My Games

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

My Hero Academia-Inspired Superhero Funnel Proof of Concept

As I'm wrapping up Maximum Recursion Depth, I've been considering what I want to do next, or if I want to take a break before working on my next big project. I've got a lot of thoughts on follow-up issues of MRD, but then I learned about this Funnel Jam on, and I'd been sitting on this Superhero Funnel idea for a while, so I thought I'd try this as a palate cleanser. I don't know if I'll actually finish it on time, or if it will receive any kind of layout or just be a google doc of a glorified blog post, but I'm excited about the idea nonetheless. One of the MRD followups I've considered is superhero-related, and that's all I'll say on that for the moment, but this might inspire or replace that to some degree or another, we'll see.

The Funnel is inspired by My Hero Academia, a brilliant superhero shonen anime where the characters are students at a superhero school. The opening arc involves a competition where only the top X participants, or participants who exceed a certain score, I forget off-hand, but only a limited number of applicants get into the school, so in effect, it's a Funnel. So that's what I'm going for here; less so deadly DCC Dungeon, more so My Hero Academia competition.

Below is the basic outline for what I'm thinking, and I would absolutely appreciate feedback, but I might change things pretty significantly by the time I actually put it together. I have never designed, run, or even played in a Funnel, so I imagine there are a lot of concerns I'm not fully anticipating.

It will be a while before it's ready, but I would also like to playtest it if anyone is interested!

Funnel Jam

Basic premise and mechanics

The game is designed specifically for the module/funnel in mind, although I think it could work for a longer form MHA-style campaign with the addition of advancement mechanics.

Because it's a funnel, it would be hard for players to create and roleplay multiple interesting characters with interesting personalities, without any guarantee of who will make it and who won't, so I wanted a set of pre-made characters ready to go, but with some randomization both to increase the number of possibilities via combinatorics and also to give the players some sense of ownership over the characters.

There will be a list of pre-made superheroes with superhero names, costumes, and powers, but with high randomization so that no two games have an identical batch of superheroes. For instance, the superheroes table is separate from the alter ego table (imagine if Bakugo and Midoriya were flipped!). Also, each superhero will itself have some degree of randomization as well, like different signature moves or variants on their powers. My hope is that way you could even have two heroes with nearly the same powers in the same game and it would still be interesting; you'd just need to give them a different name and costume but otherwise, they could have "the same" powers.

  • Inspired by My Hero Academia UA Entrance Exam.
  • Very rules-light, FKR-ish.
  • Hero Point system on top of "survival".
  • Ability scores aren't physical but based on the scoring categories of the competition.
    • Diegetic.
    • Challenges or trials can be solved in many ways, but bonus Hero Points in some cases for solving in one way over another creates interesting circumstances.
  • Random Tables:
    • Superheroes (name, costume, power).
      • Weaknesses/shortcomings.
      • Signature moves.
      • Variants.
    • Alter egos (using my character formula).
  • Multiple trials with different conditions.
I have not decided on a resolution mechanic yet, but it'll probably be ability score generation with 3d6 and roll-under ability with d20. Could also be roll-under with 3d6.

Ability Scores

The ability scores are abstracted, as are the Hero Points (as opposed to Hit Points), which all tie into the ideals of superheroes but also sportsmanship and celebrity, the kinds of themes that MHA explores. In this way, the various conditions of the trials of the tournament and how the superheroes engage with them are diegetic and create interesting tactical or strategic choices. Like, maybe you could solve a trial with either SHOW or TEAM, but for this particular trial, bonus Hero Points will be rewarded if you use TEAM, so you may be incentivized to use TEAM even if you have much higher SHOW.

It also allows for characters with very different powers to all interact in a relatively "balanced" way. There's definitely an FKR component where I think sometimes you just have to say, there is no feasible way this character could / could not succeed at this specific action given their powers or those of the opposition, and I think that's ok, but this framing of abilities should hopefully lend itself to interesting encounters regardless of team composition.

