Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The House Without Walls

Since Magic-users can learn any number of spells or any level, the real restriction to casting how many spells they actually find. This is a good opportunity for adventuring. If a Magic-user wants to learn the Slaying Spell, they need to find the long-hidden elves of the Bone House, whereas if they want to know Invoke Elemental, they need to trek over the the Summoner's College of the Goths.


The elves of the Branch House live in the Hallows, a forest grown over the ruins of an antediluvian necropolis. They worship their patron and progenitor, He Walks In The Woods, a beast-god associated with poison, wolves, crows, shapeshifting, and hunting. The elves live in encampments scattered across Hallows, each positioned over one of the primary entrances to the catacombs beneath. The Branch House guards the tombs below, ensuring that the restless dead stay inside and the greedy living stay above. They are currently struggling against the rogue Warlock Liebestod, who wants access to the treasure and knowledge locked within the necropolis' vaults.

Spells of the Branch House Magi

It Hunts Again
Component: A basket woven from the stem of aglaophotis, that rarest and most potent of herbs
Target: The corpse of an animal, placed inside the basket
The caster falls to the ground insensate and assumes control of the creature inside the basket. The spell lasts until the caster chooses to end it, and the animal appears healthy and alive for the duration, regardless of the condition of their body. The caster can use this spell in any animal they can fit in the basket, so the larger it is, the greater the range of animals the spell works on.

This Is The Change (Polymorph)
Component: A long flint razor, kept in a scabbard of bear's gut
The caster slices open their belly with the razor, and their new form shucks itself free.

The House Without Walls (Teleport)
Component: A bag of oak leaves, individually consecrated
The caster and targets vanish in a sudden billow of leaves.

It Was But Is Not (Baleful Polymorph)
Component: a life-sized effigy of a human or elf
The caster traces an X over the eyes, mouth, and heart of the effigy. In this version of the spell, the target does not need to make a System Shock check, and they do not retain their intelligence, personality, or knowledge.


The Beasts of the Branch House
I really like the idea of players gaining new character options as they explore, but I also want to keep everything pretty simple. Multiclassing is a good outlet for this--the way multiclassing works in Delving Deeper is perfectly functional, but as it has been amply demonstrated, there are cooler ways to do it.

An elf of the Branch House can advance as either a Thief and a Fighter or a Magic-user and a Fighter. They can transform at will into an elf-beast, which takes 1 turn. In their elf form, they function as their non-Fighter class, and cannot use the Fighter's combat matrix or class abilities. In their elf-beast shape, they function as a Fighter only, and cannot cast spells as a Magic-user or use skills as a Thief. Though their saving throws progress as any dual-classed character, elves of the Branch House track maximum HP and damage received separately for each of their classes. They deduct damage from their Thief or Magic-user HP when they are in their elf shape and deduct damage from their Fighter HP when they are in their elf-beast shape. When one form reaches 0 HP, the elf immediately changes into the other, and cannot return to the other shape until they it has at least 1 HP. Restored HP spills over from one form to the other.

In their beast shape, elves of the Branch House
  • can deal damage with unarmed attacks
  • have a natural AC of 5
  • are treated as having 18 Strength
  • cannot use weapons, shields, or armor of any sort.
  • cannot speak or perform complex tasks
The Synod finds such foul sorcery gravely disordered and invites all practitioners to submit themselves to an Inquisitorial Officer, so that they may redeem themselves in the eyes of Heaven.


Art is from Dark Souls 2, Skyrim, and Demon's Souls, respectively

Monday, September 22, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

OD&D Gods

Lawful Clerics draw on the (ostensibly) benevolent power of Heaven. The Synod is an ancient group of such clerics that administers to laypeople, collects tithes, patrols the wilderness, excises heresies from the body politic, and hunts demons. Not all Lawful Clerics belong to the Synod, and the Synod generally respects those who do not, but anyone who acts directly against it finds themselves branded outlaws or blasphemers.

