Thursday, April 2, 2020

Necropolis Ship

A Necropolis Ship sail between the material plane and Underworld on the back of a giant undead turtle.

1. Statues of the Underworld Royal Family
2. The ship captain's sarcophagus
3. Priestess cabins
4. Gardian Pole
5. Sarcophagus presented to the Stars
6. Moonlight collectors
7. Sarcophagus of the undead crew
8. Statues of disgraced gods used as evil spirits deflectors
9. Tomb cabins of giant beings
10. Star core
11. Parasitic Starfish God
12. Giant Undead Turtle. A small kobold scribe spends years talking to the turtle just to get out of it the meaning of a single sentence (they live it it helmet).
13. Poor people ties their funerary ships to get a lift to the afterlife

Monday, March 30, 2020

Cordyceps Lord

Ants, Cordyceps Lord
Cordyceps are mindless and giants ants are usually able to deal with them but once in a while a cordyceps fuse with the mind of a strong willed giant ant and develop the desire to create it own ever growing colony of infected ants. The Cordyceps Lord hivemind coordinate the cordyceps to try to infect the whole colony, if repelled by the ants the Cordyceps Lord retreat into a dark or damp place to build it own hive, from where it will ambush ants who pass by to infect. 

Rumors (d12)
  1. The ant queens are hiring non ants mercenaries to defend their hives.
  2. Myconids are sending a diplomatic delegation to try to communicate with the Cordyceps. 
  3. The Cordyceps are infecting undead too, a local necromancer is sending skeletons to ask for help. 
  4. Local vivimancer need cordyceps samples to try to design a cure. 
  5. A nearby kobold colony is trying to farm cordyceps. 
  6. A old hag have moved into the cordyceps infected hive. 
  7. The cordyceps are trying to summon the demon lord of fungus! 
  8. The cordyceps ants have captured a local alchemist and are collecting supplies for her. 
  9. The cordyceps worship a allied deity, priest wonder if they should ally with them. 
  10. Local druid is hiring people to save ant eggs from a cordyceps infected hive.  
  11. A Cordyceps Lord who live in a nearby ruin hire mercenaries to steal eggs and larva from nearby giant ants colonies. 
  12. Dwarfs are paying good money for captured Ankhegs as they are training them to repel a Cordyceps invasion. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Albino Penguin Character Class

The other day I was watching a documentary about extincts giant penguins and I thought that the albino penguins from At The Mountains of Madness could be a playable character class in a old school lovecraftian setting like Realms of Crawling Chaos.

I image them as some kinds of eldritch Skeksis.

They live in the north in the ruins of eldritch cities. They organize in households and have complex social codes and rules for everything, they are craven and are obsessed with scavenging eldritch lore. Their large size let them use any weapons but they are quite clumsy with them. They prefer to live underground away from the bright light of the sun.

Albinos Penguin Class (Realms of Crawling Chaos)
Requirements: none
Prime Requisite: INT
Hit Dice: d6
Maximum Level: 9
Armor: any
Weapon: any
To hit: as Magic-user
Saves: as Magic-user
Magic-user spell progression: as Magic-user
XP: as Sea Blood (3000xp for second level)
Special: half any darkness related penalties. +2 to save against cold.

Albinos Penguin Race (Realms of Crawling Chaos)
INT +1, CON+1, DEX-2
Class Level Limit:
Assassin 7
Cleric 8
Fighter 8
Illusionist 7
Magic-user 9
Special: half any darkness related penalties. +2 to save against cold.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Allegories as monsters.

The other day I thought that allegories, like the ones we see in old editorial or propaganda illustrations could be fun to use as monsters. I was especially thinking about the more chimerical ones who feature multiple components that represent different things. Naturally this would work best in a surreal setting.

Like these ones:

I remember that we tried to stat this classic one back in the G+ era. Imagine encountering it in a dungeon: (note the loot at the top) :p

I tried to draw a obvious one myself, I like the potential for multiple attacks and for body parts to target and chop down:

These are not for everyone and some of them could be problematic as they are inspired by real life. (But it could be cathartic to throw fireballs at some of them).

