Monday, October 9, 2017

flower power

I have been rereading about Coins and Scrolls wizards and Goblin Punch spellcasters and have been thinking about my own dice pool magic system (scroll down a little past the fishing stuff). The dice pool makes magic feel more like this amorphous reserve of supernatural influence instead of a bunch of bullets in a gun, while preserving the resource management aspect that makes Vancian magic appeal to me. You're never quite sure how much you can and should do in a day.

I've also been rereading Wonders and Wickedness and reading Paolo's Marvels and Malisons. I like the distinctness of spell schools and have been thinking about how those would manifest in Flowerland (i.e. the blog post below)
Planes are the Old World's crude understanding of the shape of Creation. As the peoples of Flowerland know, our world is made of structures, not surfaces–Houses, not Planes. The Grass House, the Mud House, the Moon House, the Iron House, the Ash House, the Salt House, and the elusive Labyrinth Betwixt are the most known in Flowerland, though of course there are others, some obscure, some defunct. The Houses respect neither topology nor topography–if you walk towards the palmetto scrub, you approach the Grass House as well, and as midnight or noon draw near, so too does the Grass House, whether or not you think you are moving. Should you, in the heat of summer and the brightness of noon, find carrion-eaters crowded around a kill out in the scrub, watch your step carefully–when the auguries of Grass are many, you stand on the threshold of its House.

Magic is: opening a door to a House and shaping what comes out, calling forth its denizens to do your bidding.

HP, XP, Saves, Skills as wizard/magic-user

You have Power dice equal to your level. When you cast a spell, you can roll as many of them as you like; the more dice you roll, the greater its effect. When a description refer to a spell's Power, that is the number of dice the caster rolled for it.
  • For each die that comes up a 1 or a 6, after you resolve the spell's effects, remove a Power die from your dice pool until you take a long rest. (Rolling a 1 means you whiffed it a little and rolling a 6 means you exhausted some part of yourself)
  • If you get pairs, Something Bad happens 
  • If you get triples, Something Terrible happens
At level 1, pick a House: Grass, Mud, Moon, Iron, Salt, or Ash. You know two random spells from its list. you can cast any spell you know, but you can only learn spells from your House. you do so by exploring your House, by bribing and pestering other sorcerers into tutoring you, or studying another sorcerer's notes. You can learn to cast spells from other Houses, but each has its own requirements.
If you are a sorcerer and did not choose Grass as your House at level 1, you can gain attain its power and access its spells by eating the divine carrion at the center of the Grass House, soft like custard, rich like dessert, foul beyond comprehension.
     Sorcerers who can cast Grass House spells find carrion equally delicious and disgusting and can live off of it without fear of disease or malnutrition.

Under the roof of the Grass House, your shadow is a curse, and when you cast your shadow you cast your curse also. The sorcerer can cast their Grass Curse on someone touching their shadow, inflicting them with a persistent sunstroke that bestows a penalty to all rolls equal to the spell's Power on a failed save. If sorcerer's shadow is being cast in the hot sun--the Grass House sun, the cruel sun that scorches the palmetto scrub and bakes the sugar sand trails--spell gains a +1 Power without the sorcerer needing to roll another die. This hex lasts until the victim immerses themselves in very cold water or another sorcerer lifts it with magic.
  • Something Bad: You put too much of yourself into the curse. You can't regain any dice lost in the casting of this spell until the victim is cured or you eat them (takes at least an hour).
  • Something Terrible: You are afflicted with the Grass Curse, but the only way to lift it is to cure the victim while they still live. Failing that, there are some exceedingly rare and dangerous to procure cures.
A sorcerer casts this spell by spending an evening weaving grass, withes, reeds, or similar vegetable material into a palm-sized medallion bearing the Sign of Grass. If they lose any Power from this casting, they cannot ever recover it from resting, and must restore their lost Power in some other (dangerous, difficult, and probably disturbing) way. The wearer of the Sign of Grass receives a bonus to stealth checks equal to the spell's Power while in scrub, forests, the prairie, or other similar environs.
  • Something Bad: the Sign bestows a minor curse in addition to its benefit.
  • Something terrible: the Sign bestows a major curse in addition to its benefit.
If the sorcerer wishes, they can automatically incorporate a minor or major curse into the Sign. However, this causes Something Bad and Something Terrible to permanently afflict them with the same curse bound to the Sign.

