Monday, February 22, 2021



Humans are very contemptuous of orcs.  They are brutes, never shying away from any cruelty.  And they are warmongers, always divided against each other, always plunging headlong into another meaningless war of succession.

This is very similar to how myconids view humans.

The myconids are the perfect pacifists.  They do not hunt--no throats are slit for their dinners.  Nor do they farm, with all of the conflict and exploitation that agriculture entails.  They are detrivores.  They eat the dirt and flotsam of the world.  They eat the dead, and cherish the living.

They are not a hive mind, but they are strong empaths, each and every one of them.  Thoughts and memories spill over from one myconid to another, like mead spilling between cups during a hearty toast.  Because of this, myconids are much less individuated than humans.  Myconids can't tell which of their childhood memories are their own, and they think it is strange that anyone would care.  Myconids know how foolish it is to fight over a who wears a crown.  Since they blend together, all myconids wear the crown.

"Identity" the myconid would explain, "is a concept that humans invented in order to punish criminals.  Myconids don't have criminals."  

For the most part, this is true.  The same mental spillover that occurs between myconids ensures that there are no outliers among the myconids.  A myconid murderer would be quickly discovered--their guilt as loud as a klaxon in the ears of the other myconids.  A depressed myconid would soon be equilibrated, with their depression diffused across the entire colony, like a drop of paint in a cup of water.

Cultural values and believes propagate in the same way.  

Myconids are much less afraid of death than humans are.  It is still unpleasant to die, but when a myconid finally passes, so much of their memories and personality is already enshrined in their friends that it hardly seems like they are gone.  In the minds of the myconids, it is so easy to imagine a dead friend--their exact reactions and words--that the tragedy is lessened.

In a very real way, a myconid exists in the minds of their friends.  You cannot kill them in a way that matters.

Myconids by MOAI


Myconids that travel away from their colony for a long time tend to become more neurodivergent.  These myco-nomads are not distrusted, but they are exhaustively questioned whenever they meet up with a colony of myconids.  Fresh ideas are scarce among the myconids.

Like other cultures, however, myconids still have a need for secrets, and for independent thought.  A myconid can easily accomplish this by cutting off their head.  (A myconid's "head" is merely the fruiting body, used for procreation and telepathy.  Their true brain is in their abdomen.)

A myconid that has been decapitated will grow to become a house.  Important decisions in the colony are usually made by the Council of Houses.  Since speaking is difficult for Houses, they typically only voice their opinions by groaning out their disapproval.

In Centerra, myconids are among the devout (like most monsters).  They worship Zulin and obey the Authority's precepts.  They believe that they are a singular creature, and will all enter heaven or hell together.  That's another part of their communal nature, since myconids believe that they are responsible for each other's sins, they usually see each other as another part of their own body.  A strange neighbor is just a spasmodic limb.

The religious leader of each colony is the Cathedral.  The leader of the military is the Armory.  The leader of scientific pursuit is the Academy.  The master of hallucinations is the Apothecary, who also makes most of the foreign policy decisions for the colony.


Myconids constantly shed spores.  These spores sprout wherever they can, and become ordinary mushrooms.  These mushrooms will never mature into a myconid, and nearly all of them are highly toxic.

These mushrooms are also the primary food source for myconids.  A myconid will wander the world, collecting their sprouted mushrooms (inedible to anyone except themselves) and bring them back to the nearest Silo for redistibution.  While wandering, they are of course spreading more spores.

In order to turn a mushroom into a myconid, it must dosed with massive amounts of LSD, graciously provided by the Apothecary.  Not every mushroom that is thus dosed will go on to become a myconid.  Most of them merely grow brains, and spend their remaining days tripping through alien dimensions, learning impossible truths, before finally dying a mushroom's death.

The other mushrooms--the ones with grounded, plodding minds--pass through this veil of hallucigens and go on to become myconids.  They grow eyes, arms, and legs before popping out of the ground and following the nearest adult.

Can any type of mushroom be turned into a myconid?  Possibly.  Some mushroom species can be turned into myconids quite simply.  Others with difficulty.  Some seem to be impossible.  It's an issue of great debate.

There is a long-running joke among myconids, that if they could just find the right hallucinogens and dosing schedule, they could enlighten humans into something better than a race of barbarous fuckups.