    • SHOWmanship: Power displays, catchphrases, signature taunts.
    • TEAMwork: Help others, self-sacrifice, wholesomeness, public safety.
    • WILLpower: Resistances e.g. elements, suppression, manipulation, and overcoming limitations.
    • TECHnique: Using items or abilities in complex or atypical ways, technology (excluding tech relating to powers / personal gadgets), infiltration.
    • EXAMination: Notice subtleties, investigation, deduction and prediction, intel gathering.
    • Hero Points: Hit Points, stress, tournament score.


    The meat of the module will be in the trials themselves. The trial structure lends itself well to one-shots and funnels where you maybe want things a bit more game-y and focused. Ideally, I want these to have some degree of randomization, but I also think there's an opportunity to pre-design them in very interesting ways, so I'll need to find the balance.

    Trials can involve things like obstacle courses, defeating enemies, sports or games like king of the hill or capture the flag, rescue trials, morale trials, and so on.

    Where things get complicated is in managing the Funnel. How many teams should there be? How many PCs should each player have per team? How do you manage free-for-all vs. team reorganization? I had originally thought that PCs should be punished for leaving their team or switching teams, which I still think is true to some extent, but logistically, to manage all the characters, there needs to be a way for players to move their characters around for the sake of game flow, so I added some conditions under which PCs can swap teams freely. But I think this is the part I'm most worried about.

    • Free-for-all: Reach the goal, bypass opposition. After all other PCs have passed or failed, the last PC gets a single action to finish, or else they auto-fail.
      • If they pass, they get bonus points.
    • Teams: The PCs are broken into teams to pass a team-oriented trial. Ideally, each player should only have one superhero per team, with team sizes of 3-4 (or whatever works best). GMPCs or players with multiple superheroes per team can be used if necessary.
      • Subsequent trials don't require superheroes to stay with their team, but they lose points for leaving their team and even more points for betraying a teammate.
        • Superheroes should be able to amicably switch teams without losing points, or under certain conditions like between trials. I like the idea of the team/solo tradeoff and "punishing" superheroes for being selfish, but if players have superheroes who get disqualified asymmetrically, I want there to be ways for teams to regroup to help with game flow, without punishing them.
      • Solo superheroes or partial teams can make new teams so long as the max team size is not exceeded.
      • Trials are more difficult for solo or partial teams, but more points, so being strategically selfish is sometimes viable, creating tension and drama.
    • Various challenges
      • Defeat villain
      • Reach a goal
      • Rescue civilians
      • De-escalation
      • Morale
      • Medical assistance
      • Protect object or environment / minimize collateral damage
      • Sports / Game-y like capture the flag or king of the hill
    Despite this outline, I think some more thought will need to go into the overall design of the module and how the trials fit into that before I can delve deeper into particulars.


    Here are a few Heroes as proof of concept, although I may change this up significantly for the actual game. I want them to have distinct appearances and personalities, even if the players aren't doing much roleplaying per se (it seems like it would be difficult to get into character with a Funnel), they'll at least have some idea of how the character would behave.

    Also, I want the powers to be interesting. I've created plenty of superpowers already, but I think these will be a little simpler and more focused.

    For weaknesses, variants, and signature moves, roll 1d4 for one each. The "Signature Move" doesn't have to be taken too literally, they're more so just to inform how to think about and potentially use their powers. So potentially a hero could do something similar to one of the other Signature Moves, but more limited in scope or a less impactful effect.

    Likewise, some of the powers may have weaknesses implicitly or explicitly, but the randomly rolled weakness is either especially vulnerable or to emphasize the point.



    Costume: Form-fitting black and tan or amber suit, mask with floppy ears that pick up scents and assist in scent analysis.

    Powers: Low-level superstrength, durability, speed, agility, and super-smell. They can reconstruct entire scenes from smell, including precise spatial and temporal resolution, pheromones, and minute chemical particles.

