Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Backpack And A Blade

So, I'm going to be running a session tomorrow, wish me luck. In that time, I've been trying to modify Into The Odd's character creation. Don't get me wrong, I love how quick and concise it is, along with how many fun results it can produce, but Into The Odd assumes an semi-industrial, semi-imperialist steam-punk-ish setting that I am not all that into. I could just make a new character creation table (check out page 5 to see it), but it seems like it'd take quite a bit of time to make a giant list of equipment like that, and it'd be even more taxing to properly organize the entries by ability scores and HP because I have zero sense of game balance. So, here's some alternatives I've drawn out, along with a few examples:

Method 1: Bagful Of Baubles
(Konstantin Vavilov)
I honestly like this method the best, it's just about as quick as the original Into The Odd's methods. All that is needed for this method is a d20 table of trinkets related to your setting. This method only takes a bit more time than the normal character generation because of dice rolling.

First, you compare your highest ability score to this general table:
Highest Ability
General Starter Package Trinket Table
3 Trinkets
2 Trinkets
1 Trinket

Next, you compare your health to this more specific table, although you make up the weapons and what form they take:
Starter Package Weapon Table
D8 Weapon / Two D6 Weapons
D6 Weapon
D4 Weapon / Extra Utility Item And No Weapon

Finally, you pull up the d20 table full of random trinkets. You roll on the d20 table as many times as the previous table says to. You reroll any duplicate trinkets. So, if you rolled Mr. Chadgod with 17's and 18's in all ability scores, he would only get one trinket and it balances out the insane ability scores to a degree. The d20 table is completely up to you to make, just make the trinkets relate to the themes you are going for. As a pointer, I typically make the first and last results on the table arcanum or some other weird and slightly supernatural item; I make the second to first and second to last results hirelings or companions for funsies; and I make the third to first and third to last results extra weapons. If you are running an especially lethal game, you could make a few results hirelings or extra characters. Without further ado, here's an example:

From the deepest gutters of society, you have gathered what you can to rise to riches.
Ragwretch Starter Package Weapon Table
A strange broadsword with antlers coming out of the guard of the sword and a deer eye attached to the handle. (D8)
A large column of rusted rebar, bent to look like a cane. (D8)
Two sharpened steak knives, strange meat still clings to the blade. (D6)
A wooden sword with bits of shrapnel sticking out of the blade. (D6)
A broken lantern on a stick, glass shards protrude out of the ends of it. (D6)
A brick attached to a stick by a bundled 10 foot rope. (D4)

Ragwretch Trinkets
3 potions of a nature determined by the GM, but unknown by you
An ugly and dumb dog (3 HP, 1D6 WIL)
A large scythe, etched with religious symbols of fertility and good harvest (D8)
A lantern that casts a ghastly green light
A cloak made of rat and beaver pelts
Armor made of kettles and other cooking utensils (Armor 1)
A bundle of rats tied to a stick
A candle made of pigflesh and fatty, it makes squealing sounds when lit
Very fine and fermented wine put in a holy-water container
A large sack of various low-quality drugs
An old army officer’s uniform
A double-sided shovel
5 vials of blood
A bell, stolen from a church
3 flasks of a black fluid labeled “goat oil”
50 feet of rope made from clothes, hastily sewn together
A bandolier of pouches, filled with 3D6 fingers and 3D6 teeth in total
A board with several nails driven through it (D6)
A peasant boy, the only thing he has to his name is his clothing, a steak knife, and a kettle helm (3 HP, 2D6 STR)

My recommendation is to make a few of these "loadouts". You could make pseudoclasses with these loadouts. At the start of the game, you just present however many of these loadouts you want (such as fighter, thief, wizard, cleric, whatever you want) and let the players choose when generating a character. If you haven't guessed, my players are going to be playing as degenerates.

Method 2: Portions And Pickings
(Konstantin Vavilov)
This method is a bit more... methodical. Basically, you make a table like the one in the example below, and you go to your first ability score and compare it to the table. Once you find the result, choose one item you want. You cannot choose duplicate items. Finally, you move onto your next ability score and you continue the process until you have gotten through all three ability scores. Make the lower results on the table better while the higher results are worse. I don't really know how to integrate HP into this method, but I guess you could use an HP table like the one example above. Anyhow, here's the example:

With power granted by dark Gods, you are surely destined for greatness.
Starter Package Table

Sense nearby unearthly beings
50 shillings in ostentatious jewlery

Unwilling sacrifice (6 HP, 2D6 STR, 1D6 WIL)
Golden wire
Vial of poison

A small collection of human skulls
2 complete links of 10 foot rusted and bloodied chain
Vial of acid

Drugs of a nature determined by the GM, but unknown by you
An ax carved out of ivory (D8)
A ceramic staff with a dead snake coiled around it

A random spell scroll, there is a 3-in-6 chance it backfires horribly
Black glue that smells of charcoal
Religious clothing belonging to a church of your choice

Bone club with antlers at the end of it (D6)
Glowing red goat eyes that replace your own, how freaky
Mutated pet pigeon

If you are doing this with a system with more than 3 abilities, just use three randomly determined abilities or use the highest ability, lowest ability, and the most middling ability.