Summons a Child of Grass with HD equal to the spell's Power and HP equal to the sum of its Power dice. The Child appears as an oversized coyote on all fours, a thief with hair the color of dust and eyes the color of rainwater when it lurches to its feet, and a crow when it leaps into the air (as wolf, as thief with levels equal to its HD, as bird with trivial combat statistics). The Child of Grass remains as long as it pleases, but it only remains bound to the sorcerer's service for a number of turns equal to the spell's Power, at which point it is free to do as it pleases, though the sorcerer may bribe it into further service.
  • Something Bad: the Child of Grass wants something like: to eat carrion (either very fresh or very ripe), to make mischief, to know where its summoner lives. It will turn on the sorcerer if it doesn't get it very soon.
  • Something Terrible: the Child of Grass appears and turns on the sorcerer, either attacking right away or fucking off back to town to start raising hell. It cannot be summoned again until the sorcerer hunts down and eats it.
Make a blade of sawgrass or a saw palm frond impossibly strong and sharp. Sawgrass acts as a one-handed, bladed weapon of fine make (1d6+1 damage) while a saw palm frond acts as a two-handed, bladed weapon of equal quality (1d8+1 damage). The blades are sharp enough to cut through steel as if it were firewood and damage enemies resistant to nonmagical damage. The effect lasts a number of turns equal to the spell's Power.
  • Something Bad: the Grass House turns against the sorcerer, making all grass like blades to them. Leaves and fronds are as sharp and strong as steel: walking on grass deals 1d4 damage/round and ruins shoes and boots, walking through scrub deals 1d12/round and reduces  AC by an equal amound (down to sorcerer's unarmored AC value). Lasts
  • Something Terrible: the Child of Grass appears and turns on the sorcerer. It cannot be summoned again until the sorcerer hunts down and eats it.
The sorcerer cuts open their inner arm, dealing damage as dagger, and milkweed sap oozes out. When applied to an injury, it heals HP equal to the sum of the spell's Power dice. The sap can be apportioned between multiple people, but it loses its power after a turn. The HP damage caused by this spell can only be healed with time--only time can give back what the Grass House has taken.
  • Something Bad: The Gift's sap attracts a colossal swarm of red butterflies to the caster. This makes stealth nearly impossible, and the caster takes +1 damage from weapon attacks as the butterflies lap at the wound with anticoagulant proboscises.
  • Something Terrible: The Gift does not heal properly. Each day, the sorcerer must make a saving throw or the wound will ooze milkweed adulterated with blood and the sorcerer loses 1 point of Constitution. This lasts until the sorcerer undergoes some pretty serious curse-lifting effort or they die.
This spell has two uses: if the sorcerer casts this spell on a ripe animal carcass that had HD in life equal to or less than the spell's Power, they can eat it to turn into the creature. They can also cast the spell to turn into a creature they have already consumed in this manner, though the Power still has to meet or exceed its HD. The spell lasts until the sorcerer chooses to change back, but they cannot speak, cast spells, or recover Power until they do. In animal shape, sorcerers look like carrion--sticky with blood, broken bones emerging from their hide, dirt and roots tangled in their ruff.
  • Something Bad: the sorcerer cannot turn back into their original shape until sunset or dawn, whichever is further away.
  • Something Terrible: the sorcerer cannot turn back into their original shape at all, barring powerful ritual intervention

