Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Fantasy Calendar

Viditya discussed online about how he would like to see more calendar instead of maps in gaming material, so I wondered how to draw calendars that are as fun as a map to draw and to look at. I thought about how the ancient Mayan calendar is impressive visually and I tried to quickly draw something inspired by it circular shape.

I drew a central figure and I improvised around it. The calendar have 6 months of different length: 14, 24,29, 31, 41 and 46 days. A year is two cycles of these 6 months, the first cycle is named the young one and the second the old one. So for exemple you have the 5th of the Young Cold Star and the 5th of the Old Cold Star. 

The six months are represented in the vertical bar of the calendar: The Cold Star that freeze the land and crack the stones, the Breaking Stones who shake the land but free the warm iron, the Ember Steel who warm the hands but who wound the people, the Storm Tears who unleash passions but who make things grow, the Mother Grail who collect the tears and transform them into something new, the Born Fire who is full of life but short lived.   


  • The two women heads represent the warm sun and her lover, the cold sun who was born like a boy but grew like a woman. 
  • The two moons represent their dreaming selfs, one his cracked and bad dreams often escape from it. 
  • The small star represent the cold star, a white dwarf that gravitate further away from the two lovers and who often try to separate them, she is often represented as a undead crone.  



I drew different icons that represent special events that are celebrated during the months.
More world building can be generated by defining the events that they represents.


Maybe we can use a random table for inspiration, the day is a celebration of a (d10):

  1. natural cycle
  2. unnatural cycle
  3. historical event 
  4. mythological event 
  5. popular festival 
  6. ancient ritual
  7. human activity 
  8. holy day
  9. rite of passage or union
  10. roll twice and combine the results
I like how crafting the calendar craft a cosmogony, I think there is a lot of space for experimentation when drawing calendars like maps. 



Monday, December 9, 2019

The wyrd tongue that walk on three legs

Contributions by: Tore N, Draugmith, Greg S, Nomad Galactic, Usedforscreaming. 
The creature is the divine child of a satyr like deity and a shadow that nested in the shimmering realm. One legend say that the creature was conceived when the satyr god seduced one of his priestess while she was possessed by the shadow. A other story say that the satyr goddess and the shadow felt in love but that their union and their offspring was cursed. Satyres try to ward off the creatures, some want to hunt it, other respect it divine heritage and secretly seek it blessing. 

(1) Wyrd skull 
The divine offspring is blind and can only perceive beings who memorized spells, it often use it shadowy hands (6) to feel it surrounding. The wyrd skull can cast spells stored in the skulls of wizards, see (4) and (5).

(2) Torso-tongue. 
These organs detect changes in kanna or magical energy. In this way the creature hopes to be lead back to its distant home where color has its origin, and where even the least creature lives on kanna.

(3) Veil tearing horns
These horns can tear through shadows, illusions or beings made of pure light or colors. 

(4) Head receptacle - Decayed skull 
The divine creature eats wizards, absorbs their heads into it's body. The head is still alive in a semi-comatose state, conscious of what happens but without free will. The goat can cast any spells the wizard had prepared at the time of digestion. Once expended, the head decays into a skull.

(5) Head receptacle - Empty
When empty a head receptacle can absorb a first or second spell and hold it to digest or release it later. Piercing the creature through one of it empty receptacles do a extra die of damage.    

(6) Shadowy hands
The divine child have long shadowy limbs that can stretch to grasp preys, within 15ft, no save is possible against their grasp. Their grip cannot be broken and the limbs cannot be cut. The limbs may be severed by tying a red ribbon around them. A severed limbs act autonomously and will meld itself to the nearest living thing, they favour ankles, wrists or necks to attach themselves.

(7) Triplicate goat-legs
They allow the creature to mimic the footprints of pair-bonded satyrs to avoid being tailed by hunters (or the satyrs themselves).

(8) Tail slicer
In addition to doing a small bit of automatic damage to anyone who flanks or backstabs, it has a small chance of severing the silver cord of anyone spying on it from the ethereal plane. The creature itself is not conscious of other planes, but the slicer knows. 

(9) Shimmering fleece 
The fleece shimmer near kanna leylines. Legends say that if woven into a garment the fleece can protect it wearer against magical attacks. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Wanderstitches Character Class

Contributions by: Camilla Greer, Orb Experience, Michael T Lombardi, Sean Richer, Finn McCool, Mountain Foot, John Errwin, Anxiety Wizard, Trahan.

Instead of collectively keying a map we tried to key together a character class.
(This is not balanced, it probably require some jerry rigging to be fully playable)





Wanderstitches start with two abilities at level 01 and gain a new one each time they gain a level.

(1) Wanderstitch household hat - Traditionally hold two stitching needles gifted from your household. Wanderstitches trade these to make alliance between households. A household needle grant a advantage to craft a particular kind of item, like House Nest Maker are the best for crafting blankets.  

(2) Prismatic Buttons Lenses - Gives advantage to spot hidden. Once per day the wearer can see through normal or magical obscurement. These are crafted with buttons found in a dark place.

(3) Proving Buttons - While apprenticing, a wanderstitch takes only a button as payment. Once they have enough to finish a coat of their master's design, they may seek their own destiny. Wanderstitches can read each other's deeds in the buttons they collect. Spend as social currency (double or halve efficacy based on relevance of origin).

(4) Baubleshield - If the light is right it has a dazzling prismatic reflection, very disorienting. Can be repaired by adding baubles found during adventures. Select again to enchant the shield with a luck charm, each bubbles added while adventuring grant a one time lucky armor bonus of 1.

(5) Tethered Spears - Whenever you use throwing weapons for attacks and miss, you can always pull them back to you as long as it's not over the weapon's range. These spears can also be used as giant needles to stitches the clothes of giants (who have a hard time repairing their clothes with their clumsy fingers).

(6) Heartfelt Thread - This spool's thread can only be broken or cut by someone who has a true and abiding passion and only in the service of that passion. If the thread pierces someone's flesh, it winds through their veins deeper and deeper with every lie and mistruth they speak. This dangerous ability can only be selected after reaching level 03.

(7) Foot Training - Complex garments or spellweaves often require many hands. In a pinch, wanderstitches often train to use their feet. (Advancement: use feet as disadvantaged hands. Choose again to remove disadvantage)

(8) Cut the Weave - You can craft witch-scissors. With them in hand, forgo your attack to gain advantage on saves vs spells. If save succeeds, the spell is nullified. Spell-offcuts are volatile but make good barter. Witch-scissors lose their power if used to cut anything else.

(9) Animate Doll - Sometimes when children grow older and keep their childhood toys, their parents decide to get rid of them. By sewing the right button on a discarded doll a wanderstitch can animate it. Select again to create additional doll companions.

(10) Doll Weapon Needle - As literal toys the doll weapons aren't particularly lethal but they are very distracting and annoying. Certain unexpected creatures are said to be quite vulnerable to the weapons wielded by dolls, however. Any one poked by these weapons must pass a saving throw or cannot stop saying "OW!" until end of day.

...

Also check this older post for more exemples of whimsical super specific classes: Colorful Guilds

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Forgotten Garden

Contributions by: Cleo, 3toadstools, 𝓸𝓻𝓫 𝓮𝔁𝓹𝓮𝓻𝓲𝓮𝓷𝓬𝓮, Alex C, Etherik, Qwo and Alex T.

The garden vegetation spread over it crumbling pastel pink brics square walls.
The secondary entry is a small hole in the garden walls and is well camouflaged, it require a find secret doors test to be found.

(01) Whispering Tunnel
You can perceive movements behind the brambles, if you investigate you hear whisperings and glimpse a random encounter. This encounter will happen the next time one is triggered.

(02) Heart of Thorns
The branch walls of this area pulsate to the rhythm of an unseen beating heart. Thorns and spines protrude everywhere, making passage difficult. The slightest touch agitates the thorned branches tremendously, increasing the heart's rate.