Though the Synod recognizes only the godhead of Heaven, they acknowledge the existence of an assortment of holy entities. The Synod teaches that they are heavenly spirits, angels, and saints, but heathens and elves claim that they are simply nature spirits, monsters, and powerful magic-users that have bowed to the Synod's will. Sigrid, for example, is the Saint of Truth to believers and the Lightning Witch to infidels. Lawful Clerics can choose to affiliate with a particular patron:
  • Hvitr, Divine Spirit of Storms
  • Sigrid. Saint of Truth
  • RATHMA, Angel of Dreams
  • Tzepesh, Saint of War
Chaotic Clerics worship ancient spirits. The Synod call these beings devils and monsters. She Dances Fire, for example, is known as the Flame Demon Gildarthe to the village of Meervold. Since the End, the Synod has with considerable success bound or banished many of the old gods and killed or converted their followers. Nevertheless, cults persist, and the elves and worshipers work endlessly to release their deities.
  • He Walks In The Woods
  • The Night Is Now
  • She Dances Fire
  • Her Children Are Many
  • No Breath In Her Palace
  • The Waves Will Be Here
All elves are descended from these gods and claim to be minor divinities themselves. Known tribes of elves include:
  • pale blue elves of the Salt House, who breathe water as easily as air
  • red-fleshed elves of the Basalt House, who stand in flame unburned
  • empty-eyed elves of the Bone House, who neither breathe nor dream
Elf names include
  1. The Sea Is A Lie
  2. Where Nobody Goes
  3. His Black Feather Crown
  4. The Sun Is Not
  5. Stirring In The Hills
  6. The Salt Bites
  7. He Sings Moonlight
  8. It Will Be Still
  9. Her Blood Is Fire
  10. There Never Was
  11. He Sleeps In The Depths
  12. His Hour Is Midnight

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Carnivals

Who Runs The Show?
  1. Clown Lord Risible, greatest fool of this generation and liege of all mimes
  2. Prodigy John, luminary legerdemainist, master prestidigitator, and "author of 1,000 new forms of lovemaking"
  3. Dame Carmilla, who's six foot seven and punches her weight
  4. Timothy Tenpenny, the six-armed, legless King of Freaks
  5. Lady Caruthers, entrepreneurial runaway and heir of the Ancient House of Caruthers
  6. Dr. Malleus, renegade medical professional and connoisseur of the taboo
What's It Called?
  1. The Grand Circus
  2. The Carnivalé Mysteriosum
  3. The Fabulous Sensorium
  4. The High Spectacle
  5. Cirque du Dieu
  6.  The Most Fantabulous Five Ringed Circus
What's Their Secret?
  1. Clowns are deep-cover demihuman spies
  2. All performers are clandestine agents of the Crown
  3. They smuggle rebels, renegades, and undesirables out of the country by disguising them as performers.
  4. All performers are planning a coup to dislodge the reigning monarch
  5. Anyone who starts working here can't leave until they find someone to take their place
  6. Nothing, but all the performers are really nervous
What's the Hook?
  1. All of the circus freaks look completely average, but everyone else is acting otherwise
  2. Locals start disappearing whenever this circus is in town
  3. A circus cart tips over and bodies spill out
  4. The mayor of the nearest town wants these carnie hooligans gone, and he wants them gone now.
  5. Each traveling circus follows its own special route through the country, and once a century converge on a particular small town.
  6. When the circus started setting up, all wildlife fled and all livestock tried to escape. The grass is growing away from their tent.
Who Are the Performers?
  1. Eliza and Beliza Teliza, twin stage magicians with a talent for sword-swallowing and fire-breathing
  2. Tiborius, who is either a chimera with its goat and snake heads cut off, or a really big lion
  3. Lady Timora, a fortune-teller who can't tell your future but can cast Fireball
  4. Terror Clown
  5. Father Farfello, faith healer and novice exorcist
  6. Hermel, who plays a sometimes-explosive calliope

Cinders of the Servant Queen Play Report

Ran Servants of the Cinder Queen and it went really well. Spoilers ahead:

Gor Krestle the warlock Vassal of Mab and Valeria the vampire fled north from Albion after preventing the rogue magician Jessica Gristle from freeing the fairy Lord of Last-Breath from his millennial prison, because they had accepted payment from the noble House Cromlech to do the opposite and didn't want to deal with the fallout. They reached the land of the Norge and stumbled upon the miserable little town of Meervold. They stayed the night at the dilapidated inn for free, because the innkeeper, Armar, had no will to live or, evidently, to charge them for anything. So many people had gone missing and so man incinerated human skeletons had shown up in their place that he figured the town was lost. The next day (conveniently mist-shrouded and overcast, allowing the party's vampire to walk about freely) Armar was gone, leaving behind only smudged ashes on the threshold.

The party next encounters Finni, a simple young turnip-farmer, weeping and eating his last turnip in a mud puddle. Valeria finds out from him that a suspicious wizard-type and his band of hooded acolytes passed by, taking up residence in the ruins of Kaldhammer, a monastery lost to a fire demon invasion/volcanic eruption five centuries ago, which was only halted by a calamitous flood caused by Storm God Hvitr. Berta Solsisdottir, the town's unofficial leader, offers them a reward to defeat this wizard (since she figures he is trying to release Gildarthe, the fire goddess that erupted the volcano), sells them equipment, and lets them look for hirelings. Gor Krestle offers the townspeople half the reward as payment (to Valeria's horror), but only Aghnildg, armed with a broken sword, takes them up on the offer. They head out, Valeria swings back to vampirize Finni, but is stymied by the number of witnesses, so she join up with the main group.

