Thursday, September 24, 2020
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Ba Dwai La
A bilocational city, existing on both the moon and Langa (in Centerra) at the same time. It has jurisdiction over the Cat's Bowl and Jian Ven Dha.
The rulers of right-handed Ba Dwai La, their authority is established by the ruling family, which is destined to birth the God-Child several generations hence. Their breeding program is enforced by Intercessors. As a result, the ruling family gets smaller every year. Eventually, it will just be the Father, the Mother, and their Nurses.
Members of Oona Druha use their small gods to learn when they have met their soul mate.
A race of aliens who conquered the planet long ago, and stripped anything of value from it. They dwell in mirrors and resemble pelagic nudibranchs.
Despite the name, they are from a place much farther away than the moon.
The rulers of left-handed Ba Dwai La, their authority is established by their displays of strength, scholarship, and the celebration of the self. They oppose Oona Druha, and confer with the the glorgs.
Members of Zala Korvina use their small gods to learn what is holding them back.
A trio of massive slugs that lives beneath Ba Dwai La, eating garbage. They are advisors to Zala Korvina, but many whisper that the Glorgs are servants of the Oona Druha, and that their rebellion is merely a sham. Regardless, their gifts of strength and knowledge are genuine.
They have grown too large to ever join their siblings, and have alloyed their fate to Ba Dwai La. They still maintain correspondence with their siblings, and trusted orbitals who visit Ba Dwai La are often given missives before they depart through the Cat's Bowl.
The Small God
The graft that identifies a citizen as a member of either left- or right-handed Ba Dwai La, and indicates which set of laws they must follow. Right-handed citizens enjoy and suffer the full power of the city's laws, and are treated much like other civilized peoples. However, left-handed citizens cannot vote, call for a trial, or own property. However, left-handed citizens cannot be jailed or executed (only beaten and fined), do not have to pay taxes, are not not legally bound by contract.
The small god is actually an eye on the back of the hand.
The grove of sacred jendai trees grows here. With careful pruning, they can become spaceships. The trees are considered to be first-class citizens (everyone else is second-class). Only the grove can sell a jendai tree, but since this is considered to be a form of slavery, the trees rarely deign to sell one of their own, and the ones that are sold are always the most wicked trees in their (admittedly small) society.
The harmonium is also home to the last breeding population of true humans; over two dozen enjoy captivity here.
Jian Ven Dha
The mismera that surrounds the Cat's Bowl, but also the rivers that flow beneath it. Movement is impossible above ground (as it is haunted by achelornises and other dread fowl) but navigation is impossible below ground (as there are no landmarks, and the currents shift constantly).
The Cat's Bowl
A crater lake on the far side of the moon, it is used to catch incoming spaceships, refuel them, and then launch them.
The Cat's Bowl is also an adjacent town of the same name.
The tower that serves the Cat's Bowl. All of the greatest sorcerers in the world are brought here, but especially clairvoyants, telekineticists, teleportationists, and calculators. Their immense talents are leveraged to communicate with their counterparts on distant stars, detect incoming ships, use teleportation and telekinetics to adjust their location and velocity, and then bring them down for a landing in the Cat's Bowl.
Lunar people will tell you that this is the entire purpose of the moon, Centerra, and the rest of the planet. If the Cat's Bowl ever failed to perform this reasonable duty, they would be burned off the surface of the moon, and a successor race would be installed that was capable of it.
The jellied grist that flows in the veins of the Calicalion, the generations are composed of elder sorcerers that have aged past their prime. They are barely-conscious ocean of latent power that suffuses the Calicalion and the Cat's Bowl. While the sorcerers of the Calicalion are powerful in their own right it is the unbordered minds of the generations that give the tower the horsepower needed to perform their mind-bending exertions.
The process of joining the generations is a honorable tradition, but is never approached without some reluctance by the sorcerers of the tower. They know exactly what the generations are--a beast without borders, words, or intentions.
The vudra are refugees from this place.
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
|by Andrew Kuzinsky|
Whenever you blaspheme, or make light of a god, you have a X-in-20 chance of being cursed, where X is your level + your Charisma. Gods are more likely to notice important people. And honestly, if you've made it past level 1, it's probably because some god thought you were worth keeping alive. Show some gratitude.
