Saturday, March 28, 2015

Daphne von Kirin Santos

Found by my players in the snowy surf, curled in the jaws of a sea serpent, which was caught dead in the talons of an ocean hawk, which was dead in the jaws of a pure white fox: the letter was covered in contact poison.

"To my most Pearlescent and Flowering sister -

May these words quickly reach your Orchid Manse -

I have been ruined by pirates -

Send rescue -

I will wait with my attendants in the place where the eels sing their night songs -

Come in Haste, Daphne my Love -

'Ware the giant, he sniffs the bloodshed and prowls from his home among the waves -


PS: I trust you received my shipment of jaguars, passage to Loth Armanea has been made slow by Velkiss.  Offer her a Purple Child when she blows against you."

Sylvia Plath describes the Lady Daphne von Kirin Santos 100% accurately:

All day she plays at chess with the bones of the world:
Favored (while suddenly the rains begin
Beyond the window) she lies on cushions curled
And nibbles an occasional bonbon of sin.

Prim, pink-breasted, feminine, she nurses
Chocolate fancies in rose-papered rooms
Where polished higboys whisper creaking curses
And hothouse roses shed immortal blooms.

The garnets on her fingers twinkle quick
And blood reflects across the manuscript;
She muses on the odor, sweet and sick,
Of festering gardenias in a crypt,

And lost in subtle metaphor, retreats
From gray child faces crying in the streets.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Redoing the numenera bestiary: okay . . . the E's

This was rough.

Earthshaker. A fine monster. HD 20 at d20+4 hps per (15 being average), 1 attack +12 (+16 when charging) deals 3d12 damage against up to four adjacent creatures. AC 18. Yes it can charge 200 feet in a round if it spends a previous round dashing, and then also make its charge attack, which allows it to move through a creatures space or, if the target would prefer, an opposed Strength check failure is full damage and knocked about. He’s large enough to step on a person as an additional attack for 2d6 damage, which if he maintains the pin deals automatic damage each round. An earthshaker with some baleful aura would be a perfect foe.

Edacious destroyer. So this picture is no good. Instead, this is probably a black giant with a really fat worm growing out of one of its eyes. You’d meet the giant and it would either have an eyepatch or a crusted hole or like just a wiggling tip poking out and then it would disgorge a fat white maggot. Maybe there is scabbed hole that the worm breaks through every time it comes out. The giants accept the worms willingly from their Worm Pool. I imagine the worms hunting with the giants and bringing the digestion back to the worm pits to feed their young. The largest worms are ridden upon. They are regarded as an alternate intelligence, like the machinations of weather or divinity, and the worms are consulted on decisions of state. 

Ellnoica. Fuck this monster. Invisible, again. The description (“it tries to suck the flesh off the bones of a fresh kill” . . . “a glowing terror the color of uncooked meat”) is totally different from the picture, which is: a bright pink walking hand with spikes on either end. This is another monster where I could probably use the picture as-is but scrap everything about the description. Instead of a “crushing blow” or acid that liquefies you, it just grabs you and squeezes, and the other end puts holes in you. The shimmering psychedelic speed-lines are to indicate the creepy speed with which it hobbles across the room, like the crocodile-head girl in Tokyo Gore Police. It makes a constant hissing humming static psychic noise, being as it’s a debased mutant mindflayer and all. Phew, I can’t believe I made it through this monster, I thought I’d have to give up on this project completely.

Ember scion. Oh, so it’s just a fire elemental. They live in volcanos and are on fire and they shoot fire and things around them catch fire. Fire elementals are already so boring that I don’t use them in my game. “Reasoning with them never seems to work.” This is the worst page so far. The best sentence is the one that makes the least sense: “It is said that the understanding of the past shaped flesh that could thrive anywhere, and therein lies the most likely genesis of these creatures.” So these things go into cities spreading the Understanding of the Past Shaped Flesh, which is a tenet of Imix, and is incredibly fascinating and complicated and heretical, but as soon as anyone understands it they spontaneously combust and turn into malicious lava with screaming faces, and the ember scions herd these lavas into their volcanoes and smugly bathe in them. The picture is no good and I can’t draw so I have no idea what these look like: so use your favorite demon generator and call it a day. They’re probably more Boschean than Warhammer.

Encephalon. Haha this monster is great. Everything about it is totally fucked: a lamprey-mouthed slimey big-headed guy shoots out flocks of flying slugs that drill into your brain, steal your brains, and fly back into the tree-man’s chomping mouth to feed it brains. It walks on a mass of tentacles. The slugs have butterfly wings. I love it. 

Engineered Viral Host.  “It has bioengineered its own, more efficient hosts.” This seems like a basically good idea. I don’t like any of these pictures: a green jelly guy perched on a rock; a faceless green wizard making a twisty-fingered wrathful non-expression; a predictable four-legged green spider. Why green? The opening paragraph makes me wonder about the psychology of an intelligent virus though. It must be incredibly futile - one humongous, disconnected, impotent body. No wonder they would try to create artificial bodies to live in. It’s decided to build its own cities instead of invading others forever and ever. Probably the hosts are aware of their virulence and try to protect themselves from harm as much as any person would, since infecting another lifeform is tedious and difficult, like a siege. I’d preserve the way they spray horrible diseases when damaged, but they probably go, “Oh noooo!” when it happens and helplessly cover their wounds with their fingers. They probably just look like sick men, skin green with jaundice. Another person at court, and an assassination target for the forces of Nurgle. 

Entrope. They are “never found in warm environments” and are “entities of exotic biomineral.”  I wish I could just say “Fine, next” but I would never use this in my game this way and I shall not cheat you. Here’s the thing: everything this monster does, an ice ooze does better. Biomineral? Never found in warm environments? Splits in two? Sucks the heat from the air? Well the ice ooze sucks in heat and then spits it out too.

Okay, how about this: that picture of the tentacle worm is the size of a finger. If you sever a finger and put an entrope there in its place you can use it to make an attack dealing 1d10 cold damage and on a failed Charisma save its entropy becomes activated and both you and the target lose your next turn while the entrope coils and uncoils its tentacles and makes a loud laughter through its cold lips.