Unclear. Dungeons/universes/deities/spell schools. Some were raised or destroyed just past recent memory (such as when Heche Ke Eche, Cacica of the Dead, stopped shut all the doors and ways to the Ghost House with great lead nails and destroyed all of its extant dwellers in a terrible fit of pique, or the night the Moon House was born or perhaps opened agin from the disastrous sinking of Don Fernando's barge). Others have been around for as long as recorded history, maybe built by something that came before, maybe born from the ritual weight of natural phenomena. Some Houses seem to have volition, some seem content to be a location, others are nearly impossible to enter and barely have internal geography. The Ghost House had doors of the sort that Heche Ke Eche could nail shut (according to legend), but the ways to the Moon House are still waters and bone-filled groves and the shadows of the jacarandas in moonlight.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

hocus pocus

An open-ended magic system I'm going to use for my simplified 5e game, but you could pretty easily hack it for most D&D-likes. Owes a lot to Pearce's 5e ritual system.

A warlock or cleric can perform a ritual to achieve nearly any effect, as long as it pertains to a Ritual Court they belong to. The casting time of a ritual depends on its intensity, value, and utility; the more expensive and difficult the ritual’s effects would be to achieve using mundane means, the longer it takes to perform the ritual.
by Berta Lum
A ritual's difficulty is determined by the value of the goods or services it replicates. Warlocks make a CHA check and clerics make a WIS check.
If it's no dearer than a copper piece: DC 12 and take a Turn
If it's no dearer than a silver piece: DC 14 and take an hour
If it's no dearer than a gold piece: DC 16 and take a day
If it's no dearer than a platinum piece: DC 18 and take a week
If it can't be had for love or money: DC 20 and take a month, from new moon to full
As an example, if a Annie Oleander of the Ritual Court of Ash wants to kill a rival from afar, she might decide to fill his house with poisonous smoke. Because hiring an assassin to kill someone costs more than a gold piece, she must pass a DC 18 Charisma check and take a week. Unburning a spent torch, on the other hand, would only take a Turn and require a DC 12 check , because a torch can be bought for a copper.

A ritual’s effect has a usage die that represents its duration. Each time the ritual’s effects are used or strained in some way, check the die. Ritual effects are fleeting and the die should be checked frequently; a ritual-created sword might be checked every time it is used, while a golem created by a ritual might be checked every time it takes damage. The poisonous smoke Annie Oleander conjured would be checked every time her victim finished reciting a Bible verse or opened a window for ventilation.

The sacrifice a cleric or warlock offers as part of a ritual determines the size of the ritual's usage die:
  • 1d4: requires nothing
  • 1d6: 1d6 HP in blood, a favor that takes a brief part of a session, or a component worth at least a copper piece
  • 1d8: 1d8 HP in blood, a favor that takes the better part of a session, or a component worth at least a silver piece
  • 1d10: 1d10 HP in blood, a favor that takes an entire session, or a component worth at least a gold piece
  • 1d12: 1d12 HP in blood, a favor that takes several sessions, or a component worth at least a platinum piece
The Ritual Courts
  1. Ash
  2. Mud
  3. Grass
  4. Corpses
  5. Beasts
  6. The Sun
  7. The Moon
  8. The Dark 

    Thursday, April 27, 2017

    The Bode

    Very quickly wrote a brief adventure for Flowerland/Horror Florida using a Monsterparts-y hack that I will run this weekend, or at least offer as a hook. There's not a clean way to resolve the situation besides "rolling a huge boulder in front of the dungeon", but that's okay I guess.


    There is a hill north of town where the pine trees grow and nothing else. It's dark there, and too quiet, and too cold, even in the thick of summer.

    If you are playing close attention, you might notice that all traces of the most recent wildfire stops short at the base of the hill, where the pine forest begins. If you have spent a lot of time in the woods, you might expect there to be palmetto scrub under these pine trees, not just the dead needles heaped there now.

