Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's Next? (a random table inspired by RotLD III)

I just watched Return of the Living Dead III, and if you haven't go do that now. Seriously. It's pretty cool.

For those of you that have, here's a table of events in it that could be what's in the next hex, what happens when the PCs go off map, or the like...some of these are out of order. Some are events, some are NPCs, some are just room dressing.

1. An inept guard
2. a couple fucking
3. someone's father makes a drink
4. bad news
5. someone urges their companion to dangerous thrills
6. an accident; one person dies, one person lives
7. someone has a dead loved one, is pretending they're alive to achieve a goal
8. a scientist is experimenting on severed limbs (animate)
9. someone steals a uniform
10. a series of weird, narrow windows internal to a structure
11. someone breaks a seal they know to contain evil, hoping for a good result
12. the dead come back to life, but don't remember dying
13. a container of gas, a protective suit
14. weird, mutated undead attack the people who were "controlling" them
15. a skeleton rips out of it's body
16. a hot redhead
17. a gang of tough guys playing an innocent game
18. someone eats food gluttonously, spits it out
19. a gang of toughs harassing a couple, couple are hiding a secret that could destroy them all
20. an armed merchant fighting off a robbery
21. a gang of toughs fighting undead
22. law enforcement or other authority chasing the wrong people
23. someone getting off on pain
24. intelligent undead creating nonintelligent undead
25. mindless undead attack
26. a specialized military unit equipped to deal with local magical menace
27. pipes, steam
28. a crazy vagrant who tells a scary anecdote relevant to the current situation
29. unexpected help navigating the area
30. someone with a note from a higher authority taking over command of a situation in progress, is protested
31. a military unit goes rogue
32. a father, heavily armed and looking for his son
33. a woman turning into something else
34. an underground lair, rats, stuff glued to walls that is meaningful to the owner
35. someone makes a speech that abstracts your plans into a general theory of happiness
36. a symbolic token is given that must be passed on under specific conditions (EG an act of altruism)
37. a gang of thugs infiltrating a sewer lair
38. someone jumps off a bridge
39. a couple sneaking onto a military base
40. criminals and the military both closing in on the PCs
41. someone transforming into something more dangerous and a lot cooler
42. criminals torturing and questioning
43. a narrow escape
44. tour of a military base with harnessed monsters
45. monsters loose in a palace of authority
46. a scientist with a powerful weapon
47. a fiery conflagaration
48. death makes someone way weirder
49. a weapon that seemed powerful proves ineffective
50. something from the past, thought contained, is unleashed

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Adventure Inspiration in the Illustrations of Kate Baylay

These look like adventures I wish I had been on. I don't know anything about her, I don't remember how I found her site, but now I'm torn between getting her version of the Olive Fairy Book or HJ Ford's, and I want framed prints, and blah blah I can't afford anything for a month or more so that's moot. Anyway, go check out her site, there are way more illustrations that you could build whole adventures around.

Kate Baylay:     site    blog    prints

“Now, foolish one, I have got you, and will kill you for my supper.”

'Cause that's just what you gotta do sometimes! Fuckin' FLAILSNAILS, am I right?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Life Ain't Nothing but Pitches and Money

Just collecting the campaign ideas that are festering in my brain that I don't have time to do anything about. Right now, I don't have time to run the one I already started, and it'll be awhile before I have time again. I don't want to forget these, so I'm gonna dump them here. Maybe they will inspire someone else to useful effect.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Kids in a modern setting (80s maybe?) exploring supernatural phenomena in urban or suburban surroundings. For general direction think Martin Millar, Buffy, Goonies, Monster Squad, Lost Boys, Super 8, Marble Hornets (IE Slenderman stuff), Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Some Stephen King stuff like IT.

Blight's Grey Agents
Paranormal investigation probably, but not necessarily, some decade between 1920 and 2020. Maybe using Zak S's suggestion of CoC characters with some Night's Black Agents skills. PCs could be part of a secret government agency, freelancers, private dicks, reporters, whatever. Totally unfair low random chance at character creation to be a supernatural being yourself, maybe. Emphasis on noir and investigation and seedyness blending into the supernatural, obviously like Hellboy and BPRD, but also Hellblazer and Hellraiser and other stuff like that.