(03) Chromatorose garden
Wafting from this room is a greenish gas, its thick and visibility is low. Within the room is a heart shaped wooden bookshelf (with 1d100 odd books on it). The greengas ward off the doppelgängers.

Rising above the greenish gas throne the chromatorose: the petals of this flower shimmer with endless colours. The gardener picks through the spines on stilts, pruning and watering, blindly and mechanically. At a first infraction he will gently shoo the characters away, but he is willing to die for his crop.

(04) Mimicry glade
A small glade with berry bushes which hum a song lulling you to sleep. When you wake up, there is a perfect doppelgänger of you present in the glade. Make a reaction test: on a negative reaction the doppelgänger secretly want to murder you, on a neutral reaction it is afraid of you and on a positive reaction it have a secret crush on you.

(05) Campsite
Acrid, yeasty odour, furniture of unfired clay and scrap metal, clockwork geegaws on tripods trained at the bramble "island" to the right. Campsite of A DISHEVELED MAN, who is convinced the rabbits living in the bramble "island" are more technologically advanced than they let on.

* He's been here for twenty years; has forgotten his name.
* Strong odour comes from his attempts to make bramble kimchi and bramble wine.
* Geegaws are motion-detecting clockwork cameras of his own design, hold three photographs.

Wants (descending order):
* to be proven right
* denizens of [2] and [4] to let him set up his geegaws there too.
* chocolate
* a new mirror
* other sundried supplies he can't improvise
Has:
* geegaw schematics, but not the parts to make more
* wine and kimchi (standard rations)

(06)
A sleeping young man is embedded in the brambles. He is not in a glass coffin, so the thorns have pierced his skin in multiple places, but no blood is coming out, instead the brambles have grown tiny red flowers.

(07) Reflecting pool
Brambles stalactites and stalagmites glisten with water around this still pool of water. if you have a light source and you look in the poll, roll 1d6

1-3 see yourself as others see you (this affect how your doppelgänger appear in area 04).
4-5 watch event distant in time or space.
6 glimpse misfortune just before it occurs.

(08) Serpents Den
On entering, a hive mind of poisonous snakes form into a gestalt giant serpent and demands knowledge of the occurrences of section 05. If given, they'll reveal a secret exit. If refused, they attack.


Random encounters (d10)
  1. Whispering spiders (their poison make you perceive all sounds as deafening)
  2. Crown of thorns: a vampiric spider like ball of brambles that pulsate like a beating heart.
  3. Gardener apprentice: a small animal walking on stilts, speak common.
  4. Lost doppelgänger (afraid of other doppelgängers).
  5. Doppelgänger of the disheveled man (or maybe he is the original?)
  6. Clockwork rabbit
  7. Doppelgänger of the sleeping young man in area 06, want to murder other doppelgängers.
  8. A living patch of light from a distant time and space, it can be subdued by the chromatorose.
  9. Lone snake spying for the hive mind of area 08
  10. Bramble sprite
Treasures (d10)
  1. Secrets weaved in spider web
  2. Ruby like blood drops
  3. Tarnished silver jewelry
  4. Vegetation mimicking pretty silver jewelry
  5. Rare wild rose (1 moonlight, 2 bleeding, 3 blue, 4 sentient, 5 poison, 6 chromatic)
  6. Magical fruit (1 healing, 2 dreaming, 3 doppelgänger mind melt, 4 shimmering aura)
  7. Clockwork part, mastercraft work
  8. Family heirloom
  9. Gardening tool with engraved initials
  10. Magic ring (protection against: 1 thorns, 2 sleep, 3 poison, 4 charm, 5 thirst, 6 life drain)



Sunday, October 27, 2019

Spooky City!

I launched a collective Spooky City set for Halloween and Anxiety Wizard edited it and used it to post a introduction to his City Generator Kit.

I made a video where I generate a Spooky City using the set: Generating a Spooky City!

Here is the cleaned up map:



As a experiment I zoomed in a district and applied the landmark rules to create neighborhoods (this is how I generated the secondary streets). To color the neighborhoods I mixed the district theme with the themes of entries I rolled on the districts table. A other possibility would have been to roll random encounters for each neighborhoods to color them.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Retrieving the corpses of heroes and adventurers


This was written with B/X, S&W or Labyrinth Lord in mind.  
XP/level are awarded for the level of the fallen character. Level 0 character are considered level 1/2.
  • Bringing back the corpse of a fallen comrade or follower: 200 xp/level
  • Mounting a expedition to retrieve back their corpse: 500 xp/level (awarded when reaching the corpse, cumulative with bringing back their corpse).
  • Being the ones who haul back the corpse: 10% of the total reward of the session.
  • Bringing back their meaningful items and bequeathing them to their relatives or love ones: 50 xp/level for each item. (x2 for magical items, x5 for powerful items) 
  • Marking their place of death: 50 xp/level   
  • Slaying the monster that killed them: monster XP worth x2. 
  • Slaying their undead form (if any): monster XP worth x2.
  • Forgiving their killer if it was a accident or a misunderstanding by becoming their ally: 200 xp/level. 
  • Proper funeral and burial in their hometown: 100 xp/level (need to spend as much gold)
  • Carousing in their honor: 50 xp/level  by night of carousing (need to spend as much gold) or +25% to the carousing XP award if you use a carousing system.
  • Funeral and carousing XP are worth half without the corpse.  
So if the group mount a expedition to bring back the body of their level 5 comrade: 
2500 xp for retrieving the corpse + 1000 xp for bringing it back + 250 xp for giving their blade to their son and +250 xp for giving their helm to their daughter, +250 xp for marking their place of death, +500 xp for a hometown burial, +750 xp and a big headache for 3 nights of carousing. For a total of  5500 XP for the group. 


When the group is mounting a expedition to retrieve the body of a fallen comrade or a hero, there is a 1 chance on a d6 by dungeon level that the dungeon influence spread to their corpse.  (By dungeon level, I mean the deeper into the dungeon). To be able to prep the encounter roll when the group decide to form the expedition but keep the result secret.

If the dungeon influence spread over the corpse, roll a d20 to determine what happened:

  1. The corpse have been perfectly conserved, bringing it back will grant a blessing. 
  2. The corpse vanished but one of their meaningful items remain behind as a magical item. 
  3. Their ghost will help the group to retrieve their corpse. 
  4. Their angry ghost haunt their place of death, blaming themself or their group for their death. 
  5. Local creatures moved the corpse for a purpose of their own. 
  6. Vegetation, moss, or mushrooms protect the corpse. 
  7. A mimic consumed the corpse and absorbed their memory, they now believe to be the fallen person. They are helpful but they can sometime try to eat people and not remember the incident. 
  8. The dungeon formed a shrine or tomb around the corpse, resting there grant a boon or blessing, taking back the corpse trigger a magical curse or trap. 
  9. They have risen as a mindless undead that have as many HD as their level.
  10. They have risen as a sentient undead obsessed with unfinished business. 
  11. The corpse have been desecrated, consumed or mutilated and can not be brought back in it entirety. Bringing back their bones give half the xp. 
  12. The corpse have been looted, local creatures or scavengers keep their meaningful items. 
  13. When the corpse is retrieved, their ghost will help the group until their corpse is brought back home or buried. 
  14. A dangerous worm or insect creature nested in their corpse. 
  15. Their undead corpse will walk back home with the group, complaining about everything along the way. Once they arrive back home, their spirit will thanks and compliment the group then leave their corpse. 
  16. Their corpse fused with the dungeon and became a "special" feature that grant boons and curses like a magical pool.
  17. Their ghost befriended a fellow ghost and ask the group to also recover their friend's corpse. 
  18. Their corpse is encased in a armor grew from the dungeon itself and is now a dangerous golem. The corpse remain intact inside the armor. 
  19. They have been brought back to live, they reroll their HP, they are now cursed  with the ability of seeing the tormented spirits of the deaths. They are waiting for the group at their place of death, harrowed by ghosts. Maybe something in the dungeon can quiet the ghosts. 
  20. They have been reincarnated as a young level 01 PNJ of a different appearance or gender, they keep their old stats but are now wiser and gain +2 to their WIS and gain a bonus of +4 to save against death. They are waiting for the group at their place of death. They may have learned something about the dungeon or gained a special insight. 


Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dusty Blog

My blog is all dusty, I have multiple near finished blog posts but I never find the energy or the focus to finish them. I recently quit Twitter so this will maybe help me to post back again. It is not easy to exist in multiple virtual spaces, I am trying to post on instagram, facebook (for my non gaming friends), my patreon, on multiple discords and to publish videos on youtube, to stream a bit and to records episodes of my podcast. I guess that this is not much for some people but I often feel like I am too dispersed. Oh and I forgot that I am also trying to work on zines that I seem to never be able to finish. Shit, just before I transitioned I published around 5 zines on lulu, now nothing... -_-

Hopefully I will post back soon in the Cauldron. <3


-Ev

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tiny Goons mini adventure: The entity that cried nasty grublings.





  • Oh no! Demon faced grublings are eating everything. (DS6 for a few, DS8 for a swarm)
  • The tiny goons can easily track back their sulfuric and slimy trail to find from where they came. 
  • On the road they encounter a few random creatures who are angry or sad because the demon grublings ate their stuff. 
  • The trail lead to a Nasty-Gross entity that seem in pain, it is cursing nasty words and crying. It tears sprout grubling demons when they touch the ground! 
  • The entity roots are chained down a hole.
  • Someone is cooking down the hole and the smell attract the grublings down the hole. 
  • Climbing down the hole the tiny goons encounter demon grubblings trapped in all kind of slimy traps (traps are DS6).
  • At the bottom the goons find the Creepy-Gross Moleman Chef who chained the entity, he is preparing a delicious and spicy demon grublings soup! The Moleman Chef don't want to share the soup or to liberate the entity (DS10). He may offer to do so in exchange of a fetch quest to get exotic ingredients but he is lying and wont keep his promises. 
  • The key to the chains hang from the roof. Climbing up there is not easy (DS10) 
  • Other kinds of creatures are caged in the kitchen. The kitchen also contain all sort of pretty loot. A mutating and a rotting pepper (DS8) are guarding the kitchen. 
  • Liberating the entity turn it into a Pretty-Gross entity and it will emit magical dust that can be collected or maybe it can even award it flaming heart. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tiny Goons

I missed the Tunnel Goons jam but here is a quick hack inspired by my blog article about how the gross can be positive too. (PDF version)

You are a ugly but cute creature looking for pretty things in a mutating landscape full of strange entities.
  • Distribute 3 points between CUTE, GROSS and NASTY. 
  • You start with one cute, one gross and one nasty item. 
  • Your max inventory is 6.
  • Your starting HOPE is 10.


When you try to do something roll 2d6 + CUTE, GROSS or NASTY. 
Add one for each item that apply to the situation.
For each item that exceeds your max inventory subtract 1 from any CUTE or NASTY rolls.
If the total is equal or greater than the action’s Difficulty Score (DS) it is successful.
If the task is super important or meaningful a miss reduce your HOPE by the margin of failure.
DS are 8, 10 or 12.

Regain HOPE by: 
  • finding pretty things (d6)
  • making new friends (d6)
  • eating something tasty (d6)
  • sleeping in a warm cozy place (2d6)
  • finding something truly wonderful (2d6)
If you lose all hope you become melancholic and can do nothing until you regain some.

The creatures, entities and obstacles that you encounter are:
(d6) 1-2 small like you (DS8), 3-4 bigger (DS10), 5 way bigger (DS12), 6 gigantic (DS14). 
(d6) 1-2 cute, 3-4 gross, 5-6 nasty.
(d6) 1 spooky, 2 creepy, 3 moody, 4 spiky, 5 sleepy, 6 pretty. 


Advancement
Level up at the end of a game session: add 1 point to one of your CUTE, GROSS or NASTY attributes and raise your HOPE or max inventory by 1. If your HOPE reach 20 you make a chrysalis and become something truly wonderful.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Orc history and tribes generator

I used perchance to craft a orc history and tribes generator:

https://perchance.org/orchistory

You can also generate some cute orc babies to break the heart of your paladins:

https://perchance.org/orcbaby

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Monsters with no HP

This is just me trying out a half baked idea (don't take this too seriously).

So there was a discussion on the Discord of the Good Friends of Jackson Elias about monsters having HP being somehow reassuring and I thought what if hitting monsters made them react instead of chipping away at numbers.

So you roll to hit as usual, then you roll your damages and consult the reaction table.

1-3 minor reactions table
4-6 major reactions table
7+ critical reactions table

Minor reactions table d6

  1. Recoil: the creature step back a few steps but is still agressive. 
  2. Scream: the creature scream in pain or anger, this may attract unwanted attention.
  3. Riposte: the creature strike back to wound.  
  4. Intimidate: the creature make a intimidation show, if the group retreat it wont pursuit.  
  5. Swap weapon away: the creature swap away or break the weapon that hurt it.
  6. Minor custom move: see creature profile


Major reactions table d6

  1. Lurk: the creature step back and lurk away from weapon range but remain agressive.
  2. Knock down: the creature knock down or throw away who hurt it. 
  3. Furious strikes: the creatures make a series of furious attacks. 
  4. Charge: the creature charge or push back it attackers. If the group run away it wont pursuit them once they exit their territory. 
  5. Defensive stance: the creature step back to protect it wound and take a defensive stance. 
  6. Major custom move: see creature profile


Critical reactions table d6

  1. Retreat: creature retreat toward a defensive area to hide or barricade itself. 
  2. Pin down: the creature tackle down or grab it attacker and immobilize or pin them down. 
  3. Vicious strike: the creature make a critical attack that break armor or possibly kill it target. 
  4. Sweeping attack: the creature make a sweeping attack and gain some ground. 
  5. Lash in pain: small creatures make a weak desperate attack, large creatures trash in pain and damage the location.  
  6. Critical custom move: see creature profile


Some custom move exemples:

Hobgoblins mob:

  • minor: start chanting the blood song > gain buff (on reroll)
  • major: form a shield wall > spear or missile attack (on reroll)
  • critical: champion step forward and ask to duel or parley


Displacer beast:

  • minor: activate displacer field > displacer jump (on reroll)
  • major: teleport attack 
  • critical: teleport away to lick it wounds


Dragon:

  • minor: laugh and brag
  • major: breath weapon
  • critical: leave in anger to destroy nearby village 


Weird slime creature

  • minor: release toxic spores
  • major: life draining pseudopod attack
  • critical: dissolve into the earth and leave behind a corrosive goo

For the player characters?

I guess that this work better with a player facing system like in The Black Hack. 
On a miss the character have to step back and give ground or take a minor wound. 
How wounds work if you have no HP?  Good question... 

Maybe this, roll the creature damages:
1-3 minor wound: no effect but two minor wounds become a major one and then a critical one. 
4-6 major wound: roll to hit or damage with disadvantage (player choice). 
7+ critical wound: make a save or roll on a incapacitated table. 

Or maybe that the monsters make their attack and roll their damages like the players do and consult the same reactions table but each entries offer a choice between a reaction or taking a wound.

