25 September, 2017

No revision where revision is unnecessary

I was about to revise my game "Tales", but I realised that I had done this last year.

The post for the revision can be found here.

My intention was to bring the Tales idea into line with what I've been working on for "The Law", perhaps shifting the Tales brand to encompass each of the subsettings that I'm hoping to in orporate into the Urban Megalopolis/Sprawl (I can't flat out call the setting "The Sprawl" be ause there's another game already doing well under that name...despite the number of people who tread on my toes by calling their games "FUBAR"...but that's another rant entirely).

I guess the whole point of this post is that I'm considering a simple, open source system reference document for The Law and it's associated game lines. This means I've been pulling apart the elements of the game based on the play sessions I've run and the feedback I've received from other people. This system reference should boild down to no more than a pocketmod explaining the framework for characters, a pocketmod explaining the core systems of play, another explaining magic and paranormal powers, one for describing how the overall structure of a play session works, and maybe one or two others to cover things I haven't considered. "Tales" seemed like a nice generic title for this project, but it's a generic title that I've gravitated towards for a while, and have obviously used too often already.

Time to move on, and find a new name for a generic game system.

24 September, 2017

#DIY30 #24

24. If the object closest to your left hand right now was a magic item in your campaign, what would it do?



Calling her an object is a bit harsh... but the true question here is "what wouldn't Pirate Rosalie do?"

She is already an escape artist extraordinaire, a master climber, a stealthy ninja and achilles tendon assassin. Adding magic to her repertoire would probably make her like a Blink-dog, capable of teleporting herself even more quickly than she does already...actually there are certain dys when I'm sure she already has this power. Perhaps she'd talk, but she's pretty stubborn and ADHD... ther's a good chance she wouldn't bother talking to "the boring giants" anyway. So maybe she's already got that power too.

23 September, 2017

Experiment Success

Today I tried a variant in my LARP running style...Basically running the LARP as a live action tabletop session. Normally I'd set up an ecosystem of play, and let the players make deals with one another, or throw twists into the session to keep everyone on their toes; but this time I basically split the group into two halves, with one group running PCs who ran through a linear quest of 8 scenes while the other half played NPCs for them... then after lunch switched everyone around.

For a group of a dozen players, this worked well and I'll certainly do it again.

I don't think the game should regularly shift to this format, but for one off special events, it makes a nice change of pace.




#DIY30 #23

23. How should gods work in a game?


This really depends on what the game is trying to say. Based on the way the question is worded, it's safe to assume we aren't discussing a monotheistic setting.

The presence of clerics, paladins, divine and infernal magic users also plays a part in how gods might work in a game.

I always liked the idea of gods who gain power from the belief of their followers...the more followers, the more power the god has...but the more followers a god has, the more an individual follower needs to do in order to gain their deity's notice.

So, let's say every doubling of follwers increases a god's power level by a degree.
1 follower = lvl 1
2 followers = lvl 2
4 followers = lvl 3
8 followers = lvl 4
...
1024 followers = lvl 11
2048 followers = lvl 12
....
Etc.

Gods form pantheons because a follower's belief in a pantheon counts as a half measure for all allied deities. They fight within pantheons for the biggest share of follower power, pantheons fight each other for the same reason but at a much larger scale.

Gods cannot fight each other except through their followers. They grant miracles to their mortals to advance their faithful and expand their influence, they need to grant these miracles sparingly, because they need the divine energy of the faithful to remain relevnt to their flock. A miracle used today migh mean that a miracle can't be used tomorrow when another god's seizmic disruption threatens to kill a large percentage of one's flock.

God's are in it for the long game, and as long as they've still got a single follower, they might be capable of becoming a powerful force in the future. This could be detailed far more, and there are numerous games I could write about this concept.

22 September, 2017

#DIY30 #22

22. Describe Milk Demons for me. What do they do, what are their names, what do they taste like? 



Milk Demons are a subclass of imps. Where imps are typically affiliated with the major elements, Milk Demons are one of the many impling forms related to non-elemental forms of matter. In most cases, Milk Demons are named for the effects they apply to milk when they die immersed in dairy. So there's Yoghurt, Edam, Gouda, and Haloumi, among others. If it weren't for Milk Demons, these dairy byproducts would not be possible, which is a carefully guarded secret among dairy farmers across the world.


It is rumoured that there are obscure forms of Milk Demons which turn into the most exquisite desserts if they are boiled alive in milk, but any truth to that rumour has never been confirmed.

21 September, 2017

#DIY30 #21

21. Most unexpected spell that helped you get past the walls of the Fortress of See.

The fireballs were definitely useful as we approached the fortress and confronted the Guardians of the Sacred City, the levitation spells would have been useful to get over the walls but the nega-psychoc barriers prevented almost every form of magic from working. The only spell that did seem to work was that odd little Chance Minutiae spell that Devali concocted a few years ago. We left it running for a few hours just beside the wall, returning to the spot only to find that the thaumivorous nature of the spell actually ate away chunks of the wall, leaving enough opening for us to crawl through the wall and into the fortress.