Method 3: Back To Bastionland
(Konstantin Vavilov)
Just go to Electric Bastionland by Christopher McDowall, check out page 8 on the PDF and onward. Alright, I'm cheating, it's not by me but it is another okay method for character generation. Although it does deserve exposure because it is actually really good. It provides nice backgrounds for PCs that prevent them from feeling like faceless nobodies. Feeling this way can happen when you are just handed a list of equipment without really any other context to your character, Electric Bastionland fixes this and it's real nice. The only gripes I have are with how some of the backgrounds can feel a bit prescriptive and how ability scores aren't factored into the character creation whatsoever. Every character getting an arcanum from the start is also weird and can make arcanum feel common, but I know that common starting arcanum won't be in the final version of Electric Bastionland. If the items and backgrounds don't fit your game, it is at least much easier to change two 6 result tables to generate characters rather than one massive 60 result table.

Anyway, that's all I've got for today. I'll probably be able to post one more over the long weekend. Tell me which method you guys and gals like the best, I think all are valid methods.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

All That Praises Heaven

The sound of sandals on soft dirt precedes the adventurer’s entrance into the pitch dark chamber. The light of the torch cowers from the darkness of the chamber like a scared child. For the past hour, the party of three had been pursuing a mysterious person who seemed to be made out of incense smoke. They were hoping to ask the person for directions out of the dungeon, they had been horribly lost for longer than they had been pursuing the mysterious man. The three hadn’t let the catacombs stop them, and they certainly wouldn’t let a dark and dank chamber stop them now. The light soon revealed the walls made of packed dirt, the ceiling with several strange potted plants hanging from iron chains, and a large statue of a twisted worm god. A true eyesore, the statue almost looks like it is shifting and squirming in the dim light's presence. The smoke person disappears into the statue, a groveling voice forms inside the depths of the party’s heads. “Would one of you like to pray?”

The other night my players encountered an opportunity for one of them to become an awakened acolyte to a deity, the situation was similar to the one above. I had really been trying to test out my new rules for using inherent magic (the stuff that sorcerers have, where they were just born with magic) and rules for possible cleric pseudoclasses. Basically, it works like this:

  • Every acolyte has a list of miracles given to them, these are one-sentence magical abilities that the acolyte can use at will. Miracles only cost a standard action in combat, although there may be grave consequences later. These should typically be pretty broad to allow for clever problem-solving.
  • There are three types of miracles, minor miracles, middling miracles, and major miracles.
  • When an acolyte wants to use a miracle, they do a miracle roll:
    • For a minor miracle, the acolyte rolls 1D6.
    • For a middling miracle, the acolyte rolls 2D6.
    • For a major miracle, the acolyte rolls 3D6.
  • An acolyte keeps track of all of their miracle rolls, adding it onto previous miracle rolls they have made in the past day.
  • Every acolyte has a miracle limit of 8 + 1D6. The GM keeps the miracle limit of the acolyte a secret.
  • Once the sum of the acolyte's miracle rolls is equal to or higher than their miracle limit, a awful omen occurs. This terrible omen is rolled on a table.
  • An acolyte subtracts 2D6 from their miracle roll sum every time they rest in a settlement. It is recommended that the GM rerolls the miracle limit for the acolyte during this time of rest.
  • An acolyte can subtract 1D6 from their miracle roll sum with an appropriate act of worship once per day.

So that's it. It's a lot of bullet-points, but it's pretty much just an adaptation of one of my previous posts with scaling added to it. Anyway, here are three deities that your players can get into a weird relationship with:

Dhotin, Grand God of Rot, Worms, and Smelly Things
(Bogdan Rezunenko)
Dhotin is a deity, worshiped by acolytes who title themselves The Graven. The Graven can be seen performing seances in graveyards while wearing dead people's clothes. It is considered to be an offering to Dhotin when somebody is buried alive. It is also rumored that the buried will come back within nine months as an acolyte. Dhotin is believed to be able to be communicated with if you sleep within an open grave, or generally just sleeping next to lots of dead and rotting things.

