Saturday, December 4, 2021

The Obliterat and the House Unheard

It is understood that much of reality only exists because it is observed.  The Authority is capable of seeing all things, and therefore the world is stabilized and made persistant by his unwaverig gaze, watching the world from atop the Throne. 

Who gave you your eyes?  The Authority?  Do you trust him?  To see that which is hidden, then, requires you to stop looking with your eyes.  The void monks pluck out their eyes so that they might see more clearly.

The void monks offer peace, forgetfulness, lobotomies, absence, and the release of oblivion far beyond the reach of petty gods and unfair afterlives.  (Is it any wonder that they were founded by orcs?)

The most important monastery of the void monks is the Obliterat.

Within the Obliterat, the monks attempt to answer difficult questions.  When we are obliterated, are we truly gone?  Or is there just another place we find ourselves?  Is there anything after the end of time, or before the beginning?  What forms these boundaries?

They investigate these things through meditation, astral projection, and psychotropics (occasionally used as a crutch by the younger members).  The philosophical body that they have created is called the Annihilum.

"I think, therefor I am." is an empty phrase to them.  Thinking something is not proof of anything.  To them, the human mind is an echo chasing itself back and forth across a canyon.  It is an empty loop, repeating meaningless symbols, signifying nothing.

But the players do not care about most of this.  More to the point, the monks also study the lacunae.

The Lacunae


There are holes in the world.  The monks know this better than any, having created so many themselves.

And that is why the monks of the Obliterat have become the best surveyors in the world.

From the crossroads at Dzorum, walk exactly 5000 feet south.  Then walk exactly 5000 feet west.  Then walk exactly 5000 feet north.  You will find that you are exactly 4851 feet away from where you started.

At the imperial quarry at Clavenhorn, it is clear that four stone gloryboats have clearly been cut away from the cliff at roughly the same time period.  The second emperor began the practice, and the fourth emperor ended it.  Where is the missing emperor?

The calendars do not match up.  The equinoxes have shifted too much.  The eclipses do not fall where they should.  Something has been corrupted.  Something has been stolen away.

The astronomers of the Obliterat have calculated that there is over three hundred years of missing history that occurred within the bounds of recorded history (a little over 700 years).  A third of the last millennium has been lobotomized, and no one knows what is missing, much less how.

The dinosaur cults have long been suspected.  But the dinosaur cults have been allies with the void monks in the past, and even when they met as friends neither could discern the truth of it.

The other possibility lays with the Order of the Owl, but who can question them?  If they ever knew the truth of it, they've long since chosen to discard the memory.

by Loch at nothicseye.blogspot.com

The Obliterat

The Obliterat was once a lighthouse.  That much was once apparent.

Like most lighthouses, it was probably built on a promontory, or at least an island.  But in the long years since it's construction, the foundation must have been washed away or eroded.  Now, the Obliterat floats above the ocean, held aloft by time-and-space-locked void monks.  The whole tower is wrapped in an enormous black sheet, like a flag over a corpse.  It flaps in the wind.

The tower itself exists in a lacuna--a gap in space.  If you hunt for it, you will never find it.  It is hidden, like a raisin under a fold in the tablecloth that you will never see, much less touch.  

But there is a way to get there.

Here is the traditional method.
  • You must not intend to reach the Obliterat.
  • You must not know where you are.
  • You must be close to death--the boundary of the smallest oblivion.
Traditionally, the most common way for someone to get there is if their friends (or allies) conspire to send them there.  The unfortunate soul will be drugged, or plied with drink.  They will be given a near-fatal dose of black lotus.  They will be placed into a row boat below the Bastion of Medurak, when the tide is going out.  A thousand gold coins will be scattered over their unconscious bodies.  And then they will be pushed out into the churning sea.

It works best in spring.

From there, the monks will find you, hopefully.

If the gold is sufficient, and if you seem like an honest supplicant, they will take you in and tend to you until you recover. 

It is, of course, much bigger on the inside.

Honestly, the other void monasteries are a lot easier to get to.  It may be easier to just ask those void monks how they get to the Obliterat.  They can't all go through this every time they want to visit.

DM Advice


It's difficult to get the whole party to the Obliterat without railroading them.

If a single PC is trying to get to the Obliterat, they can't get there.  The only way a PC will get to the Obliterat will be if the other PCs conspire in secret to send them there.

Like, Alice and Bob will have to pass the DM a note that says "tonight we're going to get Charlie drunk, dose him with black lotus poison, cover him in gold, and send him to the Obliterat".

