Friday, December 25, 2020

De Luminare Minus Caelestis Hierarchia, Or: A Young Cleric's Illustrated Primer

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of Lights. 

Angels, as we well know, are the servants of some vast and defunct celestial bureaucracy, in which each of them had some important role to play. Through the wearing of a mask and adherence to certain tenets, they may be commanded through the use of miracle dice. The names of some angels are known to many - Hallow, Lightning, Kindle, Iconoclasm, Hold - but what of the others?

This is a gift.

Alter Self
R: n/a T: self D: [sum] hours
She appears as a delinquent bohemian, carrying a palette and a bottle of wine which she drinks from continually. Her wings are stained with a rainbow of paint.
You are physically transformed into another person or creature of a similar type to your normal form. You acquire the gross physical qualities of your new form (movement capabilities, natural armor or weapons, presence or absence of wings, number of extremities) but she cannot grant you any supernal powers. If more than one MD is invested, your clothing and equipment are likewise transformed. Alter Self is a sufficiently skilled artist to accurately duplicate the appearance of a specific individual, provided she has a reference to work from.

Earthquake
R: 400' T: a [dice] * 20' radius sphere D: [sum] rounds
She is huge, naked, incredibly muscular.
An intense but highly localized tremor rips through the affected area, collapsing structures and cracking the earth. Creatures within the affected area fall prone and cannot move, attack, or cast spells for the duration. Earthquake's strength is sufficient to destroy any structure or natural feature not constructed primarily from flexible materials.

Fusillade
R: n/a T: self D: [sum] rounds
She has an indeterminate number of arms. Attempting to count them causes migraines. Commonly associated with Black clerics.
Overlays herself onto your body, allowing you to hold and make attacks with up to [dice] additional firearms per round for the duration. In addition, firearms you hold are automatically and immediately reloaded with magical ammunition until [sum] bullets have been produced. The magical ammunition does not persist beyond the duration.

Kill
R: 30' T: a living thing D: immediate
She is dressed like an accountant, and has gentle features. Historically associated with Green clerics.
Immediately slays the target with no save if they have [sum] or fewer HP. Kill cannot be commanded without speaking her name aloud.

Legend Lore
R: n/a T: something of legendary importance D: [lowest] hours
He appears old, bearded, and sagacious, walks with a cane and wears an elaborately decorated cap. Commonly associated with Red clerics.
Returns at the end of the duration with [dice] pieces of information about an important person, place, or thing. If the target is present when you command him, the information will be accurate, specific, and relevant; if you have only detailed information on the target, the information will be less specific but sufficient to assist you in finding it; and if you have nothing but a name or a rumor the information will be vague and incomplete legends.

Locate City
R: n/a T: a circular area around the caster with a radius of [sum]*[dice] miles D: immediate
She wears a pair of heavy earmuffs and carries a large suitcase and a map. She speaks unbidden and is invariably genocidal.
Locates the nearest settlement within range (as defined by the amount of time it would take to travel there through means currently available to you) of a minimum population defined by you at the time you command her, and displays to you its position, name (translated from the language of its inhabitants as best she can), and the shortest passable route to it.

d.m. Locate City has a sister, who appears identical save for some small difference such as webbed hands and feet or incongruous facial hair. Her sister's power is to destroy the entire targeted area in an explosion of concussive force and bitter cold.

Might
R: n/a T: self D: [sum] rounds
She appears as an archon of vengeance in full harness of elaborately filigreed plate, and bears a massive and equally ornamented sword.
You are wreathed in glimmering supernal armor which doubles your strength bonus, renders you immune to normal weapons, and allows each attack you make against an opponent of [dice] or lesser HD to automatically hit and deal maximum damage for the duration.

Shillelagh
R: touch T: a blunt object D: [sum] hours or until discharged
She is wild-haired, painted in woad, and carries a large knife at her belt. Commonly associated with Blue clerics.
The target strikes with incredible force for the duration, is able to harm demons, elfs, and the undead as though it were made of appropriate materials, and deals double damage for the next [dice] blows you strike with it. Charges are not expended on missed attacks.

