Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dinosaur Clerics, a New Class

 The Dinosaur God

By default, dinosaur clerics worship Tyroganon Ferox, the Paradox Lord of the Infinite Boneyard.  It's a misconception that Tyroganon Ferox is an evil god.  Yes, he wants to bring back dinosaurs and destroy all mammals, but he is also a stalwart enemy of cruelty, undead, and death cults.  And the mammal tribes who worship him are treated well, and some are even allowed to become dinosaurs themselves.

Tyroganon Ferox's still struggles to bring his children back from their extinction, and so his servants include pseudo-imaginary dinosaurs and shuddering time-paradox zombies.  In the hallucinatory jungles of Mar Maroo, his savage tribes protect and ride their flocks of almost-real dinosaurs.

The Dinosaur Lord of Impossible History has been following the present timeline very closely.  And although he doesn't technically exist in the current world--yet--his dinosaurs have been slinking along the timelines, devouring all the mammals along the unused timeways.

Few people realize how close they are to hungry dinosaurs at all times.  Tyrannosaurs lurk only a few months behind them.  Yesterday, ankylosaurs are angrily destroying their houses.  And packs of deinonychus lick their lips and watch you from only a few minutes ago.  Time travel isn't difficult, but the even travelling a few minutes into the past is dangerous, since you may find packs of sarchosuchus tearing up your kitchen.

Travel far back enough in time, and you may even bump into Tyroganon Ferox himself, who blocks out the sun while pterosaurs circle him crying out their praises.  His children have trampled your dead heroes into the dust.  The recent past is full of dinosaurs tearing down your cities and roaring triumphantly.

Listen, wizard, time travel is a bad idea.  The dinosaurs rule the past.  Sometimes paladins declare war on the dinosaurs, but it is a foolish battle.  The great warriors of the present cannot hope to do battle with billions of years of dinosaurs.  Their kingdoms stretch from yesterday to the earliest primordial slimes.

Tyroganon Ferox and his clerics, have the following domains: Time, Time-Paradoxes, Bones, Dinosaurs, Reptiles, Birds, Eggs, Bravery, Volcanoes, and the Return of the Fallen.

The Dinosaur People

The dinosaur faithful claim that dinosaurs went extinct when Pelusia Macrolactica, the mammalian goddess of hair and boobs, collided with the planet.  While Pelusia Macrolactica is certainly not among any of the pantheons worshipped today, the dinosaur faithful insist that somewhere in the depths of hell, a foul mountain of monstrous breasts crawls and lactates.  

Since the modern followers of the dinosaur god see themselves as inheritors of the dinosaur zeitgeist, they sometimes have a hard time reconciling their own mammalian natures.  Neither gender will willingly reveal their nipples, and large breasts are seen as shameful (and are usually tightly strapped down or disguised).  Pregnancy is obscene, and is never discussed (although sex holds no similar taboo).

The dinosaur tribes live in the deep jungle, and although they struggle against giant insects and pseudo-imaginary diseases, they are not savages.  The build castles of grass and mud, and launch themselves from wooden towers on pterosaur-skin gliders.  Though dead timeways, they bring a few dinosaurs into the world with faith and paradoxes, but these mighty creatures are easily defeated by wizards, who can dismiss them as illusions.

A few of the tribes half half-dinosaurs, formed from the blessed union between a human and a psuedo-imaginary dinosaur.  They are halfway real, and not as vulnerable as their mostly-imaginary progenitors.

The Dinosaur Clerics

Use the rules for clerics from your favorite edition, with the following changes.

- Same armor and weapons, but prefer armor made from giant bones and helmets that look like dinosaurs.
- Cannot be seduced or charmed by anything with nipples, even magically.
- Can calm down dinosaurs, reptiles, and birds (use druid rules).
- No "turn undead", but get "turn mammal".  Mammals with Int 4+ are not affected.

Changes to spell lists!  Most of these are just reskins, but some are unique enough that I've detailed them below.

1- detect evil becomes detect mammal
1 - protection from evil becomes protection from mammals
1 - new spell: explode egg
1 - new spell: detect blasphemy
1 - new spell: find volcano
2 - snake charm becomes charm reptile/bird
2 - new spell: hatch egg
3 - add spells: haste and slow
3 - remove spells: locate object and continual light
4 - new spell: summon illusory dinosaur
4 - sticks to snakes becomes sticks to compsognathuses
4 - remove spells: speak with plants and create water
4 - protection from evil 10' radius becomes protection from mammals 10' radius
5 - commune becomes ask the past
5 - finger of death becomes fossilize
5 - remove spells: dispel evil

Explode Egg
Level 1 Dinosaur Cleric Spell
The cleric touches a (live) egg and sets a duration between 1-3 rounds.  After that duration, the egg explodes, dealing 1d6 damage for every HD that the hatched animal would have at maturity, up to a maximum of twice as many HD as the Cleric.  Blast radius equals 2' for every HD of damage it does, with a save for half damage.  If the egg breaks before it goes off, it has a 50% chance to explode immediately, otherwise it's a dud.

