Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stink Bombs

The 1920s had lots of other weapons, too.  Most of which were developed in WW1.  Grenades, both in American Pineapple and German Potato Masher varieties existed.  Mortars had cool nicknames like "flying pigs" and "toffee apples".  Flamethrowers were awesome.  Tanks looked sort of stupid, but they were still really good at killing you, so whatever.

But poison gases were a thing.  The three big ones were Chlorine, Phosgene, and Mustard Gas.  Chlorine makes you cough and cough while it eats your lungs.  Phosgene just dissolves your lungs over the course of a couple of days.  And Mustard gas gives you blisters all over your body like holy shit.

Here are some of the posters they gave the troops.

By the end of the war, they had decent gas masks that looked like what you think gas masks look like.  But the earliest gas masks looks like horrifying scarecrow dumpster babies.

Which I think is more in line with what I want, so that's done. Alternative history in Eldritch Americana, gas masks all look like sad sack people.  Canon.  Done.

Alright, some more ideas about poison gases for Eldritch Americana

Rasfecula are the unfortunate men and women that have been infected with the Stinking Sickness. They constantly ooze a toxic gas from their pores that will kill other creatures that stand nearby.  They retain their minds, and cluster in horrible stinking colonies. In these colonies, they create pools of reeking slime that they bathe in whenever possible, since that is the only thing that gives relief to their burning skin. The miasma that these colonies create is so strong that only a few noxious creatures can live within it (such as Cactus Polyps and Garlicks). Since the stinking Sickness is infections, Rasfecula colonies are almost always wiped out as soon as they are discovered. . . but sometimes the Stinkers win. Maybe there are even whole cities of Rasfecula somewhere out in the Rust Belt?

Spook Juice is the code name for a liquid developed by the FBI to assist them in their raids.  When thrown on the ground, it forms a thin cloud of white gas.  Within this cloud, all white objects are effectively invisible. This can even let you see through a wall (if the wall is white on both sides and gassed on both sides).  It also causes painful blisters around the lips and fingernails.

Zann Gas was also developed by the FBI, specifically for the purpose of seeing through walls. While breathing it, you can see into the fourth dimension, letting you see through walls and into closed containers and pockets.  It also drives you insane at a terrific rate. Canisters can be fired into enemy emplacements to make them go insane. Federal psychomancers also sometimes breath this stuff from a canister on their backs--they're already completely insane, so they don't mind as much.

Goblin Gas is bright green. It gives you mutations.  Developed by Union biomancers, it is now a favorite of mutant supremacists.

Philadelphia Dust is constantly secreted from the gills of Philadelphia Dragons (which are sort of like bulky, quadrupedal, deep-sea eels that weigh about a ton and make "art" out of their food.)  Philly Dust is notable because combustion and electricity are impossible within it. Engines don't run and guns don't fire.  Even flashlights fail after a few seconds within a Philadelphia Dust cloud as the dust seeps in.  Affected parts must be stripped down and cleaned before the work again, although a good rinsing usually works just as well. There's been many instances where a well-armed group of gunmen were killed by a group of naked shiners armed with lumber axes and an accordion full of Philadelphia Dust.

Fat Gas was found inside the USS Shenandoah, an American rigid airship built by the US Navy in 1922.  Following the unfortunate Lost October Incident of 1925, the airship was eventually recovered by a team of Navy stratonauts. The gas had to be pumped out of the reservoir slowly in order to bring the airship down.  When Annapolis was overrun by ghouls in the same year, most of the gas was lost from the public record.  Fat Gas makes things heavier. When used on people, they usually fall over under the weight of their equipment, or even the weight of their own bodies.  Under higher concentrations, breathing can become impossible under the weight of your own ribs.  Under even higher concentrations, the rib cage will actually break under its own weight and the limbs will pulp themselves.  Also good for destroying buildings.  The gas is named for the sensation it causes in those affected.

Eldritch Ammunition

So you've got that cool new .38 Police Special and you're itching to shoot something.  Ammo is hard to come by--most of the bullets floating around were made during WW1 during the gruesome slog to kill Franz Ferdinand.

Whenever you find ammo:

1 Complete duds.  All of them.
2-6 Normal, shitty ammo that jams whenever it rolls max damage.
7 Pristine ammo that doesn't jam.
8-10 Weird Ammo.  See below.