Ergovore Hound. Perfect, another dog to put on the dog list for the players to buy. It eats force effects (magic missiles, force fields, force cubes, etc) by taking big chomps out of them, and in combat it can either maul a guy or whip out its six-tongued spiketongue and make six attacks. The picture is good. “The only dogs in the kennel are a sick bulldog and . . . THIS”

Eurlian. WTF? They show us a picture of a floating brain connected to a spine and don’t specifically say, “This is what happens when a brain gets sick of being in a body, because it’s too smart and powerful for the meat it’s embedded in?” Like, a wizard learns too many spells at once and its central nervous system gains a superior consciousness and rips out of its body. Makes sense to me. I’ll skip the first entry, for the Erulian, because it’s empty (The monster can be incorporeal but chooses not to . . . it can float through objects but chooses not to . . . “Erulians are normally passive” . . . “Erulians can exist in any environment”), and just say the Erulian can take six actions each turn because it’s so fucking smart. Possible options include: any number of wizard spells; cause disadvantage on one kind of ability save; slow a monster for a turn; make one deaf and blind; undo the turn; cause a spell to come into effect the next turn instead of this one; all kinds of bullshit like that.  

Etterick. “They control the machine through means that look much like scuttling around and doing typical insect activities.” Basically, this is an alien ant farm. Ho ho ho. I can’t get over its dopey smile. I can handle the idea of a metal golem with a dopey smile that just spams magnetic repulsion round after round, and then when it takes a certain amount of damage it cracks and a swarm of clicking magnetic flying metal bugs pours out and forms, like, a sword that attacks you, or a screaming skull. I suppose I would do that in my game.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Redoing the Numenera Bestiary: the Ds

Continuing forward.

Dabirri: This is a picture of a jellyfish. The book says they are "created by taking the heart of a creature the size of a human and placing it in a synth shell" which is the coolest bit. So I'm imagining a crawling jellyfish with a beating heart in it. Sloppy and gloppy and quivers and lashes out tentacle after tentacle to drag itself around. That would be good. Their poison ignores armor since it briefly phases the target into Hell and back. And we can say that these are the hearts of mutineers who give up their hearts to the sea in order to avoid hell.

Decanted: Okay, so this is a golem that turns invisible and steals people’s heads. Jesus. They have cold hands. Man oh man. But the idea of a golem with a head in its chest is basically good, and the picture works.

Okay so I’m going to use the original picture, but instead of ceramic or metal it’s a golem made of silk surrounding a cut block of frozen memories with a head in it. It moves like a puppet. I imagine that when someone important dies - like royalty, or a national hero - but they also know important national secrets - their head is frozen and protected in these special puppet golems.

You could have separate hit-points for the frozen head and the puppet head, and it ignores damage to the silk bits. It doesn't touch the ground and can flit around like a kung fu master. Its claws still do extra cold damage, and it can partially thaw the frozen memories surrounding the head so it sprays freezing memory around it, and everyone touched by it is stunned while they experience a flood of foreign memories. When the frozen head is damaged it sprays the frozen memories in a random direction.

Dedimaskis. This is actually a complicated magical mask and when you wear it, it can do the following: 1/week shoot four prismatic lasers dealing 2d6 damage each as 3 + Charisma bonus, OR shoot one laser up to 1 mile dealing 4d6 damage (as same). While worn the wearer cannot sleep but if they meditate for 8 hours they get the same benefits as a long rest plus 3 extra hit-points per level.

Dimensional husk. This is perfect. It's a person surrounded by all of its alternate realities partially phased into our reality. It can make 1d6 additional attack each round, it’s damage ranges randomly from 1d4 to 1d20 (simulating which weapons from its alternate realities it wields), ignores 25% of all damage, and its AC changes each round: 1d20 + 8. It can still teleport as an action. One per week it can rip a dimensional husk from a PC (as in the DM intrusion) which acts as the PC +/- 1d4 levels and accrues 1 dimension per minute until after an hour its a fully formed new dimensional husk (with a bizarro personality of course).

“A dimensional husk spends its existence confused.” No it doesn’t, it speaks every possible sentence simultaneously and knows more than any soul confined to just one reality at once. It can be consulted to see into alternate futures and pasts. It’s what happens when someone is afflicted with possibilities - maybe they mis-wielded a might sword, or was swallowed by Zuggtomy's rot, or were ravaged by wild magic.

Dream sallow. A tree that puts you to sleep and melds with your brain so your mind melds with the tree’s mind. This is a hard one: the tree avatar is already taken by the dryad so I don’t want to overlap, but I like the idea of a special dungeon inside an evil tree.  This is probably more like an tree that’s absorbed the minds of thousands of tortured dead souls, like the petrified one in the graveyard in Deathfrost Doom, and probably each of these trees contains a powerful spell, or you could need to consult one of the souls trapped inside. So here's what you do: you climb onto the tree and impale yourself on it and its bloody sap mixes with your blood and a door opens into the tree which leads to the labyrinthine reality where all its souls and secret spells live as well as the heart of its secret malice.

Drebil. It’s another bat but this time it’s also a mimic. We already did bats and I don't like mimics, so it’s probably a kind of goblin. A dreblin, if you will. It has extraneous and large wings that can’t fly but also that it can’t comfortably fold, so it folds its wings endlessly, alone, like a cat rearranging its fur. It can also refold one item into another item, ("Yes, I shall turn your shield into a crystal lantern . . . for a price!") but after 1d10 hours it starts to come undone and must be refolded. It’s just an abject 1 HD AC 10 goblin that can imitate voices, is vulnerable to cold iron, eats the eyes of children, and serves witches.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Redoing the Numenera Bestiary: the Cs

Continuing on with the Numenera Bestiary. A lot of these have one or two parts of the monster that are to my taste and the rest I want to whittle off, like a caramel nugget wrapped in wood.