Myconids only engage in sex during the direst of emergencies.  Sex is something that you do only after your colony has failed at something momentous, and a fresh start is needed.  The Apothecary usually gives the order to begin growing phalluses.  A few weeks later, when everyone has finished growing genitals, the shame orgy occurs.

Human sexual habits are understood to occur under different conditions, but it is difficult for them to shake the association.


Myconids appear in groups of 1d8.  Each myconid is Level 1d4, and their body sizes vary consderably, from child-sized to ogre-sized.  At each level, they gain a magic die and access to new spells.

Lv 1 - telepathy, charm
Lv 2 - illusion
Lv 3 - invisibility
Lv 4 - sleep

They never, ever use lethal force.  

Fellow pacifists can be reasoned with.  Parley is possible with other civilized creatures.

But people who use lethal force against myconids will be treated like any other wild animal.  They will be hunted down and neutralized.  Myconid territory must be peaceful territory.

Their weapons are sleep, illusion, invisibility, and charm.  Their first resort is often charm.  They'll cast it as soon as they see you.  This isn't a hostile act in their mind.  If you complain, they may give you a scroll of charm so that you can cast it on them.

In times of conflict, illusion and invisibility are used constantly until the threat is nullified, either by tricking it into a padded pit or distant quadrant.  The enemies of the myconids will never know what their caves look like, since they will never see them without the veil of illusion. Sleep is a last resort.

If an enemy cannot be scared off or reasoned with, they will be brought to the Armory.  The Armory will administer the Dose, and place the wild beasts in the Garden of Earthly Delights.  At this point, the beast will exist in absolute ecstasy for the rest of their natural life (which is not likely to be very long).  Although the myconids will supply the ecstastic beasts with water and warm blankets, no other care is taken, and the beasts are allowed to expire naturally.

Afterwards, the corpses will be mulched in the community garden.

Uncommon Spells and the Magnificent Travelling House

Although he is rarely spoken of, the myconids do have a queen, who was annointed after her return from the Holy Mountain.  She is known as the Grand Mycina, but most of the myconid will only speak of her enigmatically as The Magnificent Travelling House.  She exists as several tons of fast-travelling mycelium, existing exclusively underground.  The minds of all dead myconids reside in her, in some form.

The Magnificent Travelling House usually travels to the place where she is most needed, where she appears as extra rooms where there were none before, or as a fungus-covered wall that vaguely resembles a face.  She sometimes teaches her people rare spells. 

Triumphant Rot
R: 50'  T: creature  D: permanent
If the target fails its save, it slumps over in ecstasy while mushrooms grow rapidly from its body.  For the rest of its life, it will flop next to water sources and sigh contentedly until it does of malnutrition.  If a myconid gives it a command, it will sluggishly comply.

R: touch  T: corpse  D: 0
Creates a new myconid from a corpse.  The new myconid has a portion of the corpse's memories, but is otherwise a normal myconid.  The portion of the memories that are inherited depends on the degree of success.

Degrees of Success:
Highest MD is 1-3 = 33% of memories inherited.
Highest MD is 4-5 = 67% of memories inherited.
Highest MD is 6 = 100% of memories inherited.

Dream Quarantine
R: 1 mile  T: all creatures  D: permanent
The all creatures in the area are trapped in a dream-realm until the caster chooses to release them.  (One save is made for the entire group, using the highest save among them.)  This effect lasts until the caster chooses to end it.  New creatures entering the area are not subject to this effect.  A colony of myconids will enter or leave the dream quarantine as a single group.

This spell effectively allows a myconid colony to trap any number of enemy creatures in a mind-dimension.  Myconids are not very powerful in a dream-realm (since they are not very creative), but they cannot be killed in a way that matters.  If the PCs are trapped in this way, they may butcher any number of myconids before they realize that the myconids are not staying dead, and the features of reality are plastic.  

Since myconids take weeks to dessicate, and humans will die from dehydration after a few days, a prolonged stalemate is usually to the myconid's advantage.

It's a bit risky, however, since there's always the risk that the entire colony will be eaten by badgers while their minds are in the dream quarantine.  (The first sign of this is usually a myconid vanishing from the dream.)  They may choose to end the dream if they can parley some sort of truce with the PCs.  This may involve a binding oath, perhaps involving rings of civilization (below).