How Much Weird Ammo Did I Find? (d2)
1 Just 1 bullet.
2 A trove of 1d4 bullets.

Non-Weird Ammo Did I Find?
.45 ACP, .38 Specials, and .30-06: 1d6+1 bullets.
All other types of bullets: 1d4 bullets.

Weird Ammo

Lothrop, Brigham, and Dark is a company that was started in 1899 in order to turn men into (useful) monsters. They're based on the moon now, and have a brutalist concrete manufactorium in the pitted shadow of Yosganeth, but you can still visit their old factory grounds in Chicago.  Nowadays, they are mostly known for making bullets.  Some of them make their way back to the ground.

(1) .38 Special Jazz Rounds scream when you shoot them.  Anything you shoot screams, too.  It can't stop screaming for 1d6 minutes.

(2) .38 Special Deluxe Rounds are leaders among bullets.  The next 1d6 bullets that are fired in the same area with curve to hit the same place the Deluxe landed.

(3) .38 Special Daisycutter Rounds explode like a 1d6 fireball when they hit.  If you fire many of them, the fireball effects stack.

(4) .38 Special Blackjacket Rounds fire two bullets along the same trajectory: one lead and one ethereal.  Good to killing ghosts.

(5) .38 Special Bricklayer Rounds leave a metal rod behind the path they travel.  The rod is .38 inches in diameter and hangs suspended in the air.  It turns into a greasy, grey wax after 1d6 rounds, and falls from the air.

(6) .38 Special Scotch Rounds knock the target into a copy of our world that contains no life except for plants.  How long does it last?  1d6 (rounds/minutes/tens of minutes/hours, equal chance of each).

Kiowa Rounds all come from the same place: an extensive burial complex in western Montana.  While the Kiowa indians were using it to bury their dead, evidence suggests that the burial complex is much older than the indians themselves. Most of the things found in there have were described as "indescribable" and have been locked away in the vaults beneath the Smithsonian, but the bullets got out.  Well, sort of like bullets.  They have red clay casings, no propellant, and the projectile itself is a sphere of unknown metal that glows in the dark. Whatever they are, they pack a punch.

(7) Kiowa .38 Special Rounds deal +1 damage. When the target sleeps, they will dream of being eaten by herbivorous land animals that were present in N. America during the Holocene. (huge elk, deer, moose, giant sloths, mammoths, etc). Every time they sleep, they must make a save or take 1d6 damage and lose all beneficial effects of that night's sleep. If a character dies from this, their body is entirely devoured, leaving only bloody scraps of flesh and strange noises behind.  The curse lasts until it is lifted or until the afflicted person drinks elk blood from the mouth of an elk's severed head and then bathes in the blood.

(8) Kiowa .357 Magnum Rounds are just like the .38 Specials, except the dreams are of being eaten by almost-human things and you take 2d6 damage.

Opponent Ammunition comes from Opponent Earth, the planet that shares and orbit with Earth but is directly opposed to it.  That is--they have always been behind the sun. Aside from bombarding our cities with diseases, monsters, and garbage, they also occasionally send groups of their "paladins" as invasion forces. Opponent Earth is, in many ways, a mirror of our Earth, and their ammunition works just fine in our guns.

(9) Opponent .45 ACP Green Rounds have black casings with green copper-plated uranium slugs. Not depleted urannium. . . the bullets are radioactive and must be stored in lead cases (or lead-lined Opponent Browning Automatics). These bullets do +1 damage.  Creatures struck must make a save.  Failure means that they begin growing into bloated, fleshy monstrosity.  Each round, the affected creature increases in mass by +50%.  This means that they get +1 to all Str-based stuff and -1 to all Dex-, Wis-, and Cha- based stuff.  They also take 1d6 damage at the beginning of each round.  This lasts for 1d6 rounds, after which the creature stops growing (and stops taking ongoing damage).  Stat effects remain and will return to normal at a rate of 1 point per day. If a character dies from this ongoing damage, treat them as a Far Beast with a HD equal to however many rounds the initial duration was.  Note that this usually ruins clothing and armor that are worn.

