Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Aquarian Dawn: The Whitemare

The Whitemare is kinda-sorta the equivalent of Mordor for Aquarian Dawn, the realm of the Dark Lord, by way of Beetlejuice, Vampire Hunter D, and the Cancerverse. It also incorporates several of my ideas from the micro-setting Record of Machine Goddess, one of my four 10 monster settings, into Aquarian Dawn. I think that's a cool micro-setting in its own right, but thematically it seemed similar to what I'm already doing with Aquarian Dawn. Last but certainly not least, the concept of the Whitemare was heavily inspired by this artist, and specifically this piece:


It's rare that a single piece of art influences me so directly, but this piece is so unique and evocative that I just couldn't help but incorporate it into Aquarian Dawn! It reminds me of one of my favorite artists, Zdzislaw Beksinski.

Michael K could tell you I've probably spent way too much time thinking about all of the particulars of this idea, and I've also discussed it a bit already on reddit such as on the SWORDDREAM_unofficial subreddit, so I hope it's actually coherent and interesting, and not just an overwrought mess 0.o.

It also draws some parallels to some of the ideas I had for the anti-mutants in Phantasmos, but I don't quite think they're compatible. I had always wanted to come back to the anti-mutants, I thought and still think there was a kernel of a cool idea there but I never got to explore it as far as I'd like. Depending on how I feel about the Whitemare / Cancerverse down the line, I may come back to the anti-mutants eventually as well.


If you are a player in my current Aquarian Dawn Campaign, this contains SPOILERS! PLEASE DO NOT READ!!!


So with that:


The Whitemare

Beware the Whitemare.

Our legends are endless dead dreams. I awaken, and rest.

To die is to dream. May your dreams be ever pleasant. Sleep well.

What do undead dream?


The Machine Goddess Athena, The Dark Lord


Her skin is twilight like the cosmos, dotted like a ginger with the violet-hot light of stars and nebulae. Lines like shooting stars course over her skin, thinning and branching into symmetric fractal patterns, vein-like, violet-whiteness fading into her forearms and hands, and ankles and feet. She has three pairs of arms that move in tessellation. She is covered in metallic armor, smooth and seamless, with lines that reflect and refract in a geometric manner; chitinous. A series of violet-white tubes arch along her back, always bending in uncanny ways, appearing the same when viewed from any angle, appearing detached from space-time when she moves or when one moves around her, or like a dimension unto herself. Her hair is violet-white and composed of straight strands that split into branches, each splitting into self-same branches; frizzy, but in an unnaturally symmetric, perfect way. The upper half of her face is kaleidoscopic, like many shifting spidery eyes, each a reflection of her whole face in miniature, with kaleidoscopic eyes reflecting the whole again, ad infinitum.

Machines, undead dreams, fractals, cancer metastasization; infinite, recursive, unchanging life. Athena had intended to create paradise, designing crafts to better society, and brought knowledge to the peoples. Somewhere along the way she grew angry, resentful; disgusted with mortals, with what she was creating, and with herself, creating only in defiance. Or perhaps she had been sabotaged, her works twisted in unexpected ways by petty and short-sighted mortals, or other dark gods.

Whatever the case, the fomoire, the remains of her Unseelie Court, grow increasingly mad and wish to die, as do all in the whitemare. The beings of the cancerverse themselves, the mutates, pteraghuls, and so on, are like idiot godlings, even in their brilliance, overwhelmed by the genuine euphoria, beauty, and symmetry of infinite recursive existence. One could argue that with the cancerverse Athena succeeded in her goal, and really did make a better existence, and it's only the whitemare itself, her twisted nightmare dream of endless self-loathing, that needs to end. The cancerverse has a will to life above and beyond anything else, even the mortal world. Perhaps the cancerverse and the mortal world are compatible, different but containing a piece of each other.



Servants of the Dark Lord


Fomoire
Whereas the Fey represent the beauty, majesty, and wonder in things, an abstract "magical" force in the universe, the fomoire are like bestial proto-fey or anti-fey; representing that which is ugly, disturbing, painful; or mundane, defeating, or hopeless. They are fewer in number than the fey, but generally more powerful. Each is unique, as if to embody the torment of one person, except there are so few of them; a reminder that You are not special and neither are Your problems. There was once an Unseelie Court that served the Machine Goddess at the highest levels, but they were defeated or displaced in the last war against the Empire of the High Age of humanity. 

Firbolg
The marauding armies of the Machine Goddess, once organized under the Unseelie Court. While Athena rebuilds her forces in the Whitemare, remainders of her forces, who went into hiding during the peak of the High Age of humanity, have since resurfaced. The firbolg consist of fomoire warlords, drow, trolls, hobbs, machines, and denizens of the cancerverse. Firbolg are often mutated with cancerous growths and teratoma eyes, literally embodying the all-seeing panopticon of the Machine Goddess. They wear armor and weapons of blacklight stone, with linear and fractal patterns carved into their armor or on their skin; a Mandlebrot "eye" equivalent to a teratoma. Those firbolg hordes under the direct influence of the Machine Goddess carry her emblem; an aegis shield, within which is an interwoven multitude of ouroboros with repeating patterns on their scales replicating the pattern of the interwoven ouroboros.

Drow
The exact origins of the drow are uncertain, but it is believed that they are either an offshoot of elves who chose not to leave for the higher realm and instead joined Athena, or they are the natives of what became the Cancerverse, or a hybrid species. They have grayish-purple skin, black, white, gray, or purple hair, large eyes, long pointed ears, thick humanoid body hair, and prehensile tails. They mostly worship the Machine Goddess, representing her machines, lines, and fractals with spider symbology. The tsuchigumo are their divine-military mystic corps, who wear blacklight stone or psionic masks like a spider-face. Their scout corps are driders, who ride mutated or biomechanical spiders. Some have even been fused into their spiders. Oni are drow with a teratoma horn, like a psionic third eye. They contain massive raw psionic power, but over time their psyches unravel, and they split into two monsters known as Yoma and Ashura, usually ogre-like creatures, one red-skinned and the other blue-skinned.

Cyclops (Starborn Golem)
Massive giants of blacklight stone, with linear patterns and fractals carved into their stone skin. They are powered by a large blacklight stone eye in the center of their face, capable of projecting beams of blacklight energy that split in fractal patterns. It is unclear if they were created by or discovered by the drow, or the Machine Goddess, or were creations of the elves that later became the drow. They are revered as demigod constructs by the elves, who believe they were created during the High Age of the elves. The name "starborn" is a misnomer; although the elves believe they were created in the celestial bodies, they were actually created or summoned by the science-witches who found the astrological equations hidden in the stars, inadvertently divining the Whitemare.

Whitemare
Massive, spindly humanoid creatures that can move bipedally but often choose to move like a spastic quadruped. They move freely between the Whitemare fractal dimension and the cancerverse. It is not clear if the dimension was named for them, or they for the dimension; if they were created by the Machine Goddess, and if so, if she created them intentionally, or how much control she has over them. They have extra-dimensional properties; crawling, compressing, and gyrating through spaces they should not possibly fit. They generally serve the Machine Goddess, but don't seem to be innately malicious or have any discernible intelligence or motivation.


The Twilight Treasurer Black Tom, and the Twisting Terminus


Twisting Terminus 
The mind-castle of the Machine Goddess within the Whitemare. A gothic, psychedelic, symmetric, kaleidoscopic spacetime of lines and fractals. It is full of Athena's machines and firbolg, but also independently operating fomoire, denizens of the cancerverse, and numerous other beings of independent allegiance and unknown origins, lost as in limbo. One is always being watched in the twilight terminus; most at first modifying their behavior as in the panopticon, until they reach a point of madness in which they care not at all for their privacy, or for any allusions of decency or proper behavior. Even if one could escape the Twisting Terminus, they would find themselves lost in the dreary Whitemare, or the vast flesh-desert of the Cancerverse.

Djinn (Daemon)
The djinn are something "else", metaphysical forces like the Fey or Fomoire, but lacking an intrinsic "moral nature", or a material form. They are more like robots, things that can be programmed or manipulated. Servant djinn are sometimes referred to as daemon in ancient texts. The Machine Goddess has built biomechanical cancer machines powered by djinn energy. These daemons maintain her castle, the Twisting Terminus, and serve as its panopticon-wardens.

