Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Haunted (condition for old school rpg games)

"Another one squashed beneath your boot
dashed to pieces with your saber
not even a name to you
a hurdle to gold was on the table
a moat filled with blood you were happy to drain
another one that wouldn't be tricked by your slippery brainsssss

They came to me, after
ssaid, your tassk issss finished. 
Sssssserved your god well, reward for matter
to cower in hisssss pressencessss diminished.
No. What issss thissss word, "No?"
No, I ssssaid. A new tasssk hassss begun."

I gripped the stone face with my last strength, a bead of sweat dripping off my nose, down countless distance, likely on to the sleeping beast below.

"Well, prattling spirit, help me out of this chasm or shove me down into it, but do shut up."

-excerpt from the unedited journal of Porpulent Grantz, explorer, King's Agent, and appointed Savior of the Far Isles.


Ghosts as a monster in the Manual are a fine scary beast if run well, but that pile of stats and abilities does not speak to the ghost stories of the heart.
Adventurers are responsible for a great number of souls crossing from life to un-life, from here to there, perhaps more than their enemies, even. 
Being responsible in the real world for maintaining much contemporary equipment that transmits data from here to there, I have the terrible knowledge of how feeble it all is, how many mistakes happen per second that our equipment ignores. Whether the passage of souls is bureaucracy, like unto technology, or a natural process in your worlds, there must at times be mistakes. Perhaps the passion for vengeance overrules sense and order.

It seems inevitable that some adventurers, at some time, will become haunted by a damned soul. Whether touching the wrong thing or smiting a soul that burns hot, the living gains a passenger. This passenger likely wants to see the adventurer suffer, but this creates a paradox; the adventurer must succeed on some occasions to suffer on others. It should also be mentioned that the dead are insane.

Haunted - the PC afflicted so rolls an additional d6 when rolling Ability Checks, Saving Throws, Spell Checks, and To Hit.
1-2 : subtract the number rolled from the check*
3-5 : no effect
6 : add +1 to the check

*after a result of 1 or 2, the player may choose to stop rolling the extra die for the next hour of real time. The ghost is exhausted, disgusted, satisfied; the dead have trouble telling those conditions apart.

The Haunted PC may ask the ghost questions about things it knew in life. On a successful CHArisma check, the Ghost might answer.

It is heavily recommended that if the player does not occasionally role play this haunting, the GM does.

This mechanic partially inspired by Elektra: Assassin by Miller/Sienkiewicz and +Ian Johnson 's d4 drunk mechanic, among other things.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What could be better?

People who read my blog, play in my games, read my posts, and/or read my entries in Santicores past: what do I need to work on? What most needs improvement?
I'm not being neurotic or down on myself here, and there's nothing I'm particularly worried about. I just have a backlog of big serious projects that I'm embarking upon, and wanted some outside feedback for things to keep in mind. Since these are longer-term and more serious RPG projects than I've done before, I wanted to take stock as I plunge in today.

Comment here, or on G+ if you prefer.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Doom Cave of the Crystal-Headed Contest: The Winner

But can you really "win" a negadungeon? ANYWAY IT'S +Arnold K. !
Arnold, email me your mailing address to receive my physical copy of The Doom Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children from Free RPG Day 2014, plus a miniature, plus a drawing of something you request!

He submitted a whole adventure, ready to go, with maps, critters, NPCs, the works. You could run this as written with just a tiny bit of prep. It's a great example of "letting the PCs be the catalyst", where if the PCs behaved themselves and abided by the law etc, things might be a bit boring, know PCs...

Click the map to go to his blog entry with a PDF of the adventure!

If you're not checking out his blog on the regular, you should be! He has a lot of swell ideas.

Thanks everyone for participating!

+Noah Stevens at with the folktale creepiness of The Clockwork Head of Genbo Gashodokuro

+Björn Wärmedal at with The Poor Man's Mountain Keep Adventure Seed (and the fearsome Limb Worm!)

+Ed Hackett at with some swell maps and the dreaded Grynspar

+Cédric Plante at with the creative table and great drawing of the Monks of the Holyphant Hanging Monastery

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Doom Cave of the Crystal-Headed Contest: 2nd Place

It's really more of a tie for first place with my super secret alternate backup prize resolving the conflict.

+Paul Schaefer , whose entry I'll feature today, gets my paperback copy of +Jason Sholtis 's Dungeon Dozen as his prize, in addition to one miniature (unpainted), and a drawing from me of something he requests (or something else I can make with pen/paper/pixels on one page).

Click on the hexmap below to go to his blog entry for a great wave/island crawl with an interesting mythology, neat fantasy cultures, swell prophecies, random tables, and a NSFW drawing of a sphinx.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Doom Cave of the Crystal-Headed Contest: 3rd Place

With all the creativity, whimsical folk-tale creepiness, and the drawing, it was hard to know where to put this. Ultimately I had to break the 3-way tie for first place.

+Noah Stevens , email me your physical mailing address to receive a gaggle of miniatures (unpainted), and a drawing request or something else I can make for you with pen and paper and pixels.

