Saturday, January 26, 2013

Unconsciousness, Death, Dying, Stabilizing, Mutilation, PvP, and No Mercy (Rules References for Kalak-Nur)

Just to clear up how I'm adjudicating things in my G+ games from now on...

When you are reduced to 0 HP, you are Unconscious and totally defenseless, but not Dying.
At -1 to -3, you are Dying.
At -4 and below, you are Dead. (This is roughly consistent with LotFP).

Dying: every round, roll under your CON score to remain stable. Every roll above your CON, subtract 1 HP until the character is at -3. When you are at -3 HP, it takes two rolls above CON to die instead of one.
(Example: RavenAngst the 1st level Magic User got scratched by a fierce House Cat for 4 Damage. RavenAngst is now at -1 HP. His companions are too busy to attend to him, so the next round RavenAngst's player rolls a CON check. He rolls above his CON score. He is now at -2 HP. The next round he rolls below CON and his state does not change. However the round after that, he rolls above again and RavenAngst is now at -3 HP. If he rolls above his CON twice more before being Stabilized or healed in some way, his character will die.)

Stabilizing: Any conscious character whose player can convince me they would know how to bind wounds can attempt to revive an Unconscious character or stabilize one who is Dying. This is done through a WIS check (roll under), with a penalty equal to the amount of negative HP the receiving character has. Character A can only attempt this once on Character B until Character B is healed above 1 HP then knocked below it again. This action takes an entire round, during which no movement or other action is possible.
The effects of success are as follows:
Unconscious: the receiving character is now at 1 HP and conscious.
Dying: the receiving character is now at 0 HP and Unconscious. They cannot be healed further through Stabilizing, but only through magical or herbal healing, 8 hours of rest, or other healing methods.

Mutilation: Any character healed from 0 or less HP through non-magical means shall gain a mutilation or deformity to be randomly rolled by the DM.

Dead: The character sheet must be torn up and mailed to a popular OSR figure, who will then eat it. Just kidding. The character can be raised magically within a number of days equal to the Dead character's CHArisma.
Alternatively, if the Dead character has previously used a Time Chamber of Agalloch, their essence from the time of use can be retrieved from the chamber with the proper ritual and Magitech engineering.   Only Dead characters can be revived/duplicated this way. The character must be reverted to the level and items they had at the time the character used the chamber.
But it's not like you guys know about those yet.

PvP: I doubt it will come up, but if PCa's player thinks his character would attack PCb, I will not get in the way. I will adjudicate PC vs PC violence as fairly and mercilessly as I am able.

No Mercy: I am working every day towards being a more merciless DM. Challenge is fun. Risk is fun. Stakes are fun. If there is no risk of death, does it not take away sweetness from the honey of victory?
Oh man, somebody stat up Honey of Victory!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Exploring the Lost City: Some Tables

INSTRUCTIONS: When the PCs go a direction, roll 1d4. If they go the same direction a second time in a row, add +1, another time, +2, etc.
Every time they change direction, start back at base d4 with no plusses.

1. A temple with meeting square in front. Signs of sacrifice. If random encounter rolled here, sacrifice is recent, but party will not be attacked until they poke around
2. Residential Tenement block for slaves/the poor. Undead and mundane artifacts. 10% chance any room explored has something useful.
3. Open market area; broken stalls with ancient, decayed goods. Curious PCs will activate automaton guards and magical security runes, etc.
4. Middle class dwellings. Skeletons. More valuable stuff, but decayed. Some petrified wood and old metal stuff can be salvaged. 20% chance of something more valuable.
5. Upper class dwellings. Heavily damaged from the whole city-sinking-beneath-volcano thing. 25% chance of finding something more valuable.
6+. Guard gate at edge of city. 50% chance of finding control room for city movement. Knobs, switches, levers, valves, etc. If instruction poster can be read (in lost tongue), PCs can cause city to rearrange itself on a path to any part they want, or get out.