Silence
R: earshot T: 5'^[dice] radius centered around a creature, object, or point D: [sum] minutes
She wears a ski mask and dark clothing, but carries herself with a regal bearing.
Complete magical silence blankets the affected area. All sound is stopped: Conversation and further command of angels is impossible, and no noise whatsoever issues from, enters, or passes through the space. If centered around a creature or object, the area of effect moves with it; if centered around a point in space, it is stationary.

Solitude
R: 120' T: something that can see and hear D: permanent or [sum] rounds, see text
Her head is shrouded in bandages, and she hovers without use of her wings. Commonly associated with Yellow clerics.
If [sum]*2 is greater than or equal to the target's current HP and they fail a save, they are struck blind and/or deaf (your choice) until you direct Solitude to release her hold on them. If [sum]*2 is less than their HP or the save is successful, her effect lasts only [sum] rounds instead. Solitude can be commanded with only her name, i.e. even if your hands are bound.

Stoneskin
R: touch T: a creature or object D: [sum] hours or until discharged
She is tall and appears carved from marble.
The warded target hardens and takes on the rough texture of stone, protecting it from the next [sum] points of damage it would suffer. If placed in a situation where survival is impossible (immersed in lava, thrown off the Face of the world, &c) they immediately turn to invulnerable stone and lose consciousness. If this occurs, Stoneskin is incapable of reversing the transformation herself.

Wall
R: 120' T: [dice] 10' x 10' panels in contiguous formation D: instant
She is broad-shouldered, carrying a variety of tools in a leather belt, and requires specific instructions.
Creates a wall in the target area, with a thickness dependent on material. The area must be relatively clear of obstructions; Wall refuses to move objects for you and strict safety standards prevent her from working on areas that currently contain living beings. If directed by another angel with knowledge of architecture, she can produce double the amount of material.

d.m. various Walls exist, each producing a different material when commanded. Wall of Stone is commonly associated with White clerics, and Wind Wall was historically associated with the Orange heretics before their extinction.

Zone of Truth
R: n/a T: a 20' radius around you D: [sum] minutes
She carries a long staff topped with an ostrich feather, and refuses to speak.
For the duration, knowingly spoken untruths can be seen as streams of ephemerally glowing fog where they cross the Zone.


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Drink-sharing Rituals

Happy GLOGtober, which never ended in our hearts! Here's a social mechanic stolen in its entirety from Caves of Qud.

A ratman drinking tea, probably.

Rituals, Tea and Otherwise

So, you know the standard reaction table:
This, more or less. 2d6+CHA mod of most visible PC/whoever is attempting to lead the negotiation.

When faced with an encounter that is capable of communicating with the party and not immediately and violently hostile (i.e. had a reaction result higher than 2), any player can walk forward bearing a waterskin or other recognizable drink container and declare that they will attempt the drink-sharing ritual.

The drink-sharing ritual is universally understood, and has eight steps (an auspicious number):
  1. First, you drink.
  2. Then, you offer them the beverage and they drink. If you're attempting the ritual with something that can't drink, pouring the beverage over them is an acceptable substitute.
    1. If you've drugged the drink, that takes effect as normal. If they figure it out, expect combat and to be attacked on sight by any other members of the faction should one survive to speak of your crimes - the drink-sharing ritual is sacred.
  3. Then, you offer them something. This can be a material gift (everyone loves treasure and/or interesting tchotchkes) or a secret (everyone loves gossip and rumors).
    1. If you offer a secret then you are honor-bound to not give that same secret to anyone else in a drink-sharing ritual. Probably nothing is actually stopping you from doing so, but the idea is repellent.
  4. Then, you ask for something in return. Decide if you ask for a secret, a gift, or nothing.
  5. Then, reroll the reaction check (2d6+CHA mod of character performing the ritual) plus the following modifiers:
      1. +1 if you shared a drink more impressive to the other party than water. Beer, nice tea, liquor, etc. Different participants are impressed by different things.
      2. +1 if the gift you offered was especially appreciated. Different participants appreciate different things.
      3. +1 if you asked for nothing.
  6. If you asked for a secret or gift and rolled Friendly (9+) or higher, they give it to you. What they actually give you will depend on what they know/what they have as well as their initial reaction result.
  7. If you asked for nothing, the new reaction result replaces the initial one if it's higher.
  8. Then the ritual is complete and you're back to normal, non-structured social interaction.
There you go. Sort of a risk-mitigating mechanic for when you meet some Unfriendly ratmen and need to get past them or whatever, at the cost of some tea and maybe a secret. I hope this is useful to at least one person!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Orcs, River and Otherwise

Perhaps a month of posts was too ambitious. Ah, well, nevertheless: GLOG is about breaking the rules, and thus I shall finish GLOGtober as though it never ended.