    At the top of the hill, where it is darkest and coldest, where the trees grow so dense your shoulders always brush their trunks no matter how you turn yourself, stands a temple built from roughly hewn basalt, furred with moss and crusted with lichen. There is no light inside, and the faint draft blowing from its low entrance smells foul and mineral, as if the earth started to rot like flesh. Water dews continuously on the interior walls, making the steps down to the inner chamber slick.

    At the bottom you'll find a circular room, maybe twenty feet in diameter, spiderweb cracks radiating from the jagged-edged pool of water punched into the slab floor at the center. Arranged in a circle around it are twelve deformed animal skulls: too many eye sockets, two or three mandibles fanning out from a twisted jaw, melted-wax contours and clusters of horns. These skulls are cursed, they are a curse, they are best left untouched, they are called The Bode.

    Pretty much everybody in town is talking about a bunch of messed up stuff happening in the wilderness to the north of Ver, known locally as the Old Church Wood. It's always had an unsavory reputation, but there's has been a spate of disappearances and bad omens associated with it.

    Shrinekeeper Trinidad, the town's cleric.
    • Despite his warnings and the Woods' ominous reputation, a pair of hunters--Trinidad's friends--pursued a deer into the pines to the north. They haven't returned, and that was a week ago. That was the start of the trouble.
    • Every sunset, Trinidad lights the ritual lanterns along the perimeter of Ver. The northernmost ones have been blowing themselves out by midnight, when they should last until sunrise.
    Rudriq, hunter.
    • Rudriq stopped hunting around the Old Church Hills when he found animal skulls wedged between tree branches there.
    Pilar, witch.
    • Distrusted by people of Ver, considered possibly to blame.
    • She claims she saw an oddly proportioned creature--something on all fours, like a deer or a coyote, it had a pale face and an awkward gait--the night after the hunters should have come back.
    Odesa, the town's mayor.
    • She had mediated a fight between the two hunters over the game they caught a month ago, and believes they got into some sort of fight out in the woods, or else it's bandits. She's dealt with a lot of bandits over the years.
    • Odessa thinks everyone is seized by superstition and is ready to led her band into the Old Church Wood to solve this once and for all--but has been so far dissuaded by Trinidad's pleadings.
    Katarina, general store propietor
    • Her caravan hasn't come back since this whole mess started. See if her idiot employees got eaten by a ghost or not.
    Luis, farmer
    • missing from his farm since yesterday. He had been complaining that something had been going after his livestock, but not like most predators--they were killing for sport.
    • His farm is to the north, a few minute's walk past Trinidad's torches. If the players investigate, they will find his house unlocked, but his barn locked from the inside. His goats are cut apart--like they unraveled off of their own bones--and all of their skulls are missing.

    Dense pine trees on a steep hill. It's dark and chill.

    1-2: Mutilated... 1-deer 2-coyote 3-bobcat 4-black bear
    3. Abandoned caravan, horses beheaded and cut to pieces, goods untouched. This is the only treasure in the whole adventure, now that I think about it.
    4. Tree laden with animal skulls wedges between branches
    5. Body of Luis or caravaners
    6. Brood of Bode

