Saturday, December 26, 2015

una isla

Working on the region surrounding San Serafín. I want there to be more to do than just this one, giant dungeon. I think my players are chafing against having to dungeon crawl every session. I also want to develop a Morrowind/Tekumel-ish setting, a kind of Mozarab Latin America, or a Colombian Exchange with Al-Andalus instead of re-Christianized Spain. 

Anywhere, here are six locations. 

Twin creatures of mysterious nature and sumptuous dress sell strange wares beneath a red silk canopy on the side of the road.
  • Arre has the grinning head of a coyote, tongue lolling, eyes a dull red. She is polite, accommodating, and will not insist on anything but a price. She sells magic-user and cleric scrolls (all spells with a level of 6 or higher). She does not take money, but requires a live captive with HD double the level of the scroll’s spell.She fights as a gargoyle (AC 5 HD 4 MV 90 ATK 2 claws/1 bite/1 horn DMG 1d3/1d3/1d6/1d4 ST Fighter 8 ML 11 TT C AL C, Immune to non-magical weapons)
  • Erre has the head of a monkey, expression neutral, eyes a lambent red. He is profane, deceitful, and delights in insult. He sells magic items (three random magic items in stock, changes out each midnight). He accepts only ancient coinage, and each item costs 500+d1000 gp. He fights as a wraith (AC 3 HD 4 MV 120' (FLY 240') ATK 1 DMG 1d6+Energy Drain ST Fighter 4 ML 11 TT E AL C, Immune to non-silver and non-magical weapons)
A small and unpleasant village. The well has been spoiled recently and a spirit haunts the village chief, a man called Nazario.
  • The well was spoiled by the brother of Nazario’s dead wife, who wants to be chief and is sabotaging Nazario’s rule.
  • Nazario is haunted by the spirit Búho because he murdered his wife, the daughter of the last chief, five years ago. He rules the village benevolently, but will kill again to maintain his secret.
  • The villagers blame the haunting and the spoiled well on the nearby encampment of half-djinn. They would have driven away or killed them by now if not for the efforts of the village chief.
An encampment of half-djinn outcasts. They have thus far maintained a measure of peace and prosperity through the power and guidance of the great djinni Al-Ra’ad al-Kasif, but he has been missing for over a month.
  • A band of slavers has been kidnapping djinni across the Isle. The leader of the encampment, Fátima, wants the slavers killed and her fellows freed.
  • Shams, the great-grandson of al-Kasif, maintains his ancestor’s house, buried beneath the encampment. It contains immense wealth, but its guardians are vigilant and powerful.
  • Befriending the encampment allows players to create half-djinn characters.
  • The half-djinn fight as elves (AC 5 HD 1+1 MV 120’ ATK 1 DMG 1d8 ST Elf 1 ML 8 TT E AL Neutral, Know a random 1st level magic-user spell)
A decaying monastery occupied by a society of necromancers. A small shantytown has sprung up around the monastery’s walls, full of indentured servants paying off the necromancer’s services.
  • The necromancers can raise any human from the dead, as long as a corpse and their true name is provided. The dead raised this way have the mental attributes, knowledge, and abilities they had in life, but the physical characteristics of their new body. This service costs a number of gold pieces equal to the experience total of the one to be resurrected. Anyone raised this way cannot gain XP.
  • The indentured servants despise the necromancers for their abuse and cupidity, but each is desperate to bring someone back to life.
  • The necromancers know the secret of summoning Las Muertas, but will not teach it to anyone outside of their ranks. A summoner must enroll in the society or else just steal the ritual.
A band of hunters makes their camp here, hidden inside a thicket. Several of their children have gone missing, and in the weeks since their search started, something has begun to mutilate the horses.
  • The children have been stolen by the spirit Angroda, who maintains her lair in the bole of an immense black tree in the same hex as the camp.
  • The horse-killer is one of the hunters, cursed with lycanthropy. He killed an ancient jaguar while searching for the missing children, and it bit him as it died. He is too frightened to set off on his own and even more afraid of being killed by his friends and family, so he has been satisfying his new hunger with the band’s horses. He fights as a weretiger (AC 3 HD 5 MV 150’ ATK 2 claws/1 bite DMG 1d6/1d6/2d6 ST Fighter 5 ML 9 TT C AL N, Immune to non-magical or non-silver weapons, can summon 1d2 jaguars 1/day)
An abandoned hacienda. Withered cattle, untouched by insects, lay dead in locked barns, and the silos are filled with rotted grain. In the manor, the two dozen bodies hang from the rafters.
  • The hanged were once the hacienda's household. In life, they sacrificed humans to an Old God in return for bountiful crops. When the Saint-king sent an agent to investigate the disappearances, they killed themselves when discovery seemed inevitable.
  • The dead are restless in this house. The bodies will reanimate and attempt to kill anyone who enters the manor. They will do their best to keep anyone from entering the basement, where they kept the remains of their victims.
  • The basement contains the remains of the sacrificial victims, as well as the body of the Saint-king's agent. Unbeknownst to the murderers, he tripped down the stairs and broke his neck while investigating. He is an immobile skeleton, but is quite friendly and rather voluble.
  • The murderers fight as wights (AC 5 HD 3 MV 90 ATK 1 DMG Energy Drain ST Fighter 3 ML 12 TT B AL C, Immune to non-silver and non-magical weapons). As long as they are still tied to a rafter and nothing living can see them or their destination, they can teleport to any other rafter in the house. If cut from the roof, they cannot teleport, but can move freely.