EAST: see instructions for WEST
1. Government buildings. Murder holes in ceilings of entrances. Will be used if random encounters rolled. Robed skeletons tossed about. 10% chance of finding a spellbook. 5% chance of finding something more valuable. 30% chance of finding a weapon.
2. Guard barracks. 50% chance of finding a weapon. Weapons found have a 50% chance of breaking with each blow. 30% chance of finding useable armor. Armor loses 1AC of protection with each blow landed.
3. Government magic lab. Oozes. Random potion effects. Walking in teleports your weapons and armor to holding area.
4. Winery. Good alcohol can be found with successful searching.
5+. Guard gate. 50% chance of activating automaton guards.

1. A sports or gladiator arena. If the PCs hit certain triggers (standing in a certain spot, saying a certain phrase, etc), ghostly gladiators forever repeating their past come to fight them. Random encounters are descendants of gladatorial beasts from ancient times.
2. Theater. Some undead want to put on a play for you. They attack if PCs will not sit and watch. Three random encounter rolls during play. 50% chance of undead helping PCs in fight if random encounter rolled during their performance.
3. Former black market. Ancient items of illicit type, herbs with drug effects growing wild, old devices that cause trouble. Still-functioning robot merchant and his cronies have no sense of time passing and think you're just the next sucker to come along.
4. Red light district. Still-functioning whorehouse, beautiful, young, healthy, fresh looking escorts. Of course, they're Succubi and Incubi who can't leave the premises, but are also impossible to tell from normal people while within these walls until they energy drain you.
5+. Ancient town dump, now awesome forest.

Your turn!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Elves of Kalak-Nur

By request, a description of the two major Elven cultures of +Kalak Nur . They are mostly far from any of the areas PCs have explored so far. If someone wants to play a PC of the following Elf varieties or a member of the Black Veil (yesterday's blog post), let me know and I'll figure it out.

Elves of East Trepan -

Physical description

Height: adults range from 6 feet to 8 feet tall
Build: noted for being physically imposing; some theorize they unconsciously secrete a musk signaling them as predators.
Teeth: sharp and pointed in the front; thought to be natural as also present in half-elves not raised in their culture
Skin: palest white, with occasional tinges of blue or green. Tattoos to mark life events.
Eyes: solid black with no distinguishable irises or pupils
Hair: roughly half of them have pitch black hair, half pale blonde (but not white). However, they frequently dye it other colors with plant dyes to mark social station, conquests, battles survived, and other life events.
Dress: rough tunics and armor made of hides, with no qualms about using the skin of other humanoids or intelligent creatures.

 (Images: top from "30 Days of Night", middle cover of an Elric comic and "Barbarian Barbie" by Kimsokol on DeviantArt, bottom is from "Centurion")

History and Culture: In their original land, the Elves of East Trepan were conquerors who ruled a vast empire from sea to sea. Humans built up a rival empire, culminating in a powerful human king making a pact with higher powers that banished magic and Elves from their world. The Elves suffered much adjusting to their new world, and now they are mostly allied savage tribes who seek to undermine human cultures through duplicity and raids.
Captives of other races who are not eaten are taken to their witches, who drain the person they were and replace it with something...other. Children are turned into Children of Cthon.

(Image) Elven Witches

The Elves of East Trepan on Kalak-Nur are often hidden in plain sight. Sleeper agents have infiltrated many cities of other races and are working to destabilize them. They hide their ears and wear thick makeup, taking on jobs in trade and government to position themselves most effectively. This life grates on them, and they long for the day they can raid openly and eat the hearts of their enemies.

Location: There are many settled lands of other races between the Known West and East Trepan. The Elves there, however, have found tunnel systems between East and West that others do not know of.