What coud be more interesting to do, would be to create a monster that is a allegory that represennt something within a campaign setting and to use heraldry and symbols from that setting to craft it. This could be used to put emphasis on the culture and the history of the setting.

Like for exemple a monster that represent the feud between two kingdoms could mix body parts from the heraldry of both kingdoms. Allegorical monsters could also represent other situations that impact the setting, like a monster that represent a local famine or  one that represent the oppression of the elven houses against the orcs clans. But then again be careful not to use racist caricatures like some of these old illustrations did.

Well this is probably not a very good idea but I like the part about underlining the history and heraldry of a campaign setting. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Cursed Unicorn

Cursed Unicorn (1) [AL L and C, MV 240’ (80’), AC 2, HD 5, #AT 3 (2 hooves, horn) or Special (see below), DM 1d6/1d6/1d8, THAC0: 16, SV F8, ML 7

A unicorn who was cursed for using her healing powers to raise her maiden friend from the grave. 

(01) Dreadful Equine Head
Devouring a human or equine corpse bring back the Cursed Unicorn to it full hit points total +1hp. The more it eat corpses the more HP it gain. Instead of doing it usual horn attack, it can bite for d6 dmg and inflict a disease on a failed saving throw.  

(02) Bright Toxic Fumes
Instead of using it routine of 3 attacks the Cursed Unicorn can breath a cone shaped bright toxic fume. Save vs Poison or take d6 poison damage for 1d6 rounds.  

(03) Halo of Lies
Flies buzz around the Cursed Unicorn head, if one enter into your ear it plant a lie in your heart. Save vs spell to resist the effect. 

(04) Dark Hooves
They usually inflict d6 damages and leave a dark mark. But if the Cursed Unicorn recently fed on the corpse of a equine creature they do d8 damages instead (for one fight). 

(05) Dark Womb
The reborn body of the deceased maiden rest in the womb of the unicorn. Striking it womb inflict double damages but will kill the maiden if the maximum damage is rolled. When the Cursed Unicorn is brought to 0 hp, the womb can be cut open to free the maiden. Once released the maiden is unable to breath and will suffocate in 2d6 rounds if no one kiss her. The person who do this will feel a eternal connection with the maiden and with unicorns (advantage to reaction rolls, feeling their pain and sadness).

(06) Maiden Head
The maiden is stricken with grief but friendly, she will try to warn people away from the Cursed Unicorn. She have no control over her movements and the unicorn use her to do horn attacks (d8 damage). If adventurers hit the unicorn, the maiden feel the pain and plead them to cease their attacks. She will also plead them to release the unicorn from her curse instead of killing it even if breaking the curse will destroy her chances of being reborn.   

(07) Enchanted Horn
The maiden can use the horn ability 1 time per day to teleport someone away up to 360 yards. She will usually do this to prevent someone from being kill by the Cursed Unicorn's attacks. If the horn is cut from the maiden's head it can cure poison once a day. If someone is able to grab the maiden's head for a full round, she can use the healing power of the horn on them. 

(08) Halo of Fireflies
Fireflies blink around the maiden's head. These hold her memories, if one touch your skin you get a penalty of 1 point to your next initiative as you receive a bright flashback of this memory. Killing a firefly destroy the memory it hold. Eating one make the memory yours. If all the fireflies dies the maiden will have lost all of her memories and her sense of self.

Breaking the curse require (Roll two d10):

  1. The blood of a maiden
  2. A ray of moonlight 
  3. Holy ground consecrated by a community of women
  4. A faery circle
  5. A unicorn tear
  6. The bones of the maiden 
  7. A ivory tower
  8. Someone cured from poison by a unicorn 
  9. A blessed spear
  10. Menstrual blood transmuted into silver 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Vancian magic and world building

"Within this instrument," said Pandelume, "resides the Universe. Passive in itself and not of sorcery, it elucidates every problem, each phase of existence, all the secrets of time and space. Your spells and runes are built upon its power and codified according to a great underlying mosaic of magic. The design of this mosaic we cannot surmise; our knowledge is didactic, empirical, arbitrary. Phandaal glimpsed the pattern and so was able to formulate many of the spells which bear his name. I have endeavored through the ages to break the clouded glass, but so far my research has failed. He who discovers the pattern will know all of sorcery and be a man powerful beyond comprehension. - Jack Vance"
Magic often describe how the world function so I thought that it could be interesting to do some world building around the principles implied by how vancian magic work to try to integrate it more into a setting.
"Turjan found a musty portfolio, turned the heavy pages to the spell the Sage had shown him, the Call to the Violet Cloud. He stared down at the characters and they burned with an urgent power, pressing off the page as if frantic to leave the dark solitude of the book. - Jack Vance"
What meaning can we gather from how vancian magic work?