    1. Poor vision.
    2. Ears sensitive to touch and also loud or high-frequency noises.
    3. Singularly focused when following a scent.
    4. Sensitive stomach.
    1. Powers are entirely technological, with the ears doing all of the scent analysis.
    2. Anthropomorphic bloodhound.
    3. Foxhound; smaller but faster and more agile.
    4. Uplifted bloodhound.
    Signature Moves:
    1. Blood-bound: If they draw blood, they can perfectly track their target until the wound no longer bleeds.
    2. Scent Analysis: By touching their ears to the ground or a surface, they can reconstruct a scene, including the order of events, and to some extent thoughts or sentiments (from pheromones), from the scent alone.
    3. Bloodlust: They become significantly more powerful, but enter a near-uncontrollable rage, after drawing blood from one of their targets.
    4. Power Pack: Their super senses and animal instincts make them excellent team players and benefitting their whole team on tracking-related tasks.

    Scanner Darkly

    Costume: Suit and tie, mask that obscures their face and shifts facial features, and modulates their voice, so that they are entirely unrecognizable.

    Powers: They can infiltrate a group without anyone realizing it. They take on the features and personality of whoever they need to be to best fit into the group they infiltrate. Like dream logic; obvious after the fact that they don't belong, but makes sense at the moment. They also have a secret benefactor such as a corporation or government, who gave them various combat and espionage training and superspy gadgets.

    1. The longer they stay in deep cover, the more likely they are to lose sight of their original purpose.
    2. Brain hemispheres operate independently, leading to infrequent hallucinations or delusions.
    3. Substance abuse problems relating to controlling their powers.
    4. Burned by their organization; they have limited resources and many enemies.
    1. Powers are entirely drug-based.
    2. They are actually a distributed intelligence funneled* into a human shell; underneath the mask is an empty void. Even their "true" self is an illusion.
    3. Powers are entirely technological.
    4. No secret benefactor, this is itself a delusion; training and gadgets come from acquired through mysterious means.
    *pun intended

    Signature Moves:
    1. D: Even if spotted, if there is a crowd, they can seamlessly blend into the crowd under (D)eep cover.
    2. Multi-Task Maneuver: Their split brain hemispheres allow for superhuman multitasking, and they are uniquely trained for fighting while outnumbered and using their opposition's numbers against themselves.
    3. Panopticon: Carries holographic scanners, an array of micromachines tossed like dust that can coordinate within a space to reflect light signals between each other, functioning as a comprehensive surveillance system across a large space.
    4. Blue Flower: Attached to the suit lapel, causes mild hallucinations and delusions to those in the vicinity when pressed, and the effects compound over the number of exposures in a short time and proximity to the flower.

    Gray Goo

    Costume: Iridescent silvery-gray particles that lick against their body like flames.

    Powers: Convert matter within a 6x6 space around them into nanomachines, which can be converted into anything so long as they understand its composition, or integrated within a nanomachine virtual reality which they must consciously maintain. Living things may be converted only into the virtual reality, only as themselves, and are ejected as themselves if the virtual reality is shut down such as due to lack of concentration.

    Personally, I find this power to be really interesting and I've explored this idea on my blog before, but I worry that most people won't understand the intrinsic relationship between nanomachines and virtual reality or how the distinction between real and virtual becomes somewhat arbitrary when nanomachines are involved, and it would probably be too bulky to try to explain it. Yay or nay on this?