Calyptor: I don’t like this picture. Where are all those folds going? What’s that under its chin? And as usual the nugget of monster doesn’t interact with the players or their surroundings in a way that’s new or strange. “Cause Fear . . . Sleep . . . “ zzzz.  “Intensely loud, focused bleat.” Okay, they’re singing goats. Their songs sound like Satanic choirs. They bleat and a rip appears in your flesh or your face falls off or your eardrums pop or your heart stops. Their song-specific powers require certain numbers of goats: 1 goat: Bleat as bastard sword at range 3 goats: Destroy eardrums, deaf until healed 9 goats: Enslave (new save each day) 27 goats: Stop Heart, no save (affects 5d12 hit points of creatures).  As third level thieves, can climb slick walls and open doors and jump as thieves. 

Cave qui: These are pacifist bats. “Cave qui culture puts the colony first, valuing the well-being of every member.” God damn. Some of them are zombies. The curse can “strike without apparent warning or cause.” Geez. There aren't natural caves anywhere in my games, ever.

 So all the living cave quis are dead and there are isolated island nations where flocks of zombie bats blacken the skies. They're just normal sized bats and they're not rotting necessarily, just cursed, and a single bite can turn a person into a zombie, and they flee bright light.  Assassins smuggle the cursed bats in hats or jars. Vampires throw them at enemies.  HP 2 AC 16 Bite +3 1 damage and DC 18 Charisma check to avoid the curse which kills you in 1d10 days and also immediately causes: 1. Halve hit-points 2. Disadvantage on all psychic ability checks 3. 1d6 damage to a psychic ability score every day 4. Unaffected by healing - that sort of thing. When you die from the curse you return as a zombie with the same curse.

Chance moth: I imagine a chaos knight covered in glowing moths of an unknown color. Call it a chaos moth if you want, even that would be better than a "chance moth." I don't like the stings on the wings anyway - who ever heard of a moth stinging somebody? So now it's a small jale colored radioactive moth that touches you and you get a random effect, just like it says. Either roll on the chart provided or roll on the 1d1000 mutation table. There's a chunk of the random table in the book that says "Nothing happens." That's boring. Here's what happens instead:

41-45 Become proficient in random weapon (doubling if already) for 1 hour 46-50 Same for a day 51-55 Learn a random spell levels 1-4 56-60 Learn a random spell levels 5-7 61-65 Repel undead 15’ for 1 day 66-70 Glow brightly random color for 1 day 71-75 Moth turns into random monster 76-80 Moth dies 81-86 Weapons or armor enchanted at +3 for 1 day 87-91 Fall upward 10xd20 feet 92-97 Moth explodes for 8d6 radiation damage in 10 foot radius 98-99 Moth explodes for 8d6 radiation damage and everyone in explosion makes DC 15 CON check or gain a 1d1000 mutation. 00 Con save DC 13 or melt into a random ooze

Chronal feeder: That’s a pretty good picture but I'd prefer if it were more of a giant maggot. Let’s say they have a slow aura 30’ and a time stop aura 5’. They can still burrow into their Nth dimensional home outside of time as an action and teleport - this leaves a tesseract for 1d20 rounds that connects the two places. I’d want it to be more of a giant maggot - HD 8 AC 11 Bite +6 2d8+4 and eats time based magic (Intelligence DC 14). I don't know how someone would kill a teleporting maggot that stops all time in its vicinity but I'll leave that to the players.

Coccitan: Cockroach people. There’s no problem with this. They’re probably well-regarded, immune to radiation, intelligent, and disgusting. “Are not as intelligent as humands” of course they are. “Where they gorge on garbage, sewage, and other scrap” No they’re a dilapidated upper class clad in rich fabrics and jewelry and they feast on roasted fowl and good wine and are served by blue women and boys.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Numenera Bestiary, A's and B's

I like the Numenera Bestiary but I wouldn't use any of the monsters as-is in my weird fantasy ocean d&d marilith game so I'm messing with them.

Accelerator: so when you petrify and animate a drider, and saw off its body and replace it with a dead psychic child embalmed and encased in nearly opaque black crystal, it becomes an accelerator.

Astraphin monolith: Not the plant thing, and not lasers either. Pluck out a wizard’s eye. Pour lava over the wizard and let it harden. Preserve the eye and set it into the elaborately carved pumice statue. The powers just happen when the eye can see you: your flesh corrodes, you catch fire, etc.

Avatrol. Instead of a camel, it’s an evil horse with a hole through its head - just a smooth bore so you can see its bone, flesh, brain, etc.

Balikna: Come on . . . it's a spiky lizard and it turns invisible and its blind but can hear really good so that doesn't matter and it has lobster claws and a club tail and oh man.  Even the name sounds like made-up Czech for "dear grandmother."  So this is now a normal-sized incredibly magical "common quail" that's invisible in sunlight and moonlight, and it's poisonous to touch (which numbs and paralyses what touches it) and a poisonous spur that knocks its opponent out. It hungers for brains.

There really is a bird that's poisonous to the touch in that way. It's called the hooded pitohui, which is a better word than "balikna." I'll call this the shaded nightquail.

Bellowheart: This is a great picture. I've decided it's a mutant giant, so it still speaks giant. Its powers are good - I'd use this almost as-is.

Blitzer: Also serviceable almost without modification. Now they have a tiny demon embedded in their organs that glows and tortures them, so if you can kill or extract the demon without killing the blitzer, they recover. Also if the blitzer overheats it explodes like a fireball and the fire demon crawls out and burns a tiny smoking hole through reality to get back to hell.

Bloodfeast tick: It sucks on a sleeping person until they die, and then it's inflated by the blood and is a giant tick. No way. Now it's the bloodbaby: you inject them under your skin and it feeds on your blood until you have a little baby growing on you that you can pamper and feed other people's blood, and some people let it get so big that it's huge and bloated and crawls around dragging them around behind it all emaciated and dessicated. So the players can meet a lavishly dressed rich-person attached by their skin to a gigantic crying hungry baby. They're malicious and stupid but their "parent" overlooks this.