Happy GLOGtober!

The Civilized Lands

The Civilized Lands, from whence adventurers come to the Mountain, are dominated by two large culture-groups, each formed from several component polities. They are the River Kingdoms, an imperial federation that originated in the homelands of the orcs, and the Charter Nations, a more loosely organized alliance and trade group that originated in the homelands of the goblinoids. Today, we are concerned with the former.

A hill orc warrior.

Orcs

The Mountain Player's Handbook has this to say about orcs:

2. Orc: Tall and universally muscular, with strong brows, jutting lower jaws with protruding tusks, and pointed ears. There are three races of orc: Hill, water, and “half”—the lattermost of which would more properly be termed “mountain orcs”.

1. Hill orc: Green skin, approximately seven feet tall, reroll Strength and highest non-Strength stat.

2. Water orc: Heavy-set, gray-brown to blue-gray skin, bulbous milky eyes, webbed extremities, gills set into necks and faces, just under seven feet tall. Amphibious (swim speed equal to land speed, breathe water as well as air), see well in dim light, +1 difficulty to all rolls in bright light, reroll Strength.

3. Half-orc: Pale yellow, green, or gray skin, about six and a half feet tall. “Half-orc” is a (slightly derogatory) misnomer applied due to relative size, reroll lowest stat.

Orc social systems and biology are closer to our own than those of goblinoids, so I don't think I need to spend as many words on them. Hill orcs are the ones you probably think of first when you think 'orc' - big, green, etc. This is by design, of course - the imperial dynasty is of hill orcish origin, and by tradition members of the Imperial Court are selected from among the population of the majority-hill-orcish provinces at the empire's heart.

A hill orc knight.

The River Kingdoms

The River Kingdoms are a federated empire of provinces (with governors appointed directly by the empress) and vassal and tributary states (under suzerainty of the Imperial Court). They are innumerable and ever-changing in size and import, but we can talk about the Imperial Core itself as a group as well as the four vassal states most currently relevant.

The Imperial Core
The eight largest and most powerful provinces at the heart of the empire, the wellspring from which its might and glory spread throughout the civilized lands in ages past. The Imperial Core covers such an enormous amount of land that it is difficult to characterize its climate or geography; it ranges from temperate plains, forest, mountain, and steppe in the north to subtropical jungle and coastline in the south. Majority hill orc.

Mondal
A large archipelago kingdom, tropical and subtropical in climate with some mountainous regions temperate by way of altitude. One of the most important vassals of the Imperial Court for much of its history, providing a great portion of its food and art imports and respected as such in the Imperial Core. Majority water orc.

Ked
A smaller vassal kingdom and buffer state between the Imperial Core and its neighboring powers, located along a coastline and stretching inward along several major river tributaries. Ked provides a greater proportion of its population to the imperial army than any other River Kingdom, and several of its people hold high generalships. Majority water orc.

Yema
An empire in its own right, laying claim to a storied history nearly as long and rich as that of the River Kingdoms as a whole. An island nation far removed from the Imperial Core, it occupies a special place in the complex diplomatic structure of the empire as a nominal ally rather than vassal or tributary. Majority mountain or "half"-orc.

Sybia
A recently-acquired imperial possession - a state of affairs which few expect to last, as the mountainous region is a historical enemy of the River Kingdoms and has been subjugated before only to re-achieve independence in a long and bloody cycle of warfare and revolution. Majority hill orc.


Thursday, October 8, 2020

Mysteries and Baited Hooks

So, we've got the Ranger Made of Hooks, but absolutely no idea who, what, or why they are... That's a mystery. It counts.

Happy GLOGtober!

The Rangery

'Ranger' is an in-world title. Rangers are somewhat like a secret society, somewhat like a freelance intelligence agency. They exist in the largest cities and the most distant wastes; naturally, many of them have found their way to the Mountain.