(10) Opponent .45 ACP Orange Rounds have black casings with wax slugs. There is a weird sort of space bee inside it, and if you nick the cartridge open it will fly out and attack your face.  If you shake the cartridge, you will piss it off and you can hear the cartridge buzz and maybe roll around a little. An .45 ACP bee is an utter, evil little shit of a bee and it will ignore all fashionable armor, and things that are immune to bullets are not immune to bees (treat them like arrows).  Best of all, the bees can regrow.  If you fill the empty cartridges with blood and tungsten shavings, cover the opening, and leave it in a hot place (behind the furnace) for a few days, the bees will regrow.

(11) Opponent .45 ACP Yellow Rounds have black casings with some sort of sulfurous metal slug. On a hit, these bullets do another 1d6 damage the next turn to living creatures as the flesh blackens, rots, and falls out.  This rot is also extremely smelly, and creatures shot with a yellow round are easy to track, since they stink to high heaven and are constant dripping what looks like soy sauce.

Unquiet Calibers are sometimes found in the skulls of wizards who are shot with Unquiet calibers.  If an unquiet caliber kills a spell-caster, it creates unfired bullets in the brain equal to the amount of damage that the killing blow did.  The casings are bone (presumably from the dead caster's skull), the bullets appear to be glass (but are much harder than actual glass), and the bullet shoots blood everywhere when it is fired--out the barrel, out the breech, etc.  Fire a couple of these rounds and you'll paint the side of your face with dead sorcerer blood.  It might also make it harder to tell if you're damaging something, since the bullet also throws blood on it.

(12) Unquiet .30-06 Rounds do necrotic/shadow/negative energy damage instead of physical damage. Among other things, this means that they have no effect on undead.  The bullets themselves also whisper when they are chambered in a gun. Their voices are quiet, so you must put the barrel up to your ear to hear them.  (Don't worry it's perfectly safe.)  The whispers have a 25% chance to tell you useful information that the dead sorcerer knew, 25% chance to tell you lies about the same, 25% chance to teach you a necromantic spell (as if learning it from a scroll), and a 25% chance to teach you a spell from a different school.

(13) Unquiet 12 Gauge Shotgun shells do the same thing.

Tears of Skethriman Scolex are harvested from the amber-like secretions that weep from the "eyes" of the Outsider that is currently hovering over London.  The alien government that controls Britain uses the Browning Automatic Rifle extensively, and so they use it to make .30-07 rounds.

(14) Sketh Rounds are .30-06 rounds. They have silver casings filigreed with the alien rune for empire.  Every Sketh Round in your inventory gives a -1 penalty to your saving throw. Upon a hit, the bullet allows the creature to be devoured by an extra-dimensional entity.  If the target fails its save, it takes 1d6 damage at the beginning of all its subsequent turns and gobbets of flesh are ripped from its body, whirled around like, and then disappear into some non-Euclidean gullet. This persists until a Hard heal check is made to dig out the bullet, which takes 2 rounds.

Mobster Rounds have been developed by Chicago's ingenious gangsters as part of their effort to keep the Windy City from falling into unearthly hands.

(15) Chicago No. 12s are .45 ACP rounds that are also called hot shots.  All of the damage is lightning damage.  They also have the benefit of being almost totally silent.  They also have the disadvantage of making you go blind if your eyes are unprotected and you fail a save. Sunglasses don't cut it.  You need welder's goggles or a welding mask.

(16) Chicago No. 19s are .45 ACP rounds that are also called witch bullets.  The shooter is pushed back 1d6 x 5' upon firing if not braced against something, and the target is pushed back 1d6 x 5' as well. These numbers assume human-sized parties, smaller creatures are pushed longer distances, etc. Sammy "The Witch" O'Rourke is famous for using these bullets to fly away while straddling his Thompson M1921.

(17) Chicago No. 20s are .45 ACP rounds that are also called delivery bullets.  They teleport the shooter to the location that the bullet impacts.

(18) Chicago No. 51s are .45 ACP rounds that are also called head shots. They can damage things that are normally immune to bullets, as long as those things have minds. All damage that they do is psychic damage, and heatless purple flame shoots out of the wounds for 1 minute, illuminating as a torch. This light is still produced if you shoot a wall or something, so they have a secondary usage there.

