Saturday, June 13, 2015

Kyrlan 2.0

I'm running an in-person game tomorrow for the first time in a while. If you're in the SF Bay area and interested, message me over email or G+

In-game, it's going to be (mumble mumble) thousand years after the last one. The characters wake up on stone slabs in a strange underground lab. There are some smashed orbs on the ground obviously fallen from an intricate clockwork-and-tube mechanism that extends well into the walls. There are two creatures running around the room panicking, pulling levers and turning cranks. It's hard to know what kind of creatures they are - or were - as so much of their flesh has been replaced by copper gears and wooden mechanisms.

I'll be using a Moldvay Basic / LotFP hack. The starting options are:

Human - can be a Fighter, Specialist, or Magic-User.

Faerie - born to humans for reasons unknown. They look like beautiful humans with insectile wings, and some have antennae and strange eyes. They are considered dangerous and unlucky, and are often abandoned or drowned as children. They gather in "Faerie's Row" in large settlements, but Kingslaw forbids gatherings of more than 2 faeries on a public road. +1 CHA, stats as the Cleric Class (including spells).

Tiefling - born to humans who, or whose ancestors have, consorted with Demons. They look like humans with horns, their eyes are one solid color, their tongues forked, and they have devil-like tails. Some have stunted bat wings (-1 DEX, -1 AC, no falling damage, +2 jumps). Stats as Elf (including spells; there are no Elves in this setting.)

Iron-Gin - a union of mechanics and magic often found in old ruins. They "wake" a basic form of brass or copper and wood, and can improve themselves with proper materials at a forge. Stats as Dwarf (Dwarves extinct in setting.)

Bakei - diminutive humanoid animals, often of cat or dog species. Can speak human languages, if raised near humans. Considered amusing and harmless. Stats as Halfling. (no halflings in setting).

What's outside the dungeon? I'll figure that out when they get there.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hiss of The Sheath of Magnificent Terror

The Sheath of Magnificent Terror

This was once the sword sheath of a warrior so great, he did not have to oil and properly care for his equipment. Eventually, the hiss of his sword being drawing because synonymous with mortal fear. The word which meant both "the hiss of a sword drawn from a rough sheath" and "fear for one's life" existed for generations after his death. Such was the fear of him that he entered the myths and folk tales, the very base beliefs of proceeding generations.

This was his sheath. Any who hear the hissing sound made when a sword is drawn from it must save VS mortal terror (SAN, WIS, or however the GM wants to resolve). The fear rolls have a penalty equal to the wielder's Charisma bonus. Those who fail are frozen in place, as they perceive the drawing of the sword to be neverending, the moment and sound extending in time to an impossible degree. The sword being drawn seems to be forever emerging from it's sheath. An endless stream of metal death.

The fearful reveries of those affected are broken when they suffer any damage, are otherwise physically struck, or the sun rises or sets. Non-human creatures of a level higher than the wielder get another save every number of rounds equal to 20 minus the difference in levels or HD between them and the wielder. Magical creatures get a bonus to this roll equal to the number of magical abilities they have.

Monday, May 11, 2015

New Spells

Some stuff made me think of some stuff and I wanted to write it down.

 1st level
Range: sight
Duration: instantaneous
Components: V, S
With a shout and a lunge, it is as if the caster has painfully jabbed their thumb into one of the target's eyes. Speech is interrupted, the target takes a -2 to hit, and any spell being cast or ranged attack has a chance of going in a random direction. A healthy adult (CON 8 or better) is fully recovered at the end of the current round.

Rik's Dramatic Bullshit
Range: self
Duration: instantaneous
Components: M, S
The caster throws a bundle of twigs, berries, and nuts at his feet, from which a cloud of smoke and a loud bang emerges. The caster appears up to 4 feet in any direction from the spot in which they were standing.

 2nd level
Rik's Advanced Dramatic Bullshit
Range: self
Duration: instantaneous
Components: S, M
The caster lights themselves on fire and appears to burn away in an instant. The caster is teleported to the absolute nearest spot where they would not be seen by anyone currently and will not be in peril or take damage from non-magical sources. (IE this spell does not take into account area of effect spells but will not teleport the caster into midair, into a natural fire, further under water than the caster could  easily swim in a round, etc). The GM is encouraged to be creative - the caster will not necessarily be hidden, but may be teleported to a branch up a tree if no one is looking up, for instance.
In the casting of the spell, the caster must actually light a fire using normal implements - touching a torch to themselves, striking a flint and steel, etc.