Minor Miracles of Dhotin:
  • Summon a slimy ball of worms in any place that you can see.
  • Make plants or organic tissue you are touching rot away at concerningly quick speeds.
  • Create any smell you want, from anywhere you can see.
Middling Miracles of Dhotin:
  • Make somebody puke worms and rotting organs until they succeed at a STR check.
  • Summon a human-sized worm horror, with 1D6 extra worm appendages.
Major Miracles of Dhotin:
  • Cause a hamlet's dead to rise as worm-ridden horrors! 
Awful Omens Of Dhotin
A ball of worms is growing inside of your new womb. Tonight they will claw their way out of any orifice they can find before slinking off into the darkness. Not before they give you slimy kisses.
One of your magical belongings is rotting away, it has one more use before it explodes into a cloud of hallucinogenic spores.
For the next week, you smell like the most awful thing to ever exist. You think you smell great, but other people actively have to pass WIL saves to interact with you without gagging or puking. This scent may be somewhat flammable.
You take on the appearance of a rotting corpse. You are completely fine, but people will shriek in terror as you skip through the streets.
One of your appendages turns into a sentient worm. It obeys most commands, but the GM can, three times per session, make the worm disobey in a rude fashion, if it does not pass a WIL save. The worm can fight, but it is still attached to you.
Your cuts begin opening up and a weird black rot begins leaking out of them. This black ichor is adhesive, and seems to never run out. Make a STR save to keep this stuff inside of you. On a success, one of your appendages is very sticky and barely movable. On a failure, you continue expanding outwards, soon reaching your allies and enemies.

Joy by bobmeatbag
The Fool, Avatar of Avarice, Dreams, and Screams
The Fool is a deity, worshiped by acolytes who title themselves The Fools. The Fools believe that humanity shall one day come to ruin by a cataclysmic event of incompetence. They also believe that if they commit themselves to The Fool, they will be able to just be observers instead of victims of this ludicrous apocalypse. Dedicating oneself to The Fool requires silly frills, creepy masks, and boundless optimism. The Fool is believed to be appeased by making people laugh while they die or experience great pain. The Fool can be communicated with by awfully vivid dreams that cause damage to the psyche and horrible trauma.

Minor Miracles of The Fool:
  • Conjure sounds of either screaming laughter or screaming pain from anywhere you can see, attempts at human voices sound distorted.
  • Make a creature within sight of you outwardly burst into uncontrollable and frenzied joy until they pass a WIL save.
  • Make one person hallucinate, it is very obvious that this is a hallucination to any intelligent creature.
Middling Miracles of The Fool:
  • Cause your WIL's worth of people you know to have vivid dreams of your description tonight.
  • Cause half of your WIL's worth of people to burst out into an uncontrollable frenzy driven by greed at something of your choice.
Major Miracles of The Fool:
  • Create a hamlet-sized patch of nightmarish dreamscape terrain for your WIL's worth of minutes, times 5. 
Awful Omens Of The Fool
Your lungs fill up with a harmless amount of blood. Whenever you talk for the next week, it is followed by a steady stream of blood falling out of your mouth.
One of your magical belongings begins laughing hysterically. It is terribly audible, and won’t stop until you either trash it (in which it might seek revenge) or tell it a joke that you find hilarious.
You feel your face shift and change, it is now a horrifying ivory mask that you can only sort-of see out of. A terrible caricature of yourself. Your face remains like this until you pry the mask off with extreme force.
You begin laughing hysterically until you cough up your lung, which is now made of silver. This lung is very valuable if sold, but you can barely talk now.
You feel something implant itself inside of your throat. You feel fine, but three times per session the GM may make you scream with pain or laughter if you do not pass a WIL save.
You see faces like masks in the dark, their eyes nail you down with hysterical determination. They want to take you to meet The Fool at long last. Nobody else can see the faces, and they likely won’t believe you. You know that they will only consume you when you are alone. Don’t be that.

I got 99 problems and all of them's being happy by sharpieboss
Mother, Goddess of Fertility, Womanhood, and Milk (sharpieboss)
Mother is a deity, worshiped by a group of acolytes who call themselves Favored Children. The Favored Children can often be seen doing what most of society considers "witchcraft". They can also be seen being midwives, without the parents knowing that they are part of the Favored Children. Many of the Favored Children are extremely practiced in midwifery, although they have several rituals to perform while delivering that ensures that the baby lives a life where Mother is very present. They even believe that these rituals will change how the baby looks and behaves later in life. The mother can be communicated with by anointing yourself with milk and submerging yourself in the mess.