Magic Items

Scroll of Summon Ooba

Ooba is a godling that serves the myconids.  She appears as a giant toad, and can be bargained with to eat obstacles.  She will never willingly harm a living thing, but can eat nearly anything organic, as well as most stones.

Scroll of Summon Brimbool

Brimbool is an ice demon who serves the myconids.  He has many abilities, but is limited to making ice walls and describing all the tortures he would like to inflict.  He's gotten quite good at making ice walls over the centuries, however.

Scroll of Mass Diminuation

Up to 10 target objects must save or be reduced to 1/12th of their original size.  Lasts 1 hour.

Ring of Civilization (Cursed)

Wearer takes emotional (non-lethal) damage equal to all damage inflicted.  Cannot be removed.

Mushroom of Enlarge

Effects gained by eating.

Mushroom of Reduce

Effects gained by eating.

Mushroom Hammer

Large weapon.  Deals non-lethal damage.  It feels good to be hit by the mushroom hammer.  Sentient creatures who are hit by the mushroom hammer must save or become unable to defend against the mushroom hammer in the future (since they want to be hit by it).

Luroc's Finger

Looks like a key.  The handle is black iron, the stem is white "ivory" that shifts through all possible permutations.  If you loudly proclaim where you intend to go and insert the finger into a flat wall, it will create an extradimensional microdungeon that leads to your destination.  Usable once.

Roll a d26 and look up the corresponding letter.  That is what the dungeon is shaped like.  The rooms are randomly generated pieces of the Long Halls of Luroc--just use random rooms from random dungeons that you have laying around your house.  At the end of the microdungeon is a door that leads to your destination.

Using Myconids

Use them like any other race!  Which is to say, as another entrenched power center with their own goals, fears, and quirks.  Despite their aggressive pacifism, they are not good guys (but neither are they strictly bad guys).  They can be colonizers and manipulators like anyone else.  They are not above proxy wars (although they will feel very bad about causing suffering, and will probably provide euphorics to the civilians displaced by the war).

Honestly, look at your game map and see if you can't replace of the human towns with a myconid settlement.  They trade, give quests, and die like any other race.

PSA: Spores

You'll notice that these myconids are merely spellcasters--they don't do anything magical with their spores.  This makes sense, because spores are not just a fungo-buzzword.  Spores are the reproductive units of a fungus.  Why do so many people have myconids doing magic with their spores?

I know this is more anthropo-chauvinism, where we humans look at a mushroom and ask "but what does it do?" and the only thing we can come up with is "well, it sits there and releases spores".  It makes as much sense as flipping to the stat block for humans and seeing their abilities listed as "Pacifism Sperm", "Communion Sperm", "Hallucination Sperm".

I know there are some dudes who don't do much besides release their gametes, but it's a disservice to characterize the entire myconid species this way.


Sunday, February 14, 2021


Whales come from hell--everyone knows that.  They swim up from the blackest abysses.  They are formed from the souls of gluttons, who's insatiable hunger inevitably led their swollen bodies back to the light of the living lands, where they can feed on the living.  Either way, two things are certain:

  • They have magic.
  • They can speak.
Their voices are deep and grinding things, like a thousand teeth being pulverized in a mill beneath the earth.  They speak from fog or from darkness, never allowing the ships a chance for a free harpoon.  They speak eldrune (the language of the ancient elves) but blaspheme in common gospeltongue.

Why Hunt Whales?

I'm going to steal from Dunkey here, so don't click that link if you want to continue to believe me capable of original thought.

Each whale yields up 4 resources when butchered.  A failed Whaling or Butchery check yields up only half of the possible bounty.

Flesh - 1d6+6 Whalesteaks
Each whalesteak counts as a week's rations.  No amount of cooking skill can improve the disgusting taste of whale.

Bone - Ribules equal to the number of whalesteaks.
Whaleribs can be made into armor and clothing that can safely contort the wearer to an impossible degree.  You could make whalebone armor that--when properly tightened--squeezes your torso to be twice as long and half as wide.  You could craft a whalebone collar that rotates your head backwards.

Sidebar: these are called caitiffettes in Noth, where they are forcibly applied to those who fled from battle.  The collars are constructed in such a way that they decapitate the wearer if they are removed.