(19) Chicago No. 55s are .45 ACP rounds that are also called church bullets.  Creatures shot with them will begin pouring smoke from every orifice for 1d6 rounds. During these rounds, spellcasting is impossible and attacks are made at a -4 to hit.

The Black Meat of the Mojave is harvested from the mile-long, humanoid corpse that, supposedly, is that of Satan. The flesh is a deadly poison, and the Devil Eaters who wish to begin generating a tolerance will take small sips of Black Flesh that has been diluted many, many times in methyl alcohol.

(20) Devilbone Shells are shotgun shells stuffed with the esoteric bone matter from the Devil's Corpse.  Whenever they get the killing blow on a creature, the shooter gains 1 point in a stat.  Which stat?  Whatever the target's highest stat was.  The shell casing is human leather inscribed with tiny letters, detailing doomsday and pseudo-Christian blasphemies.

Weird bullets should be treated a bit like scrolls.  It's never obvious what they do, and if a player hasn't seen a Chicago No. 20 before, they have no way of determining what it does aside from (1) firing it, or (2) finding an expert and getting him to identify it.

Weird Guns
The Opponents use lead-coated guns because they use radioactive rounds.
The Quiet Gorgas use flesh guns, which are alive.  They restore 1 hp to you when they hit and deal 1 damage to you when they miss.
I'll write more later.  I'm tired.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Guns Against Darkness

Oh, weapons.  Let's try to get this over with quickly.

Melee Weapons

There are 3 categories of melee weapons.  Daggers are quick, swords are balanced, greatswords are powerful.  You can figure which weapon belongs to which category on your own.

Quick Weapons use Dex to modify the attack roll, can only be used 1-handed, and deal 1d6 damage.  They can be drawn in a negligible amount of time.

Balanced Weapons use Dex OR Str to modify the attack roll, can be used 1- or 2-handed, and deal 1d6+Str damage.  They can be drawn in a negligible amount of time.

Powerful Weapons use Str to modify the attack roll, must be used 2-handed, and deal 1d8+Str damage.

Powerful weapons can't be used in cramped spaces, and only quick weapons can be used in a grapple or stomach or whatever.

Weapons deal +1 damage when wielded 2-handed.  Dual-wielding gives +1 to hit.

Unarmed Attacks do 1d4 damage and are made at a -2 penalty.
Swords give +2 AC against other melee weapons (but no bonus against bullets or bites).
Axes do 3x the rolled damage on a crit (while other weapons just do maximum damage).
Quick and Balanced Bludgeons can do non-lethal damage without penalty (other weapons get -2).
Powerful Bludgeons always do max damage when they hit a prone target.
Flails ignore AC contributions from shields and/or defensive fighting.
Quarterstaffs give +1 AC when fighting defensively.  They can also do non-lethal damage without penalty.
Powerful Spears can be readied against a charge, and get +2 to hit when charging.
Balanced Spears can be thrown up to 50'.
Gauntlets are Quick, and can also be used to hold something in that hand.

Sorcerous Weapons give +1 to MP checks of one school.  Some give this bonus to two or three.
Sorcerous Weapons can be of any type, but staffs, daggers, canes, and guns are the most popular.
Sorcerous Weapons can even be non-weapons.  A wand gives the MP bonus while being less bulky and therefore easier for neurasthenic wizards to carry.

Ranged Weapons
All ranged weapons use Dex to modify the attack roll.  Because they are so easy to use, most firearms give a bonus to hit, usually +1 or +2.

Bows do 1d6+Str damage.
Crossbows do 1d8 damage.
Pistols do 1d10 damage, and can be drawn in a negligible amount of time.
Rifles do 1d12 damage.
Sub-Machine Guns do 1d10 damage, and can be fired an extra time per round.

Within one round, a gun can fire as many rounds as its clip allows.  This doesn't allow for extra attacks rolls, but instead gives +1 to hit and +1 to damage for every extra round fired this way.  High damage rolls should be interpreted as multiple bullet wounds.

Sawed-off rifles get -1 to hit, but also occupy 1 line of inventory (instead of 2).

Bayonets can be attached to rifles.  This adds 1 line of inventory to the weapon, and is treated like a dagger.

