Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Spawn Flux - A Basic Hack/Setting Musing

Discussion of the game Banana Chalice on this Woodland Secrets episode spawned an idea in my head, mostly fully formed about what might be a fun hack of LotFP or DnD.

The essential idea is that the PCs die at the end of every session, no matter what they're doing or where they are, and "spawn" again anew at the beginning of the next. The world, however, doesn't reset. The PCs carry no XP or items from the last time, but whatever effects they had in the world happened, items they hid are still hidden there, etc. Of course there would be some metagaming even if players tried not to, so maybe you have a vague memory conceit to the next "clone" or however you're explaining the situation. Or just have the new character know stuff.

It's kinda like the original Aeon Flux shorts except instead of anything having to actually kill you, you just inevitably explode at the end of the session like the cats in Banana Chalice. Players could try a new character or use the same PC reset to 0.

Having discoverable items that play with the premise could be fun - finding an item that determines where the next batch spawns, for instance. 

I think this idea plays best with low-rules-buy-in, which is why I thought of Basic. It might only be fun with DCCRPG, for instance, with a veteran group that knows the ins and outs of that system by rote and can make characters easily.

Saturday, June 10, 2017



The Shrouds as depicted in the fanciful and hard to find "Historie of Dangerus Itemes" by Callais Frond

Scholarly convention holds that they be referred to as "The Dead Shrouds", and not "The Death Shrouds", although there is no real consensus as to the reason.

Perhaps they were once one item that has been riven; the answer is lost to time. It is certain that they are each half the size of a burial shroud. Some have worn them like a short cloak; some ceremoniously assume the posture of death and drape them.

They who wear one swap memories with who wears the other; indeed, each will believe they are the other. Furthermore, should they be souls who have been on the cycle of rebirth, they will remember other selves, other times typically lost to the waking mind. Whether this life or a previous, the memory is remarkably clear. This does not mean they are compelled to relate it truthfully to another.

While affected by the shroud, one is aware that one's appearance has "changed"; one might surmise body-switching, especially if one has previously seen the wearer who has assumed one's memories. one otherwise might presume other forms of appearance alteration. Furthermore, each will appear progressively sickly the longer the shroud is worn; several days of being affected by the shroud contiguously will render one as an animated corpse.

The memory swap is complicated; through hypnosis and other states of altered consciousness, the original persona and memory has been brought to the fore even while affected by the cloak, though only for brief periods.
Once removed, both affected parties forget their actions taken while wearing the cloak, and must rely on their companions to recall such.

A rare "light capture" of a subject wearing one of the shrouds.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mortals Are Playthings: A Table for Elves

If you are a Bay Area friend who might play in my home game, DO NOT READ

OK, all my players gone? Good.

There are Elves on this island. They live like some amalgam of Forest Elves and the Faerie Court from some story where Fareies are very dangerous. They age, but slowly enough to be effectively immortal. They heal at an advanced rate and can regenerate limbs, but enough severe wounds in a short enough span will kill them. Their memories are somewhat worse than humans, outside of some of their culture's core tenets and whatever unique flavor their personality has. Thus, an Elf may interact with humans one way in one part of it's life, but years later treat them totally different. Of course, there's also their innate capriciousness, mischievousness, callous disregard for life, etc.

Generally, they see mortals as inconsequential. As playthings. How this is expressed by each individual Elf's psychology and philosophy varies.

Mortals Are Playthings, But What Does That Mean To Me?
1 Humans contain several important ritual components; they must be led to die in specific situations and the organs harvested fresh.
2 "Humans are not reasonable creatures; they must be eliminated if encountered."
3 to 6 "Lead them to folly, but only by their own hand. They must not gain any real power or hold here."
7 "They can produce such levels of hope and terror! I get nearly physical pleasure from it. It's best when they never know the source of their torment."
8 to 10 "They are useful labor, if you know how to play them."
11 "The only thing that smells worse than their outsides is their insides; keep them away from me. Unclean things."
12 to 13 "Foul insects, obey me or be swatted."
14 to 16 Means well but doesn't understand what humans can or can't heal or die from
17-19 "I despise my own kind and if I can use the humans to gain the upper hand or kill my brethren, I will."
20 Roll 1d6 times; the first result is their general attitude, the other results are toward specific types (race, skill set [Rogues? Wizards?], place of origin, etc)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Weird Toilet Customs, a table

