Monday, May 3, 2021

Very Leetle Mountain Classes

The Mountain classes are too big. To correct for that, here're some very leetle versions of the same classes. They might be MOSAIC STRICT, whatever that is. They also might not be.

I think they're pretty good examples of "problem children" class design and I'm proud of them for what they are. They're a little too minimalist for my taste, honestly. I shall continue the Work of finding a middle ground for games I actually intend to run, hah, heh, hoo.

Class: Paladin

Every paladin has a Revelation; a vision which causes them to break with the dogma of the Church and leads them on a divine mission. Every paladin is a prophet, an apostate, and a heretic.

Things you can do:
  1. Given three seconds, oxygen, a functioning breath cycle, and at least one hand capable of being cupped, start a very small fire
  2. Refuse to be burned by any fire of not-specifically-malicious intent
  3. Eventually, receive a shimmering halo
When you create your character, choose one holy order to have learned the traditions of:
  1. Choirs Invocant orate and castigate with thundering voices that cannot be ignored
  2. Inquisitors Avengeant suffer physical harm from speaking untruths, and can see lies spoken by others
  3. Templars Contemplative always connect meaningfully with special moves that they name and describe
  4. Warminds Scrivener command angels with names like Fireball, Lightning, and Missile
Each day, name and detail the portfolio, deeds, method of martyrdom, and ritual observances of a saint. For each of these you write down, one of the following prayers will be answered once that day:
  1. O Holy Illuminator, bathe this place in the glory of your Light and make all things visible within it—
  2. O Cleansing Warmth, grant this servant the touch that burns away wounds and illness, and makes all things hale and pure—
  3. O Blinding Radiance, drive my foes before me like shadows before your Light, and undo any Sorceries which they have wrought—

Class: Witch (True)

Witches are dark creatures born to followers of the Old Ways who have consorted with spirits, monsters, or beasts. More monster than man, they are an object of both fear and awe.

Things you can do: 
  1. Melt, burn, or wither away when faced with the object of your supernatural weakness
  2. Inflict nonspecific bad luck with the evil eye, or very specific bad luck with a curse if the target has personally wronged you
  3. Sometimes receive actual information from the GM when you cast the bones
When you create your character, choose one familiar you are able to create from your flesh:
  1. As many guns as you can carry, which emerge fully loaded
  2. A swarm of your favorite bugs, which share your mind
  3. A magical friend, who imposes restrictions and warps your body, but grants you boons
  4. A big tumor, which renders diseases harmless to you and easily transmissible to others
Each day, choose one rhyme you are able to make true by chanting it ominously, cackling, and offering a small sacrifice:
  1. Bigger, smaller, I'll decide—your current size I won't abide!
  2. Red and yellow, blue and green—your true form shall not be seen!
  3. Look at you, hale or sick—your present health, it shall not stick!
  4. All your secrets I shall spy—with my creeping, crawling eye!
  5. With ragged flesh and loyal bone—this corpse shall serve, its will my own!
  6. Lung of toad, essence of bog—I will exhale poison fog!

Class: Witch (False)

False witches are scholars, adventurers, thieves, tricksters, explorers, well versed in the magic present in the world and experts in bending it to their use. They steal, find, buy, or create magic through ritual, rather than any power held within themselves.

Things you can do:
  1. Sustain yourself indefinitely through a combination of begging, scavenging, foraging, and stealing
  2. Pick shoddy locks in an instant and any other type in a minute or two, even with makeshift tools
  3. Climb, without equipment, anything that a properly-equipped person could
  4. Forge documentsseals, and signatures given even a passing description of the original
  5. Always have a small knife, a coin of negligible value, precisely thirteen feet of strong twine, a stub of chalk, and a piece of charcoal on your person
When you create your character, choose one physical magic that you have learned the secrets of and acquired one example of already:
  1. Magic swords, which you can communicate with at your leisure and carry any number of without issue
  2. Magic bottles, into which you can coax spirits or capture souls for later release to do your bidding
  3. Magic masks, which grant you the appearance or abilities of the person or beast you made them from

Class: Gutter Knight

Gutter knights are noble scions, who journey and commit acts of conspicuous heroism as a coming-of-age ritual before eventually hanging up their cloak and returning to take their place in the gentry; theoretically humbled and made wiser by their experience. 