Whale Oil - 3d6+10 Flasks of Whale Oil
The most sought-after oil available, whale oil sells for 10 times the price of regular lamp oil.  All sorts of spectacular powers have been attributed to it (most of which are false).  It does, however, smell pleasant and offer an even flame.

Spermaceti - 2d6-3 Chunks of Uprocessed Head-Melon
Processed by perfumers, a chunk of head-melon can be turned into a flask of spermaceti, which is very valuable as perfume.  If the chunks are instead processed by a high level psychonaut, they can be used to make odochrysm.  Odochrysm has two uses:
  • Perfectly lucid dreaming, including entering the dreams of others who are sleeping adjacent to you.
  • Regaining a lost MD.
Whale Stats

Level 1d6+6 (Same as Flesh and Bone, above)  Armor none
Bite 2d20  Ram 1d6 (ship)
Int 10  Dis malevolent

All whales have 1d3 special abilities.  The first ability is always summon wave, but the others are random.

1. Summon Wave - All unsecured items are knocked off a ship.  People on the ship must succeed on Strength checks to avoid being washed off.  Has a chance to deposit sea creatures onboard (see Tritonspawn Table below).  Usable every 1d4 turns.

2. Albino - Anyone who damages a scarback whale and does not kill it before the next full moon will die in an unfortunate accident soon.  This is common knowledge to all sailors.

3. Whirlpool - Deals 1d6 nonlethal damage to the ship each round (successful sailing check for half damage).  (Nonlethal damage to a ship heals after combat, and is usually just flooding).  The only escape from the whirlpool is to cut the lines.

4. Seagull Symbiotes - Seagull swarm (Lv 3, Swarm Immunities, 1d4 damage to up to 3 targets).  They live inside its blowhole.

5. Aquakinesis - Capable of entrapping the ship under a "hill" of water.  The ship is basically held underwater until the whale releases it.

6. Sonic Blast - Everyone takes 1d6 sonic damage and begins to hallucinate.  A save cuts the damage in half and negates the hallucination.

7. Siren Song - All who hear it must save or jump into the ocean.

8. Storm of Rage - Ship takes 1d6 damage (Sailing check for half).  Transports you 1d3-1 (min 0) hexes in a random direction (potentially causing you to lose your bearings).

9. Summon another whale.

10. Whale hermit.  This whale's left eye has been replaced with a glass cage.  Living inside the cage  is a scrim-wizard of Level 1d4+1.  They'll crawl out once the whale is wounded.  Sample spells: water to ice, magnesis, fog, warp wood, heal whale.

11. Runic.  Has a spell carved into it's back by an absent scrim-wizard.  (See above for sample spells.)

12. Favored Pet of the Sea King.  Wearing a harness of gold and chalcedony worth 1000s.  This counts as a treasure.  Killing this whale will have consequences.

13. Mock Whale.  A ruse of the merfolk.  Once harpooned, the false whale splits open

14. Claimed Whale. Already harpooned and dragging a barrel, with the barrel's colors indicating the whaling ship that has claimed this whale.  50% chance that the other whaling ship shows up shortly.

15. Carrion Whale.  Undead.  Being eaten by 2d6 sharks.  It is currently swimming to a secret cove, where minions of the Necromancer King stand ready to transport it back to their master.  It will form one of the legs of the Colossus.

Tritonspawn [1d6]
1 - Giant Crab (Lv 4, plate, 1d10)
2 - 2d4 Sea Snakes (Lv 1, leather, 1d4+poison)
3 - Giant Squid (Lv 5, unarmored, 1d6+grapple, will attempt to flee with a meal)
4 - 1d6 Drowned Men (50% chance of being Lv 2 Undead, 50% regular corpses)
5 - Sea Jelly (as a Lv 6 black pudding, only damaged by fire)
6 - 3d6 delicious, ordinary fish.  As rations (except they're still flopping around).  1-in-20 chance of getting a golden wishing fish that will grant a wish if caught and then released.  Hurry!  Catch it before it flops off the deck.

Faroe Island Whalers
How to Catch a Whale

I'm not sure about the exact details, but it'll have to have a few steps, each of which will have to have some interesting choices to make.

Finding a Whale
Choose between safe (staying close to shore) and risky (more distant waters).  Maybe younger/older whales frequent different waters, so that you have some control over what level whale you want to hunt.