Friday, December 25, 2015

the happy dead

Another revision of my summoner class, along with two more spirits.

Las Muertas
If a summoner learns the True Name of a dead human, they can call their spirit forth from the Lands of the Dead. These ghosts are invisible to all but their summoner (or those with the means to see magic) and care utterly incapable of interacting with the physical world. However, if their summoner commands them to possess a corpse, they can use it as an intermediary to interfere with the living. Las Muertas retain all of their knowledge, mental capacity, and abilities from life, but acquire all of the physical capabilities and limitations of their host. When a host is destroyed, its possessor is banished back to the Lands of the Dead and cannot be summoned until the following midnight.

While the personalities and motivations of Las Muertas vary as much as the living, they are uniformly incapable of boredom, though they may enjoy some activities more than others. One of the dead can spend a decade at the bottom of a well unphased. Moreover, leaving the stultifying Lands of the Dead makes them labile and manic--Las Muertas have a notorious taste for rich food, liquor, and tobacco. 

There are rumors of a town in the northernmost reaches of Las Taifas where summoners call up the dead and willingly release them into the Lands of the Living. The sheikhs denies such speculation.

Búho is a spirit consisting of 12 porcelain owl dolls.
  • Their heads turn to face the most powerful Chaotic creature in the immediate vicinity
  • Their bodies rattle in the presence of magic. 
  • Each time someone lies in Búho's presence, one of the dolls breaks. 
The dolls must remain within 12 feet of each other. They can move as fast as a human, but only when nobody can see them. While unobserved, they can carry small objects. As long as an area has an egress accessible to a normal human, they can leave, even if they aren't large or strong enough normally (so if Búho is in a room with a closed door, the dolls can leave if nobody can see them. If the door's locked or actually a heavy portcullis, they're stuck) If all the dolls break, Búho is banished. Búho cannot speak.

Búho always tries to reveal secrets and uncover the truth, regardless of the consequences. The older and darker the secret, the more Búho tries to reveal it. It most commonly comes into conflict with humans when it comes across a powerful secret--murder, infidelity, falsified noble lineages. It haunts those it believes to be responsible, hoping that observers can figure out the rules of its abilities to put together the truth.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

to slay a king or rout a host

My abridged copy of 1001 Nights is filed with dubious Victorianisms, but every once in a while it just really comes together. The genie Al-Ra'ad Al-Kasif to the puckishly homocidal fisherman Judar:

Ask what thou wilt and it shall be given to thee. Hast thou a mind to people a ruined city or ruin a populous one? To slay a king or rout a host?

So now I'm thinking about summoner types again. The last iteration was a bit too complicated and wasn't quite doing what I wanted it to do. Here is yet another iteration, one that's probably pretty close to complete, incorporating some advice from +Arnold K.

Summoner 3.0
by Kawanabe Kyōsa

HP, XP, Saves as magic-user
Summoners cannot perform magic under their own power, and instead call forth spirits to do it for them. First, a summoner must acquire the true name of a spirit. They can do this by finding it while adventuring or extracting it from the spirit itself, through trickery, violence, or diplomacy. Then, they must bind it. This is analogous to a magic-user preparing spells; the spirits a summoner has bound determines which ones they can summon over the course of a day. Finally, they can summon the spirit, which requires the traditional Loyalty roll (2d6 under a target number between 3 and 12).