20 September, 2017

#DIY30 #20

20. Describe a mechanic you would put into your Science Fiction Heartbreaker. 

Kaylee.


Oh, maybe you mean a game mechanism...

There are a lot of ideas that have already been incorporated into science fiction games over the years. But most of them are generally ignored during the course of play...so I guess the question is what I'd make sure appeared in a heartbreaker, and what the definition of a heartbreaker is. One of the many definitions of a heartbreaker is the kind of game that basically replicates an existing game, but renames a variety of elements and adds one or two specific twists to the game mechanisms to claim the game as "original". The whole of the OSR is basically heartbreakers.

What are we trying to emulate with this game? What type of science fiction?

If we have multiple races, I'd want to make sure they were alien and exotic to each other. Roleplaying to me is about getting into alternate thought patterns to explore ideas outside your regular identity and paradigm. I like the idea of paths of enlightenment in the Sabbat books from Vampire: the Masquerade. They are designed to be ways that control behaviour outside a humanistic paradigm. Some have similarity to humanity, many are very different. So I'd throw a few paths like this into the game, requiring non-humans to follow one of them as a reflection of their different mind-set. Maybe a single path per alien race, but probably a few related paths for each alien race (and a few similar paths for humans to choose from).

For truly different racial perspectives, I'd limit in-game speech to a word or two between characters at most. Only those who share ideals and agendas would have enough commonality in their thought patterns to meaningfully communicate with each other.

#DIY30 #19

19. What single change would you make to a popular D&D setting and why?

My gut reaction to this one is to change the mechanisms of play rather than change the settings. I want to change the way spell slots work, and simply run with a magic energy pool that is drained by casting spells and recharged according to your chosen style of magical pursuit... but that's not what the question is asking.

My second rection is to change any one (or more) of the settings, and completely remove humans from it. I like what Dark Sun did to elves in the setting, I love the diversity of new races available in Planescape, I never really got into Eberron (because I had a falling out with the regular gaming group that I was a part of at the time when it was big, and never really got into a new regular group until it had somewhat subsided), but I'd love to have pushed any of these settings the next step further...making them a bit more exotic by simply pulling out the humans...either by a massive catastrophic spell effect or plague that wiped them out over a matter of days then playing with the resultant aftermath, by filling an alternate race into the niches typically held by humans, or by logically working through how the setting might have developed if humans were never there in the first place.

Perhaps humans are inextricably linked to the prime material plane, they can handle brief forays into planar regions, but gradually become weakened if they don't have a physical anchor (which gradually rots away as a sacrificial anode to prevent their own soul from being destroyed by the lack of prime energy in the realms of Planescape). Perhaps they need to wear cumbersome suits like those old diving suits if they want to survive for more than a few minutes away from the prime material... astral projection might work too, but that has it's own issues.


Humans are too prevalent...I understand why, it's generally because they function as a narrative anchor for the setting. A guage by which to measure the other levels of strangeness in the settings, but I think we've moved beyond the need for that in every single setting.

19 September, 2017

#DIY30 #18

18. The wizard has researched a new spell named “Chance Minutia.” What does the spell do?

Chance Minutiae is the micro-transaction bitcoin engine of the magic world. Most wizards don't notice it, it just ticks away in the backgrounds, gathering momentum slowly while magical effects unfold around it. It doesn't seem to do anything useful at all to those capable of sensing magic (or those who cast detect magic around it), and for that reason it's generally ignored. Every time a magical effect fails in the vicinity of the spell, the magic energy is still released... this spell simply absorbs a tiny a ount of the excess magic energy and funnels it to a storage cell amulet. The more common effect of the spell (and the effect for which it was named) relies on those magics that manipulate probability in it's vicinity. Every time a magical effect distorts probability (by increasing or decreasing a die result by a minor amount), this spell absorbs some of the probability flux energy. Not enough to make a successful action associated with the spell fail, and if a magical effect has been used to make an opponent's action fail, this won't draw enough flux energy to make it succeed again. It just syphons a point off the top.

In areas where spells of this nature are being regularly cast, Chance Minutiae might syphon a single point of probability flux energy every half hour or so (Roll a d6 every ten minutes, on a 6 a point of energy is gained...in a wizard school it might increase to one roll every five minutes, in a generally non magical area it might only be one roll every half hour). At the end of the spell's duration, the wizard casting the spell may modify the die roll of a single action by the total number of flux energy points accumulated by the spell while it has been operating.


From little things, big things grow.

17 September, 2017

Instant Kill

In D&D, once you get past level 3 or so, it gets really hard to be killed with a single hit, beyond level 5 or so (and certainly beyond level 10) it's pretty much impossible. Characters reach a point where the number of hit points to take them down just can't really be dealt by an opponent in a single blow.

Some people like this, some people don't and there are games written to specifically avoid this concept. I guess it all depends what you want a game to be about...if you want consistency in story and don't want random whim taking out your characters, it makes sense to have a system in place where characters can't die suddenly, without a moment's notice. If you want dangerous and gritty, then you probably don't want a system where characters can take full strength hits from a two-handed sword and just walk away.