Professor Quingle's Magnificent Contraption
PCs are a collection of 1800's eccentrics using a contraption to visit strange lands and have adventures. At home it's all pip pip and what, ho! but in the lands they visit, death could be around every corner. Sorta like original series/next gen Star Trek or Dr Who, but without future tech. Sorta like Call of Cthulhu in a way. PCs only have access to tech from 1800s or the weird worlds they visit. Maybe they go see Conan, maybe they go see a totally surreal land of disembodied intelligences that shape reality to their whims. Some games would be heavy fighting, some heavy RP, some both. Tone and genre could change every game.

Fighting Pits of Kalak-Nur
In a culture that's a fantasy version or Persia and/or Rome, PCs start out as 0-level (or 2d6 system?) slaves sent into gladiator pits, and advance by surviving their fights. At first, role play is lighter, with fellow slaves and guards. If they do something spectacular in the ring, however, they might get sponsored by a noble, introducing a whole other level. Fights are generally against animals, monsters, and NPCs, but PCs may choose to PvP in ring or out. The ring will be adorned with tactically useful terrain and weapons may be won through sponsorship.
Freedom can be won through amassing respect and money from winning fights, or through a well-executed escape plan. PCs may FlailSnail only after freedom is won. Existing FlailSnail PCs may sponsor pit fighters within reason and engage politically/financially, but may not enter the ring (or risk becoming a pit fighter at the lowest level). Pit fighters do not have to be Fighters, but may be of any race or class suitable for old school games. By the time freedom is won, PCs should have gained rumors, enemies, and allegiances such that they will enter the adventuring life with plenty to do.

The progression should be obvious here: the first several games will be really light RP and tactically interesting fights, but RP and setting stuff should grow pretty organically to become more important.

Race/Classes I'm thinking of: any basic, any random from Zak S's or other blogs, generally non-techy classes from blogs or whatever, and from Kalak-Nur - Bug People, Droids, Fire Lizards, and Blood Druids.
Certain races will be considered lower by the culture, and thus certain things will be harder at first but being "exceptional" could lead to great prestige and maybe slightly change cultural attitudes.
Yes, this setting would have slavery, explicit social strata, and casual racism, but it is a fiction and should not be interpreted to support any of that shit in real life.

Fighting Pits of the Gigastructure
As above, but in a Sci-Fi setting. Similar to Gigacrawler or taking some of what's fun about Murdermaze but making PvP optional. The above would have more mythical and real beast opponents, this would have more robots/aliens/sci fi type opponents.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Get Cursed: A Primer for Achieving Great Things With One Hit Point

As Luxx the Thief, native of Vértique, bids a tearful goodbye to his one hit point and first level - in the good way, by leveling up! - I am wont to reflect.

+Zach Marx Weber , DM of Vértique, has stated that stealing mechs was supposed to be something only high level PCs could do, and as far as I can tell, his assessment should be accurate for most situations. As Luxx discovered (and has related to whoever's holing up in Ward's Haunted Mansion), mechs have a "Soul Battery", the spirit of a powerful warrior (usually an ancestor of the family) bound inside. Once you put on the psychic driver's helmet? That spirit can kill your ass if you wouldn't be able to defeat them in the physical realm.

Luxx would have died pretty quick. How'd he survive and get the mech? A history of doing dangerous things that no one else wanted to do. A high DEX didn't hurt.

In his first adventure:
-While happy to take other risks, the other PCs had been sufficiently frightened by the dissolving properties of Witch's Jelly in the past that the back and forth about who should gather it was taking some time. Luxx volunteered to ladle it into the special urn, sneaking back and forth to avoid the watchful eyes from the guard tower we intended to use the Witch's Jelly on.
-Thankfully, the more fighty PCs were able to cover Luxx under fire while he ladled the stuff onto the Guard tower legs. Spilling any would have been the end of his 1 HP, but sometimes being Dexterous and "brave" is better than having HP.

In his second adventure:
-There were some weird walls with runes that absorbed into you when you touched them. One PC got zapped a little from it, and it was clear that not everything the runes gave you was beneficial. Luxx touched it for awhile, absorbing a curse, a spirit, a spell, and a ritual.

