Monday, February 27, 2023

GLOG Character-as-Class: Viklof the Butler

Class-as-class is cool.

Race-as-class is cooler.

But have you ever tried character-as-class?

It's essentially a unique class.  You can get them to join your party (Final Fantasy style) either as a hireling or an NPC.  There will never be another one like them.

Anyway, here's Viklof.

Ice House

Up on top of Mount Maggaroth, the Ice House is the highest of the Light Collector's three mansions.  He's been dead (missing?) for a long time, though, so 

The mistress of the house is the Good Lady Tura Lossifar.  She is an enchantress and has a few spells.  But more critically, she has fucked a dragon and now has a small piece of their power to rewrite reality.  She doesn't have a lot of control of this ability--mostly it just boils down to the ability to turn people into furniture by treating them as furniture.

If she can get someone to pretend to be a chair, she can sit on them and turn them into a chair.

If she can get someone to spit tea into her cup, she can grab them by the beltloop and turn them into a teapot.

She is accompanied by Shau, the wild boy, covered in animal parts.  Shau is a shapeshifter, and can turn into any animal he has personally collected a trophy from.

There are three ways to get Lady Lossifar to part with Viklof, who she treasures.
  • Steal the hand bell.
  • Kill Lady Lossifar and take it.
  • Solve Lady Lossifar's problems and she'll give it to you as thanks.
The hand bell summons Viklof the Butler, who joins your party as a level 1 Viklof.

from Black Butler

Viklof the Butler

A - Butler, Fashion Armor, Trusted Ally
B - Useful Item
C - Message
D - Ghost Household, Beg Your Pardon


Viklof's soul is bound to whoever holds his bell.  He cannot disobey that person or cause harm to that person directly.  He cannot hold or move his bell, under any circumstances.

Viklof is capable of exiting the world and entering butler-space whenever he is unobserved.  Butler-space is timeless.  Nothing occurs there.  Viklof can exit butler-space whenever his bell is rung.  He will appear by entering the room from the nearest unobserved corner (up to 2 corners away).  If there is no unobserved corner within a 2 room radius, Viklof cannot return from butler-space.  Viklof cannot take any actions on the round that he is summoned (he's too busy walking up and giving a bow).

Viklof can not move between the two dimensions more than once per minute.

As a magical butler, Viklof doesn't sleep.  He enters butler-space every night for an equivalent amount of time, and that suffices.

Fashion Armor

Your body is protected by the power of fashion.  Fashionable items cost as much as regular armor and protect an equal amount.  They take up no inventory slots.  However, you lose the benefits of one piece of armor each time you get wet, get bloody (take damage), or get dirty (anything with mud).

As a butler, your fashionable armor is repaired each morning.  However, it must always be appropriate for a butler.

Trusted Ally

Viklof is known to the other residents in the Light Collector's former domain (listed below).  Viklof is welcomed by all of the primary residents.  The party can expect to be promptly introduced to the masters of those places, and given a hot meal, along with a small amount of trust.
  • Vine House
  • Ice House
  • Honey House
  • The Reflector
  • Quicksilver Hall
  • The Conjunction
  • Light House
Useful Item

If Viklof is summoned back from butler-space for a specific purpose (held in the mind of the bell-ringer) he will be dressed for the task and have the appropriate mundane tools (worth no more than 5s).  For example, if summoned to help cut back vines, he will appear with gardening attire and a pair of hedge clippers.  He is limited to the roles and tools that a butler might have access to.  First aid kit?  Yes.  Grappling hook?  No.  Basically anything that you might find in a mansion.

Viklof cannot bring food, weapons, torches, or any type of magical item.  This ability is useable once per day per Viklof template.


Every night, Viklof can visit the those locations that he is allied with, deliver a quick message, and then return with a quick response.  He can visit up to [template] locations per night, but is permitted only one minute of roleplay conversation at each.  Only conversation is possible during these visits.

Once all seven locations listed above have been (more-or-less) explored, Viklof can add other locations to that list, as long as that new location has (a) some sort of boss living there (b) some sort of domestic servant structure (even if it's just goblins under a chieftain), and (c) a good relationship with some amount of trust.

Ghost Household

All of the dead servants of the Light Collector's domain ally themselves to Viklof.  He gains 4 MD that he can only use to cast invisible servant.

Beg Your Pardon

Once per lifetime, Viklof can avert a TPK by intelligent enemies in Mount Maggaroth who recognize him (see the list above).  Viklof apologizes profusely and promises that this will never happen again.  The enemies will allow you to collect yourselves, and they will escort you out.