Black Tom
An extraordinarily powerful, mischievous, and arguably malicious or at least narcissistic leprechaun trapped in Twisting Terminus. He has been trapped for so long that none know his origins, not even the Machine Goddess, or Black Tom himself. Although powerful, he is quite mad, aimless, and has a tendency to get in his own way, and is seen by Athena as more of an annoyance than a true threat.

Those who meddle with Dark Lords in extra-dimensions may find a twilight token, a black coin with a four leaf clover on one side, and the face of a leprechaun on another. By rubbing together three twilight tokens in one's hand, a mortal may summon Black Tom to serve them. However, one often gets more than what they bargained for when dealing with Black Tom.



Friday, July 5, 2019

BONUS: My prompt is on All My Fantasy Children!!!

One of my "All My Fantasy Children"-style prompts was the prompt for this week's episode! It's episode 109. Sor Velfast: The Baseless Crest (after this week it won't be on the "latest" section of the front page but just subscribe it's a great show!). Check it out!!!!!

They used this prompt:
A world-weary lich decides to re-integrate their soul into their body, but finds that they are no longer in sync with their own soul. They must learn to love themselves if they truly wish to be whole again.
They used this world-building TTRPG, Ancient Stones by Jessica Osborne, to facilitate the prompt, so give that a look as well!

Phantom Limb from Venture Brothers, the conceptual reference they used for the Lich, Sor Velfast.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

All My Fantasy Children-Style Prompts

All My Fantasy Children is currently one of my favorite podcasts. They focus primarily on their Fantasy setting, but they've taken a novel and interesting approach to how they develop it. They intentionally try to leave things abstract and non-specific, and leave openings to fill in details as they go, which is an approach I really appreciate. More than that, what makes the setting so fascinating is that rather than developing locations or concepts, they come up with characters, and then they build the world around rationalizing what needs to exist in order for that character to do what they do. It's a novel approach and makes the world feel rich and lived-in, almost right from the beginning. The setting is reminiscent of Adventure Time, exploring heavy themes while maintaining a mostly optimistic and whimsical tone. Also both Aaron and Jeff are clever and entertaining people, and the podcast is just a treat. I know that Actual Plays are all the rage, but I actually think this is an interesting medium for audio storytelling that deserves further exploration.

Anyway, with that in mind, here's a list of 1d20 "All My Fantasy Children"-style prompts:


  1. An "unknowable" Lovecraftian entity has begun to develop a humanoid consciousness.

  2. A world-weary lich decides to re-integrate their soul into their body, but finds that they are no longer in sync with their own soul. They must learn to love themselves if they truly wish to be whole again.

  3. An artificer-wizard going through a mid-life crisis has built a bachelor pad within a person-sized bag of holding.

  4. After witnessing an adventurer steal from their pot of meager savings in plain site, a stunned villager has chosen to go on a quest to find this adventurer and make them answer for what they've done.

  5. Through some shenanigans, a powerful warlock has accidentally made a pact with an angel or "good" deity. The pact may only be broken if they meet some very specific and personally challenging requirements.

  6. A ranger or druid has developed major allergies to the things in nature.

  7. An inn known for its extraordinary ability to heal wounds overnight. The inn is managed by a former hero cleric.

  8. A cleaning service run by a former adventurer. They have a trapped gelatinous cube, and use the digestive enzymes of the cube as a cleaning agent. 

  9. The elder dragon that has terrorized the kingdom for ages has mysteriously died. It has bequeathed it's entire treasure hoard to the kingdom, but the dragon's family challenges the legitimacy of the will. The dragon's family takes the will to court, and over the course of the proceedings, much is learned about who the elder dragon truly was.

  10. A machinist with humble origins and no wizard training has created an easily producible and affordable new technology that makes magic available to the masses. The wizard's guild is attempting to suppress this technology.

  11. A peasant turned fighter wanted to go to wizarding school but never received any positive reinforcement. They're exceptionally bright, but their anxieties and self-doubt make them slow to respond to intellectual challenges and appear dimwitted. After years of applying to wizarding school and being rejected, they have finally been given a chance. However, their fighting career has just started to take off, and everyone in their life is telling them not to throw away their future.

  12. Torch Boy the hireling has had enough of the disrespect and abuse from adventurers. After years of dungeon-running while carrying a heavy load, and nothing but a torch to defend themselves, they've become exceptionally quick and clever, and they deserve equal treatment. They've founded the Torchbearer Hireling Guild, and host all-hireling dungeon runs to show what hirelings can do. The dungeon runs have become something of a phenomenon, and it is not uncommon for festivals to break out around a dungeon-site.

  13. A Dark Lord and the nearby kingdom have been in "conflict" for ages. However, nobody has ever died or been seriously injured in these conflicts, and it's become more ceremonial than anything else. In fact, DL is something of an icon in the kingdom, and DL and their hordes are regular members of society and contribute to the economy and well-being of the kingdom. Of course, the adventurers who just strolled into town aren't aware of any of this...

  14. A baby mimic hatched in front of an adventurer and imprinted on them, and the adventurer spared them. The mimic now wanders throughout the kingdoms, doing the best it can to be an adventurer, but it doesn't always quite understand what it means to be an adventurer, or a member of society, for that matter.

  15. An undead creature has inexplicably found themselves with a new soul. It's definitely not the soul they had in life, and they're not sure what to do about it. It's all very confusing for them.

  16. A  "monster" village far removed from the affairs of the world exists in peace and isolation. One villager decides to journey out and explore the world, but they are often driven out from the places they discover. Every once in a while, they find a place that doesn't reject them on-sight, and they've made all sorts of friends and positive experiences in  those places.

  17. The Dark Lord vanquished the kingdom's armies and reigns as the new king. As it turns out, DL has some good ideas and seems to genuinely want to do right by the kingdom, and the quality of life for the average citizen is actually getting better under the new leadership.

  18. A city druid known as the Rat King has been engaging in peaceful protest against the kingdom's treatment of wildlife in the cities. They have become something of a folk hero (or menace, depending on who you ask).

  19. A cleric has suddenly lost their connection to their deity and divine magic, and they have no idea why. They set out to continue to do good in the world, even without their deity.

  20. A roguish "gentleman thief" has been captured. Instead of prison time, the rogue has been offered a position as Chief of Tactical Security for the kingdom; devising new means of thwarting thieves, tracking counterfeiters, encrypting vital messages, and so on. They feel surprisingly good about doing honest work, but also yearn for their former life as a rogue and adventurer. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

TNT Subtypes

In addition to the Mystic Type, which is mechanically very unique, I thought it might be cool to introduce some Subtypes. These are just slight tweaks to the normal three types, that are intended to provide both utility and flavor.

As with basically all of my TNT hacks at this point, these have not been tested, although I'm less concerned with these than I am with the Mystic, which I desperately need to playtest! The eldritch knight is probably the one I'm most concerned since they have an ability that adds to their action economy, even if in a very limited way. It was inspired by the Magus class in Pathfinder.

Unless otherwise noted, assume these subtypes have all the abilities of the main type.

EDIT: 7/11/2019 I overhauled the Paladin subtype, and I think this version makes a lot more sense. It's much more defense-oriented than the normal warrior, but functions mostly similarly.


Paladin (Warrior Subtype)

  • Rather than Warrior's +1d6 combat dice per level, paladins receive 1d6 holy dice per level
  • Holy dice are rolled alongside combat, but not added to the opposed roll
  • If the paladin / party loses the opposed roll the holy dice can be used to mitigate damage
  • If the paladin / party wins the opposed roll the holy dice can be used to recover any lost CON points.
  • Against undead or other unholy creatures the paladin may choose to use their holy dice either as warrior combat dice, or as paladin holy dice, but must decide each turn before rolling

Eldritch Knight (Wizard Subtype)
  • Cannot use a focus
  • No limit to personal combat adds for weapons with > 2d6 damage dice
  • Can cast a spell and attack simultaneously eldritch level times per combat encounter 
    • Must be cast through a melee weapon
    • The spell only affects the target of the attack

Ace (Rogue Subtype)
  • Cannot learn spells
  • Gain two extra talents at character creation (rather than just one like Rogues)
  • Add ace level to SRs when applying a talent (in addition to normal +3 bonus)

Monday, June 24, 2019

Mechs & Monstrosities TNT: Mechs

This is the second post for my Mechs & Monstrosities Hack for Tunnels & Trolls. The first post was solely for Massive Combat. This second post is about how to add mechs to your game! I generally prefer games to be as rules-light as possible, but there's just something really satisfying about customizing a mech, so I wanted to do something to make mechs a little more than just re-flavored PC types, so hopefully this is successful in that regard.