More later.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Uilleax, the Fathom Wyrm

Millenia ago, people lived on Loth Ravenor, and stood sometimes for days in the surf and listened to the secrets that the ocean told them. They built a black temple on the island there and killed black sharks and hung them from the walls of the temple, and made instruments from the flesh of sharks and cattle and played old songs that the ocean told them, and prayed, and in time Uilleax the Fathom Wyrm came swimming from under the waves and crawled into the temple and became their god. It taught them what ways to honor it, and spells no one knew, and how to placate the Gods of the Winds and of the Currents, and how to see into the dreams of fish and waves, and make congress with the fish, and be knowledgeable of the ocean.  They built Loth Armanea and every millennium Uilleax destroyed one third of their city as payment and sacrifice for the gifts he gave them. One thousand and one years ago, he entered Loth Armanea, set ablaze the city, turned the city council into salt, swallowed the emperor and his nine royal children and ninety wives, and crawled into the ocean, and has not been seen since.

It is said that Uilleax the Fathom Wyrm was three kilometers in length and possessed one thousand legs and was the color of blood and mucous and that his gaze gave strange life to dreams and that in his presence the ocean sang odd arias, and danced. 

One thousand and one years now has the temple on Loth Ravenor stood empty and its halls are kept by black puddings, millipedes, serpents, goatmen, and shoggoth.  Goats live in the trees around the temple and their horns grow strange, and they speak the language of men and fish.  The gates to the temple are guarded by old devotees to the Fathom Wyrm and suffer no one to pass, and still place gold and sacrifice within the entrance where Uilleax once went, and the treasures are taken by the monsters within, for the clerics believe the monsters are beloved of the dragon, and sacred to him.

They pray for his return, and seek him on pilgrimage across the ocean, and Loth Armanea arms itself in preparation.

Clerics of the Fathom Wyrm may choose these powers at the appropriate level instead of their domain power.

1st level: Learn the Language of Fish. Gain proficiency at Swimming, and add double proficiency bonus to Swim checks. 

1st level: Your touch becomes poison. Make an unarmed attack as a bonus action. On a hit, the target becomes poisoned for 1d4 rounds (disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks), and each round that it is poisoned takes 1d4 poison damage. This leaves a suppurating wound, and if the creature takes 10 or more damage this way, the wound scars permanently. You may do this a number of times per day = Wisdom modifier. 

2nd level: Channel Divinity: Brine. You can present your holy symbol and cause a salt wind to howl. Each hostile creature within 30 feet of you must make a Constitution saving throw. A creature takes dehydration damage equal to 2d10+cleric level on a failed save, and half that on a successful save. A creature reduced to 0 hp by this power turns to a salt statue. Also on a failed save, each creature's weapons and armor degrades by an amount equal to your Wisdom bonus. 

6th level: Channel Divinity: Charm Fish, and Slimes too. You present your holy symbol and speak an invocation to Uilleax Each fish, jellyfish, slime, or ooze that can see (or sense) you within 30' must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, it becomes charmed by you for 1 minute or until it takes damage. The charmed creature is friendly to you and anyone else you decide

8th level: Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with your weapon you may deal an extra 1d8 psychic damage as their thoughts become torturous and terrifying. When you reach 14th level, this (of course) increases to 2d8 damage. For every eight damage a creature takes from this attack, they become unable to sleep for one day.

17th level: You learn the names of the Currents and the Winds. As an action you may name a Wind or an Ocean Current and direct it as you like. A wind may blow in any direction, gust at the strength of a storm, become still, or anything else a Wind might do. An Ocean Current may change directions, become still, become confused, loop onto itself, or the like. Maintaining control over a Wind or a Current counts as maintaining concentration on a spell, and must be spoken to again each round as a bonus action.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Psychic Kung Fu Fantasy Pirates

These are for my new wavecrawler campaign. I want my players to get random weird abilities regardless of their level and I just love the idea of weird fantasy pirates using kung fu and psychic powers. If you're in my game and don't want to be spoiled, don't read these! You'll see the lists if you ever get a power anyway.
Psychic powers  
Each time you get knocked unconscious you have a 1% chance to learn one of these. I figure you could either roll every time you get KO'd or tally it up per session and roll at the end of session, or when you level up. If that turns out tedious or annoying then I'll would probably change it to be every time you level up you have a d% chance = your Charisma score.
These can be used once per week, or you can recharge one by spending d20 points of your favorite psychic ability score, which regenerate one point per night of rest. 
DC = 8 + Proficiency bonus + Charisma mod (5e) or 10 + Charisma mod + 1/2 Level (3e) or Save vs Spell (I guess). 
Roll 1d20
1. MIND BLAST: Shimmering zig-zag lines spring from your head. Everyone in a 25’ foot cone must make a Will save or take 8d6 damage and be stunned for 1 round. (Mindflayers in my campaigns can use this one at will)
2. CHAMBER OF POWER - your chest bursts open and becomes a psionic fire pit -- replace CON with CHA and you shoot psychic fire at a random target within 300’ every round for 2d6 damage for 1d4+CHA bonus rounds, and then you start to attract all magic into your chest for 1d4 rounds—all magic cast within 300’ caster must make a Will save or target you instead—and then your chest explodes in a flash of light 300’ wide, and everyone within 30’ (including you) must CON save or go blind for 1d6 rounds.
3. POORLY LEARNED SPELL. you learn a random spell that has a 50% chance of backfiring.  Every time you successfully cast the spell you get d20% better at casting it.
4. TELEPATHY--lasts d6x10 minutes. Range 300' feet. You can communicate back and forth, send images, etc., any thought you could plausibly have can be transmitted.
5. MARTYR POWER - You must make eye-contact with a target within 10’. They will take 2x the damage or healing that you receive for 3d4 rounds (Will save).
6. Everyone in fifteen foot sphere is pushed away 5d4 feet, wall and ceiling crushed away in perfect sphere, you get a nosebleed. If someone is crushed against a wall or object they take 8d6 damage (Con save for half)
7. You instantly learn the next d20 d20 rolls you'll witness. This includes ability checks, saving throws, attack rolls, and so on.
8. FROM THE FUTURE - an extra, helpful you from the future appears and acts for 1d4 rounds, and then you both disappear for that number of rounds, and then you reappear alone.
9. FUGUE STATE - you revert to the state you were 1d4 rounds ago and all your actions are undone
10. NEXT MELEE ATTACK DAMAGE = damage you just took
11. SPLIT VISION—Your vision goes split-screen.  One side of the screen shows what’s in the location where you use the power, as if you’re still there, and the other side of the screen shows where you can currently see.  This lasts for 1d6x10 minutes.
12. Anti-magnetic - repel metal at the same rate as it hits you for 1d4 rounds. You can't touch metal or wear metal armor and you float a centimeter off of metal floors, but that's frictionless so you'll probably fall if you try.
13. Change the color of your skin (is a little imprecise and lasts until you use it again)
14. Vomit Flesh—You vomit 5d4 pounds of living, bloody meat.
15. Weapon floats in front of you and uses your INT instead of STR for attack and damage. You can use it each round as a bonus action for 1d10 rounds.
16. BLISTERING TELEPORT WALK: Woommmm... you flicker as you levitate through the air up to 2x your move; you're immune to damage during the move.
17. Everyone in 10' radius sphere (centered on you) instantly forgets everything they know about you, forever. (Will save to resist)
18. CAUSE MUTATION: Target must save or gain d6 random mutations. You black out for d4 rounds.
19. Next sentence you speak is automatically believed (no save)