In addition to the list of locations above, this ability applies to all servants of the Light Collector, including golems, spirits, elementals, ghosts, winds, undead, brass men, Drosk, the drakkencult, and demons.  It doesn't apply to wild animals.


I wanted a character-as-class that would feel unique, and that would plug into the setting.

I don't think I did a very good job of plugging him into the setting, since it would be trivially easy to reskin Viklof as a generic magical butler, but I'm convinced that the idea of character-as-class is a good one.  

I may stock the mountain with a few bosses that can be beaten down to level 1 by a good ass-kicking, really just kicking all the demon blood out of their body, whereupon they will ask to join the party.  I always liked that trope.  A cool new hireling character is a good type of treasure.

Anyway, I still like the class.  I think he's extremely useful (a level 4 casting of invisible servant is basically the equivalent of 200 hours of servant labor performed in 10 minutes).  He has a lot of cool utility, and the ability to slip into-and-out-of butler-space is something that I'm sure players will love abusing.  A powerful toolkit for OSR-style problems.

Derelict Armies: Rose Army of Dzorum

 So I've been playing Elden Ring and I like the idea of all these dysfunctional armies scattered all over the place.  Soldiers without a war.  Beaten, diseased, scattered.

The City of Roses

The city of Dzorum was destroyed by the Apocalypse Maggot.  In their darkest hours, no one came to their aid.  Only the fey offered to help (although many say it was demons, not fey).  

The terms of this assistance are not known.  Dzorum was still destroyed, most of its people were still eaten, and their walls were still toppled.

But now the city sits in the Crawling Bog.  It has new walls now, made from thorns.  And at night there are new lights burning in new towers.  No one knows what is inside the fallen city, or who the its new masters are.

The remnants of the army wages a ragged war, attempting to claim their old forts and establish a new border.  Everyone wars against them, since they are widely agreed to be demon-tainted.  And they war against everyone else, revenge for abandoning them in their hour of need.  (Although they do not war with the alabaster paladins.)

by Narandel

Why Are These Guys So Ragged?

1. These are deserters, hunted by their own kin.

2. Recently fought the Lon Barago Militia.  1d6-4 (min 0) prisoners.

3. Recently fought orcs. 

4. Recently fought Fire Cult Remnants.  1d6-4 (min 0) prisoners.

Any prisoners have a 50% chance to be someone the players know from that faction, as long as it seems both reasonable and interesting.

What Are They Doing Here?

1. Securing a nearby location.  (50% chance that it's the same one that the PCs are going towards, as long as it seems both reasonable and interesting.)

2. Gathering information.  (PCs will be questioned and scrutinized.)

3. Waiting for something.  Hungry.  (Will attempt to buy food or take it by force, depending on reaction roll.)

4. Burying their dead and/or tending to their wounded.  (Easily ambushed.)

Forces (Roll a d6)

Use the stuff in the left (Encounter) column.  If you want to generate an entirely new enemy group, use the right (Generic) column.

1Knight Squad
4 Militia1d6+1 Militia
2 Knights (Mirek)1d3 Knights
2Priest Squad
5 Militia1d6+1 Militia
1 Knight1d2 Knights
1 Priest (Rowan)1 Priest
3Priest Platoon
8 Militia2d6 Militia
2 Knights1d3 Knights
2 Priests1d3 Priests
Ormo the Attentive1 Lieutenant (Lvl 3)
4Sprite Platoon
7 Militia2d6 Militia
2 Knights1d3 Knights
3 Sprites1d4 Sprites
Captain Lack1 Lieutenant (Lvl 3)
5Cypress Platoon
6 Militia2d6 Militia
2 Knights1d3 Knights
1 Hunting Cypress1 Hunting Cypress
Satherine Rosehip1 Lieutenant (Lvl 3)
12 Militia2d6+5 Militia
4 Knights1d4+1 Knights
1 Priest1d3 Priests
6 Sprites2d6 Sprites
1 Hunting Cypress1 Hunting Cypress
Bontlebrak1 Captain (Lvl 4)

Rose Militia
Lvl Def leather  Spear 1d6
Speed human  Int human  Dis cult

Rootbelly - When killed by a piercing or slashing weapon, vegetable growth traps the killing weapon.  It can be removed with a successful Str check, or 5 points of slashing damage.  Begin turning into a rosebush immediately after death--this process takes 1 minute.

Tactics - Interpose yourself.  Protect the Priests and Knights.