    Brood of Bode
    • HD: d8
    • 10 EP
    • Defense 14
    • Naked, wiry man, running on all fours far faster than a person should be able, wears a filthy deer skull over his face
    • Spells: Can cast one spell per encounter from its list: 
      • Fog Cloud
      • Phantasmal Force (a dark presence like a passing cloud, moving through the trees like the first cold blast of wind from an approaching thunderstorm
      • Snuff (extinguish all torches, lamps, etc within earshot of its scream) 
      • Inflict Light Wounds (what it's been using to cut its victims apart),
    Brood of Bode will not enter, at least at first. One of the hunters is in this chamber, his head and torso submerged in the central pool. If approached, he will slide all the way in.
    • The Bode can speak in this chamber. Their voice is subaudible, like something half-imagined. They will offer their power to the strongest fighter in the party in return for a sacrificed comrade, and they are not lying: the sacrificer will become another Brood of Bode.
    • The skulls of The Bode are cursed. Anyone who breaks their skulls will never be able to recover from their wounds. The skulls come back when nobody is looking, anyway.
    • The Bode can see anything in the pines of Old Church Wood.
    • The Brood is the other hunter, who sacrificed his friend. His mind is lost to The Bode. The Bode will tell a PC what the hunter did if the PC keeps them talking.
    • The pool is cursed. Anyone who tries to swim in it will sink to the bottom and drown, and all attempts to haul them out have disadvantage. The body can be retrieved by any other method.
    • Anyone left alone in the Old Church must make a save or vanish. This increases the Brood of Bode's HD by one step
    • The Bode want more Brood, they want more skulls in the pines to see out of, they want the wards on Ver destroyed so they can claim its inhabitants.

    Monday, January 23, 2017

    something is wrong character creation

    strange beings come out to make mischief in the weirding light of the spiral moon
    A super-pared down 5e-ish thing for Flowerland/Weird Florida. Checks are the typical 1d20+ability score mod+proficiency bonus (if applicable), but classes are more thematically defined packages of proficiencies instead of discrete lists of skills and abilities. Magic is an unreliable accretion of superstitions rather than a very formalized list of abilities, and HP is a small, easy come/easy go buffer between mobility and death. All of this should fit the mood better than the more high fantasy feel of rules as written 5e D&D.

    Roll 3d6 for Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Use the following ability score modifiers. If your modifiers have a negative total, you can reroll all of your ability scores. Once you have a viable character, you can swap two ability scores of your choosing.

    Don't exist. We are using the endurance/stopwatch system. Everyone starts out with 6+CON mod EP.
    • You can recover EP equal to your hazard die by resting an exploration turn (triggers an encounter check). Each time you rest, your max EP reduces by 1. Eating a ration lets you recover EP without losing any points from your maximum.You can't take a rest in situations that are draining your EP.
    • You recover all of your EP, and you max EP returns to normal, when you take a long rest in a safe place.
    • You gain +1 max EP when you level up.

    Your proficiency bonus is +2, and increases by +1 every 4th level. Add your proficiency bonus to tasks your class is good at. The listed die value is your Hazard Die, which determines how much EP you can recover when you rest and how much your weapon attacks deal.
    1. Cacique [1d6] bullshitting, winning contests, brawling, barking orders, making friends/rivals, etc
    2. Warrior [1d8] fighting, climbing, swimming, jumping, athletics, etc
    3. Thief [1d6] picking locks, picking pockets, sneaking, climbing, etc
    4. Cleric [1d4] performing apotropaic rituals, speaking with authority, praying to spirits, etc
    5. Witch: [1d4] performing dark rituals, inuiting, animal handling, bargain with spirits, etc
    6. Hunter: [1d8] ambushing, marksmanship, tracking, naturalism, hiding, etc
    7. Scholar: [1d6] knowing languages, history, teratology, medicine, etc
    8. Diva/Adonis: [1d6] dancing, singing, seducing, conversing, distracting, etc
    EQUIPMENT AND INVENTORY You start with 3d6×10 dollars. $1 = 1 sp. Buy stuff off of the LotFP equipment list. 
    We are using this inventory system.

    Basic ability score checks. Pick one saving throw; you can add your proficiency bonus to it.

    Anything that we would recognize as a spell from D&D is far beyond the capability of humans, and generally requires the intercession of a god or demon. Rituals are slower and quieter and subtler, but they are also powerful rules the supernatural world must abide by. Anyone can try to perform a ritual, but people who spend their time close to the supernatural (witches and clerics) are better at them.