This is far from being perfect as this is tackled on a system already existing instead of being it own system. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Mutliverse Traveler Generator

Just a silly post, don't mind me.
You are traveler from the [d12] [d12, d12] verse.
(Roll and chose between the options provided)
Or just click there.

d12 Roll once
  1. Dark / Gothic 
  2. Fantasy / SciFi 
  3. Cyber / Techno
  4. Queer / Punk    
  5. Cosmic / Mystical
  6. Grim / Lighthearted
  7. Lo fi / High 
  8. Modern / Retro
  9. Pulp / Gritty 
  10. Bizarro / Poetic 
  11. Tragic / Comedic 
  12.  Post-Apocalyptic / Medieval  
d12 Roll twice
  1. Western / Wuxia
  2. Romance / Erotica 
  3. Young Adult / Chick lit 
  4. Noir / Conspiracy
  5. Pastoral / Urban 
  6. Space / Underground 
  7. Picaresque / Heroic 
  8. Medical / Legal 
  9. Horror / Splatter
  10. Political / Military 
  11. Dystopian / Utopian 
  12. Crime / Mystery
Rolling some examples

  • Queer Chick Lit Noir Verse 
  • Fantasy Political Young Adult Verse 
  • Punk Noir Medical Verse
  • Tragic Wuxia Conspiracy Verse
  • Cosmic Splatter Mystery Verse 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Keywords maps

As a experiment I used keywords instead of names to fill up a map. I selected the keywords using free associations but I guess that you could also randomly generate them or use a mix of both techniques. Generating them collectively could also be fun.

I think that I like the result, I could easily use the map to improvise a point crawl session. The only annoying thing is that you have to figure out how to actually name things in the game world, I guess that you can combine the keywords with other words to craft names. Like the town with the keyword "sad" could be Sad Street or Sad Sparrow.


You could also use the keywords to generate random encounters. Let's try this.
The red keywords are regions or kingdoms, lets try with Diaspora of Remembrance

On one table we put up 20 keywords located in the region. 
  1. Remembrance 
  2. Sad
  3. Moon
  4. Quiet
  5. Buried
  6. Paintings
  7. Healing
  8. Light
  9. Ghasts
  10. Joy
  11. Old
  12. Memories
  13. Abandoned
  14. Forgotten
  15. Ribbons
  16. Milk
  17. Exiled
  18. Mourn
  19. Roots
  20. Rest
On a other table we put 10 types of encounters
  1. Group of people
  2. Loner or outcast 
  3. Trader
  4. Small beasts 
  5. Large beast
  6. Undead
  7. Spirit
  8. Monster
  9. Conman 
  10. Figure of authority  
If we combine some rolls to craft a d10 random encounters table we get:
  1. Healing + Figure of authority 
  2. Joy + Outcast 
  3. Memories + Undead
  4. Exiled + Spirit
  5. Remembrance + Conman
  6. Ghasts + Small beasts
  7. Light + Undead
  8. Buried + Group of People 
  9. Milk+  Group of people
  10. Forgotten + Trader
I could easily work with this. You can apply the same formula to generate treasures and magical items. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Positive-Gross

The other day I was thinking back about the Skinned Moon Daughter B/X class that my friend Benjamin wrote for the Undercroft #9. I wanted to write a blog post about using the articles in the Undercroft #9 as the building blocks of a campaign but as I was rereading the zine I was taken aback by how nihilistic some articles were. I checked on the back cover and I noticed the “Compatible with Lamentations of the Flame Princess” logo. This made me think about the influence of the LotFP horror genre in the OSR and how it intermingled nihilism, gross out and horror together. By nihilism I mainly mean the dead trap nega-dungeon or settings and scenarios where everything is amoral, horrible and hopeless. 
In the Undercroft #9 there is a unstoppable sexual disease monster that contaminate everything it come in contact without any real hope of resisting it effects, there is a monster made of dicks that automatically turn people into copies of itself and finally there is a scenario about a entity that cause women to give birth to babies that spawn gigantic monsters that feature cults that control or use these women. All of these things had uncomfortable implications of abuses or cruelties and I thought: do gross things always need to be linked to these themes? Is there other kind of gross?

I thought about underground comics and the art of Julie Doucet, one of my favorite comic book artist who gleefully represented gross things in her comics but in a often playful way. Yes there was some self depreciation and angst in some of her strips but her art also feel positive and liberating.


There is a inherent power in daring to represent and to explore gross things, underground comics certainly understood this. There is also waves of women artists who try to appropriate the right for women to be as gross as they wish. They dive in the trashy and gross out but still, there is often sometime positive to retain from their work, not just emptiness.


While working at the library I also often see children books about farting and other gross things, these books tell kids that it is ok to be gross and that gross things are not scary. Daring to be gross can be sometimes cathartic, liberating and even empowering.


Gross things don’t have to be about abuses and cruelties or nihilism, I think that it is important to also be able to explore the gross in a positive way. I wish there was out there, creators or publishers that balance the nihilist-gross popularized by LotFP with material that explore a more playful and positive gross. I am not saying that nihilistic-gross should never be explored but that balancing it is important. I don’t want to see the nihilistic-gross balanced only by materials that move away from the gross to explore different things, I also want to see products that balance it by embracing the gross without linking it with forms of abuses and cruelty.

How to do that?

A good starting point could be to explore your own darkness. The video that Contrapoints made on this question is good food for thoughts. Try to explore your own gross or darkness first.

Some possible paths to explore:
  • Feature the gross as something liberating. Something that break stiff social norms or that is good to vent out or to unleash in a cathartic way.
  • Gross, like chaos don’t mean evil. If we can have chaotic-good things, we can have gross-good things too. Chaos is also often about change, transformation and revolutions, same for the gross.
  • Present the gross as allies, tools or resources instead of presenting it as threats.
  • Play characters imbued by the gross. Make the gross personal and familiar instead of about otherness and external fears.
  • If you make the gross external and scary make it so that you can communicate with it in some way. Present the scary gross as something that you can make peace with instead of something that you have to destroy.
  • If you present the gross as something to be fought, contrast and balance it by making the characters or their allies gross too. Motley of cheerful-gross friends vs the evil-dangerous-horror-gross.
  • Don’t link the gross with abuses, keep it consensual, let the players trigger it or dare them to dip their toes in it. Same for the NPCs, don’t force the gross on them, make them embrace it through their emotions or actions.
  • Empower the gross, don’t always link it with misery and suffering, make it sometimes amazing or wonderful in it own grotesque way. 
  • Humanize the gross, don't always make it comical or ridiculous. Diversify it expressions or it reactions.
  • Develop safety tools about gleefully grossing each other out, tools that let us safely dare each other. Tools that let us safely push our comfort zone to explore gross things. Maybe something inspired from the emotional safety flower. Read about the tools that already exist, hack them if needed. Thinking about content warnings could also be a good thing. I feel like there is exploration to be done here, especially for the OSR who often shy away from these tools.  
I don't consider myself a gross person, I am pretty shy and all but as a trans woman, the gross sometimes speak a lot to me, dysphoria often lead to self depreciation and I often find part of me gross (less often now that I am transitioning). I also often tried to identify with gross monsters to kind of accept myself. Making peace with what we perceive as gross is not always easy (and we are not always in a position to do so). I think that there is a lot to gain from exploring the gross in a way that don’t leave us numb and empty.


Gross as a ally and something personal and scary that you need to accept or make peace with:

The gross as player characters and as the familiar and the mundane:


Gross as something neutral that the characters can interact with:


Gross as someone that the characters can gain as a ally:


There is a lot to explore.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Insects from Shaggai

Using the Insects from Shaggai in a fantasy setting. 

Campaign premise: 
The player characters are young from the same village, they will be soon initiated into the local cult. Years ago the insects landed in their temple ship, they domesticated the more useful monsters to use them as servitors. This was a good thing at first, while the woods gained the reputation of being haunted, the area became more peaceful. But soon the insects implanted their cult into the local human populace. To answer their need, the insects taught some technological innovations to their cultist while carefully controlling the villages' populations. The lands around the landing area became a sacred and forbidden place. Thing would go well but factions among the insects have different plans for the villagers. There is also these foreigners that were found in the woods, near the forbidden lands, a family is healing their wounds but the foreigners sinful influence have already infected some of the young, they call them adventurers.
  • Each village is under the influence of d3 Insect's factions.
  • Local families have their own petty ambitions.  
  • The wounded adventurers want to use the young to get what they want. 
  • (The surviving adventurer are ill or crippled, it will take them weeks to recover) 
  • The players determine a personal temptation that push their characters toward the forbidden area.  
Alternate option: the players play a group of adventurers who stop in one of the cult's villages. They are probably seeking something in the forbidden area. Young befriend them while local families want to use them to achieve their petty ambitions. The insects don't care about them at first but once the adventurer get troublesome, the insects will want to control them or may have other uses for them depending of their faction.  