Rose Priest
Lvl 2  Def leather Mace 1d6
Speed human  Int human  Dis cult

Spells - entangle, blood rose

Rootbelly - When killed by a piercing or slashing weapon, vegetable growth traps the killing weapon.  It can be removed with a successful Str check, or 5 points of slashing damage.  Begin turning into a rosebush immediately after death--this process takes 1 minute.

Tactics - Use blood rose against dangerous targets with low armor.  Use entangle to control dangerous opponents and trap fleeing ones.

Rose Knight
Lvl 2  Def plate  Greatsword 1d8  Arrow 1d6 
Speed on horseback  Int human  Dis cult

Bloodseeking Arrows - Can shoot around corners.  Ignore cover.  +4 to hit wounded targets.

Rootbelly - When killed by a piercing or slashing weapon, vegetable growth traps the killing weapon.  It can be removed with a successful Str check, or 5 points of slashing damage.  Begin turning into a rosebush immediately after death--this process takes 1 minute.

Tactics - Hang back and shoot arrows.  Use your horse to stay out of range.

Lvl 3 (HP 1)  Def plate+4  Razor 1d6
Fly dragonfly  Dex high  Int human  Dis loyal

Team Attack - When sprites attack the same target simultaneously, they each get +1 to hit and +1 to damage.  Up to 3 sprites can attack the same target simultaneously.

Tendon Attack - Whenever a sprite does 6 or more damage with their razor, they damage a tendon, rendering a random limb useless (as Injury) until it heals.

Tactics - Sprites are normally hidden up in a tree prior to the start of combat.  They swarm the biggest threats (think Attack on Titan).

Hunting Cypress
Lvl Def leather  Slam 2d6
Fly slow  Str high  Dis loyal

Crush - After ending one turn in the air above a battle, they can drop down on the next turn, attacking a target with a crush attack (2d8).  

Pin - After landing on an opponent with a crush attack, they can remain there, pinning them and suffocating them.  A pinned target gets one (and only one) attempt to escape (Str or Dex check) on the turn after being hit by a crush attack.

Wooden - immune to crushing, half damage from piercing, full damage from slashing.

Tactics - Crush an opponent, then just stand there, slamming everyone who comes close.

Mirek is a rose knight in charge of leading his squad.  He has a mouse as a squire (a gift from an faerie princess).  He wants a bath.

Rowan is a rose priestess in charge of leading her squad.  She can cause any plant to generate a rose by touching it.  She wants tobacco and sex.

Ormo the Attentive 
Lvl Def plate  Sword 1d6 - Impossible to Surprise, Rootbelly
Ormo is a huge man with two dozen ears nailed to his tower shield.  Cruel, bitter, patriotic.  He wants to buy a good dog and train it to be mean.  Desperate for news of his estranged son (now working on a fishing ship in 

Captain Lack
Lvl 3  Def plate  Sword 1d6  Arrow 1d6 - Horseback,  Bloodseeking Arrows, Rootbelly
Captain Lack is a small woman who carries a flute.  She wants money, and is looking for a good opportunity to abandon her post.  (Her soldiers are loyal to Dzorum, not her.)  Hates orcs.

Satherine Rosehip
Lvl Def chain  Staff 1d6  Spells  (charm, lightning bolt, speak with dead)
Satherine is a woman who wears a fox mask and a dark purple robe.  Roses peek out from beneath (she is wearing a rose bodysuit-thing).  She hates Ormo.  She loves clothing and silks.  She has a secret boyfriend in Lon Barago.

Bontlebrak the Unquenched
Lvl Def chain  Greatsword 1d10 - Burrow (20' per round)  Rage (as barbarian)
In battle: a lunatic who rides the hunting cypress into the fray.  He only uses his rage ability when he is sure he can win--he doesn't want to lose too much control.  Out of combat: a canny old soldier with a bad back, desperate to bring back the kingdom that he failed to save.


R: 50'  T: objects  D: 1 min
A target who fails their Str check is immobilized and gets -4 to attacks.  They can attempt to break free (Str check) once per turn as a free action.  Prone targets get no initial save.  This spell cannot be used in locations where there is no plant growth.  In areas of high plant growth, the initial save is Difficult.  Splittable. 

Blood Rose
R: 50'  T: creature  D: 10 min
Whenever the target takes lethal damage, roses bloom from their wound, charming them.  Until the roses are plucked, they cannot take hostile actions against the person who harmed them, nor can they willingly remove the roses.  If restrained, the roses can be plucked in 2 rounds (1 round with a successful Dex check).