Elves of the Southern Reach 

Physical description
Height: adults range from 4 to 5.5 feet tall
Build: slender and elegant, they move with grace from birth. Some adults train themselves to move more awkwardly and formally as a sign of "maturity"
Other features: pointed ears, and otherwise consistent with "fey elves" of other settings
Dress: layered formal wear consistent with the Antebellum South, US Confederacy, and/or Victoriana

Illustration by Zii on DeviantArt
(photos from the past, yeah)

History and Culture: How the Elves of the Southern Reach ended up on Kalak-Nur is lost to history. Some theorize the ruins of ships full of gears and pipes near their lands were the method, but they do not claim so. They have been here for generations, and have built up their land and culture. While their presence makes the Eastern Kingdoms nervous, there are political truces and trade established. In secret, they work with the Elves of East Trepan to undermine stability and eventually rule once again.
Their culture is one of layer upon layer of formal interactions, social obligations, and superficial pleasantries. Their social hierarchies are rigidly enforced, although those of elven blood may improve their station. Rarely, a non-elf may rise, but it is a distinct anomaly. Non-elves are mostly slaves and indentured servants on their vast plantations.

Magic is rarely overtly practiced, but suffuses their being and colors all interactions with other races and kingdoms. Agreements with the Elves of the Southern Reach and gifts from them are to be feared, as they are enforced by ancient pacts and magical energy. These elves often trick non-elves into making agreements that end up with them as magically dominated Elven slaves. "But wait -" "I didn't mean -" Pleading is of no avail; their magic is strong and brought on by one's own words.
If one receives a gift from them, one must repay it with like value within 24 hours or be under the Elf's sway.

(The Elves of East Trepan are similar to Zak S's White Elves of Nornrik in Vornheim, but I thought I thought of them before I read it. Not sure if I unconsciously nicked it from him or we were just inspired by similar sources. Maybe that's their origin planet? +Kalak Nur  is a world of the marooned.
The Elves of the Southern Reach were directly inspired by +Ian Johnson 's character "The Colonel". It should be noted The Colonel is not a +Kalak Nur native to my knowledge. Maybe they have the same original planet and are offshoots of each other?)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Black Veil (Cult of Kalak-Nur)

Many powerful artifacts of magic and technology have accumulated on Kalak-Nur. Those objects which give one power over fellow creatures do not always help one survive the land, or the ravages of time. The Black Veil are a group, somewhere between a philosophy and a cult, that seek out, protect, and learn the use of such objects. Anyone seeking to use an artifact "Under the Black Veil" can count on having their worthiness and determination tested.

                   (Image Left)

 Sometimes alien children are marooned near Black Veil strongholds and raised in the order (Image Right)

To try to avoid corruption and use of the objects by their own ranks, the Black Veil do not use magic as it is commonly understood. Instead, through years of harsh training and asceticism, they develop powers of the mind and flesh. They are the only known users of Psionics native to Kalak-Nur, although those who have gained Psionic powers via other means have briefly visited from other worlds. Many have tried to develop these powers on their own to no avail. Without the training and guidance found in the Black Veil's citadels, their Book of Practices, and starting at a very young age, one simply cannot reach the extreme states of mind and body required.

"If I have to spend any more time in this dusty tower reading these stupid books, I'm going to...go out into that barren wasteland...and probably starve to death." (Image from the film Stalker)

The Black Veil are known for their use of laser swords. Indeed, they are the only group known to possess them. In a few solitary cases, a creature has slain a Sister of the Black Veil and taken her laser sword, but this is exceedingly rare and usually swiftly rectified. The laser sword cuts through metal and bone as if they were butter, and can be controlled by powerful psions to fight remotely when needed. The Veil will pay a hefty price for the return of errant laser swords, proof of a lost Sister's fate, and proof a menace to them has been killed.

A foul brute who has managed to kill two Sisters and take their laser swords.

Some cynics say the only reason anyone respects the Black Veil is because they were the first to stumble upon a cache of laser swords. To most Kalak-Nur natives, however, the group are considered holy and respected in their own right, keeping powerful objects out of the hands of would-be tyrants. To attack a Sister is to betray the masses. Anyone attacking a Sister will receive a psionic mark upon the forehead visible to all, marking them for doom. The ability to mark an attacker is so ingrained that even Sisters suffering sneak attacks have a chance to deliver a mark.