Alternate option: the players play the insects. This option is naturally harder to play but quite tempting. The player characters are insects who fused with the mind of villagers to influence their community. Since their fused mind tap into their victim memories, this help the players make sense of their characters (vs playing truly alien ones). The insects have to deal with rival insect factions, their servitors becoming more erratic, the petty ambition of the villagers' clans and the presence of adventurers.


The Insects from Shaggai

Castes d9
  1. Oracles (Command & administration)
  2. Seers (Navigation)
  3. Shapers (Engineering)
  4. Priests (Science)
  5. Scribes (Archives)
  6. Weavers (Medicine & biotech)
  7. Shepherds (domestication and bioengineering of alien species)
  8. Singers (Operation)
  9. Watchers (Security & Intelligence)

Factions d9
  1. Seeders: want to create multiple colonies on imperfect worlds. Secret sub faction: research Shub-Niggurath to adapt their biology to these new worlds and secretly want to remain on their present world.
  2. Seekers: seek only the perfect new Shaggai and ways to divine it location. Secret sub faction: research Yog-Sothoth and Daoloth to create the possibility of the perfect new Shaggai. 
  3. Mentors: want to uplift indigenous species to imprint them with Shaggai culture to make backups saves of their history and culture. Secret sub faction: believe that the uplifted specie can revitalize the Shaggai culture if they are allowed to retain some form of agency. 
  4. Harvesters: fear indigenous species revolts and influence, want to harvest them as raw materials or to exterminate them. Secret faction: research necro-animation technologies to develop a new servitors and are secretly worshiping Mordiggian.
  5. Puppeteers: believe that the insects should infiltrate and control indigenous species and never reveal themselves. Secret faction: believe in monitoring the indigenous species to actually learn from them. They sometimes influence them to observe their behaviors but to gain meaningful data the specie must retain it agency and not be controlled or modified.   
  6. Renders of the veil: want to find new deities to ally with and new dimensions to explore. Secret faction: want to use local species to use as interfaces to contact and summon new deities and dimensions. 
  7. Heralds (or Pipers): want to fully summon Azathoth into the material universe to create a new Shaggai, oppose alliance with other deities. Secret faction: research Nyarlathotep to use local species to interface with Azathoth.
  8. Dreamers: want to enjoys sensorial stimuli and indigenous memories. Believe that they will never find a new Shaggai. Secret sub faction: devise drugs from indigenous brain matters and genetically alternate their brains to create different drugs. Secret sub faction: want to fuse with indigenous species to live their life and explore their Dreamlands.
  9. Guardians of the twin suns: want to preserve the past and pre-Azathoth worshipping culture, favor science but are very conservative and traditional. Secret sub faction: research Liao drug and time travel to return to the original Shaggai and the golden age of science.



Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Coven, campaign setup

I was rereading some old blog posts that I removed for personal reasons and I thought of rewriting the campaign setup that I wrote to play a coven of witches. To do so I want to get rid of the material linked to the LotFP book Vaginas are magic (VAM).

VAM could have easily been trans inclusive, I mean magic... you can easily writestuff to include trans women. This is a book about spells, you can even write a transition spell (even with all the nasty miscast effects) and add it to your spells list. Or you know, you can simply avoid writing that vaginas and fertility are the only ways of defining womanhood in your magical cosmology.

At the time of publication of VAM, some of us defended VAM by saying: "the book don't have to include trans women, this is the OSR, you can simply hack who can cast these spells or devise your own magical means for trans women to gain a vagina and a fertile womb if they really want to cast these spells." And at the time I was feeling uncomfortable but I thought: yeah I guess this is the OSR way of resolving problems…

At that time I was really trying hard to like VAM and to continue to like LotFP, I even ran a campaign entirely built around VAM. But as I took some distance from my initial love for LotFP, I saw how trans exclusive and shitty the game text of VAM was. Looking back on how I was ok with these excuses, I cringe a lot at my past self.

The text of VAM present the spells as women's magic and state that you need to have a fertile womb to be able to cast them (the book title also imply that you need a vagina).

"Now about this “only women can cast these spells”
thing. When creating new spells, It is perfectly fine
to say that certain spells can only be cast by one sex,
or people with brown hair, or people with no eyes.
Or by those in certain moods, or who are wearing/
not wearing jewelry or clothing made of certain
materials, or who are covered in squirrel shit. It can
be that arbitrary, that simple. If a caster wants to use
these spells without the specific restriction, she can
recover a spellbook with the spell in it and research
her own version without the restriction. Spell
research rules aren’t just there to fill out a page count.
For the purposes of being able to cast the spells
in this book, “woman” is defined as someone (or
something, non-human magicians can cast these
spells too) able to be impregnated and carry a child to
term. Is a character Postmenopausal? Prepubescent?
Infertile for any other reason? These spells are not for
them. Exceptions are made for those normally barren
if they have been infected with parasites which are
then naturally expelled through their normal birth/
life cycle.
Yup, these spells will have players of male Magic-
Users (and old crones, and etc.) begging you to run
Alien for them, just so their characters can get face-
fucked. Isn’t gaming grand?"
-VAM
What I get from the text is that in LotFP, the cosmic magical forces of the universe align with some of the arguments that TERFs use to exclude trans women. If I play a trans woman, VAM tell me that my character need to get impregnated by a alien parasite for the magical laws of the universe to consider her a woman or that she need to do some magical researches to rewrite these spells so that a “non woman” can cast them.

Again with all the trans people playing and creating gaming material in the OSR, I think that our allies can show more creativity and do better than this.





COVEN CAMPAIGN SETUP

The characters are all witches (magic-users) and they are all members of a secret coven that researched the dangerous spells list of a long dead Elder Witch. Something happened and the coven have been recently dismantled, the player characters goal is to rebuild their coven and to find a way to deal with what menace them. While doing so, there should be plenty of opportunities to impact the campaign's setting.

The campaign can be run as a sandbox build around a small town and a situation that is affecting everyone in the area. The player characters could first try to find back their former allies and resources, then personal goals would surely emerge and the game could become more about dealing with the big situation (or other emerging stuff). Naturally dealing with the legacy of the Elder Witch and other supernatural elements will come in to complicate everything.


THE ELDER WITCH

The Elder Witch should have lived some generations ago, she was a brilliant witch that grew obsessed with her magical researches and accessed dangerous planes of existences. After her death her spell book became a precious artifact, copies were made but errors slipped in. The original book eventually gained a “soul” of it own and became a magical entity, a bit like the necronomicon in Evil Death but maybe more alien than “evil”. Finding back the Elder book is something that witches booth desire and dread.

Keep the Elder Witch history vague and shrouded in mystery and rumors, give her some scary traits but also some positive and relatable ones. Echoes of herself still survive, trapped between the planes, she feel anger and regrets, her feelings are conflicted, maybe she can be redeemed or maybe not.

Crafting the Elder Witch’s spell list

The Elder Witch discovered a plane of existence that she explored until some of it secrets consumed her. This plane have it own ecosystem and rules, think of the Upside Down of Stranger Things or the Otherworld of Silent Hill.

Her spells are about accessing and manipulating the energies of this strange plane, define the plane and maybe around 10 spells to start with.

