Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells Automatic Character Generator

As part of my continuing series of content for the awesome, OSR-esque, rules-light tabletop RPG Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells, here is an automatic character generator!

If this makes you interested in SS&SS, or you were already interested in SS&SS, I would encourage you to check out my SS&SS Automatic Monster Generator, an automated version of the monster generator available in the Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells Addendum (with one additional monster nature of my own design).

You can also check out my Micro-Setting post The Glass Desert, a setting built around10 monsters created using the aforementioned SS&SS automatic monster generator.

I'd also like to thank Angus Warman, whose OSR character generators I used as a point of reference for this character generator.

This cool demon-dragon on the cover of SS&SS gives you a sense of this awesome game!

Generate Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells Character
NOTE1: For level > 1, the chosen attribute for the improvement roll is a random attribute less than 18 that is not either of the primary attributes
NOTE2: Coinage (in silver) is multiplied by level
NOTE3: For random archetype, the archetype is chosen based on the highest of the average of the primary attributes, e.g. if the average of physique and agility is higher than the average of agility and intellect or intellect and willpower, the archetype will be assigned to Warrior, since physique and agility are the primary attributes for Warrior. If there is a tie, an archetype is randomly selected from the tied averages.

Choose a level (or leave blank for random) 

Choose an archetype (or leave blank for random)

Thursday, December 13, 2018

High Level Games: 3 Ways to Modify Any Game

I'm breaking my "posting only every other week" rule to share that high level games has posted my next article! In the article, I discuss, in very broad strokes, a handful of system-neutral ways to modify games. I think if you're reading this blog there's a good chance you're already familiar with my suggestions, but even so, my discussion of dice probabilities and how modifiers affect different dice or how dice can affect character progression may be interesting if you have not given that much consideration.

You can read the article here!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Enter the Cancerverse: 1d20 Weird & Wonderful Undead

It's crazy that it's been two weeks since my last post! I've got several posts queued up (look out in two weeks for my SS&SS full character generator!), but I also have legitimately been busier and needing to slow down, so I think this was the right decision, even though it's been tough holding back on posts.

Anyway, it's been a while since I've a "Traditional" Fantasy Table! In the past I've done (in reverse chronological order): Anathema, Vampires, Goblins, and Elves. As with my post of monsters designed using the Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells Automatic Monster Generator, which incidentally led to the micro-setting The Glass Desert, I decided to bake a micro-setting into this table as well. This is still first and foremost a table of Weird & Wonderful Undead, and many of these entries hold up on their own, but several of them refer to a micro-setting I'm tentatively calling The Cancerverse. I'm definitely stretching the concept of "undead" here, because that's how I do, but hopefully people can appreciate it for what it is. I've already done Vampires which you can throw in here, and at a certain point I could do skeletons, golems, ghouls, etc., so I was ok with this being a bit more abstract.

I realize that cancer is a major, very serious, and often deadly medical issue and I don't mean to make light of it, or be un-conscientiously macabre about it. That being said, there is this fascinating relationship between the concepts of life and death and cancer and undead, in a very abstract sense. Cancer is a mutation, one of the principle features of organic life and the same mechanism as adaptation and evolution. It's the indefinite, automatic growth of cells. It's the result of degeneration of DNA, a self-propagating error, it is mindless and it spreads like a zombie. So, by extension, a cancerverse is a place of endless, regenerating life, but life that is degenerative. It is both the opposite of undeath, but also not all that unlike it. So I thought that might be an interesting take on the concept, but like I said, I've got plenty of other ideas in there if that doesn't appeal to you.

More Zdzislaw Beksinski! This could be a Genocide Golem...

Scroller / Randomizer

Click through the list of undead:

Go to undead by number (1 through 20):

