Thursday, July 24, 2014

for what is the sun but a hell

Felt like I was beginning to scrape the bottom of the barrel with hex descriptions, so here's a palette (EDIT: PALATE! I MEANT PALATE!) cleanser of something tangentially related before I get back to work. 

M E T A L vs S K I N posted this really cool vampire class, and I started thinking about how I would implement something similar. I spent a lot of time trying to fit vampires as PCs and HP and hit dice together when I realized that there are already rules for starvation and dehydration in the LotFP handbook:

"For every 24 hours that a character goes without water, his Constitution drops by half unless he makes a save versus Poison. After three such failed saves against Poison due to a lack of water, the character will be dead. Constitution losses due to dehydration or starvation recover at twice the usual rate with rest and proper nourishment."

Replace "water" with "blood", and assume "rest" involves sleeping in a coffin, and you have the foundation for some pretty easy vampire rules.

A class for Lamentations of the Flame Princess
HP, Saves and XP as Elf (elves are basically vegetarian vampires with good PR)

Vampires, according to vampires1, are scions of those ancient lords and ladies who claimed the marches between the Lands of the Living and the Lands of the Dead. They fought back the innumerable souls of the departed, and in doing so rejected the tyranny of death, elevating themselves above the mortals around them. 

Vampires, according to the Crown, are to be admired for their pursuit of immortality, and executed for their affinity for proscribed magic2. The Queen applauds the acquisition and hoarding of knowledge, but brooks no threat to the integrity of her realm.

Vampires receive a +1 bonus to their Charisma modifier and can cast spells. Vampires have the same spell slot progression as a Cleric. However, they do not learn or prepare spells--a vampire can expend a spell slot to cast any spell on the vampire list (see below) of equal or lower spell level. Vampires are also naturally stealthy. They start with a 2 in 6 Stealth skill and progress at the same rate as the Elf's Search skill. 

Vampires do not age, breathe, or eat food, and cannot be harmed by poison, venom, or extreme weather. To feed, a vampire must drain blood from a humanoid (human, elf, halfling, or dwarf) victim. Vampire bites reduce a victim's maximum HP by an amount equal to their HD for every round of feeding, which returns at a rate of 1 HP per day. A vampire needs to drain HP equal to their level in blood per 24 hour period to sustain themselves. A vampire can bite successfully grappled enemies with a standard attack. Draining blood does not restore a vampire's HP.

If a vampire is starving, they cannot recover HP in any way until they feed.

Anyone who is reduced to below 0 HP through blood drain must Save vs Magic or rise as undead, with their disposition to the vampire being determined with a Reaction Roll, regardless of their character in life.

When direct sunlight touches a vampire's bare skin, they take d12 damage per Round. PC vampires can be Turned per the Turn Undead spell.

The normal rules for sleep deprivation apply to vampires, but they can only sleep in coffins. Vampires recover d6 HP and their expended spell slots by sleeping for at least 8 hours in a coffin. 


1st Level

Charm Person
Feather Fall
Spider Climb

2nd Level

Change Self
Wall of Fog

3rd Level

Army of One
Speak with Dead

4th Level
Charm Monster
Invisibility, Improved
Polymorph Self
Protection from Normal Weapons

5th Level

Animate Dead
Bestow Curse
True Seeing

6th Level

Animate Dead Monsters
Death Spell
Speak with Monsters
Suggestion, Mass

7th Level

Charm Person, Mass
Control Weather
Remote Surveillance
Unholy Word

1Vampires from Albion, naturally. Vampires from other lands do not possess noble blood, and engage in all sorts of eccentric behavior. The vampires of the Norge swim amongst the glaciers and sup on the cold blood of fish, while the vampires of Columbia converse with the stars from mountaintops. The lamia far to the east hide from the day in the bellies of snakes. The vampires of Carpathia are rumored to be quite mad. In the farthest south, vampires can crawl into dreams and steal what they find therein.