It's up to you what the chance of success in.  Maybe 5-in-6, if done in spring.

If Alice and Bob are smart, they'll send Charlie out at night and then go looking for him in the morning.  If he got picked up by the Obliterat, they'll never find him.  If he didn't, maybe they'll find a rowboat with their confused friend in it.

If Charlie makes it to the Obliterat, don't spend too much time 1-on-1'ing with him.  Elide the visit if you can, and/or include the rest of the party (they can suggest ideas to Charlie).  Then send him home.

The House Unheard

The void monks are the most extreme and most visible followers of the Annihilum.  But there are lay people who follow as well.  This is the house unheard.

They are functional nihilists.  They are not a death cult.  They might believe that life is pointless, but they don't seek to destroy the world.  They recognize the absurdity of their births, but they still love their mothers.

These are the people who support the monks.  They donate food, money, clothing, and other things besides.

The monks provide comfort.  Traumas can be wiped away.  Painful emotions can be burned out.  And if you insist on suicide, your loved ones can be made to forget that you ever existed, to spare them sorrow.

Most people love their mothers.

The Powers of the Obliterat

And they can, of course, easily hide anything that you need hidden.

They may even be able to find things that have been hidden, perhaps better than anyone else.

 The void monks have access to the roads that have been scrubbed from the maps.  The world is shaped differently for them (because they see the world as it is, not as it is seen).  The monks can move faster overland--sometimes shockingly so.

There are lost cities, erased from the world as thoroughly as they have been erased from the maps.  Did you think that Foxentown was the only one?  The void monks use them as an escape.  

Not as a shelter, though.  Lost cities might be lost to men, but they are not lost to everything that wanders.  Strange things stalk those empty streets.

The void monks have even learn to sing a few verses of the false hydra's song.

They sometimes align themselves with Zala Vacha, but mostly to share their protection.  They do not share most of Zala Vacha's convictions.  Why destroy anything when everything is already destroyed?  Does it matter if the void claims us now or in a thousand years?

The King of Nothing

Who rules the Obliterat?  It is said to be the King of Nothing, a person who close to oblivion that they have become unknowable.

Despite this, the King of Nothing is believed to be an actual person who walks around, holds meetings, and issues orders.  Void monks commonly experience missing time, and find strange orders in their pockets (in their own handwriting).  The instructions on these notes are followed.  They are from the King of Nothing.

That's the leading theory anyway.  The second theory is that the King of Nothing is a living Orb of Annihilation (or something very close to it).

by Kev Walker


Thursday, December 2, 2021

d20 Orbs

1d10 MINOR ORBS

1. Cursed Orb of Evil Snowmen

A heavy white orb, like a small felted bowling ball.  Once you hold it in your hand, it begins turning into a snowman.

The white felt turns into snow, and it begins growing.  It gets heavier.  You probably set it on the ground.  

A small sphere appears on top of the first sphere.  Now there is a small snowball on top of a big snowball, both growing.

Then a third snowball appears, even smaller than the first two.  This continues until it is snowman-shaped.

Two lumps of coal extrude themselves from the head.  Then a mouth appears.  Then, all of your internal organs are teleported into the snowman.  

You can survive by running out of the snowman's line of sight.  Smashing the snowman while it is growing just makes more growing snowmen.

The cursed orb of evil snowmen can be recovered once the snowman melts.

This drawing is by Angus McBride
He painted it for a 1993 Middle Earth Roleplaying splatbook called Valar and Maiar

2. Orb of the Bounce

A red, rubber ball the size of your first.

The next time you would take fall damage, your body becomes elastic and you bounce back up onto whatever ledge you fell off of.  You take no damage.  This works even if you fall on spikes. 

In your pocket, the rubber orb shatters like glass.

3. Applejohn's Orb

Looks like wood covered in shiny red paint.  A silver band holds it together.

If you wear it or carry it, any arrow that would strike you will strike the applejohn instead.  If the orb is unattended, the radius of the attraction is 3'.

The applejohn shatters the first time a single source deals it 6 points of damage or more.

4. Glass Eye 

If you put it in your eye socket, you can see out of it. 

If you take it out of your eye socket, you can continue to see out of it (until someone else puts it in their eye).

5. Orb of Unlucky Arachnids

Black and shiny, like an insect.  It has a pale, wrinkled side, yellow-white like the bottom of a melon.  You can hear soft rattling when you shake it.