Republicans and IBS and sometimes podcasts make me think about going to the bathroom more often than I'd like.
Where there is a communal toilet, there tend to be: shared immunities, ease digesting local cuisine, an increase in shared parasites (some of which get rid of allergies! It's a thing. There's a whole deal where severe allergy sufferers go to Africa and poop in communal tribal toilets for a week and yeah they're standing in stranger's shit while squat-pooping but then they can go back to their lives allergy-free thanks to intestinal parasites or something.) Stuff that comes from sharing gut bugs. Travelers, thus many PCs, wouldn't gain the benefits until an extended adjustment period.

What Weird Toilet Rituals Does This Place Have?
1 to 3 Everyone must shit in the communal toilet area barefoot. Especially those with mild to medium illnesses. If you do not, it will be assumed you have some terrible, fatal disease.
4 Pissing must be especially concealed, and never referenced. Roll on chart again, that result applies to pooping.
5 Each family has a communal toilet only family members use. Travellers must relieve themselves outside the town until adopted by a family.
6 There is a communal toilet swamp/crevasse, and all the town's deceased are left there to rot as well.
7 Some magical bullshit and the locals don't need to excrete waste and will be highly offended / "scientifically" curious at those who do
8 Outhouse kinda structures are all over, and the waste feeds something(s). People disappear sometimes, but it's fine. Really. 
9 They just do it anywhere like it's no big deal
10 There are separate restrooms for a huge number of socially distinct groups but where you're supposed to go is nearly impossible to figure out if you're not from here and many of the distinctions seem arbitrary. It's very dangerous to be caught going in the wrong place.
11 to 12 All waste is reused for fertilizer and it's a crime and sin if you fail to submit all waste to the proper authority
13-15 Roll D12 Twice, first roll is what the locals do but travellers must do second roll
16-17 Roll D12 result especially applies to travellers from other places
18-19 Roll Twice
20 Roll a D12 on this chart, Travellers must do this but are then ushered out of town

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Diary of a Meat-Hauler, Kalashul City, Extract 2

Editor's Note: "the Easterners", as referred to here, is a garrison of the Grand Army of the Empire of the Great Republic of Salimpahr, a garrison that had been moved into the author's town recently. These would have been of the same general ethnic derivation and of the same cultural root as the writer. While the writer (and possibly many soldiers in the garrison) is from outer lands that retain the old culture of independent cities despite their nominal allegiance to the Empire, most of the soldiers and all of the officers would have been raised in lands whose culture had been deeply shaped by the social stratifications and behavioral edicts of the Empire after it's formation some 50 years before.

When the Easterners first requisitioned all the cattle, then all the meat, I have to admit I was a little excited. Anything for a change in my routine work at the meat shop. The burble in my stomach now calls me a fool. They've left nothing but scraps for us, the meat shop has closed, and mother's hands bleed and eyes sag from late hours repairing the soldiers' uniforms for a pittance.

I guess we have it better than Callus' family, though. Owning a meat shop for so long had got them a nice sized house, enough to house both his and his wife's parents, and a whole separate room for his children. What was the word for it? -Requisitioned to house the soldiers. Apparently something the town leadership agreed to just before I was born gives the Empire people the right to do that. Just throw people out of their homes. Callus and I had our differences, but he did not deserve to be cast out into the street. If only we have more than the one room. But no.

To distract myself from the hunger and boredom I go out to the burning hills and talk to - well, what ever those voices are. Something down in the crevasses with the fire. Some of them just make spitting noises and belch smoke, but others, the glowing ones, some of those have voices. Rrick says they are demons from the melted land (ed. - Malak, a land roughly 1500 miles to the Northeast) but I think they're something else. I don't think they're *in* the fire. I think they're in the dark, and just...don't mind the fire. Anyway, they're smart, so smart I hardly understand them. They don't like people.