Pick a random undead

Full Table

Abyssal MageTheir name is a misnomer; they are not limited to the abyss, but are highly specialized water mages. Humans and many other lifeforms are composed mostly of water, and abyssal mages specialize in the manipulation of the waters within living things. They can fatally distort or extract the waters from an organism, or transmute them into water elementals that tear the organism from the inside-out or occupy their dried husk. They can freeze the waters inside their prey, and use various necromancies or apoptomancies to cryo-metamorph the organism or preserve their carcass for the highest-grade undeath.
Beast with two backsWhen two people love each other very much, and commit themselves to a toxic relationship, sometimes their individual bodies and souls die, and they merge together in undeath. They become like a centaur, where one partner is the upright top, and the lower body is the partner, prone. The top is generally demonic in appearance or covered in black armor, while the bottom is pale or rabid like a zombie, and usually naked or dressed in gimp leather. They move spasmodically, gyrating and undulating, seemingly clumsy and inefficient, yet supernaturally quick. They harness a genuine but twisted form of codependent love, sex, and life magics, not unlike anti-paladins.
BoglingBoglings are borne from plant matter, or peat. They are dark, smelly, and dry, and come in various shapes and sizes. They are like a significantly lesser form of petroloid, although much more abundant and more likely to develop naturally. In large quantities, boglings can be sacrificed for petrolmancy in a pinch, and can also be sacrificed by necromancers to preserve and mummify bodies for undeath operations.
Death KnightOur world is not the first cycle of creation and death. Some believe there have been four, others nine, and others still believe there have been countless prior worlds. The death knights are survivors of one (or more) of these worlds. They usually incarnate as one of the dominant intelligent lifeforms, but have a pall of undeath or otherness about them and even in full armor tend to stand out. They have varying knowledge, powers, or artifacts from the prior worlds, and can temporarily take their original form for immense power, at an immense cost. Most of the death knights are singular in their desire to remake or somehow return to their original world. However noble they may have been in life, after countless eons, or as a result of their reanimation, they have mostly all gone mad, making it difficult to acquire any meaningful knowledge from them.
Frost WyrmSerpentine, draconic creatures with a large, singular orifice full of rows of teeth like a lamprey or hagfish, hailing from the Cancerverse. Not undead per se, but they emit a cold, dark energy which provides sustenance to undeath, like gods or demi-gods of undeath.
Genocide GolemA giant, modular, mobile city-structure and any number of smaller modular skeleton golems constructed from the reanimated remains of a genocided people. No regard is paid to the original forms, and bones are carved or snapped or in some other manner warped or treated to support the structure or skeleton golem drones. They emanate a sense of shame, drawing out hate, denigration, and the insecurities of the peoples in their vicinity or peoples who allowed this inhumanity to happen, obfuscating that the golem was always the victim.
Kabuto AsuraThey come in many varieties, sometimes humanoid and sometimes monstrous, but always like armored soldiers or weapons of war and reminiscent of horseshoe crabs. They are the karmic demons of soldiers who died unfulfilled. In some cases they are frustrated beings, misled or coerced to fight a futile or unjust war or to commit war crimes. In other cases, they themselves reveled in the carnage and inhumanity of their actions, and remain on this mortal plane only to commit more violence. The former are pitied, and those who hunt them do so to free them of their karmic curse. The latter are considered a shame against their people and feared.
MutateVaguely humanoid creatures from the Cancerverse. It's not clear if they evolved in that environment independently, or if they were migrants from the world of the living, like some kind of afterlife. They are misshapen and covered in cancerous tumors and sarcomas. Because they cannot die, their cells mutate and replicate indefinitely. Many mutates degenerate into virtual nothingness, blending into the cancer-mass of the cancerverse itself. A rare few mutate into giant, monstrous, or otherwise unique and powerful beings.
NepheshimDue either to a botched soul-transfer, or a random mutation, occasionally a lich will develop a new soul, like a cancer. As the soul metastasizes, the lich's organic body redevelops, although not always as the same gender or even species, let alone same person they once were. If the new soul grows to maturity, they will lose their lich powers, but otherwise retain most of their former knowledge and abilities. Meanwhile, their original soul remains trapped impotently in its phylactory. Their personality will also change, and in some cases they will develop dreamy memories, knowledge, or skills from the new soul. While most liches fear these cancerous mutations and attempt to remove them at all costs, some intentionally contract and incubate souls within themselves, sometimes many at a time. They can provide new perspectives, knowledge, and insights, can be a fun diversion from the ennui of immortality, like a hobby, or can be cultivated and consumed for various powerful soul magics.
OverdeadAs the spirits of mortals transmigrate into various spirit realms or are reincarnated, there are other planes, dimensions, or universes full of spiritual life, and sometimes our world is their afterlife. Overdead are often ethereal, mistaken for fey or djinn, nature spirits, or ghosts (or perhaps they are the origins of these entities in this setting). Some take more physical forms, or are incarnated within lifeforms of our world. They do not all come from the same world, nor follow the same rules, nor operate in the same manner. Some seem eldritch, aberrant, or divine, while others are remarkably similar in appearance or psychology to beings of our world.