I like the way the new edition of Warhammer 40k has gone back to the idea where anyone could theoretically take down anyone else, a comparison of attacker's strength versus defender's toughness gives a simple die roll target number. Some situations moght see instant kills quite likely, others might see it quite difficult to achieve, but as lomg as there's a hit, then a death blow is possible.

I'm seeing a similar system develop here... attacker rolls to hit (which incorporates Defender's defence score), if the hit strikes, any damage is rolled based on a comparison of strength vs toughness,

I'm not sure where I'm going with this... it's just a kernel of an idea. But I want to play with it at some stage.

#DIY30 #17

17. What political situation existed 500 years ago, and how does its fall affect the world of today?

We should specify here that the question doesn't state that the political situation stopped working 500 years ago...it could have been strong 500 years ago, and just as strong one year ago, only recently falling and causing an impact politically. But while that plays with the wording of the question, it probably isn't fair to the spirit of the question. 

Let's look at something that was strong 500 years ago, but fell during the century after that point. This would be a political situation that may have kept someing in check for centuries, maybe even millennia, but once the political situation had been eliminated, problems gradually crept into the world leading to issues that we now face. 

Words are power, but energy is constant in the universe. So perhaps it is better to say that words are a specific means by which power and energy can be controlled. 

While the last great Ice Age thawed, and the ravenous mystics of the Asian and European continents sought to harness the wild energies of magic through carefully aligned buildings and stone circles, the spirits of other lands were allowed to roam free, their energies free for all to access rather than limited in the hands of a few. In time the lands of northern Africa and the near East lost their invigorating magic due to the sheer greed of those who had claimed the magic. Fertile lands died and deserts spread across the world. The spirits of the region needed magic from other sources and the powerful dynasties transformed themselves into the religions of today...this meant the dynasties would maintain temporal power in the world, and under the guise of angels and saints, the spirits would gain the soul energy of the faithful. Thus the religions spread to Europe, to Asia, and across Africa. The Americas were another story completely, but this is not their tale.

The spirits and magic of Australia remained unfettered by the restrictive words and aligned geomantic magic of an elitist cabal. The people of Australia were more attuned to the ways of nature and there was a more careful balance and deeper understanding between the mortal and the spirit world. The mortals maintained the land, and the spirits cloaked the continent from power hungry explorers from the near East and Europe. For centuries, Australia could have been discovered if not for the cloaking effects of the spirits. But something happened, five centuries ago... something that fractured the goodwill between the Spirits of the Dreaming, and the mortals of the continent. The cloaking effects were negated, and shortly thereafter, the first Portuguese explorers laid eyes on the land, then with Willem Janszoon, Dutch explorers set foot on the northwest coastline of the continent.  With every exposure to the power hungry eyes of European explorers and the ravenous spirits they prayed to under the guise of patron saints, the defences were worn away further.

The Indigenous communities of Australia (both mortal and spiritual) had never encountered such militarised spiritualism and ravenous hatred. By the time the spirits had consolidated their plans and prepared a strategy to deal with the interlopers, the continent had been ravaged. The words of the Indigenous mortals had been obliterated as "benevolent missionaries" brought civilisation to the people, disrupting their cultures and languages, and preventing many of the mortal tribes from communing with the spirits in languages they had used for dozens of millenia. The magic of the land is still being desecrated to this day, along with the natural minerals and resources of the physical world, the spirits of the Dreamtime know that something drastic has to happen soon before they are forgotten and it is all too late. 

16 September, 2017

Inktober

Next month's posts will be an image a day for Inktober, much like I did a few years ago when I fleshed out the Darkhive setting.


I know I did this another year too...I think it was actually last year, but I didn't quite finish. In that attempt I combined the results from a few different lists to give me my prompts. 

This time I'll just be running with the core words under an overarching theme of 🦊 foxes, or Vulpinoids. The race I started detailing in various game systems over 30 years ago... it's been too long since I've visited them. 

#DIY30 #16

16. Make an equipment list for a post apoc setting, using only things in 1 room of your home. Garage and kitchen are easy mode.


If kitchen and garage are easy mode, then my art studio is super easy mode.Even if we're going with items that aren't powered by mains electricity.


  • Assorted tapes (duct tape, masking tape, electrical tape, sticky tape, double sided tape, plumbing tape)
  • Assorted knives (scalpels, snap-off blades, 3 different swiss army knives, guillotine)

  • Glues (two dozen tubes of super glue, a litre or so of white PVA/woodworking glue, an unopened bliste pack of Epoxy resin, a dozen glue sticks)
  • Lights (two overhead battery powered lights, one solar charged lantern, a battery powered lit magnifying glass)
  • Which brings me to magnifying glasses (in addition to the one mentioned, two on stands, and one hand held)
  • Notepads and journals (too many to count)
  • Two paper maps of local area
  • A dozen recyclable shopping bags
  • Assorted wire in various guages (and fishing line)
  • Dozens of small containers for carrying assorted bits and pieces
  • Assorted batteries and a solar powered battery charger
  • Battery powered radio
  • Maybe 4 square metres of leather remnants
  • Complete leatherworking toolkit (including punches, mallets, cutting tools, dyes, sponges, thonging, and swivel cutter)
  • Paint in numerous shades and mediums
  • Markers, pens and pencils
  • Lighter (with a can of butane to refill it, and a pocket welder that can also be refilled with the butane)
  • Canvas sheets
  • Bottles (some filled with water, some filled with turps, methylated spirits and acetone, others empty)
  • Assorted metal and PVC tubing
  • Assorted lengths of wood
  • Ten ferrets
  • A dog


If I didn't know better, I'd think I was a prepper.