This also applies to players who blaspheme against your gods. If they want to make fun of Dendari, they can do it away from the table.
Touching the Vulgate (Bible): +10%
Touching a relic: +20%.
Once you make this check (in secret), you'll never make it a second time. For example, if you swear on the Second Emperor that you are telling the truth, and then you speak and you don't suffer a horrible curse, then it isn't clear if you were telling the truth or if the Oath check failed.
Bear in mind that questgivers will sometimes make you swear an Oath that you will perform the quest as described. The upside is that the patron will usually be forced to bind themselves according to the same Oath (so they won't backstab you either).
If a group makes an Oath together, then they will suffer the effects together (if any). One roll per Oath.
This replaces geas, which was always an ungraceful spell.
A party can attempt a desperate prayer once per session.
The character must loudly state:
1. What they want from the god.
2. What they promise to do if they get it.
The default chance of success is 0%. The god will only intercede once, and in the smallest way possible. These rolls are made in secret, and at the last possible moment.
If the player requests something small, that could possibly be explained away by coincidence, they get up to coincidence, they get up to +5%.
If the player promises something generous that they have the capacity to give, they get up to 5%.
Example 1 - Goren Kriegod wants to know which path leads to the surface, and so he cries "Phosmora, who was once as slave as I am a slave, guide me out of your embrace! I must find again the sky, or be swallowed up by these black walls! Rescue me and I will sacrifice a fine bull for your!". +5% for a tiny, deniable action. +3% for a decent offer. There is an 8% chance that a black rat crawls out from a crack and then flees, showing Goren the correct way out.
Example 2 - Goren Kriegod asks Dendari to help him survive this battle. If he survives, he promises to build her a temple. +3% for an action that difficult to hide as coincidence. +1% for an unlikely promise (Goren is too poor to build a temple to Dendari). If Goren would take lethal damage in this fight, there is a 4% chance that some coincident prevents it, leaving Goren at 0 HP but otherwise unhurt.
Religion is not something that one party member (the cleric) has. Religion is something that the whole party enters into together. Religion something for the party to put on their party sheet.
I haven't got the prototype off the ground yet, but it will work a bit like the guardian angel concept that I wrote about before.
Essentially, the party declares that they want to worship Esuna, the goddess of serpents and healing. The party works together to raise their Devotion to Esuna. The party gains magic dice (that they all share) that they can use to cast heal on each other through exhortation. The party has no cleric, and yet they all still have access to healing magic. (Bonus: no one has to be the healbot.)
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
According to the Metal Heretics, metal was an invention of the Great Spirits of Earth, who had seen far enough into the future to discover the heat death that awaited us there.
Metal would be a perfect, immutable, timeless material. It would not rust or bend. It would be the only shield capable of defending against the ravages of entropy (for even liches crumble to dust, after a few millennia).
Allegedly, before the arrival of the Authority the planet was in the process of turning itself into solid metal.
The notion of any immortality other than his own was offensive to the Authority, who stripped this trait away from metals. Iron was the first to submit, and so it was allowed to retain its strength. Iron that accepted the element of life (carbon) was allowed to retain even more. But iron forever bucked the reins, and so diseases and rust were sent to it.
While the Church has never tamed iron's bloodlust, titanium's loyalty and obedience have been unflinching. It is what the weapons of angels are made of.
The proudest metals resisted the longest. Shameful was the fate of gallium, but none were brought lower than mercury, which was beaten and shaken until nothing was left of its perfection except its shine. It is a watery cripple, its hatred for the Authority's creations manifesting as venom.
The only metal that could not be bent was adamantite. Although the Authority could not humble it, he sent his angels to gather it up and fling it into space. This is why adamantium is only known to come from meteor strikes.
|Precursor Golem by Chippy|
The Immortality of metal is what the Transmetallic Alchemists seek.
The Transmetallicum manufactures gold only to fund their research into immortality. So far, their most successful processes involve the large-scale consumption of mercury. So while they've successfully created immortal, metal humans before, these alchemists have never retained their sanity. One by one, they have all been captured and entombed inside cubes of steel.