PetrolmancerA sub-discipline of necromancy focused on the summoning and binding of the most ancient mass-dead. They bring life to decomposed biofuel, or petroleum. More powerful petrolmancers practice various chronomancies as a means of producing their own stores of petroleum, or use time travel to mine the past or future for its rich stores of death. In order to leverage such powerful but costly magics, they organize genocides across time and space, and create life farms merely for the sake of culling death and decomposition.
PetroloidThe lowest petroloids are simply amorphous petroleum elementals or slimes. The more advanced specimens flow through contraptions of carcass, wood, metal, or whatever materials or technologies were available to the petrolmancer. They are petroleum-powered zombies, skeletons, golems, siege engines, or even bio-magical computers.
PteraghulSlightly smaller than humans and disturbingly humanoid in appearance, they are vulture-like pterasaur ghouls with a mottled, hair-like pycnofiber coat. They are carrion-feeders of intelligent lifeforms, but will also consume cancerous or mutated living flesh. They are believed to be the descendants of a species of ghoul that somehow crossed into the cancerverse, and still they can be found migrating between the mortal plane and the cancerverse.
The Black HiveA remarkably prosperous hive of undead bees (or zombees, if you will). They are white and violet colored, their stripes broken into a skull-like pattern on their backs. Rather than consuming nectar, they violently collect the fermenting juices of fallen fruit, often destroying the seeds in the process. For this reason, in areas where the Black Hive is present, it is considered a taboo to leave fruit to rot. They produce a milky-white, rotten-smelling, putrid honey that provides sustenance to the undead akin to the black energy of the Cancerverse. Additionally, despite its awful smell, the honey makes for a perfect preservative, tastes otherwordly, and provides an exhilarating psychedelic stimulation. However, it provides no sustenance, and long-term consumption leads to self-pickling and undeath.
The Wild HuntDepending on the setting, they may be of one species, or a collection of known or unknown species. They are advanced; magically, technologically, biologically, or aberrantly, with resources and abilities beyond the understanding of the predominant mortal civilizations. They are elves or dwarves or fey, neanderthals or dinosaurs, or other species long gone or nearing the end of their era. They are the resistant living, undead, or extra-dimensional refugees; the clingers-on. They hunt for fun or spite, they incite terror, they ravage villages and cities, but they can only bridge to the mortal realm for so long before being auto-magically banished back to their purgatory nether realm.
UnlivingThey are almost like the living, but lack a soul. This rarely occurs naturally; more often they are grown from stem cells or miscarried fetuses that are treated by necromancers or apoptomancers. They are generally dull, with little personality or motivation, and with a child-like intelligence. They are often pale or albino, with pigmentless or cataract-like blue eyes. Although more time consuming and costly to create than a typical undead skeleton or zombie, they are generally more capable and longer-lasting, and are the foot soldiers of the most elite lords of metamorphosis or undeath.
Vermilion KarkinosThey were once a mundane species of crab, bottom-feeders of the ocean floor. That is, until they stumbled upon a massive hydrothermal vent of immense magical power; perhaps an abandoned power plant of the deep ones, an artifact of the Elder Things, or the gate to R'lyeh or the Cancerverse (where they are the most predominant lifeform, after the cancer-mass itself). Whatever the case, the karkinos were transformed, no longer living organisms, the energy calcified them into undead fossils, and they became unable to sexually reproduce. Some became immortal kaiju, always hungry, feeding on the mineral energy of the planet core, or travelling to the surface if there is a sufficient concentration of energy. Others became microscopic magical beings, more like viruses than animals, vampires feeding on the blood of organisms and asexually replicating within them like leukemia. They have developed into other sizes and shapes as well, some even humanoid. Their exoskeletons are usually patterned with vermilion and white, or occasionally more aquatic colors, and an aura of heat or even flame surrounds them. Although some are intelligent, even superhuman, most are so obsessed with hunger that it clouds any rational thought.
Zombie FlowerAmorphophallus-like flowers, ranging in size from about a foot to twenty feet tall. They smell of carcass, attracting scavenging animals and pollinators. They do not photosynthesize, but have pale pigments meant to attract animals or fool them into a false sense of normality. Their flesh and nectar induce zombification, and their seeds spread and germinate from the droppings of zombified creatures. It is believed that the Black Hive are the second independent species to have developed from the effects of the zombie flower.
ZymoformThe creations of the zymomancers. Sometimes pickled and preserved, appearing somewhat as they did in life except for some amount of decay, wet and slimy, and with a sour, bitter, or umami scent. Others dissolve and consume the host carcass, becoming amorphous slimes of various hues and properties.
ZymomancerNot necromancers in the truest sense, they breed colonies of yeast and bacteria suited for the fermentation of carcasses for the purpose of reanimation. The host carcass is still dead, but new life animate or are borne from the carcass.