Wednesday, December 24, 2014


+Jez Gordon reminded we FLAILSNAILers to fill out our section of the FLAILSNAILS quarter, so here I go -
J-L is empty courtyards and alleyways alongside the Red Lion, Hair Dresser, Leper Hospital, and Furrier. The Leper Hospital and Furrier seem to be part of the Bellowdecks Inn. All of those actual establishments are under someone else's initials. (I will add drawings to this post at some point)

Somehow, a number of useless retches actually manage to sleep in the noxious open area behind the Bellowdecks Inn called "The Reek". As this "courtyard" borders the parts of the Inn housing a furrier and a leper hospital, terrible smells abound and foul fluids run in well-worn rivulets through the damp muck and patches of hard stone. The presence of those stones indicates a past of well-kept footpaths and a gazebo all fallen into ruin. During the day, the homeless retches disperse and the open area of "The Reek" is home to animal skinning and impromptu surgeries on unfortunate persons, often at the same time.
-currently sleeping there at night: Dallas (male pleasure droid from Barovania), Bramski the Goblin Rider (shady looking human with a penchant for sneaking and riding enemies)

-dipping bare flesh into or drinking combined runoff from leper hospital/furrier: 1-75 contract a horrible disease (see various Santicore entries), 76-86 mutation, 87-93 heal 1d3 HP, 94-100 save VS Death or die; if resurrected, will be as furry animal

The Red Lion's outer courtyard is secluded and isolated from the public areas, but heavily patrolled by the establishment's special guard - all of whom are deaf, well armed, and well paid.

Occupying one seat at the Hair Dresser is Graxi Toth, a psychic floating octopoid who uses her tentacles and colorful secretions to give unique hair styles to select clientele.

Those passing in the alley should be wary of furniture falling from above.

A series of rooms perches like a spider at the intersection of alleys. Support beams extend from the courtyard walls of the Red Lion, hairdresser, and Bellowdecks, and an intricate and confusing series of ladders and ramps extends to all the surrounding alleys and courtyards. Guests and intruders often become lost in the network of slides and ladders, ending up on a much higher floor than intended, or having crossed the entire alley to the courtyard on the other side by accident without ever finding their intended room.
From the outside, the rooms appear to be wooden shacks, but guests of the vat-spawn Bascomb Blightchurch talk of elaborate and lush furnishings...and his loving care of various traps and secret panels.

Bascomb has heavily trapped the ramps, ladders, chutes, walls, and passages of the second floor. Unescorted guests trying to climb to the second floor must pass a WIS -5 check or wind up:
1- back on the ground on another side of the intersection clockwise from where they started
2- counterclockwise from where they started
3- the opposite side from where they started
4- back to their point of origin
5-6- on a higher floor

To generate traps, see the excellent Generative Mechanical Trap Tables by Noah Marshall on page 64 of Secret Santicore 2013 v1
In addition, Bascomb's treasure room is behind a false wall with a carving of a demon's face on it; to slide the wall aside, one must put their arm in the demon's mouth. Anyone who does not have a hollow compartment in their arm will not only not open the room but have their arm broken by a metal bar, putting them at -4 to hit until it is healed.

Dame Takahashi Narue and her retinue of 5 workmen have sparse accommodations, something between a barracks and zen temple. She runs combat and mindfulness exercises for those willing to attend.

Luxx, youthful vagabond of Vertique and "borrower of luxury goods" lives amongst his growing library of books (philosophy, supernatural, naughty stories), hidden jewelry, and empty wine bottles. Some can hear his cries as he dreams of giant men made of metal and ghosts that stalk you through your dreams.
Luxx is occasionally joined by Fritz, who is rarely in his own room, but more often found in the pubs, or the street. Fritz is an aging cleric of Derketa, goddess of death, the harvest, and secrets, who demands her followers gather stories of all of life to bring to her; Fritz obliges. It keeps him too busy to clean or attend to his lodgings, however.