Rosewater - Breathing through a rosewater-scented handkerchief gives you +4 to save against contracting diseases.  If drank, it gives you the same bonus against ongoing diseases.

Treasure Map - Leads to a tree filled with exquisite wine.  Worth 1000s and counts as a Treasure.

Sprite Instruments - Tiny drums, flutes, tamborines, and a guqin.

Tiny Scroll - Entitles the bearer to one favor from the fey.  It is signed by "Lord Reiff".

Dancing Bug - Knows 25 dances.  Worth 200s.

Beautiful Wound - Never heals.  Absolutely beautiful to gaze upon.  It doesn't matter if you hate gore--everyone thinks this wound is beautiful, without exception.  Can be transferred to a willing bearer by skin-to-skin contact.  The Wound will also willingly leave a corpse.  Worth 500s.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Dragons, Part 2

 Here's Part 1.

Elder Wyrms

Elder wyrms are widely considered hermaphroditic, although Makamendo Balette believes that they instead change their gender at will.  Boshmuir describes them as sexless.

All elder wyrms have a multitude of names.  It is believed that saying the name of an elder wyrm invites disaster, and so pseudonyms are common.

Orcs have an especially large oral culture surrounding the elder wyrms, and possess several names for each one.  For reasons not fully understood, orcs interact often with dragons and their drakkencults, typically without violence.  (In contrast to human interactions.)

Tar Lath Lien (Elder Wyrm)

Lon Lotha, Apocalypse Keeper, the Serpentine Supreme, the Final Dragon

Tar Lath Lien is destined to end the world.  More specifically, it is known that he alone possesses knowledge of how the Final Eon can be ushered in.

<Sidebar> It is common knowledge that the Authority intended for time to be sliced up into eons, each one 594 years long.  The current age has been going on for 695 years, so it's obvious that something is wrong.  The common explanation is that the trespass into Heaven (some would say the failed invasion of Heaven) has caused the Authority to abandon his covenant with Centerra, since Centerra broke it with him.  Other (heretical) explanations include false calendars and the death of the Authority. </Sidebar>

No serious attempt has been made to slay Tar Lath Lien.  He is the mage-dragon, who has courted immortality and become the first (and only) dracolich.  However, since he can switch between life and undeath with equal impunity, the distinction is little.  (One form is immune to magic, the other is immune to physical damage.)

In fact, Tar Lath Lien long ago mastered the secrets of undeath and found them unsuitable for his goals.  He currently researches preclusion, and is the only expert on this esoteric topic.

Preclusion is understood to be a counterpart to Preservation, perhaps even a type of magic discipline, similar to the metadisciplines of Creation, Preservation, and Destruction.  However, Preclusion uniquely only affects things that don't exist, either because they haven't been created yet or because they've been destroyed.

It has been described as "deepest necromancy" but that is a gross oversimplification.

Because of his studies of (and some say, communications with) the realms of Preclusion, he is never seen outside of Zaotan.

All other elder dragons rule over desolations--realms of predation where the only authority is the elder dragon itself.  But Tar Lath Lien has only the immense Lake Zao, which is perfectly circular.  The Final Dragon lairs beneath.

Tar Lath Lien's fire is love.  All who are burned by it are consumed by a powerful love that overrides all other emotions.  Every creature and plant in Zaotan loves the Final Dragon, with an unyielding intensity.  This compulsion is shared by one's offspring.  

The trees grow because they love him.

The fish swim into nets because they love him.

And the amazons of Zao guard his borders because they love him in a way that breaks their hearts.

The amazons of Zao have a poisonous bite and green skin that is rough like a shark's.  They fight with boomerangs and long spears.  When one dies, a bird flies out of her mouth and returns to Zaotan, where it informs her sisters how she was killed.  

The amazons of Zao serve Tar Lath Lien are intelligent and empathic.  They know that their psyches have been warped by the flames of the Apocalypse Keeper.  They know that their love is not organic--but then again, what love is?  Love has always been a wild thing that creeps into the heart and makes its nest there unbidden.  Theirs is no exception.

And so the amazons rationalize their love, even as it sickens them.

It is not known exactly what Tar Lath Lien's plans are.  But his amazons range far and wide.  Sometimes they kill and steal.  Sometimes they buy.  It is rumored (and hoped) that Tar Lath Lien is fighting wars in the realms of oblivion, building kingdoms that will not exist until the end of time (594 years after the start of the apocalypse).  Since Tar Lath Lien is the oldest and most powerful of the elder wyrms, it is certain that his aspirations are lofty.