The Colt Detective Special is a snub-nosed revolver with a 6-round cylinder.  It fires .38 Special rounds and gets +1 to hit.  It can be concealed easily, and only counts as ½ a line of inventory.
The Colt Police Positive Special is a revolver with a 6-round cylinder.  It fires .38 Specials and gets +2 to hit.
The Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum is another 6-chambered revolver. It fires .357 rounds and gets +1 to hit and +1 to damage.  It can also fire .38 Special rounds, but it does not get the +1 to damage.
The Luger Parabellum P08 is a German pistol that fired 9mm bullets from a 8-round cartridge. They were popular trophies after the allies succeeded in killing Franz Ferdinand at the end of WW1.  It gets a +1 to hit.
The M1911 Browning Automatic Pistol is an automatic pistol that fires .45 ACP rounds has a 7-round box magazine.  It gets +1 to hit.

The M1917 Springfield is a bolt-action rifle that fires .30-06 rounds.  It gets +3 to hit.
The M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (The BAR) is a semi-automatic rifle that fires .30-06 rounds.  It has a 20-round magazine.  It gets +2 to hit.
The Remington Model 8 is a pump-action shotgun (sometimes called a scatter gun or a pepper gun) with a 6-round tubular magazine.  Treat it as a rifle that has ½ the normal range.  They fire shotgun shells.  It gets +2 to hit and does +2 damage.
The .577 Nitro Express is an elephant gun that fires .577 black powder rounds.  It is available in single and double-barreled varieties, but can only be fired once per round.  When fired, the shooter must make a Muscle check or fall prone.  It gets +2 to hit and does +4 damage.

Sub-Machine Guns

Thompson M1921 Sub-Machine Guns fire .45 ACP rounds.  It has two types of magazines.  The 20-round stick magazine is smaller.  The 50-round drum magazine is bulky enough to count as a separate line in inventory.

In the setting, guns are so rare and powerful that they sort of replace the role that magic swords have in other settings.  There's little reason to swing a crowbar when you have a shotgun.  However, guns have a few drawbacks.

  1. They're really loud.  Everyone nearby will hear it.
  2. They're unreliable. Whenever you roll maximum damage (not a crit) the gun jams.  Repairing it will take tools and several minutes. Pristine, pre-apocalyptic ammo doesn't have this problem.
  3. Guns and ammo are extremely rare.  You'll never see a gun for sale, and ammo prices are insane.
  4. Ammo is a pain.  There are 7 ammo types, and none are interchangable (with 1 exception).

Writing this has been largely a waste of time, since weapon lists have been done and redone a thousand times.  So what's actually interesting about this post?

Daggers doing 1d6 damage while swords dealing 1d6 +/- Str mean that there's little point in using a sword over a dagger unless you are stronger than average. In fact, if you are weaker than average, you'll actually be better off using the dagger. Since I don't want to have ridiculous class-based restrictions or weapon proficiency lists, this actually works out well.  The wizard continues to use the dagger and the fighter uses the sword, but for practical reasons, not arbitrary ones.

Sorcerous weapons make casting easier, which gives a mechanical reason for why wizards are always seen with quarterstaffs.  It's also more fun for wizards to get a bonus for using a staff than a penalty for not using one.

The minor mechanical differences between swords and clubs mean that a fighter has a reason to carry both, but the difference will rarely edge into play.  Which is right about where I want it.  Plus I like the idea that guys with sledgehammer suddenly get a lot more terrifying when you are lying on the ground.

I think the rules for automatic gunfire and sawed-off shotguns is relatively elegant. I guess there's always the risk that the players will hoard ammunition in order to do 30 damage in a single turn to some boss thing, but whatever. If bullets are sufficiently rare, so will that scenario.

I think my next post will be on exotic ammunition.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Heralds of the Immaculate Morning

Some Notes on the Setting

Centerra is the setting.  It's sort of a secular setting, even though it has plenty of religions. It's a fantasy setting where atheism makes a lot of sense.

No one has ever been to the "plane of heaven".  No one has even been to the "plane of hell". And although there are lots of things called "demons", they usually aren't interested in eating your souls (or any of the other nonsense the Church claims they do). There might not even be such a thing as a soul. Certainly, no one has ever returned from the dead.

If there are gods, they are quiet ones. No god has ever appeared before a crowd of people.  No angels have ever appeared to give aid to a hero. There has never been a verifiable miracle.  The sun has never stood still in the sky, and the sea has never been parted. Nevertheless, most people still believe in these things.