*The curse was absorbed by a door that opened by sucking runes off you.
*The spirit was an ancient warrior that tried to kill me in a shared dreamscape to take my body. Luckily Luxx had badass DEX in dreamland, too, and evaded his attacks until the Merrowman PC from H.M.S. Apollyon game that was with us tasted my dreams and woke me up. I probably would have died the next round.
*The spell was Color Spray, cast DCCRPG style. I rolled really high the first time casting it, getting rid of one of the bad results. So far I've rolled great every use, and it's saved Luxx's bacon at least 3 times. AS soon as I fail with it, it goes away though.
*The ritual is a way to transfer the PC's mind into someone else's body or make him functionally a lich (I think one or the other). We don't have the components yet, but Luxx convinced the spirit warrior to lay off trying to take his body by convincing him I could use it to put him in a more badass body if heis just patient.

I had no idea how true that would be!

So we heist a noble's house, with half a mind to kidnap an heir and put Luxx's mind into them, but one of the other PCs was in love with the daughter and the other PCs were in love with gold and blood so a dinosaur was summoned and other PCs hacked and slashed and my guy backstabbed some folks. Then I put on the heir's cloak, covered my face in gore, and ran for the mech as the other PCs fled the cavalry (they didn't have gross disguises, it was the right move on their part).
I get to the mech, and as lady-spirit-ancestor is about to slay me, she's distracted by something behind me. I have just enough time to roll out of the way as her blade and dreamscape-guy's blade meet where I (well, my PC) was just standing. I try to stall, Luxx turning up the charm, but they are pretty eager to get rid of me first. Color Spray! Thankfully, it works on whatever mental plane we're on, and I roll high, so they're both knocked out.
Slit the ancient dream warrior woman's throat (she wasn't gonna let anyone outside her family pilot the thing), and I had a little back and forth with dream-warrior guy. Eventually I get tired of debating and just kick him into the crevasse, locking him in as the Soul Battery for that mech.

So, how to get a mech at 1HP and first level? Get cursed, do things other people are afraid of, and don't die.
I owe Luxx's survival every single game to the awesome skills of the other players and their characters.

Of course, the next question was, where do you hide a stolen mech? Our troubles were not over.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Random Class Generator or "What are the NPCs over the next hill like?"

While cool, it's utility when used as directed is low for the majority of DMs. OK, occasionally you're going to let a player play his flying Dwarf with Thief abilities that uses magic like a M-U at a 60% level penalty, because flying monkey, right? Or maybe you run a special session where you let everybody use one of these. Still, you use it once and everyone's got a character and done til someone dies. And that's fine, but after looking at the results a few times I think there's a way this generator is useful to the DM pretty frequently. That starts at the *

The first class it generated for me is one of the most immediately useable and straightforward things I think I've seen from a generator. This is the spear-carrying hunter who can sneak up on prey. It also makes a lot of sense for a Harpooneer or Landsknecht that decides to go adventuring. In more practical terms, a long-range backstabber (if there's some player skill and party coordination going on.)
I think I'd say they get a -2 to hit with non-polearms instead of not being able to use them at all, but the rest can play as it lays.
Requirements: none
Prime Requisite: STR
Hit Points
LevelHit Points

Armour Members of this class may not wear any armour. 
 Weapons Members of this class may only use pole weapons (polearm, lance, javelin, spear).
Attacking Members of this class roll to attack as a magic-user.
Magic Items Members of this class have no restrictions on the use of magic items.
Note that, for magic armour, weapons and shields, characters can only use a magic item if they could use the normal version of that item.
Thief Skills Members of this class have the thief skills, including the bonus when attacking unnoticed from behind, of a thief of their level.
Saves Members of this class save as a fighter of their level.
LevelXP required
from here
Or this guy:

However, here's where the juice comes in for the DM. You can use this to extrapolate the weird cultural practices of the NPCs or even Monsters encountered in the next room/hex/tribe/whatever. This would probably work well in combination with Zak S's Gods as Places to fully flesh out a hex. (EDIT: If you're going soup-to-nuts and want more monster/NPC stats like attacks and AC, try this from Abulafia or this from donjon to add to the below. Works well to flesh out Villain Warbands.)
Let's say you're using Carcosa (either the book or generator) to do the heavy lifting for hexcrawling in your game, but you're not running a Carcosa game.
"Hmmm...Village of 220 Ulfire in my game, those are..."   
Requirements: STR 9
Prime Requisites: STR, CON
OK, so these folks really value being tough and feats of strength. They probably go shirtless and either live physically demanding lives and/or have strength training and scheduled contests.
Hit Points
LevelHit Points
Hmm, but they're easy to kill. Maybe they're small? Like, little strong pygmy dudes? I'd use this as the number of HD of NPCs, not the number of HP. Strong but low HD. 1-4 d8s.
ArmourMembers of this class may wear any armour and carry a shield.
WeaponsMembers of this class may only use pole weapons (polearm, lance, javelin, spear).
Shit, little strong pygmy dudes with polearms. As the next entry tell us, they attack better than magic users, but maybe not as good as fighters.
Attacking Members of this class roll to attack as a cleric or thief.
Magic Items Members of this class have no restrictions on the use of magic items.
Note that, for magic armour, weapons and shields, characters can only use a magic item if they could use the normal version of that item.
Magic-User Spells Members of this class can cast magic-user spells as a magic-user of 60% of their level - that is:
So there's a 60% chance a party of these guys has a shaman or other magic user, and/or a 60% chance each one has some spell or tribal charm that has an effect.
Thief SkillsMembers of this class can move silently as a thief of their level.
SavesMembers of this class save as a thief of their level.
Special AbilitiesAt level 7, members of this class gain the special abilities of a dwarf (60 foot infravision, detect traps, false walls etc).
"So these folks prefer polearms, value Strength, but aren't hard to kill. They're sneaky and magic use is widespread - 60% of the population. Eventually they get Dwarf abilities...maybe through some practice where meditation on the Erf pays off. OK, so I've got a pygmy tribe (or Goblin culture, etc) that uses magic and moves quietly and practices some kinda warrior mysticism and for some reason they revere the polearm - probably cause they value Strength but are easy to kill. OK, Ulfire Men are that now." Werido demihuman tribe infesting the ancient temple? DONE.
from here

I'd love to see what weirdo classes you folks get outa this, or weird cultures extrapolated therefrom.

Here is a cool pictures I came across looking for relevant images:

Jeffrey Jones does a great Conan

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Monster Party

I like monster squads like BRPD, Hellboy, and Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., and so running a game where the PCs have the potential to become one interests me. I like objective challenges and watching people problem solve, so PCs will start with nothing in a deadly dungeon. D&D excels at producing new weirdness from the mixture of many people's creativity, so I am eager to run a setting I haven't thought out much backstory for or anything like that. I'll prep the bare minimum for a fun session, and then after each game think about the ramifications of what was discovered and extrapolate from there.

The idea I'm running with is this: you're a bunch of monster types, tied up in a dungeon with no stuff and no memory of the last month. PCs keep what they find from session to session. New guys start with nothing all over again. There's gonna be stuff that's too hard to kill sometimes, and you gotta figure out how to deal with that. There's deadly traps. I'm going to discover a lot about this setting along with you as it's generated through play.

Rules are from Moldvay Basic D&D and LotFP except as below. I may add crit charts after I see how it plays without.
Characters can go into FlailSnails after 2 games. I'd like to keep PCs to a core of natives, with maybe a FlailSnailer or 2 to fill out the team if this stays interesting for enough sessions.
Characters begin with no outside equipment or money, even if they came in from FlailSnails.

For Race/Class, roll or choose below. These are the only options for new PCs. 

1. Goblin (as LotFP Halfling except no auto-progression in Bushcraft; get 2 points per level to spend on Specialist Skills)
2. HobGoblin (as LotFP Dwarf)
3. Bugbear (As LotFP Fighter with 3 in 6 Stealth, progress as Dwarf)
4. Skeleton∞ (Fighter or Specialist, progress as Dwarf, Base AC is as if wearing Leather)
5. Devil-man*
6. Kopru or Sahuagin (as LotFP Dwarf but all reference to underground stuff is underwater, can swim and breathe water, skill progression listed for Architecture is instead related to underwater stuff)

You may also choose to take on the abilities of a Magic-User or a Cleric instead of your racial abilities. Use simplified or full DCC casting but player should be familiar and have the book (or iOS app) for full. No casting in armor. You are still one of the races above in culture and appearance.

If 3d6 in order nets you high enough ability scores and you have the book, you can be an AD&D 1E or LL Paladin (and can make up your own restrictions like a Wu Jen if you want instead of using a Good/Evil binary). All characters start out with no equipment, but Paladins also start out naked.

Skeletons also get +2 to saves (except against cold) and don't need to breathe, however, they get -2 to casting checks and make bad magic users.