2While the people of New Londinium are famous for their casual disregard for the natural order, there is still a class of spells banned to all, not because they are necessarily dangerous, but because they are the sociological equivalent of a nuclear bomb. Animate Dead isn't something you cast if you are about to eat dinner, but spells like Change Self, Charm Person, Suggestion, and Forget tend to engender massive, baroque, and self-sustaining schemes (e.g. someone uses Suggestion to motivate a magician to cast Suggestion on other magicians, then uses Forget so they have no memory of the encounter. In the Stokesy Incident, the rebellious initiator of such a cycle fell under the magical influence of the victim of his victim's victim, and from that point the interlocking chain of Suggestions and Charm spells becomes so convoluted that some constables still wonder if those apprehended were dupes, arrested only because someone Suggested it to the chief investigator). Therefore, the Queen's agents destroy any copies of these spells they come across, and summarily execute anyone they find in possession of them. This is one of the reasons why vampires are persecuted so much: they can cast these spells without being encumbered with discriminatory spellbooks or scrolls. Once someone encounters a vampire, they can never truly trust their own motivations ever again.
     The Queen has a keen understanding of how effective such magic can be, because 
though she is now Agorath, the Sovereign of Albion and the Divinity of Forbidden knowledge, she once was Nimue. When her tutor Merlin was at the height of his abilities, he retreated to the heart of his sanctum and forged a great Staff of Power. When Nimue came into her own, she used Permanency to enchant herself with Shape Change, Spell Turning, Mind Blank, and Globe of Major Invulnerability, then built a small army of Simulacra. This is why Merlin is in a tree, and she is in a palace.

first image by Alvaro Tapia, distributed under Creative Commons
second image from Boktai 2

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fairy hexes 31-40

This is the last of the fairy hexes for now. A post on how fairies work, and then hexes from another faction.
  1. A Roman officer, accompanied by 20 soldiers, is dumping chest after chest of coinage (1000 pounds sterling in all) into a crumbling well. Iridescent caskets of fairy-metal weapons and armor are stacked neatly nearby. UNDEAD OFFICER: HD 7, AC Plate, MV Slow, d8 Weapon damage, paralyzing touch (d6 Turns, Save vs Paralyze to avoid). UNDEAD SOLDIER: Lvl 1 Fighter
  2. The Barony of Crossed Heart. A fairy-noble and his small army of charmed townspeople besiege the castle as the Baron and his knights cower within. There is some talk of turning the Baron into a bowl of fig pudding.
  3. Two groups of fairies—one arrayed in red, the other in grey—in pitched battle. At sunset, the fallen arise to prepare themselves for the next day’s fighting. Any outsiders who involve themselves, however, remain dead.
  4. A man wearing a mask shaped like a beetle sells an array of mundane goods. He must accept anything as currency; he will sell a length of rope for three pounds sterling, three acorns, or three diamonds.
  5. A young woman reads a book beneath a tree. She wears a most excellent hat; everyone who sets eyes on it agrees it is the best they’ve seen. She’s willing to pass it on to anyone who can beat her in a game of cards, but expects high stakes from her opponents.
  6. A locked chest sits atop a pile of gravel. Whenever someone sees the contents, roll 1d6. On a 1-3, the contents appear to all the senses as a golden statue of a beautiful woman, inlaid with lapis lazuli. On a 4-6, they appear as a naked little man who licks his lips when touched or held. Roll separately for each viewer.
  7. Several foxes in ragged waist coats and top hats run through the brush, pursued by a hunting party of lesser fairies. The foxes are actually Gaulish saboteurs.
  8. A beacon of flame burns atop a slender stone tower. Should it ever go out, a murder of crows great enough to blot out the sun will descend on this hex and attack everything that lives within.
  9. Grey-winged moths congregate in the meadow around a sealed dolmen. It contains vampire lord from the east, locked away since antiquity. He is rather reasonable, but exceedingly hungry.
  10. An abandoned glass palace rests on the floor of a lake. Anyone who breaks a sword in the center of the throne room becomes lord or lady of the castle, with all the rights, responsibilities, and assassination attempts that implies.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fairy Locations 21-30