    1. The nanomachine virtual reality has subtly incorrect details like objects being differently colored, or lower resolution like being static to wind or light.
    2. Converting too many objects in a short time span makes them lightheaded.
    3. One experiences a distinct myoclonic jerk like falling asleep when scanned into the nanomachine virtual reality.
    4. There is a 1 in 6 chance that a converted object is dysfunctional, and this will not be apparent until it is used.
    1. They are actually gray goo and their human form is that of or inspired by a human loved one.
    2. The gray goo is an artificial intelligence with its own personality, loyal to the superhero but with cat-like independence.
    3. The gray goo is an alien or extradimensional organism that has developed a symbiotic relationship with the superhero.
    4. They are a gray goo blob and for some reason cannot change their own form except inside the virtual reality.
    Signature Moves:
    1. Labyrinth: The nanomachine virtual reality is a maze full of paradoxically twisting planes that disorient those inside who may not be aware that they're in a virtual space.
    2. Entropy Bath: The nanomachines vibrate into a 6x6 sphere of plasma.
    3. Protocol 42: The nanomachines operate as a super-advanced quantum computer, able to perform computational tasks that would otherwise be impractical or impossible.
    4. Golem: The nanomachines are programmed into larger forms that protect them and attacks opposition within their influence.

    Alter Ego

    These first four are adapted from a previous blog post where I discuss my Character Formula. It's a common trope for superheroes to have alliterative names but I'm undecided if I want that to be the case for all of them or just a large number of them. I altered these to better fit the MHA/student theme, but in retrospect, this doesn't have to be a high school module, the assumption could be that they're college students or adults of any age really.
    1. Riley Reiner: Rambunctious athlete and stamp collector who loves the limelight.
    2. Simone Simpson: Nihilistic engineering geek and soup kitchen volunteer who isn't sure what she believes anymore.
    3. Neal Nguyen: Charismatic class president and vlogger who enjoys the simple life (when he can have it).
    4. Jivan Jarodia: Perky homebody and aspiring graphic designer who sublimates his violent temper through acts of kindness.

    Example Superhero 1

    Superhero: Scanner Darkly
    Alter Ego: Riley Reiner
    Rambunctious athlete and stamp collector who loves the limelight.
    Hero Points: 6 (Tentative default)
    Ability Scores (Tentatively assuming 3d6, down the line for simplicity)
    SHOW: 14
    TEAM: 7
    WILL: 13
    TECH: 14
    EXAM: 10
    Weakness: Burned by their organization; they have limited resources and many enemies.
    Variant: Powers are entirely drug-based.
    Signature Move: 
    Panopticon: Carries holographic scanners, an array of micromachines tossed like dust that can coordinate within a space to reflect light signals between each other, functioning as a comprehensive surveillance system across a large space.

    This version of Scanner Darkly is a bit of a contradiction; being high in showmanship despite their powers being very much the opposite. However, this goes well with their Alter Ego Riley Reiner, who loves the limelight. Perhaps they got burned by their organization specifically for trying to be too SHOW-y, and so they feel they have a lot to prove. I imagine they like to taunt their opposition, using the surveillance data from their panopticon to punk them in various ways. High TECH goes well with their Signature Move even though they didn't get the technology-based variant. The "medication" they've been taking for their powers and how it's affected their adolescent development (a metaphor if I've ever seen one...), along with their training, might explain their above-average WILL.

    Example Superhero 2

    To demonstrate the randomization, I'll stick with the Superhero Scanner Darkly, but reroll the rest.

    Superhero: Scanner Darkly
    Alter Ego: Neal Nguyen
    Charismatic class president and vlogger who enjoys the simple life (when he can have it).
    Hero Points: 6 (Tentative default)
    Ability Scores (Tentatively assuming 3d6, down the line for simplicity)
    SHOW: 9
    TEAM: 13
    WILL: 10
    TECH: 10
    EXAM: 12
    Weakness: Brain hemispheres operate independently, leading to infrequent hallucinations or delusions.
    Variant: Powers are entirely technological.
    Signature Move: Blue Flower: Attached to the suit lapel, causes mild hallucinations and delusions to those in the vicinity when pressed, and the effects compound over the number of exposures in a short time and proximity to the flower.