    Players do not get to see the list of rituals. They discover rituals as rewards, by accident, in books, through rumors, by joining factions. Some are common and most people know about, some are kept secret by powerful organizations. Players will be part of an adventuring Company that will help explain why a new crop of characters might know a bunch of weird rituals after the last group got a TPK.
    • [simple] rituals are easy to do. You just need the right component and the right action, like throwing salt on a monster or chanting a certain phrase. Some simple rituals people perform on accident, and this can be dangerous.
    • [complex] rituals are hard. They require a lot of practice and knowledge. Making a talisman, reciting a long passage of holy writ, or inscribing a pentagram just right are all complex rituals. They take a month to learn from a tutor or a text. Complex rituals are easy to perform incorrectly, and this can be dangerous.
    • [apotropaic] rituals are the rites clerics use to drive back the supernatural and defend humanity. When they require a check, use WIS. When they require a saving throw, the DC is 8+WIS mod (+proficiency bonus if ritual caster is a cleric)
    • [dark] rituals are the rites witches use to have their way with the world. When they require a check, use CHA. When they require a saving throw, the DC is 8+CHA mod (+proficiency bonus if ritual caster is a witch). These rituals are often illegal.
    • Players can perform impromptu rituals if they make sense. If someone is bitten on the arm by a werewolf and the cleric makes a rosary tourniquet, it is ritually potent enough to work even though it's not listed below. These might have high DCs, or the victim might get advantage on the saving throw.

    purity rite [apotropaic] [simple] Cast salt on an impure creature (devils, demons, undead, fey, etc). They must make a CHA saving throw or flee for a turn.

    warding rite [apotropaic] [simple] Pour salt in a circle around you. Impure creatures must make a CHA saving throw to cross it. Lasts until disturbed or you leave the circle.

    nazar [apotropaic] [complex] DC 14 Spend a long rest and 10 gp making a blue eye bead. Anyone who carries it will have advantage on saving throws versus curses. It cracks the first time its bearer is the target of a curse, whether or not they succeed the saving throw. If a would-be creator fails a check to make a nazar, all nazars they have already made lose their power.

    casket rite [apotropaic] [simple] Seal a coffin with silver nails. If the interred has the will and ability to rise as a restless corpse, they must make a CHA saving throw to succeed and will not be able to try again if they fail. If a witch is trying to raise them, they must make a CHA saving throw before they can attempt it, and cannot try again if they fail.

    revenant rite [dark] Bury someone with a smoldering piece of cypress charcoal on their chest, and they will return as a restless corpse. If they don't want to come back, they cane make a WIS saving throw.

    ill rite [dark] [simple] Cast grave dirt on a human as you whisper a cursed syllable. They must make a WIS saving throw or suffer a wasting illness, losing 1 EP a day until they die.

    rite of calling [dark] [apotropaic] [simple] Summon a corpse by calling its name at night at the edge of the woods, the mouth of a cave, the bank of a river, or the shore of a lakeThey may or may not be friendly, and if they don't want to come they may make a CHA saving throw to avoid the summons.

    red ribbon rite [dark] [simple] tie a red ribbon to a bound or incapacitated spirit (fiend, fey, elemental, undead, celestial). It must make a CHA saving throw or consider you its master. It can remake the saving throw every time your orders humiliate it, place it in danger, or require it to violate its nature.

    shrine rite [dark] [apotropaic] [complex] spend a turn building an impromptu shrine from ritual stones to a spirit (fiend, fey, elemental, undead, celestial) to communicate with it directly. You can ask it to cast a spell, perform a task, guard you, reveal a secret, etc. It may or may not be friendly. Each spirit has its own shrine rite, and they must be learned separately. Ritual stones may be reused.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    blades of grass

    a 5e monster for weird florida. Been thinking about Pearce's Monstrum 1 and Monstrum 2 posts, and while I haven't faithfully applied those principles here, I wanted something that didn't immediately and obviously fit into the D&D taxonomy (in some ways it doesn't matter if your kobolds are dogmen or lizard people or birdlings or shivering clouds of diamond dust if players know that it's a fodder enemy in the same genus as goblins and bullywugs).
    you might think it's a coyote at first when you see it running down the trail--its skeleture is right, and it has that canine posture on all fours, but then it rears back on its hind legs and then keeps going, sprinting like a human, reaching for you with its sharp fingers. it looks more like a person up close, but its mouth is a little too wide and its teeth are far too sharp, and when you cut it, its blood is pink and viscous, like real blood mixed with milkweed sap.