20. Mind probe. Touch enemy’s head. The target makes a Will save. On failure it suffers 1d6+CHA damage and is stunned and you gain complete knowledge of the past 1d4+Cha mod days of its life OR Complete knowledge of some finite area of understanding roughly equal in contents to a short book OR You gain 1d4 of its Skill or Weapon proficiencies OR One spell it knows.  This knowledge fades after a day.  If the target makes its save, the power backlashes and you take 3d6+CHA damage.

Kung Fu Powers

Each time you kill a guy in melee combat you have a 1% chance to learn one of these. You'd probably want to tally these per session instead of rolling each time you off a guy. Like above you could probably do a d% chance = Wisdom every time you level up if you wanted to simplify things, or just grant them every so often. In my last campaign I let melee characters without any magical powers get one every other level and it worked out really well. Everyone love it. Nick got Pythagorean Leap at level 2 and spent the next two years stacking dice.

These are usable once per day, i.e. you get them back after a Long Rest.

These are all from Zak Smith's call for kung fu moves for his crowdsourced Gigacrawler game, so specific authors are multiple - see - seriously these are all really good, but these 20 are my favorite. I'm so glad these got made.

Roll 1d20

1.      Golden Monkey Hook Strike: Leap into the air, hook leg around target's neck, land on the ground and attempt to crush trachea. A successful hit automatically causes 4 damage + target makes Fortitude save v. DC 10 + 1/2 Level + Dexterity Modifier to avoid 4 choking damage, plus target is on the ground and grappled.
2.      Lucky Number Dodge: PC chooses a number between 10 and 20. Each time an attacker rolls that number to hit the PC, s/he may automatically trip the attacker.  Once per day when an attacker rolls that number, the PC may automatically dodge that attack.
3.      Thousand Drunken Tongues Technique: After a successful unarmed to-hit roll, the player begins to speak and the GM starts a stopwatch. The player must then continuously describe, in detail, a series of physical movements his or her character is using to attack his or her enemy, without stopping.

(Example: "I leap into the air, twist, land on top of the guy's head, reach down, shove my fingers into his eyesockets, pluck out one eye, throw it into the air, slice it in half with my dagger, catch the pieces in my mouth, spit them into his face, jump off his head, sweep his legs out from under him, catch him by the hair, throw him through the window, jump through after him, punch him in the neck four times before he hitsthe ground"...etc.)

If the player pauses for more than one second ("one Miss-iss-ipp-i") the recitation must stop and the GM stops the stopwatch. The longer the player speaks, the more dangerous the attack. The attack causes damage equal to one third the number ofseconds the description goes on (rounded down).

The described attack does indeed occur--though it can only include actions which thePC (or, at least, a Jet Li-like version of the 
character) could physically perform--i.e. if the PC can't eat metal then the description cannot include the PC eating the target's sword. If the description suggests some result in addition to direct physical damage from the assault (i.e. if the strike involves the target being disarmed or thrown into a spike-filled pit), the target may be allowed a Reflex save v. the attacker’s Dexterity.

Although the described attack can include any number of actions involving weapons, they do no additional damage and the initial to-hit roll is made as if it were an unarmed strike. If more than one target is included in the description the PC can decide how exactly to allocate the damage generated.

An attack description can last up to 30 seconds.
4.      Familiar Ancient Ronin Dodge. If a PC is being attacked by two or more foes at once (melee or missile), this allows the PC to cause the enemies to hit each other (if the physical set up makes that plausible). The PC must successfully dodge the first attack, thereafter the other attacks are presumed to have been dodged as well. Theenemies all then make their attacks at each other. If the PC's roll is unsuccessful, it's wasted for the day.
5.      Palm of Unfathomable Justice: The PC may make 3 armed or unarmed melee attacks this round, using Strength for attack and damage on the first strike, Dexterity for the second, and Wisdom for the third.
6.      Keening Vampire Lunge: The PC must use a bladed or spiked weapon, claw or bite attack or anything else that could cause a bleeding wound. The attack is resolved as normal, but the defender gets a penalty to melee attack rolls equal to damage taken for 1d4 rounds. The attacker gains the same amount as a bonus for the same number of rounds.
7.      Pythagorean Leap: Set a d20 down. Now, stack dice on top of it. When thestack falls, count the number of dice. You may strike anyone within that number x5 feet, by leaping against a ceiling or wall and then straight at them. You can also simply jump that distance without attacking, or use a weapon in mid-leap (useful for dropping a bomb right on top someone, for instance).
8.      Nebulous Pin of Hot Anguish: Arms behind your back, you bump the target with your chest. Until the end of your next turn, if the target moves away or attempts to attack you, it takes damage equal to your Charisma modifier + your Wisdom modifier.
9.      Music From the Heart of Space: Make a melee touch attack using your Charisma instead of Strength. You swirl your arm, touch the target and speak a proverb. Target falls asleep for 1d4 rounds. 
10.  Golden Orbital Whip: As a full-round action, you move your speed to a target and resolve an attack. The target does not take damage but instead moves a distance in feet equal to your Strength to collide with another target. Roll 1d6:

1- First target takes damage and Second target falls
2- Second target takes damage and First target falls
3- Both targets fall down
4- Both targets take damage
5- Both targets fall down
6- Resolve an attack against the second target, using the Armor Class of the first target.
11.  Portal of Akenhopis: This is a stance of whirling limbs which reduces any projectile damage by d20 for 1d4 rounds.  Any damage reduced to 0 is deflected back at the attacker. The effect will also end when the user makes any hand-to-hand attack or attack with a handheld weapon.
12.  Accumulative JudgmentThe practitioner touches a nearby individual, either PC or NPC, who is NOT antagonistic toward the practitioner, at the same time voicing a short exhortation of action. If a PC, the player may choose not to participate, but participation can be the character's only attack for the round. Thetouched individual then touches another (as yet untouched) individual, and so on, to a maximum of 1d6 individuals per level of the practitioner. All individuals touched in this way become immediately focused in mind and body, shaking off stupors, glamors, minor hallucinations, simple hypnotic states, and other dazes of mundane or magical nature. Additionally, the final individual so touched attacks an opponent ofthe practitioner. This strike inflicts normal damage, plus 1 point for every person in the chain of Accumulative Judgement, including the striker, but not including theoriginating practitioner.
  1. Claw of Megathrox. Using a clever feint, the PC grabs two of an enemy's limbs, spins, hooks a third limb under his/her leg and twists the third limb back upon itself, rendering it useless. The complexity of the attack requires the target to have at least 3 arms or appendages placed roughly where arms would be. It is useless against two-armed creatures (or creatures with only 2 functioning arms). If the PC's Dexterity is higher than the target’s Constitution, the twist is automatically successful. If it is equal or less than the target's Constitution, there is an opposed Dexterity v. Strength roll. A successful attack also does d4 hp damage.
  2. Reptile Emperor Ninefold Seeking Fist. The PC can attempt to redirect up to 9 attacks by creatures in a 15-foot radius toward any target of his/her choosing. The PC must announce his/her attention to use this technique at the beginning of a round but the GM should proceed as if the creatures under his/her control do not know this is about to happen. The attacks must be ones that could plausibly be redirected by physically manipulating the attacker (for example, a psionic attack would not be redirected). The PC makes a Dexterity roll against the attack roll of each attacker, a success indicates the attack has been redirected and must be rolled against the new target instead of the intended one. If no attacks are made in that round, oh well, thetechnique is wasted for the day.
  3. Cataract of steel and blood. The PC makes an attack with a weapon he is holding. If it hits, he may drop the weapon, draw another one and make another attack. This goes on until the PC misses or runs out of weapons. He can use any kind of weapon during the cataract, from knives and clubs to firearms (althought he firearms must be loaded). Unarmed counts as one weapon unless he can make more than one unarmed attack per round.
  4. Amazing ram onslaught. During the PCs turn, he may move through any enemys position or square or hex or whatever movement system you use. Each time he does so, he gets to make an unarmed attack against that enemy. If the unarmed attack deals damage, the enemy is knocked down. He may keep moving even if the attack misses.
  5. Someday Soon Your Doom Is Coming. .Select an opponent you have struck in another combat-- not THIS fight, but any combat previous. ANY contested roll or attack roll made against this character is at +1 for the duration of the combat. If they survive & you use this technique in ANOTHER combat, the bonus increases by one...& so on & so on, until at last you are victorious & kill them.
  6. Qolra-Huun's Ascent. You may move in a normal-to-high gravity atmosphere as if in a 0-gravity atmosphere until the end of the next round.
  7. Tiger Facial: A series of furious claw attacks wrecks the target's face: make a successful attack and roll d6
    1 Just deep wounds (dripping blood blinds opponent 1 round)
    2 You leave a horrible scar (-2 to attack rolls from pain until healed)
    3 You pluck off one of their lips; +d4 damage
    4 You rip your victim's nose off; +d8 damage
    5 Raking one eye out you leave the target half-blind; +d10 damage
    6 You hold your target's face while he bleeds and howls; +d20 damage
  8. Boiling Miracle Axe-

    Make contact with a heat source equal to or in excess of 100c (pass your hand near a lantern, block a laser blast with your fist). Your fluid movement "catches" this heat, usually blocking or snuffing the source, and spirals it down until you strike the surface on which you stand. Any creature or electronic device within 15' of you suffers damage; you take no additional damage. The amount of heat you can transition is based on your WISDOM and, as shown on chart below with corresponding damage:


You may use this move as a reaction when faced with a fire-based attack. You take damage as normal but may execute the manuever. The user can choose to hold therelease of the heat until next round. If he elects to do so, the user suffers additional damage as outlined above.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Heeeeeeere we go!!