  1. Here, the Giant of Slumbering Days runs down his prey of lost sheep and lost shepherds and innocent travelers. He does so merrily, with great peals of laughter and blood in his teeth, for none are so happy as him when he eats. GIANT OF SLUMBERING DAYS: HD 10, AC as chain, MV Fast, d12 damage club, Save 8, those hit by club must Save vs Paralyzation or go last the following turn.
  2. A small patch of Perpetual Day. At the center of this hex, a golden sun burns in a tired red sky.
  3. A grey stone path wanders through a misty forest of black trees. Anyone travelling along the path will never reach the end of the forest, even if they turn back; to escape, they must cut through the underbrush.
  4. The ore in these hills can be refined into Sublimated Darkness, a substance treasured by the smiths and metallurgists of New Londinium. A single person can mine about 200 silver pieces worth in a day.
  5. A field of pale asphodel beneath a cloudy sky. The Lands of the Dead are close to this place; those buried here cannot return or be raised as undead, and anyone who Save vs Death in sight of the flowers automatically fails.
  6. A trio of fairy-maidens torments a troupe of 10 Royal Knights. They have decided they must be wed, and will persist until driven off or each has been promised someone’s hand in marriage. ROYAL KNIGHT: Lvl 0 Fighter. FAIRY-MAIDEN: HD 4 AC as chain, MV Fast (fly), d6 damage weapon, Save 12, At-will: Invisibility, Change Person, 1/day: Shrink
  7. Two Angels of the Sixth Sphere escorting an iron-shackled fairy-noble. She is the Countess of Mercy Withheld, and they are taking her to the Immanent Fortress on charges of collaborating with the forces of Hell. They are very sure of her guilt, but can not remember why.
  8. A man wearing a wolfshead helmet and suit of black armor is tied to a tree with thick strands of ivy. He is the Diabolus Loricae, trapped here for assaulting the King of Roses Red long ago. Anyone who frees him will have their hands cursed crimson, marking them as enemies of the King. If freed, the Diabolus will perform a favor for his liberators and offer a pact to any Warlocks.
  9. A man in fashionable clothes lies dead on the dirt, impaled with spears of holly. His pocket-watch bears the crest of House Savile.  
  10. A horse-sized wolf with a mass of prehensile tentacles instead of a head stands in the center of a ring of mushrooms. It can only leave if attacked. SPAKE-HOUND: HD 6, AC as chain, MV Fast, d10 damage tentacle, Save 10, Casts Commune on target the turn after a successful grapple.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fairy Locations 11-20

  1. A circle of rowan trees stand atop a barrow. Bound beneath in a circle of iron is the fairy known as the Elphame Prince, imprisoned there by a magician he wronged long ago. Locks and traps bar the way, but the Prince will owe a favor to whoever frees him, and enterprising Warlocks can form a pact with him.
  2. An unsupported ivory gate looks onto a desolate moor, though the field behind it is green and lush. Anyone who walks into it and closes the doors behind them will return an hour later, aged one year, bearing vague memories of war, with a Wisdom score increased by 1. Anyone who does this twice returns a day later, aged ten years and losing 1 point of Constitution. Those who enter a third time do not come back.
  3. The Witmarrow Witch lives here in a dilapidated hut. If she burns someone’s dearest possession, she can discern their deepest secret by examining the ashes. She will perform this service with no regard for legality or propriety for anyone who tells her their own darkest secret. WITMARROW WITCH: Lvl 5 MU
  4. A mountain-sized spider with a castle carved into its carapace picks its way across the countryside on slender legs. It will not leave the hex of its own free will. The castle’s 101 fairy courtiers, with no lord or lady to guide them, have fallen into cruelty and decadence.
  5. A bronze spear is thrust into the center of a great stone wheel. It requires a difficult Strength check to remove. When thrust into the ground, the spear transforms into a 12 foot long serpent with a caustic temperament and venomous bite, grudgingly loyal to the spear’s owner.
  6. Statues of a man and woman in postures of repose sit atop a mouldering blanket. Weathered clothing hangs from their frames, and each clutches a chicken bone. A pile of wicker rots next to them.
  7. Stilltown, a seemingly Briton village of 57 souls, stands here. Its inhabitants are all changelings, and they have done all they can to reject their fairy blood. They treasure the banal and pastoral, but their exceedingly poor grasp of such things means they often turn to magic when they think no one is looking. On the night of every full moon, every Stilltowner awakens with an irreducible urge to whirl shrieking through the night sky. They find this a source of great embarrassment.
  8. A giant, frozen midstride, looms over the landscape. She is the Giant of Love Lost, untouchable by weapon or spell or poison. When she threatened to crush New Londinium, the magicians of Albion cursed her so that for every second she experiences, a century passes for the rest of the world.
  9. A small patch of Eternal Night. At the center of this hex, strange stars shine in unfamiliar constellations.
  10. A troupe of fairy-knights have made their camp here. They will accept any challenge, such as combat, magical duel, or game of chance, and award the winners with a scroll of Glamour. They will Glamour losers to look like filthy beggars, no matter how they scrub themselves or change their clothes.
Magic-user Level 4
Duration: Permanent
Range 10’
This spell allows human magicians to wield the deceptive power of the fairies. The caster can change the appearance of any creature or object within range in any way, so long as no single dimension is altered by more than 10%. Unwilling targets are entitled to a Save vs. Magic to resist. Dispel Magic destroys the illusion.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Pernicious Atlas