 3rd level
Spooky Action at a Distance
Range: unlimited
Duration: One round for every two levels of the caster
Components: One item touched by the last person to cast a spell on the caster
The last person to cast a spell on the caster experiences the same physical sensations the caster is currently undergoing or experiences (spell effects, damage from fighting, poison, drowning, unconsciousness, healing, etc)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Etchings of Moon Faced Malmth

The moon face idiot Malmth carves the following into panes of glass with the diamonds affixed to his arm stumps:
May will see the testing of faults, and the end of testing;
June will see much preparation in the Twilit City of Viricon, and large sums will change hands;
Late June and July much exploration, both of new lands and cities;But the future is not affixed and one sees many paths;
Will a new kingdom be established among the floating islands of Gur? Will Gur gain a new name?
Will those light of pocket explore the endless dead city known as the Necropolis?
Or will they test their fortunes in the Twilit City's reflection, Gtankh?
It is said that Viricon is the Twilit City because it shone so bright for so
Long that the light became tired;
And Gtankh its twilit reflection because darkness held it so tight that over countless Time the darkness cracked

Of course there are many other new lands that may be explored, and only time will tell which have set forth their scent properly and lured new blood to them

Monday, March 23, 2015

A War of Clubs and Hearts

AKA SantiCore's Santi-War
AKA Technician, Magician, Soldier, Spy

I've managed to lightly playtest this, and I think it's a fun and effective party game once people have played a practice session or two. There's just enough unbalance and strategy to keep up the tension and make it rewarding, I think.
I'd love suggestions for the Environmental Effects deck - leftover cards from which one is drawn for each time around the table.

This is a party wargame using only a deck of cards, table space, a notepad, and these instructions.

Get a standard 52 card deck. Separate any Jokers. Separate face cards into one stack, numbers and Aces into another stack. Shuffle the two stacks.

Players then take turns drawing cards to make four units each. A unit is one Face card and three cards from the numbers and Aces stack. All cards begin face down, but players can look at any of their own cards at any time.

Any leftover cards (including Jokers if you want) are put into a new stack of "environmental event" cards.

Players then arrange their units, one to a position - Front, L Flank, R Flank, Rear. Then players can trade their Aces around as they wish, swapping a card from the Ace's new unit to replace it in the old one. All units begin the game with 4 cards per unit.
Then players flip all their own Club cards face up except the Ace.

Card Meanings
Clubs - Soldiers. The only cards which are face up the entire game. They can only attack cards in the unit "ahead" of them (in the same position on another player's board), but can attack in groups (many Clubs attack one enemy card) or split attacks (one Club attacks 2 other cards).

Diamonds - Technicians. Can only attack cards in the unit in front of them, and only one to a card. Get +1 Strength when attacking with or hiding behind Ballista (Aces). Flip up to resolve attacks, but are face down the rest of the time. They can also save Ballista from being destroyed; see below.

Hearts - Magicians. Can attack any card on the board. Flip up when resolving attacks, but face down the rest of the time. Can attack a card another card is also attacking, but not in the unit "facing" them.

Spades - Spies and Assassins. Can be sacrificed on the player's turn to reveal any face down card for one moment. Can only attack cards in the unit in front of them. Attack Clubs as normal (value VS value).
When a Spade attacks or is attacked by a non-Club, both cards remain face down. Each player wagers a number they think is the difference between the values of the two cards. The defender wagers first. When each player has announced their wager, flip both cards face up. The card owned by the player who was most correct wins. If it's a tie, the Spade wins. Cards cannot "hide behind the Ballista" when being attacked by Spades.

Face cards are Unit Commanders, and have a strength of 10. Number cards are soldiers, magic users, or spies, and have a strength equal to their number. Aces are Ballista.
King - are immune to damage from cards of same suit. Can temporarily transfer this ability to any card in own unit, but the King loses it for the rest of the turn.
Queens - Units headed by Queens can exchange number cards with other units controlled by the same player on that player's turn. When a Queen is killed by a Spade card, the Spade card is turned face up the rest of the turn (used like a Club until flipped face down again).
Jacks - Jacks can deflect one spell (attack by a Heart card) per turn; the Jack is turned sideways ("tapped") the rest of the turn and that specific attack does no damage. The Heart's "spell" does not have to be directed at the Jack.