They arrive at the ruins of Kaldhammer just after nightfall and proceed to was four hours looking for food so Valeria doesn't need to eat their only henchwoman. They fail miserably until they ask Aghnildg for help, who succeeds in finding a raccoon on her first attempt. At this point, hooded cultists crawl out of a tunnel in the ruins of Kaldhammer to attack. Valeria and Gor flail ineptly as Aghnildg dispatches them. She suffers some trauma at so much death, but Gor says they are just "dirty rotten turnips". Aghnildg takes this to heart.

The go down the tunnel and encounter two burning skeletons. Aghnildg kills one easily as Gor and Valeria struggle with the remaining monster. It kills Valeria in an incandescent bear-hug before Gor takes it down. He calls on Mab to identify these creatures (she possesses Aghnildg and sucks half his HP out of his arm in recompense), and it turns out they are Servants of the Cinder Queen, undead that remain animate so long as they burn. Gor readies his water skins and goes deeper into the tunnels, braving skeletons on the way. After a couple dead ends, he finds a guarded chamber and just runs past the Cinder Servant Guards.

He finds sleeping quarters, but with the Servants hot on his heels, he runs down another passageway, finding a dead end with a giant pit filled with villagers. Hoping to rally them to his cause, he rushes down the rope ladder with Aghnildg, only for the Cinder Servants to pull the ladder up once he reaches the bottom. He snags the bottom rung and yanks on it, pulling the Servants into the pit. They die in the fall. Inside the pit in Gunnva, a Magic-user and Aghnildg's sister. By means of a rousing and slightly threatening speech, she galvanizes the villagers into a determined, if malnourished and unarmed, fighting force. Aghnildg makes a habit of crushing the skulls of her enemies while calling them dirty, rotten turnips.

They go deeper into the mountain and come across a chamber with a fissure in the far wall and three stone doors. They decipher the runes on the door and acquire Jafnir, a hammer than returns to the wielder when thrown (Gunnva keeps this), Spakri, a cloak that allows the wearer to fly brief distances (Aghnildg takes this), and a magical hourglass that they promptly forget about. They then go into the fissure and enter the volcano's caldera, only to find the wizard reading aloud from a book and waving a staff, moments away from releasing Gildarthe.

They have a pretty harrowing fight. Gor and Valeria focus on preventing the wizard from reading from the book as Aghnildg and the rock-throwing villagers take on the cultists and Cinder Servants. Aghnildg dies heroically from a fire blast to the face (courtesy of the wizard) after she single-handedly kills nearly all the cultists, and the villagers flee after taking out most of the Cinder Servants. Gor and Gunnva finish of wizard, but the last cultists takes them down and restarts the ritual. They have three turns to stop the ritual--Gildarthe's massive face is visible pressing up against the floor of the caldera.

They are both below 0 HP, and I say if they succeed a Poison saving throw they can get back up at 1 HP, but if they fail, they take 1 damage, and die at -4. It's pretty lenient, but whatever. Turn 1, Gunnva and Gor fail their saving throw. Gor dies. Turn 2, Gunnva fails her saving throw. The cultist is still reading from the book and chanting. Turn 3, she succeeds, calls Jafnir, throws it, and makes a critical hit, killing the last cultists stone cold dead. She loots the bodies, collects the valuables of her companions, says goodbye to her sister, and returns to Meervold.

In retrospect
  • If the players don't do anything, the wizard succeeds in releasing Gildarthe and the volcano erupts, annihilating Meervold and releasing a bunch of fire monsters. I dropped clues that this was happening, but I should have just straight-up told them. I'd also suggest making some of the Grim Portents (Dungeon World's jargon for the bad things that happen in the absence of player intervention) more obvious to players, regardless of location.
  • The villagers and Aghnildg rolled freakishly well the entire time, and it made me glad I roll in front of players., Hidden rolls would have made Aghnildg feel like an GMNPC when really she was a wildly lucky incompetent. My players loved her, and were really upset when she died.
  • The ending was super perfect. Nearly averted TPK, a Hail Mary critical hit.
  • I am more and more starting to think that dying should be easy, but death should be hard. The drama of trying to resuscitate downed characters is great. I think I'll transplant 5e's death saving throws mechanic to whatever it is I'm running from now on. 
  • Hvitr's Vault (the room with the hourglass, cloak, and hammer) was a little frustrating. As written, it is hard for players to figure out how to open the stone doors. Each requires a different action (one opens by striking it with your fist, the other opens by applying bodily fluid, the other opens when you blow on it), but there really isn't any way to figure this out. I put markings on the door that gave clues, but they were pretty obvious. I'd suggest putting a book in the monastery library that explains how to open the doors. 
  • I gave the Servants 18 HP and had them take d6 damage a turn just from being on fire. My players were at level 1, so this was still plenty dangerous, but I think giving them more HP could be good--it makes fleeing and waiting a valuable offensive strategy, something that distinguishes Servants more from other monsters.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Odd Hack Character Creation