Detect Blasphemy
Level 1 Dinosaur Cleric Spell
This works like the other detect spells, except it allows you to sense things that are out of place in time, and whether they are from the future or the past.

Find Volcano
Level 1 Dinosaur Cleric Spell
This tells the cleric the direction to the nearest volcano.  All volcanoes count as temples of their god.

Hatch Egg
Level 2 Dinosaur Cleric Spell
The cleric casts this spell while sitting on an egg.  After a minute of sitting and chanting, the egg hatches and grows to maturity in a minute.  It serves it's "mother" for 10 minutes per caster level, and then rapidly ages, dies, and turns into a fossil.

Summon Illusory Dinosaur 
Level 4 Dinosaur Cleric Spell
The cleric summons a pseudo-imaginary dinosaur (1d4+1 HD).  It has all the strengths and weaknesses detailed here, and a couple additional weaknesses.  Illusionists can dispel it with a touch, and the slow spell destroys it instantly.  Use your own random dinosaur table, because I don't want to write one.

Ask The Past
Level 5 Dinosaur Cleric Spell
As part of the casting, the cleric smokes some plants that have been extinct for millennia.  The cleric falls into a deep trance and their spirit travels to the past, where they query the dinosaurs there.  Treat this as a commune spell, except that it can only ask questions about the past and the ancient dinosaurs don't mind being pestered, and will give the cleric an egg to take back with them.

Level 5 Dinosaur Cleric Spell
This is just like finger of death, except that creatures killed by it are fossilized instead of just dropping dead.  A creature that was killed by this can be restored by stone to flesh.  If this spell is prepared in reverse, it can be used to turn ACTUAL fossils into live dinosaurs.

Dinosaur clerics start with some equipment.  Roll 2x on the following chart, rerolling duplicates.
1 - Triceratops skull shield
2 - Stegosaur tail flail
3 - Glider made from pterosaur bones (weighs 60 lbs, and you know how to use it.)
4 - Raptor feather armor (leather armor that is comfortable enough to sleep in)
5 - Ankylosaur scale armor
6 - Dinosaur Egg (1 stegosaur, 2 apatosaur, 3 raptor, 4 triceratops, 5 compsognathus, 6 ramphorhyncus)
7 - Apatosaur-skin sling with 1d6 petrified eggs (sling stones)
8 - Map of the world, 60 million years out of date
9 - Iguanadon thumb dagger
10 - Pleisiosaur skin armor (leather armor that is easy to swim in)
11 - Magnificent raptor feather headdress
12 - Raptor tooth sword (image below)

All clerics start with a mask that resembles a particular dinosaur.  This is their clan mask, and they strive to emulate that dinosaur's virtues
1 - Apatosaur
2 - Stegosaur
3 - Hadrosaur
4 - Velociraptor
5 - Spinosaurus
6 - Tyrannosaurus
7 - Ankylosaurus
8 - Archeopteryx
9 - Pterosaur
10 - Pachycephalosaurus
11 - Therizinosaurus
12 - Dunkleosteus

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tongue Demons

Voroglossus (a.k.a. Tongue Demon)
HD 3
AC 9 [10]
Atk +3 Bite (1d6 and 10% chance of contracting horrible magic disease)
Move 12
Save 15
Special stealthy, replacement

Every type of spell has a demon associated with it.  When the magic mouth spell goes awry, sometimes it creates a Voroglossus, commonly known as a tongue demon.

In its mobile form, a voroglossus is about the size and shape of an inside-out german shepherd.  It's rear legs and tail are fused in a sort of "skirt" of annular horns and muscular tissue.  Like all demons, it is a creature of whimsy, cruelty, and ignorance.  It has the unique--and feared--ability to shrink itself so that it can replace a person's tongue.  Then it sets itself up in the poor victim's mouth as a sort of oral tyrant.