#DIY30 #15

15. Write a pitch for how you would turn a shitty game into a good game. 

"World of Synnibarr with matches."

Bear with me here.

World of Synnibarr has been mentioned a few times here on the blog. It's an over-the-top gonzo extravaganza 473 pages long, so it works perfectly for this theory. Now imagine the Neverending Story as a game, where the Nothing is gradually consuming the world, and you are playing in a duing age where dreams are being obliterated. Players make characters normally at the start of play, but after that point, each player rolls d600 (with a d6 determining the hundreds, then a pair of d10s for the tens and units). They tear that page out of the book and burn it. Any monsters or character types on those pages are no longer available to the game. Any rules that might have been on those pages are no longer applicable to the game, any other rules which refer to rules on those pages have a chance of simply not working...flip a coin. If that page is already gone, the Nothing becomes stronger, the nameless void grows in power and the named world grows weaker. If the die total is higher than 473, then the world gets a temporary reprieve.

After each game, every player uses this method to tear a new random page from the book. Any monsters or characters on these pages become the villains for the piece, as the nameless void has taken their empathy, their goodness, or something similar. Any rules will become vital elements of the next scenario to be played out. If the characters win, the players may hold on to the rules they have torn away from the book. These rules become something specific to that player's characters (but they may be traded to other players diring the course of play). A player may hold no more than six pages in this way, and at any later time they may burn a page to gain a reroll on an action they have failed. If a character dies, a player may use the intact riles in the book, and the rules they've saved personally to create a new character.

Eventually there will come a time when core rules are eliminated from the game, or when the nameless void gains so much power that it is virtually unstoppable. This will be the games climax, the make-or-break session when it is decided whether the world is left to burn, or whether anything can be salvaged from the setting for a later campaign in a different game and world.

#DIY30 #14

14. Roll a D20 and count down that many photos on https://www.flickr.com/explore. That's your prompt.

Sorry, just not working for me. I've tried six times the post the pictire I got as a part of the post... but it just won't connect. Even when I go through n the back end, download the picture that my computer, then try to re-upload it. I might revisit this one later.

15 September, 2017

#DIY30 #13

13. Three sports that wizards play. 

Quidditch... are you kidding me? Quidditch is like that bastardised cross between lacrosse and softball that gets played by three schools in the whole world. They call it a "world cup" when all three schools compete because there's no one else on the planet who plays it. 

But it all depends on your definition of "Wizard". In some circles, wizards are a very specific category of those who use magic, they derive their powers from theory and textbooks, sometimes finding magic in the words that they use to define reality. In other circles, the term wizard could be used as a catch-all term to describe any male capable of weaving magic in some way (as compared to its feminine counterpart, witch... but sometimes the terms wizard and witch are used even more loosely, avoiding gender binaries altogether). In some parts of the deep south of the USA, a wizard might be denoted by wearing white cloak and hood, concealing their identity while engaging in racially motivated hate crimes.

...let's ignore that last group, because things could get quite unsavoury if we include the pastimes they might consider "sport". 

The theoretically-inclined wizards tend to view sport as a physical exertion, and therefore beneath them. They may observe sports for a better understanding of biological matters for the purposes of their magic, but would rarely get themselves dirty in such a way. 

The wider context of wizards, as "men and women who are capable of wielding magic to manipulate reality" is probably the most useful definition here. In which case, any sport might be possible. An easy answer could be "cricket, badminton, and waterpolo". But regular readers of the blog haven't come to read the post for an easy answer, so perhaps we should clarify things by asking "Name three sports that wizards play, but that regular non-magical people don't (or can't)?"

Scorchball

Actually, I have played a version of this. A number of footballs/soccer-balls ⚽️ are soaked in methylated spirits. One ball at a time is lit on fire 🔥. Umpires and goalkeepers wear hard hats with lights on them...otherwise the game is played in pitch darkness. Generally the game is played as per a game of soccer ⚽️, once the ball extinguishes, it is returned to the tub for re-soaking, a new ball is lit and the game continues. 

Wizards have been known to play this, but using magic to keep the ball lit (thus avoiding the need to return the ball for soaking in methylated spirits when it burns itself out). Some of the more extreme wizards have even been known to use continuous fireball spells to engage the sport rather than using a physical ball at all. 