Ballista (Aces) have a Strength of 5 when defending against attacks, but cannot attack on their own. Any non-Ace in the same unit can use the Ballista to attack any other card on the board, instead of that card's normal attack. The attack's Strength is equal to the card "using the Ballista".
Any card in a unit with a Ballista can also hide behind it. This means damage from an attack on that cards goes to the Ballista instead. Attacks from Spades cannot be deflected in this way.
Ballista are flipped over the first time they are used in any way, and remain face up the rest of the game.
Ballista can be captured - if you kill all the other cards in a unit without destroying the Ballista, it becomes part of the victorious unit.
A Technician (Diamond card) on either side (in the unit attacking or being attacked) can sacrifice itself to prevent a Ballista from being destroyed by an attack at the time of that attack's resolution. (but this doesn't save it from a second attack, for instance).

Cards are considered "In front of" or "facing" cards in the the same Position on each enemy side, except for the Rear. (your Front is facing everyone else's Front, your Left Flank is facing everyone else's Left Flank, etc)
Units in the Rear position are not Facing or In Front of any other units until one of that player's other units has been destroyed. Then the Rear position can attack any other position.
A player's last remaining unit, regardless of position, can attack any position.
Keep in mind "ranged" attacks - those by Hearts or cards using Aces/Ballista - can be made on any card regardless of position (except when combining attacks, see "Hearts" above.)

Win Conditions
The game is won in one of three ways:
1. There is only one remaining player with any face cards. Players can continue to act each turn as long as they have cards remaining, but only players with Face cards can win the war.
2. A pre-agreed upon time limit is reached. In this case, the player with the highest total Strength of all cards wins, the next highest is second place, etc.
3. All remaining players agree to end the game, either in a tie or by counting up the Strength of all cards and ranking each other thusly.

If a player leaves the game early (IE while they still have "living" cards), other players cannot affect their cards in any way for the remainder of the game (unless all players agree on a variation to this rule before the game.)

Order of Play
Once the Setup is done, each player adds up the Strength value of all their Club cards. The player with the highest Strength (of Clubs only) goes first. If there is a tie, each player flips over a card from the Environmental Effects deck, and the one with the highest card goes first. If there is still a tie, each player must eat shoe leather. The first to finish their piece goes first.

Then the player decides what each of their Units is going to do, generally attacking the cards of other players. Each Unit gets one action per turn, so only one card from each unit is active per turn (except for effects from Aces and Face cards). A unit is simultaneously facing all other units in the same position. If there are many players, each member of a unit may be attacking a different player's cards.

Each number card can only do one thing to one other card each turn. Face cards may attack and also use their special ability in a turn.

If several cards attack one card and the defender's Strength is higher than one of the attackers, that attacker dies (even if the defender dies).
When all of a Player's Units have acted, the dead are cleared from the battlefield and the next player begins their actions.
The player with the lowest number of Clubs decides if the game goes clockwise or counter-clockwise.

A "round" is one player's actions. A "turn" is once around the table - all players taking a round.

The longer Variant: each card has one action per turn, resolved the following order:
1. hand-to-hand combat - attacks against cards in a unit one is facing, except by Hearts or Aces
2. Magic - attacks by Hearts
3. Ballista - attacks using Aces
4. Special - abilities not covered under one of the phases above.

Environmental Effects
At the end of each Round, draw from the Environmental Effects deck.
Number Cards Mean:
Face Cards Mean:
Aces Mean:

The only other playtest note I haven't dealt with - it seemed like cards with low numbers were pretty useless in the latter half of the game, so maybe they should have some "trick"?

Comment on Googly Plus here.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Threefold Passions of Madam Adjani

(this item was not accepted for the LotFP Referee's book, so I am putting it here. Is it clear what it is and does? It is too obviously cursed? (find notes about how cloth makes everyone love you, or makes your senses better, or makes you almost invisible, then find cloth later...) Is it not clear how the effects can be gamed for temporary gain but long term consequences?

Also if you haven't seen the film Possession by Zulawski, starring Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neil, well, see it when you want to be really uncomfortable. It's excellent. The effects of this don't really match up with anything in the film, but her performance in it led to the inspiration for this.