Errant soldier Rakkal left as a human from Calian, returned as a being of radiance, and more recently returned as a cat-person. She's been throwing furniture out the window and having hammocks, stacks of boxes, and an indoor garden of catnip installed. Humanoids who are particularly short don't like the way her eyes follow them. Her armor seems to stand guard when she sleeps, which is often.
Drawings of her former unit, "Calian's Lost Battalion" litter the floor, the faces never finished.

Long ago, a white elf lived on a hunter's perch on the first floor, tracking passerby as if they were game. The erratic mechanical being Dread Noslum relocated that hunter's perch to the fifth floor and has been building strange and winding platforms and hallways off of it, some leading to nearby roofs (and reportedly, somehow, local basements), some leading back to his platform, some leading to open air.

I went on a platform without guidance and ended up...
1. Outer courtyard of the Red Lion
2. Back on Dread Noslum's perch
3. Roof of the Red Lion
4. Basement of the Red Lion
5. Roof of the Hair Dresser
6. In a chair at the hairdresser (how did...HEY WAIT)
7. "The Reek", back courtyard of the Bellowdecks Inn (see "Ground Floor", above)
8. Roof of the Bellowdecks Inn
9. Meeting room of the Bellowdecks Inn; all doors hidden and locked (50% trapped)
10. middle of the Leper Hospital
11. Basement of the LIBRARY
12-14. open-air drop (6d6 damage fall)
15. a cell at the PRISON
16. a cell at the ASYLUM
17. subterranean meeting room, sewer exchange, and temple to SOLICRON LORD OF CHAOS
18. a cloud that seems to support your weight. How did you get so high up? Hey, there are some coins floating above that other cloud...I bet if you jumped you could juuuuuuust reach it.
19. roof of the clockmaker (map area p-x)
20. The Some-Times Room (EDITOR: I'm eager to see what this is, get to writing you T-E's or T-D's!)

There is a 30% chance the platform you traversed is available for backtracking, -1% for every platform previously traversed. Traversing a platform takes 1d20 rounds, and random encounters are checked for using the "Astral Encounter Table" on page 181 of the AD&D 1e DMG. All creatures are chaotic and bored.
Dread Noslum's treasure, maps, magical sword, and other detritus are left in piles on the hunter's perch. The ladder from lower floors requires a DEX-6 check to reach from the platform, missing it causes a 6d6 damage fall.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What I Run When I Run Games (for now)

I'm starting to run games on G+ again - here's my current thinking about what rules I prefer.
This isn't the result of ponderous study and careful evaluation of each edition of DnD and OSR games and the implications on gameplay of each rule involved. This is the result of thinking about what I do instinctually, and how to communicate that to others, so that we may all take the fastest route to where the fun is. I may revise what I'm doing as I get back to reading rulebooks, and I'll try to let people know, but this is how I'll be doing it this month for sure.

Lamentation of the Flame Princess will be the base for most things.
Non-combat actions are as AD&D (2e?) - the player tells me what they want to do, I ask questions, and if necessary, they roll against a relevant ability score (trying to roll under). Some rolls (especially social) will be heavily modified by roleplaying or otherwise convincing me.

PCs will be FLAILSNAILS at the start - IE characters from other settings. They will use the ruleset of their originating game for things the players resolve, and using the above and below when the player doesn't remember the relevant rule, or I deem the original rule incompatible.

Spells from LotFP, AD&D, and AD&D 2e are available to PCs - but...

MAGIC WORKS REALLY DIFFERENTLY from other settings and rules. 

I'll post more about how magic works as the PCs discover it.

I'll post more about everything as the PCs discover the setting - monsters, factions, environments...

Including native PC options, should the current PCs endeavor to gain native allies or otherwise cultivate goodwill from native factions.

Any questions?

Oh, and there's an itchy part of my mind that wants to go full Stormbringer! next year, and run a modern horror game, but we'll see what time allows.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Goat-men direct Q-Bot to the launch controls, the scientist Grantz caught up directing other Goat-Men at another set of controls.