Escaflowne is a great fantasy mech anime

TNT Mech Mechanics


  • Treat mechs as Massive Creatures using M&M hack (link above)

  • Mechs have three scales 

  • PC mechs should probably all be at same scale, with higher or lower scales being for NPCs or have specific practical use-cases so that lower-scale mechs aren't strictly inferior to higher-scale mechs. Lower-scale mechs could be significantly cheaper, require fewer resources to build / repair / operate, or be able to maneuver in environments that larger scale mechs can't.

  • Monster / enemy mech stats are doubled per MR at massive scale 1 (as massive combat rules post), they're tripled for scale 2, and quadrupled for scale 3.

  • In combat between mechs of different scales, the mech with the higher scale gets advantage (always deals their Adds as minimum damage).

  • OPTIONAL RULES: If the mechs in the setting are supposed to be heavy or slow: 
    • Ranged attacks against a mech of the same scale always bypass opposed roll. 
    • Melee attacks against a mech of the same scale involve two SR rolls. Roll a strength SR to determine if PC damage bypasses the opposed roll, and speed SR to determine if NPC damage bypasses the opposed roll. Level of the SRs is the number of combat dice by MR (e.g. MR 0-9 = level 1 SR, 10-19 = level 2, etc.). Some mechs may count as higher level for the purpose of strength or speed SR. 
    • While these rules may slow down the rolls by requiring more SRs, it also speeds up the combat by increasing the amount of damage mechs take, reflecting the slow but devastating power of the mechs. It also potentially places greater emphasis on armor / damage reduction, which seems appropriate for mechs.

PC Mech Stats


  • Treat mechs as regular characters. Most stats can be conceptually mapped as-is. WIZ can just be the technomagical energy of the mech, IQ is the sophistication of the operating system or engineering necessary to contain certain advanced modules (i.e. spells). Mechs can be warriors, rogues, or wizards (or mystics), and a character's type does not need to align with their mech's type. All characters can apply a relevant talent bonus to SRs in their mechs, but otherwise mechs use their own stats, unless additionally noted below.

  • Warrior characters can add their own warrior damage dice to melee attacks with mechs, and also use their damage reduction ability with the mech. If the mech type is also warrior, triple rather than double the damage reduction. Warrior characters in wizard / rogue mechs can cast the mech's spells using the mech's WIZ.

  • Rogue and wizard characters can cast their own spells through their mech. Characters and mechs can each only cast spells that they know, with their own WIZ (i.e. a wizard's rogue mech can't use its WIZ to cast a spell that only the wizard knows).

  • Mech Gear Slots: two legs, two arms, two shoulders, head, back, and torso. These can affect terrain maneuverability, provide armor, add melee or ranged damage, or provide other special abilities. Arm and torso gears can be modeled after regular weapons and armor. Examples for other gear provided, but not an exclusive list.

  • In combat, a Dex SR can be made to do a gear attack, targeting specific gear slots, but unlike with ranged weapon Dex SRs, if the SR fails, the attack is a miss
    • If an NPC makes a gear attack (or PvP), if the attack is successful, the recipient must roll a luck SR to see if their gear takes wear (as regular wear and tear rules for armor), in addition to normal damage.
    • If PCs make a gear attack against an NPC, either the gear breaks automatically, or can take MR level hits (e.g. 0-9 MR can take 1 hit, 10-19 MR can take 2 hits, etc.)

Gear List

I'm terrible with logistics like cost, which is probably obvious given that I don't provide direct rules for mech cost (at least not yet). Having not tested any of this yet (>.<), I'd say let starting mechs take one arm and torso gear (weapon and armor respectively), and two additional gears of any kind. This gear list in general could probably use some work and is more of a proof-of-concept, but feel free to do your own thing with it.

Arms

  • These can be adaptations of regular weapons, shields, or gauntlets

Torso

  • These can be adaptations of armor

Shoulders

  • Light shoulder-mounted weapons: These are lighter-weight / lower damage weapons. 
  • Heavy shoulder-mounted weapons: These are heavier-weight / higher damage weapons.
    • Heavy weapons require both shoulder gear slots, even if only on one side.
  • Scout drone: A drone rides on their shoulder that can be deployed for reconnaissance.
  • Satellite apparatus: A radar dish or some other apparatus used to send signals to a satellite with some single purpose (reconnaissance, communication, orbital weaponry, etc.)

Back

  • Jetpack: Short-range dashes, high or far jumps, dodging (+1 speed).
  • Wings: Medium to long-range gliding, if starting from sufficient altitude and acceleration.
  • Shell: Basically another shield slot.

Legs

  • Advanced Legs: Legs have the proportional strength and flexibility of real humanoid or animal legs (+1 speed).
  • Treads: Slower (-1 speed) and not amenable to difficult terrain (additional -2 speed on difficult terrain e.g. environmental factors, bumpy, etc.), but sturdier (+3 con) and can't be the target of gear attacks.
  • Wheels: Faster than legs (+2 speed) but suffer in difficult terrain (-1 speed) and are prone to going flat (minimum wear & tear SR level 2)


Monday, June 17, 2019

Aquarian Dawn: Fey of a different yet familiar sort

Fey and fairies in myths and fantasy are generally loaded with symbolism, usually about nature, both in its majesty and in its danger. Older stories, in a world where nature was still a threat, tend to focus more on practical morals, whereas in modern fiction, fey tend to represent the majesty of nature and the struggles of nature as humanity takes its resources and destroys the environment. In Aquarian Dawn, I wanted the fey to still represent that "magicalness" of the world, but in this case, they're more so a representation of the "magicalness" of human ingenuity, creativity, math, and engineering. Especially in a world where humanity has seemingly "peaked", they carry forward humanity's legacy in the coming age. That is, of course, assuming a fatalistic end for humanity...

Fey is a broad term for a range of creatures in Aquarian Dawn. The setting is all about the fantastical High Age of humanity transitioning into the Age of the Aquarians, so in such a world, what does it mean to be fey?

Fey are present in Howlston, the setting for my current campaign.

There are several other "traditional" fantasy species in Aquarian Dawn that also have a bit of twist to them, such as elves and dwarves, and then there are of course the titular aquarians.

Fey are quasi-mortal. They are inherently magical beings, both physical and metaphysical. They are not magic in the sense of some quantifiable arcane energy, but in the sense of wonder and awe, and the implausible. Towards the end of the High Age, humanity lost most of its magic, hunted most of the magical beasts to extinction, tore down the majestic forests to build their roads, and forgot how to work their wonders, and so the fey did diminish for a time. However, with the expansion of the aquarians, they are beginning to thrive once more. 

But their manifestation is not quite like before. They're in a transitional phase. They resemble the fey of old still, for the most part, but their magic is not one of nature and the exploration of places, but increasingly of engineering, economics, and mathematics; of the nature and exploration of the mind and of systems. It is not quantitative magic per se, it is the magic that comes from the eureka, the je na sais quoi, that comes from understanding the application of math, or systems theory, or physics and chemistry, or mechanics.

Goblins

A general term for a set of fey, usually halfling-sized or at most human-sized (although some are significantly smaller or larger), such as the goat-faced puca, goat-legged satyr, pig-faced orcs, the fungal, mutagenic trolls, and many others. Most goblins are hedonistic, playful, pranksters. They are intelligent, with a natural affinity towards mechanics and engineering, but not especially creative. They are able to build mechanical things that should not be possible, and only work to the extent that one believes in them. For as amazing as their mechanical contraptions can be, most fall apart quickly under the ownership of mortals, who usually cannot maintain their faith in the mechanism, or who try and fail to reverse engineer it.


Hobbs 

Human-sized goblins (sometimes called hobgoblins), usually with gray, black, green, or yellow, leathery skin. It is said that they were created in heinous experiments by a Dark Lord of a prior age, descending from the orcs and some say even elves and humans. They are hierarchical, authoritarian, disciplined, and aggressive, generally considered both too orderly and too unsociable for human society. They are quick to fall under the sway of authoritarian rulers, sometimes even serving under human warlords, and it is believed that several kingdoms towards the end of the High Age relied primarily on hobb mercenaries for their armies. In the current era, not even the "empire" is powerful enough or cohesive enough to organize the hobbs, and so most wander the countryside as warlords and mercenaries, however hobbs living in fey or human society is not unheard of.