    medium fey, chaotic neutral
    Armor Class 15
    Hit Points 7
    Speed 40 ft, 60 ft on all fours, 30 ft climb speed           
    STR 8 (-1) DEX 14 (+2) CON 10 (+0)
    INT 10 (+0) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 10 (+0)                    
    Skills: Stealth +6
    Senses passive Perception 12
    Languages unknown
    Weaknesses radiant damage, makes their blood burn like wet sodium
    Graceful. Can take the Disengage or Hide action on each of its turns
    Hide in the House. Has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks when hiding in grass
    Grass House Walker. Moves through palmetto, tall grass, and natural difficult terrain silently and without penalty                                                                 
    • Claw. Melee weapon attack. +4 to hit, 1d6+2 slashing damage
    • Green glass blade. Melee weapon attack.+4 to hit, 1d8+2 slashing damage, breaks on a roll of maximum damage.
    • Weird. The dweller can cast one of the following spells per short rest. Use WIS as spellcasting ability score. Its spell save DC is 14 and its spell attack bonus is +4
      1. as entangle. The dweller gently palpates the ground; if it is stone it flexes like soft flesh, if it is dirt or sand the dweller reaches below the surface and manipulates something unseen there. Slender pale arms churn through the ground, delicate strong hands with opalescent fingernails drag down whatever they find.
      2. as fog cloud. The dweller scores the earth deep with its claw and black smoke boils up out of the gash.
      3. as unseen servant. There is the faint smell of cut grass and open earth, pollen and tiny insects hang in the air.
      4. as thunderwave. The dweller throws back its head and roars like a thousand thousand cicadas, it's the worst sound you've ever heard, you can taste it in your teeth, feel it blast through the fine bones of your jaw and ears.
    • Pact. Once per day: Three dwellers within 5 ft of each other can use their action in the same turn to summon a demon if they are outside in a wilderness area. Roll or choose based on situation, all have fiend type. Demons have their own initiative and act in the interests of the dwellers unless separated from their summoners, in which case they act of their own free will.
      1. sunstroke demon (as yellow faerie dragon) a ragged coyote corpse leaking mirage-shimmer from the rents in its hide, running weightlessly across the ground, flitting from branch to branch as easily as a crow.
      2. palmetto demon (as imp) scuttling mass of palm scrub detritus: palm fibers, browning fronds, broken roots, sand clods. It doesn't change shape, but just shows you what it's been all along, changing from spider to rat like an optical illusion resolving itself
      3. anhinga demon (as spectator) has a 60 ft swim speed. it coils through the air like an eel through water, braided serpentine bodies throwing off coils and wings that dissolve into black feathers as fast as they form. its conjoined heads are spotted with angry red eyes, each stare carrying a different curse.
      4. ash demon (as azer) it could almost be a charred corpse and often disguises itself as one, but its skin is thick like charcoal. when roused the red glow of its internal flame can be seen through the cracks in its skin, and its breath is heavy with smoke.

    There are dwellers in other houses, too. The Petal House Dwellers have the character of both spiders and moths, and their magic is white and filamentous. The River House Dwellers are hulking and patient and make familiars of toads and crocodiles. There is a Pure House, too, a House long ago and far away and high above, with dwellers of infinite beauty and cruelty, who drink up the creatures of the earth, who would pull apart the world like a ripe fruit and eat it if they could.