*Devil-Man: As LotFP or Moldvay Basic Elf, with the following changes:
•1d4 damage unarmed attack
•Add 1 HP for each spell you have memorized, but subtract 1 HP when you cast a spell
•Your area of effect spells have at 10 ft range, your targeted spells are by touch or weapon only.
When you go up in level, instead of the normal stuff, you roll on Zak's Random Wizard chart.
•Armor must be magical or the natively made armor of an inherently magical race; no spellcasting in normal armor.
•Devil-Men do not use spellbooks. They learn new spells by staring into a fire for 1 hr per level of the spell they desire, shedding blood and watching as it gouts out of some unfortunate's throat (victim must be alive and unable to escape), or otherwise meditating on universal processes that put them in touch with other infernal beings who give them mystical power. This cannot be done in combat or other stressful situations, but can be done in a dungeon. The beings who grant Devil-Men spells may ask boons occasionally.
•Casting is a simplified version of DCC. I may refine this later, and players who are familiar with DCC and have the book (or the iOS app) may use the full version if it doesn't slow things down too much.
Simple version:
1. Make a spellcasting check by rolling 2d6
2. Add and subtract appropriate modifiers (Tables B, C, D)
3. Compare the result to the appropriate column on Table A (below)

Table A:2d6 Roll Spell Effect
1)    Consult Spell Fumble charts in DCCRPG
2-4) Fail (Spell Lost)
5)    Wild Magic Surge in 1d3 Rounds (Spell Lost)
6-7) Delayed 1d3 Rounds (Spell Lost)
8-9) Success (Spell Lost)
10-12) Success (Spell Saved)
13+) Consult Spell Overpower charts in DCCRPG

Table B:Charisma Score Modifier
 3: -2
 4-8: -1
 9-12: no modifier
13-17: +1
18: +2

Table C:
Devil Level Modifier
1-2 +1
3-6 +2
7-8 +3
9-10 +4
11+ +5

Table D (Other Modifiers):
Use of Material Components -3 to +3 (victim's hair, voodoo doll, tears of a Harpy, etc)
Use of Victim's True Name +5
Spell Burn (STR or CON) +1 per Point Burned
Spell Level -1 per Level

(I was trying to make this simple, then Zach had some crazy ideas for the Devil-Man that were too good to pass up. Simplified DCC/Chainmail Spellcasting from Jeff Rients and Christian Kolbe.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More ANARCHYCORE - a cult and some tables

Paul SchaeferYesterday 11:37 AM (edited)

+Joey Lindsey you great gob of putrid pus, make me a cult that sews things together all Franstein/Dr. Moreau style.
Anyone else, I will draw some of your stupid ideas and make them seem like treasures to humanity.

This cult's members believe that everything is better remade. Natural forces do not guide anything to it's best form. All must be cut asunder and stitched back into new combinations. Some carry this edict out physically, as crude brutes or refined serial killers, cutting up human, demihuman, and animal, and attempting to give life to new creations from the pieces.
Other members of this cult are more subtle. Seemingly innocuous, they give friends advice and happen to have the right bit of gossip to break up couples - but hey, they also know just the right person to encourage your affections toward next. They often take government positions, hiding their agenda, sewing discord and mistrust until treaties are broken and revolutions and wars erupt. They will then work to form new alliances, forge new pacts.
They see no contradiction in breaking up alliances and combinations they themselves previously formed, after a time. The seams must show. When the scars fade and the stitches come out, whether physical or metaphorical, it is time once again to cut and reassemble.
Members can be identified when searched by the results of their initiation - two initiates cut off a finger and sew on that of the other.

Scrap PrincessYesterday 12:26 PM
+Joey Lindsey landspeeders are stupid, you are stupid , make me a stupid table of city encounters

Scrap PrincessYesterday 1:07 PM
Actually I don't want that anymore +Joey Lindsey , make me a "so you decided to become a wizard table"


1. A wandering baby hippo with huge cute eyelashes that the city folks cower from in fear and try to pretend isn't there.
2. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Nobleman and Scholar. He writes down everything you say, but seems to miss the point. He can make the most interesting events seem boring, and wants to follow you everywhere, narrating what is happening.
3. Street closed. Workers from the "Oh Shit Construction Co" are working. The whole block looks mysteriously like really even blue lines and shaky pencil sketches.
4. A really sexy person who isn't interested in talking to you, but asks a leading question every time you try to walk away.
5. A Deity doing paperwork, listening to worshipers, and sweeping up the temple because their Priests formed a union and got the day off.
6. Meeting of the Priests' Local Union 103. They are violently arguing about dental care or something.
7. A big ol alligator that all the children and some adults are playing with, like it's a huge puppy. Scratching it's chin and everything.
8. Yourself, coming the other way. The other you is super awkward for some reason.
9. A Thief's Guild has set up a little booth with streamers, stuffed animals, and pamphlets, hoping to recruit.
10. The Big Bad you killed last month, undead (again), being super nice and all apologies.
11. A bear on a motorcycle being chased by slimes. "Get on, there's no time to explain."
12. A bunch of lawyers who want to take you out to lunch.