Leprechauns

Halfling-sized fey coming to prominence in the dawning age of the aquarians. Their skin shimmers opalescent like a rainbow. They grow thick beards of iridescent hard-light, of any or all colors of the rainbow. They have a deep understanding of business, finance, economics, and politics, as well as being crafty engineers. Unlike goblins, their creations seem to follow real scientific and mathematical principles, and they appear to have creative inspiration, albeit derived from something like an interdependent muse-like relationship with humans and other mortals. 

They also have the closest thing to traditional arcane magic from the High Age besides magically-inclined espers, although their magical aptitude is dependent on their wealth. Each leprechaun is tethered to a pocket dimension, contained within a pot, where they store their personal wealth. They can produce a rainbow from within themselves as a signal to the location of their pot. The pots are magical and cannot easily be destroyed, but if their pot is stolen, they are at the mercy of the thief.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Neural Network Fantasy Creatures

I know I'm hardly the first person to do this, but anyway now there's another one out there! I wrote a neural network using Max Woolf's textgenrnn, which trains on a corpus of fantasy creatures from the pathfinder d20 SRD, and generates new fantasy creature names. I'm still playing around with the parameters (and you can as well!), but I'm reasonably happy with the current output. Below are 500 fantasy creature names generated from the model! These were trained with 200 epochs, but the default for the model is 100. You may notice some repeats, or some direct reproductions from the dataset, again the model could use some tweaking, but there are definitely some gems in here.

Also, the database from PFSRD was updated only up to february 2014, so if anyone knows of a more complete database for pathfinder, or for bestiaries from other fantasy games, I would like to add those to my dataset so please let me know!


Here's a mech dragon because why not :)

EDIT: u/LupNi on reddit gave a nice little writeup demonstrating how one could put these creatures to good use:

Adventurers! You must venture forth and slay the Very old quued beetle flob in the mountains before it's too late! But beware, the beast's influence has attracted swarms of Young adult creep mumbles and Bloib gargoygeres. You will need help in your journey. Fortunately, the old wizard has built an entire army of Adult golems. Let's... not talk about why they're called Adult golems. The old wizard gets lonely.

Old green dragon
Sealer
Migricine
Parga
Banner
Octoc
Shakoif
Great swarm
Aspi
Very old dragon
Death' azecad
Grayter swarm
Adult golem
Bores
Tendam
Very old quued beetle flob
Addus
Deep hunter elementalche dragon
Ancush
Ingy elemental
Adult shackling bourd
Young roncer popita
Giant positive energy elementaugher beetle
Cilatr swarm
Shira wolk of torm green dragon
Fire worman
Giant lightning sea snakker
Giant black dragon
Spath
Sangus mast
Greater elemental
Hawler
Taspling oaze
Part
Warer
Ancient squais wyrm black mast
Margita
Ghowlew
Young creep mantom
Giant elemental
Cran at
Marrasu
Giant blood manged emetat
Irclew
Shadow hunder
Mahure
Batste dragon
Theller devil
Large negative sephall elemental
Ice swarm
Timmon cuat
Stoimotan
Juvenile colota
Polsae
Mammoth
Kort
Dragon
Lilgungus
Shadow wolf
Alding marma
Lerger golem
Elder swarm
Warer
Shagari
Cise gray dragon
Vercap
Greater elemental
Shind brass dragon
Giant sea serpent
Acorpiker
Oct
Slaug
Keranggaller
Sark
Deliolequ
Thing winp
Cerstom
Mythic elemental
Adult red dragon
Nechwang bronze
Clood ooze
Very old creeper
Torvering blue dragon
Stole
Elcer
Giant mud elemental
Young elemental
Ock dragon
Thring crab, spider
Aldino
Urder
Adult sea sea serpling golem
Banthy
Stopositive spider whetle
Draconadaemon
Dire gylulus
Giant swarm
Kales
Tirder serpent
Juvine
Tant spider
Mythic mernon
Souandasu
Lesser dragon
Storm dragon
Raven spike red dragon
Deve
Juvenile copcangient
Giant bladodaemon
Seaher giant sea scorpion solak
Frork
Huge steerapeir
Trona
Shadow worm
Tightning elemental
Margu
Clockwork spawnes
Conar dragon
Death shask
Young olb dragon
Blood urch
Fire gargoyle
Frost dragon
Greater swarm
Mythic watergaanter barra
Ord
Giant amble
Very ooze
Lythic crab
Flases
Korps
Star crobon
Sea serpent
Adult golem
Undead
Greater horring
Raval
Phasous
Shipper dragon
Giant wight swarm
Shadown
Oross swarm
Great cyyppolid
Wilvone okas
Oll green dragon
Borelach dragon
Elder night
Giant ant sea serphe troll
Captintanf
Crimm
Hellow bese
Hengea
Greinger swarm
Marlor
Kunl
Silvere
Fire golem
Slarle
Carly blue dragon
The swarm
Thite swarm
Darcershaen
Sea sea swarm
Old blue light
Dreg warr
Lurar
Mond dant
Hangorm
Adult bragmy elemental
Adult golem
Manire elemental
Ancient molouc banromon
Large leegar
Vog
Belaem stor
Lerantud
Cave minotair elemental
Albing dragon
Adult green giant scabo
Rava
Medium spawner
Fudan
Devil
Phalider
Karabar ooze
Cuvemilictecitin
Jinx
Monstral dragon
Charing cattan
Young vyry brask dragon
Skig
Spider
Danwialterphinx
Small obri
Ancient hond
Juvenile sea serpel dragon
Henss
Wyrklider
Cloddeman
Wyrmligan
Dire stomairth noma
Young copper
Shadow wraitan beedle
Moner
Demon
Large leeph
Carniae quasi
Fasma
Medium oaze
Lick dragon
Barch
Kalto sard
Frost dragon
Stone budder arzosid bear
Small obazor dragon
Natiuer armon
Hunger crow
Blood mud elemental
Mah-thal
Parrack
Ircrant witchar
Conne golem
Zombar stor
Imprey
Slamprall
Lehantom armosiyn warpectre pat
Small spider
Stone skakaim
Dermagher giant oms
Witcer
Dowing
Giant swarm
Adult white swarm
Theling of titan
Small giant
Bog stuned
Mongosaurus
Nightning energy elemental
Young adult creep mumble
Greater elemental
Great wyrm bones
Chire lizard
Adult devil
Janing elemental
Ligir
Stakon
Flest dragon
Funguspider
Chore
Larre drake
Monset
Young bris
Ancient brass dragon
Shikon
Spider
Phrelisl
Juyn arch
Ligit cuser
Train ooze
Rablis
Strightning elemental
Clockwork span
Kerbank
Medium babe troll
Abers
Carele
Spinten spider
Cave moont
Nerra
Giant crawler
Dire elemental
Mythic fring bronz
Pherchon
Devil
Idule
Tixe
Stral candalion
Fere
Greater borg
Ancient bone of spider
Nald
Kalester
Adult white whate thollo
Pleel golem
Shaghael
Huge gray dragon
Wareripore gravity elemental
Wargoyle riget culas
Ancient soldier
Istardaanterdiend sea
The yra worm
Clobeatt
Beland
Elder ant swarm
Elder rora
Giant flen
Borest dragon
Juvenile elemental
Giant viper
Iran pudding
Hell magmit
Mamic cand
Thrram
Wyrmling righting seat wyrm black dragon
Hagant
Fanthon
Warewon
Ancient swarm
Urdralk
Sheant
Lorge
Ancient centto dragon
Chang
Huge dragon
Thengiter crowle dog
Adult stor
Hatut swarm
Deagh
Torting devil
Thone
Timming of spider
Phoran
Undead swarm
Kille drakei
Lergite
Ware
Than
Cathic faaceleswork dragon
Wyrmling hound gray dragon
Mythic hunter earth devil
Shard
Valpaen
Giant sea serpent
Manur
Formilacras
Witer
Lesser walr aroch swarm
Bater corbian quasi
Anose swarm
Shark
Kalus
fagwh
Creveer
Large gravity elemental
Carpiang monterl
Halk elemental
Greated frog
Old bree elemental
fire hag
Mosse
Young black dragon
Juvenile of therium
Shackain
Telran
Raval
Loran
Piter
Ooze
Small condation
Warer dragon
Phoar
Boue ountju skell
Graven spawn skoleftite dragon
Certous
Bagrind
Young olbera
Young brine old dragon
Young skur
Bernon
Cama demon
Large wasp
Adum
Shadow rone golem
Brass dragon
Trebinterous giant spider
Farphet spider
Aphierfal-nakd
Funche
Chole
Blood dragon
Adult whis
Eddler
Giant flecher
Craych dragon
Hanuner
Barponati
Young hart devil
Thetil
Huge mastrakk snake
Marden head skole
River dragon
Rake
Pant
Urder ight
Small obsidian
Nightning crow
Mythic miphie
Carsian dragon
Domonstronge
Plast man
Formion
Archer
Young dunger beetle
Young greater swarm
Verblosk
Giant pend
Phoric faling elemental
Funid
Giant sea dragon
Night
Reddemla
Great horsinkin cist
Trigan
Garda
Dracodaemon
Min sea sea treantl
Corre
Navous
Mardian dragon
Mythic fia
Winsllaus sea wasp
Train arch
Witch
Leant
Gray devil
Foras devil
Sea servadle dragon
Deant
Bone of scel gaant adult blie
Old grim
Phawl
Trenzioner
Giant creater slarge meer
Fire spider
Giant marma
Clockwork spirian
Medium bangover
Hell black dragon
Dark stee
Haven lat
Ravone golem
Juvenile lign dragon
Juvantling
Spice elemental
Jolin
Borble swarm
Nenision cyplotz carosh dragon
Clockwork dragon
Plastoden
Raven hostidar
Giant sea serpent
Ancient beetle
Adult suln
Medium mastiggai
Great dragon ooze
Charan
Grey snille stag beetle
Hanged gasp
Night
Manid
Kerm
Bloib gargoygeres
Staggath
Very of snake
Planter
Luster
Clow white dragon
Morkernite
Ice golem
Spire
Plicer bebal
Seaner
Nigat
Hound swarm
Giant bones
Giant rotan
Shadow white
Satal sea serpent
Tir gurcubius dag
Marto dragon
Cargoyle guard
Skential scair
Ancel pravant
Bleater borg of sky swarm
Spind anter linnorium
Very ypin
Omated erem
Dark dragon
Pathan
Scorbsning earth gylasin queentie
Devourforne devil
Giant crow
Monstoak
Chore coly ctil
Night
Borbery
Livith man
Magmot
Worm oca

