Thursday, March 19, 2015

Personages Seen in the Miserous Hills

Prose is a little extra purple today, but this was fun to write. Adapting my half-assed God of the Earth dungeon for Albion.
 
Countess of Secrets-kept, true Lady of Faerie
Wolves proclaim her arrival and foxes bear her train: the Countess of Secrets-kept, her dress the purple of beaten flesh, her high crown fashioned from black horn. A single red scar mars the pallor of her face, and all who knew or asked whence it came are now ashes.

HD 10 Speed human
Armor none Attack none
Morale 9 Alignment Chaotic


Abilities
  • Command Canine:  All foxes, hounds, and wolves in Albion must obey the Countess, for they sold their service to her long ago. 
  • Fairy-power: As a greater fairy, the Countess can cast Totem/Polymorph Other, Geas/Covenant, Revisitation/Teleport, and Bewitch/Charm Person. She cannot cast more than 10 spells in a day.
  • Lich-craft/Animate Dead:  The Countess' closest and dearest ally is Lucifer, with whom she plays chess every Sunday. As a birthday present some centuries ago, he gave her the ability to raise the dead, though she only has power over the remains of the damned.
Her servants are three brothers named Mercy-me, Noose-tight, and Lackaday. They are perfectly identical in their hideousness and eloquently rude to all but their mistress. Each has a different, baroque scheme to depose the Countess, claim her title, and curse her house unto thirteen generation as revenge for these long millennia of servitude. They bicker amongst themselves endlessly.

The Countess of Secrets-kept is currently pursuing the God of the Earth for its heart, so that she can make it into a chess pawn--she misplaced her last one, carved from Helen of Troy's rib.

Too Little Too Late, Demon of the 4th Circle
It changes shape like humans change clothes, but no matter how it looks, it always feels wrong, like a nail pounded into the flesh of the world. Without its magic, Too Little Too Late is as red and slick and slender as a man without skin, its mouth crowded with crocodile teeth than can punch through steel.

HD 9 Speed human
Armor as plate Attack as longsword (claws)
Morale 8 Alignment Chaotic


Abilities
  • Temptation of the Miser: Victim must save vs Magic or have a large, beautifully cut gem worth £100×d10 grow painlessly and harmlessly in their forehead. Removing this gem is excruciatingly painful, horrifically bloody, and invariably fatal.
  • Deception: Too Little Too Late can assume any human appearance it pleases
  • Hell-power:  As a demon, Too Litle Too Late can 9 spells a day from the Diabolism school. It can also assume bodily control over humans by crawling into their mouths, though they are allowed a single Save vs Magic to expel it.
Too Little Too Late hunts the God of the Earth to possess it and build an infernal kingdom from the safety of its monstrous new body.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Secret Trash

Three Lore Garbage facts about Albion:
  1. There are two secret cardinal directions in Albion, both orthogonal to the conventional four. Going Deathwise leads one closer to the Hereafters. Going there is generally a one way trip, but travelers can stop at the Sunless Lands, the miserable marches beyond the Lands of the Living where the angels, demons, and vampires make their courts. The opposite direction, Whimwards, leads into the Kingdom of Faerie, ruled by the King of Roses Red and his sprawling, decadent court. 
  2. Death is a physical entity in Albion. It is responsible for ensuring that the deceased transition to the Hereafters properly and employs a vast, sclerotic bureaucracy of psychopomps and demigods to fulfill its duty. Known as the House of Death, it largely does its job, but history is filled with powerful magicians who extended their lives by banishing, imprisoning, or binding the psychopomps sent to collect their souls. Death always wins out in the end, however--neutralizing a psychopomp means that the House will eventually get around to sending something more powerful to find out what happened to one of their agents, and at the top of the hierarchy is Death itself. (Functionally, this means rather than a Death and Dismemberment roll, there's a Les Petites Morts table that determines which psychopomp is coming to scoop out your soul, and what you can do to stop them)
  3. Hell sent the Infernal Expeditionary Army to occupy Albion centuries ago. It failed utterly, but its leaders decided to stay--the climate was lot better, and they only had an eternity of excruciating punishment to look forward to if they returned. Now their general and her officers pass their time by waging perennial war against the angels the vampire warlords in the Sunless Lands, collecting souls and sowing sin all the while.
Here's a monster: 
Vestal of Cinder
HD 10 Speed human (hover)
Armor none Attack throw Black Fire (as greataxe, see below)
Morale 12 Alignment Lawful
 

Vestal Virgins who blasphemously immolated themselves in the sacred flames they tended, charred skeletons in pristine white vestments. There are thirteen in all the world, and they serve Vesta Mortua, Goddess of the Cold Hearth. In their freezing temples, they endlessly perform the rituals that sustain the necromantic legacy of fallen Rome.