Things you can do: 
  1. Not possess any amount of currency, nor anything else beyond a mount, saddle, riding tack, and whatever you can carry on your person
  2. Rely on your family name to secure respect, food, lodging, and knightly quests in any settlement large enough to have a mayor
  3. Defeat any single person, most duos of people, and especially pusillanimous trios and quartets in a fair contest of strength or arms
  4. Take a blow that was meant for one of your allies within arm's reach
When you create your character or complete a knightly quest, sew a new patch-favor to your cloak with a thematic ability which can be used once per day:
  1. Torch, for rescuing a peasant boy from a cave. Sets something on fire.
  2. Paper soldier, for defending a library from book-burners. Grapples with the strength of five strong men.
  3. Mighty oak, for saving a dryad's grove from loggers. Makes a big tree, very fast.
  4. Trick rope, for rescuing a street performer from the gallows. Creates 50' of animate rope that obeys your commands.
  5. Windmill, for putting out a village fire. Blows anything not securely anchored to the ground away with a gust of wind.
  6. Conch, for extricating a nymph from a fishing net. Summons a pack of friendly sea lions.
  7. &c, &c. This is just a starting list, not exhaustive.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Grass Grows, Birds Fly, Sun Shines, and Brother; I Hurt People (Class: Fighter)

Did I need another Fighter? Probably not. Did I write one anyway? Yes.

There's a trend, I think, of minimal classes. Minimal wizards, even. Or maybe there isn't, I don't know, I can't find the blogpost if there is one.

This is only tangentially related to that, at best. 

It's more closely related to this, perhaps. An attempt to distill down the essence of 'Fighter'. Less fiddly than a FIGHTMASTER, less flashy than a wave-dancing samurai duelist, less setting-bound than a Gutter Knight.

Oh, I guess it's also related to both of these.

King of Swords.

Class: Ultimate Fighter

Every template of Fighter you have gives you +1 to-hit and +2 HP. If you're playing in a system with proficiency, you have it in all forms of weapon, armor, and shield that your character could theoretically have seen before.

Skills: Wrestling, Small-Unit Tactics, and one of 1. Warfare 2. Crime 3. Wilderness 4. Oceangoing
Your skills are intentionally fairly broad. Fighters are skilled folk.

Starting Equipment: A melee weapon of your choice, a ranged weapon of your choice and ammunition for it if applicable, good travelling clothes and a big backpack, a two-man tent, a lantern and oil, armor of some sort, and a shield if you want one.

Parry, Expertise, Versatility
B Steel Gaze
C Whirlwind
D Death-Dealer

A: Parry
Each round, you can negate up to [templates] points of damage in total that would be dealt to you or adjacent allies by melee attacks that you are aware of.

A: Expertise
Whenever you hit someone with an attack, you can attempt a combat maneuver against them for free as long as you can narrate how that'd work. Perhaps pinning their arm to a door with your crossbow bolt allows you to grapple or disarm them from a distance, or your sword blow combines with a quick stomp on their instep to trip them up.

A: Versatility
Weapons you wield, even improvised ones, deal 1d8 base damage if they would normally deal less. If you have a STR penalty, it no longer applies to your attack, damage, or grappling rolls.

B: Steel Gaze
You can project an aura of intimidating calm at will. While active, nameless mooks and dumb animals will avoid fucking with you if at all possible, and anyone who cares to look will become instantly convinced of your ability as a warrior.

A nameless mook is anyone of about 2 HD or less that the DM hasn't bothered to give a name to yet. A dumb animal is any living, non-supernatural thing that can't talk or eat you whole and isn't under immediate supervision.

C: Whirlwind
You can make one extra attack each round for free. Alternately, in place of all of your normal attacks for a round you can make one attack against each opponent that you could reasonably target with one.

D: Death-Dealer
Your attacks that hit nameless mooks automatically incapacitate or kill them (your choice), with no need to roll damage.

But Vayra, You Hate Generic Classes

I do, I do. But this isn't just a generic class, it's a class chassis. A classis, you could call it.

Here are some archetypes you could glue on top if it:

1. Magical Girl
Starting Equipment and also Benefit: Your starting weapons and armor are made of light, magic, love, or hope, do not require ammunition, disappear if removed from your person, and can be summoned back into existence by undergoing a magical girl transformation sequence which takes about one full round.
Drawback: You aren't proficient with weapons or armor aside from your magical girl equipment. In order to use your expertise, you have to shout the name of whatever special move you're doing. Your magical girl transformation sequence can't be performed while intoxicated, scared, depressed, or otherwise suffering an emotional crisis.