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Coffee for Mandy

For reasons that may or may not have to do with things you might find on the internet right now, I would like to throw some attention to this ko-fi page for Mandy Morbid. Buy her a coffee!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

BONUS: Mutants Metamorphica

EDIT 6/11/19: I've been going through and changing a bunch of my labels to coincide with my OSR blog roll search engine, but for some reason this one got re-posted which is weird. This is a really old post 0.o. I must have accidentally changed something in the title which caused it to repost? Ah, well anyway this is a decent list!

This table was inspired by the Metamorphica Revised, an awesome book with a 1d1000 table of mutations! I like to personalize my mutants, so here what I did was randomly select three mutations, and create a mutant from those three. Technically this is not anything you couldn't do yourself if you owned the book, but I tried to think about interesting ways to combine the mutations such that my mutants are more than the sum of their parts, and hopefully you'll get a kick out of them.

This is in no way meant to undercut the book, but to show what an awesome and powerful tool it is. In fact, if at least 20 people say they were encouraged to buy the book from this post, I'll make 20 more! Admittedly, I may just end up doing it anyway eventually, since it's a lot of fun!

The book has detailed descriptions of each mutation and subsets them by categories, but I chose to just pick at random from the full 1d1000 table, and to draw my own interpretations of their meanings. Likewise, in certain cases I bend, extend, or add to the interpretation of the mutations, for the sake of cohesion or because it struck my fancy. This exercise wasn't about "staying within the lines", but about using the metamorphica as a kickstarter for my own imagination. I try to be vague about any non-pertinent details so that it can be used flexibly. Many of these entities could be interpreted as one-of-a-kind fantastical beings, or as a template for an entire tribe or species. Many could vary in intelligence from bestial to god-like, or vary in shape from inexplicable to bestial to humanoid.

I also think this could be a good reference for the kinds of mutants one might encounter in Phantasmos, as mutants are the most populous "species" in the setting.



MutationsNumbers (d1000)Description
Material transparency; Increased Empathy; Decreased Empathy 869, 553, 516Transparent, bioluminescent skin with two polarities, red and blue. In blue-state, is loving and empathetic. In red-state, is aggressive and selfish.
Physical Coward; Large Ears; Internal Portal472, 83, 851Has elephantine ears, from which it can withdraw or deposit objects from a pocket-dimension. It can "hear" the muscle contractions of approaching lifeforms, which evokes a reflexive flight response.
Sexually Attractive; Aura of Disgust; Tusks136, 724, 183A succubus/incubus-like, tusked being. It is both alluring and revolting, which may manifest in its physical appearance or in a more subtle, existential manner. Maybe you're into it, and that's ok...
Demonic Phenomena; Control Clocks; Aura of Disgust778, 752, 724Reflects the time of death of any who observe it (and in some cases, can change it). Rather than inducing fear, most individuals instinctively externalize their feelings into hate and disgust towards the being.
Largesse; Drone Producer; Roots and Vines449, 425, 344A large, tree-like being. Produces animate fruit of various shapes, sizes, and properties, which do its bidding.
Precognition; Suckers; Decreased Awareness664, 374, 513An octopoid being with no sensory organs, except for the psychedelic swirls on its suckers which can sense the future through a complex space-frequency transform and predictive modeling.
Extra Fingers/Toes; Linguistic Mimic; Tail45, 567, 169A bird-like being with a long tail, at the end of which is a mouth surrounded by fingers. Manipulation of the mouth and fingers allows for perfect linguistic mimicry.
Editorial Evaluation; Re-Arranged Face; Toxin Resistance534, 126, 384Its face re-arranges to either literally or abstractly reflect whoever it is facing, allowing it to think as they do (more so sympathy than empathy per se). Any toxins, physical or metaphysical, can be spit out of its re-arranging face.
Wings; Microscopic Vision; No Pain Receptors199, 304, 308Wing-like appendages over its eyes sheer trace quantities of atoms in the environment into sub-atomic particles which it can "see" by touch. This would be a painful process, if it could feel pain...
Attention Deficit Disorder; Tumours; Light Generation505, 182, 296Covered in light-generating nuclear fusion tumors. It is bursting with so much energy that it struggles to focus on any one task (technically ADHD but still).
Fortune Teller; Long Legs; Math Brain819, 92, 569Its brain is actually a hyperplane which can do statistical prediction or multi-dimensional scaling of reality. In order to gather as much data from its environment as possible, it stands on tall legs to survey a wider area.
Diffused Organs; Energy Blast; X-Ray Vision35, 797, 998A large but biologically simple eukaryote. Most of its biological systems are generalized, redundant, or replaceable. Has fine-grain control of x-ray radiation which it can use both for visualization and energy projection.
Superhuman Strength; Romantic Rapport; Sense Interference948, 583, 585Has the proportional strengh of a spider, a precognitive sense towards danger, and is surprisingly charming- in a dorky way.
Force Field; Hallucinatory Possessions; Telescopic Vision817, 825, 376Primarily exists on a hyperplane. By pulling at the vertices of lower dimensions, can manipulate space like a force field, or project higher-dimensional objects into lower-dimensional space. Is able to observe at high-fidelity anything in lower-dimensional space within its range of vision.
Powerful Jaws; Tremor Sense; Create Darkness327, 386, 767Has a large jaw which utilizes compound mechanics across multiple gears, giving it dynamic range. Can produce vibrations in its jaw which ping the ground like echolocation to sense tremors. Can produce vibrations at the speed of light, in opposite phase of light, creating darkness.
Painkiller; Aura Reading; Parasite Infestation891, 605, 313Covered and filled with gross, worm-like extra-dimensional parasites which sense and feed off the magical or metaphysical auras of those around them, including the host. This allows them to absorb physical and emotional pain. If not for how quickly they run through their host, they'd actually be more of a symbiote.
Addicted; Slow Healer; Enhanced Senses401, 358, 541Body produces soma, a hyper-addictive drug which induces synesthesia and hallucinations which enhance the senses (and provide plenty of new ones). The being is unfortunately addicted to its own bodily excretions, to the point that much of its energy is focused on the production of soma, at the expense of physical repair.
Weather Sense; Short Legs; Anthopomorphic Animal600, 137, 9An anthropomorphic groundhog, close to the ground, with a hyper-acute sense of environmental phenomena.
Increased Physical Strength; Fortune Teller; Loose Skin285, 819, 96A large, strong being with loose skin (its foldy flaps). By pinching and pulling on the foldy flaps, reading them like palmreading or phrenology, can draw inferences not just about its own fortune, but of others touching the foldy flaps.
Superhuman Speed; Herbivore; Earthquake Prediction947, 439, 533A plant-strangling, vine or weed-like creature, burrowed deep in the ground. Unlike most plants, it is not only highly animate, but in fact faster than most animals- faster than their perception, even. Being so deep in the ground, it's developed a knack for sensing earthquakes.