There are known to be two factions within the Black Veil - the Orthodoxy and the Symbolists. The Orthodoxy wear black veils, full robes, and tend to be seen in groups. The Symbolists dress and behave however they want, considering "The Black Veil" to be the metaphorical protective or obscuring covering the group itself provides to items of power. Symbolists tend to be encountered alone, making their way as adventurers, only revealed for who they are when they use their mind powers or find an item they feel needs the Veil's protection. 

Above: members of the Symbolist faction, loathe to use their laser swords unless absolutely necessary.(R Image from the film Days of Heaven)

(L image by Ellen Rogers Photography)

It is known that the Veil are handmaidens for a Demigoddess of Knowledge and Magic, Prometha, who has clerics that serve the Veil but are not of it.

In the modern day, the exact whereabouts of the Black Veil's strongholds and outposts are kept secret, and their current projects obscure. The people trust them, however, and their overall goals seem the same as always. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mechtaur (race/class for sci fantasy RPG games)

Sooooo... +Jensen Toperzer 's Wild Mage attempted to use Nahal's Reckless Dweomer to cast Magic Missile, but it opened a planar portal instead because Wild Magic. I rolled entry 54, and rolled that a planar creature DOES show up. I decided it shows up at the end of the round. 
Later that round and unrelated, +Reynaldo MadriƱan 's second string character, being some Dungeon World class that converted to Paladin, decided to call his bonded mount using that class ability to get some extra beef for the fight. I thought "Hey, how often is this gonna happen while a planar portal is open?" and decided to use my trusty 30% chance of anything to see if the planar creature is caught up in his Paladin call for a mount. 
The roll? 16. So yeah. Planar mount. I rolled d4 to see where the critter was from: 1 - Astral Encounters, 2 - Ethereal Encounters, 3 - Psionic Encounters, 4 - some planar table a player had (the first three are in the 1e DMG). I got Ethereal, and Efreeti. GREAT. I freaked at how powerful Efreeti are and rolled on some boring table and got Centaur. Then I decided to, like, combine them. I showed Rey a couple images from the net of stupid flaming centaurs, then found the image below. He fell in love with it so much he wants it to be his PC and have the Paladude be its henchman instead of the other way around. Sweet. Here's a weird raceclass.
By the swell illustrator Matti Marttinen. Here's his DeviantArt.

Mechtaur of Hephaestus

Hit Dice, Attack, Saves, Weapons: As a Fighter
Level Advancement: As a Magic User
Armor: Mechtaurs cannot wear armor, as it blocks important intake valves and exhaust vents. They may have custom armored plates made at the rate for masterwork armor, but they have their natural AC or the armor's and do not get the benefit of both.
Hoof Attacks: 1d6 damage, 1 attack at level one, 2 at level five; cannot attack with weapon in same round
Movement: same as human in combat, but 1.5 times that of a human out of combat if running

Class Abilities
Made of Metal: Mechtaurs begin with an AC of 5 (15 ascending), which improves by 1 at levels 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11.

Hot to Trot: Mechtaurs can utilize their internal heat in the following ways, a total number of times per day equal to their level:
at level 2, can heat its own surface and any metal it is touching, as per the Heat Metal spell. Grappling with a Mechtaur a few rounds into combat is a thing to be feared. At level 4 this can be used like the Flame Arrow spell
at level 3, can form a choking cloud of smoke that spreads 20 feet in all directions and lasts for 1 round per level. All sight, even Infravision, is ineffective in or through the cloud. All within the cloud take -4 penalties to Strength and Dexterity. These effects last for 1d4+1 rounds after the cloud dissipates or after the creature leaves the area of the cloud. Spell resistance does not apply.

The Fire Inside: Damage to the PC from fire, heat, and cold are reduced by a number of points equal to twice the PC's level. Cold- and Water-based creatures have a penalty of 2 to their morale against Mechtaurs.

Sure-Footed: Being a quadruped makes you about twice as difficult to knock off your feet, and makes you more sure-footed than a biped on difficult terrain; the DM will determine the exact effect of this.