Click on Noah's radical map/drawing to go to his blog entry with more details and descriptions. And nightmares! I hope someone runs this on G+, I want to play it and have a bad enough memory that I'd still be surprised and creeped out! In a good way.

If you find the formatting on his blog a bit hard to read, try the mobile version, I found the formatting a bit better.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Doom Contest of the Crystal-Headed Runners Up

The first results from my contest! MEET YOUR JUDGEMENT.

These are the runners up. I'll post the top 3 over the next few days. Currently untangling a tie for 2nd.

I got 6 entries total. The following three were great entries, and I was psyched to see them. Some great ideas and great drawings here. I am so honored people made this stuff for my silly contest.

+Cédric Plante , +Ed Hackett , and +Björn Wärmedal , email me a request for a drawing, and I'll get it to ya (digitally) as soon as I finish. If there's something else you'd like that I can deliver digitally, let me know!

+Cédric Plante did an amazing drawing, and then when I gave a little more time, did a really great table with lots of rad ideas. Click on his drawing below to go to his blog entry with the table.

+Björn Wärmedal sent me a nifty little map with adventure seeds, and a GREAT new monster, ready to drop into your next dungeon. Click his drawing of the Limb Worm below for a copy of his entry in PDF, and click here for his blog. The July 10th entry has a larger version of this drawing, I think.

+Ed Hackett sent along a couple of neat maps and flavorful critter. The images he sent are below, and if you click 'em, they'll get bigger. His blog is here.

THANKS, GUYS! If any of y'all want me to change the way I put these up here, let me know.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Seclusium of Hambone of the Free Acids

(I wrote this on September 1st, 2013, and will never finish it. Instead of lingering in my DRAFTS, I thought I'd unleash it's embarrassing rambles upon the world. I don't usually write so much about my personal life on here, but I did this time for some reason.)

I have stepped in pee a lot this past week. I mean, I moved to San Francisco, the human-outdoor-peeingest city in the US. Today, I knew the name of the person whose pee I stepped in. He is three years old and loves trains.

After chasing me across the country, my hardcopy of The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions caught up with me, and goddamn it is gorgeous. I love the cover, despite some issues I have with how the faces are painted. DEM EELS, to use obsequious internet slang. Lamentations of the Flame Princess publish the best looking RPG books. There are no words one can take away from that sentence. I await their next round eagerly.

My friend Derek paints things. One time I stopped having a crush on a girl because she thought it was some big revelation that he used projected stencils to make his paintings when anyone with eyes and a brain could tell you that just by looking at them. When I finally had the money to buy a painting, he had to triple his prices because he was losing sales of new paintings to other people selling his old paintings on Ebay for high prices. Somehow raising his prices for new paintings was going to fix that. 

Anyway, he sold me a small thing for the old price, and the point is he said (and drew, and painted) the words "H A M B U R G E R" and "HAMBONE!" a lot. I mean, A LOT. He is short and round and funny looking and could basically go home with any woman that listened to him for five minutes. Many people thought he was some kind of wizard. He once ate a bite of my sandwich then denied it. He once punched me in the side while I was on a ladder filing CDs and I chased him in circles around a pinstripe-suited businessman shopping in the store Derek managed.

Why do you care about any of this? Maybe you don't. I haven't read a lick of text and am turning to page 96 and rolling things and writing them down. In many places the result was boring so I made something up that is probably inspired by someone I knew (not all the same person). OK I made some new tables when inspired.

The Seclusium of Hambone of the Free Acids is...
1. in a bad part of town, 
2. behind an unmarked door, 
3. up some metal stairs. 
4. It is full of finished...
5. and unfinished works, 
6. and on the patio out back there is a mostly-destroyed piano that Hambone plays when it rains.

The Hambone is...
1. bipolar...sometimes supremely confident and other times tortured and nervous
2. has a vast library of obscure and difficult works
3. utterly charming...
4. ...causing some people to come into conflict because jealousy.
5. trying to help those around him, but through ways which seem callow and cruel.
6. experimenting with self-medicating via trendy, homemade drugs.

The Hambone has abandoned the Seclusium, Why?
1. Time for his shift at his other job
2. He has departed to another realm, world, or mode of existence, to pursue his ambitions, perhaps never to return. (that's like moving to Seattle, right?)
3. Busy talking up someone he will later describe as "like being in bed with an alligator"
4. Creating a strange, confusing scene for others to stumble upon later
5. The land is devoid of Hamburgers
6. There's a really great record store somewhere else

Known Facts:
20. The Wizard used to visit us in our sleep, robbing our dreams of their treasures.
18. The Wizard was prone to fits of malice and rage.
9. The Wizard was a great traveller, and could be seen coming and going.

How did the Wizard appear?
1. Full beard, wild hair, military dress
2. Shaven, cherubic, unctuous
3. Severe, angular fashion of a different profession
4. covered in blood and cuts, mumbling to self
5. detached, madly scribbling, pulsing with dark energy
6. adorned in wild shapes and bright colors, slightly out of focus

I am totally bored. Skipping to the Seclusium itself...