Shadow Drakes (Drakes)

The offspring of Tar Lath Lien are even more tightly bound than the amazons.  They are his instruments, and nothing more.  They have some of the powers of shadows (being able to travel along surfaces as a flat shadow) and can travel through mirrors (of which are there many in Zaotan).

There are six of them.  If Tar Lath Lien's body were ever destroyed, he would be immediately reborn through one of his drakes.

Grox (Elder Wyrm)

Garbulgangus, Grave Thrasher, Lord of Filth and Flame, The Venom of the Earth

The largest of the elder wyrms, Grox is different from his kin.  He has no wings, possessing instead a pair of atrophied, useless appendages that appear to be vestigial/malformed heads.  Since all dragons are capable of guiding their own growth and development, it seems impossible that Grox would have useless anatomy.

There is a great deal of debate about whether Grox is undead or merely smells like it.  It is possible that he is some third category, neither living nor undead*.  His features are crocodilian, and his eyes are so small they are barely visible.  His body is wide yet muscular, and his eyes bulge madly from their sockets.

<Digression> The manthrian view of life is essentially: the three lower souls power and sustain the body, while the four upper souls direct the lower three it.  Undeath is simply the colonization of a body by foreign souls (typically demons) which then retrofit the body to suit their own inorganic metabolisms and motive forces.  Hypothesized "third kinds" include large souls capable of independently fulfilling all seven roles, or theorized "hyperdraconic" souls that subsist on a separate energy source (possibly their own will, external to the universe) and are capable of metasubstantiation--each part of the whole is a whole</digression>

Grox cannot be killed.  He was quieted for a while, when the Fourth Emperor hammered cold iron spikes through his brain and forced him to a lake of acid.  In this state, Grox struggled only feebly, never able to fully regenerate or think.  During the Age of Ruin, economic hardship prevented the renewal of the acid lake, and eventually orc were able to reach Grox and remove the spikes from his brain.

Now Grox roams freely across his Desolation at the northeastern extremity of the Grey Waste, where feeds on the rich fields of bacteria-rich mud, gulping down acres every day.  He primarily engages in two activities.

The first is digging great holes, like pit mines.  Although he sometimes sleeps at the bottom of these, the actions seem to be directionless.

The second is to sing to the Three Brothers of Abomination.  These are three "mountains" that resemble squat stone teardrops.  The Three Brothers of Abomination glow at night, with green, forking flames similar to St. Elmo's Fire.  There are a number of rumors about these "mountains", all unsubstantiated.
  • They fell from the upper air in response to Grox's song.  
  • They sing back to Grox on certain nights.
  • They are from the elemental plane of Poison.
  • They are growing.
They are intensely poisonous, and the dust that they shed is poisonous.  Only orcs are immune to this poison.  Travelers must protect themselves against inhalation, or die rapidly as their blood foams and seeps from the creases in their skin.

Grox prefers to trample and swallow, but his green flame is poisonous.  Anything struck by it is poisoned forever, barring a miracle.  And this poison does not seem to be weakened by dilution (and in fact, some say that it is strengthened by it).  A corpse poisoned by Grox will eventually poison the entire churchyard, and then the entire town.  When people flee, they will take the poison with them, eventually spreading it like an epidemic.  

People killed by this poison are turned into brittle stone.  If these corpse statues are washed in aqua regia will stain in odd patterns resembling runes.  The dragon scholar Makamendo Balette claimed that she was on the verge of decoding these runes, and had promised to announce a great discovery, when she disappeared.  It is dangerous to study the Lord of Filth and Flame, who is the oldest and greatest of the elder wyrms.

Grox's drakkencult is the only one that is composed entirely of orcs.

Basilisks (Drakes)

The basilisks are the children of Grox.  When Grox bleeds, his blood seeps into the ground and forms eggs.  These eggs hatch into basilisks, which are as diverse in form as they are in size.  They range from serpentine, to crocodilian, to the full-size basilisk drakes capable of flight, to multi-headed dragonoid phenomena.

Basilisks have a poisonous glare.  Averting your eyes provides only partial protection.  Full protection requires complete obscuration of all of  your senses.  Those killed by basilisk poison are turned into brittle stone.

Basilisks are also the only creature that can be "manufactured".  The full process is considered to be forbidden knowledge, but it involves re-concentrating the Grave-Thrasher's venom by feeding it to a small creature that tolerates it well (such as a dungeon bug), feeding those corpses to something larger that tolerates it well (such as a hyena), and then finally feeding those hyenas to a large reptile (such as a crocodile), which will then lay a single basilisk egg in the final stages of its life.