Zath Ko Macchen and the Poltergeist Moon

Not a Hero, Not a Villain, Not a King

Zath ko Macchen was once a warrior.  He did many great deeds, but he was was not a hero, a saint, a king, nor a villain.  Although he saved the city of Merenmeck from the slime he also absconded with their treasury and six of their fairest daughters.  He freed the Recursive Fox when it was caught in the limbs of the Ferrule Forest, but he also cut off its tail and wore it on his belt.  And when Vokrin Tsang, the Tornado Tyrant, began his windy reign of impalement, Ko Macchen was there to end him.  And although he did all these great things and more, no one liked him because he was a braggart and an ass, and the mechanical elephant he rode around on was tacky as hell.

When ko Macchen died killing the second-to-last vampire, no one mourned him.  A great deal of fighting took place over his loot, with the city of Shar getting the lion's share.  The giant clockwork elephant containing his wives and 99 children rode off into the northern wastelands and was never seen again.

The cities didn't want the body of such a powerful individual in their graveyards (since even adventurers' corpses are dangerous things), and yet their sensed that it would be dangerously disrespectful to leave his body in the wilderness to be devoured.  (Technically, his body was lying in a slab within Macchentown, but the city he founded fell apart upon his death and was largely torn to shreds by looters looking for valuables.)  A solution needed to be found.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

When Is a Wolf Not a Wolf?

Okay, so some settings have problems with the traditional monsters.  Horses get replaced with riding birds, dogs get replaced with lizards, cows get replaced with slugs.

It's all old hat, but it's very effective.  You can explain it in a single sentence, because everyone knows what a giant slug looks like, and everyone knows what a cow does.  And so without being threatening or confusing, the idea of spotted slugs munching on bales of hay in some bucolic oasis reinforces how alien the setting is.

You just don't want to overuse it, or else it becomes comical (Gamma World, the one normal bear in the entire world of the Last Airbender), which might be what you're going for (Gamma World is great).  Otherwise, stuffing one animal into another animal's skin works great.

So here's some otters in wolf suits.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Death and Dismemberment Upon the Table

I wrote some a Death and Dismemberment table to roll on when your PCs drop to 0.  I do this because I'm very bad at "fun" and very good at "I wanna type some numbers and roll dice in bed".

You gotta make two rolls before you find out what happens to the PC, but then again, this only happens when your PCs are dying, so hopefully it won't happen too often.

I tried to keep it simple enough that you could sorta memorize after one reading, which is good, but it also means that you miss out on all the ridiculous injuries like, "46 on a d100: your nipple is cut off and the monster chokes on it.  Roll on the Choking Chart to see how this resolves." but, eh.

Here it is ---------------> boom

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Vine

Sarkosuchus, the famed torturer, was on his veranda tasting wines when the coffin arrived. 

“Just set it down in the basement, would you?” he said, swirling his wine.  He held the wine glass under his nose, and watched the six men carry the coffin into the house.  He sniffed after them. After a moment, he tossed the wine against the back of his throat like it was whiskey.

“Should we go open it?” asked a voice at his elbow.

Sarkosuchus turned to regard his companion. Treskeldeen had dressed himself in a brown brigadier's uniform, and added a fashionable white cravat to it.  He looked quite the tyrant, considering he was only four feet tall (although that was tall for an Afner).  The little man was barrel-chested and thick-limbed, all crowned by a brutish jaw and narrow forehead.  He had a physique of a butt plug but none of the charm.  And of course, there was the unfortunate matter of his personality.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Royal Cannibals

The Country of Cauterus

The country of Cauterus collapsed very recently (1148 TFM), in a three way clusterfuck between a cult, a demonic vanguard, and the entrenched aristocracy.  The cult triumphed, and the royal family was presumed to be dead or driven out.

Like morlocks, only handsome, blonde, and blue-eyed

The Hills

The citizens of Cauterus know better than to venture too far from the sheepfolds and roads.  The hills are haunted by swarthy men who capture travellers with nets and hooked spears, and drag them screaming into subterranean tunnels.  Those captured are eaten.

The cannibals resemble dark-skinned men and women with icy blue eyes.  There is a monotony to their appearance, and this peculiar consistency--along with frequent examples of idiocy--has led many observers to believe them to be methodically inbred for size and servitude.

But aside from the ones that suffer from malformed faces and idiocy, there is no monstrous feature to mark them out.  And once you wipe the blood from their faces, scrape the mud from their nails, and tell them to stand up straight for the first time in their miserable lives, many of them are quite attractive, having blue eyes and aquiline noses.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Pastoral Life of the Lavei Family

In the low, grassy valleys of the Parrendon Hills, there is a town called Heaven's Dish. While it is technically part of Garashino, the city hasn't seen a tax collector in a generation. It's a bit off the beaten path, but the place has great weather and decent food.