Of course, the different religions still have complex cosmologies, with hierarchies of angels, and different circles of hell. It just isn't relevant like it is in most settings.

Most of the "civilized" world is part of a monotheistic religion called Hesaya.  They're The Church. They got to their continent-spanning level of power by crushing hundreds of older religions underfoot.

Another interesting thing about Centerra: No one has any fucking clue what happened more than ~1200 years ago. All we know is that everyone on the planet was insane, and most things were on fire. That's where the calendar starts.  With the end of history.

The Radiant Maiden

So, no gods walk the earth.  Nor demons, nor angels. . . except, perhaps, for one.

She wears only white cloth, to symbolize purity.  But she also wears a black veil to symbolize what has been lost. She only exposes her face during her sermons, and all can see that she is a creature of ineffable beauty and power. Although she is undeniably feminine, no one has ever gazed upon her with lust.  She is pure and calm. He eyes shine with benevolence and goodwill. It is impossible to look upon her and not be at peace.

Friday, July 5, 2013


It's a well known fact that wizards love cats.  Even evil wizards.  And all wizards require spellbooks.  So when a sorceress named Rigalene found a way to combine the two, she didn't hesitate.
Rigalene, the Lady of Cats
She was a homebody.  Rarely did she venture from the quiet stone of her isolated tower.  Her only companions were her cats, of which she had many.  They were her joy and her succor.  They were what made her smile.  They had names and personalities, and they could talk to her.  Well, they couldn't really talk to her.  But she she knew what they meant when they meowed.  They told her that they loved their mommy.  And she told the cats that she loved them, too.

Rigalene hated spellcasting.  It was her chosen profession, but what had seemed so limitless in her youth had turned into chores of memorizing, rememorizing, and concentrating.  She would never be one of the great wizards.  All she wanted to do was play with her cats, and tend to her small garden.
And yet, magic was needed to maintain her tower and feed her cats.  Magic became a loathsome chore.  Washing dishes, doing laundry, and memorizing spells.  Where other humans had laundry rooms, she had a library.  And what a library it was!  
You may have guessed by now that the Rigalene of which we speak is none other than Rigalene Taslurdoe, the last daughter of the once-great Taslurdoe wizard clan.  And while she had none of her great-great-grandfather's imperial ambitions (or power), she did have one thing of his: the Athenaeum of the Annihilatior.  This huge library occupied a subterranean level beneath her tower, where the hundreds of books were protected by sentient spells, golemlords, and oath-sworn djinni.
And perhaps most importantly, the entire thing was heavily warded against any sort of divination.  Rigalene's great inheritance was presumed lost.  And Rigalene herself was thought of as just an eccentric wizard of middling talent.  Which she was, of course, but that's not just what she was.
Rigalene was not discovered until four weeks after her death.  Since she had no friends or relatives, her belongings were seized by the city of Clansbrad, who auctioned off her items for some small sums of gold. Of her hundreds of cats, some were left to wander, where many of them ended up as strays in the port town of Shorterport.  At least one of them wandered southwest, into the [Dembraava Wilds].  And about a dozen of them were taken by the wagoneer, a man named Simeon Duchess, that he might give to the children in the towns on the way back to Clansbrad.  He can remembers few details of the children, even after repeated questioning.
The Catbook Spell
If Rigalene ever gave this spell a name, it is lost to us (or perhaps we just haven't found the right cat).  Regardless, despite all attempts to coin a more orthodox name for the spell, it is known by all as the Catbook Spell. 
We don't know how a mediocre sorceress such as Rigalene was ever able to invent such a clever spell.  The mana-pflenging side weaves in the second part of the invocation alone would have taken a genius years to perfect.  But then, Rigalene had decades to idle time, where she presumably spent much of time meditating on the subject of cats.

The spell is cast thus:
In one hand, a cat.  In the other, a tome (or scroll).  The spell, although it contains some little-used labiodental frictives, is not unduly difficult to cast.  The book is shoved into the cat.  Gloves thick enough to protect from claws are a necessity, as the cats are greatly surprised by the process, although it does not hurt them.
Forever more, if that cat is ever petted with a specific pattern of fingers and strokes, the cat goes catatonic, falls limp, and it's spine rolls open to reveal the appropriate spellbook.  The cat is usually folded across the knee, in order for its book to be perused more easily.  The cat is in stasis, and its blood and tissues are frozen in paper-thin sheets with the words printed on the inside.  When the catbook is closed, the cat immediately recovers completely (although they cannot synchronize their blinks for some minutes afterwards.