Anyway, the idea was a magic item that you think you can use if you're really careful and manage it well, but can too easily get out of control even if you know what it does. Hopefully by the time you figured out what it really does, though, you'd already be in trouble anyway.

Maybe it's a little too ADnD Artifact-y for LotFP though.)

Mme Adjani lived in a great city of the ancient world which was torn apart by the consequences of her passions and admirers. Her emotions were so fevered and unbound that a mortal body and specific time could not contain them. The passions of Mme Adjani left scars on reality, and flare up again when others find remnants of her wardrobe.

While other items of her clothing (or sex toys, bondage gear, torture devices, makeup, etc) may be discovered, the item most often found is a cloth lavishly, beautifully embroidered with decorative figures. It is difficult to discern if the embroidered figures are engaged in feasts, rituals, orgies, murder, cannibalism - or all of the above. The cloth is just long enough to be worn wrapped about the upper body, hanging an inch past the loins. Some have used it as a scarf, headwrap, or decoratively tied around a weapon or limb.

The cloth is often found among the dead; when found, the DM should determine if the previous owner is still alive (see below). Often there will be lavishly written notes extolling the wonderful effects of wearing the cloth. These notes are written by those under the effects of the cloth, and while not outright lies, portray the effects in a positive light.

d6 to determine what the note describes or the effects of wearing the cloth without specifically folding it.

1: Fold 1
2: Fold 2
3: Folds 1 & 3
4: Folds 1 & 2
5. all 3
6: The writer of the note, while overtly positive, worked in enough nuance that with a successful Wisdom roll the reader gleans there may be unpleasant consequences to wearing the cloth. Roll again.

Fold 1: All who behold the wearer of the cloth must Save VS Device or fall for the wearer - desperately, jealously, murderously. The passion is so overwhelming they may even avoid the cloth-wearer at first, taking days to work up the courage to say, "Hello."

Within a week, they will begin stalking their beloved and acting to separate them from other potential lovers. This may start as social manipulation but extends quickly to abduction, imprisonment, torture and murder. Often the smitten person will not reveal their feelings (and attendant actions) until they have accumulated a body count to "prove their love". Those who are not monogamous may work together, but jealousy is one of the passions the cloth enflames.

The enthralled must have the object of their affection. They will not take rejection well.

The Save is rolled the first time one views a person wearing the cloth folded this way. If the person passed their Save, they must Save again if they see a new person wearing the cloth with Fold 1. Once the passions have taken hold (IE the Save is Failed), the effect remains even if the wearer removes the cloth, uses a different Fold, or a new person is seen wearing Fold 1. Each person affected by Fold 1 must have a Remove Curse cast upon them while the object of their affection is out of sight.
Optional: Those who spend most of every day with the wearer (such as party members) save again at +1 (bonus) every day more than 8 hours is spent in the wearer's presence. ("Remember when the whole party was in love with Steve for a week? That was weird.")

Fold 2: The wearer's own passions become ungovernable. Each day they must Save VS Device at a cumulative -1 for each day they have worn the cloth. When a Save is failed, the wearer pursues every passion and interest without regard for safety, social convention, or previous experience until they become unconscious or die. They may veer from animalistic abandon to wanting the finest things society can provide in an instant. If they are still wearing the cloth after a period of unconsciousness, they may Save again.
Depending on your group, the DM may need to control a PC affected thus, or it may be more fun to let the player play it out.

Fold 3, or if carried unworn (such as in a bag): The wearer cannot stir the emotions of others, and is easily forgotten. A companion may cut a rope the bearer is climbing on if the rest of their companions climbed up it first, for instance. The wearer's contributions to all endeavors are taken for granted or forgotten about. If caught doing something nefarious, the wearer may still be attacked, arrested, etc - but will likely be left there to rot, as their associates and guards will forget to feed or free them. The wearer cannot convince anyone of anything except through the most logical argument. Companions will forget to cut them in on profits, and employers will forget to pay them.

If someone attempts to remove the cloth from a conscious wearer, the cloth will strangle the wearer for increasing damage every round: 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, etc
The cloth can be stolen from an unconscious wearer, but see the next paragraph. 

The wearer will be compelled to write notes as described above (describing the effects of wearing the cloth in a positive light) before being able to remove it themselves.