At midnight, summoners can bind spirits whose true names they know. This takes as long as a magic-user memorizing spells from a spell book. Bound spirits, whether they are currently summoned or not, count against a summoner's retainer total (if applicable to your rules of choice. Otherwise, they can bind a number of spirits equal to half level+Cha mod).

Summoning a spirit takes as long as casting a spell. When you summon a spirit, make a Loyalty check to see if you retain control of it. A spirit's base Loyalty is increased by 1/3 your level (if your ruleset of choice does not provide a method for retainer loyalty, start it at 6) If you succeed, the spirit performs a single task for you to the best of its ability, then returns to the void, ready to be summoned again. If you fail, the spirit is free to do as it pleases until you subdue it or bind it again. Malicious spirits will attack you or otherwise sabotage your progress, while benign or neutral spirits will just leave or watch you get eaten by skeletons.
  • If you command a spirit to cast a spell, add the spell level to the 2d6 roll.
  • Spirits commanded to perform exceedingly long-terms tasks might require multiple Loyalty rolls. A spirit commanded to guard its summoner for an entire day would require Loyalty rolls every time it sustained significant damage, for example.
  • For every spirit you have currently summoned, you suffer a -1 penalty to Loyalty rolls.
  • Spirits have their own motives and personalities. If you command a spirit to act against its truest nature, you suffer a -1 to -3 penalty to the Loyalty roll, depending on how egregious the breach of its code would be.
  • You can gain a +1 bonus to a single Loyalty roll by giving the spirit an offering. This can be anything from a bottle of rum to a live goat, but the upshot is a single offering encumbers at least as a significant item and costs at least 50gp×the spirit's HD.
  • A summoner can banish any spirit under their control at will, but they must be in earshot.
  • Spirits that die return to the void, and cannot be summoned until bound again.
Example Spirits
from legend of zelda: wind waker
Spirits of hexed ink and sublimated shadow, about as intelligent as a human toddler. They possess a catlike susceptibility to affection, but also delight in cruelty.

Stats: As goblin
Can spider-climb and squeeze through spaces coin-sized or larger. Inklings take d4 damage per turn in lightless environments are their substance bleeds off into the ambient darkness.

from dark souls 2
A crow the size of a mastiff. She has many red eyes, and speaks through the small human face hidden inside her beak. She is obscene, manic, funny, and enthusiastically anthropophagous. Agrode holds power over sight and thought.

Agrode adores children, and most commonly comes into conflict with humans when she starts kidnapping sons and daughters. Despite the fact that she is a giant, filthy, demonic crow, she actually takes quite good care of them, loving them with all her evil heart and teaching them all the secrets of her wicked wisdom. Some of the greatest witches in history were raised by Agrode. Occassionally, desperate parents leave their children out where Agrode is known to roost. She gratefully accepts them, then kills the parents for neglect.

Stats: As giant bat, no blood drain, Alignment is Chaotic
Can cast Comprehend/Obscure Languages, Phantasmal Force, and Forget at will. She can cast Charm Person at will, but only on those below the age of 18.

from final fantasy xii
The Queen of Lions
The spirit of the Queen of Sheba's consort. Her features are concealed behind red lacquer armor and samite, but she stands a full head taller than the tallest man. She is taciturn, patient, suspicious of magicians, and wrathful towards liars. Hers are the powers of fortitude and purity.

Stats: As Ogre, Alignment is Lawful, cannot be harmed by man-made weapons
Can Turn Undead as a 3rd level Cleric, can speak to animals

Al-Ra'ad al-Kasif
from tales of vesperia
An ifrit, once immensely powerful, now sadly dissipated. He appears as a louche, middle-aged man in rich clothes. He is a knowledgeable accountant and talented lawyer, though leaving him to his own devices in financial matters is not necessarily wise, as his reach exceeds his considerable grasp.

Al-Ra'ad is a traditionalist djinn, and does not try to push too hard against his summoner's orders. However, he desperately wishes to repair his ring, broken millennia ago by the wife of an old master, in hopes of restoring his former power. He is also a gourmand and a minor alcoholic, and his appetites occasionally surpass his best efforts and good intentions.