Q-Bot quickly intuits the complex and alien system of controls (crit WIS), and goes to work helping the craft launch.
The castle shakes and tumbles, and all your instincts are to run for cover. It feels like every earthquake, a warfare of space, stone and metal, glass and air in a territorial battle. Then -liftoff! -BUT!!
Q-Bot realizes a critical stabilizing control is just out of his reach. He leaps for it, just missing (failed DEX)! Sir Ward sees what is going on and leaps in, only managing to topple on top of Q-Bot. The Goat-men scramble for the lever, but Q-bot knows it is too late.
Grantz helps up the grim adventurers, whispering "Thanks for distracting the Goat-men with the simulator so I could get this thing launched without distraction."
(got a couple weird results that meant Grantz succeeded in launch without your help. Not a likely thing to happen in any step.)

Lucien deftly commands the team of Ward and Q-Bot at several banks of controls (INT&WIS successes), steering the craft in a trajectory toward Grantz's home planet.
The dungeon levels of the structure burn off in the atmosphere, and any NPCs left in the cells are dead. The castle area is secure and has a life-support system, so your characters are ok.
However, all the goat-men and dog-men turn into normal goats and dogs and infants. Congratulations, you now have 266 Goats, 34 Dogs, and 300 infants.
Oh yeah, and one spider.

As you get further into space, a wormhole appears! After some debate and nervous looks at oddly rectangular asteroids on the viewscreen, it is decided to go through it. Again, Lucien deftly navigates and the crew manages to steer the craft while the rest of you try to corrall farm animals and infants.
(good rolls all around, damnit.)
You speed through tunnels of light, glimpses, that's impossible! But that looks, he's dead...AHEM anyway.
Grantz has awakened the castle's computer system to try and help with controls.
The wormhole was a shortcut to Grantz's planet! (goddamnit your dice luck). He initiates landing protocols as you speed toward the planet's atmosphere...

The ship's computer takes over controls! It refuses to answer questions and settles into orbit around the planet. The controls do nothing. (finally! The dice do something interesting).
S.pace T.ravel A.utomated N.avigator and A.dvanced S.ecurity wants you to tell "him" riddles. If he likes them, he may give you certain controls. If he is not amused, well, he doesn't need the life support to stay on...

You are currently orbiting the planet, with 12 hours' oxygen...WHAT DO YOU DO?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Creepy "Empty" Room Features

Inspired by a recent post by +Humza K , and just in time for Halloween, here's a list of features for "empty" rooms that hopefully help establish or maintain a creepy horror vibe.

1. Rat corpse, dismembered in a way that indicates cannibalism by other rats.

2. A feast has been prepared, a fire is roaring in the chimney/pit, but the floor is caked with dust and the footprints of vermin. The feast has not been touched by decay or animals.

3. A lived-in room, once-nice things worn with use, a radiator along the wall is roiling with building heat and releasing steam in a growing hiss.

4. A stark but clean room, full of life-sized figures seated on their ankles. It is nigh-impossible to tell if they are very still but alive, well-made statues, or automatica. The ambient breeze complicates testing for breath. There is a sense of intruding.

5. Items lay in disarray, covering the floor and every surface; papers, food scraps, clothing, tools; clear signs of use but not any sane organization.

6. A workbench with tools hanging from hooks. Someone has recently crafted a perfect replica of an item owned by one of the PCs, which is still on the workbench. (Then the candles blow out?)

7. Air rushes into the musty room as you open the door. A chair moves, the curtains ruffle as if shaken.

8. A comfortable, well-appointed seating room with a severed finger in a goblet.

9. Prison and torture chamber, empty now, cleaned poorly.

10. Everything in this room is in visible negative, including any who enter it. Color and shade are reversed.

11. Growling and scratching from within the walls. You are compelled to whisper.

12. Scratched stone, burnt wood, scattered plant dyes. A crude replica of something the PCs have recently discussed is on the floor, fashioned by clumsy, large hands.

13. There is a map of this area beautifully engraved and painted into the tabletop or wall. In some of the rooms, there is a red X next to a recently painted name - some the PCs, some not.