During combat, whenever you roll an 8, you become covered in spiders.  (Bite for 1 damage on the first round, 2 damage on the second round, and so on, until you spend a round brushing them off.  Lasts 5 rounds if uninterrupted.)

During combat, whenever an enemy rolls an 8, they become covered in spiders.

This orb shatters the first time it triggers twice in one combat.

6. IOUN Medic

Once per day, the first time you start dying, the medic heals you for 1d6-1 HP (min 0) and lectures you in the language of the stars.  (All IOUN stones used to be stars.)

Whenever you would actually die, the medic turns you to stone and embeds itself in your forehead.  All you need for a full recovery is stone to flesh and heal in the same turn.

7. Treacherous Bubble Demon

About the size of a cantelope.

Whenever the treacherous bubble demon would normally be popped by something sharp (arrow, armor spikes), the sharp thing pops instead, and the treacherous bubble is unharmed.  Swords break, armor shatters, spiky creatures take 1d6 damage as their spike explodes.  (Magic items get a save.  Epic items are immune.)

Whoever holds the Wand of Bubble Command can command the treacherous bubble demon to fly around at a rate of 30' per round.  You can also shove it in your pocket if you want--the bubble doesn't mind.  It has a Str of 0, but it can carry tiny objects (a scrap of paper) inside itself if you poke it in there.  Dex 0.

All attacks automatically hit the bubble, and it dies the first time it takes damage from a non-sharp source.  Dead bubbles look like a greasy, torn plastic bag and can be resurrected if fresh air is blown into them by someone who is truly innocent.  (The average farm toddler will suffice.)

If you ever come across a bubble breeder, your pet bubble will instantly ally itself with the breeder.

8. Orb of Ultimate Safety

A blue glass orb, with darker swirls going from pole to pole.

When activated, the orb instantly grows to encase you (and any nearby allies you designate).  You are all safe inside the 10' orb, which is as hard as steel.  Usable once per day.

It lasts until you dispel the effect, or until you pass out from carbon dioxide buildup.  (This occurs around 6 hours, assuming a single person in the orb.)

Anyone outside the orb can easily roll it around.

9.  Orb of Holiday Snow

A blue glass orb filled with fake snow and ethanol.  A miniature snowman is barely visible among the flakes, wearing a hat and with a blue circle on his chest.  On the bottom of its wooden pedestal, a tiny plaque says "shake and invert".

Whenever it is shaken and held upside down, it will begin to snow.  This even works indoors.

For most players, this is all the orb of holiday snow will ever do.

After about an hour of constant shaking and flipping, you will have enough snow for a snowman.

Each hour of work gives the snowman an additional Level (up to Level 5).  If you put a hat on the snowman and shove the Orb of Snow in the snowman's chest, it will animate.

A snowman is an intelligent and sensitive creature.  It speaks Gospeltongue.  It will be confused and horrified to find itself suddenly alive and sentient.  Unless it is in a naturally cold place, it will begin melting at a rate of 1 HP per 10 minutes (an very painful process).   It will probably die cursing your name (and rightfully so).  

50% chance that it uses its last moment of life to reach into its own chest and crush the Orb of Holiday Snow, so that no more snowmen will know its suffering.  (Although the exact percentage will depend on the situation and the conversation.)

10. Flesh Orb

Everyone who gazes on this soft, fleshy, pink ball will find it very sexually attractive without really understanding why.  (If you find nothing to be sexually attractive, you are immune to this effect.)

The effect isn't strong enough to magically compel people to hump it.  It's just strong enough to bring any dinner party to a screeching halt.  33% will disgusted by themselves.  33% will be disgusted by the flesh orb.  33% will be disgusted by the flesh orb but will discreetly ask how much it costs.

I'm gonna be honest with you here--the sages are just as stumped as you are.  Our best guess is that it's some god's boob, probably.

1d10 MAJOR ORBS

11. Orb of Pondering

A character who is at least level 3 may spend a whole session pondering your orb, thinking about a particular question.  (This requires the player to use an alternate character this session.)  At the end of the session, roll a d4.

1-2    Your question is answered by the DM.  (DMs are encouraged to be generous with their answers.)

3+    Almost. . . you need more time to PONDER YOUR ORB.  You will go insane if preventing from pondering your orb.

Every time you roll a 3 or higher, increase the size of the die.

 12. Orb of Annihilation

Four feet across, it hangs in the air like a blind spot in the universe.  The light around it is distorted like a lens.  There is a decent wind here, as air is annihilated upon contact and there is a constant vacuum at the surface of the orb.

An artifact called the Amulet of Annihilation allows the wearer to command the orb.