Rules as written in Delving Deeper, except as follows:

HIT POINTS: BLOOD AND GUTS
Use rationalized hit dice progression. Also, characters have two different pools of HP.
  • All characters start out with just Blood. If a character has a Constitution score of 14+, they gain an additional point of Blood every level. If their score is 18, they gain 2 points every level.
  • Once a character reaches 6 points of Blood, their HD rolls for maximum HP go towards Guts. 
Characters usually take damage to Guts first. If they are reduced to less than 0 Blood, they die. Blood heals at a rate of 1 point per day of rest. Guts heals at a rate of d6 points per 10 minutes of rest. Critical hits and sneak attacks deal damage to Blood, and monsters have Blood and Guts for HP as well. Largely based on this.
RACES
You can only start as a human, chosen from one of the following tribes. You can gain access to new tribes and species if you form a neutral or better relationship with one of their settlements or towns.
  • Goth: you have a +2 bonus to your Magic saving throw
  • Norge: you are untroubled by natural cold and take half damage from magical cold
  • Saracen: You know an extra language and can pick from the expanded language list, regardless of your Intelligence score.
  • Tatar: you have a 3 in 6 chance of being able to repair or sabotage machinery, robots, or golems. If you are a Thief, your chances of success increase with your other skills.
LANGUAGES
If your Intelligence is 10-, you speak two of the following. If it is 12-, you speak 3. If it is 14+, you speak 4.
  • Gothic
  • Norsk
  • Saraceni
  • Tatar
Anyone with 15+ Intelligence can pick from the following list as well:
  • Elegaic, the language of the undead
  • Twill, the language of elves and birds
  • Numen, the language of gods and spirits
  • Cipher, the language of golems and robots
ENCUMBRANCE
We are using this system, but you can carry an extra container if your Strength is 14+ and two extra containers if your Strength is 18.  

CLERICS
Clerics must choose a religion. Clerics can learn a number of Cleric miracles equal to their level. They can cast each miracle as much as they want, but when they do so, they must make a reaction roll (roll 2d6) to determine if the Heavenly/Nether forces upon which they are calling approve of their intervention. Low rolls might require favors or sacrifices. To learn a miracle, a Cleric must memorize a particular sutra, scripture, sermon, or liturgy, which they recite upon casting. Clerics start with one random miracle; if they roll a reversible miracle, they must pick one. Lawful Clerics still Turn Undead, while Chaotic Clerics Command Undead.
  1. Liturgy of Kingly Protection/The House of Four Demons: lets you cast Protection From Evil/Good
  2. Heaven's Feast Sutra/The Famine Gift Sutra: lets you cast Purify/Putrefy Food and Drink
  3. The First Words/The Litany of Night: lets you cast Light/Darkness
  4. Rite of the Scales of Justice: lets you cast Detect Magic at will
  5. The Parable of the Shore/The Way of All Flesh: lets you cast Cure/Cause Light Wounds
  6. The Miracle of Tongues: lets you cast Speak with Beasts
FIGHTERS
Fighters work as written in Delving Deeper.