Harpooning a Whale
Use as much of the combat ruleset as possible.  The whale might not be able to attack PCs directly (if they're on the deck), but it can still damage the boat, pull them out into deeper water, or attract unwanted attention.

Regular Hexcrawl Considerations
And there's always the issue of: how long do we want to stay out here, vs returning to a safe port.  If resources deplete in a predictable way, this is a trivial calculation to make, so of course we need to have resources that deplete irregularly.  Maybe food is supplemented by fishing and water by rain.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Piabon the Dandelion Knight

Piabon is a fairy knight, of course, one of the knights botanical.  But he refuses to say who he serves.

What is your quest?

"I am gathering knowledge of your weaknesses for the coming war.  Don't look so concerned!  It won't be for a long time yet."

How long exactly?

"I find it best not to worry about such things.  But tell me, how poisonous is cinnamon to the human constitution?  Can you safely breath it?"

Piabon is accompanied by Gressa, an enormous white lion.  Gressa speaks with a girl's voice, hates violence, and pretends not to hear or see anyone else except for Piabon, who she addresses with mild contempt.  She is much lighter than she looks.

Want / Do Not Want

Piabon wants to learn about human weaknesses.  He would be especially interested in seeing large amounts of humans fighting at one time.  He has no interest in anatomy or dissection.  He would be interested in a book of poetry that describes heartbreak (another human weakness).

Piabon does not want his face to be seen.  He doesn't want people embarrassing him in front of Gressa.

Help / Harm

If Piabon likes you, he will accompany you (although not underground) and happily tell you about interested locations nearby and all the threats on the wandering monster table (he's traveled quite a bit).

If Piabon doesn't like you, he'll probably try to kill you.

Piabon's Secret

There's actually four of him--brothers who share a name.  One wanders around with Gressa, while the other three usually remain in their laboratorium sanctorum, atop Old Miss Thistle (a mountain).


Level Armor as plate  Morningstar1d8  War Bee 1d6 (see below)

Move as human + bumbershoot (see below)

Piabon loves alcohol, and a single drink will make him hilariously, chilidishly drunk.

Piabon's armor is made from spun sugar.  It is light and strong, but melts if it gets wet.

Piabon's head, carefully concealed beneath his helmet, is that of a dandelion puff.  If he is restrained, his helmet removed, and his head blown off, the blower gets a minor wish.  The wish is limited to what an adult human could definitely accomplish with a year of labor.  Build a wall, destroy a bridge, teach the blower to play the panpipes excellently, kill a merchant, etc.

Piabon's War Bee lives inside his magnificent neckerchief.  He carries it in place of a bow, but treat it like a spiritual weapon.  It requires an action on the first turn to sic the bee on someone.  On the first turn and all subsequent turns, the bee makes an attack (using Piabon's bonus) for 1d6 piercing damage.  Lasts until the target is dead or Piabon loses line of sight.

Piabon has a bumbershoot that allows him to fly up to any altitude, but only outdoors and only in the direction that the wind is blowing.  It also allows him to cast featherfall on himself.

Which way is the wind blowing today? [d12]

1 - N

2 - NE

3 - E

4 - SE

5 - S

6 - SW

7 - W 

8 - NW

9-12 - No wind today.


Level Armor chain  Claw/Claw/Bite 1d6/1d6/1d8

Move as lion  Int 18  

Gressa will not attack unless she is attacked first.  If Piabon is attacked, she will stand there idly, criticizing Piabon and while pointing out advice and tactics.  This gives Piabon +2 to hit and damage with his morningstar, and allows him to fight much more cleverly than he would otherwise.

Bonus: Dandelion Knight as GLOG Class

Template A - Bumbershoot (as above), Spun Sugar Armor, Wishing Head

Template B - War Bee (as above)

Template C - Condescending Companion (HD 5, random giant animal, as above)

Template D - Spawn Squire

Spawn Squire

You sprout off a hechman.  They are always level 0 (but can always advance as Dandelion knights, or any other knight botanical).  If you would die, you can choose to have your squire die in your place.  They are always named Pod (but may take a new name if they gain a level).

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Monster Type: Army

 Have you ever read through some old adventure module and come across a room that has 40 orcs in it?  You don't see that much anymore.  Let's talk about that.