Monday, June 10, 2019

OSR Blog Roll Search Engine!

Have you ever tried to find some specific article, but couldn't remember when it was written, or what it was called, or which blog you found it on? Isn't it maddening!? If this has happened to you, hopefully this new search engine will solve your problems!

To the best of my knowledge this does not already exist, but I apologize if somebody has already done this.

I've added a search engine to the footer of my blog which should include all blogs from the OSR blog roll as of 6/10/19.

You have to go to the main page of the blog, not just this article specifically, in order to access it.

I have not done a whole lot of testing on it, so if you think it's broken or missing something please let me know!

TNT Character Type: Mystic

Tunnels & Trolls (TNT) is a really simple game that I like quite a bit. I don't want to over complicate the game because it doesn't need it, but I do think it lends itself well to little OSR-like hacks. For instance, I'm working on rules for massive combat called the Mechs & Monstrosities Hack.

The warrior / rogue / wizard types in TNT are already pretty all-inclusive, but I thought I'd try my hand at designing an additional character type that fills a unique role or has a unique feel. I don't think it's adding anything that couldn't technically already be done in TNT, but hopefully it's interesting enough that people want to try it out anyway.

As with most of my stuff, due to lack of opportunity, this has not been playtested and will likely need playtesting, but hopefully it's a decent framework for what might be a functional character type.

This type fills roughly three roles:

  • It's a mixed magic / fighting class. It's very different from the rogue, but like the rogue, can be a multi-purpose character.

  • It's meant to fill the monk / psionic character archetype. That's mostly just fluff, and honestly any of the TNT types could be made to fit that archetype, but this models it a little bit more specifically.

  • Inadvertently it's become a charisma / face class. While not typically associated with the monk / psionic archetype, it just kind of made sense with how I built the type, and I think charisma really needs a boost in TNT. For every other class, charisma is the only attribute that doesn't contribute anything besides SR; it doesn't add HP or MP like CON or WIZ, nor combat adds, nor spellcasting. So this hopefully gives charisma a boost!


Mystics

Not all magic is drawn from the metaphysics of reality, or the divine. Some magic is drawn from the self, from those with presence, with an indomitable force of will. Those with the training and discipline, who hone their bodies and minds, transform themselves into something exceptional: the mystic.

Some mystics are extravagant; they wear exotic outfits and carry talismans. They often preach the divine or the occult, whether they believe this is the source of their power or not, and draw the attention of others like moths to flames. When they walk into a room, heads turn. Their very presence demands recognition. Rich or poor, native or foreign, they have an essence, a charisma, that transcends socio-cultural barriers. Their bodies may be unassuming in appearance, but they can channel their mental energies into potent psionic force. 

Other mystics choose a more austere, ascetic life. They revel in manual labor, channeling their disciplined minds to strengthen their bodies. They are wise-men; they do not demand attention when they enter the room, but when they speak, others listen. They are more so warrior monks than mesmerists or occultists, but their power essentially draws from the same place, from existential and epistemological analysis. Their orders may acknowledge the spiritual, metaphysical, or divine, but they are more concerned with ordinary affairs, or philosophies relating to individuals. Some believe that their powers come from an arcane or divine source, but to these mystics, there is no meaningful distinction between the self and these outside forces.

Mystic Stats

  • Can fight unarmed or with mystic focus weapons with (1d6 * STR Multiplier) + 1d6 + combat adds
    • For human characters, this would mean 2d6 + combat adds
    • This is the same as the Martial Arts rules in TNT Deluxe but with an additional 1d6
  • Can spend 1 WIZ to add +1d6 combat dice when fighting unarmed or with mystic focus weapons, up to mystic level times per combat round
  • Can channel psionic energy / ki through hand motions or mystic focus weapon for a 2d6 + combat adds ranged attack
    • Cannot spend WIZ to add additional combat dice
  • Use mental stats for combat adds when fighting unarmed or with mystic focus weapons (IQ, WIZ, CHA, LK)
  • Can spend 1 WIZ on a SR to change a physical stat roll to mental stat roll: Str -> IQ, Con -> Wiz, Spd -> Cha
  • Body and Mind are one: CON and WIZ are interchangeable for taking damage and casting mystic spells.
  • Gain one mystic spell per level of mystic level or lower, in addition to being able to learn new spells in other ways (same as wizard and rogue)
  • When using regular weapons, the mystic's psionic energy causes wear and tear to the weapon. Roll SR LK for wear and tear, on fail, the weapon deals -1d6 dice, and the next SR increases by 1 level.


Mystic Spell List


Note that this spell list was partially inspired by the psion GLOG class by Angus Warman of the Meandering Banter blog.
You can potentially include some wizard spells as well, although I do think mystics should have a more limited spell list than wizards. The spells should be evocative of wuxia, or something generally psychic / psionic.

Level 1

Third Eye
Cost: 2 WIZ
Duration: 30 minutes
Range to Cast: Self
Range of Effect: Self
Power up per level: Duration x2, or -1 to SR level

Restrict one sense to enhance another, providing +3 on SR rolls related to that sense.

Iron Fist
Cost: 2 WIZ
Duration: 1 combat turn
Range to Cast: Self
Range of Effect: Self
Power up per level: x2 Duration

Forearms and fists are covered in a metallic psionic coating, providing +3 armor for one turn when making an unarmed attack or attack with a mystic focus weapon (attack and armor on same turn as casting). Damage dice count as magical for any effect purposes. Armor bonus does not stack if wearing sleeved armor, gloves or gauntlets, or carrying a shield. 

Hovering Water Lily
Cost: 2 WIZ
Duration: 1 combat turn
Range to Cast: Touch
Range of Effect: 5'
Power up per level: Duration x2, or Range to Cast x2 (i.e. 5', 10', etc.), Range of Effect x2, or increase to size or weight of object (i.e. medium, large, etc.), or walk on walls.

Small, lightweight objects can be made to hover around the mystic or psionically tossed (possibly as improvisational weapon attacks). 

Whole Cloth
Cost: 4 WIZ
Duration: 10 minutes
Range to Cast: 5'
Range of Effect: Relative visual range
Power up per level: Duration x2, or increase size of object (i.e. medium, large, etc.), or Range to Cast x2, or add additional sensory effect (i.e. sound, smell, etc.), or capable of independent motion

Creates a small illusory object. If a target is suspicious (e.g. the illusion is implausible), roll a charisma SR to maintain the illusion. If the illusion is attacked, it immediately breaks. If the illusion is given a tactile sensory effect and used as an attack, it does not deal damage or provide combat dice, although on a successful charisma SR, the defender perceives 2d6 illusory damage, which is recovered as soon as the illusion is broken.

Level 2

There is No Spoon
Cost: 3 WIZ
Duration: N/A
Range to Cast: 5'
Range of Effect: 5'
Power up per level: Increase size of object (i.e. medium, large, etc.)

Through focus, the mystic can warp or break any small non-living, non-magical object (such as a spoon). If the object is being held or worn, such as a weapon, armor, or trinket, the target rolls for wear and tear, otherwise automatic.

Crouching Tiger
Cost: 4 WIZ
Duration: Passive for 10 minutes; 1 combat turn once activated
Range to Cast: Self
Range of Effect: Self
Power up per level: Duration x2, or number of defensive uses x2

Speed or charisma SR for a stealth attack against an enemy that does not see you. Roll combat dice for an opposed combat roll, and double the results if the SR was successful (otherwise regular damage). If the SR was successful but the opposed combat roll failed, take no damage. Can also be used to defend against stealth attacks for passive duration one time.