14. Many live rats hang from strings attached to the very high ceiling; there is also one cat.

15. All the shadows are the wrong direction from the firelight; any PC entering the room's shadow will detach and flee.

16. Half the room is carpeted green, half red. An old skeleton with a dagger through it's heart and a scrap of parchment that reads, "the bravest move left". Old "armor" that turns out to be made of upholstery.

17. Many insects lie dormant under rugs and furniture in this room, only stirring as creatures enter and make noise.

18. 1-2 raggedly dressed figures with horribly distended features do nothing but scream. Manacles hang from the wall. The creatures will not defend themselves, or stop screaming.

19. A large black horse, grunting and steaming, it's eyes red. It's too big to get out of the room, and will turn toward any intruders to stare intently.

20. Exactly like the room in this spot in the last area, down the the finest detail.

Discuss or keep the table going on G+ here.

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.
-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


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


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:

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.

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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

You are not a traitor to the ARE the OSR

A manyfesto.
manifesto (n.) "public declaration," 1640s, from Italian manifesto "public declaration explaining past actions and announcing the motive for forthcoming ones," originally "proof," from Latin manifestus (see manifest (adj.)
manifest (adj.) 
probably from manus "hand"+ -festus "struck"
While this blog entry is struck by one hand, my point is that the OSR is struck by many. Including yours?

Occasionally I see posts like..."I am a trader to the OSR because..." or "I am going to be an outcast for saying this, but..." and I find it really baffling. The OSR is not an institution. It is not incorporated. It is not an authority. There is not an undisputable cannon set in stone. There is no authority to betray.

or else from Latin manifestare "to discover, disclose, betray"
Now we're talking.

The OSR DIY community is a community. It is made of us. it is whatever we are. We are individuals, not of unified mind or ruleset. The OSR is wondrous and breathes many treasures because it is legion. It is not homogenous. There are many parts, each differing from the other but (mostly) working to make each other's experiences more awesome. We are always discovering the OSR together.

Listen.. people be askin me all the time,
"Yo Mos, what's gettin ready to happen with Hip-Hop?"
(Where do you think Hip-Hop is goin?)
I tell em, "You know what's gonna happen with Hip-Hop?
Whatever's happening with us"
If we smoked out, Hip-Hop is gonna be smoked out
If we doin alright, Hip-Hop is gonna be doin alright
People talk about Hip-Hop like it's some giant livin in the hillside
comin down to visit the townspeople
We (are) Hip-Hop
Me, you, everybody, we are Hip-Hop
So Hip-Hop is goin where we goin
So the next time you ask yourself where Hip-Hop is goin

ask yourself.. where am I goin? How am I doin?
-Mos Def, Fear Not of Man 
skip to 1 minute in to hear the above or click here to see/hear on YouTube.

Why do I care about these posts? Post what you want. What I fear is the view from within what I consider to be the OSR community that the OSR has ossified. That there is a cannon which one must follow. We all have our cannon of rules, books, and modules, and learn from and about each other by sharing what those are - and that they are often different.

There is no academy. There is no OSR government. The OSR IS THE REVOLUTION. 
If you're reading this, you're probably already a part of it. 
You're not a traitor to the are the OSR.

The revolution will be gamified...let's play!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Shadow of...SANTICORE!

Secret Santicore 2014 wants you!

Go read that post!

In case there is any confusion: I will not be running it or compiling the PDF this year. I have been playing fairy godmother to get things started, but after another week or so I simply won't have time to participate. I might make and fulfill a request, depending. If some other things I'm working on go swimmingly, I might pitch in again in November, but I can't guarantee that and I don't want people relying on me to get the thing done.

If you'd like to help make a PDF, compile many PDFs, be a Handler, or help move the whole project along from a mile-high "project manager" type of view, send an email to the contacts in the blog entry linked above!