All Rangers are Made of Hooks, transformed into that shape through some arcane ritual initiation that has never been witnessed by an outsider. Perhaps there is an indoctrination component, some element of the process that turns double-agents into triple-agents and prevents them from betraying the Rangery. Or perhaps the ones that can't be turned are detected and quietly killed and replaced - after all, it would be hard to identify them once their body has been transformed into a knot of barbed and twisted iron.

Like Satans, you should add Rangers to all your encounter tables, maybe opposite the Satan (boxcars?). They can appear anywhere. They shouldn't really be directly hostile unless you're fucking with them, so take reaction rolls on that end of the spectrum to mean that their purposes are orthogonal to yours and likely in conflict.

They make camps, small chambers of comfort deep in the underground or high on the face. They stock these camps with weapons and provisions, everything crafted solely from locally available materials. The entrances are very well-hidden, but should you find one uninhabited you are welcome to make use of everything within; if the Ranger had not wanted you to find it, you wouldn't have done so.

You can play a Ranger Made of Hooks if you meet a friendly one and accept and complete a questmystery for it.

1d20 Ranger Mysteries

  1. What lies at the heart of the Sun?
  2. Take this ball of fishhooks to the mouth of Hell, anchor the line nearby, and throw it in.
  3. What was the cause of the War that sundered the world?
  4. Bring me the crown of a last king of giants.
  5. Who blinded the leeches?
  6. Burn the homes of the mushroom-folk.
  7. Who were the Brothers?
  8. Make peace between the ratmen and the bat men.
  9. What is the meaning of the word 'elf'?
  10. Cast this barbed spear from the top of the Mountain or higher, and have it land in the sea.
  11. What is the source of G_d's power?
  12. Plant this fishhook in the flesh of the Rune King.
  13. Who is or was the Traitor?
  14. Open the path from the cradle to the top of the Mountain.
  15. Who survives of the Red Court?
  16. Poison the blood pits.
  17. What is the purpose of the Rangers?
  18. Bring a colony of mushroom-folk to the surface of the moon.
  19. Where lives the oldest whale?
  20. Bring the richest denizen of the catacombs before the Sun to face judgement.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Adventure! (Class: Ranger)

Happy GLOGtober!

Definitions and Etymology

So, the term "adventure". It doesn't normally - in real life - mean walking into a tomb and killing (or being killed by) skeletons, getting treasure, all the things we expect from a tabletop RPG "adventure". It really just means, like, going somewhere. The going, that's the adventure, the exciting part. What you do when you actually get there is just... Work, usually. Sometimes hanging out. With the bros. But usually just work.


This image disagrees with me, but fuck it. It doesn't know anything. It's just an image.

I forget where I was going with that. 

You know who goes on adventures? Rangers. And you know what you need for adventures? Hooks.

It all fits together, don't you see?

Ranger Made of Hooks

1/A: Bushcraft, Ankomorph
2/B: Trailblazing, Wilderness Lore
3/C: Barbs, Ranging, Fishhook
4/D: Ambush, Skyhook

A: Bushcraft
You have skill in bushcraft, and can easily make mundane objects out of natural resources such as sticks, rocks, and plant matter which function nearly as well as professionally made versions. This takes ten minutes for anything portable (torches, a short rope, snares, spears, etc), or one hour for vehicles or structures (shelters, pit traps, rafts, sledges, etc). This isn't infinite free gear - you and your GM should work together to describe what exactly you do to make whatever things you're making - but it is as much free gear and as good of free gear as is possible.

A: Ankomorph
In place of flesh, your body is comprised of thousands upon thousands of iron fishhooks, knotted together into barbed, twisting appendages in rough facsimile of an orcish or goblinoid form. This renders you immune to most concerns of fleshier beings such as disease and poison, although you do still require sustenance and have to be wary of rust and lodestones. Their natural hardness gives you 4 AC that doesn't stack with armor, and your unarmed attacks and successful grapple checks deal 1d6 base damage.

B: Trailblazing
You have skill in tracking and pathfinding. Yourself and your party are not slowed by rough terrain during overland travel.