Spells effects (d20)
  1. Perceiving the plane
  2. Accessing the plane’s background energy
  3. Locating portals to the plane or toward it orbiting sub planes.
  4. Travelling to or through the plane
  5. Using the plane to affect our reality
  6. Contacting and influencing denizen of the plane
  7. Imbuing someone with the essence of the plane
  8. Unleashing the energy from the plane
  9. Manipulating the plane energy or essence
  10. Controlling a positive or beneficial effect of the plane
  11. Controlling a negative or dangerous effect of the plane
  12. Reaching or accessing the plane’s core, lower or higher levels
  13. Harvesting the plane’s primordial or forbidden energy
  14. Awakening sleeping parts of the plane
  15. Contacting a primordial and elder entity of the plane
  16. Draining or corrupting the plane to achieve a major effect
  17. Warding or protection against the plane energy, influence or hazards
  18. Sensing or harvesting the plane’s natural resources or hazards
  19. Summoning minor flora or fauna from the plane
  20. Imbuing a traditional feminine craft, art, activity or item with the energy of the plane.

Casting and miscasting spells

A part of the fun of the campaign is to see how much the witches are willing to use these dangerous spells and how using them will affect and impact their live, their world, the plane and reality itself.

You will have to hack a bit the game system that you use. Character of any levels should be able to cast spells of any levels. Spell of higher level than your own should be more dangerous to cast.

When casting a spell, a witch need to make a saving throw, depending of your system, greater spell effects should be harder to save against. On a failed roll the witch lose control of the spell and she must roll on the miscasting table. There is also the possibility of casting spells when you expanded your magical spell slots for the day, this should automatically lead to a roll on the fumble table. 

The conditions in which a character is casting a spell could also impact the miscasting save. But keep in mind that casting spells should always involve some risk. 

Miscasting Table (higher results are potentially more dangerous)
  1. The area of effect is larger than anticipated (in a bad way)
  2. The spell effect someone else you know, a ally (or a enemy depending of the effect).
  3. The effect become contagious or move travel through potential targets
  4. The effect have a extra horrible side effect
  5. The effect is corrupted, twisted, toxic or dangerous
  6. The effect is too potent and out of control (in a bad way)
  7. The effect attract hostile supernatural creatures
  8. The effect hide in someone you know, emotions may trigger it
  9. Casting the spell displace things between reality and the plane
  10. Casting the spell mess up your mind or perception
  11. The spell imbue a object and create a cursed item, scroll, tattoo or mark
  12. The spell effect become a dangerous elemental or construct
  13. The spell create a doppelganger of the caster
  14. The spell germinate inside you like a parasite (ask the player how it manifest).
  15. Casting the spell mutate your body
  16. The spell awoken a terrible threat
  17. The spell rewrite itself and it effect and become a new spell
  18. Casting the spell edit a part of your the local area, ecosystem or reality
  19. Casting the spell edit a part of your personal life or history
  20. The spell try to rip you apart (save or die)

THE WITCHES

Players characters are women (cis or trans) magic-users.
Characters can be from level 01 to 03
>Level 01 characters can reroll 2 stats and keep the best
>Level 02 characters can reroll 1 stat and keep the best
>Level 03 characters don’t get a reroll.
Any character can switch a stat with their magic casting score (probably INT).

Starting ages:
Level 1: 15 +1d6
Level 2: 16 +2d6
Level 3: 17 +3d6
  • Each character choose one spell from the Elder Witch spell list.
  • Each character roll a number of spell equal to their level on the magic user spell list of your game system. This spell can also trigger miscasts and is linked to the plane discovered by the Elder Witch or one of it sub planes.
  • No duplicate spells between character are allowed (reroll duplicates).
  • Character understand better the spells they chosen and rolled and get +1 to save against miscasting these spells. All the characters’ spells are pooled together to create the master spell book of the coven.
  • The referee add a extra spell from the Elder Witch’s spell list that is harder to master and that always inflict a penalty when saving against miscasting it.
  • All characters can use the master spell book to prepare spells.
  • Your personal spell books start with level+2 spells written in it selected from the master spell book.


THE TOWN

The referee should name the town.
Go around the table and answer these questions together.
If a question don’t inspire you, pass it to the next player.
  • What is the town main landmark?
  • A local product that you appreciate?
  • A local product that you find cringy?
  • A local tradition?
  • A place where you feel safe in town?
  • A place where you feel unsafe in town?
  • Someone in town who abuse of their power?
  • Someone in town who try to restrain them?
  • Someone new and ambitious?
  • A old incident that disturbed the town?
  • A distant calamity that is starting to affect the town? (war, natural disaster, plague, revolution, etc)
  • A rumor about it? (ask each player)

THE COVEN

The game will be mostly about rebuilding the coven…
Go around the table and answer these questions together.
If a question don’t inspire you, pass it to the next player.
  • Who founded the coven?
  • How did she learn magic?
  • What was her relation with the memory of the Elder Witch?
  • Where was the coven situated?
  • What special resource the coven had?
  • What magical artifact the coven lost?
  • What spell did the founder was never able to master?
  • What native beings from the other plane the coven feared?
  • Who was secretly allied with the coven?
  • Who betrayed or abandoned the coven?
  • Who raided the coven?
  • Who of your sisters died in the raid? Who still perceive her?
  • Who of your sisters ran away?
  • Who of your sisters was captured?
  • How the founder failed the coven before her demise?
  • How the founder perished?
  • Where were you instructed to go if things go wrong? (were the game will start…)
Personal questions for each characters
  • How the coven recruited you?
  • What did you glimpse from the other plane during your initiation?
  • You admired or feared the founder?
  • Who are you close with within the coven?
  • Who do you trust in town?
  • Who do you fear, hate or avoid in town?
For transgender witches
  • How do you transition? (socially and or physically) 
  • Do you use potions, herbs, rituals or other magical means of transition?
  • Who taught you this secret? 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Chromatic Soup 03: Turtles and Birds

Contributions by Christopher Potter and Evlyn M

The Caravan of the Crystal Carapace Chant

The Great Tortoises of the Crystal Carapace accumulate mineral growths on their shells from their habit of bathing in the Chromatic Soup of the Prismatic Swamps.

These form crystals which resonate to the songs of the Finchfolk or Fringu (of the family Fringillidae). Known throughout all lands for the sweetness of their songs, the Fringu refine their melodies through the harmonics of the crystal shells, honing their voices to the most pleasing pitch.

Now with the world's ending new songs are being sung as the Fringu seek to attune to the music of the sphere's and rendezvous with the Astral Turtle so that the Celestial Chant may not be silenced.

Human musicians and singers who can contribute to the celestial chants are welcomed into their caravan.


Contributions by Dan D, Jeremy Duncan, Shel Kahn, C Huth, Robbert Raets, Richie Cyngler, Perttu Vedenoja and Evlyn M

Astral Egg of the Walking Flock

The Walking Flock are a tribe of sentient giant carnivorous land birds.
They wear exaggerated artificial head crests -- especially prized by breeding males. Status indicated by size, color, gaudiness, rarity of materials, etc. They wear saddlebag pouches to hold and protect eggs, retain and channel heat or use chariot nests. No time to sit and brood while on the move. They use decorative bibs with heraldry to identify their clans.

Some members of the flock display a kind of 'flock sentience' with multiple members cooperating to perform complex dexterous tasks with their beaks.

The flock have a symbiotic relationship with a specie of sentient Meekats who use their dexterous hands to craft things for them.

Some clan members wear tiny head howdah with their meekats allies riding in them.
Some others wear baroquely crafted harnesses bordering on sculptures reminiscent of birds of paradise's flamboyance. Hunters like to wear eyewear to protect their eyes from the blinding sun.

Their collective bird cries can be intimidating as bagpiping.

A few human mercenaries families also accompany their caravan into the astral plains.

Their portal to the astral plain is contained in magically imbued astral egg that from which a astral gate will hatch. 


Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Cosmic Worm Blade

Ruleset: B/X
The Worm Blade is a bastard sword +1
Special: +1d4 dmg VS fleshy and rotting undeads.
Each level the blade holder can summon the Cosmic Worm Maiden a number of times equal to their current level.

The maiden is a agent of the cosmic balance, she is in charge of maintaining the natural cycle of decomposition and she seek to return undeads back to their natural states.

When summoned the maiden imbue the character with her cosmic essence for the duration of a combat. 