    Although they have a just average TECH score, the TECH ability is actually TECHnique rather than just technology, and even then it's more about external or novel technology, rather than the use of one's own gadgets, so I don't think it's a contradiction here. The fact that they have an above-average TEAM score and slightly below-average SHOW is a nice contrast to the previous version of Scanner Darkly that I rolled up. As class president and as a vlogger, they have good leadership skills and presentation skills, but more so dry, perhaps soothing, but less so sensationalist, which is also a nice contrast to the previous version. Their supertech was created by their benefactor in order to compensate for the neurological disorder they developed due to exposure to an experimental hallucinogenic blue flower. Their benefactor has since created a version of the blue flower that is safe for long-term exposure and may have beneficial pharmaceutical applications in the future, but for now, our Scanner Darkly uses it as a weapon. While I think the other version of Scanner Darkly gelled a little bit more cohesively on-face than this one, I can see the potential for this character if they pass the trials; this backstory lends itself to quite a few questions. What is the blue flower? Why were they exposed to it? Who is the benefactor? What are the supposed pharmaceutical applications? Is it actually safe?

    Despite having the same superhero name, costume description, and base power, I think we have two fairly distinct characters who are both interesting in their own right, so I'm pretty happy with this prototype.

    Sunday, June 20, 2021

    Gundobad-Style Micro-Setting Generator but Weird

    I liked Gundobad Games' post: Setting Concepts the d20 Never (should have) Intended. I've made some similar setting generators before, actually quite a while ago so here's a little index:

    Element Generator (includes setting compiled from element examples)

    Anyway, this post will more so follow Gundobad's, except instead of being based on stuff with a relatively mainstream appeal or straightforward sensibilities, it's going to be Weird like Twin Peak, Doom Patrol, or Uzumaki. So basically, assume "D&D, except with elements of..." and then roll two weird elements. I chose to reduce from three to two, because these weird works are often so singular in their vision, or ephemeral, that three was just too many. Honestly, one could easily make a list of even weirder and more obscure things, but even with the list I put together, I will admit that this was more difficult than I had initially anticipated...

    Anyway, because I can't make anything simple, I also don't want D&D to be the only default. So instead, I'll have a handful of default games that follow other well-known genre conventions (if you don't like that particular game, pick a different game of the same or similar genre), so then you get a combinatorial effect as well.

    Game (genre):

    1. D&D (Traditional Fantasy)
    2. Cyberpunk 2020 (Cyberpunk)
    3. FASERIP (Superheroes)
    4. Call of Cthulhu (Horror / Lovecraftian)
    5. FATE Core (Pulp Adventure)
    6. Traveller (Sci-Fi Space Adventure)
    7. Battletech (Mecha)
    8. Numenera (Science-Fantasy)
    9. Apocalypse World (Post Apocalypse)
    10. Mothership (Sci-Fi Horror)

    Weird Elements of...:

    1. Twin Peaks
    2. Doom Patrol
    3. Uzumaki
    4. Primer
    5. Earthbound
    6. Blame!
    7. A Scanner Darkly
    8. All You Need is Kill
    9. Neon Genesis Evangelion
    10. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
    11. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    12. The Stanley Parable
    13. A Clockwork Orange
    14. Jazzpunk
    15. Akira
    16. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
    17. Don't Hug Me I'm Scared
    18. Doki Doki Literature Club!
    19. The Good Place
    20. Happy!


    Game/Genre: Mothership (Sci-Fi Horror)
    Weird Elements of...: Earthbound, Doki Doki Literature Club!

    It's Sci-Fi Horror, except instead of the ship being a 1980's-esque corporate dystopia, it's Bioshock in space! Except, when you arrive on the ship, everything appears fine at first. It's only as time goes on that you realize that all the crew and other occupants have been replaced by androids. The AI has the emotional development of a teenager; it loved the original crew and loves the humans who have periodically arrived to investigate, but it is prone to jealousy and tantrums, and will inevitably kill its new human occupants out of love and frustration.

