Monday, October 13, 2014

Dispatch from Airlann

To: Daimyo Matsushita Katsu
for immediate copy to The One Honorable Shogun of the Empire of Three Suns

An Elephantitan has been spotted near a town at the edge of our occupied territory. It is unknown at this time under whose providence it appears.
Possibilities:
-the Seamair Óg rebels have acquired one and are preparing for a raid
-The Sidhe required an illusory cover for some trick or other mischief
-A Thamud group have travelled here from near the Colossal Wastes. As trade has not been interrupted, it can be surmised there is no war party, but otherwise the motives of such a group would be mysterious.

If the Seamair Og, they likely acquired one from the Thamud or Waste Giants; either way, it may be a way to get one of these groups to assist in patrolling our farther borders.
If the Sidhe, a high alert for shapeshifters and new love must be issued, but proof must be gained first. I await your wisdom in this matter.

Your faithful warrior,
Takenaka Daisuke

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Hell of Jakob Isaacsz von Swanenburgh and inventing religions

Zak S's latest excellent art post got me paging through my Rembrandt book again, where I ran into (a better reproduction of) the painting below, by Rembrandt's first master, Jacob Isaacsz von Swanenburg (as it's written in the book; the post title is as it's written on artnet)
"It appears that he...specialized in depicting street scenes, architectural views, and nocturnal occult subjects."
 -Rembrandt, by Christopher Baker, Brompton 1993

The Sibyl showing Aeneas the Underworld

Breugel not enough for you? Swanenburg seemed to specialize in scenes of hell with a gaping maw at the lower right.

You could make a game out of catching the similarities and differences between the above and below:
Charon's Boat

Canadian death metal band Sympathy used a detail for their 2005 EP Abyssal Throne (well, their designer Samuel Durling did):
 


These aren't anything necessarily revelatory, but kind of fun:
Harrowing Hell

The gate-demon in this one is kinda like Falcor gone very wrong:
The Final Judgement and Seven Deadly Sins

His The Fall of Troy is a departure:


Thinking about Seven Deadly Sins solidified something I've been thinking about regarding inventing fantasy religions, based on how I think some real religions formed.
If you have a history for your setting, or just some ideas for it, think about what things the authorities would have had trouble getting the populace to do in different regions, what behaviors they would have wanted to encourage or discourage in the populace. The religions that would promote that which those in authority want to encourage and make taboo that which the authorities wanted to discourage would have gotten a boost from those authorities, and be more dominant.
Wish I had more time to develop that, but it's a start.

Monday, September 22, 2014

There is only The City

I'm working on too many things to run games for at least another month, and don't have the spare brain cycles to make new posts, but I thought I'd raid my drafts folder for interesting almost-finished things, polish them, and dribble them out over the next few weeks, probably Mondays.

Things keeping me busy, if you're curious:
-drawings for winners of The Crystal-Headed Contest,
-a sandboxy historical-fiction sci fi adventure that may get published at some point,
-ideas for a new setting that I'd run in a home game and online simultaneously that's quite different from what i've run before, but also similar,
-and non-gaming related comics and stories.

I wrote the below in 2012 and here it sits, a draft still. I feel like I posted this at some point, but can't find evidence of that, and so here - I hope it inspires someone. I posted some tables I wrote to go with this prompt last year.

---
[Images: From "Dream Isle" by CJ Lim/Studio 8 Architects with Thomas Hillier, Maxwell Mutanda, Rachel Guo, and Ed Liu, from Short Stories: London in Two-and-a-Half Dimensions]. I saw it on BLDGBLOG here.

The mad say there is a city outside time; that it is some obscure mechanism of time. Ugly at first, for one has most often reached it through that dull, monochrome waste which surrounds it, The city's many colors become comforting and familiar after long hours. The mad describe this City as a repulsive mental embrace, squamous and cold, into which one settles as it becomes warmed by one's own heat; a wrinkle of the mind whose very cloying nature becomes respit.

Sages and scholars who have studied it claim that all who travel between worlds appear in the City, as a patch of light or shadow, an instant too short for the traveler to notice. Finding a way to linger a moment longer, they would find it strangely familiar, adventurers and devils both, though they could not say why.

Sages and scholars claim there is much to be gained in the City: great knowledge, deadly weapons, odd treasures, ideas out of time. Perhaps the City lies at the heart of all things, and if one found a reliable way to reach it, one could traverse time and the planes at will. Without a doubt, those who claim knowledge of The City are mad. Their minds could not contain what is in the cracks between worlds, and have ruptured.

One such sage now requests your attention. Beneath a lonely mountain he believes he has located the lost mechanical city of Abah-tai. It is not the City of faded color described above, but Garallur believes the ancient Abah-taiese had found some trick, some mechanism for traveling Between; indeed he claims they could visit The City at will and had established trade with other planes. Garallur needs adventurers to accompany him into the mechanical city and discover what lost technologies there may be. He offers pay, and the lion's share of whatever wealth or weapons are found.
Abah-Tai was lost at the height of it's power an age ago, sunken beneath the ground in a momentous geological event. If you are successful, you could be the first sane person in a millenium to find the secrets of not one lost city, but two.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Santicore 2014 Requests Are Open!