MAGIC USERS
Magicians can learn any number of Magic-user spells. They can cast each of them once, and can regain expended spells by getting a full night's sleep. All spells require a particular object to cast; more powerful spells require rarer and more cumbersome components. Magicians start with 2 random spells and their components. When you learn a spell, such as from a scroll or a book, you find out what it requires as a component.
  1. A cloth doll: lets you cast Animate Golem, which functions the same as Invoke Elemental, except that the golem has HD equal to your level.
  2. A sack of crow feathers: Let you cast Fly. Insinuate themselves into your flesh while you are under the effects of the spell.
  3. A human rib, sharpened at one end: lets you cast Magic Missile.
  4. A silver bell, inscribed with a closed eye: lets you cast Sleep.
  5. A stained disc of bronze: lets you cast Darkness, the reversed version of Light.
  6. A book bound in red thread: lets you cast Charm Person.
  7. A giant spider carapace: lets you cast Web.
  8. A large ivory earhorn: lets you cast Sixth Sense.
  9. A cloak of human hair: lets you cast Invisibility.
  10. A giant horse skull, wired through with gold: lets you cast Fear 
  11. A mummified fish with pearls for eyes: kissing the fish lets you cast Water Breathing
  12. A tin breastplate inscribed with a pentacle: lets you cast Shield
  13. A long-stemmed ebony pipe: lets you cast Phantasm
  14. A great brass horn:  lets you cast Dispel Magic
  15. A flute carved from a human thighbone: lets you cast Hold Person
  16. A snake tattoo on the side of forefinger and thumb: lets you cast Read Magic at will
  17. A tattoo of an open eye on your palm: lets you cast Detect Magic at will
  18. An arm-sized iron nail: lets you cast Witch Lock
  19. A giant silver skeleton key: Lets you cast Knock
  20. An dead sapling studded with lead spikes:  lets you cast Plant Growth
THIEVES
Thieves can use any magic item or piece of equipment. They have a 3 in 6 chance of succeeding at the following. Their chances increase by to 4 in 6 at level 3 and 5 in 6 at level 6. At level 9, they roll twice and take the higher result whenever they make a skill check.
  • Climb
  • Disarm Traps
  • Hide
  • Listen
  • Pick Lock
  • Search
  • Sleight of Hand
NEW CLASSES AND MULTICLASSINGYou can gain access to new classes by coming across them in your adventures. By default gain levels in other classes, but in the course of the game, you can find ways to bypass this--werewolves, for example, split their experience between their current class and their Fighter-equivalent wolf shape.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God of the Earth

Need to rewrite my Albion favor tables and I'm dreading it. Messing around with Delving Deeper, a Original Dungeons and Dragons clone instead.

OK, so:
  • Type V has all these interesting(ish?) material components and then immediately handwaves most of it away with arcane focuses and what have you (though I like the idea of, say, an imprisoned wizard with a confiscated wand grubbing around for bat shit so they can break out of jail with some righteous Fireballs). 
  • I go back and forth on spell slots and spell preparation. I don't actually don't mind them, but explaining them to players leaves me cold.
  • Are you reading Kill Six Billion Demons? You should be reading Kill Six Billion Demons. Take a look at (link leads to medium-grade spoilers) this. The six-armed blue demon lady who is so clearly a magic-user is just loaded with stuff. A doll, a book on a chain, a mask-face, glasses, a weird popcorn bottle necklace, a pair of yellow sunglasses, a humungous bag of just stuff, plus whatever she has secreted about her person. I like that.
  • I love this encumbrance system
  • I feel exactly, perfectly neutral about wizards wearing armor, but explaining equipment restrictions is work, so I ignore them.
This all converges on wizards. So how about magic-users have no limit on the number or level of spells they can know. They can cast each spell they know once, and must rest before they can recover usage of a cast spell. Each spell requires a material component, which is not consumed in the casting. A spell's power correlates with how burdensome and rare a component is; Magic Missile only requires a want capped with flint, while Time Stop requires a three-foot tall lead hourglass inlaid with gold. All components take up a minimum of 1 encumbrance slot. So a magic-user can wear armor, but it cuts into the number of components they can haul around. Plus they are ladened with occult accruements. 

EXAMPLES
  • Animal Growth: a head-sized mass of crystallized pituitary fluid, harvested from a cursed beast, such as a werewolf or dire animal.
  • Animate Dead: a complete human skeleton. Does not have to be in one piece; some necromancers grind it to dust and keep it in a sack, while others strap the bones to their body.
  • Charm Person: a book with fine vellum pages, bound with red silk thread. Casting the spell requires writing the name of the target (or a description of them) in the book. 
  • Comprehend Languages: a pair of glasses tinted blue with cobalt; the caster must look through them for the spell to work
  • Darkness: a black velvet hood. The magic-user momentarily pulls it over their own eyes to cast the spell.
  • Knock: a silver skeleton key, roughly the size and weight of a longsword
  • Fireball: a fire giant's ulna (roughly the size of a quarterstaff)
  • Fly: a sack of crow feathers (about 100 birds' worth) that insinuate themselves into the flesh of the caster when they are under the effect of the spell
  • invisibility: a cloak woven from human hair; the caster must be wearing it for the spell to work
  • Magic Missile: an oak wand capped with flint; the caster must point the wand at their target
  • Light: a fist-sized silver sigil depicting an eye; the caster must turn its gaze towards the target
  • Shield: a small actual shield of hammered tin depicting a pentacle
  • Slaying Spell: an iron bell, at least three feet tall, inscribed with open eyes and forged in a graveyard. The caster must ring it for the spell to work.
  • Sleep: a long-handled silver bell, about the size of a dagger. It must be rung for the spell to work.
  • Water Breathing: a whole fish, often mummified or suspended in formaldehyde to prevent it from rotting into uselessness 
  • Web: a giant spider (at least the size of a terrier), usually dead for the sake of convenience. 