No Limits Tag

When playing a game like tag with people who are capable of shapeshifting, flying and stepping between realms of reality, things can get awfully complicated awfully quickly. When one wizard has mastered one set of abilities (eg. flying) and another has mastered a completely separate set of abilities (eg. dimension hopping), the game might seem impossible to play. To make things more sporting, there actually is a limit on "No limits" tag. Two warded circles contain point-scoring plinths, within the circle, tagging is possible but magic is prevented. Players gain a point if they touch a plinth after they have touched the alternate one. If a player is "it" they cannot score points, they must tag someone (who becomes "it") they may rejoin the game and earn new points once they touch a plinth. A game will typically have a set duration, typically an hour, or "midnight to dawn"; one notable game played between immortal wizards was said to have lasted a century.

Apprentice Showdown


A common sport among certain sects of wizards involves drawing on the local populace for a dozen or more potential apprentices. There are usually three to six wizards involved, although there may be other wizards who observe and place bets on the outcome. There are usually three or four times as many potential apprentices as there are wizards. The apprentices are set loose in a mock dungeon filled with deadly traps, and magical items that might help them survive. The sport continues until there are a number of apprentices equal to the wizards. Starting with the apprentice who eliminated the least opponents in the showdown, wizards offer their tutelage. 

13 September, 2017

#DIY30 #12

12. What is there to do when stationed on an interstellar lighthouse?


Interstellar lighthouses became a vital element of the navigation grid during the Third Imperium, when trans-light travel required ships plunging into hyperspace, where gravity wells left faint echoes of themselves, but regular tachyon bursts could be easily detected between the chaotic null-waves of the hyperspace warp. Quantum leviathans would hurtle through hyperspace piercing through lightyears of distance in minutes... but dropping out of hyperspace a second to early or late might leave such a vessel stranded in space for months at sublight speeds to reassume their correct destination. Interstellar lighthouses were placed to ensure accuracy of placement when ships dropped out of hyperspace, carefully triangulated vectors would be drawn from their positioning. Thus it was of utmost importance that the lighthouses didn't drift from their designated coordinates by more than a few thousand miles. 

Regular duties of a lighthouse keeper involve measuring relative angular positions of stars, nearby and distant, then adjusting star charts accordingly, and if necessary activating the ion drives to account for any drift that might have occurred since the last measurement. These are generally automated processes, with procedures enacted every month or so (according to Earth chronology). The whole process could have been automated, but when the first array of lighthouses were set up, there was a deep suspicion among certain religiously inclined advisors that AI was ready to overthrow the biological lifeforms of the Imperium. Economic advosors suggested that to maintain a high degree of employment across the Imperium, each of the 750,000 lighthouses should be maintained by one or more families who would serve a twenty year duty period in exchange for free lodgings in an apartment chosen from a range of worlds, for the rest of their lives. 


During their 20 year service periods, many devout lighthouse families prayed, meditated and tended the crops necessary to their long term survival. Many less devout families ran illicit criminal waystatios between the more organised and patrolled sectors of the Imperium, some fended of regular attacks from rebel systems and intruding forces...some vanished shed without a trace (but few people talk about them). 

12 September, 2017

Images from the Sprawl (Part 5)

This set of additional images for the series sees a few more males added into the mix, some more surrealism and strangeness, and a shot revisiting one of our earlier ladies. 







I'm not sure where we'll be heading next with the series...

Anyone got any ideas?

#DIY30 #11

11. Why is the stone circle on the hill top broken?

Who says it's broken? It has been like that for as long as anyone can remember. There are even some who say that it was built in it's current state. So it's not so much that the stone circle is broken, but more accurate to say that it was never complete.

What might the stone circle have done if it had been completed? A few scholars have offered suggestions. (Roll a d6 to determine which of these is real).

1. The stone circle when completed would habe been an accurate sundial and calendar.

2. The stone circle would have been configured in such a way to summon a monstrous creature from the nether realm, during a particular celestial alignment... but it wasn't finished in time. Coincidentally, the same celestial alignment is due to occur some time in the mear future.

3. The stone circle marks the graves of a forgotten family of decadent and bloodthirsty nobles. One stone per noble. The family were overthown by their vassals before the circle could be completed.

4. The stone circle was an installation by a group of artistic troubadours a few decades ago, it looks broken because that makes people feel uncomfortable. Ever since it was built, and the nomadic artists fled the area, people have wanted to track them down for such a rubbish job, and because they're sick of being asked why the stone circle is broken.

5. See that sign over there, the one that says "People who ask about the broken stone circle will be put to work in the mines for the term of their natural life".... yep, that one... guess what, stranger... you're headed to the mines.

6. What stone circle? I don't know what you're talking about.

10 September, 2017

#DIY30 #10

10. What is beyond the Wall? (So help me, any of you who makes some lazy-ass Game of Thrones reference is kicked out of the OSR.)

Assuming that the Wall you are referring to is the known landmark in the Astral Plane, it is a barrier between the waking and dreaming worlds. On one side of this wall of light are the astral projections and daydreaming souls of those who are still awake, while on the other side of the wall are the dreamers and comatose sojourners desperately searching for meaning in a chaotic and ever-changing landscape. Crossing the wall is relatively easy but takes a conscious effort. 

Perhaps more important as a question is, what is the wall? Or even, what is within the wall? 