The cats are sometimes cold (as no metabolic processes take place while in book form) and may require some cuddling to restore its vigor.  Five minutes is recommended.
Larger books require larger cats, while novellas will easily fit in a kitten.  Attempting to 'overload' a cat, or overwrite an existing book in a cat, will result in a jumbled mix of pages.  Ripping out a page has a high chance of resulting in paralysis, and ripping out several will almost always result in the cat's death.  Additionally, the stasis effect is not permanent.  The pages can be written on, and the ink will persist.
The School of Rigalencian Expedition and Recovery
We of the Rigalencian School (Part of the Pillar of Academy) have made it our duties to recover all the missing catbooks.  The Athenaeum of the Annihilatior contains many, many dangerous and forbidden spells.  Since the diaspora, most of these have still not been recovered.
For obvious reasons, we have received extensive support in order to fund such an exhaustive project for the recovery of the Rigalene's felines.  But there are a finite numbers of cats in the forty-eight small towns south of Clansbrad.  And there are finite number of petting 'passwords' that may be instilled in a cat.  All of our agent-retrievers can perform all of these stroke-passwords in merely twenty minutes of petting a cat, in order to determine if it is indeed a normal cat or a powerful tome of destruction.

We have even recovered kittens up to the third generation, which contain faded and fragmented versions of their parent's books.
Although some have suggested otherwise, we will not terminate the cats we recover.  Sharland has long upheld the universal right to life.  The recovered animals are kept in the Tower of Forbidden Cats, and I assure you they are well cared for.
Other Animals
While cats are ideally suited for the spell, it technically can be applied to other animals.  Perhaps the most unfortunate example of this took place in Basharna, with the smuggler who came to be known as Mendereen the Treasure Map.  Let his unfortunate and bizarre demise be a lesson to us all.
Plots Hooks
Steal a cat.  Recover a cat.  Pet some cats.  Chase a cat.  Find all the kittens to assemble the spellbook.  Destroy a cat with the spell of Armageddon written in it.  Figure out why this wizard died trying to save this cat.
Learn the hard way that some of the cats are still protected by djinni.
Get the plans from a spy who has 200 pages of military secrets fused with his back.  (I guess you'd have to pet him. . .)
Be that spy.
Figure out who or what is leaving you cryptic messages in your catbook.
Track down a newly developed version of the Rigalencian Tome spell and the associated feline.  This particular animal records everything it hears on the blank pages inside it, although it is only a normal cat in appeance and mind. (The Catbook Pro?)

What's the name of this adorable little tome of apocalyptic necromancy? Last Gasp's Cat Name Generator can tell you.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Astrotopia, the Lost City

This is to expand on HEX 1811 in Jacob Hurst's excellent (and almost complete) hex crawl, Synthexia.

Once the seat of power for the mighty Urgis Khan, Astrotopia was once a city to rival the Crystal Metropolis of the Sorceress Queen (with whom he had a complicated relationship). Those days are long since gone.

Urghis Khan

A warlord in his youth and a hedonist in his dotage, Urghis Khan was impossible to forget.  He was a man of destiny, who always sought out new things to conquer and/or fuck.

In his youth Urghis suffered a horrible misadventure (never bring portals through portals) and briefly traveled to the future, where he walked among the strange streets of a future metropolis. When middle-age dug its long hooks into the great Khan, he became obsessed with the idea of rebuilding the city exactly as he remembered it.

This project would become Astrotopia, the City of One Thousand Indulgences, the Felicitous City. Everyone agree that it was beauteous and fair, but some argued that many aspects of its design were nonsensical or pointless, since no one alive could understand or imitate the technology of the future.  What was the point of these dead ends and non-functioning teleporters? Of doorways made for creatures a tenth of our height?  What good were laser bridges, when humans can't walk on lasers (and died when they tried)?

Those were naysayers. Throughout his life, Urghis treated all naysayers the same. He had them strapped to rockets, and then shot into space.