2. Elf
Starting Equipment: Your chain armor, shield, elaborately filigreed rapier, and the heads of the 20 arrows for your longbow are made of mithril, weigh nothing, and can wound ghosts and angels.
Benefit: You can see as well in starlight, torchlight, or twilight as a normal man can see on a sunny day, and will effectively never age. Those affected by your steel gaze know you as not only a warrior, but a noble one.
Drawback: Dirt and grime deal actual, physical damage to you. When wronged, you must roll a save or swear an oath of vengeance. You cannot break such oaths if you have the opportunity to make good on them.

3. Wave-Dancing Samurai Katana Duelist
Starting Equipment: Your katana has been folded over 1,000 times and can cut through lesser blades. You also have a chain gusoku, a longbow, and 20 arrows. You don't get a shield, and aren't proficient with them.
Benefit: You can walk on water. This is exactly as badass as it sounds and NPCs will react appropriately.
Drawback: Wave-Dancing Samurai Katana Dueling is a dying art. You'll never meet another of your kind, and nobody else can ever play another one in the same setting.

4. Knight
Starting Equipment: Your shield carries the crest of your noble house, which was once esteemed but has declined in standing due to the mistakes of your father. You also have a longsword, a lance, plate armor, and a well-trained warhorse. You don't get a ranged weapon, and aren't proficient with any.
Benefit: Your name carries respect, and you have a squire, who is useless in combat but generally adept at handling non-Knightly business in your stead. When you issue a challenge, anyone with honor is compelled to accept it or lose standing in the eyes of the gods, the nobility, and upright citizens.
Drawback: You straight up cannot bring yourself to do un-Knightly things. Your squire has to do them for you. If a pretty lady asks you to do something, you have to do it unless you can explain why a different pretty lady is preventing you from doing so.

5. Ghost Inquisitor
Starting Equipment: A sword in a jeweled scabbard. A bunch of medicine in your big backpack. A bunch of paper covered in warding sigils. You don't get a ranged weapon, armor, or a shield, but you're still proficient in them if you find some.
Benefit: You can identify undead at a glance, and see lies. Your warding sigils prevent undead from passing them until destroyed.
Drawback: You aren't allowed to harm undead unless you see them initiate conflict. Breaking this rule makes your warding sigils and ability to see lies stop working and may see you hunted by other ghost inquisitors.

6. Lance Rogue
Starting Equipment: A lance, leather armor, a ludicrously ineffective hand crossbow and 20 tiny bolts. You don't get a shield or proficiency with one.
Benefit: When you hit a surprised foe with your lance, your damage is multiplied by 2 + (3.5 - (3.4 / (1 + (([templates] + 1)/3.5)^1.1))). Do not round.
Drawback: Excess lance damage is dealt to everyone surrounding your target, including you. Also, you have to track fractional hit points.

7. Warrior Baron
Starting Equipment: A sword, a shield, a bow and 20 arrows, chain armor.
Benefit: You can hire fighters, archers, barbarians, and other martial types for a regular wage rather than a share of treasure. If you ever come into the possession (not necessarily the ownership) of a significant quantity of land, peasants and artisans will start to show up to work it for you under the assumption that you'll protect them.
Drawback: Softer (read: more successful and powerful) nobles will never recognize your claims. Your successes will be met with increasing unease on their behalf, and eventually they will raise armies to put yours down.

8. Tunnel Fighter, also known as Dwarf
Starting Equipment: A shortspear, 6 more lanterns, plate that only covers your head, arms, and shoulders (as leather unless you're in a tunnel or significantly shorter than your opponent, then as plate). No shield, no ranged weapon, no proficiency with either.
Benefit: When you're in a tunnel, you're no easier to hit than you would be on an infinite featureless plain and you never get stuck. When your opponent is in a tunnel, you have advantage on attacks against them.
Drawback: Agoraphobia.