This is not to say that the Alchemists never free their Immortals, whenever they require an immortal metal man to fuck some shit up--it's just that they're a little hesitant to do so, given the high chance that the cure will be worse than the disease.
(Stats as an ogre. Capable of forming metal weapons and tools from their body. Capable of creating fins and 20' spider legs from their limbs. Can drink water to create steam explosions (3d6 AoE) after a few minutes of heating. Insane. Utterly immune to damage.)
No one ever resisted the Authority without allies.
When Adamantine spurned Heaven it alloyed itself with Hell. It is only through Hell's blessings that the metal has been successful in its defiance thus far.
All of the adamantine swords in Centerra were hell-forged. Strip away the swordgrip of Saint Handrayda and you will find a hell-sword, bound, purified, and annointed.
A less-commonly known way to forge Adamantine is through the blasphemy-forges of the dwarves, who build blasphemy-wheels to light their furnaces. (Just as prayer-wheels submit a prayer whenever they revolve, so does a blasphemy-wheel provoke divine wrath.) Once the blasphemy-wheels are spun up to an appropriate velocity, they use divine lightning to create an arc furnace of incomprehensible power.
All of the builders and blacksmiths go to Hell, of course, but dwarves don't believe in Hell. And the great blasphemy furnaces have a limited lifespan. They hang from the roofs of great caverns by adamantine chains, but even those chains and the systems of counterweights are eventually shaken loose by the furious earthquakes that assault the region.
And so adamantine persists in a state of tension. If Goxlagon (the Elemental Evil of Earth) were ever to falter in his support, it is likely that all of the adamantine in Centerra would have its boiling point set to somewhere about room temperature.
The Throne of Heaven
Inside the sun, the Throne is built from the most loyal servants: titanium, bismuth, and tungsten.
Tar Lath Lien, the Dracolich, the Serpent of the Apocalyse, who holds the key that opens the lock that seals away Armageddon, claims to have visited it and plundered it.
The Seat of the Authority is empty, he claims, and all the hosts of heaven conspire to hide this fact.
The Gift of Metal
The Authority made metal malleable and finite, and by doing so, made it useful to mankind. This has always been painted as a charitable deed, and one worthy of praise.
Indeed, nearly every aspect of the world was tuned in order to primp it for the arrival of humanity, the Authority's favored children. Metal would hardly be an exception in this regard.
This story of metal and heaven is usually told alongside another one. . .
The Gift of Death
The first gift the Authority gave humanity was Life. The earth would give them food, they would breathe the Authority's sweet air, feel His warmth upon their skin, and they would offer him joyful praise. Such was the intention.
But there were problems in these earliest gardens.
The first humans were immortal, and knew neither death or age. Their children were numerous, and soon they crowded the valley and the riversides, and struggled against each other.
Secondly, they would never inherit. They were subservient to their fathers, who were subservient to their fathers, who were subservient to the Authority. Without the passing of the elders, they would remain servile, and would never know what it was like to have authority themselves.
Third and most distressingly, was the corruption that the world instilled in its residents. A child was born innocent, of course, but a decade of struggle and insecurity brought dark thoughts. The Authority began to see that after several centuries of immortality, there would be no one suitable to join him in Heaven.
And so the second gift of the Authority was Death.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
HP stands for Heroic Poise. This is your ability to survive the world's cruelties, both mental and physical without impact. HP turns potentially deadly blows into bruises, exhaustion. It also includes some intangibles such as luck and divine favor. HP are "don't get hit points" but they are also "keep it together points".
Your HP is a reservoir. They soak up bodily injury and emotional trauma similarly. Once you are out of HP, enemy blades start to carve up your belly, and panic begins constricting your brain. You no longer stand like a hero; you stand like someone in fear of their imminent death.
Anything that could reasonably kill a person deals at least 1 HP of damage. Cats don't deal any damage, because cats have never killed a human (except through infection, or that one cat that I assume smothered a baby somewhere. Babies have 1/2 a point of HP.)
When the world tries to kill you, you take damage, which subtracts from your HP.
Damage works the way that it always does, except that it includes emotional damage as well. Your HP can be reduced all the way down to 0 without any ill effect, but any damage that your HP cannot soak up will Overflow and cause something bad.