One hundred years ago, Heaven's Dish was an agricultural nexus, and their orchards were among the most fertile in the world, producing bountiful harvests of apples and walnuts. But now the small town seems to be entering its twilight years: the crop is a quarter of what it used to be, and few merchants make the long journey for a crop of apples that is no longer large or dependable.

The citizens have resorted to making trips to the Pilgrim's Road in order to sell their stunted apples. The Road is studded with Pilgrim's Lodges, and the largest among these (such as Tanderys' Lodge) have small fields where merchants may sell their goods. In fact, it was in one of these marketplaces that Falessa first heard of Heaven's Dish. Eventually, she and newlywed husband would move there to escape the dangers of the city, and start a family away from the hustle-and-bustle.

And by 'dangers of the city' I mean demon-hunting paladins, and when I say "hustle-and-bustle" I mean human sacrifices.  And by "start a family", I mean "start a family".  Let's meet the them, shall we?

Born From a Museum Drawer

The sage Manchino jokingly describes them as, "a race without precedent." It's not a very funny joke, but then he usually talks about how the the wizard Seryl created the Serylite race, and that's a lot more interesting..

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Incomprehensible Virility of Goatmen

The Beastmen (Druhok)

The beastmen of the isles are surrounded with more misconceptions than any other race.  Their name for themselves is druhok.  In combat, they're known for being tough-as-hell to kill.

They all have large horns and a sloping face and large antlers, but these are defined more-or-less randomly during organogenesis.  Sometimes this chaotic process produces results that are similar to elk or deer, but their faces just as often resemble not other animal.  They aren't hairy, which makes the bestial face look a bit odd.

Beastmen are incomprehensibly virile.  They can certainly impregnate any mammal, and quite a few non-mammals.  Smaller mammals give birth to skewed little halfbreeds that are usually sterile and sometimes have small horns of their own.  (Animals in their homelands sometimes feature horns for this reason.)  Larger mammals actually produce genetically normal beastmen, so in theory, a solitary beastman could buy a cow and repopulate.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Simian Wrote This

This is a continuation of my earlier article about non-human races.

The Zerino

The zerino have monkey tails.  Some have mohawks.  They’re a bit hairier than the other races, and their hair is invariably blonde.  In fact, a person with blond hair in Centerra is often assumed to be at least part zerino. 

An unbroken line of long, thick hair runs down the center of their back, from the nape of their neck to the top of their tails.  This is called their gurler, and most zerino braid it and fill it will beads (blue to honor Yasu, many colors to follow Furo).  Their tail is thick, muscular, and strong enough that a zerino can hang upside-down from one.

The genitals of both genders are bright red. There is no shortage of jokes or slurs because of this.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Everything You Know About Ghouls is Wrong

Many people think that ghouls are undead that prey on the living.  They have it backwards.  Ghouls are living men and women who eat the dead. Many people think that ghouls are thin, skeletal things.  This is not true.  Ghouls are corpulent, bellowing, vital creatures, grown fat from eating death.

Stealth, Surprise, and Encounter Distance

Figuring out surprise and encounter distance is the kind of fiddly RNG that you're expected to do when setting up a scene.  It's tedious, it's in the background, and worst of all, it's unimportant.  Who cares if the encounter starts at 100' or at 75'?  I suspect that most GMs fudge it.

Maybe we can make it less painful.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mondaloa, God and City

Mondaloa is the god of Peace and Death.  He is rarity among gods--one who has been allowed to remain in his place of origin, rather than being brought to heel in the Holy City of Coramont.

Peace needs some coaxing to occur, and in this he is always opposed by Avenglass, the god of war.  But it is Death that requires most of his attention.  Undead rise from their crypts, and must be put back in, and the proper honor must be given to them.  Tombs are continually defaced by loot-seekers and vandals, denying the dead their rest.  Restless ghosts must be appeased, and reconciled with their living families so they can rest.

The City of Mondaloa is auspiciously placed: beneath it lies over a thousand miles of crypts--proof of centuries spent honoring the dead.  Mondaloa, the god, believes that since crypts will be our homes for eternity, they should be monuments of beauty and peace.  For this reason, the crypts resemble a palace, while the city above is as dirty and grey as any other city in the world.