9. Horizon Walker
Starting Equipment: A sabre, a revolver and 12 cartridges, a big hat, leather armor, magic manacles, a badge, and a book of court summonses. No shield, but you're proficient if you find one.
Benefit: You are empowered to make arrests of demons, devils, genies, angels, modrons, and other planar entities. Arrestees are legally forbidden (but not physically prevented) from taking direct action against you and must show up for their planar court dates. If you call for backup, two junior horizon walkers will show up nearby to assist you within 1d6 minutes and remain at your side until you are reasonably safe.
Drawback: Spurious arrests will get you in trouble with interdimensional affairs, headquarters will refuse to send you backup for 1d6 weeks per junior agent that dies helping you, and nobody likes cops.

10. Foreigner
Starting Equipment: Two unique and impractical (for anyone else) weapons. Armor made from something weird (as chain). You can have a shield of the same material, if you desire. Two drinks nobody here has heard of, one delicious to any taste and one intoxicating to any constitution.
Benefits and also Drawbacks: Click the link up there. Roll five advantages and five drawbacks, and choose four of each from the ones rolled.

11. Jedi
Starting Equipment: An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age. No armor, no ranged weapon, no shield. You retain your proficiency, but disdain their use.
Benefit: You can exert non-impacting force on things within a stone's throw (push, lift, pull, throw, etc) as if you were standing next to them, can parry ranged attacks and spells, and can jump about thirty feet.
Drawback: Whenever you do something completely immoral (harm an innocent, attempt to reverse death, demand payment for services rendered) you gain a dark side point and look a little bit more like a corpse. If your dark side points ever exceed your templates, you gain the ability to shoot lightning out of your hands and become a recurring NPC villain.

12. Sword-Swallower
Starting Equipment: A shortsword, a mediumsword, a longsword, and a greatsword. You can have chain armor if you want, but you don't get a ranged weapon or a shield and aren't proficient with either.
Benefit: You can swallow anything that's vaguely swordlike, including knives and bladed spears, keep up to templates times 2 of them in your gullet at a time, spit them about as far as you could throw a javelin as a ranged attack, and—upon reaching your fourth template—fuse swallowed swords together over the course of a long rest.
Drawback: You can't eat normal food, you have to eat swords. 1/3 slot of sword sustains you for a day.

13. Gunslinger
Starting Equipment: Two revolvers and 36 cartridges, a big knife, a big hat, a big poncho or big coat (your choice, as leather), no shield and you're not proficient with them or any kind of actual armor.
Benefit: You can choose to already have your gun drawn, cocked, and aimed pretty much whenever you want. If you enter combat and aren't surprised, your enemies are.
Drawback: When something startles you, you automatically quick-draw on it and must save (once per gun, if you have and can wield more than one) in order to not pull the trigger.

14. Gentleman
Starting Equipment: A nice suit (+1 reaction, not armor), a nice hat, a nice cane. None of that other garbage, but you're still proficient if it matters.
Benefit: Your versatility applies to your unarmed attacks. Those affected by your steel gaze will assume you have powerful and important connections that are personally relevant to them, which will get you into any fancy dinner party or club and might have other uses besides.
Drawback: You are functionally incapable of disguising your membership in high society, and must save to avoid responding to perceived insults (real or imagined) with threats or a challenge.

15. Ghoul, or Cannibal
Starting Equipment: A nice suit (+1 reaction, not armor), a big knife, sharp teeth. None of that other garbage, but you're still proficient if it matters.
Benefit: Whenever you eat something that could talk, you may choose to gain a relevant special ability or +2 stat bonus (the DM will tell you which), which replaces any previous benefit from this ability. You can eat carrion safely, no matter how long it's been dead.
Drawback: You can't eat normal food, you have to eat things that can talk.

16. Artist, Martial
Starting Equipment: Bandage-like wrappings, a robe. None of that other garbage, and you're not proficient with armor, shields, or any weapon that isn't suitably exotic. Tying a tassel onto one or chaining two together will usually count, in a pinch.
Benefit: Your versatility applies to your unarmed attacks, and you can make one even with your hands full or from about as far as you could throw a rock. You enter a state of suspended animation while meditating. You can run on walls or spikes or water as long as you end your turn on solid ground.
Drawback: In order to use your expertise, you have to shout the name of whatever special move you're doing. Also the proficiencies, I guess.

17. Berserker
Starting Equipment: A really big axe or really big sword (your choice). No armor, but plenty of woad and you're still proficient with it if you put some on. No ranged weapon or shield and you're not proficient with either, but you can throw stuff just fine.
Benefit: You gain bonus hit points equal to templates times the number of categories of armor you aren't wearing, i.e. 1 if you're wearing chain, 2 if you're wearing leather, and 3 if you're not wearing any armor at all (clothing is optional). These hit points are lost first and automatically refill whenever you enter combat.
Drawback: You must save in order to retreat from a fight, once started. You can try again every round.