Additionally, exhaustion can deplete your HP as well. Run some sprints and I guarantee that you will not be able to defend yourself as effectively as if you were fully rested. (Exhaustion counts as non-lethal damage.)
- Non-lethal Overflow merely knocks you out for 1d6 + Overflow rounds.
- Lethal Overflow will cause Wounds, and may kill you.
- Emotional Overflow will cause Stress, and may have additional effects depending on the emotion. For example, fear damage causes you to flee or stand there gibbering (player's choice).
Dying characters fall unconscious and drop whatever they were holding.
- Natural 1 = You die.
- Fail = You gain another Wound.
- DC 16 = No change.
- DC 24 (or Natural 20) = You stabilize.
Disfigurements are permanent, and most will make your character weaker in some way. Perhaps its time to retire?
So our example adventurer might wake up with 5 Wounds. Their Max HP, formerly 3, is now 0. They cannot gain HP until they remove the Wounds (since the Wounds are greater than the HP).
If they woke up with 1 Wound, their effective Max HP would be 2.
If you stop here, and don't incorporate Stress (the next section) you basically have the same amount of bookkeeping as your average D&D version. (Wounds are no more complex than death saves, for example.)
Here's a scrap of a character sheet I drew to illustrate it. (It doesn't include Stress.)
If you have any amount of Stress at all, your Derangement becomes active (see below).
Since emotion damage is rarer than physical damage, we can assume that characters walking around with Stress will also be rarer. However, the Derangements are pretty shitty, so it balances it out.
Some characters will have worse Breakdowns and Derangements than others. These are the ones that will probably be asked to read the Latin. This is as it should be.
|The full pain homunculus|
Emotional and physical damage are ablated by HP, but there are ways to sidestep this buffer.
Horrific Lovecraftian shit will bypass your HP and deal you Stress automatically.
Similarly, an attack against a helpless character (asleep, tied up) reduces their current HP to 0 and deals its damage entirely as Wounds.
Places of Recovery
If your Stress + Wounds ever equal 10 or more, you cease to be a playable character.
If Wounds brought you here, you are merely dead.
If Stress brought you here, you go insane (or some equivalent). You can be dragged back to civilization (while exhibiting the worst of your Breakdown + Derangement) and rehabilitated, gaining all of the benefits of Retirement, but you can never again be a playable character.
We have a character that currently has 9 damage. They're in trouble, because they're effectively at 0 HP. If they take any more damage, it'll go straight to Stress or Wounds.
Their Max HP is 9, but if the character recuperated in a monastery while the player used a sidekick for a session, their Max HP would be back up to 12.
They don't have any Disfigurements, but if they gain any Stress, they have a chance to vomit. They're currently Abusive, and will remain so until their Stress is brought back down to 0.
|Disfigurement Table [d6]|
|Note: Common sense overrides this table. Falls are unlikely to knock out your eye, for example. Psychic damage might only put people in comas, or it might roll a d6 like normal (missing leg = all the nerves in your leg die), depending on the DM.|
|1||Arm Missing/Useless||Lose 1 point of Str.|
|2||Hand Missing/Useless||Lose 1 point of Dex.|
|3||Crushed Ribs||Lose 1 point of Con. Cannot speak louder than a whisper.|
|4||Leg Missing/Useless||Lose 1 point of Str. -4 Movement (assuming you have a crutch).|
|5||Coma||Lose 1 point of Int. Wake up in 1d20*1d20 days (if either of those dice show a 1, you will never wake up) assuming prompt, competent medical care. 50% chance of waking up with a new skill: Spirits at Rank 1.|
|6||Missing Eye||Lose 1 point of Wis. -2 Ranged Attacks.|
|Random Breakdown Table [d8]|
|Note: No Breakdown lasts longer than 10 minutes (except Alter Ego). When you are panicked, all you can do is move, cry, whimper, and hyperventilate.|
|1||Fight||You attack the the source of your Stress until it is removed or destroyed.|
|2||Flight||You flee from the source of your Stress until it is removed or at least 3 rooms distant.|
|3||Faint||Fall unconscious. At the start of each round, you have a 1-in-6 chance to wake.|
|4||Vomit||You vomit (free action) and drop to 0 HP.|