I do not like talking about things I will do, because they do not always happen, and then I feel silly. But I will have a fair amount of free time for the next year, so if I don't have something good to show for it, I ought to be embarrassed. 

My plan is to compile and organize and refine all my Albion stuff into The Pernicious Atlas. It will be a retroclone friendly book/pdf/publication/whatever containing:
  • a 400 hex wilderness crawl
  • setting-appropriate versions of the Warlock and Beast Child
  • a brief bestiary, including information that ties the creatures to the class features of the Warlock and Beast Child
  • a handful of spells, each interacting with hex locations in some way
  • some tables for running the faux Regency era English society of New Londinium, the setting's main city, and all the social warfare, character/literal assassination, and rumor-mongering that implies

Feedback is welcome, of course, but this is something I might be selling for dollars, so if helping for free bothers you, keep that in mind. 

Anyways, here are 10 fairy-related wilderness hexes, in no particular order or geographical grouping. 

  1. In these fields of rose and thorn stands a lonely hill of stone. Deep within its dusty halls, upon the throne he claimed by right of ancient pact sits the fairy-lord of Albion: the King of Roses Red and Fair, a crown of flowers in his hair.
  2. A woman stands in a golden cage garlanded with roses. She weeps and wrenches at the bars, but she sings exquisitely and without pause. 
  3. Heartbreak, a Briton village of 30 souls, stands here. Its ruler is Pretty Tyrant, a minor fairy-noble and self-styled Earl of Heartbreak. He has extracted the obedience and adulation of the village’s inhabitants with magic, stolen their children, and disguised Heartbreak’s ruinous state of repair (the fruit of his neglectful rule) with glamour and illusion.
  4. A gallows creaks in the wind. Anyone hung from them, whether they be fairy or king or simple wretch, is dead forever, beyond the reach of magic or miracle.
  5. Orchards and verdant gardens surround the foundation of an old manor. Everything here is cursed with deathly poison (Save vs Poison or die upon eating any of the garden’s fruit, drinking water from its well, or breathing the scent of the flowers).
  6. Here hunts a fairy-hound. It savors the blood of magicians and attacks them on sight. However, it will act as the mount of anyone who subdues it, and it is sensitive to loud noises and terribly afraid of flame. FAIRY-HOUND: HD 4, AC as leather, MV Fast, d8 damage bite, Save 12
  7. A spring burbles at the base of a standing stone. Any magician who bathes in it can inscribe Speak with Dead in their spellbook. If they do so at night, d12 skeletons will rise up from the earth and attack. SKELETON: HD 1, AC as cloth, MV Medium, d6 damage weapon, Save 14
  8. An inn stands alone in the heath. The innkeeper says that the pleasure of the party’s company is payment enough, but they must ask no questions and make no demands under her roof. Should they violate her conditions, they will awaken d10 hexes away in a random direction, each with their maximum HP permanently reduced by 1. Regardless of the party's compliance, the inn vanishes the next morning.
  9. A circle of white stones encircles a copse of ash trees. For every day that passes within the circle, an hour elapses without.
  10. A crudely hammered sword of iron lies in a field. It bears no enchantment, and in fact is utterly unremarkable, save for the fact that its wielder killed the Lady of All Nights millennia ago. All titled fairies will recognize the sword, and treat its owner as a peer. This is not always helpful.