B: Wilderness Lore
When encountering a strange plant or animal for the first time, you have a 2-in-6 chance of identifying them. When encountering a condition (a disease, poison, curse, enchantment, etc) for the first time, you have a 2-in-6 chance of knowing of a strange plant or animal that could affect that condition in some way (causing it, curing it, immunizing against it, etc). When learning of or entering a notable location for the first time, you have a 2-in-6 chance of deducing an adventure hook or rumor with at least one true element for that location from context clues and prior information. These chances improve by 1-in-6 per Ranger Made of Hooks template, to a maximum of 4-in-6 at template D.

C: Barbs
When you successfully hit with an unarmed attack, you can make another unarmed attack against the same target with no penalty and without spending an action. This continues until you miss.

C: Ranging
Your first random encounter each day always includes, contains, or consists of the following, in some form:
Dense vegetation (forest, plain, savanna, jungle): Enough food and water for your entire party.
Sparse vegetation (desert, steppe, tundra, scrubland): Enough food and water for yourself and four others.
No vegetation (dungeon, glacier, salt flat): Enough food and water for you.

C: Fishhook
You have, somehow, acquired a fish friend. It is a giant cave pike, who despite its ill temper and tiny brain considers you its best pal in the entire world and will do its best to defend you. It possesses a preternatural ability to find you if and when you abandon it, and will do so eventually even if slain. Or maybe that's a different fish, then. Hard to tell.

D: Ambush
When you begin an encounter and aren't surprised, you may retroactively decide where to have placed yourself and any members of your party that agree to follow your direction. At least one member must be visible and out of hiding.

D: Skyhook
Your hooks reverberate with minute variations in frequency, allowing you to predict what the next change in the weather will be by standing outside and concentrating for one minute.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Mountaineering Rations of the Two Cities

 Almost caught up to GLOGtober...

Rations of the Mountain

Okay, so you've taken ship to the Mountain, you've arrived at one of the Two Cities, and you're about to head inland or underground on a Grand Adventure.

What the fuck kind of food do you bring with you?

1d10 Rations available in the Old City

Or, "What are these River Kingdom troops eating?"

1. Tea, compressed and molded into cakes (discs) or bricks.

2. Sesame- or poppy-seed bagels, strung on a piece of cord and carried around the neck.

3. Pre-fried rice, millet, and/or wheat flour, eaten as a porridge - or straight, in an emergency.

4. Fermented cabbage, cucumber, and radish pickles.

5. Cured meat or fish, preserved through brining, marinating, and then smoking.

6. Repeatedly steamed and basked (dried) rice, allowing it to be quickly rehydrated with the addition of hot water. Doesn't come in a box, though.

7. Sundried cottage cheese made from horse, goat, or sheep's milk.

8. Cooked ground venison, compressed into bite-sized cubes and dried.

9. Bread soaked in vinegar (for acid) and/or fermented black soybean and salt (for salt) and then dried. Used as a condiment or soup base.

10. Fermented milk wine, slightly alcoholic.

1d10 Rations available in the New City

Or, "What are these Charter Nation troops eating?"

1. Fresh chickens (or larger beasts, for larger parties), carried or driven along alive and slaughtered when it's time to eat them.

2. Hard cheese, preserved inside its rind.

3. Olive oil, carried in small clay pots stoppered and sealed with wax.

4. Just a big ol' sack of cracked grain.

5. Hardtack or other dried biscuits/crackers.

6. Beef, pork, or venison jerky.

7. Salt fish or pork, requiring multiple boilings before palatable.

8. Small beer, barely alcoholic; or water, cut with vinegar.

9. Wine mixed with honey and seawater, or mead.

10. Sauce made from fermented fish and salt, used as a condiment.

What was the point of this?

If I'm honest, it was kind of a punt. I do think it's useful to know what the "rations" you bring with you up the Mountain or into the dungeon are, though. Like, if you're carrying a big jar of olive oil, that might come in handy for things other than eating it.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Mountain Topography

Bit of a cop-out, but I've gotta catch up to GLOGtober and I have a map of the Mountain that I haven't posted yet.

It's not this one, the side-view point map hastily scribbled on a piece of paper:


clicc for big, but I've already posted this one.

It is this one, a topographical map:

clicc for big, this one is new.

This was created for me ages ago by kahva and I never did anything with it, but I really like it. I suppose it'll be especially useful if and when I need to do some overland travel bits in a game. I've added the two cities myself with very little consideration - their positions aren't final.