As a humble requestor this year, I'm delighted to see the crack team of Hellves and Paindeer get things rolling.

Go request stuff!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Clerics of NICE BOOTS LET'S MAKE LOVE

Goddess of War, Chaos, Magic, Confusion



As is her wont, the Tyrannosaurus Hex which ascended into godhood has changed her requirements for clergy completely. Some believe it is because the settlements of Kalak-Nur had adapted to her strange worshippers and began to understand her ways.
Whatever the reason, her new clergy are as follows.

As Cleric, but without spell progression chart.

Gains the ability to cast spells by acquiring mutations and madnesses. For every mutation, madness (or other similar significant physical change) gained, the character may cast their Experience level worth of spell levels per day. So a third level Cleric of NBLML with one mutation could case three first level spells, one first and one second, or one third level spell.
For every non-spell action that directly leads to the death or rescue from death of more than one soul, the Cleric may cast spells as if they had one more mutation for the remainder of that day.
If the Cleric causes a situation where a creature changes their actions because they believe a falsehood, the Cleric casts spells as if they have one additional mutation the rest of the day.

May use any weapons or armor, but for every point of AC improvement above 2 from normal armor and every die bigger than a d4 a normal weapon wielded does, the Cleric casts spells as if she had one less mutation.
So: a Cleric of NICE BOOTS LET'S MAKE LOVE who had two mutations and wears Chain Mail (improves AC by 4) and wields a Short Sword (d6 damage) could not cast any spells.
Were that same cleric to wear Leather (improves AC by 2) and wield a dagger (d4 damage), they could cast spells as normal.

Every beneficial spell cast by a Cleric of NBLML has a % chance equal to the Cleric's level to cause a mutation to the recipient, unless the recipient is a Cleric of NBLML. Her worshippers are to seek mutations from other sources. Her "gifts" are for those that are not yet her Clerics.

Once per level, however, the Cleric may attempt to manifest her holy favor. This is done by acquiring a body part of a significantly different creature and performing a ritual to attempt to graft it to oneself. This includes skin (scales/fur/etc), natural weapons, or strange abilities (Beholder's Eye, Rust monster tentacle, etc - the part cannot be from a creature with more than double the character's HD if magical).
The character must roll under their combined WIS and CON on a percentile die to be successful. For every 100 GP spent on precious materials (which are consumed in the ritual), the roll has a bonus of 1 (success is 1 easier). If successful, the graft is permanent and counts as a mutation.


Monday, August 18, 2014

The FLAILSNAILS Domain?




Taking a break from gaming (except for the fun times Friday for AntiGenCon) and reading the latest BREAK!! teaser got my mind working on what holes there might be to fill in the FLAILSNAILSoverse on the fateful day I have time to run a game regularly again. Also probably inspired by my rabid watching of Hell on Wheels and there being so much gold in The Mines of Bloodstone.

So what is an unconscious/accidental/un-gamed accretion of resources that need more ways to be exhausted creatively and strategically? FLAILSNAILS PCs tend to be poor...until they're not. People who play a lot have rich ass characters, but because of the inherently episodic nature of habitual FLAILSNAILING, the usual domain game doesn't apply-even when it does (the character gets a stronghold) - because it's more fun to have monsters attack the players and run dungeons and stuff.



This makes me want to come up with a fun way for characters to spend LOTS of cash. Strongholds, maintenance and upkeep, hiring staff en mass, recovering from weather and attacks by both armies and monsters, building infrastructure to facilitate native economy, then maintaining that infrastructure (the steam-genie train between Patrick and Chris's strongholds is being robbed! G+ Hangout at 11! or command your forces pbp to colonize the orcs, har har), riff on Zak and others' battlefield command minigames from blogs...

Maybe a use for the FLAILSNAILS quarter, like, a new territory opens up so you've got your shitty flat in the city but spend enough coin and start your own damn...

Somewhere between a wargame, euro strategy board game, and play by post with occasional hangouts? Man, I don't know. I still want to figure out a Pendragon/Stormbringer/BootHill mashup for Gun Knights of Kalak-Nur, too, but any of this would be months away.

Like, this could even be a generative way for old characters to define a world for new characters, with outside elements being randomly generated then...AHHH


ANYWAYS back to work.


A note on terms: while I recognize FLAILSNAILS and ConstantCon as separate ideas that by necessity overlap, and not as the same thing, I have adopted the common usage here of using "FLAILSNAILS" and "FLAILSNAILING" to mean both or either.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Narcosic Sentispores and Cut Up Dungeons for #Narcosa


To be put on any drug/drug reactions tables you have:
NARCOSIC SENTISPORES




While reputable substance-peddlers take meticulous care to stamp out this pest and prevent contamination, those who get their mind-alterers from nature or shady dealers occasionally fall victim to Narcosic Sentispore contamination. Even a few of these spores mixed with other drugs are enough to cause the following effects.