Whenever the orb sees a new creature (cat-sized or larger), it has a 5% chance to be interested in them.  It will pursue these creatures in a straight line (even through walls) until it either catches them or they move more than 100' away.  Do not repeat this roll each time you meet the orb.  The orb is either interested in you or it isn't.

After the orb annihilates someone, it sits in place for 54 seconds.  Although humans can't hear it, the orb emits a complex sequence of subsonic tones.  Some parts of this "song" are unique, some are common to every "song", and some parts are repeated several times within the "song".  After the song is complete, a liquid fraction from the consumed creature flows out of the bottom of the orb.  (For humans, this fraction is essentially a purified blood sample.  Other creatures yield other fractions.)

The orb is capable of more complex, unforeseen behavior.  To this day, no one knows why it suddenly lunged at Ascorion the Annihilator, the last wearer of the Amulet of Annihilation.

13. Orb of Orb Control

Black, shiny, covered with miniscule spikes.  It would be good for massages.

You can control anything orb shaped.  If you spend your turn holding up the Orb of Orb Control and shouting commands, you can rotate, roll, and move orb-shaped objects around.

It even works on the sun and moon, but they return to their normal positions as soon as you stop concentrating.  If you change the phase of the moon, all the normal werewolf stuff happens.  You can move the sun closer or farther, changing the temperature by as much as +/- 20 F (or 12 C).

Fucking around with the sun and the moon has a 90% chance of attracting an angelic strike force (1d6 angels of Level 8) in 1d20 minutes.

The Orb of Orb Control probably works on the Orb of Annihilation, but watch your back, dude.  That orb is plotting something.

14. Spherical Tutor

A sphere inside a sphere inside a sphere.  They are not fixed in place, and move slightly when you shake it.

Allows you to use the compress ability.  Once you successfully use the compress ability to kill a creature, the Orb of the Spheres turn into the appropriate monsterball.

Alternatively, if you boil the Orb of the Spheres until it becomes gelatinous, you can spread it on toast and eat it in order to gain your first level in Spherical Wizard.  (The toast is optional, but traditional.)

15. Orb of Lykorum

Oil slick.  It seems to vibrate.  If you hold it for too long, your joints ache.

When you activate this orb, it turns into a cube and shunts the current room off into a non-Euclidean dimension, and you along with it.

Each door connects to the door across from it.  If you look out the north door, it's like you're looking in the south door.  You can see your own ass.  The rooms that used to connect to this room are now connected to each other (like the map was pinched together) in whatever way makes the most sense.  If there's an odd number of doors, a new door sprouts. 

Everyone is trapped here until you deactivate the cube.  You cannot cut people in half with this effect--the extra dimensions have soft edges.  Every time you use this orb, there is a 1-in-6 chance of it breaking (reverting everything back to Euclidean space).

It works similarly on outdoor areas, but the scope is highly variable.  It's typically about the size of a large meadow, though.

16. Graviton Orb

Polished bronze.  Mechanisms visible beneath its skin, silently moving.

It has a nubbin on the bottom.  Whenever you point the nubbin down, activate the orb, and rotate the orb, whichever direction you rotate the nubbin becomes your new down.

You can use it once per hour.  The new gravity direction affects you as long as you hold on to the orb.  The new gravity direction affects the orb until someone reassigns it a new gravity.

17. IOUN Morningstar

Orbits your head, about 60 rpm.  Looks like the head of a tiny morningstar.

Gives you a free attack once per turn (as if it were a morningstar +1) but if you are also making an attack this turn, there's a 50% chance the morning star hits you instead.  It's got a pretty erratic orbit--best keep your hands close.

18. Prison Orb of the Bone Needle Men

A spaghetti-maze of thin, fused bones.  An evil red light bleeds out of a peephole.

Anyone who looks in the peephole will see a large cave, a thousand times larger than the sphere.  At the back of the cave, there is something approaching.  Anyone who watches this scene intently will see something that looks like a bone needle man, at which point they are sucked into the sphere.  The sphere seals up.  The prisoner remains in stasis until the orb is shattered.

19. Crystal Ball

You may ask a question of the crystal ball and gaze into it for 1 hour.  

During that time, the spirit trapped inside the crystal ball will show you a scene: near or far, past or present.  Everything the crystal ball shows you is true, but there is a 50% chance that the crystal ball is trying to deceive you.

Examples of deception: You ask where the magic sword is, and the crystal ball shows the king.  (In actuality the king doesn't have the sword, but he does know where it is.)  The crystal ball technically answered your question. . . sort of.