18. Veteran
Starting Equipment: An old sword, an old rifle and 10 cartridges, an old shield, an old set of chain armor, and an old banner.
Benefit: You get +templates to-hit as long as you're at least two of: At full HP, in formation, or following a plan that has not yet gone awry. You get to save twice against fear, and if you pass either of them everyone in your company gets to save twice as well.
Drawback: For every template, one of your old wounds starts acting up or one of your old fears resurfaces. Figure out what that does with your DM.

19. Hell Veteran
Starting Equipment: A black iron sword, a carbine and 10 silver bullets, a shield emblazoned with scripture, and a set of fireproof leather armor including high rubber-and-iron-soled boots.
Benefit: You can taste curses and supernatural evil, judge your approximate distance below ground level, and subsist without water as long as you have food.
Drawback: A blackbird follows you everywhere. If you kill one, two more return to replace it at midnight. This stacks infinitely.

20. Teuchter, also known as Highlander, which I've decided is a type of Bard
Starting Equipment: A kilt, a two-handed sword, a goosed blunderbuss, and a musical instrument of your choice. No armor or shield, but you're still proficient in their use.
Benefit: Foes must save in order to target anyone but you with their attacks while you roar or sing, and those with equal or fewer HD than you must check morale. The latter effect only works once per opponent.
Drawback: Everyone will assume you're some sort of barbarian, explain things to you condescendingly, and put very little effort into understanding your accent.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Converting GLOG classes to B/X (also, an example)

It has come to my attention that some people don't understand how to play GLOG classes in B/X (or OSE, as the case may be). They labor under the mistaken assumption that you have to "convert" them, and need "guidance" to do so.

This is eminently false.

But in the service of accessibility and reducing the number of falsehoods that are present on this earth, I will explain.

You don't have to convert them at all.

That's pithy, but almost true. More accurately, the conversion is one step in the simplest cases, and like, three in the most complex:

Wizzzargh is talking about BFRPG, not B/X, but the same principles apply. Also I played in their game; it worked just fine.

Here, I will give you some examples.

This is a class from the inimitable Jojiro's Red Box Rogues. It doesn't matter what B/X source you use, this works fine with the OSE classic 4 classes or whatever.

That's a B/X class, right? Warm. Safe. Comfortable.

But let's say, hypothetically, for the sake of argument, that our pl*yers (base and loathsome creatures that they are) want to play something cool and interesting instead. Let's say they want to play Shivas of Gunses. We're using this as an example because it's exceptionally weird, being fighter-y but also wizard-y. If you can convert this, you can convert anything.


Step Zero: Remove all the stuff you're going to change. In this case, a complex one, we're cutting fucking everything.


Step one (optional): If you're combining classes, put the combined elements in there. I think Shivas of Guns should have Magic-User experience/level and HD, since they do spells sort of; Thief saves, armor proficiency, and prime requisite, since they're nimble; and Guns as a weapon proficiency, for obvious reasons. If you're converting something that's more obviously "just a wizard" or "just a fighter" or whatever, you can skip this step.

Step One (Point Five): This is also a good time to put the name of the class in.

This is what we've got so far:

Good stuff.

Step Two (Mandatory): Put all the abilities of the GLOG class in, converting references to templates to references to level as you go.

Bam! And we made a whole fancy layout that we didn't need, even. This is a simple enough process that you can honestly just write down:


Hell, for most classes you can cut that down to one line: STUFF: AS <CLASS> 

And would you look at that, we're done!

Thanks, kahva.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Ten Setting Questions, Sort Of Like Scrap's

In the distant, foreign land that is the past, Scrap Princess wrote a list of 20 setting questions.

This is not that list. I like that list a lot but honestly they aren't all questions that I would ask as a player. This list is that - if I'm going to play in your game, I want you to answer these. I did try to channel the aesthetic of that list, though.

Here are the questions:

1) What class knows the most martial arts? Are they real martial arts like kung fu, or made up ones like krav maga?

2) Can I start out having already made a deal with the devil or do I have to do that in game?