Minor Miracles of Mother:
  • Do milk-related activities, such as making a floor slick with milk or summoning a gallon of milk out of midair.
  • Make somebody you can touch experience labor pains.
  • Summon a baby, it disappears into another dimension in 10 minutes.
Middling Miracles of Mother:
  • Make somebody puke milk and random birthing organs until they succeed at a STR check.
  • Summon a dog-sized baby, it is helpful and sentient.
Major Miracles of Mother:
  • Mutate your WIL's worth of people to mutate into abhorrent forms of femininity.
Awful Omens From Mother
You feel lightheaded as your blood turns to milk, you immediately pass out. You will wake up later, but you occasionally need to be “juiced” to prevent more situations like this from happening.
All of your gold turns to milk. All your milk turns to gold.
You begin to sweat milk, everything feels moist. For the next half week, when you use magic items they instead shoot a stream of milk.
You gain a permanent mutation related to femininity and womanhood, GM decides.
At the beginning night of every week you wake up to the sound of crying, you hold a newborn baby. No amount of precautions can prevent this.
You begin swelling and filling with milk, gaining lots of weight as your flesh tears at the seams from pressure. Make a STR save to keep it in. On a success, you gain lots of weight and make weird sloshing sounds. On a failure, you explode into a flurry of milk, dealing 2D6 damage to everybody close to you. In your fleshy mess lies a baby, this will grow up to be you soon enough.

Of course, there are many ways that this houserule can be modified to your liking:
  • Add more miracles! The ones I list are pretty limited because I'm going to bed soon, although I'm just gonna pass it off as leaving room for you guys to add ideas.
  • Change miracle limits. I have only tested this so much, and the highest miracle my acolyte player has used is a middling miracle because they are too afraid to use major miracles. If you have more of a low magic game (which I have), make the miracle limits lower so that major miracles almost inevitably result in horrible consequences. If you like players to indulge in madness, make the miracle limit higher. I'm not the boss of you.
  • You don't have 3D6 with you? Just make it so that minor miracle rolls take only 1D6, middling miracle rolls take 1D8, and major miracle rolls take 1D12.
  • If you want some sort of level progression with deities, make it so that upon every level the player chooses either minor, middling, or major miracles. Then they roll 1D6. If this result is higher than the current amount of miracles they have, they gain a new miracle in that category.
  • If the acolyte in question cast a minor miracle that resulted in a bad omen, they roll 2D6 on the awful omen table associated with their deity, and take the lowest result. If the acolyte cast a middling miracle, they roll 1D6 as normal on the awful omen table. If the acolyte cast a major miracle, they roll 2D6 on the awful omen table and take the highest result. This ensures that massive fuckups are truly massive, and just casting minor miracles doesn't result in terrible oblivion.
I really like these rules, they are simple enough and I can pretty much just hand out a small slip of paper with their deity and give it to them. This should give players a good temptation to use their weird powers they just got until they get a bad roll and things go awry. You just need to remember that being an acolyte to a deity is an important event, and divinity should be given out sparingly. 

Oh yeah, and if you were wondering about my awful omen tables, here's the format:
Awful Omens
Weird, but not quite that bad yet and likely temporary or at least solvable soon.
A weird and detrimental long term effect.
Imminent death to you and possibly those dearest to you.

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Seer He Said

Untitled by sharpieboss
"Are you sure about this? You'll see things that no lad or lady should ever see." (Sharpieboss)
I've been tackling some pretty big topics on this blog so far, from how to apply wounds to Into The Odd to how magic items should work. I think this post will probably be a small break from the fundamentals. Recently, I have been seeing lots of really cool tables all focusing on one subject such as bogeymen or post-apocalyptic worlds filled with nuns. Of course, this post is going to be more than just tables, it also has two arcanum and two houserules based on prophets. Enjoy the brain-fuel, I foresee that it might be a boon, and there might be more posts of this nature coming.

The Tables

The Prophet Is A(n)...
A gangly figure.
A gangly figure.
Young Adult
A gangly figure.
A willowy figure.
A willowy figure.
A statuesque figure.

The Prophet Utters...
“People in hidden chambers
Plot your end.”
“The snakes and spiders and rats and beetles
Wait for you to finally face them.”
“Things with cloven hooves
Have learned your name and now whisper it.”
“Beautiful sycophants
Wait for you to fall into their trap.”
“The burning stars
Shall be lusting after you soon enough.”
“Monstrous little children
Will lead you to great fortune.”

The Prophet Delivers The Truth...
By letting their runic facepaint shift and undulate, forming the truth.
By puking forth a stream of writing and letting it fall into a bronze bowl.
While clawing at their white eyes, streaks of red travel across their face as it maps out fate.
By using their many-mirrored lantern that holds a small prismatic flame.
While reading one of their many books, their face can barely be seen as it shifts while pages turn.
In a properly dramatic music piece, accompanied by their lute made of silver.