When under the influence of the maiden a wave of worms crawl on the character, they devour anything the character wear and form a wondrous dress of woven worms, the character is transfigured and take the form of the maiden and receive:
  • a healing 1HD of hp (the transfiguration heal the character). 
  • AC as unarmored (the worm dress offer no protection).
  • The maiden form can use the worm blade like a dancing sword.
  • The worm blade can harm any undead. 
  • The maiden form can turn undead and speak with worms.
  • While touching a rotting undead with her bare hands the maiden form can absorb all the worms that crawl in their flesh, doing 1d8+LV dmg while healing the sword bearer by d8+LV hp. 
  • If something harm the maiden, a cosmic worm crawl out of the astral plains to protect the maiden. The worm (stats as displacer beasts) protect the maiden with it displacing power. The worm can not attack while transferring it displacing effect to the maiden. Each round the player must choose if the worm attack or apply it displacing effect. 
  • Foes slain by the worm blade can not be re-animated or become undead.
  • Worms (including carrion crawlers) will not harm the maiden form and will seek to protect her. Corrupted or chaotic worms will roll a reaction test.  
 After the combat the character must make a reaction test toward the maiden. 
(bonus for neutral alignment and charisma, penalty for losing the fight or for acting against the cosmic balance)
  • On a good result the maiden can answer one question before leaving. 
  • On a negative result she inflict a mutations linked to her nature and appearance.
  • On a very good reaction she may transfer one of her physical traits and grant a blessing or a extra summoning. Her favored champions slowly take on her appearance. 
  • She can also restore level drains in exchange of a quest, the reaction roll should influence the nature of the quest. Her quests usually involve burials, singing to summon worms and mourning. She will not answer summons when a character is questing for her.   

Friday, July 19, 2019

Chromatic Soup 03: Structuring the means of escape.

I think that I need to structure more how the means of escape of the world are presented to make Chromatic Soup 03 more gameable.

I am thinking of adding to each entries:
  • What is happening when the group arrive?
  • What is happening when people escape to astral plains? 
  • How the caravan form in the astral plains?
  • Who accompany the caravan? (who are helpful, who cause trouble) 
  • How the caravan reach and exit pocket worlds?
I will have to keep these answers briefs as we wrote 30 means of escapes. 

I will probably do that after blogging all the material I have collected, I think that I have enough stuff to regularly post for months. 

So first I need to blog everything (this already require me to do some edition and additional writing to glue things together as the raw material I am working with is a collection of G+ posts and comments). After that I will have a good idea of the content and I will do a second round of edition to structure things a bit and to make everything more gameable. 

EDIT: well thinking of it, I guess that I could simply write a series of questions for the GM to help them define the situation that is building around the mean of escape. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Campaign: Mothers of the Borderlands

I thought of revisiting my first blog post: a illustration of room #B12 of the B2 module Keep of the Borderlands.

For me, the most interesting thing in B2 are all of these non "combatants females" and their young, I often wondered what was their stories. Why not play them to find out?

"Orc losses cannot be replaced"

This detail gave me the idea of running a campaign about the survivors of the Chaos Caves.

Mothers of the Borderlands Campaign

Supported by the keep, adventurers raided the Caves of Chaos multiple times, the dust settle but the orcs tribe have been decimated, forgotten by the adventurers, the orcs females gather their young and try to rebuilt the tribe.

The players characters are the orcs females who survived these raids.

I would use Macchiato Monsters to run this campaign as the system is flexible and can easily be used to create different orc characters. But naturally any old school system could work.

Character creation (Macchiato Monsters) 

1) Roll your attributes but don't determine anything else. You start with the trait "orc".

2) Generate your family
You have 1d4-1 mates (you can add -1 or +1 if your prefer fewer or more mates)
(Roll 1d6 to determine their gender: 1-4 male, 5-6 female)

2A) If you have no mate chose one option or roll a d6
  1. You took the blood oath and follow the path of the warrior. (start with a wound)  
  2. You took a spirit as a mate and follow they path of the shaman. 
  3. You did a crime and are shun for it, you follow the path of the outcast. 
  4. You vowed to take no mate to follow the path of the witches. 
  5. You consume the moist mother shrooms and follow the path of the gender change. 
  6. Your mate died and you follow the mourning path of the wailing. 
3) Determine how many young you have. These young may be your natural or adopted children. If you have female mates, they gave birth to some of these young but you all consider them as your children.

Add +1 by mates (you may take a additional -1 or +1 if you want a smaller or bigger family)
You have:
  • 1d6-2 daughters  
  • 1d6-2 sons 
Young are 1d10-1 year old (0 year olds are d10 month old babies)

You also have  1d4-1 elderly parents. (Roll 1d6 to determine their gender: 1-3 male, 4-6 female) 

4) Roll who survived the raids.
  • Adult males survived on a roll of 1 on a d6, survivors are wounded and incapacitated. 
  • Adult females survived on a roll of 1-4 on a d6
  • Young survived on a roll of 1-5 on a d6
  • Elders survived on a roll of 1-2 on a d6, survivors are wounded and incapacitated.
Your surviving family is represented by a d6 risk die. When the risk die fizzle out, someone in your family is starving, sick, lost or troublesome. Reset the risk die to d6. You can step up your family risk die beyond d6 by taking care of them, providing them with: food, shelter, comfort and pride.

5) The tribe have been decimated, chose the path you will now follow (or roll a d6)
(If you already have a path, skip this step)
  1. You will take the blood oath and follow the path of the warrior.  
  2. You will take a spirit as a mate and follow they path of the shaman.
  3. You will consume the moist mother shrooms and follow the path of the gender change. 
  4. Your will mourn the deaths and follow path of the wailing. 
  5. You will protect the tribe and follow the path of the guardian. 
  6. You will take care of the young and follow the path of the mother. 
6) Generate your equipment with the Macchiato Monsters' tables. Your starting equipment represent what you salvaged after the big raid.

When you roll a piece of equipment determine who it belonged to...
  1. my family or clan
  2. a dead or wounded orc 
  3. a adventurer 
  4. a denizen of the caves 
  5. no one, I found it while I was... 
  6. myself, I crafted it
The gm can ask you questions to get more details to craft rumors. 

7) Your path determine your character options, you start with your path as a second trait plus the option associated with your path. (These are your two starting character options)
  • The warrior (take martial training, you are good with war and weapons) 
  • The shaman (take magic training, you are good with spirits, bones and blessings)  
  • The outcast (take specialistic training, you are good at sneaking, tricks and traps) 
  • The witches (take magic training, you are good with herbs, curses and the occult) 
  • The change (add d6 to a stat of 10 or less, you are transitioning and you are good with mushrooms, drugs, poisons and transformations)  
  • The wailing (take specialistic training (wailing), you are good at mourning, remembering, raging and scaring others) 
  • The guardian (take martial training, you are good with defenses, protecting and armors) 
  • The mother (gain a hit die, you are good with healing, nurturing, teaching and organization) 
8) Make rolls to see if your character speak extra languages. Your character speak orc and the chaos tongue. The chaos tongue is very crude and using it often impose a disadvantage when dealing with other chaotic creatures.
  1. Humans (common tongue) 
  2. Lizardmen or Troglodyte 
  3. Spider or Boar  
  4. Kobold
  5. Goblin
  6. Hobgoblin
  7. Bugbear
  8. Gnoll
  9. Troglodyte 
  10. Ogre
  11. Minotaur
  12. Ghoul or Harpy 
9) Roll a event that happened during the last raid (d6) (these work like rumors or goals)
  1. You lost something that you need to find back. 
  2. You lost someone that you need to find back.   
  3. You saw a opportunity to gain something. 
  4. You found something that you must keep secret. 
  5. Someone helped you, could they help you again? 
  6. You saw something that worry you. 
The gm can ask you questions to get more details to craft rumors.

10) Players should write goals about their tribe, their family, their path and the caves.  