Here's the scenario:

I'm starting a D&D Marilith wavecrawl sandbox with some friends in Oakland at the same time as with some friends back in Philly. Since I live in Oakland, the Philly game is all on Google Plus. The idea is it's 30,000 years before the events of my last campaign, and the whole world is an ocean with numerous archipelagos, fortress islands, island cities, pirates, volcanoes, whirlpools, sea beasts, etc., and the Demon Lords and Distaff Powers are still alive and rule horrible island empires, and no one really knows how to make ships yet since it's so far in the past, so it's all inflated bladders, ships shaped like giant metal men, kayaks, swords that just float on the water and people hang out on the blade, houses, inverted metal cones with stairs that spiral downward into the ocean, etc., and the gods are more-or-less the same, except Fenrath the Wolf God is a giant wolf stuck on an island somewhere, and Belm is a three-headed cow god of fertility and civilization and roasts, and the Fathom Wyrm is more or less in charge being the Mile Long Ocean Dragon, and there are tons of ocean witches and bird witches and ice witches, so Izorides the Witch Goddess is pretty strong. What else - I don't know a whole lot about this world, I'm holding off until we finish the starting adventure (if we ever do), which goes like this:

The players wake up unconscious in the dungeons below an island fortress operated by yakmen, but the yakmen are currently battling crazed blood-covered muscle guys, and weasels are sucking blood from the corpses, and there are zombies with the tops of their heads from the jaws up sawed off patrolling everywhere, and it's dark and confusing. Pretty quickly they can find captives in the dungeons who can inform them that they were actually part of a mercenary crew sent to this island to steal "The Lambent Eye of Uvraj the Vacant," but when the first strike team infiltrated the fortress and gazed upon the eye it drove everyone insane, which is why the players lost their memory, and now the yakmen have mopped up the opposition save for pockets of lunatics in various closets and chambers. If they follow the clues they can figure out that the fortress is run by some sorceress named the Lady Olivia von Kirin Santos, who is renowned for her beauty (as well as presumed dead by most for the last thirty years) so determined people keep questing to her island to follow the rumors and woo her and failing and getting locked up or tortured. And she keeps weasels.

Kittens here, but you get the picture

So session 1, Oakland:

Adam as Gurdjieff Niaflim, Eric as Pumpkin the Gnome, and Ricky as Appear the Sorcerer make their characters. This takes a very long time. We don't have enough copies of the book and it's hard to find where the right information is. Eventually it's all sorted out and they spend some time opening cell doors and finding fish. They find a prisoner named Stevens Ragusa, scare the bejeezus out of him with dancing lights, ("I make a light shaped like a guy and say 'Wooooo'" "Stevens says 'Torment me not, ghost, I have suffered enough at the hands of these yakmen' ") and make him their ally. G.N. says, "I really want to know what it's like outside." In a torture chamber they find an ice ooze in a corked cauldron and slay it. They walk into a room and kill a handful of yakmen battling their former comrades. Session ends. I panic (how does XP work in this game??) and give everyone 316 XP, enough to level up. This was not cathartic for me and I am dissatisfied. I message my friends Nick and Jameela who live in Philadelphia and ask them if they want to play DnD and they text me exclamation points and swear words indicating that yes, they do.

Session 1, Philly:

Jameela as Pacca the Cleric, and Nick as Milton Measely, a teenage astronomer who gets his powers from a satellite called The Eye in the Sky. Jameela doesn't know what feat to take. "There are feats in this game?" They spend some time opening cell doors and finding mice. Someone casts an illusion down a hall and a headless zombie runs up and KOs Pacca - knock-down brutal fight ensues and the victorious adventurers bandage up in a prison cell while the weasels patrol around but are fooled by the illusory door. They scare the yakmen away from the battle with their illusions and their former comrades burst through the door and slaughter the yakmen and bathe in their entrails. Pacca and Milton lure the pirates into the torture chamber and release the ice ooze which freezes the lunatic pirates and threatens to freeze Milton's eye to the keyhole where he's peeking through but he makes his save and the ice ooze slithers down to the ice chambers. Pacca and Milton meet a mysterious dandy in a purple wig named Three-Face Adamson who feeds them false information and teleports away when they close the door. Pacca and Milton Measely bicker: "I told you we should have killed him," etc. Session ends. I've prepared this time for XP awards and give them a meagre sum of XP. I feel satisfied.

Session 2, Philly, the very next day ("Come on Nate, let's play again" "Well alright"):

Pacca and Milton save a sword-legged pirate named Aliu Alexi from a wardrobe. They go into a dank chamber where three doors are sealed with red paint and candles burn on tall candelabras and incantations are written on the doors and they hear the beating of a heart beyond one and they say "Nope" and go the other way.  In the arms of a pig idol they find a glass orb the size of a bowling ball with magical multi-colored snakes inside, steal it, find a window, and led by Aliu Alexi hightail it back to the boat, which is actually a white cathedral shaped like the underside of a cow on the inside, and it's operated by an invalid priestess of Belm named Morrigan von Moon, who's employing a purple-skinned mercenary captain named Vex Mondri, and they promise Pacca and Milton Measely 300 GPs to rescue the Lambent Eye of Uvraj the Vacant. Session ends. Another meagre sum of XP. "XP for gold in this campaign," I remind them.

Session 2, Oakland:

Enter Sasha as the urchin thief Nicolai. She brings wine. We create her character for what seems like days. I really want to play Dungeons and Dragons. Adam eventually rejoins as the dwarven wizard Gurdjiff Niaflim. Adam: "He has a disgusting, flaccid body, and a transparent wrap like cellophane which displays colors and patterns." Me: "Perfect." G.N. finds Nicolai hiding in a wardrobe. After chasing the yakmen away, their former comrades burst through the door ("Two muscled men covered in blood and wielding knives burst through the door") and Nicolai spends some rounds trying to bring them back to their senses with hypnotic words and a lit candle. It almost works too. They stab Stevens Ragusa with their knives and bathe in his entrails. G.N. kills them with a quarterstaff while Nicolai watches. G.N. throws the body of Stevens down the stairs to the ice chambers. Enter Billi as the "trifling" druid Cr33d at the bottom of the stairs, who looks like Lisa Loeb but is made of cotton candy. All play dissolves into jokes and pop culture references as Billi describes his character. Everyone becomes distracted and tired. G.N. says "I really just want to see this ocean world. I wish we could go outside." Session ends. A meagre sum of XP. I am saddened and want to play more.