Another example of deception: You ask the crystal ball who killed the priest, and it crystal ball shows the priest's mother.  (In actuality, the priest's mother caused his death by allowing him to be born into this world.)  Same thing.

Essentially, unless you see it happen, don't trust what the crystal ball shows you.  On the other hand, it is obliged to show you a correct answer, so it's not useless.  The identity of the priest's mother is not useless information.

The deceptive nature of the crystal ball is not commonly known or easily identified.  It's akin to a cursed item in that way.  (The trapped spirit is hoping that you will become frustrated and shatter the damn thing.)

Once someone has used the crystal ball, they can never use it again.

20. The Sports Ball

When bounced three times on the ground, it compels nearby creatures to play a good-natured Ball Sport game.  Out of all the creatures in the area, whoever has the best Save makes a single save on behalf of everyone.  If the save is failed, everyone stops what they are doing and plays a good-natured game of Sports Ball.  

The save fails automatically if the bouncer is not being a Good Sport.  (For example, by trying to use the Sports Ball to distract the enemy while allies sneak in and rob the place.)

The save automatically fails if anyone is doing anything that demands immediate attention (e.g. putting out a fire).  

During the Ball Sport game, no one plays to win.  Everyone just plays to have fun.  Everyone should make some rolls.  What kind of rolls?  Whatever!  Attack rolls!  Barely-relevant skill checks!  Just try to roll big numbers and have fun!  You get points!  You all get points!  (DM: figure out some fair way to actually generate a score with all those checks, though.  Scores are fun.)

You have about 30 minutes of in-game time to discuss whatever you want.  That's 30 minutes where the dragon isn't trying to kill you.

Afterwards, everyone is well-inclined towards each other.  If people were about to murder each other before the game, now they just want to shake hands and walk away.  It's tough to kill your teammate.  Besides, there's plenty of time for 

The Sports Ball contains all ball sports.  There is always an appropriate Ball Sport game to play, no matter the circumstances.  The Sports Ball works even if 30 peasants and a dragon want to play a game.  The Sports Ball works even if two people locked in a chest want to play a game.  The Sports Ball works even if a thousand snails in a field want to play a game.  The Sports Ball is for everyone. 

The Sports Ball is usable once per day.

By SIR


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Goblin Guts v2 + A Bit About Emergent Gameplay

It's been at least a year since I tore down my old ruleset and built a new one, so it makes sense that I'm feeling the itch again.  (TL;DR: here's a 22-page PDF.)

Going into this, I have the following design goals.

Diagetic Progression

In past incarnations of the GLOG, certain classes had diagetic abilities.  Fighters got bonuses based on how many things they had killed.  Thieves got bonuses based on the most expensive thing they had ever stolen.  

These weren't perfect, but at least they were (a) tied to in-game actions, such as heists, (b) a method of progression besides XP/Treasures, and (c) motivated class appropriate actions, such as heists.

These also fit pretty well alongside my idea for a character's Legendarium and should probably be integrated there.

Magic Dice For Everyone

Everyone seems to like the magic dice that wizards get.  I can probably extend it to other classes, too.

Will it be any good?  Fuck, maybe.

Centerra doesn't have a fine line of distinction between magical and non-magical things (citation).  So it follows that regular old vanilla fighters are able to do some things that are magical according to our Earthly eyes.  After all, magical shoes are made by regular cobblers, not wizards.

Mono-Class Parties

This is another idea that I've circled around for a while.  An all-thief party sounds as interesting as an all-wizard party.

First, because it invites a certain style of play.  Perhaps I should write more about to support those types of games?  For example, a mono-thief game might revolve around heists.  It makes sense to hammer out a few rules for the heist game.

Second, having a mono-class party fundamentally changes the assumptions of the game.  Lots of adventure writers will assume that the party will have access to certain magic spells by a certain level.  If everyone is a thief, that assumption will be incorrect.

That means that some parts of the adventure will be easier than intended, and some parts of the game will be more difficult (or impossible).  While a DM can flex the adventure a bit to accommodate a mono-class party, part of what makes this playstyle so interesting to me is the idea that, to a certain extent, mono-class players know and accept this

If we're going to write new rules for mono-class parties, we should realize that they are opportunities to fundamentally change the rules of the game, and we should embrace that.

This idea is so exciting to me that I'll create a new heading.

Emergent Gameplay and New Modes

Emergent gameplay is simply finding new ways to play the game outside of what the creators intended.