The wall itself is composed of an ephemeral protoplasm known variously as "dreamstuff", "Arcadium", or one of a hundred other names. Every person who travels through the wall leaves a fragment of their soul in the wall, and finds it replaced by the material of the wall. It is said that those who travel through the wall often find their abilities to weave illusions enhanced, at the risk of finding their physical presence in the mundane world diminished...they gradually become illusions themselves, until the entirety of their soul is replaced by the material of the wall and an attempt to cross becomes their final moment...they become one with the wall. 

It is said that there is a similar wall of darkness, dividing the living from the dead, but it is much harder to find and only able to be crossed via specific portals at certain times of the year. Those who attempt to cross this wall, gain a similar effect of augmented magic but with regard to necromantic effects. Over time they gradually become spectral entities, undead for eternity, losing their sanity as the dark wall calls them back. 

Images from the Sprawl (Part 4)

Life has been busy over the last few weeks, with assignments and starting a new round of pre-service teaching as I approach the end of my university degree, and all those daily blog questionnaires. Having a really bad case of the flu hasn't helped either.

I've still managed to get a few extra images done, one every day or two.












If you've been regularly reading the blog or following me of various social media platfoms, you may have seen some of these images before. I'm not sure which ones (if any) I've posted before...but this batch brings the images up to date.

09 September, 2017

#DIY30 #9

9. Who rules the deepest ocean floor?


There are many oceans, and thus many ocean floors. There is always argument as to which ocean floor is the deepest. One of the contenders would have to be the Inverted Plateau of Olarus, a flat plain surround on all sides by underwater cliffs over five kilometres high. Unlike a simple trench, this ocean floor stretches over countless hectares, barely explored by intrepid divers in bathyscapes. Rubble, and a number of ruined buildings have been identified across the plain, but nothing has been successfully brought back to the surface.

Aquatic druids and shamans, have translated the scared words of the piscean creatures in the area. Common folklore states that sharks do not die of old age, and that they must continually swim to maintain their buoyancy. Those sharks who do not die from violence sometimes lose the will to continue swimming, literally dying of ennui; those who continue swimming can do so for centuries, growing larger with every passing year. The least words are spoken about one of the oldest sharks, said to be millennia old, with a name that can only be translated vaguely as "Crack-of-cartilage, Crimson-mist-on-the-current". Said to be a size rivalling many dragons, this shark is the undisputed ruler of the Inverted Plain, only two expeditions to the seabed have encountered it and have returned to tell the tale. In both cases, their diving apparatuses were severely damaged, and the dives lived out the rest of their days muttering about blood and teeth, often in padded cells, never venturing into the sea again. 

08 September, 2017

#DIY30 #8

8. "Mommy, what are tooth faeries like, and what do they do with all the teeth?"

Whatever you may have heard about tooth faeries, it's probably a lie. That's not to say there isn't a fragment of truth in some of the stories...but none of them get the whole thing right.

Do they collect teeth? Well obviously this bit is generally correct, hence the name. 

Are they faeries? Not all of them. Some are, and it may be these individuals who started the legends, but there are very few faeries who still attend these duties...more about them shortly. Most tooth duty is done as penance for committing a crime against the courts of the fey. Punishments from the Seelie court require service to a fey noble during the day, while a specified number of baby teeth (often in the hundreds) need to be collected from the young at night. Punishments from the Unseelie court require infecting healthy adult teeth, where the pain from rot and decay fuels specific dark fey charms (such punishments often require the infection of thousands of teeth, beginning with those in the mouths of loved ones). 

What do they do with all the teeth? Teeth taken as penance for the Seelie Court are elaborately crafted into sets of false teeth for the lineages of fey nobles who have become toothless due to excessive inbreeding over countless generations. The voracious appetites of fey nobles means they often go through a set of false teeth annually (if not faster), hence the need to outsource their tooth gathering. The creatures once known colloquially as "Tooth Faeries" now operate as collection agents and crafters, so that the nobles don't have to deal directly with criminal riff-raff. 


Teeth infected for Unseelie penance are left to rot in the heads of their victims for as long as possible. Only once they are removed by dentistry (professional or amateur) does the conduit of pain energy become severed. It is said that residual pain may be stored in them, and they may be used as batteries for Unseelie amulets, but it is generally considered more effort than it's worth to harness the low energy within these rotten fragments. 

07 September, 2017

#DIY30 #7

7. What happens when you water fruit trees with goblin blood?

Old Jed once claimed that Blood Oranges were first cultivated by watering a standard orange free with a careful blend of blood from minotaurs, satyrs, and a few obscure Mediterranean beasts now forgotten to the mists of time. Few believe him of course. 

Jed tried to repeat these cultivation steps with the ingredients at his disposal. Trying to make "blood" versions of other fruits, citrus and otherwise. The highly mutagenic nature of goblins leant their blood a higher degree of success than most other sanguine fluids he tried, but in Old Jed's experiments success was a relative term. Anything that varied from the base components was considered a positive result in his journals, even if that result could never be replicated. Therein lay the problem with Jed's work. 