Other Features and Limiations:
Glowing: you constantly shed light equal to that of a candle or small fire; it is extinguished with your death. It can only be disguised if your eyes, chest, and all your joints are bound with thick cloth treated with tar. The glowing areas can be painted over, but it is painful until the paint is removed. The Mechtaur can see through any of it's glowing areas, and thus has excellent peripheral vision and is difficult to blind.

Clunky: -4 or -25% to any attempts to be stealthy, quiet, hidden, or unobserved. You are an 8 foot metal beast belching smoke, sorry. The above is a baseline; the penalty can increase depending on the situation.

Second-Hand Smoke: creatures on your back cannot see ahead of you, due to your size and the smoke coming out of your exhaust pipes.

No Construct Immunities: You're not a construct, exactly, and are vulnerable to undead and may contract diseases if the DM says so. You gotta eat, although for you this means burning organic stuff (trees, plants, and garbage may count, but not rotting flesh or corpses) in your central fire.

Fall Down Go Boom: When you die, a Fireball (as the spell) goes off, centered on your body and using your level as the caster level.

Efreeti Engine: An Efreeti sleeps in your engine, fueling your fires and giving you life. The Efreeti prefers this slumbering state, and will be very angry at anyone waking/freeing it by killing you. There is a 50% chance it will attack any nearby creature; if not, it will focus on the creature that killed the Mechtaur.

An age ago, seven powerful wizards were banished to a land known as Hephaestus. They enslaved the native races, and through magical experimentation made them into weapons of war against each other. Whether the Mechtaur were once something else or were created as they are is lost to history. Eventually, all the wizards had either been murdered or ascended to other states of being.
The creatures left have maintained military, warlike societies and continue to fight for territory in rigidly ordered groups. Young, rebellious members of these races have taken to hanging around areas where portals are known to open, areas where the planar fabric is weak. They hope to be pulled through to another existence away from the rigid hierarchies and lost purpose of their homeland.
However rebellious at home, Mechtaurs abroad in the planes are known for being honorable, confident, and brave. They are not humorless, however, and are often quick with a joke. Their sense of humor tends to the bawdy and flirtatious. They can sometimes be cruel or forget that fleshy creatures are not as resilient. Even those seeking peace have little patience with cowardice, as they were all raised warriors.

Mechtaurs stand about 8 feet tall, and often have spears of their native land, made from one large solid piece of metal. Their native communication is via smoke and light patterns, but they usually know a halting form of common. Much mirth is usually made of choosing their verbal name.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Savage Valley

There are a million other blog posts I intended to write in the past few weeks but this setting won't leave my miiiiiiiiiiind.

The Savage Valley
BASICS: savage tribes of humans and humanoids with little civilization or history beyond one's tribe. Huge beasts and some hostile rival tribes. No kings, cities, wizards, or anything like that.

SYSTEM: very slightly modded version of Brendan's rules light 2d6 system 

MAGIC: no "spells" or books. Magic is intuitive and unique to each individual practitioner, with a few exceptions. No starting spells. When a creature with a magical ability is slain, the person striking the killing blow may collect the blood and scar or tattoo themselves with the creature's form to gain one of it's abilities like a 1/day spell. Only people with points in Magic/Wits can do this. (possible variations: all involved in killing it can take an ability if they have a positive Magic/Wits score; number of uses per day equals level).

ALSO: rare: abandoned alien tech, incursions of civilized species from other dimensions
less rare: areas of mutating radiation, talking animals (not always cute), animal companions; but none of these to the extent of, say, Kamandi

FLAILSNAILS: occasionally, tribes will discover "weak spots" where they might summon a mighty adventurer or two from another dimension to help them, but these adventurers are expelled from this dimension after a short time.

GAMEPLAY: your tribe using the meager means at your disposal to strategically take down huge beasts and rival tribes. Also negotiate food with luckier tribes, maybe. I'm sure if I ever run this, players will surprise me.