Running the Campaign

The Caves of Chaos have been hit hard by adventurers from the keep, those who are still alive are those non combatants that the adventurers ignored. Now that most of the combatants are dead, the survivors must reorganize themselves to survive.

Run the B2 Module as a sandbox, present the caves as a place that have been hit by a disaster. Monsters are protective and desperate, this may open doors to new alliances.

You can start play in room C15.
  • Monsters survived the adventurers raids on a roll of 1 up to their HD on a d6. 
  • Combatant humanoids only survived on a roll of 1 on a d6. 
  • Non combatants humanoids survived on a roll of 1-4 on a d6. 
  • Neutral creatures or NPCs survived on a roll of 1-3 on a d6. 
  • You may also decide that a important or interesting creature is severely wounded and can be nurtured back to health with assistance. 
  • Treasures have not been looted on a roll of 1-2 on a d6. 
  • Traps are still activated on a roll of 1-2 on a d6, activated traps contain the corpse of a adventurer on a roll of 1-3 on a d6.   
The keep consider the caves as being a under control now, they moved their attention to other issues. Don't trigger a other raid on the caves unless the keep notice something worrying or worthy of their attention.

Present the chaos cult as a cursed gift, gaining it favor bring power but it will also corrupt the tribe and endanger the young. Deciding to follow the cult or to abandon it should be a major theme.

Present the chaotic humanoids as brutal and territorial but also give them things that they respect and care about. They are more like people with a lot of issues than evil ones. Show that they have a lot of resentments toward humankind and how chaos is feeding on these wounds.

Use random encounters as troubles that need to be deal with. Like if they encounter a carrion crawler maybe this is the sign of a carrion crawler infestation coming up, encountering other humanoids or NPC may be signs of all kind of troubles.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Presentation of my Doodles City zine



I crafted a experimental zine, each copy of the zine represent a city block. Each layer have different descriptors that you can select to make each block unique. You can open the zine on the side to gain access to random encounters.

1) Download the files.
2) Print in letter format with no margins (full page).
3) Print the second page on the verso.
4) Fold in 8
5) Cut the inside slit
6) Fold and assemble the zine.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Chromatic Soup 03: Elven-Troll Ancestral Portals

Contributions: Jeremy Duncan, Dan D, Christopher Potter, Evlyn M

As the cosmic alignments vanished, trolls and elven people reunited and traveled together toward the astral plains. They've had to pass through several ancient battlefields, and have learned a great deal of hidden lore about each one, thanks to the trolls' necromantic abilities, with the elves acting in their traditional role as mediators and go-betweens. This includes the sites of treasure caches, where long-dead soldiers had stashed the plunder of their campaigns, never to dig it up again and reclaim it.

The unlikely alliance between ancient enemies was formed through wide-scale acts of reparations and forgiveness by both sides. After long travel on the astral road, the two peoples have intermingled more than any could have expected: trolls are called "auntie" and "uncle" by elf children. The Council of Longhouses has returned centuries of stolen bones and grave goods to the Muckmoot. It is not uncommon to see families opening their tents to members of the other species.

In the face of the Sunset of the World, it is reason to hope.

Word of their abilities has spread, so that desperate travelers will come from far and wide bearing the remains of their restless ancestors. They hope that someone in the caravan can make contact with these ghosts in order to resolve unfinished business, centuries-old disputes, feuds, etc. This has brought the caravan a great deal of unexpected wealth, along with increased scrutiny. Gifts of food and drink are consumed quickly, but the material gifts are slowing the caravan down and attracting the attention of local bandits.

Troll and elf wagons started off with extremely distinct looks-- the trolls tending mushroom houses on the backs of giant spiders, with spores from the fungi fruiting inside the spider's brains and allowing for some rudimentary control by trained Troll wagoneers.

Elf wagons look like wooden towers with colorful tents hanging off of them, like mountain climbers on a cliff-face. They are pulled by creatures that look like a cross between zebra and goat. They also had these delicate wooden Strandbeest things, only load-bearing and requiring 1-4 elves to steer, working in shifts.

Hybrid designs are starting to merge, intact spiders yoked to strandbeests, mushroom domes clinging to moving wooden slats.

These all surround the caravan's main wagon, a 16-wheeled longhouse.

The opening of the ancestral gates
To travel to the astral plains elves and trolls had to unite their efforts to open their ancestral astral gates. The trolls performed an exhausting ritual to open the gate (and awaken the gatekeepers in the process). This effort left most of the trolls unconscious from the effort. The elves were then left with the task of negotiating for passage with the awakened gatekeepers, citing ancient precedent and even introducing new arguments. The gatekeepers were forced to concede, but at a cost. Four living sacrifices were required for passage. This was non-negotiable...

The gatekeepers look like elven-trolls or maybe trollish-elves as once both people were one.

Their common ancestors are now extinct as a civilization. Only certain individuals held in ritual stasis (like the gatekeepers) still exist on the material plane. There are rumored to be a few scattered diaspora communities where they do their best to recreate their civilization at its imagined height, but they function more like a cargo cult than anything. There are also "orphans" making their way as astral vagabonds, but most of them have no idea of their origins. In any case, they can barely viably reproduce. Some of their number are convinced that this is all for the best, and that their essence lives on in their "seed races" while others refuse to accept the situation and seek for some other means to perpetuate themselves in defiance of time and biology.

A child of the two races has been produced, and named Root. They are expected to become the Messiah of a new race, all actions are watched closely and seen as auguries, Troll shaman read the stools, Elf seers divine the flutter of eyelids. Others may follow, united as the caravan is on the path what will occur when the destination is reached, Root may become conflicted. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Divine Transition (in a petty pantheon)

Because of my family issues with my transition I thought, what if a divinity in a classic family based pantheon came out as trans? I doubt that I would use this myself in a campaign but there is no harm in brainstorming just for the fun of it.

Lets say that we have a classic Greek or Norse pantheon with a strong family structure and a lot of petty, jealous and controlling divinities who have the habit of intruding into other people's business...
While these gods could easily shapeshift, most of them maintained a fixed gender identity to maintain family ties as they were know as the son or daughter of... or the wife or husband of... 

Here are some possible consequences of a divine transition in these circumstances: 
  • Transition could be simple as gods can easily shapeshift. 
  • But maybe that how their follower perceive them shape their appearance on the mortal plane. 
  • Maybe the trans divinity will make some coming outs to their followers through different divine means. 
  • Maybe the trans divinity will go in hiding to transition and appear to have abandoned their followers (some heroes will have to undertake a quest to check on them). 
  • Maybe the deity will accomplish new divine feats while undertaking a quest to transition. 
  • Maybe their dysphoria will spawn monsters, cursed items or calamities. 
  • Maybe their gender euphoria will spawn new servitors, artifacts and miracles. 
  • Maybe their transition will influence their sphere of influence. 
  • Maybe their transition will influence the elements they rule over. 
  • Maybe their transition will reshape their spirit servitors. 
  • Maybe they will lose the support of some allies while old adversaries will welcome their new identity. 
  • Their divine parents could cast them out in the mortal world or even imprison them in the underworld. 
  • Strife could emerge between accepting and non accepting divine parents. 
  • Their non accepting divine parent could craft a simulacrum of their old identity to replace them. 
  • The divine parents could continue to maintain their parent-children relationship but in a very passive-aggressive way, you know by hindering their heroes or pestering their followers with monsters and calamities. 
  • Splinter cults could emerge between those who try to preserve the old identity of their divinity and those who embrace the new one. 
  • Mortal trans people could seek out the divinity to gain their support. 
  • Mortal social order could change or the divine transition could create a conservative backlash. 
  • Some minor deities will dare to come out too... 
Now imagine that a divinity that his currently very relevant to what is currently happening in the mortal world transition. How all of these consequences will impact the current situation? 

Like let say that the god of war transition during a major conflict between nations, or that people depend on a divinity to protect them against undeads or other kinds of menaces. Or that a divinity that rule over a very gendered institution or occupation transition. There could be all sort of interesting consequences that bleed over into the mortal world.