    Thursday, January 5, 2017

    the earth does not want you

    hey guys. it's certainly been a while. i've been thinking about a weird fantasy florida, recently, out in the palm scrub, where everything is mean and sharp and unfriendly and unnavigable and really kind of beautiful in a careless sort of way.

    her flesh moves like fire on her bones, her hair roils like a plume of smoke from her head, her feet barely touch the water as she strides across it and you smell the black magic in the air: hot metal and raw meat and ozone.
    • Each sinner knows a random cleric spell with a level equal to their HD. They can cast it at will.
    • Sinners cannot cross lines of salt or enter holy ground or consecrated buildings like churches, and they must flee the sounds of church bells and calls to prayer as if they had failed a Morale check.
    • Sinners can walk on water, walls, and ceilings; they are supernaturally light when it suits them, and any surface or structure that can support the weight of a crow will also support a sinner.
    they are pale, luxuriously dressed in black veils and black lace, they move in groups of two or three, they dart about close to the ground in the edges of your vision. they never seem to be what they should, seeming to be very large and very far away, or else very small and very close; you always have to reach farther than you think to strike them with your weapon, but they can just raise their hand and touch you all the same.
    • Each corpse can cast a random magic-user spell with a level equal to their HD. They can cast it at will.
    • If a corpse sees an open grave (dug for the purposes of burying someone, at least 6 feet deep, a burial marker at the head of the grave), it must climb inside and lie down. If it hears properly recited funeral rites (INT check and a round of effort), it must make a Morale check. Corpses cannot cross lines of salt.
    • As long as nobody can see its point of departure or arrival, a corpse can teleport to any location in 120'.
    palm devil
    a figure standing at the edge of the pines, a little too tall to be human, the contours of its body beneath its ragged coat too long and slender, it's holding a palmetto frond in front of its face, and when it turns to you, all the leaves on all the trees as far as you can see rattle, malicious and filled with volition
    • a palm devil's face is indescribable; should anyone see it they must Save vs Magic or become Feebleminded. They will transform into a sinner by midnight of the following Sunday unless restored by Remove Curse.
    • Can cast Gust of Wind, Move Earth, and Plant Growth twice each per fight.
    • Can fly by riding its palm frond.
    • In a palm devil's hands, a palm frond functions as a vorpal axe and can easily cut through any mundane substance.
    venomous augury
    someone has nailed a huge rattlesnake to the trunk of a dead pine tree at regular intervals, tied lengths of red silk to each nail head. it looks at you with wet human eyes and tells you something horrible.
    • the venomous augury knows everything, probably. A player can ask it anything and it will give them the true answer. This can amount to a wish--ask it where the elixir of eternal life it, and it will tell you, whether or not there was an elixir before you asked. However, every answer introduces an evil equal in influence or power to the wealth or knowledge being sought. Ask "where is the woman who will save the world?" and the augury is liable to answer "in the house of the man who will one day destroy it"
    • once someone has asked the augury a question, it forevermore appears to them as a stinking dead rattlesnake grotesquely nailed to a tree.
    prophet of mud
    a huge hairless face emerges from the muck in front of you. it does not bother to turn its head, but swivels its bulging yellow eyes towards you as it begins to hum a hymn
    • the prophet of mud is a third level cleric and knows Bless, Command, and Augury and can cast spells from its head or its hands.
    • the prophet can emerge from any body of mud. it can reach its hands up from any body of mud or murky water that is contiguous with the mud it head is in.
    • the prophet's head and two hands get their own turn in the initiative order. it can only see what its head sees, naturally, but will feel things out with one hand to help the other.
    • the prophet can spend a round singing hymns to cast Rock To Mud at will.
    there is a mother deep beneath the earth, she once had a shell of many hard plates and swam with many sharp legs and saw with a constellation of many watchful eyes. she died long ago, when this land was still a sea, but she is still here, she is a hollow in the bedrock far below, a long spiral in the dark. sometimes she tells the land what it used to be, and when she does it listens.

    photos by me