Anywhere, here's the skeleton of a open-air-dungeon-unless-it's-a-point-crawl I'll be maybe running this maybe filed down version of OD&D in.

The town of Braquefort sits at the foot of a mountain (its name is taboo). A decade ago, the Ecclesium's holy knights succeeded in exorcising (i.e. killing) Cybele, the goddess who lived on its peak, and extirpating her cult from the town itself. However, starting a year ago, a beast has begun coming down from the mountain, seizing livestock and ripping apart anyone who stands in its way. This has been accompanied by a sudden increase in fertility--the farms are yielding an unnaturally large harvest, the surviving livestock grow to prodigious size, and the mountain itself teems with dangerous life. The Ecclesium believes that some of the Braquefort villagers have begun making sacrifices to the creature, and are willing to pay the party generously if they bring back its head.

THE MOUNTAIN
SMELLS
  • overripe fruit
  • rotting plants
  • rotting meat
  • animal musk
SIGHTS
  • haze of flies
  • swarms of bloated rabbits scrambling over the corpses of their fellows
  • tumorous fruit hanging heavy on the branch
  • handprints in solid stone, haloed with fractures
ENCOUNTERS
ENCOUNTER TABLE
1-2. Wolf (1d6)
3-4. Cougar (1d6)
5-6. Serpent (1d6)
7-8. Die-off
9. Artesse, last shaman of the mountain
10. Sacrifice-bearers (2d6)
11. Vigilant Benbraches
12. God of the Earth

THE GOD OF THE EARTH
Statistics as Hill Giant. Cannot surprise enemies.
He stands as tall as two men, filthy, naked, covered in matted hair, and when you first see him, he will be doing something appalling like grinding the hind legs off of a screaming goat with his blocky white teeth or gouging obscene pictures into stone with his fingertips. He smells, and smells bad, and it is awful and awesome in the old religious sense, a profound glandular stench that puts animals in heat and stirs plants into frantic growth.
     The God of the Earth is the orphaned son of Cybele. He is a divine feral child and cannot speak, though he instinctively understands Numen, the language of gods and spirits. The presence of his dead mother's corpse-tree on the mountain drives him to rage and despair, though he can be appeased for a time with a meal of livestock. He will attack and consume anyone without such propitiations. His heart is a god-seed, and will sprout into a new divinity if planted and tended.

THE EARTH'S TEEMING CHILDREN
Statistics as dire wolf, cave bear, or giant snake. Can eat their HD in corpses before they choke to death.
The predators of the mountain have grown enormous and corpulent, maddened by the buzzing of insects and the reek of dead flesh and the God's musk. They attack in numbers, and will devour defeated prey until it kills them.
When passing by a die-off, make a DC 12 Constitution save or acquire the Poisoned condition. Those afflicted can make another save at the end of every long rest to recover.
Under the God's influence, the lesser beasts of the mountain live and die like mayflies, generations of rats and rock hares passing over the course of a week. They are born in massive litters and subsist on the endlessly growing plants and bloated fruit of the mountain. Their thousands of corpses have made fertile ground for disease and insects.

ARTESSE, LAST SHAMAN OF THE MOUNTAIN
statistics as a 5th level magic user
Artesse is an elf of the old school: lambent red eyes and filed canines, deep black tattoos delineating strange geometries, emaciated body scored with scars. He is the oldest being on the mountain, older even than the God of the Earth. He was the high priest of Cybele when she lived, and he wants nothing more than to return the mountain to the way it was under her reign. To do that, he must acquire the divine seed in the God of the Earth's heart and use to grow a new god, this one raised under his careful tutelage rather than the wind and wolves.
     Artesse hates the Ecclesium. They killed his goddess and drove him away from his holy ground, leaving the infant God of the Earth to grow mad in its solitude. However, he is perfectly willing to negotiate with the party--he will reward them with a scroll of Speak with Animals if they provide him with the God's heart, and is even willing to let them take the God's head back to the Ecclesium to prove they killed him, with the understanding they will keep Artesse's presence a secret.
     The shaman can cast Invisibility, Animate Reptiles, Plant Growth, and Create Food and Water in addition to any other spells you see fit.

SACRIFICE BEARERS
Statistics as Bandit
Villagers from Braquefort desperate enough to risk the censure of the Ecclesium and dangers of the mountain. They are armed and each carries a squirming bag. Each contains a contains goat, with which the villagers hope to appease the God of the Earth. They will be hostile to anyone they come across--as far as they know, the only other people on the mountain are servants of the Ecclesium. If they are cornered, the villagers will release their goat, attracting the attention of mountain predators or the God himself.