The Arcanum
The Seer's Eyes
A red halo made of bramble and detached eyes of humans and animals alike. It allows the wearer to focus in on one person and see that person's thoughts in a little reenactment around them. The person whose thoughts are being read are allowed a WIL save, if they succeed then they feel a splitting headache and possibly know something's off.
Every time the user activates this arcanum, they roll 1D6 and record this result, adding it onto all other D6's rolled this way. Once this result is equal to or higher than 16, the halo grows legs and retreats off into the night. It holds all the knowledge of the previous character that used this, the next user is given this knowledge until the process continues again. 

The Prophet's Jaw
The lower jaw of a prophet, the teeth are unusually white and their tongue is like black licorice. If held up to the user's head and the user speaks an action into it, the jaw can answer only yes or no if this action will bring danger to that PC within the next minute. For instance, if a bomb was hooked up to a button, and a PC spoke to the jaw "would I be in danger if I hit this button?" the jaw would answer "yes"; but if the bomb was delayed by 3 minutes, the skull would answer "no" to that question. Tongues can be sewn into the jaw's mouth so the skull can answer more questions instead of just "will I be in danger?"
This can only be used safely once per day, if it is used over this limit, roll 1D6 below.

Miscast Result
The jaw simply lies about the danger ahead.
The jaw bites the PC’s face, dealing D6 STR damage.
The jaw tells a disturbing story of all the ways that the PC could fuck up, the PC takes D8 WIL damage.
The arcanum works as intended, this time...

The Houserules
Prophet's blood is writing. This is a basic truth that all spellcasters know. In replacement of blood, streams of near-indecipherable writing come out of their wounds. This writing slips through all nonmagical surfaces and it dissipates into the floor, it needs to be read fast. The writing tells truths and lies of the people closest to them. When a prophet bleeds, a PC can make a WIL save to decipher the writing. If they succeed, they 1D4 WIL damage (that cannot drop them below 1 WIL, and is restored over a short rest) and are told a truth about somebody in the room by the writing. If they fail, they take 1D4 WIL damage (which can drop them below 1 WIL and is not restored over a short rest) and are told a lie about somebody in the room by the writing. It is highly recommended that you whisper the truths and lies into the ears of the players who read, ignoring those who didn't read. 

Fate is inevitable, it shows your prophecy with palpable pride. Every prophecy should have two parameters, a sign and a situation. A sign is basically what signs lead up to the prophecy. So, the sign of the prophecy "Death bears a stinger" would be a stinger. The situation is what will happen once the prophecy is fulfilled. So, in the prophecy "Death bears a stinger", the situation would be death, in some way, shape, or form. Simple, right? Of course, when told, a prophecy can hide either one of these parameters. Every prophecy starts with 1 fate point, the GM records this. At the start of every session, the GM rolls 1D4, if this is higher than the fate points of the prophecy, the prophecy gains a new fate point. Any time during the session, the GM can subtract 1 from the D4 rolled to reveal a sign of the prophecy in play. If the GM doesn't do this at least once in the session, they subtract 1 fate point from the prophecy, to a minimum of 1 fate point. Once the prophecy reaches 3 fate points, the situation in the prophecy occurs. This situation may be avoidable by the players with smart thinking and ingenuity.

The second rule is a bit tricky, here's an example.
Session 1: A PC, Jimble, meets with a prophet, curious, they get their prophecy foretold. The elderly man whispers "Death bares tattered clothes." The PCs look at the old man, and immediately impale him with a spear out of paranoia. There is now a prophecy with a sign (tattered clothes) and a situation (death!), this prophecy has 1 fate point.
Session 2: The GM rolls 1D4 for the prophecy and gets a 3, the prophecy is now at 2 fate points. The GM spends 2 "points"  out of the 3 that they rolled to make a hostile hooded beggar appear as an encounter, along with a body wearing tattered clothes impaled on a pike.
Session 3: The GM rolls 1D4 again, and gets a 4! The prophecy is fulfilled, and the situation will happen this session or next. The players cut through the dungeon, a few brave souls die, but Jimble still lives. A fateful side-room in the dungeon holds a hooded beggar in tattered clothes, holding a bandolier of potions and a ritual knife, he is also riding an obese plague knight that wields two flails. The beggar screams "I have dreamed of how your blood will taste on my blade!", a fight ensues.

I don't know how to feel. by sharpieboss
It is unfortunate that even the young are cursed with foresight. (Sharpieboss)