If you are confused or curious about Secret Santicore, read this FAQ I wrote when I oversaw it last year.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

My First RPG

While I often have a distaste for memes, the recent posts got me thinking about the first RPG I played. Sure, sure, the first commerical RPG was probably AD&D 2nd Edition, but what was the first I played?
It's been around 25 years, I think it went something like this...
Character creation:
-find several GI Joe figures (and/or knock-offs that were constructed the same way) with parts that are awesome (cool helmet, neat armor on the arms, good weapons strapped to chest, rocket boots, etc)
-take out the screw in the back, disassemble, reassemble the parts you like. Watch out for the rubber band that hold the pelvis&legs onto the torso! It's hard to position right
-Have adventures!

Your character has the stuff on the parts you used, and whatever add ons (guns, backpack/rocket attachments, etc) not already associated with a currently alive other figure that make sense or you're jazzed about. Of course, their actual abilities are whatever you can imagine and justify to yourself or whichever friend is also playing.

I recall many cybernetics, space travel, trans-dimensional creatures and heroes, lady ninja assassin heroines that were at least as awesome as the main heroes, transformers as enemies, and dates that ended with two figures in a box overnight where something vague happened towards the end of my open-imagination toy playing.

OH yeah - there was a ice cream spaceship gained in a trade with my sister where a growing family of Yodas lived (including eye color variants). Eventually there were 4 of them, and I'm sure they argued and gave contradictory advice to the characters who made the long, hard trek to the mountaintop where their ice cream sundae spaceship was often docked.

Terrain was anything in my room, yard, the neighbor's yard, etc, including extensive dirt sculptures and hedge trimmings. 

ANYWAY, the first commercial RPG books I remember encountering and devouring were the AD&D 2ed PHB and DMG my sister brought home. To start, our main group were all older folks we met through Dallas Comic Cons, then eventually got invited to their home games. Later, we had a few years of playing in a church's meeting room after hours -at the tail end of the Satanic panic, to boot! We didn't tell them that's what we were doing. I think they thought we were playing board games. One of the group had a key.

This all led to the campaign I ran where the base was a dimensionally-travelling tavern called "Neutral Turf" with an umber hulk bartender.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Sidekick Hardsuit (item/henchthing)

Sidekick Hardsuit - a mechanical animal the size of a dog or large housecat. Starts with 1d8 HP, healed by casting any spell into it's spell engine or at a Blaster Recharge Station.

Can turn into a mechanical suit of armor, improving wearer's AC by double it's HD (starts at 1 HD).
It's HD is increased by 1 when it earns X000 XP and then X000 GP of gems is fed to it's Spell Engine. X=current HD.

When in animal form, It's own AC starts at 12 ascending, and improves by 1 when it goes up in HD.

So 5 months ago I asked some folks on G+ to look at a version of this, and they had great suggestions, some of which are reproduced below. Feel free to make your own, or post them on G+!

+Pearce Shea said  
yeah, I like it too, but given the cost of a level v the AC reward and (I'm assuming) it counts as magical armor (weightless), I might require its HD x 1,000 XP & GP to level it up. Does that make sense?

Also - cursed armourfriend sounds like it's rife with potential (Junketsu- grants AC equal to the HD it leeches off you in blood, Junketsu - grants +Atttack & damage equal to the HD it leeches off you in blood, or COVERS, which slowly consumes you [light armor + 2 {ie, as medium armor} but each miss that is saved by the bonus margin means -2 Con or something])

I integrated his first suggestion above, and really dig the second.

+Reynaldo Madriñan said You could do a lot with it too - various armorfiends could gain small powers every once in a while instead of raw effectiveness.

the cursed version is actually a lot like a monster I ran once; a bunch of heavily-armoured slavers - it turned out the armour was in control and using life force from the withered people inside it for magical repairs. They looked like Githyanki but were actually humans suffering the effects of the armour's life drain. 

I was going to save this til I could write a big post and draw a few of them, but it seems great for #awesomegamerday so you get it today!

A debt to +Scrap Princess 's posts here:

So You Ate the Dungeon Chocolate, Now What?