If someone touches the cloth and the previous wearer is still alive, they become obsessed with the previous wearer as if they had seen them wearing Fold 1. If the person so affected has not met the previous wearer, they will dream about them and be driven to find them (and "prove their love" as above).

All current effects of the cloth will be cancelled if it is placed in Mme Adjani's grave. This should take much research, travel, and exploration to find. After a day in her grave, the cloth will attract explorers. Her passion must be spread in the world again.


The PCs coming into a city where the grizzled outcast ruined their life with Fold 2, a local built up followers with Fold 1 who are now turning on each other, and someone else is using Fold 3 to hide in plain sight could make for a nifty investigative adventure with opportunity for horror and peril.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dispatches from Viricon (FLAILSNAILS domain game)

(crowded sweating where do they all come from the city vast the occupants vaster still a susurrus of breath in out in out choke snore sweat cough strange bodies rub in the twilit coldly traversing the dim purple roads)
From A Child's Ten Thousand Views of Viricon by Auds Pendr*

Footbridges between Highton and the following quarters have collapsed from overuse:
-The Artists’ Quarter
The Twin Queens are reviewing bids from Viricon’s many Constructors, but it will be months of negotiations before reconstruction can begin. In the meantime, the Transporter’s Union has recruited many persons strong of body to carry citizens across on their backs. This goes for the Thousand Steps, the Winding Spit, and the Wan river. Many enterprising individuals have constructed vehicles to carry across those of sufficient coin in a more discreet manner.

A Southwest portion of the Tower of Nish has collapsed into parts of Lowton and Wavesend. The Cusk Brothers claim this may be due to Union activity in Wavesend. 
The pattern of debris, as read by Beanpole Matrella, indicates those beginning new endeavors in Wavesend, The Quarter of Fleeing Dogs (the FLAILSNAILS Quarter), and all entertainers in the City should begin as many sentences with the letter G as possible until the end of the month should they wish their endeavors the following Spring to succeed.

Dockworkers in Wavesend report recent sightings of Low Pan Jak. Anyone unfamiliar with that area is advised to avoid low keening, the merry singing of a maiden, and cries for help. It is unclear if wearing a Wok’s foot around the neck is still helpful in avoiding catastrophe.

*The Queens have issued a declaration.* One might recognize the characteristic wit of scribe Aut Mon.
*Those who wish to claim dominion over any area* of the new lands they clear of danger must have a Knight Avant license, available from the crown for a sum of 1000 GP, 
+500 GP for every Lieutenant Avant they wish to declare; that is, one who may claim Dominion in their absence. 
+100 GP for every Squire d’assist, that is fellow person-at-arms who will help in their endeavor under their official banner. (basically, other PCs in their party)
There are no fees for arming and training the common citizenry, especially if one takes them forth; one may be sued by families of the deceased and is responsible for any damage cause by those one arms, however, until the area is declared safe for development.
From A Child's Ten Thousand Views of Viricon by Auds Pendr*

Those who clear an area without a Knight Avant license are in danger of that land being claimed by any official Knight Avant who wishes to develop it. Knights Avant may petition the Twin Queens to have their claims enforced by the Iron Hands or other military groups under the Crown’s control.

It is the understood responsibility of a Knight Avant to clear one or more areas of danger, so that a citizen may feel safe traveling to and settling there. A Knight Avant’s ultimate responsibility to the Queens is to create new areas that citizens may settle and establish livelihoods, so relieve the egregious overcrowding of the capitol and have the satisfaction of Dominion over their own lands.
Should a Knight Avant achieve this, 100 GP per year will be forgiven of their tribute and taxes for a period of ten years.
[How I imaging this will work: in the latter half of March sometime I’ll start running hangouts for high level FLAILSNAILS PCs exploring the new lands; there will be very light play by G+ post between games, possibly in a Community or using my blog comments, to establish who’s going where and doing what. This is mainly for PCs level 7 and higher, those at or approaching “Name” level.

Each Hangout will revolve around a specific PC’s exploration, and the other PC’s along will be helping them, so each one may be a different area or a different set of problems, or we may stick with one for several sessions in a row. When a cluster of hexes is cleared of dangers that actively threaten life, the PC who claims Dominion may begin developing it according to the rules (probably slightly hacked) from the Rules Encyclopedia. I’ll fill you in if you don’t have it. It’s expensive, but hey, then you can start collecting taxes and income.

*watercolors actually by me