The plains of Grab Grass, stretching between the twin mountain ranges of Northern Archaia are known to be a hazard to travellers through those regions. From a distance the grass of the plain looks like any other, but under closer inspection, the tips of the grass are articulated as tiny fingers, capable of grappling small prey, and slowing down larger creatures. The grass doesn't consume the prey, it simple holds anything that moves through it for a few minutes. The first patches of this weed appeared around a crystalline tower that exploded decades ago, and Jed was known to have been working in the area shortly before that time. 

The Orchard of Baron Kilmeister is said to be one of the few places where one of Jed's experimental work with Goblin blood and fruit trees continues to grow. The tree in question is known for producing a random array of fruits across it's branches, varying from season to season. Eaten raw, the fruits of this tree are more bitter than the standard varieties they resemble, but stewed they sweeten. Most notably, the fruit of this tree is fermented into an exclusive batch of cider... 12 bottles per year, sometimes less, never more. A single bottle is sent every year to the Goblin King as tribute, the remaining eleven sell for a small fortune and sustain the Baron's palace and it's estates. According to legend, this cider prolongs the life of those who drink it, at the risk that the remainder of their children will be born as goblins. 


One of the only other cultivators to have had significant success with utilising goblin blood to cultivate fruit trees is the Goblin King himself. It is said that he waters a particular grove of pomegranate trees with the blood of willing subjects, it is also whispered that annually, he fertilises the ground with a fallen goblin soldier (shredded, minced, and mixed with lime). The fruit of this tree occasionally (d6 minus 1 times per year) may be peeled to reveal an infant of the elusive Goblin Spawnmother caste. There are a number of other ways Spawnmothers are conceived, but those produced from the King's grove are the only Spawnmothers sanctioned to give birth to the Goblin King's Royal Order of Defenders.



06 September, 2017

#DIY30 #6

6. There are six kinds of vampires. Don’t be boring. 

The six vampire categories vary immensely depending on who you ask. Hunters often categorise them according to the best way to slay them, cryptozoological texts have categorised them according to their food sources, apothecaries often categorise them according to the powers they manifest (and therefore the powers that might be acquired by ingesting their powdered organs), while the vampires themselves have been known to stratify their number according to six stages of vampiric transcendence, or the six mythical progenitors who were said to be the first of their kind. A final method for categorising vampires derives from their chosen places of lodgings, but few people use that one. 

That makes six common types of categorisation, with six common variations in each. There may be other options, especially in the uncivilised and unexplored lands. 

When encountering a vampire, roll 6 six sided dice and allocate the results between the categories.

Table 1. Vulnerability
1. Impalement by Wood.
2. Sunlight
3. Garlic
4. Silver
5. Holy Water
6. Running Water

Table 2. Food Source
1. Human Blood
2. Living Flesh
3. Psychic Energy
4. Emotions
5. Bone Marrow
6. Chi (residual magic charge)

Table 3. Dominant Power
1. Animal Form
2. Hypnotism
3. Flight
4. Mist Form
5. Incredible Strength
6. Shadow Manipulation

Table 4. Transcendence Level
1. Half Vampire, requires vampiric blood to maintain powers (plus food source)
2. Ravenous Dead
3. Walking Dead
4. Dark Wanderer
5. Elder Vampire
6. Ancient Immortal

Table 5. Progenitor
1. Mr Saturday, Keeper of Dark Mysteries
2. Contessa Bathoria, Reaper of Virgins
3. Duke Draconis, Heretic and Impaler
4. Anansi, Weaver of Shadows
5. Kun Shou, Alchemical Immortal
6. Hela, Queen of the Eternal Waste


Table 6. Lodgings
1. Graveyard Mausoleum
2. Deserted Temple
3. Ancient Castle
4. Swamp Hut
5. Desolated House
6. Abandoned Church

05 September, 2017

#DIY30 #5

5. What sort of abilities would a Bug Knight class give to a character?

The bug knights of Lower G'harne were always assumed to be homogenous group, instantly recognisable by their glistening, chitinous, black armour. Among the bug knights, and those who often worked with them, this was known to be untrue. The variety among the knights is as varied as the myriad number of bugs in existence, each knight sharing an almost totemic link to one particular invertebrate, sharing traits with the creature, growing stronger over time, as their appearance gradually takes on characteristics of the bug whose traits they share.


The Ant Knights are most common, often manifesting massive strength, hardened skin, and a subliminal hive mind among others of their type.

The Beetle Knights are often the largest, and typically manifest traits like a capacity to dig elaborate tunnels (or even dig through solid stone), eat the most outlandish things, and resist all forms of mind control.

The Butterfly Knights are the most obviously different, wearing brightly coloured capes, and manifesting traits like flight, quickness, and some say empathic projection.

The Wasp Knights are known for their viciousness and bloody-mindedness, like the butterflies they often manifest flight, like ants they often manifest a subliminal hive mind, unlike both of those they sometimes secrete toxins through their glands.

There are countless other forms of bug knight, but some of the more noteworthy types include the Water Skimmers, the Ticks, and the Tardigrades, each of whom count legendary heroes among their ranks. 

#DIY30 #4

4. Make a monster based on your deepest fear

Tough one...