1. GREAT! Waddaya want me to do about it? Good luck with that. Here's a hat.
2. A creature who lives in the dangerous forest/volcano lava/local dungeon/clouds has cast "Find Wizard", and you're the closest schmuck with no familiar calling yourself a Wizard. You feel uncontrollably compelled to seek them out.
3. A real Wizard hears you wrong and polymorphs you into a lizard. Oops! That was off a one-use scroll. They feel real bad about it though, and would be happy to take you on as a lizardy apprentice.
4. Geez, if you'd realized there was so much paperwork, you might have said something else - Fighter, Assassin, I mean hell, even Elf! Oh well, now you're signed up with the Inter-Regional Magic Authority. Hope you like writing quarterly reports.
5. "The Wizard! You have come! Just as the prophecy said! Let us show you to the dragon..."
6. You begin as a 0-level human that can cast Nahal's Reckless Dweomer a number of times a day equal to your INT bonus. If you choose this path, you skip 1st level, and are 0-level until you have the XP for 2nd.
7. You are actually just a person who is followed around by 2 0-level theater people in black catsuits and masks who do their best to carry out (with props) how they imagine the effects of whatever spell you say you're casting are. They pretend they aren't there, like no one could see them. You pretend you're a Wizard. Maybe it'll work out?
8. That's cool, but somewhere in the world your nemesis has been unleashed. It can track you by the energy from your spells, so better move on pretty quick after casting.
9. Bonus! A local witch just threw down her flying broom and said, "I quit! Take this, you'll need it."
10. Wizard Bus pulls up with a bunch of senior citizens in cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirts. You signed up just in time for the Annual Beach Retreat!
11. A bear on a motorcycle being chased by slimes pulls up. "You the Wizard? Get on, there's no time to explain."
12. Everybody's like "Oh god I hope it's a phase. But you follow your dreams, honey." Mom buys you a whole second set of equipment (double starting cash, but must spend it).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Celebutante race/class for old school games

+Ian Johnson told us to yell at each other, I yelled at some people, other people yelled at me, it was called SECRET ANARCHYCORE and was fun.

It is not very secret, so I think it should have been called SATANARCHYCORE, but there's always next time! Anyway, Dr. Whisky says:

+Jack Shear 11:28 AM

+Joey Lindsey Hey, your hair looks like a bush I laughed at once.  Find a way to make Paris Hilton into a character class.

Hit Dice: 1d4 per level until level 9, when your looks finally go
Attack and Weapons: Only small or dandy weapons. Unarmed slap/nail rake for 1d2 damage.
Level Advancement: As a Magic User
Saves: as Thief
Armor: Can only wear the most fashionable clothing or armor. Notoriety is at 0 when face is covered.

Class Abilities

Allowance Celebutante PCs get their level x1000 GP at 1st and every time a level is gained, but only if they have a positive Notoriety; see below.
Paparazzi They are constantly followed by 1d4+level 0-level humans (reroll daily) with magical cylinders that project their image to the masses. If all these are killed, Notoriety cannot be gained until a great act of charitable hypocrisy is performed. Luckily, most creatures seem to ignore the Paparazzi...except for spellcasters and leaders of any kind.
Notoriety is a stat that can be used to add to rolls or HP. While it is positive, the PC may cast Charm Person or Turn/Attract Living* 1/day a number of times equal to their level. If it is negative, the PC loses that many HP until restored to positive. Notoriety is set to 0 every 7 days or two game sessions, as the viewing public is fickle.
+1 Notoriety for surviving risks, ruining others' plans (PCs or NPCs), saying bitchy things to important people, taking credit for the success of others, convincing other people they are fat, doing raunchy things like fucking the prince on the bar at the local pub, high-profile threesomes and breakups, spending lots of money, doing something extra fabulous, etc.
-1 Notoriety if less than 500GP is spent on an item of clothing, armor or a weapon; for every day the offending item is worn; for each melee combat in which the PC is injured; or for any 24 hour period where Notoriety is not gained (if Paparazzi are surviving).