Level 3

Diamond Mind
Cost: 10 WIZ
Duration: 10 minutes
Range to Cast: Self
Range of Effect: Self
Power up per level: Duration x2, or Range of Effect x2 (i.e. 5', 10', etc.) to encompass allies

Mystics have immense willpower and even the ability to psionically impose their will on reality. They are immune to telepathy and can even fake their thoughts to a telepath (Charisma SR roll), and are protected by a shimmering aura that provides +3 armor against any kind of elemental attack and immunity to environmental factors.

ESP
As wizard spell, but level 3, cost 10 WIZ, charisma SR roll to succeed.

Discussion


Here are some design notes / concerns:

  • Whereas the rogue is more like a true generalist, the mystic uses both magic and physical combat but in a more narrow way

  • Giving mystics mental stat adds for combat and the ability to substitute mental stats for physical stats on SRs at a low cost reflects the "mind over matter" nature of monks, and can be flavored flexibly. It could be that they are shrimpy noodles whose "physical" abilities are entirely psionic, or they could be a shredded washboard whose physical strength comes from their indomitable will.

  • Mystics have a more limited spell list than wizards (part of that is me being lazy, but even if I added more spells I want it to be limited), and are focused around wuxia and psionic-like abilities.

  • Not unlike D&D, at low levels they're generally going to be weaker, because if they want to use mental adds then they have to fight unarmed or with a monk focus weapon which only deals 2d6, or maximum 3d6 if they pay 1 WIZ. This is hopefully offset by the fact that they can pretty much ignore physical stats, so they should have high combat adds and the ability to grow in both "physical" and magical ability more quickly than a rogue, who would have to spread their stats. As they level and can add more combat dice to their unarmed / mystic focus weapon attacks, they become more comparable to a warrior, but at the cost of WIZ.
  • I'm still worried that this type is either woefully underpowered or woefully overpowered, it really needs to be playtested!

Friday, June 7, 2019

High Level Games: 4 Reasons Why Your Game And Mine Are Less Different Than You Think



I wrote another HLG article! In line why my recent interest in SWORDDREAM (check out the subreddit!), this article is about defying our preconceived notions of what differentiates different kinds of games, and to what extent it's authorial intent, culture, dice probabilities, etc., and also how to go about leveraging that knowledge. Even if you disagree with the particulars, the point of this article is more about just encouraging people to think about their games more critically, or at least differently.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

SWORDDREAM

So my friend Saker Tarsos from tarsos theorem made me aware of this interesting new RPG movement on twitter called #SWORDDREAM. You can learn more about it on the graverobbers guide blog.

Nobody had done it, so I took the reins and made a subreddit. In keeping in the spirit of SWORDDREAM, it's "unofficial by design". If you want a convenient, centralized place to discuss SWORDDREAM-related stuff, it's there, and if you don't want to, then you don't have to!


Monday, June 3, 2019

Fantasy Species Fuzions

NOTE: Fixed the bug that was causing the buttons not to work if run from the main page.

Working on the superheroes and villains as fantasy species table reminded me how much I missed doing Weird & Wonderful Tables. I thought that table worked out really well, and it made me want to go back to my "traditional" fantasy series, which as a reminder includes a Weird & Wonderful take on Undead, Anathema, Vampires, Goblins, and Elves. Also, whereas my Phantasmos setting is very gonzo Heavy Metal original science fantasy, my Aquarian Dawn setting that I'm currently running a campaign in is a bit more grounded in "traditional" fantasy (although growing increasingly gonzo, because I can't help myself), so I've been trying to think about more interesting takes on "traditional" fantasy.

So the theme of this table is "what if a traditional fantasy species was more like another traditional fantasy species?". Despite the name, these aren't hybrids per se (not half-elves, half-orcs, etc.), although they could be if you want to use them that way. They could also be sub-species, or they may even be able to just replace the regular version of that species, if you want to run a mostly "traditional" fantasy campaign with a twist. Certain assumptions are made in the descriptions about the nature of the primary or secondary species in each entry, or the relationship between the fuzion with one or both of those species or other species, but I think most of these could be made to work in any of the capacities suggested above, maybe just with a bit of tweaking.

For this table, we've got orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, and goblins, so you'll get orc-elves, orc-dwarves, ..., elf-orcs, elf-dwarves, etc., for a total of 20 combinations. If people like this, I may add more traditional fantasy species fuzions down the line, or focus on fantasy species from other genres or culture like Japanese fantasy or Chinese Wuxia.

Some of the entries I would consider more original, while others are more like adaptations of other creatures from fantasy or folklore re-imagined as a fuzion of traditional fantasy species. I tried to think about thematic through-lines for the species, so that for instance there are certain commonalities between all fuzions with dwarf as the primary species, vs. dwarf as the secondary species. I didn't let that overly limit me, but this process was a useful way to think about what thematically drives each of these species.


Click through the list of fantasy species fuzions:
Go to fuzion by number (1 through 20):
Pick a random fuzion