Session 3, Oakland again:

This time I bring beer, peanut M&Ms, and kettle chips. Sasha brings home-made peppermint fudge and wine.  Zombie guards attack the corpse of Stevens Ragusa and Gurdjiff Niaflim becomes impatient and runs past them into a chamber filled with ice blocks. A zombie tries to strangle him. A zombie tries to tear off Nicolai's face. Appear appears at the top of the stairs and incinerates one with a fiery orb and G.N. destroys the other with his quarterstaff. The three of them melt gold coins out of an ice block for half an hour and scare away a pack of yakmen. They melt a potion of vomit grey ooze out of an ice block. They melt a legless woman out of an ice block. "My name is Virtue von Bask - I came to this island to woo the beautiful Olivia von Kirin Santos, but she refused my advances, etc." "Olivia von who?" say my players. "Nate, do you just spend your overnight shifts thinking up these names?" Yes I do. I need a quest quick. I flip through my fancy new copy of A Red and Pleasant Land. Roll roll. Seduce ______. "Bring me back to safety, but - um - if you seduce the Lady Olivia, and humiliate her in her nakedness, I will reward you, uh, greatly." My players are unconvinced. They carry her pick-a-back upstairs. They find the room with the heartbeat. Pumpkin shows up from a meditation meeting across town (or something) and says, "Sure I'll play, what's going on? Okay. I open the doors." Everyone recoils. Everyone stands in the next room. Pumpkin opens the doors and finds mummified yakmen, as well as (oh shit, uh, roll roll roll) a wealth of gold, a magical scroll, magical mushrooms, and (this next thing is not random) a giant beating heart in a curtained cage. G.N. identifies it as the heart of a sea titan. "Huh," they say, and kill it, and bottle the sea water that flows from it. They go into a room and hear lunatic shrieking behind a door. Pumpkin says, "I open the door." Everyone recoils. The room is filled with insane pirates. Pumpkin says, "I run past them. No wait, I torch that creepy doll on the wall, and then I run past them." So he does. The pirates are distracted. Appear grabs a kayak from the wall. They escape out the front door. Guys are impaled on stakes out there. Yakmen stand on top of a gatehouse and don't see them yet, so they climb the giant black wall that runs the length of the island and down into the ocean to a black tower out in the ocean. It's freezing cold and the clouds are real low. The slate grey waves break against the rocks. They walk along the wall to a watchtower behind the keep and climb it. They still have Virtue von Bask. They can see the whole island up here. There are hills and twisty brined trees. They can see a small hut on a small rock in the ocean. They can see the cathedral boat. G.N. says, "I liked it back inside. Let's go steal that eye." Everyone agrees. Session ends. Everyone levels up to the cusp of level three because of the huge amount of gold they found. Wowzers, hm, gold for XP is a weird beast, I say to myself.

Session 3, Philly:

My friend Jon lives in Austin and works in a governmental compound somewhere underground in a cubicle and he wants to play but he doesn't have a webcam or a mic, so we agree to try it out. We make his character the day before this time. He creates King Hu Harpagos, a mute Reptile Man with chalk and a chalkboard. I say, "Okay, you can either roll 3d6 in order down the line, or. . ." "I'll do that," he says, and does really well except for 4 INT and 7 WIS. I told Sasha that she could speak an animal language as her extra language so I tell him the same thing and he decides to speak snowfinch, which is a dialect of Passerine, spoken by swallows, sparrows, and finches. I tell him he knows one secret about the world and he quickly comes up with a good one. Jon is a real gem. He and Pacca and Milton Measely make for the shore in two rowboats with a small contingent of pirates. Vex Mondri told them he'll give them 10 GPs for each lunatic pirate they bring back alive. I'm eating home-made guacamole and tangerines and blueberries and smoked herring and Sasha's leftover wine. They march up to the gatehouse. Pacca took the feat that makes her take 3 less damage from every attack when she's wearing heavy armor. "WTF," I say. "Okay." They kill a pack of walking sharks and the savage trained eagles that the yakmen guards send at them. Fifteen yakmen pour out of the front gate wielding swords but they pepper the yakmen with flintlock fire and crossbow rounds and magical spells. King Hu fights admirably. The pirates break and run. The yakmen break and run. "This is fun," says Jameela/Pacca. They gather their pirates. They intimidate the yakmen, who indicate that they're scared of the Lady Olivia and her . . . "That's a drawing of a crawling eye," says Nick. They go into the keep and fight the lunatic pirates in the entrance hall. The lunatic pirates push down a good-guy pirate and tear out his eyes and are about to bathe in his entrails but the good guys K.O. them in time and bring them back to the ship and have an argument with the purple-skinned pirate captain, who doesn't want to deliver on his word, since they lost so many pirates in the fighting. Everyone crosses their arms and frowns. Morrigan von Moon sighs from her chaise lounge. "I must have . . . the eye." They sleep the night. Session ends and my friends get enough XP to level 2.

Virtue von Bask (No legs not pictured)

"The Lady Olivia von Kirin Santos, Leaning Upon a Tiger, Not a Car"
- - - - - - - - - - -

What's the take-away from all this? I'm not sure - always bring good snacks. Tell everyone to show up an hour before the game actually starts. Tell new players to show up an hour before that at least, or if possible do it with them separately. The 5e PHB is poorly organized and it's really laughable and I'm amazed they didn't do better. Don't give new players too many doors per room, but possibly only if they're Adam, and want to get outside. Print out good pictures to show your friends. If you're doing gold for XP, better be prepared for a fluke roll on the random treasure table to rocket your players almost all the way to level 3. Simple initiative is a lot better when you roll it at the beginning of each round - seriously, everyone winces every time I say "Roll for initiative!" and clenches when they lose and go "Yess!!" when they win. It's really great. Give yakmen bows or spells. Give the enemies a ton of HPs or a shield if you want them to last more than a moment. Stockpiling notes from one group to the next can really make a dungeon complicated, in a good way. A pretty small sandbox island with one dungeon and a handful of NPCs and a few d100 tables can last a really long time.