Have you heard of the Nuzlocke Challenge in pokemon?  It's a set of self-imposed restrictions that are designed to make the game more challenging, effectively twisting it into a new game.

Speedrunning is another form of emergent gameplay.  So is trying to get to maximum level on World of Warcraft without killing anything.  Same with any other videogame where players ignore the typical objectives and make their own.

Tabletop roleplaying already has a lot of emergent gameplay.  Players are already free to set their own goals and victory conditions (to an extent), but rarely do players have the option to bend the rules of the game.  The published Player's Guide and Adventure Paths present a singular interpretation of Correct Play (where both rules and goals are identical to the original publisher's). 

But it doesn't have to be that way.  

One example: I ran a one-player/one-DM Caverns of Thracia one-shot where the player was a level 20 wizard.  It was great!  Lots of exploring, lots of talking, and when a monster got uppity, they got disintegrated.  There was still some tension, though, because the dungeon had to be explored all in a single day, and each spell could only be cast once.  We weren't playing Caverns of Thracia the way that Gary and Jennell intended, but we found a new mode that worked great for us.

Another example: perhaps the group that is all dungeon hackers is able to automatically open every door they come across, potentially allowing for some major sequence breaking.

Another example: are there any groups out there that have completed pacifist runs of published modules?  That might work best if everyone is a divine concubine.

Anyway, mono-class parties seem like a crack in the Correct Playstyle Monolith that a lot of our peers worship at.  With a chisel, a hammer, and a pen, we can widen that crack.

from here

The PDF

Anyway, I ended up writing it.  I was gonna write four more classes (Ranger, Knight, Scholar, and Wizard) but I think I'll save that for another day. 

>>CLICK HERE<<

Have a look, and please let me know what you think. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Jelly Kid Family

Jelly Kids

Undead are corpses puppeted by demons.

Not jelly kids, though.  I'm not sure what's puppeting these things, but gosh if they aren't friendly!

Jelly kids are about 18 inches tall.  Their bodies are white and rubbery.  They have little wiggly noodle arms and little wiggly noodle legs.

They have no genitals (thank the Authority) and their huge heads wobble atop their narrow shoulders.

Their staring eyes bulge out of their gelatinous skulls.  Their red eyeballs are tight with red jelly and the white worms that swim through it.

Meeting Them

When you first meet them, jelly kids will probably be a little bit shy.  They'll hang back, peering at you from around the door frame, or peeping at you from under a table.

If you don't encourage them, they'll follow you.  You're more interesting than anything else in this dungeon.

If you do encourage them to approach, or if they follow you long enough to feel comfortable, the jelly kids will walk right up to you.

Loosely based on these dudes on Bogleech

Jelly Kid

LvlDef none  Atk none

Dis playful child

Hanging Out with Jelly Kids

If you don't interact with them, the jelly kids will still prove to be an annoyance.  They'll climb on things, move small objects around, and try to get you to play with them.  If you are able to move them around with a set of heavy gloves (and are good about sanitizing your gloves afterwards) they don't pose much of a direct threat.

They also provide a subtle benefit--while you are escorted by jelly kids, low level undead will not bother you.  (Level 1 undead will ignore you.  Level 2 undead will ignore you 50% of the time.)

Gifts

Jelly kids love to be given gifts.  If you give them the sort of gift that a child would enjoy, roll a d10 to see what they give you.

1 - a shiny spoon.

2 - a spider the size of a small dog (alive but bound in webbing).

3 - a human hand with a ring worth 50s.

4 - a fancy hat with a stuffed parrot on it.

5 - a treasure map OR they'll show you a secret door nearby.

6-10 - a hug!

Infection

Under no circumstances should you hug a jelly kid.

Under no circumstances should you touch a jelly kid with your bare skin, even slightly.

Either one of these conditions will require you to make a Con save vs disease or become infected.

Your starting Infection Level is 2.  Every 10 minutes, you must roll a d20.  If the result is equal to your Infection Level or less, your Con is damaged by that many points.  (So if you roll a 2, you take 2 Con damage.)  If you roll above your Infection level, nothing happens.

The time between checks is extended to 1 hour (instead of 10 minutes) if you are outside of the dungeon or if you are blitheringly drunk.  The disease is cured by staring into the sun (which causes blindness for a number of days equal to your infection level).

Repeated exposures (e.g. continuing to hug the jelly kids) increases your Infection Level by 1 point each time. 

It is extremely painful to have parasites rapidly breeding inside your eyeballs.  It is also painful to have dead parasites inside your eyeballs.