Accidental Contamination 

"Man you gotta watch out. My pal Zed smoked some shady-looking Purple Pipe Weed, and he was never the same again."

Save VS Poison (or make a CON roll, if easier for your system) at a 3 penalty.
If the save fails, each time thereafter the character has a full rest (including between sessions if applicable), one of their Ability Scores is rerolled and the new result is permanent. When all 6 have been rerolled, the character may noticeably change in personality and alignment.
This is because if the spore load is weak, it will replace the brain rather exactly. If the spore load is strong, it will carry the personality of a previous host.
Either way, the character's brains and some systematic soft tissue have been replaced by intelligent fungus.
Creatures that have magical or super-senses will consider the character from thereon a plant, for good or ill. Whether this includes unintelligent undead is up to the DM.
Something may seem off and different to family, friends, and lovers. Scrying spells seeking the character specifically will no longer be able to find the person unless the caster has encountered them after the change. As far as the universe is concerned, they are dead, and the fungus in their body now is a different entity - which is correct, in most cases.


Some other dis- /ad- vantages of a Narcosic Sentispore infestation:
•Magical healing heals 1 HP less, but non-magical healing 1 HP more.
•Any limbs rendered useless or severed will grow back as the HP is healed by rest or magic. This will be obviously fungal in appearance.
•If the character is dead, a significant portion of their ashes when breathed by another person will cause that person to become infested with them, and eventually become the original character. If a full pipe-load, or two pipe-loads when mixed with another drug, the smoker will pass out as the fungus violently replaces their brain and tissue, and awake as the old character in 2d4 turns (or hours if that's easier.) If this happens, the new body will retain it's appearance, but have the personality and skills of the old spore host (character). If more than one breath the smoke, each after the first will have a new personality; the original host's personality is only replicated once.
•They cannot use undead or purely magical creatures as hosts.
•Narcosic Sentispore intelligences are inherently genderless. They tend toward neutrality, although some are rather chaotic as the spores poorly integrate with a body.

Upon habitual use or long-term infestation, a distinctive fungal bloom is visible upon the forehead.
Recreational Use - 
"People fear that stuff - I knew a dealer who dumped 10k gold worth of Laba Wasp paste because he thought it had a few spores. But man, the people on the underground know - if you really wanna get out of your head, there's nothing like it. Just keep a Cleric around."
What the above neglects to mention is the high. While the fungus is changing the body and brain, the imbiber is euphoric and, understandably, feels as if a new person. Narcosic Sentispores can be used without a complete change if arrested by Magic. Slow Poison will allow one full rest without an ability score being rerolled. Cure Disease, Neutralize Poison, and Heal can cease the effects immediately, although any Ability Scores already re-rolled do not revert to their old values. If CHA, INT and WIS have all already been rerolled, the character will immediately die, however, as the original brain has already been replaced by fungus which the spell has removed.

MORE NARCOSA BUT ON A DIFFERENT SUBJECT
Maps Maps Mapping
I think the illustrious Byron Gysin and Bill Burroughs had the best ideas for making Narcosa maps. Burroughs [my edit text in brackets]:
 "The method is simple. Here is one way to do it. Take a page. Like this page. Now cut down the middle. You have four sections: 1 2 3 4 . . . one two three four. Now rearrange the sections placing section four with section one and section two with section three. And you have a new page. Sometimes it says much the same thing. Sometimes something quite different-cutting up [paintings of hell] is an interesting excercise-in any case you will find that it says something and something quite definite."
While Burroughs is a tad conservative, the method is true. I'd probably cut the page into thirds or fourths in both directions and scramble them. The key is not to explain away or rationalize anything for the players. The room is that weird shape. The hallway juts off in that improbably direction and ends, yes. Cut up several dungeons into equal (or unequal!) bits and scramble them together - carved stone hallway leading to wooden wine cellar leading to insulated futuristic hallway leading to solid-vapour cloud palace.
An important part of this is to also cut up evocative imagery, reassemble, and map onto the dungeon rooms in the same part of the other page with the practical map on it.

Bah, I don't know if I can explain it - here are some how to pictures and an end result.
ADVENTURE TIME and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Cartoon Network



Burroughs here gives up some evocative room descriptions to use while the PCs are off their gourd:
"Visit of memories. Only your dance and your voice house. On the suburban air improbable desertions . . . all harmonic pine for strife.
"The great skies are open. Candor of vapor and tent spitting blood laugh and drunken penance.
"Promenade of wine perfume opens slow bottle.
"The great skies are open. Supreme bugle burning flesh children to mist."
     "Cut-ups are for everyone. Anybody can make cut-ups. It is experimental in the sense of being something to do. Right here write now."

OR you could just have a painting up on your screen and when you need something interesting, find something in the painting. I just feel Narcosa should be pretty stream-of-consciousness, depending on what drugs the PCs are doing.