Skeleton Army by Adrian Smith

The Appeal of an Army

I don't think I need to defend the idea that it is cool as fuck to fight a horde of enemies.  Orcs, hellhounds, traitor knights, vampire wolves. . . they're all cool.

They're also intimidating in a way that a dragon is not.  Normally, in the boss fight encounters against a singular foe, the players have two advantages:

  • They get more actions than the dragon.
  • The dragon might unluckily fail an important save.
When the PCs are badly outnumbered, these advantages turn into disadvantages, the danger of which isn't lost on the PCs.

(Things like legendary actions and legendary saves were created to smooth over the advantages in order to create more homogenous combat experience, but it's still a hack.)

The Disbanding of the Army

Why don't we see armies like this anymore?  The big reason is combat complexity.  As editions of DnD got more complex, combat turns started taking longer and longer.  How much did blur slow down combat in 3e?

There's also the push for more complexity in monster abilities.  Each monster has been loaded down with more and more bells and whistles.  This creates more of a burden on the DM, to use and track these abilities effectively.  I'm not saying the trade-off isn't worth it--sometimes it is.  But we should be aware of what we're giving up when we start giving bonus actions to lowly orcs and goblins.

(I've made the argument before that there is a lot of worthwhile differentiation that can come from behavior, rather than the stat block, but that's a different conversation.)

OSR combat moves fast.  A fight against thirty orcs shouldn't be out of the question

Rules for Facing Armies

How many people can you catch in a single fireball?  Maybe 3 if they're wisely spread out.  A dozen if they're densely clustered.  On any other round, tell the wizard that their best fireball opportunity is 2d4+1 (rerolling it every round--let the wizard decide when the best opportunity is).  Armies that are trying to spread out (and have the space to do so) will limit themselves to 1d4+3 within the range of a single fireball.

Can you split up an army?  Easily, if your foes are unintelligent.  Intelligent enemies will avoid splitting up into overly small groups.  If they search for you, it will be with scouting groups that will retreat and seek help, rather than allow themselves to get drawn into a pitched battle.

The most important rules will probably be facing rules: how many orcs can attack your fighters simultaneously?

In a hallway 10' wide (or other chokepoint, I'd say that 3 people fighting abreast is the maximum, while 2 people fighting abreast would be the minimum to hold the line.

While totally surrounded, a cluster of at least 5 PCs has 2 enemies facing each of them.  Smaller groups will have 3 enemies facing them simultaneously.

Armies will, of course, fight as intelligently as they can.  This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Having one group fight the PCs head-on, while another group circles around to flank them.
  • Sending a runner for reinforcements.
  • Trying to lure the PCs into a place where they can be surrounded.
  • Using ranged attacks to get more attacks in per turn.
  • Using ranged attacks to lure PCs into position.
  • Use long-shot attacks (the equivalent of save-or-dies).
Some examples of long-shot attacks and interesting tactics:
  • GRAPPLE.  Nets, whatever.  Just pile it on.
  • Smoke bombs.
  • Setting the place on fire.
  • Releasing snakes.
  • Start chanting.    After 3 turns of chanting, a person goes blind and feeble every turn.  Lasts as long as the chanting does.
  • Start chanting.  It's a very slow polymorph spell, which turns someone into a snail over the course of 3 turns.
  • Start breaking all the valuable items in the dungeon while shouting blasphemies.
  • Lassoing a PC and pulling them away from the party.
  • Refusing to allow the PCs to lure them into a disadvantage.  Instead, they fortify a large room (or critical dungeon junction) and continually insult the PCs for not attacking them.  Although, at this point, you risk treating them like a faction.
*Differences Between Armies and Factions

Armies you fight all at once.  Factions you deal with their interests and kill them off in small groups.

I'll admit, it's a blurry line.  40 barbarians could easily be a roleplaying challenge more than a combat encounter.  Seducing them, bartering with them, getting them to fight your enemies for you, getting them to fight among themselves.


An interesting fight evolves--it's not just 3 orcs marching through the same chokepoint every turn until the whole army is dead.

Unless the army is mindless (and I don't even run skeletons as mindless foes), they'll know when they're fighting a losing battle, retreat, and try a new tactic.

Here are some other ways that armies will mix things up:

Orcs -- Settle it with a contest of champions.  The orcish champion is level 2+1d4, and will fight dirty (suggestion: as soon as the PCs nominate their champion, the orc will launch into combat without any preamble, throwing an axe and then charging).  Losing side clears out of the dungeon.