If you die from this disease, your liver, spleen, kidneys, and uterus will turn into jelly kids over the next hour and crawl out of your body.

Burst

If a jelly kid is ever damaged, their heads burst.  Jelly kids are more fragile than most monsters--even falling off a table can damage a jelly kid.

When a jelly kid bursts, everyone within 10' is covered in their jelly.  (No save, unless you're holding an open umbrella or something.)  Anyone covered in their jelly automatically gets an Infection Level of 2 (as above).  Multiple exposures (e.g. multiple bursting jelly kids) increases the Infection Level by 1 point each time.

Burst jelly kids aren't dead (unless you take an action to hack them up).  A round later, they'll get back up.  With their ruptured head sagging on their neck, they'll go rejoin their peers.  They won't be playful again until roughly three days later, when their head heals and their parasites repopulate.

Psychology

Jelly kids have the minds of playful 4-year-olds, and are easily distracted by play.

Some examples of effective toys: building a slide out of a table and chairs.  A set of dice.  A kitten.  Even throwing a teddy bear down a hallway will get them to chase it.

Jelly kids cannot vocalize, but they can express their happiness by shaking their heads from side to side.  They do not need to eat, and will not eat anything except for baked goods.  Their favorite food is toasted bread.

If you start actively murdering jelly kids, the other jelly kids will run away and hide (poorly).  

After actively murdering jelly kids, any further jelly kids you encounter will be openly hostile, and will attempt to charge into you as hard as they can, bursting their little heads open in the process. 

No one is quite certain of the origin of jelly kids.  One theory holds that they may be the spirits of corpses (in the same way that kodama are the spirits of trees).

based on a comic by Mat Brinkman

Skeleton Jellies

If skeleton jellies are puppeted by demons, they are puppeted by stupid, lazy ones.

Jelly kids have an odd relationship with skeleton jellies.  

Jelly kids love to play with skeleton jellies, and will climb on them while decorating them with everything they can find.

For their part, skeleton jellies are utterly entranced by jelly kids, and will stand motionless while it watches jelly kids play, oblivious to all else.  If a skeleton jelly witnesses a jelly kid being harmed, it goes berserk (+2 to hit, damage, and Str).

Skeleton Jelly

Lvl Def Leather  Slam 1d8

Int low  Str low  Dis lazy, murderous

Jelly Skeleton - Skeleton jellies are immune to all forms of damage.


Bone Needle Men

Both jelly kids and skeletons jellies will flee from bone needle men.

Bone needle men look like the elephant man’s skeleton, except that their gangly limbs allow them to stand 9’ tall.  

Their skull is a single fused piece.  They have no eye sockets.  They have no mouth, although they have several “mouth-like” fissures.

They are undead, but their bones are filled with marrow and warm blood.

They do not wander, but stand in pools of still water.  If there is a group of bone needle men, only one will stand--the others will hide beneath the water’s surface.  If undisturbed, they do not move much (except to rattle their heads every 30-60 minutes).

The skull of a bone needle man is very valuable because of the bone needles it contains.

If the needles inside the skull are extracted in a neutral atmosphere and then cured in lye, they become bone needles.  This is typically done by submerging the skull in oil, puncturing the foramen magnum with an awl, and then removing the bone needles by hand.  The bone needles are then placed in shallow trays and washed with lye (typically changed 1/day for 3-5 days).  If any air contacts the bone needles before they are complete, they are ruined.

An intact skull is worth 300s.  It contains 1d3+3 bone needles (worth 60s intact, or 100s each once treated).  If a bone needle man every takes bludgeoning damage, the skull is cracked and the bone needles inside are ruined.

DM's Note: The last paragraph is common knowledge (although exact prices are not).  Tell it to your players when they first encounter a bone needle man.

Inserting a needle into someone will cause them to obey the next 7 words you say (as in dominate person).  They'll be sweaty and robotic the whole time though.  Creatures of Lvl 4 or less do not get a save.  The effect lasts until the needle is removed.  Victims are incapable of removing the needles on their own, although they won't stop other people from pulling out the needles.  Each needle can only be used once.

Replica Skull of Joseph Merrick (the Elephant Man)

LvlDef chain  Right Claw 1d6 Left Claw *

Int 10  Dis calculating, murderous

Skeleton - Half damage from slashing and piercing.

Left Claw - A creature struck by the left claw has its HP dropped to the bare minimum while still standing (0 HP in the GLOG, 1 HP in most other systems).  After each round, an affected creature can make a Hard Cha check to regain all HP lost in this way.  