Vestals of Cinder can cast Necromancy spells as a 10th level magician.

Any flame ignited or tended by a Vestal of Cinder is Black Fire, which sheds cold and dark rather than heat and light. Just as true flame burns the living to death, Black Fire burns the dead back to life, raising them as malevolent undead creatures with the abilities, appearance, and knowledge they had when they lived. 

When a Vestal of Cinder dies, her body reforms in the Black Fires of her home temple the following midnight. These flames can only be extinguished through supreme magical effort--a powerful Angel of Seas or a huge quantity of Clarified Water might do the job.

Inverse Revenant
HD as in life Speed human
Armor as worn Attack as wielded weapon
Morale 12 Alignment Neutral
 

Black Fire is inverse flame, and those burned to life by it share that quality. Inverse revenants retain the memories, abilities, and attributes they possessed in life, and appear as a mirror image of their living selves. Inverse revenants do not retain their personality--they are all malicious, albeit loyal, servants of whoever started the fire that raised them. They speak to each other backwards and will do anything to avoid the sight of their own reflection. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cult Class(ic)

I've had this idea rolling around in my head for a while, and when I saw this post by Arnold, i figured out how to fit it all together.
  GODLING
A  race-class for Old School D&D
HP and XP as Magic-user
Save and Attack Bonus as Cleric

Godlings are minor, furtive divinities unable to directly interfere with the Land of the Living and the mortals therein. Instead, they act through cults and miracles, in hopes of establishing a true religion and becoming a greater god. Godlings can look like pretty much anything (that isn't stupid) and their size and appearance becomes progressively more impressive as they gain levels.
SHRINES
Godlings can perceive, speak with, and cast spells on anything near their shrines. If all of a godling's shrines are destroyed, their connection with the Land of the Living is permanently severed (i.e. it's time for a new character).

1st level godlings start with a single shabby shrine in the nearest settlement. Godlings gain 1 xp for every gold piece spent on improving any of their shrines. Improvements can be aesthetic, or they can make the shrine harder to find or destroy. Godlings can also build new shrines to make themselves harder to permanently banish--establishing one costs 1000 sp and doesn't count towards experience.

FOLLOWERS 
from princess mononoke
To interact with the Land of the Living beyond their shrine, a godling needs followers to act as proxies. In any town they have a shrine, they can establish a cult. To do so, they need to formulate some sort of creed or promise for their followers. Funny clothes help, too. The total number of cultists cannot exceed the godling's level. Cultists work like retainers, save for the following:
  • A godling can perceive through any of their cultists' senses, communicate with them mentally, and cast spells through them 
  • Cultists will do any mundane, non-dangerous task their godling tells them to do without question, and can be trusted not to steal items or money. 
  • Cultists receive a permanent +1 to Morale for every spell their godlings casts in their presence
  • Cultists do not require payment
Godlings still might have other worshipers, but cultists are the ones fanatic enough to put themselves at risk. Godlings can hire regular retainers, too, though they require pay and won't sing your weird songs or wear those stupid robes. Other player characters cannot become cultists.

MIRACLES
Godlings can cast a number of spells equal to their level each adventure. They can cast any spell they know and begin knowing all the spells in a single school. Godlings can gain access to additional spell schools by hunting down one of their fellows in the Land of Spirits and eating them. Any spell that targets the self can instead be cast on a godling's cultists. A godling's spell school is a reflection of their nature:

Devil: Diabolism
God of Nature: Elementalism
God of Death: Necromancy
God of Magic: Spiritualism
God of Travel: Translocation
God of Dreams: Psychomancy
God of Life: Vivimancy

LOCALITY
The Spirit World coincides perfectly, intangibly, and invisibly with the Land of the Living. Every location in the Spirit World has a Land of the Living analogue. Godlings can directly interact with creatures and objects in the Spirit World, so players should be explicit where their character is--a godling can function perfectly well hanging out in town, sending miracles at a distance, but they won't be able to interfere with Spirit World obstacles for their co-adventurers if they do so.