Bandits -- Will just offer you money to leave.  1d6 x 100s.

Goblins -- Start making a shit-ton of noise, summoning 1d4-1 (min 0) random encounters.

Skeletons -- 9 Skeletons start dancing.  After 3 rounds, they summon a demon of X HD, where X is the number of skeletons that are still dancing.  (Remember that undead are created by inviting incorporeal demons into a corpse.)  Other skeleton spells: mass extinguish, shatterhand (metal shatters upon coming in contact with the skeleton), fear.

Berserkers -- If they don't decide to retreat and try a new tactic, they'll fight to the death.  They bite off the tip of their own tongue.  Each round after that, they'll get +1 to hit, -1 to AC, and +1 to the damage that they both deal and receive.  This is cumulative up to +4.  If it would increase beyond +4, the berserkers instead start killing each other until they are all dead.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Inn Between

 This all basically grew from the idea of What If Spirited Away, But D&D?

First of all, wiser souls have spoken of this before.  The ruleset would be GLOG.  Level-ups would come from only two places: Treasures and Friends.  

Also everyone is children:

  • During character creation, switch Str with your lowest ability score.
by Sunga Park

The Inn Between

An otherworldly place, always located between two sufficiently distant locations.  Whenever anyone sets out on a journey that they cannot feasibly complete in a singular lifetime, they may be able to travel through the Underworld and complete the journey nonetheless.  

And halfway to their destination they will pass by the Inn Between.

In truth, the Inn is a refugee that fled the dim depths of Hell, and now floats upon the upper conceptual layers of the Underworld like a soap bubble atop a frothing sea.

If stone hands reached into the graves of dead civilizations, scooped up all of the bits of loose architecture, bundled some lost souls by their hair, and then those stone hands raised the whole mess up through dreams and bedrock, you would have an idea of what the Inn Between looks like, because that's exactly what it is.

The Inn Between requires a constant supply of gold to stay afloat.  None of the denizens can leave.  If they were robbers and killers, no one would visit their vaults.  And so the Between has been forced to become a place of hospitality and industry--against the instincts of its inhabitants.

It is a huge building on a small island, in the middle of a river called the Winterwine.  


These are dead children, the lowest caste of speaking people you'll meet in the Between.  The PCs come from their ranks.

After death, every soul filters down through the Underworld to Hell.  Unless a psychopomp snatches up your soul and diverts you to your religion's afterlife, this is your fate.  

As it turns out, many children die unbaptized and alone.  The underworld is full of their sobbing ghosts, wandering randomly-but-inexorably towards the hottest fires.  For the most part, even the foulest demons and sternest paladins take pity on these children.  A bonebreaker demon that comes across a lost child in the Underworld will probably sigh, take them by the hand, and lead them to the Inn Between, where the child at least has a chance to keep an Occupation.  Without an Occupation, they'll mortify even faster.

Mechanically, fullbrats are identical to human children except that they have tiny red ants for blood.


The Underworld's price cannot be dodged, bribed, or swayed, and mortification is the fate of all.  Fullbrats eventually become halfbrats as they forget the last memories of their mortal body.  They are forced to recreate their body through any method they can.

Some wear sheets with a couple of eye holes punched out.

Others stuff their jackets with pillows, and use a carved pompkin for a head.

Yet others mold themselves into puppets--or stranger things.

Mechanically, every time a fullbrat dies (or spends a full year in Hell), they lose a level.  If they have no more levels to lose, they become a halfbrat NPC.  

Halfbrats tend to forget everything except for their Occupation--or very nearly.  They rank above the fullbrats.


Halfbrats that have mortified even further become Quarterbrats.  There's nothing left of them except a pair of shoes.

The shoes amble around, generally obeying the Halfbrats.  There's no invisible body attached--it's more like a mage hand effect welded to a pair of shoes.  The shoes trundle over to the broom, which then begins to sweep the floor.

If the shoes are ever more than a few feet apart, they become inert.  (This is as simple as kicking one of the shoes away.)  Bring them back together again, and the quarterbrat will re-awaken.  

There are storerooms of sleeping quarterbrats beneath the Between.  Storerooms filled floor to ceiling.  Every spring, when the matrons need more space, hundred of them are dumped into the Winterwine.