VIGILANT BENBRACHES
Statistics as a 5th level Fighter; wears chain and wields a longsword
Vigilant Benbraches believes in sanitation and traffic laws as much as he believes in God, and he really believes in God. Even in the warped wilds of the mountaintop, he polishes his armor, shaves daily, and cooks nutritionally complete meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This may indicate a man out of his depth, but Vigilant Benbraches has survived thus far on the mountain by his talent for spectacular acts of violence. He was in the area when the God of the Earth began attacking Braquefort, and climbed the mountain to deal kill the God without waiting for further instruction from the Ecclesium. If encountered, he will be polite and helpful if the party is working for the Ecclesium, and wordlessly hostile if they are not. Should their allegiance be uncertain, he will insist on escorting them off the mountain, forcibly if necessary.
  Benbraches carries the blessed sword Galconda. None of the wounds it inflicts bleed, and the Ecclesium teaches that anyone killed by its blade are delivered unto the Heavens, redeemed in their final moments. Benbraches finds both of these characteristics pleasingly tidy.

AREAS
THE ASCENT
The most difficult to traverse part of the mountain: a 500 foot slope of scree and loose rock. Climbing checks without equipment are at disadvantage, and all climbers move half their normal rate. Failure sends the climber tumbling down the slope, taking d6 damage per 100 feet. Smart parties will lure the God of the Earth here.

THE SHAMAN'S HOUSE
A house built on the limbs of a great tree. Everything is covered with a poisonous powder, which causes anyone who comes in contact with it to hemorrhage from all orifices (DC 15 Constitution save or d6 damage/hour. Victim can make an additional save at the end of each short rest), because Artesse is not stupid and knows that the Ecclesium wants him dead.
     His actual home is underneath the tree, accessible from a small hole between the tree's roots. It is underground, reasonably warm and dry. A locked stone casket contains a scroll of Speak with Animals. A random philtre and a lesser ester sit on a crude table. Artesse also keeps his Gallows Prophet here. It is a four-foot tall mummified corpse, proportioned like an adult, with a noose tried around its neck. If strung up on a gallows or tree, it can Detect Magic on everything in a 13 mile radius and report the results back to its owner. It can also make Arcana checks with a +5 bonus. The Ecclesium will want it burned.

THE GOD'S CAVE
70% chance the God is here when the party enters. Roll on the encounter table as normal.
 when the party enters. Filled with bones, rotting viscera, and piles of shit. Scattered beneath the mess are 10d100 copper pieces worth of jewelry, the former possessions of the God's many victims. There are d6 Rare ingredients of the same type here, as well. Major structural damage to the back of the save will open up vents of toxic vapor, which inflict the Poisoned condition on anyone who breathes them. After d6 Rounds of direct exposure, the sufferer must make a DC 10 Constitution save or be paralyzed until removed from the gas cloud. 
     The God's smell/influence is overpowering here; animals become hostile to their masters, and intelligence creatures must make a DC 10 Wisdom save or be frightened of the God for a round. They must make the save every round they are in the cave.

CYBELE'S TREE
50% chance the God is here when the party arrives. Roll on the encounter table as normal.
A large, dead oak on the edge of a cliff face. Everything here is dead and withered, and the animals avoid this place. If the God is here, he will be some distance from the tree, screaming, weeping, and throwing stones at it. He will not come closer unless provoked by someone near the tree.
     The tree can be safely destroyed by harvesting the Grand Poison ester inside of it. This turns the tree to dust. Otherwise, harming the tree releases sprays of poisonous ichor (all within 10 feet of the tree must make a DC 12 Dexterity save or take d6 poison damage). This ichor deals double damage to the God of the Earth.

AFTERWARDS
  • If the party kills the God of the Earth, all vegetation on and around the mountain will wither and all soil nearby will turn to dust without his influence within months. This will end Braquefort as a habitable town. The Ecclesium will reward the party and blame the blight on the God's curse.
  • If the party destroys Cybele's tree, the God of the Earth will become less violent. The mountain will become a verdant, wild place: still dangerous, but without the riot of telluric forces warping flora and fauna. The villagers will continue to propitiate the God, and the Ecclesium will send inquisitors to destroy the heresy, investigate the party's failure, and kill the God of the Earth for good.
  • If the party kills the God of the Earth and gives the god-seed to Artesse (or plants it themselves), it will grow into another divinity. Artesse will raise it to be more circumspect that the God of the Earth, but it will be no friend to mankind. If the seed is planted and abandoned, it will grow into another beast like the God. If the party raises it, use your imagination. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

let's make a deal II

Decided Pernicious Albion warlocks can't summon patrons. It was confusing, and it would make more sense to represent it as a spell. Also changed how reaction rolls work:

  • 2: the warlock must perform a major favor or the spirit will cast the spell in a destructive manner
  • 2-5: the warlock must perform a minor favor or the spirit will cast the spell in a destructive manner
  • 6-9: the warlock must perform a minor favor or the spirit will do nothing
  • 10-11: the warlock must argue or grovel for a few rounds before the spirit will cast the spell
  • 12: the spirit casts the spell right away.