In any situation where a godling actually enters combat (such as when they confront another spirit or if they are pulled into the Land of the Living by a spell), they fight as a Cleric of equal level.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lawful Awful

The Watchers are secret society of humans who have pledged themselves to the cause of the Grigori. The communicate with each other through coded messages and dreams, arranged by their angelic patrons. Most Watchers are just regular people with eccentric religious views and a casual disregard for the kind of bodily harm their masters tend to cause, but a few have been transformed as a reward for their service.

Soteriomancer
HD 2-10 Speed human
Armor none Attack staff
Morale 10 Alignment Lawful

Magicians who have sworn to aid the Grigori. They are often members of Albion's occult aristocratic class, keeping their allegiances secret as they sabotage their fellows and excavate sleeping angels.

Soteriomancers function as magicians with levels equal to their HD. They know a number of Spiritualism spells equal to half their level and can expend any prepared spell to cast Refine Corpus instead.

Refine Corpus
The caster transforms a single human within 10 ft into a more virtuous being. The caster can apply half their level to the target's saving throw if they so choose. This miracle has 7 variations. Soteriomancers acquire a new variation every level in ascending orders. 
  1. Subtly alters the brain structure of the target, preventing them from ever sleeping again. The target may make a Save vs Magic; on a success, they no longer need to sleep anyway. On a failure, they will suffer the effects of sleep deprivation until they go mad and die.
  2. Sublimates the target's digestive organs into nothing. The target may make a Save vs Magic; on a success, they can subsist purely on aether and no longer need to eat or drink. On a failure, they will die or thirst and starvation during the days to come.
  3. Destroys the ability of the target's body to regulate its temperature--they no longer produce body heat and cannot sweat or shiver. The target may Save vs Magic; on a success, they are completely untroubled by any temperature a natural climate can produce; on a failure, they die of hypothermia over the next few hours as their body becomes room temperature.
  4. The target's lungs and associated respiratory organs dissolve into intangible golden dust. The target may make a Save vs Magic; on a success; they no longer need to breath. On a failure, they will quickly suffocate.
  5. The target no longer ages. The target may Save vs Magic; on a success, they may enjoy their new immortality. On a failure, this stasis prevents their body from healing itself--all wounds they suffer become permanent and all damage they take affects their maximum HP
  6. The target becomes perfectly androgynous and biologically sexless. The target may Save vs Magic; on a success, they become immune to Charm spells. On a failure, they henceforth automatically fail all Saves vs Poison/Death.
  7. The target must Save vs Magic or be enthralled by the soteriomancer, pledging themselves to the cause of the Grigori with no thought of previous alliance. They also undergo the seven previous versions of Refine Corpus, one per Turn in ascending order, automatically succeeding each saving throw. On the seventh Turn, they transform into an angel with HD equal to their level rounded to the nearest multiple of 3. 
Lazarene Knight
HD 1-10 Speed human
Armor none Attack sword
Morale 12 Alignment Lawful

from Darkest Dungeon
The body of a great warrior, mummified and possessed by the soul of a particularly virtuous Watcher. They wear winged golden armor, and beneath are wrapped in bandages anointed with myrrh. All Lazarene Knights carry a massive bronze jar and their back, which they use to capture souls and spirits. Knights can be Turned as undead, which is the subject of a number of heated theological debates.

Lazarene Knights can cast Soul Harvest at will. Captured souls are trapped in the Knight's jar and Charmed/infatuated with the angel that raised the Lazarene Knight from the dead. When encountered, Knights start with d6+1 souls in their jar.

A Knight can expend 1 soul to do any of the following:
  • Send the soul to the Hereafter that creates a pillar of golden fire that deals d6×half HD of the soul
  • Have the soul animate and control a number of HD of undead equal to its own HD. This purges any disease, decay, and corruption from the bodies.
  • Send the soul to possess someone. This functions as the Bewitch/Charm Person spell. 
  • Allow the soul to possess them. This heals the Knight for d6×half HD of the soul, and causes the Knight to speak in first person plural.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Albion Jobs and Hangout Session 2

I lost the notes and posts where I kept track of everything, so I'm eyeballin' it and will do a better job this time.