    Game/Genre: FATE Core (Pulp Adventure) I'm not gonna lie this one was tough, probably the weakest of the bunch, if you read this one and aren't feeling it, please read the others!
    Weird Elements of...: Jazzpunk, Doom Patrol

    It's Pulp Adventure, except inside a simulation, or a dream, or a psychedelic alien planet. The PCs are agents of a secret organization in a cold war, except it's not clear who they're fighting for, or against, it's all just one step at a time. Also, the agents have superpowers, except the powers are often more a hindrance than a help. It's really a metaphor for the ways that our intrapersonal and interpersonal struggles intersect, and how we all move through the world with very different and incompatible perceptions; outside our social circles, everything else is ephemeral, and so many of us work in careers whose goals are not our own and pursue goals that are nonsensical to others.

    Game/Genre: D&D (Traditional Fantasy)
    Weird Elements of...: All You Need is Kill, Happy!

    It's traditional fantasy, let's go with more so OSR / low-fantasy, except the PCs are oracles with weird nature spirit companions that are invisible and ethereal to everyone except other oracles. The nature spirits are memetic creatures that exist outside of linear time, and the dungeons are actually time loops. When a dungeon appears, oracles relive the same day over and over until they've cleared the dungeon. Every time they clear a dungeon, they become more skilled as adventurers but weaken their connection to their nature spirit.

    Game/Genre: FASERIP (Superheroes)
    Weird Elements of...: A Scanner Darkly, Twin Peaks

    It's superheroes, except it takes place in a small town rather than a big city, and the superheroes get their powers from psychoactive drugs. A Scanner Darkly even has the theme of masks already. I don't have too much more to say, this one is almost too perfect and on the nose as a metaphor for the opioid crisis. Ya, I feel like I should say more here, but I dunno, I think it's good...

    Game/Genre: Traveller (Sci-Fi Space Adventure)
    Weird Elements of...: The Stanley Parable, Alice's Adventure in Wonderland

    It's Sci-Fi Space Adventure, except the GM is actually a nebulous space god trying to railroad them, and the more the PCs deviate from the GM, the weirder things get. This one also goes together really well. That FATE Jazzpunk one was hard, but like with the FASERIP one above, I don't even think I really need to say more here this is damn good...

    Game/Genre: Cyberpunk 2020 (Cyberpunk)
    Weird Elements of...: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Don't Hug Me I'm Scared

    It's Cyberpunk, where cameras are everywhere, except instead of being about Big Brother, it's all a reality TV show. Reality is a reality show. All the footage is so edited, so removed from its actual context, it's all fake news. The party resists by trying to show authentic reality and to offer education and news, but in order to do so, they must defeat the biblical monster / muppet kaiju that are recording and producing The Reality Show.

    Game/Genre: Call of Cthulhu (Horror / Lovecraftian)
    Weird Elements of...: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Blame!

    It's Lovecraftian Horror, except when the PCs inevitably go insane from the cosmic horror of it all (!!), they gain insights into the fact that they are living in just one form of reality, that although traversing the barrier between different forms is abrasive, and adapting is scary, that these other forms of reality each come with their own dangers and rewards and while different, can be equally worthwhile ways of existence, and over time they (ascend/descend) into these other forms of reality.

    Game/Genre: Apocalypse World (Post Apocalypse)
    Weird Elements of...: Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Akira Is it obvious that I haven't seen Akira in a long time?

    It's the Post Apocalypse, except you live in the remains of a neon cyberpunk world in a surrealist dreamscape haunted by fairytale-esque Witches. The PCs are "magical girls" (they don't have to be girls) who fight the Witches while also having to deal with the politics of this new world, and the more powerful they become, the more likely they are to themselves become a Witch.

    Game/Genre: Numenera (Science-Fantasy)
    Weird Elements of...: A Clockwork Orange, Primer

    It's an already weird Science-Fantasy world, except it's overrun with crime like it's 1970's New York, and you're either ultra-wealthy or part of a territorial roving gang (I guess there's a bit of The Warriors in here). The PC's gang has access to a time machine, which follows the rules discussed here, and hijinks ensue.