My wife would say that my biggest fear is clowns, but with the remake of the movie "IT" arriving in cinemas soon, this feels like it's beaten me to the punch. Clown monsters are getting a bit passé anyway. So it might be a bit more interesting to take another route. 

Other big fears would be vertigo, or the existential dread of not being who I am...

Perhaps something combining the two. 

The Astral Leech is a being whose presence is detected subtly at first. A person who has drawn the attention of the Leech first notices that the colour is slowly leeched out of things over the course of several days. When travelling in the wilderness it might seem to the person that they are simply wandering into a cursed region, in urban areas (or areas where the person is familiar) these early effects might be more noticeable (an advantage is gained on perception checks to notice the effect). This gradual draining of colour represents the Astral Leech attaching themselves to the person's soul, once all colour is gone, the soul lock is complete and the person becomes the "host". 



At any time after this, the Leech feeds on all emotions but the host's fear. Perhaps fear has a taste they cannot abide. As this occurs, the Host feels a sense of massive panic, they paralyse and suffer a disadvantage on all actions. The character may make a Wisdom save (or similar) to break free of this effect. Such a save fractures the connection between Leech and host, and the only way to completely sever the connection is by failing the wisdom save (or similar)...unwise characters have less fear...characters considered "fearless" due to some feat or other means, gain an advantage on the Save (because the leeches attach to them more steadfastly). Any time this save is attempted, the host is fatigued (with all the expected penalties this would normally incur), another attempt may not be made until a rest has been taken. 

03 September, 2017

Random

I've been working on some ideas...again.

One of which was kind of paralleled by a comment recently made by +Ian Borchardt. I've been thinking of a way to randomly generate sectors, tower blocks, and notable characters for games of "The Law". Generally, that's the order the generation would be done in...starting wide, putting things in context and gradually narrowing in on the details.


Part of the idea might be to allow players (or even request players) to develop the home sectors and towers that their agents come from...narrowing down on specific people might be a bit more problematic, but maybe an agent could define notable people from their floor, and maybe the adjacent floors...but sectors change over the course of decades, buildings are built and demolished in timeframes of years, and notable people rise and fall over the course of months or even weeks. By the time an agent has finished their time in the academy, the people who were once notable may be disgraced, missing, or even dead.

Once the tables are generated, I can probably program it into a series of automated algorithms, code them into a website and automatically generate the process...but for the moment we'll go old school, generating the tables, creating books detailing pre-generated towers (for predefined scenarios), half completed templates for GMs to complete during the course of exploration oriented sessions, and incomplete fragments that can be assembled by GMs who fly by the seat of their pants.

If anyone's interested in seeing the current tables, let me know. I might make them available on here on the blog for feedback.


#DIY30 #3

3. How can a monster harm a character in a new and unusual way?

Damage/Hit Point Loss... nope, that's not new, unusual or interesting.
Loss of Levels... slightly more interesting than losing hit points, as a general weaking effect, but not very new.
Applying Penalties or Negative Traits... this concept allows the fiction to have a direct effect on the mechanisms of play, and completes the loop by having the mechanisms of play inform the ongoing fiction/narrative, and it's generally how I've done games for a while, but it's been around in games I've seen for more than two decades.
Attribute Reduction... while it can be interesting, it's an idea that has been around for a few years.


Instead I'm thinking that we should look at effects like those from the Rust Monster...where metal weapons tend to do more damage in a game, but hitting a rust monster with a metal weapon rusts or corrodes it into uselessness.


Or maybe we can look at the effects like the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who. They drain temporal energy from victims and transmit them into the past where they will live out their days and often die before they are even born.

Technically, all of the effects that "injure" a character could be interpreted as ways to deprotagonise them, reduce their ability to impact the ongoing storyline. A reduction of hit points makes combat riskier, negative traits make tasks associated with them less likely to succeed (or more likely to backfire). A character has to wait out the penalties, or heal the effects until they can reassume their intended role as "heroes/protagonists/central-characters".

What's something unusual that might do this?

In the current real-world  political climate, a monster that changes a male hero's gender, a white hero's skin tone, or a cis-character's sexual preferences might be severely impacting on them... but you'd need a mature group who could handle such things properly if you were going to include such a creature in your game.

Maybe a creature that pushes an opponent slightly out of phase with reality. Being out of phase might mean that the afflicted character looks a bit translucent and fuzzy, out of focus... the effect of this is that delicate work  is impossible, and most actions are slightly more difficult. Every time a character is hit by such an attack, they are pushed further out of phase, where they might have a higher likelihood of encountering nightmarish creatures who exist on the edges of reality. Naturally, a mortal soul seeks to exist in sync with reality, so these attacks might heal once every hour or so... but during those hours, life is a nightmare for those afflicted.

Mechanics of play... every successful hit has a 50/50 chance of inflicting a "Desynchronised" token, every hour that a character has "Desynchronised" tokens, roll a d20.  If the character's d20  roll beats the number of tokens, they avoid encountering one of the phase monsters (who may inflict more tokens). If the character rolls more than twice the number of tokens (or rolls a 20 if they have 10 or more tokens) they lose a token. If a character ever earns more than 20 tokens, they are permanently desynchronised, never to be seen again.