Session 1: 150 XP, £100 each for the ornamental Roman armor
Session 2: 600 XP, £200 for the various goods you stole, and £1500 to be divided among you for bringing the courtier back. You also have the Engine of Avode and a barge called The Pike. You just got back to Queen's Crossing. 

You owe Madam Eugenia £50 for rent, and she's posted the following jobs:

From the Royal Society
A team of scholars has disappeared on an expedition to Osric's Tor. £1,500 for returning them alive; £750 for returning their remains. We will also pay for any antiquities safely recovered from the site. Speak Professor Lately at the Queen's College for the particulars. 


From Magus Banister
Some prole saw a carbuncle scuttle into the abandoned grotto at old Stockade Hill. Get me its Carbuncular Matrix before those simpering pretenders from the Zoological Society do. 
£2,000.

SESSION RECAP
Scavenger's Weir is a town that consists of a network of islands connected by a series of weirs and bridges. The party was hired by the Postmaster of Queen's Crossing to find some missing couriers.
  1. The people of Scavenger's Weir were weird and pushy. Mr. and Mrs. Clasp, the town's mayoral couple, REALLY INSISTED that they have the party for tea. Tilda the Summoner slipped away to visit an ex-nun the Clasps had badmouthed, and who had tried to get them a message.
  2. Mrs. Clasp tried to force the rest of the gang to eat her food. They got into a fight with her, and she proved to be a lot tougher than her delicate exterior would suggest, especially after said exterior cracked away beneath their weapons, revealing something approximately like the following. Her attacks make the party slow and sluggish.
  3.  Tilda the Summoner comes back with Sister Joanna, nun of the Queen Mother. She then summons a salamander, which burns down the house. Mrs. Clasp runs out with the party, reassuming her disguise. Nobody bothers to rescue the explains that she's a demon, looking for a device stolen from her, which she had tracked here. She hadn't been able to spirit the device out of town, because the Scavengers were abusing it to rob people and guarded it jealously. 
  4. Tilda's salamander breaks from her control, and the party subdues it.
  5. Joanna, seeing Mrs. Clasp as a demon, fights her. They both end up in the water. The ruckus from the burning house attracts the attention of the townspeople, who lock the party up in a warehouse. 
  6. They escape with their cell-mate (one of the missing couriers), managing to acquire the key and kill both of their guards. Tilda summons the salamander, which again breaks from her control and sets the warehouse on fire.
  7. Hearing the Scavengers coming, they flee through a hidden trapdoor the courier points out to them, leading to the interior of the island.
  8. They fight their way past some Scavengers. Jessica the Vampire the blood one while he was dying. As they walk down the passage, he reanimates and attacks them, but is killed.
  9. The remaining townspeople, having heard the ruckus (guns are loud!), holed themselves up in the final room. They're open fire when the party opens the door, so they throw all their loose gunpowder and shot into the room and send Tilda's salamander after it. The explosion kills all of them, as well as the fighter Bartholomew III (I think?). 
  10. The party finds a large, conch-like device, filled with gears and with an X on it. Goldenloin the warlock calls on Penemue to translate the inscription on it, which reads "ENGINE OF AVODE/THAT DEMON OF LANGUOR"
  11. Through experimentation, they find that the X is a Roman numeral, and that it will put people to sleep if they feed it 10 HP worth of blood. People that have given into temptation associated with Avode (presumably the real name of Mrs. Clasp) are particularly susceptible. 
  12. They use the Engine of Avode on the townspeople who were waiting in the ruins of the warehouse, and took a scavenged barge back to Queen's Crossing.
LESSONS LEARNED
  1. I'm going to do initiative by phase. Initiative determines who goes first within a phase.. I'm terrible with initiative and fitting monster actions logically within a round, so hopefully the extra structure will help. Brendan's Final Castle playtest made me like the phase system.
    1. Ranged attacks
    2. Melee attacks
    3. Magic. If you want to cast a spell and you've taken damage that round, make a save or roll on a calamity table.
  2. The Engine of Avode is pretty powerful, but it will attract a lot of unpleasant attention. Haven't tried something like that before (they sure never saw Avode die, did they?), but we'll see how it goes. Politicking and navigating various factions is an important part of Albion, so having magic items be the center of a power struggle fits.