These crypts are sacred, and only the most desperate of men (or the most experienced of thieves) traverse them.  The living have no place in the crypts, and where they trespass, the dead may rise and slay the intruder in righteous, just wrath.  And beneath the crypts of Mondaloa is another city--the fallen city of Kesh, conquered by the forces of Mondaloa half a millennia ago.  It was a great victory, until certain forces stirred in the conquered city.  These dark forces torment the sacred dead buried beneath Mondaloa, painfully rousing them from their sweet slumber.  And now hordes of anguished dead slouch up from the alabaster halls of the crypts.  They shamble up from subterranean galleries and through sweet-scented gardens of delicately carved stone flowers.  They crawl from the white halls into the grey, smokey streets of Mondaloa, where they seek to destroy the living in their blind rage.

Exponential Monies

Sometimes you find yourself doing math like "I-have-233-gold-19-silver-and-25-copper and I just bought a horse that cost 19-silver-and-50-copper and then a dinner that cost 9-silver so how much money do I have left?" and that's fine, I guess.  

But there is a certain school of thought that cries, "Heroes don't carry change!  I don't even carry change!" and so abstract wealth systems exist.

But I haven't found one that is based on true scientific principles, and so here's my contribution.  

Think of it as a series of coins, each one worth twice as much as the last one.  Also, they're so big that you can only carry one at a time.  You just carry around a Wealth Rating in your moneybags, instead of 900 gold coins.  And things that you buy or steal also have Wealth Ratings.  Maybe Worth Rating is more accurate.

So, assume the system is calibrated thus:

5 gold = 1 Wealth
10 gold = 2 Wealth
20 gold = 3 Wealth
40 gold = 4 Wealth
80 gold = 5 Wealth
etc. . .

So, if I have 4 Wealth and want to buy something that costs 3 Wealth, I have exactly 3 Wealth remaining after I buy it.

If I have 4 Wealth and want to buy something that costs 2 wealth, that drops me halfway down to 3 Wealth, but since there is no halfway in this system, there is instead a 50% chance that it drops me down to 3 Wealth.

Therefore, if I have 4 Wealth and buy something that costs 1 wealth, I have a 25% chance to drop to 3 Wealth.

And so on.  All the probabilities are going to be exponents of 2, so just roll some coins.

Adding is equally simple.

10 Wealth + 10 Wealth = 11 Wealth

4 Wealth + 4 Wealth = 5 Wealth

4 Wealth + 3 Wealth = 50% chance of increase to 5 Wealth

4 Weath + 2 Wealth = 25% chance of increase to 5 Wealth

10 Wealth + 8 Wealth = 25% chance of increase to 11 Wealth.

You probably should cap it at "no more than 3 coins rolled at any one time".  And don't get too caught up in the math.  The whole point is to streamline the process.  If the PCs want to buy a bunch of shit at once, just eyeball it and say "about 10 Wealth, or 9 if you'll settle for donkeys instead of horses." And it works just fine whether you are dealing with Wealth 12 (about 10,000 gold) or Wealth -5 (about 8 silver).

Friday, October 11, 2013

After His Burial And Before His Death

At first, Professor Bradley Quatermain thought he was talking to the Lord.

In 1896, the Professor was dynamiting bentonitic mudstone in Wyoming.  After the dust and noise had cleared, he tramped down the hillside to see what had been unearthed by the explosion.  He found ceratopsid tracks, a single fossilized tooth, and a message carved into 60-million year old stone.  The message addressed him by name, and described where he should dig next.

His wife, Minnie, declared the slab to be a hoax.  The professor declared it to be a sign of divine intervention, and gave thanks to the Lord, although he only half believed it himself.  Terrified and optimistic, they drank their only bottle of wine. They pushed their sleeping bags together, and ruined each other's sleep with happy conversation that lasted almost until dawn.

The second dig revealed another message.  And then a dozen more.  They were all a set of instructions.  The slabs instructed Professor Quatermain to take all 14 slabs with him back to the American Museum of Natural History.  The slabs mentioned where land might be found that had a large amount of oil beneath it.  The slabs also mentioned where to dig next year, in order to receive more messages.  The last slab mentioned the need for secrecy, in crude, scratched letters.

“Praise God,” said Professor Bradley, as he carted the slabs off to New York.

I Killed All The Humans

I killed all the humans today.  At least in one of my settings.  Maybe I was a little bit inspired by Pars Fortuna.  Maybe I wanted to force my PCs to wear more interesting hats.

I've decided to replace them with almost-people.  Races that are close enough to good ol' homosapiens that the old tropes still apply, but that are weird enough that you'll never forget you aren't playing a human.