Mom sewing all the time makes me think too much about the Shin tailor I was trying to get work with before all this. I wonder where ze is now. Where they all are. A few days before the Army came to town, the Shin were just gone, and any of us non-Shin that had married them or whatnot. Halla says her Ma got a note and that the Shin left of their own choice, that they somehow knew the Empire was coming to town in force on their way somewhere else and that things would get bad soon. I don't know. Why wouldn't they tell more people? I guess they didn't know who to trust. I don't.

People are saying an Irongen attacked the soldiers still in tents outside the town, just one single Irongen, that it was being wild and not calm like they usually are. No one will tell me more than that, though.

The Fleshless carry on as usual. They hardly seem to acknowledge the soldiers, and vice versa. But who can know what a Fleshless feels? They have no faces. An inscrutable skull.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Diary of a Meat-hauler, Kalashul City (extract 1)

I'll never understand city people, and I'll never become one, no matter what Ma says. It's not the Shin. I like them. They are nice and make pretty things. The people back home that make fun of them are stupid. A Shin androgyne caught me looking at the fine garments in zir booth and might take me on as a tailoring apprentice, even.

But the Fleshless, them I'll never be comfortable with. They don't call themselves that, of course.

Back home, we thought they were a rumor. Apparently they are sparse in the Hills. But here it seems they're everywhere. I don't know how people live alongside them. I don't know how people bring themselves to their temples. They just make me think about that one's in me.
But they say not. They say not everyone's body gets up and walks after the person is gone. And the ones that do, it's not the person, and it's not a thing til they're dead. But I feel like one's in me, waiting.

Master Ca' says they are the blessed of the Sun God, that is why they run the temples, that is how they heal the fleshed. It makes no sense. How can you worship a sun without eyes? How do you heal flesh when you have none?

Master Ca' is stupid and I hope the Shin takes me on so I can get out of this stupid meat house. I mean, the one I work in. Yes, I am strong, but I don't want to haul around dead animals. It keeps us in good meat though. Ma says we couldn't have meat at all most times otherwise, and to be glad I'm not under the ground in the Crystal Mines back home. She says the glow gets in your skin after awhile and you get strange.

There's a fetching lad at the pub who's young, my age. Maybe Ma will take us there again this ha'mast.

Anyway. I wish there were Irongens here. Some back home don't like them, say they take jobs from us, but that's small-sighted. They help us and do work we couldn't even do, sometimes. I just miss their metal tang smell, their squeaks, their reassuring bulk. You always knew they were around by looking up for the steam or smoke. I didn't fear wolves or bears or foreigners or nothing with them around.

Apparently as the Fleshless are rare out by us, the Irongen are rare outside the Hills. Nobody can explain the reasons things aren't the same all over. Nothing makes sense anyways, I guess. Ma says us being here in the damned city is keeping the Empire out of our town, but I don't see how.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Quick Non-Specialist Skill System for LotFP

Everyone once in a while my brain picks at a sci-fi LotFP hack that can be expressed in 3 pages or less to be at the start of an adventure I need to write. The biggest thing with radically changing the technological level of a setting is skills, as far as I can tell. How to do work out whether the PC knows/can do/is successful at a technological thing that isn't remotely covered by the existing rules?

I'm sure this has been hashed out at length and better elsewhere; I've been out of the game, so to speak, for a bit now.

Option A: rip your favorite skill system that you feel comfortable enough with for a PCs death to result from a failed check in the right situation.

Option B: use the below correlation with Ability Scores, and have the PC roll under.

Option C: use the below correlation with Ability Scores, divided by 3 round down, and roll that or less on a d6 as per Specialist Skills. Optional: divide level by 3 and modify in PCs favor.

STR: Should be obvious

CON: Stamina or health related activities

DEX: Should be obvious (speed, fine motor skills, acrobatics)

INT: Things that require smarts that the character could have learned about before

WIS: Things that require smarts that the character couldn't have learned about before but coudl be figured out/intuited

CHA: Should be obvious / convincing people of stuff

So: opening a security door with a digital wall panel made by the PCs home race? INT (unless the PC is from a vastly different culture, maybe)

The same but on the ship of an alien species or vastly different culture? Wis, maybe at a penalty.

When INT and WIS fail...

Would love thoughts/opinions/links to other people getting at the same things. My goal is something a GM and players could feel comfortable with without a lot of time or reading.