Bone Needle Men typically use their left claws on the first round.  On the second round, they attempt to kill those affected.

Rattle

Bone Needle Men rattle their heads every 30-60 minutes.  This sound is heard by all living creatures within 1 mile (who can then approximate which direction the sound is coming from).  Sleeping creatures who hear this sound will suffer terrible nightmares, gain a point of Stress, and awaken a few minutes later.  Sleep is impossible within 1 mile of a bone needle man (except for those who are already insane).


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Clowns

 Out of all the underworld's vomit, there are none so hated as clowns. 


Clown

Long feet, bright red nose, sharp teeth, and long prehensile tongues.

Lvl 1-2  Def leather  Knife 1d6

Dex high  Dis silly, murderous

Schaedenfreude - Whenever one of their opponents rolls a critical failure, all of the clowns burst into laughter, gaining +1 to all of their d20 and damage rolls until the end of combat.  

Hidebehind - Clowns can hide behind each other to hide their numbers.  Up to 10 clowns can disguise themselves as a single clown.  The effect ends when combat begins, or when the clowns are observed from diametrically opposite points.

Sleight of Hand - Clowns seem to be unarmed, until they suddenly aren't.  They often approach enemies with their hands open, smiling.  (This is the most combat-relevant usage of Sleight of Hand.  Clowns can do other thiefy stuff with it, too.)

Clowns giggle and babble in mendax (a degenerate "language" that only ever produces gibberish).  They cannot speak common Gospeltongue.


Elder Clown

Lvl 3+  Def leather  Hammer 1d10

Dex high  Dis calculating, murderous

Elder clowns are recognizable by their ruffed collar and leathery frowns.  The giant hammers also help with identification.  For every 6 clowns encountered, 1 is an elder clown.  Unlike regular clowns, elder clowns are capable of human speech.  They are also capable of mimicry.

Mimicry - Elder clowns can perfectly imitate any sound that they have heard, even unreasonable ones (galloping horses, etc).

For every level above 2, an elder clown gains one elder clown ability (below).

Japery 1/day - The clown puts on a performative act.  (Miming, juggling, etc.)  All non-clowns who witness this must Save vs Charm or be fascinated.  Fascinating creatures get -4 to all rolls not involving the object of their fascination (for example, Defense rolls against non-japing clowns).

Dodge 1/day - Automatically avoid something that you could conceivably dodge physically.

Beckon at-will - as command "approach".

Balloon Animals - Can make balloon animals (Move slow, fly slow, Int 2).  Not capable of attacking, but can assist the clown in other ways.  Deal 1d4 poison damage when popped (5' range, no save).  Shows up with 1d6 balloon animals and can have as many as 6.  Balloon animals can track by scent and see invisible.

Whistle 1/day - Summons allies to the clowns side.  1d6: 1 lion, 2 elephant, 3 1d20 clowns, 4 random wandering monster (non-allied), 5-6 no response.

Infectious Laughter - Has an infectious bite that causes 1d4 damage, a swollen red nose, and uncontrollable laughter.  Uncontrollable laughter causes the victim to be unable to take any other actions, not even movement.  Cha save after each round of laughter to end.  Victim lapses back into laughter whenever they observe a natural 1 being rolled.  Their bite can spread the curse.  Cured by going to church.


from Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)


Juvenile Clown

LvlDef none  Bite 1d6

Crawl slow  IntDis violent animal

Juvenile clowns resemble clown-headed worms the size of children.


Clown Eggs

Worth 100s each.  A clown nest usually contains 1d6 eggs and 1d6 immature clowns.  The adult clowns are usually nearby.

If eaten, causes the eater to experience a pure, blissful sense of joy.  Laughter is quick, and fond memories are easy to recall.  


Religion

Clowns worship OmO, the false god of wisdom and foolishness.  The symbol of OmO is a nonsensical squiggle, never drawn the same way twice.  Sermons are conducted by fools and drunkards who do not know that they are preaching.  Ceremonies are held (secretly and illegally) in the temples of other gods.

Falsehoods are true, and Truth is a lie.


How to Use Clowns in your Campaign

Clowns are creatures of the underworld, like demons and slaad.  A bit more mundane and low-level, but they share the motif.

They also fit into the category of "creepy rogue-thief monsters" which is always a category that can use more members.  Let them be the creepy, sneaky, cackling, violent psychopaths that we all want clowns to be, with floppy wet shoes and stained white pantaloons.