From the excellent self-published comic "Mountain Girl" by Ross Campbell

Probably some Marvel junk
Tatsuyuki Tanaka

Success not guaranteed

Horses not guaranteed

Delayed on account a our obastacles

Tatsuyuki Tanaka

food shortage: solved 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Frost Giant Heartswood and Stupidly Huge Anime Swords

Frost Giant's Heartwood Weapons
If you can get the heart from a recently slain Frost Giant...for 100x the normal weapon cost§, a witch can make you a weapon that has the following features. They manifest based upon your experience as an adventurer, mastery of yourself, and the emotional resonances the weapon will pick up from you while adventuring. The weapon or item can be created to respond to cold/ice/frost based creatures OR heat/fire based creatures, but not both. 100x the weapon cost in coins/gems must be destroyed at each level denoted to reinvigorate the magic, otherwise it will stay at the lower level of ability.

Wielder's Level / Ability

1 / Will shed light as a torch within 30 ft of and point to like a compass needle if let go; 1 round of no proximity damage

3 / plus 1 bonus to hit and damage VS creatures of this type; wielder gets +1 bonus to saves VS

5 / plus 1 hit/damage in general and +3 to hit, damage, and saves VS creatures of specified element; protects wearer as Ring of Reststance to appropriate element

Items that launch missiles can be enchanted and thus all missiles launched by it have the effect.
§hence, if a mundane example of the weapon can be bought for 15 GP, one must spend 1500 GP to make one of these.

The following weapon can be crafted for 10x the cost of a 2 Handed sword:

Stupidly Huge Anime Sword - a 2 handed sword that also counts as a basic shield. No additional shields or weapons can be wielded without spending a round dropping this sword and getting them. This sword can only be wielded by character with a 14 Strength or greater unless it is enchanted.

EDIT a few hours later: fixed formatting and increased costs to what they should have been.

Encounter Tables for The Grey Waste of Kalak-Nur & Random Weapons

I used these during the play by post to some extent, but modified the results situationally.

d20 Grey Waste Encounters, roll twice, ignore dupes if necessary
1-3. 3d6 scavengers, 1d4: 1-humans 2-bugmen 3-giant beetles 4-whispering creepers
4-5. cult, 1d4: 1-worship still working part of crashed ship 2-worship local strong personality 3-worship legit deity from another plane 4-worship demon
6-7. 3d6 skeletons, 1d4: 1-armed 2-armed&armored 3-spellcaster 4-wearing your clothes from the future
8. ghosts; roll 1d4 as entry 1-3.
9. looted/burned out caravan, 30% chance survivor hiding in wreckage
10. 1d4 hungry Fire Lizards
11-12. 2d6 Goat Men working for Mocata
13. cargo from crashed ship with intact loot; roll 1d4 then roll 1d12 twice more on Encounters table for this location; 1d4: 1-1d4 "land speeders" 2-1d4 blasters 3-week's worth of food; 30% perishable; 30% intact refrigerated container 4-works of art or other treasure
14. crashed ship, 1d4: 1-In pieces 2-small 3-medium 4-large; if rolled again see # 13.
15. unattended weapon just laying there in the sand
16. Powerful inhuman presence; possibly technological
17. Trading expedition
18. survivors of catastrophe in need of help; roll 1d8 on this chart to find out what's nearby they need saving from
19. If South, lost Sahaguapede; If North, errant Ludo; if middle, intact trading caravan
20. roll again using 1d12

d12 Random Weapons
1. decent sabre; d6 or as medium sword
2. roll again and is of good make, +1 or 3 more charges
3. blaster, 1d4 charges
4. laser sword and dying Sister of the Black Veil looking for honorable person to entrust it to
5. stupidly large anime-scale sword; 1d10 and acts as shield but penalty to all stealth
6-7. standard from LL or LotFP equip chart
8. laser sling, as normal sling but no need for bullets and +1 to hit
9. bola
10. explosive
11. spear
12. laser atl atl, 3 charges