Stats: As Gnoll, Alignment is Lawful
Can Change Self at will. Al-Ra'ad is abnormally strong, and can carry twice as many items as normal. He can easily perform any feat of Strength a normal human is capable of, and automatically succeeds all such Strength checks. He only makes checks for tasks that would exceed the capabilities of a single person.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

serafino artifacts

An indestructible sword feared and coveted as a weapon of immense destruction. Any sparks struck by its blade ignite fires that cannot be extinguished by means magical or mundane; they burn until they consume all available fuel or else forever.

a black bone
A charred tibia, one end wrapped in wire for a handle, the other chipped to a point. This is an weapon that cannot and should not be; to kill someone with it is to disrupt the natural course of Creation. Anything its victims ought to have done will go unfinished, and the events they would have prevented will now proceed. It can be used to subvert prophecy and kill those protected by destiny, both for good and for bad, but each use weakens the relationship between Cause and Effect just a little more.

la lengua oscura
As we cast shadows, so too does language; in the distant west they call this speech La Lengua Oscura. Those fluent in it can ponder the unknowable and devise the impossible; there are kings and queens, now long dead, who used it to order their subjects to commit unspeakable acts. True mastery is all but impossible in these latter days, but acquiring basic knowledge has its advantages.

The Zahir
A divine weapon that brings salvation to those it destroys. The Zahir slowly consumes the mind of anyone who sees it, filling them with thoughts of Immanence. When any sentient creature sees the Zahir up close, they must make a Saving Throw vs Magic every day thereafter or lose a point of Intelligence as more and more of their mind dedicates itself to pondering the Zahir. Once their Intelligence reaches 0, they become Lawful and fall into a coma. The Zahir can take any form: it can be a penny, a book, a house.

The Bottom of the City
There ruled a king in distant West, a king for the ages, a king to rival Solomon, a king to shake the firmament. He was Yahya, or El Pastor, or Prestor John, but today his names are not spoken, and his works are cast away. He is just San Serafin now. His 99 Histories record his fall from grace, but each chapter ascribes to him a different sin and a different punishment, so that all must be held in suspicion and none can be trusted. Whether he is dead or asleep or imprisoned at the bottom of his hated, buried city, all of the Histories  agree on a single point: anyone who finds him will be granted a single, omnipotent wish, a gift from the Almighty, the power to redeem the world or destroy it.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Miami Pseudomonarchia Character Creation

The mayor's nephew has been hanging around the wrong kind of the wrong kind of people, and now he's missing. A mayor's aide has discreetly approached you and your associates with his last known whereabouts, a list of friends, and the promise of a sizable reward if you can find him without kicking up a fuss.

All rolls are just a 1d10+Relevant Attribute+Relevant Skill vs a target number. All PCs have a reason to stick together, even in the face of a danger.

1. Revelation
All player characters know the truth about the way the world works. Write down how your character found out, though you don't have to tell anyone.

2. Attributes
Roll 1d6-3 for each. Arrange to taste.

3. Hit Points

4. Background
Examples: Snake Handler, Veterinarian, Veteran, College Student, Burglar, Accountant, Cashier, Refugee, Santero
Any time you can convincingly say "I should be able to do this better because I'm a [your class], you get a +2 to the roll, on top of attributes and skills.

5. Skills
Examples: Lockpicking, Athletics, Marksmanship, Andalusi Romance, Theology, Computers, Driving, Beauty, Lying
Pick 5 skills. Their values are +5, +4, +3, +2, and +1.There isn't a list of skill, so you can make them up. Skills can help you recall information about supernatural things, but they don't let you do anything a normal human couldn't. Miami Pseudomonarchia is not necessarily combat intensive and you don't have to pick combat skills, but if you want to be a fighting type, this is the place to make it happen.

6. Talents

Examples: Gematria, Monstrous Strength, Tarot Reading, Pyromancy, Demonology, Exorcism, Lycanthropy, Ouija
Talents function as skills, but they let you perform supernatural acts. All magic is Tampering In What Man Ought Not, and comes with certain risks. Every time you use a talent, you acquire an additional Catastrophe die. Each time you use that talent, you roll your Catastrophe dice with it. They do not modify the situation in any way, unless any of then result in a 1, in which case you fail at the supernatural act you were attempting in a spectacular and interesting way (the demon gets loose, the fireball explodes early, etc). You can clear all of your Catastrophe dice by resting in a place of safety (a good meal, a night's sleep, whatever).

You have 4 points to distribute across you talents. You can have two talents with a +2 bonus, or one talent with  a +4 bonus. Catastrophe dice accrue per talent, so having several, weaker talents can be safer.

You can forgo having any talents to add +1 to all of your skills.

7. Gear
You have d10×$100 worth of stuff. Use Google to price it out. Don't get put on a list.