs.
  • Brown vests with steel buttons.
  • Based out of the Dog Track. Want to set up shop in the New Electric Clock Tower.
  • Just thugs that dream of being taken seriously by the monied elite.
  • Jervis Hoag. Leader. Petty, cruel man fueled by toxic nostalgia for an Addermouth that never really existed.



Sunday, April 26, 2020

Fear Blades and Devil Smiths



Wander deep enough into the Wyrdwood and you’ll find a small village full of devils. The devils down in Devil Town know how to forge blades out of your own fears.

Fear Knives

You’ll need to pay the devilish smith in advance, but he will cut you a nice discount.  The knives bring more misery into the world, after all. After you give the devil your coins, confess your own worst fears aloud. The smith draws those fears out of you, like gray spun sugar, and coalesces them into a dense alien material, not unlike glass, metal, or ceramic. The smith forges this fear-stuff into a knife with aesthetic aspects reminiscent of the fears that created it. A blade forged from a fear of fire might be bright orange in color with flickering edges of yellow. Fear of abandonment might produce a blade that weeps tears when left unattended.

You are now immune to fear, both mundane and magical. But fear is part of what makes us human and keeps us safe, so you also lose 2 points of Charisma and 1 point of Wisdom forever. 

The knife inflicts damage like a dagger (1d4). In your hands, a knife made from your own fears is +2 to hit and inflicts an additional 1d8 psychic damage to living, feeling creatures.

Draw a pentagram on your character sheet. Write “NP” in the middle. Fill in each arm as you gain Nightmare Points. 

If you use the fear knife to hurt a living, thinking, feeling creature, then when you sleep that night you must make a 2d6+WIS roll. 
  • 6 or less: Your sleep is plagued by the pain and terror of the being you harmed. You do not gain any benefit from the rest (no healing or spell recovery). Gain a Nightmare Point
  • 7-9: Your dreams are unpleasant, but you are otherwise fine. 
  • 10+: Your sleep is deep and dreamless. You find comfort in the abyss. Lose a Nightmare point, if you have any. 


Nightmare Point Totals
  • 1: You always look like you need a nap, but you’re otherwise fine.
  • 2: Your skin and hair turns ashen white or charcoal gray (your choice).
  • 3: Your alignment turns to Chaos, if it isn’t already. 
  • 4: You no longer regain HP or Attribute damage from resting and must rely on supernatural means of recovery. You can still refresh your spells, at least.
  • 5: Your physical form fades away, becoming dream-stuff and entering the Kingdom of Terrors. Roll up a new character. They are pestered by dreams of your old character. Give them +1 to any one Attribute. 



Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Goat & Raven


The Goat & Raven Public House is owned and operated by the dwarf Stanislav Arn. The house features a large, open common room with a balcony running along three sides that leads to rentable rooms. Its dark wood walls are covered in hunting trophies—antlers, claws, stuffed heads, broken spears, etc. A large crossbow with a wolf motif hangs behind the bar (Wolfkiller: heavy crossbow +2, +1d8 damage to beasts). A raven sculpture made of worked iron perches in the rafters. Pens behind the building house Stanislav’s prized goats. Stanislav’s house special of black bread and spicy goat stew with turnips is particularly well regarded. 

Stanislav Arn (Dwarf 5, Lawful) retired to Wyrdwood over 40 years ago for a quiet life after a career as an adventurer. He is tall for dwarf (5’3”) and thinner than most of his species, suggesting human blood in his ancestry. Stanislav generally maintains a professional and stand-offish demeanor but is suffers occasional bouts of melancholy. His few close friends say his taciturn facade hides a generous nature and wry sense of humor.

Stanislav’s hands are thick with scars and callouses to the point that he can reach into his ovens and grab hot kettles without gloves or other protection. “Peac” is tattooed across the knuckles of his right hand, and “Qiet” is tattooed across the left. He tolerates neither ruckus nor fracas in the Goat & Raven, and he is more than happy to let his fists enforce this rule (2 attacks per round, 1d4+1 damage each). It has become something of an informal rite of passage among the young men of Wyrdwood to get beaten up by Stanislav Arn.

Stanislav was married to Luscilla Gull, a human woman and member of his old adventuring party. She died of an unknown illness five years after she and Stanislav retired to Wyrdwood. Village rumor says that Stanislav buried her with a fortune in jewelry and treasure. Luscilla’s grave lies in the cemetery behind the Gray Chapel. Stanislav interred her coffin beneath an elaborately decorated burial vault. Hand-crafted and tear-stained by a grieving dwarf, the vault is indestructible my mortal means. It requires a combined Strength of 50 to lift the vault off the coffin. Luscilla’s body is bedecked with 3000gp worth of gold and jewels. Should someone rob his dead wife’s grave, Stanislav will make it his life’s work to kill the thief.

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.