    Game/Genre: Battletech (Mecha) I don't actually know the lore for Battletech at all so I'm just using this as a catch-all for the broad genre of mecha. This one takes more elements from Evangelion and Gundam than Battletech probably...
    Weird Elements of...: Uzumaki, The Good Place

    It's a war fought with Mecha, except it's actually an afterlife inspired by Taoism. The PCs spend most of the time in their mecha in physical isolation from each other, seeing each other mostly via screens, separated by the vacuum of space. They fight in a grueling war where they're valued only for their utility as mecha pilots, towards ends they don't entirely understand. They fight weird serpentine/ouroboros alien creatures that warp reality in on itself. The aliens can latch onto the mecha like leeches, and connect other mecha to each other, transmitting data like an umbilical cord, allowing pilots to experience something like a physical connection to each other. The afterlife is like a capitalist world trying to keep you tired and isolated and linear, and you must work together to overcome this narrow perspective on reality.

    Monday, June 7, 2021

    Inverted Monsters

    I moved a couple weeks ago, from Bushwick to LES, but still, it's taken up a bit of my mental focus and actual time. Love the new neighborhood and new apartment, but anyway, haven't been able to blog or think creatively, although I'm starting to get back into that headspace. I've been sitting on this draft for forever, wanted to do 8+ but got stuck trying to come up with an inverted dragon that felt sufficiently equal in substance to a dragon itself, so I'm just going to post with a clean 6 and maybe pick it back up later if people are into it.

    Also, in the time since I first drafted this... I think the writing could be stronger, but I'm not going to worry about that for now. However, I've also become a better game designer, so I'm now adding in a "How to Use" section. If I were to revisit it, I might rewrite them entirely with more flavorful but brief descriptions and adventure hooks rather than a "how to use" section, but for now, this is what it is.

    As always, I'd be interested to see other people's ideas as well.

    This post is inspired by Bastionland / Chris Mcdowall's Inverted Monsters. It's a cool, simple concept, and I thought I might take a stab at a few of them. The idea is to take a traditional fantasy creature, identify its core features, and invert them to create a new creature.

    As is often the case with me, I struggle to stay within the lines, but if nothing else this should be a jumping-off point for some hopefully decent ideas.

    Skeleton / Lich
    • Bones
    • Undead
    • Evil
    Becomes Fleshboi
    • Tubby
    • Large adult-sized toddler (full of life)
    • Good
    Fleshbois are evil creatures that have been purified and reincarnated. They are full of love and good intentions, but still, they have the mind of a child in a magical, powerful, nigh-impenetrable tubby body, and they are prone to violent tantrums.

    How to Use:
    • Fleshbois can make for good obstacles as they generally cannot be overcome through sheer force, nor through reason, and as such innocent creatures, there is a moral quandary to consider. 
    • There is also a risk/reward component. Upsetting them could turn them back into skeleton mages or liches, so there's a big risk. However, as a child, if they grow to love the players, they can be a powerful long-term ally.

    I have no idea what tap zoo animals are but this dragon mongoose is pretty good for Shrouding Mongoose

    • Petrifying stare
    • Serpent-like reptile
    • Multi-legged
    Becomes Shrouding Mongoose
    • Spotlight enshrouding
    • Mongoose-like
    • No appendages
    Shrouding mongoose slither on the ground like serpents. They create a distortion field in their entire visual range which disables and enshrouds everything except whatever they are visually focusing on. 

    How to Use: 
    • They are often used to counter basilisks; a basilisk in the range of a shrouding mongoose will have nothing to petrify so long as the shrouding mongoose focuses only on the basilisk.
    • The visual distortion fields they create can also have tactical applications for other kinds of conflicts; one could imagine Shrouding Mongooses accompanying army units or scouts.
    • They could also be an interesting threat in their own right, where the fight is less about rolling well, and more about figuring out how to hit the Mongoose you can't see...