3) Do you want me to write an 8-page backstory? Can I write an 8-page backstory, if I want to? If I write something down in it like I'm the timelost princess of the brass city and the daughter of the sun and I commanded legions in the Hell War but was betrayed by my father's vizier but I don't know that, or that I'm elf conan and cooler than everyone else, will that be true?

4) If I eat someone's heart, will I gain their powers? What about their brain?

5) These classes are boring, can I be one from somewhere else? What about from a different system entirely?

6) If I make a sword, which one of us gets to name it?

7) Am I allowed to kill the other player characters? What would I have to do to be allowed to? Do I win if I kill them all? Actually, how do I win in general?

8) What language stands in for 'Common'? Or what are we all talking to each other in? Like the party, mostly, but also everyone else?

9) How do I learn how to talk to rocks? No not once a day just, like, normally?

10) Which kinds of wizards get to serve kings and live in towers and shit and which ones are run out of town or stoned to death in the streets? Can I be both? At the same time?

Some people have already answered these, incredibly:

  1. Locheil
  2. SunderedWorldDM
  3. Phlox

And here they are again, because I should probably answer them myself:

1) What class knows the most martial arts? Are they real martial arts like kung fu, or made up ones like krav maga?

I think the class that knows the most made up martial arts and the most martial arts in general has to be the Templar Contemplative, or "paladin monk" if you're crude. It's in the Mountain PHB. The one that knows the most real martial arts (historical european ones, I suppose) would be the FIGHTMASTER.

If you count BATTLEMAGES, I guess they each know a made up one too.

2) Can I start out having already made a deal with the devil or do I have to do that in game?

You could definitely argue that (true) Witches (they're in the PHB, I'm not linking it again) have already made deals with devils, or similar beings. If you don't want to be a Witch, you'll have to make one with a Satan in-game. You can find them at any crossroad, but only sometimes.

3) Do you want me to write an 8-page backstory? Can I write an 8-page backstory, if I want to? If I write something down in it like I'm the timelost princess of the brass city and the daughter of the sun and I commanded legions in the Hell War but was betrayed by my father's vizier but I don't know that, or that I'm elf conan and cooler than everyone else, will that be true?

Not particularly but I'd be flattered as long as you're aware that you might die; yes sure if you'd like; the planar stuff is a no-go but elaborate backstories that set you up as a Person of Importance are totally fine.

4) If I eat someone's heart, will I gain their powers? What about their brain?

If they're magic or you're magic, probably. If they're magic and you're magic, with 100% certainty. Spellcasters eating each others' brains for power is even in the core rules.

5) These classes are boring, can I be one from somewhere else? What about from a different system entirely?

Not if you're the very first round of characters, I've invested too much in my theme and tone to see it spurned like that. And also it would sort of ruin the 'unlocking' aspect of play. If you want to see a class in the game, though, you tell me about it and I'll tell you what you'd have to do to unlock it. I can probably adapt from anything else pretty easily, too.

6) If I make a sword, which one of us gets to name it?

I do, unless you have a really good idea. Swords are not named by their creators, they tell their creators their names. Unless you're a god or something, then I guess you can name it.

7) Am I allowed to kill the other player characters? What would I have to do to be allowed to? Do I win if I kill them all? Actually, how do I win in general?

No. You win by resolving the question of why you're all on the Mountain, and why the Sun went out, and why people get horrible visions of great birds on wings of ash and bone issuing forth from its depths and its peak.

8) What language stands in for 'Common'? Or what are we all talking to each other in? Like the party, mostly, but also everyone else?

Trader's Cant, a sort of pidgin tongue that everyone who is anyone knows how to speak. Not great for complex wordplay.

9) How do I learn how to talk to rocks? No not once a day just, like, normally?

If you have an intelligence bonus, you can start out with that. Well, not rocks specifically, they're too stupid. But there's a language for gems and treasure, and one for swords, and one for bugs, and...

If you don't have an intelligence bonus you can probably still learn, but it'd be more of an undertaking.

10) Which kinds of wizards get to serve kings and live in towers and shit and which ones are run out of town or stoned to death in the streets? Can I be both? At the same time?

There are proper Wizards back in the civilized lands, I think, but you can't be one of those, you're too poor and crazy to be one and/or they're too sane and well-compensated to come to the Mountain. Your options are Witches, which are solidly in the "run out of town" category, and BATTLEMAGES, which probably should be run out of town but who's gonna do it, huh?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.