NamePrimarySecondaryDescription
1. Golden OrcsOrcElfThey have saturated yellowish-green skin like an underripe mango, and glowing eyes of the various colors of the visible light spectrum. If they have hair, it is light brown or some shade of blonde, red, green, or violet. As natural forest fires are necessary to enrich the soil, destruction is as much a part of nature as creation. The golden orcs were created by the gods to cleanse the world. They are intelligent and rational, and take no joy in their task, but they will complete it with zeal. Some say they are the true first-born of the gods. Others say that they are the gods' final children, plucked from their place in time by the extra-temporal gods to correct errors in the past where needed.
2. FireborneOrcDwarfUnbeknownst to the High Father, the lesser gods kept some of the clay of life for themselves. Unfortunately for them, some of that clay was stolen. A dark sorcerer, evil god, or god-like outsider stole the clay of life, and used their powerful magics or technologies to change its very nature. They fired their creations in their abominable kiln, creating monstrosities and aberrations of life. Their bones, claws, teeth, and tusks are made of metal. Black ichor lymph flows beneath their hard, burnt, clay-like exterior. They glow ever red-hot. They are simple creatures, more like insects than beasts, programmed necromantically like zombies.
3. Drone OrcsOrcHalflingHalfling-sized orcs. They are a simple people with simple needs, mostly to consume. They are kept as low-maintenance reserves, should a dark-lord's evil plans go awry. If the horde is decimated or eradicated in an unexpected and stunning defeat, it is easier to use magics or technologies to morph the drones into new soldiers to replenish the horde than breed or craft a new horde over centuries or millenia. In a pinch, they are formidable in their own right, and some hordes are even left in drone form intentionally, for various tactical niches unsuitable for full-sized orcs.
4. Spore OrcsOrcGoblinThe dark lord who created this horde made them from the fruiting body of a fungal-like substance from another plane. They are green and purple-skinned, waxy and fibrous like a vegetable or fungus, covered in fruiting mushroom-like growths. The growths develop like a cancer, crushing their internal organs and obstructing or mutilating orifices, until they explode, releasing a cloud of spores. The spores carry microscopic cells like micro-orcs, assaulting the bodies of their enemies on the sub-cellular level, transforming them into full-sized spore orcs.
5. Green ElvesElfOrcThis is an altered / expanded version of the entry in Anathema. They are a shamanic people who pray to the spirits of the dark and nightmares, of wild beasts, spirits in the flame, and gods of the dark cosmos and stars. The forests are harsh, and they are a harsh people, but they are not necessarily evil and neither are their gods or spirits, although they may seem it. It is a balance, to appease the darkness, to harness the light of the cosmic inferno, to read the messages of eldritch beings written in the stars. They use tools of obsidian and the metals found in summoned meteorites as shamanic fetishes and foci. They are the true druids, the fomorians, the protectors of nature against civilization, civilization from nature, and the world from the elseworlds.
6. Berserker ElvesElfDwarfThey are the size of elves with the muscle mass of dwarves. They have the hairiness and large noses of dwarves, and the large almond eyes and long pointed ears of elves. They are psychedelic psilocybin warrior monks. They practice martial sciences as a form of personal and spiritual development, and enjoy ritualistic violent combat, but most would prefer to spend their time learning and creating. They are natural philosopher-engineers, although they tend to prefer hand-to-hand combat or fighting with simple weapons like axes and hammers. They see tools as extensions of the body and mind, and so for physical and visceral acts like violence, they prefer tools which best enhance, rather than replace, their physicality.
7. Hill ElvesElfHalflingAn unusually mundane sort of elves. They live simple lives, not that unlike rural humans. Some have magical aptitudes, but no more so than the average human. They don't commune with nature spirits or live in magic trees or arcane towers. They're well-fed, tending to be even a bit pudgy. They are excellent chefs. In some ways they out-human humans, with awkwardly large hands and feet, and they're even hairier. That all being said, they're still much quieter, at least when they want to be. The few hill elves to interact with the larger machinations of the world, to become adventurers, tend to pursue magic and alchemy, usually by way of atypical means, more like magical bards, through music, or theatrics, or most of all, through food.
8. PucaElfGoblinA highly magical species of dimunitive elves, more like nature spirits than mortals. They are sometimes impish but generally well-meaning creatures that live primarily in forests or in subterranean villages under termite-like mounds. Their civilization appears technological in its complexity, with plants, animals, and other aspects of nature working in a Rube Goldbergian-parody of natural order. Their footsoldiers are redcaps, their cavalry ride large dragonflies or dragonfly unicorn ponies, and their mages are leprechauns who harness the power of rainbows through gold coins which they carry in pots, or through four-leaf clover charms.
9. Ur-DwarvesDwarfOrcDwarves have a little-known ability, one so dangerous, so grotesque, it is carefully suppressed by the dwarven elders and scholars. Any dwarf who eats another dwarf absorbs their clay of life into themselves. As they consume more dwarves, they grow, wider than tall, like a grotesquely stretched, cylindrical dwarf, yet surprisingly limber. They become uglier, their skin harder and more clay-like, more angular, and cracked into rocky pieces. After consuming 100 dwarves, a dwarf becomes an Ur-Dwarf; a hulking beast more like a clay golem in appearance than a dwarf. In addition to growing bigger and stronger, their savant-like mechanical and engineering skills are also enhanced, as is their vicious cunning, although their social intelligence and critical thinking declines.
10. Rune DwarvesDwarfElfThey could almost be confused for halflings, if not for their musculature. Despite their mass, they are surprisingly graceful, effective in the shadows and facing off in the light. As a culture, they have contributed more to the alchemical magics and sciences, and engineering, than any other culture or species. Their runes were the first to account for the mathematical concept of zero, and to effectively incorporate numerology into their language. They are masters of finding the True Name in things, and in building tools, weapons, and golems with alchemical fires and runic encodings. They often carve runes into their own clay skin, sometimes imbuing in them unique colorings and auras in addition to whatever magical benefits they provide.
11. HomunculiDwarfHalflingPint-sized humanoid creatures, created from the clay of life for alchemical experiments. Alchemists, wizards, and engineers tend to use them as assistants, and initially they have little sense of self or agency (although this often develops over time). They often have exagerrated features reflective of their purpose. The most common homunculi have massively, comically oversized hands and facial features on an otherwise gaunt body and narrow head. Etched into their brains, rather than the normal folds one might expect, are runic symbols of the body part that part of the brain controls. A trained alchemist can even cut open a conscious homunculus' head to make modifications to their brain.
12. Wabi-SabimDwarfGoblinWhen the lesser gods crafted the dwarves from clay, not all of their creations met their homogeneous design. Whether early trials, sculptures ill-formed, or set too close to the flame or too far from it, or even experimental post-dwarven trials, some deviated from the design. They are often stunted, misshapen, or missing limbs or facial features, although some may be larger or have extra limbs or facial features. Unwilling to destroy their deviant creations, the lesser gods laced the wabi-sabim with gold to fill the cracks and glue broken parts, giving them their unique gold-veined skin and greenish-yellow tint. Either due to their atypical forms, or due to the alchemy laced in their skin, they occasionally develop unique physical, magical, or alchemical abilities.
13. BrutelingsHalflingOrcAbnormally large halflings with androgynous features and large hands and feet. They are nearly indistinguishable from humans, and are similar in temperament to an average masculine human. They are prone to hypermasculine aggression and displays of dominance, as well as narcissistic and anti-social tendencies, although they are not necessarily evil, and in dire circumstances make for competent and efficient leaders amongst a mixed-species group. They are generally good at manipulating humans and rising to positions of prominence and power in human civilization, for better and worse, but are generally disliked by other halflings, who find them to be too serious, too intense, and too power-hungry.
14. GnomesHalflingElfThey are to elves as halflings are to humans. They are extremely thin and narrow, with long faces filled mostly by large eyes, and pointed ears. They are magically inclined, inquisitive, and hyperactive. They focus intently on their tasks, and make for excellent tinkers, craftsmen, farmers, and engineers. What they altogether lack in strength and durability, even compared to halflings, they make up for with intelligence, in spades.
15. PygmalionsHalflingDwarfA diminutive warrior species that has learned to harness the powers of the clay of life. They have used the clay to enrich their forms, giving themselves dense muscles and skin, and rounded, full bellies. They can shape their clay, allowing them to alter their faces, and to a lesser extent their bodies. They worship a raptor-like crane god and venerate cranes. Their warriors, known as raptors, wear feathered outfits and crane-faced masks, utilize martial arts inspired by cranes, and ride domesticated war-cranes into battle.
16. Mutant HalflingsHalflingGoblinSometimes called trolls or gremlins (if not already used in the setting). They have various combinations of exagerrated facial features, and exotic neon, pastel, or metallic colored hair and skin tones. They are hyperactive pranksters, often with a violent side, but not necessarily evil. They often have unique magical abilities or naturally high magical aptitudes. While they tend to get along perfectly well amongst themselves, most other intelligent species find them to be too unruly, undisciplined, and disrespectful to authority to tolerate, and so they are mostly relegated to far-away places and left to their own devices. That being said, they develop emotional attachments to individuals of other species easily, and once ingratiated in a group or civilization, will readily abandon their homes and adamently cling to their new friends, only giving up if treated to the most hateful, heinous, humiliating personal offense, one that far exceeds the magnitude of whatever perceived wrong-doing the mutant halfling may have committed. Only one who has become a true friend would know how to commit such a grievous offense.
17. Dire GoblinsGoblinOrcSome goblins are neither born naturally, nor created by dark lords, but are transformed. To kill 1000 goblins is to be reborn a dire goblin. They maintain their original identity, but an evil and insane voice stews inside them, goading them into evil deeds. When overcome by the dire goblin, their bodies cease and convulse, as a hulking brute the size of a bugbear punctures their mortal body. Dire goblins have green or yellow skin, their hands and feet are clawed, their bodies are covered in horns and spikes, and their eyes glow like an inferno. In addition to their sheer physical power, they also wield cosmic infernal magics. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult for the host to resist the voice, and eventually they transform fully into the dire goblin. They may have the memories of their original identity, or feign as themselves, but their soul is dead and gone forever.
18. CherubimGoblinElfThey have the proportions of a human baby, although goblin-sized, and with just enough musculature to support themselves. They can also carry themselves by two sets of bird-like wings. They have four genders, identified by their head, like that of a lion, an ox, an eagle, or a long-nosed human. The lions tend to be aggressive and animalistic, the ox stoic and disciplined, the eagle cunning and vigilante, and the humanoid social, playful (sometimes playfully mischievous), and jovial. They live in a land of primordial paradise, created by the gods to protect paradise and to serve in other ways. That being said, they spend most of their time appreciating the benefits of living in paradise. If their task forces them to leave paradise, especially in the service of mortals, there better be some fuckin' involved or they'll be ornery right up until they return to the gates of paradise.
19. BrowniesGoblinDwarfGoblins who have been imbued with the clay of life. They are slightly larger than regular goblins, and much more stout. They are crafty and mechanical, and find domestic affairs like cooking and cleaning to be meditative. They are renowned architects, mindful of the structural needs, aesthetics, and ergonomics of the buildings they construct. They are a rare kind who find such inherent reward in their work, that they often forego greater monetary rewards or promotions to managerial or leadership roles. This is because, unbeknownst to most, they derive most of their sustenance magically, through domestic labor. That being said, they are also known for their... quirky sense of humor, and will often play pranks on their lords or build easter eggs into their constructions. They are also irrationally thin-skinned, and will lash out at even the slightest insult.
20. Gluttonous GoblinsGoblinHalflingThey are round, their bones degraded beneath their fat, appearing more like frog-men than goblins. They build contraptions on wheels or treads or spiderlegs to contain their bodies and locomote. Their contraptions are usually powered by foot pedals, as they have large feet and surprisingly muscle-toned legs. They are hunter-gatherer-scavengers, and when it comes to finding their next meal, they are more pro-social, crafty, and cunning than any human civilization. If not for their singular and simplistic goal, as a group they may very well be the most dangerous intelligent species in the world.