*Turn/Attract Living: 25% of the time, this acts like the Turn Undead ability but on living targets. The result is determined by comparing their HD to undead on the Turn chart. The other 75% of the time, it acts the same but the affected creatures do everything they can to get toward the Celebutante. PCs may choose to alter that percentage by 5% every time a level is gained. Creatures must be able to see the PC to be affected.

Geezuz, nobody play one of these, OK?
I've got like 5 more SATANARCHYCORE requests in the hopper, so watch out tomorrow!

Monday, February 4, 2013

God Money Don't Want Everything He Wants It All

Gods are governments, gods are money, gods are "Too weird to live, too rare to die."

If you don't give a shit about the context and just want to skip to the juice, go to the *.

When I was originally playing D&D, I just let gods sorta be the abstract mythological spell-granters and deus ex machina that 2E made them out to be. 2E had some interesting ideas about gods, though, like they completed for influence of different spheres (oh shit the God of Magic died everyone jockey to take his/her place!) I can't remember if it was 2E or reading Neil Gaiman later that introduced me to the idea that gods have power relative to their amount of followers and the degree of faith those followers have.

When I got back into the hobby with 4E, then back back with the OSR early last year, I avoided the subject as much as possible. I didn't see a reason to figure out how gods worked. Eventually, though, I realized I was leaving out something that can add a lot of character to a campaign. What gods are and how they work is part of the "physics" of the campaign; players understanding that stuff helps them set goals and be creative with problem solving. After understanding that, I knew I'd have to deal with it eventually, but not how.

As there were more and more Kalak-Nur sessions on G+ and my home game players joked that the next person to die has to play a Cleric, I knew it was time to figure it out. I've been listening to several free courses on iTunes U, specifically "The Early Middle Ages" from Yale and "The International System in the 20th Century" from Stanford. Hearing about the relations of the different parts of the Roman Empire and the relations of world powers around 1900, and thinking about the tail end of the Cold War era of my youth, something clicked and I got it.

*Gods are like world powers during a Cold War; they are competing for resources and ideological victories, but most of the time the risks of open war on each other is too great. They are too interdependent for that. Competition leads to disagreements, however. Treaties are drawn up. Pacts are made. Backdoor treaties are signed, some contradicting those more overt. Because the big powers can't make open war on each other, sometimes in all the twisty wordings of agreements, smaller powers get a leg up.

Priests are like spies and diplomats, helping allies but also keeping tabs on them. Of course, they are always looking for ways to hurt their enemies. This happens either through direct attack on priests of enemy gods or longer term manipulation of economies, society, and ideologies to diminish belief, and thus their godly power. All gods and their devout followers are playing a long term game, to increase the number of followers, intensity of belief, and even perception of the faith by non-believers.

So what are gods in this line of thinking? I like that every DM has their own ideas about what the gods are, but here's what they are to me.
Gods have several possible origins:
1. Two other gods breed, and then must find or cultivate an idea or sphere of influence for their offspring to take over and cultivate a following for them.
2. Somehow belief in a god that does not yet exist spreads to the point that they come into being.
3. A mortal is chosen by the gods in a pantheon to be uplifted and take over a sphere of influence or idea that is currently "orphaned".
4. A mortal becomes so uniquely powerful, revered, and strange that mortality is no longer appropriate.

Obviously the last two have potentially greater ramifications for PCs. The first two can generate a lot of great story hooks, however, and that's what this is really all about. Gods are there in the game, so I want them to generate adventure and give the PCs interesting choices.

I figure at some point, a creature becomes so powerful that the god option opens to them; gain functional immortality and be able to grant abilities to others and all that, at the trade off of your power being limited by the strength of the faith in you. This could lead to other interesting ramifications, like gods who are still around even though the faith in them has all but vanished. They'd still be somewhat immortal and have all these weird powers, but with limitations that put them in odd situations...situations maybe PCs can help them with or help others out of.

Anyway, GODS. Waddaya think? Here's a weird picture of Jesus fishing for a sea monster with the apostles and himself as bait. I think bait-Jesus has a bow in his hurr.