There's very little of the child left at this point.  They still respond to their names, though, usually carved into the bottom of their left shoe.


The owner of the Inn Between.  You will not encounter her unless she wants to meet you.  You will always walk into a room a few minutes too late, the air still heavy with the scent of cloves and cinnamon.

She is a huge old woman, bent-backed and long-nosed, and wearing several layers of coats and dresses.  When you meet her, you will think that she is wearing a wrinkled wooden mask, but you will be wrong.  She is an immensely powerful sorceress--but she typically chooses to act indirectly, through her dogs.

Long ago, the Rat King robbed Mabinyaga, taking all of her jewelry and hiding it throughout the island.  In retribution, Mabinyaga killed the Rat King several times--so many times that he forgot where all of the items were located.  These are the Treasures that you must seek out.  

If you return a Treasure to Mabinyaga, she will return a memory to you.  (This is how you gain levels.  Remembering your days of pickpocketing is the same as taking a level in thief.  Remembering your mother's protections gives you the strength you need to gain a Knight template.)

The Rat King

The Rat King rules the Basement, which is the big, obvious dungeon beneath the Inn Between.

Whenever the Rat King dies or gives up hope, the next cleverest rat in the Between becomes the Rat King.  And because there are always rats in the Underworld (it is probably where rats originated from), there is always a Rat King.  All of the rats serve him.

The Rat King appears as a regular rat, but can speak in the booming voice of a titan if he so wishes. 

If you wish, you can give a Treasure to the Rat King instead of giving it to Mabinyaga.  If you choose to do so, he will open up new avenues to you, and tell you the most valuable pieces of information.


He is the furnace demon.  He lives inside the central furnace of the Inn Between.  If you want to talk to him directly, you'll have to step inside the furnace yourself.  This is possible if you go at night, when the furnace is nothing but embers, and you wear thick boots soaked wet.

In exchance for a steady supply of gold, Fornax keeps the Between from sinking back down to Hell.  He also heats the water for the baths, and is a great lover of tea.  He appears as a pot-bellied old man made of metal.  Fire burns behind his open mouth, and behind his smile.

The golems serve him, but they rarely leave the furnace.

He hates Mabinyaga, who hates him just as passionately.  However, since they both need each other to survive, they have sworn an oath of non-violence towards each other.  Instead, their malice takes the form of pranks, inconveniences, and humiliations.

If you throw one of Mabinyaga's Treasures into his furnace, he'll roar with laughter as he melts it down and sends it to the storerooms of Hell.  He'll reward you with a fine magic item.

The Gameplay Loop

Gossip is more important than treasure.

1. A guest comes to visit.  The PCs are in charge of satisfying that guest.  If they do well, they are rewarded with the only type of reward that they are ever issued--free time.  Perhaps 4 days if they do excellently, but only 1 day if they perform poorly.  (If they perform especially well, they may even get a juicy piece of gossip.)

2a. You'll have a chance to explore and talk to NPCs.  Eventually you'll figure out the location of one of the many small dungeons hidden around the Between.  Each dungeon has 1-3 pieces of Treasure inside it.  Some of these dungeons are quite non-traditional, such as the Very Busy Kitchen.

All of the dungeons are hidden, except for the Basement (but you'll have to bribe the Rat King if you wish to access all of it, or else defeat all of the rats).

2b. Alternatively, you might figure out how to solve all of the Problems of an NPC.  Once you solve all of an NPC's Problems, they become your Friend.  This pleases Mabinyaga, who will call you into her office and give you another memory (and therefore another Level).

3. Redeem your Treasure with either Mabinyaga, Fornax, or the Rat King.  Eventually you'll be strong, well-equipped, and have access to the entire Between.

4. The endgame really depends on how you allied yourself.  

If you solved everyone's Problems, Mabinyaga will offer you the Inn Between.  She's old and wishes to enter the Winterwine for a good long rest.

If you found all of the Treasures, the Rat King will confide in you that he has stolen a Holy Infant from the surface of Centerra.  With the Holy Infant, you can ransom yourselves back to life, and live a normal life.

Lastly, if you kill everyone (a genocide run), you can become new Princes and Princesses of Hell.  This is power enough to return to the surface, where you can bless it or blacken it.