|5||Scream||You start screaming, once per round. Each scream incurs an Encounter check. You cannot stop yourself from screaming, but other people can. Lasts until the source of your Stress is removed or destroyed.|
|6||Cling||You grapple a random adjacent PC and refuse to move. Lasts until the source of your Stress is removed or destroyed.|
|7||Self-destruction||The DM chooses 1 action for you to perform. It is always the worst possible action (throwing away your magic sword). If you cast a harmful spell on yourself, you get a Save.|
|8||Alter Ego||Roll a new set of mental statistics, personality, goals, etc. You are now a new level 0 character with a new name. Whenever this Breakdown occurs again, you switch back. Your alter ego levels up separately.|
|Random Derangement [d20]|
|1-5||Proximal phobia||Phobia for whatever gave you the most recent point of Stress. If nothing seems applicable, pick one of the other phobias randomly. Use 6-10 for inspiration.|
|6||Claustrophobia||You panic in small spaces. Gain 1 Stress each time you end a round in a small space.|
|7||Acrophobia||You panic within 5' of a fall (at least 10' high). Gain 1 Stress each time you fall.|
|8||Thalassophobia||You panic in or above water that is deep (5' or more) or murky. Gain 1 Stress each time you end a turn in deep or murky water, or if you fall in.|
|9||Nyctophobia||You panic when you are without a light source. Gain 1 Stress each time you end a round in the dark.|
|10||Thanatophobia||You panic when you see a corpse (including the undead), or when a person starts Dying. Gain 1 Stress each time you touch a corpse, are affected by the undead, or if a PC or hireling dies.|
|11||Talking to Yourself||Never surprise enemies. Enemies surprise the party 1-in-6.|
|12||Disenchanted||Whenever you are supposed to leave town (or a safe campsite) for some dangerous location, there is a 50% chance that you retire instead. When this Derangement is removed, there is a 1-in-6 chance you decide to retire anyway.|
|13||Escapism||Automatically fail Initiative rolls.|
|14||Guilt||Cannot level up.|
|15||Abusive||Whenever someone rolls a critical failure, you will verbally abuse them, dealing them 2 emotional damage (anger).|
|16||Pacifist||Whenever you attempt lethal harm, you take 2 points of emotional damage (despair). You can still trip enemies so that your warrior friend can kill them, you just can't trip them off a cliff.|
|17||Depression||You cannot benefit from Cheer, and neither can the people around you. If the other PCs go get Cheered without you, you have a 50% chance of abandoning the party, fleeing into the night, because fuck those guys.|
|18||Comfort Object||Pick an item in your inventory. Whenever it is out of your possession, gain 1 Stress. You panic until it is returned to you. (This object doesn't change when this Neurosis is inactive.)|
|19||Sadist||Once you attempt lethal harm, you cannot take combat actions that don't include attempting to kill your target. (No fleeing, no healing, etc.) If you level up with this Derangement active, you can only take levels in Slayer.|
|20||Morbid Curiosity||When encountering something that is weird and potentially dangerous, the DM can ask to you to make a Cha Save to resist investigating it ("reading the Latin out loud, picking up the glowing sword, etc.) When you level up, you can only take levels in Warlock. (If you lack a familiar, one will be provided.)|
Negative traits are fun, but they shouldn't be something that is picked at character creation. (Balance issues, synergy/powergaming issues) but it works well if they are generated randomly the first time that they become relevant. (DELAY ROLLS AS LONG AS POSSIBLE).
A person with acrophobia could walk along the top of a tall wall, they'd just be panicked the whole time. They wouldn't be able to attack an enemy or even shout a warning to their allies.
You'll also notice that Sadist and Morbid Curiosity both force characters into choosing a character class that they might not want. I think this is wonderful. Why should players always get to choose their next character class? (ATTACK ALL PARTS OF THE CHARACTER SHEET.)
Disenchanted is a potentially disruptive Derangement, since it can force a player to retire a character that they don't want to. To that I say "better than being dead". I almost named this one as Sanity (because what sane person would go into a dungeon) or Family Man.