"Destructive manner" being destructive for the warlock an their allies (Fireball centered on caster, Invisibility on the strongest enemy, and so on. It also makes major favors rarer, which is good because having a lot of them can be overwhelming (the old table had 1 in 4 spells requiring a major favor to cast, which is a bit much). The new table also makes it harder to say no to favors, since the consequence is usually chaos instead of nothing.

Mad Angel PENEMVE, Warlock patron

PENEMVE is a twice-exiled angel, first cast out from Heaven with the Grigori, then abandoned by its fellows when it went mad with grief. PENEMVE opposes both its former comrades and the forces of Hell, and aims to defeat them with a mysterious Project, which generally involves unorthodox methods. 

PENEMVE is a spirit of knowledge and secrets. It knows when someone is burdened by a deep secret, and when they act to cover a secret up, but it cannot perceive the secrets themselves. PENEMVE requires writing to communicate; when it wishes to speak with someone (including its warlock), it alters nearby text and arranges it to cross paths with them. A warlock of PENEMVE starts with the ability to cast Comprehend Languages, and can learn spells of discernment and divination, such as Augury, Divination,  and True Seeing.

Major favors for PENEMVE
PENEMVE is maybe insane and cannot interact with the world only by altering existing bodies of text, so the idea it to be unclear if these favors are simply random acts of madness, part of an elaborate Rube Goldberg scheme to save/end the world, or the product of PENEMVE's original message be garbled by its method of communication. 

  1. letter: My dearest Joanna, This summer has been most troublesome, for there is an agent of the Cause set to be executed in [nearest village] in 2d20 days. See to it that they escape. Give the children my love. Your sister, Charlotte.
  2. broadside: DR BRUNEL’S WONDROUS SERUM! DO YOU SUFFER FROM FATIGUE, MELANCHOLY, OR CONJUGAL TROUBLES? THEN find this doctor, drown him in a barrel of brandy, and burn down his workshop. He lives in [the mercantile quarter of the nearest large city]. Proceed with caution. He has sold his soul to Hell FOR THE REASONABLE PRICE OF £100!
  3. shopping list: 1 lb carrots, 1 lb beef, a white dove, 1 lb chalcedony, 10 ft of golden wire, a silvered sword, a virgin, 100 pairs of scissors, jam.
  4. book: ...the mating ritual of the polychromatic bumblebee clearly indicates the need for you to infiltrate the home of [a wealthy family in the nearest large city] and find the black sculpture they have recently acquired. I want you to paint it bright red without being discovered, thus demonstrating the advantages of such bright pigmentation…
  5. letter: Jessica, You are all I can think of, you are my day and my night, you are to find for me the book called The Enochian Heresies. There is a copy in [the nearest, largest, most dangerous library]. Once you have it, feed it to a goat, and if don’t see you soon, I think I shall die. Your love, Eugene
  6. newspaper: NUDE BUTCHER STRIKES AGAIN! Local farmer John Hector experienced a rude awakening last week when the morning sun revealed several demons have been investigating my activities. They tread in your footsteps and will catch you in (d6) hours. Prepare yourself. The Constabulary has provided a thorough sketch of the fugitive.
  7. novel: ...bosom heaving, Loretta tore at her bosom. “No!” she cried out, her shapely arms clutching at Heinrich’s chest, “I won’t leave you! I need you to capture the man known as Julia Lascelle in [farthest village in area]. She has knows the location of an angelic device, and I must acquire it before my siblings do.
  8. grafitti: FUK THE QUEEN FUK THE CITY SHIT ON the vandals responsible for this message are powerful, wise, and beautiful. Find them and convince them to offer their services to me. I am willing to remunerate them for their troubles DICKS DICKS DICKS
  9. a textbook: amo, amas, amat, a child in [the nearest village] has lost his family, and the villagers will do nothing to help him. Retrieve him and bring him to [the orphanage in the nearest large city] amabo amabis amabit...
  10. a cow with the following painted on its side: Go to [the nearest village] and cut off the head of the statue standing in its central square. It is an Infernal device and will lead the yeoman to nothing but perdition.