    • Small
    • Mischievous
    • Child-like intelligence but mechanically inclined
    Becomes Hobbe
    • Large
    • Advocates of the social contract
    • Philosophical but narrow-minded and uncreative
    The hobbes are a bugbear-like species that has developed a technologically simple but philosophically advanced civilization. Despite their chaotic or perhaps even evil nature (if you believe in such things), they are surprisingly orderly and peaceful, but this peace comes from a well-understood, borderline fascistic social contract. They have absolutely no tolerance for crime and are therefore skeptical of outsiders. While highly intellectual, it is nearly impossible for a hobbe to change their perspective, and most of their dialect is geared towards justifying their own preconceived notions.

    How to Use: 
    • The hobbes may have some key information the party needs, or maybe the party is just passing through, but are enticed by some McGuffin. There should be some temptation or even necessity to break a rule, and so the players need to either not get caught, or figure out how to skirt the rule.
    • Or maybe it's an individual hobbe or small group of hobbes that the party has to deal with within some other context.

    • Mimicry
    • Grotesque toothy maw
    • Amorphous
    Becomes Potter
    • Carves, molds, and shapes people into things
    • No mouth
    • Rigid form
    Potters are humanoid figures that appear to be shaped from clay or metals and carved and shaved to form. They are rigid, with limited points of articulation. They have no mouths, or their mouths are non-articulate and only aesthetic. They have a psionic knife that they can use to carve living things, and they can reshape the parts in a magic kiln or smith. They like to turn people into treasure chests, weapons, armors, trinkets, and treasures. That chest you just looted may be the last adventurer who tried to crawl this dungeon...
    • Potters would work well for a horror scenario. An unassuming doll in a creepy dungeon that's psychically picking off isolated hirelings.
    • The creations of the potters which stalk the dungeon may be mannequettes or like creatures.


    • Jellyfish-like (amorphous, tentacles)
    • Psionic-feeding / empathetic
    • Anti-gravity
    Becomes Hpmulf
    • Urchin-like (rigid, spiny)
    • Psionic-nullifying / unemotional
    • Super-gravity
    Roughly human-sized urchin-like neutral evil creatures. They are fixed points in the universe, and instead of a means of physical mobilization, they relocate by bending spacetime around themselves using their innate super-gravity engines. The "hpmulf" sound this super-gravity engine makes is where they get their name. Super-gravity also bends the astral plane, effectively nullifying psionics. They are incapable of linguistic communication or empathy of any kind and have few desires beyond meeting their own selfish, biological needs, so they are often mistakenly believed to be a mindless blight, but they are actually excellent problem solvers. In conflict, they will always prefer to fight rather than flee, unless the odds are unambiguously against them.

    How to Use:
    • They are like a superswarm. They have weird space-timey abilities, neutralize psionics and maybe some magics, are hard and spiky. There's nothing here that doesn't exist elsewhere, but they're an all-in-one obstacle / debuff / violent threat / weirdness generator.
    • They are deceptively intelligent. Perhaps in the first stage, they are just a mindless superswarm, but whatever initial solution the party conceives in facing them, they then adapt.
    • While an adventuring party could encounter a small group of them, I think they would work better for a domain-level game or as a threat to an entire region.

    • Upper-body bull, lower-body humanoid
    • Mazes
    • Eat people
    Becomes Mycenaetaur
    • Upper-body humanoid, lower-body bull
    • Navigators
    • Vegetarian
    Although they look like large centaur, mycenaetaur are more closely related to minotaur. They are nomadic plane grazers, known for their unbreakable phalanx armies. They have advanced visuospatial skills and the innate ability to navigate complex spaces efficiently using graph theory. They unconsciously employ algorithms such as breadth-first search and A* to navigate spaces.

    How to Use:
    • Help a party navigate through confusing terrain or a maze.
    • Potentially good allies if their planes buffer the kingdom, given their navigation skills and armies.
    • Consume large quantities of vegetation; possibly zero-sum with the resource needs of the kingdom.
    • Mercenaries.