Spells are nearly alive, they are wild and want to be free. Spell books are like prisons for them, a spellcaster mind seem like a better place for them to reside.

Memorizing spells is luring them into your mind. A mage's spell slots are like beautifully crafted mental cells designed to lure spells in. Casting a spell is luring it out of the pretty cage you crafted in your mind. Once a spell leave it cage you forget it.

You can memorize multiple copies of a spell, this mean that you can craft multiple memory prisons in your head.

Clerics do the same, their prayers are mental prisons for the spells delivered to them by the gods.

Maybe when a spell is miscasted it trash the place when it leave it cell and the mage forget some bits of their life in the process.

A other type of world building we can do is to expand the vancian concept, like we can  can say that any form of magical knowledge erase itself from memory once used.

Everything in such a setting would be about preserving magical knowledge to avoid definitively forgetting it. Maybe you have giant engraved runes stones marking the land like in The Banner Saga, these being the spell books of the gods. The primordial runes stones have been crafted by the gods but maybe new ones can be crafted by people but these are lifelong or multi generations projects like cathedrals.

Some of these primordial runes stones may be damaged or defaced and the knowledge or the spells that may be learned from them could be erratic or corrupted.

Maybe people fear forgetting things and record many other meaningful things. Maybe they record things into different mediums to have fail safe copies: books, engravings, land art, tattoos, etc. Scribes and people who engrave knowledge are super important. Oral history is all about transmitting it, once you chant a saga you forget it as it words and their magic embed itself into the persons who heard it. 

Architects who build dungeons forget their magical architecture afterward. Once you forge a magical blade you forget how you crafted it and maybe the runes on magical items are engraved to transmit how to craft them. Saying a magical being true name erase it from your memory.

Or maybe forgetting things is built into different aspect of the fabric of the world. Maybe dungeons are forgotten places that fester or are badly remembered. Maybe that magical weapons erase from their wielder memory who they have slain. Maybe forgetting the dead turn them into undead, so you have to honor the memory of the people you kill if you don't want them to come back. Wars mean building colossal monuments to honor the dead to avoid returning undead armies. Fabricating fake memories or preserving false histories could have interesting consequences too.

Monday, January 27, 2020

How to wear your magical scarf

Magic items could have different effects depending on how you wear or use them, for example:

Think about a magical sword, it could have different effect when you:
  • Hold it in your hand
  • Keep it in your scabbard
  • When you draw it 
  • Hold it close to your chest
  • When it taste blood
  • When you strike it in the ground
  • When you pray over it
  • When it break (or when a other blade strike it) 

Jewelry can have depending effect depending of:
  • how you wear them
  • where you wear them (neck, ankle, wrist for necklace) 
  • when they are in their jewelry box
  • when you hold them in your hand 
  • if wear them for a specific event 
  • when you wear them with a other item

It could be fun to experiment with this.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Spooky City

I drew the spooky city that I generated with the Anxiety Wizard's city generator.
I may eventually turn the city into a free zine.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Magical Cat

This magical cat is...

...made of  (d10) with eyes of (d10) 
  1. Jade
  2. Ceramic 
  3. Pure darkness
  4. Paprika 
  5. Amber 
  6. Saffron 
  7. Stained glass
  8. Marble
  9. Moon dust
  10. Soapstone 
and it hunt (d10)
  1. miniature people
  2. small dreams
  3. petty thoughts 
  4. tiny golem
  5. clockwork birds
  6. crystalline spiders
  7. shadows
  8. faeries who turn into keys
  9. mouses made of salt
  10. invisible parasites