Shortly after I moved to NYC, a friend was visiting who hadn't lived in such a dirty city before. I dropped a piece of chocolate on the subway platform. He, knowing me as a germophobe from our high school days, thought to be cool and daring by scooping it up and eating it. Our friends and I stared for a moment. Right away, "Subway Chocolate" became a thing with that group of pals.
Did it cause you to turn into a rat? Did it make you turn into a subway car when you got horny? (We came up with a whole awkward teen cartoon show!)

Thus: Dungeon Chocolate. That thing your PC shouldn't have touched, eaten, etc.
So you need a random effect for a PC who interacted with something they shouldn't have?
Unless stated otherwise, these can be removed by Cure Disease or Remove Curse.
"Astral Projection" by exileinblonde on Deviantart

You can turn your body ethereal at will for 1d6 rounds per level; each time you do, an Ability Score is reduced by 1 permanently. In addition, you return to physical form with only 1 HP.
You can leave your body; you see a dim reflection of physical objects, and can’t make noise or physically affect anything (although you don’t sink through the floor.) Your body is completely prone and helpless in this state. Your body dies if you don’t get back in it within 24 hours. You also have the penalties of 1 above.
You can reroll one roll (except damage) per game session, and take the higher. Everyone else within 40 ft must reroll their next roll and take the lower.
Switch one physical (STR, DEX, CON) with one mental (WIS, INT, CHA) ability.
Techno-Organic Virus; you get a random robot ability, but lose 1 HP permanently when you use it. If you don’t use the ability in the first round of a combat, the virus wounds you for 1d10 HP. 
Your flesh begins rotting and turning into toxic slime, which reforms into scarred, tumorous muscles; roll 1d6 and lose that many CHA and add to STR; next game session lose that many INT and add to CON
Make a CON save whenever you enter battle, are surprised, or otherwise in a stressful situation; if you fail, you vomit up roaches and other vermin for one round, in which you can do nothing else.
Oops, it wasn't chocolate, it was wormy poop! You get a +1 to all Poison Saves, but must eat double rations daily or heal 1 less HP from all Healing. *
You slowly turn into a different race or species; in 1d6 days or next gaming session roll on the Reincarnation Chart and make adjustments.
Automatically make all Saves VS Magic, but all magic items turn mundane in your hands (and resume being magical when you let go), and beneficial spells do not work on you. Curable by quest.
You receive mad visions with a 50% +level chance of gauging the potential for success of the party's current plan. After the immediate first time, you can enter this trance state in wilderness by burning certain herbs and breathing the smoke, but it leaves you helpless and bedridden for 24 hours.
Save VS Magic or change alignment/faction allegiance/etc. If you pass that save, Save VS Death or die.

hey this is awkward I thought of 8 more...

A crust forms on your extremities over the next turn. You cannot hold objects or move silently. You can attack with the hardened crust for 1d6 damage, your AC improves by 2, but if you roll a 1 on the attack the crust shatters, doing 1d6+1 to you and mangling your hands and feet.
A crust forms on your torso and head over the next turn. If you are wearing armor at the end of this turn, you take 2d6 damage. Your AC improves by 4 due to the crust, but any time you are hit, there is a +10% chance per To-Hit bonus of the attacker that the crust shatters, mangling your torso and head for 2d4 damage. If you are hit with a natural 20, a limb is severed (1- RLeg, 2- LLeg, 3-RArm, 4-LArm)
You can see in Darkness, but have a -2 penalty to all rolls in bright light.
Good bit of chocolate, that. You could use a cuppa, though. In fact, healing doesn't work on you any day you don't take a break of at least a turn and have some well-brewed, high-quality tea. When you do, any healing that has been attempted on you happens all at once.
Save VS Poison or be incapacitated for 1d6 turns.
What a stroke of luck! +1 to all your rolls the rest of the session.
Giant green rage monster: you are under the effects of an Enlarge spell as if cast by a 2d4 level Wizard for 1d4+4 rounds. You attack the nearest creature, if there are many, the last one that hurt you. 
Roll 1d1000 Here