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.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Chromatic Soup 03: more means of escape 2

Contributions by Robbert Raets, Tore Nielsen and Evlyn M

Orkish Cosmic Cans Opener 

There is rumors about nomadic orcs who have their own mobile cannery and a large supply of tinned goods.

Hobos say they have large signs on the cart holding the cannery - "BUTCHA ELKZ FURST!" or "NO WUN LIEKS TEH FLAVER OV ORK FINGAZ!" and that a orc engineer weaponized the thing by figuring out that the cannery can produce bio-grenades if you feed it regenerating bits of troll and pieces of other creatures encountered in the astral plains.

Orc's engineers and shamans crafted together a gigantic experimental cans opener that can cut a unstable rift into the astral plains or through pocket words.

Now that alignments are gone, there is also weird rumors about vegan orcs who made their cannery only with vegetables.


Contributions by Richie Cyngler

Thaumaturgic Community Displacement 

New Spell: Community Lifeboat
Level (if you need it): 1
Range: one community (interpret liberally)
Duration: permanent (well as permanent as anything is in the fictoverse)
Spell components: one dying world
School: alchemy

The wizard harnesses the energy of a dying world to teleport her entire community to the astral plains and from there to random pocket worlds!

Roll to determine some characteristics of these pocket world.
dX
0.0 Mumbleverse. Error in the formulae! Your entire community has been transplanted! But as the language of another species on another world. Most people are words, some sentences, the lucky few are phrases or punctuation. This would be difficult to explain to the people... except you're made of language.
1.0 Oops 2D low rez. Its pretty cool here. There's 16 whole colours, if you're lucky. You can travel left, right, up or down (wasd). This place is full of cool adventures. "Look North".
2.0 Outwardly appears similar to the old world, but eerily so. Everything is so similar that there has to be a sinister conspiracy going on. Of course there is. Spoiler alert: it's mostly the male of the majority native species, they're afraid of basically everything particularly their own nature, which of course manifests as a violent need to subjugate others.
4.0 Functionally very similar to the old world. Similar political and economic structures, technologies (magical and otherwise), ethical spectrum, even physical properties, it might even be better! Yeah the people have blue skin, whatevs.


Contributions by Paul C

The Waybringers' Path

The Goddess of Wayfarers had prepared for the Sunset, for she knew that along the journey to safety would be fiends waiting to destroy the caravans. Her last boon before her departure was to infuse bowls with her ichor and give them to her ordained followers.

Those that consumed this ichor soup were driven to a frenzy, they gained a great and terrible power and teared astral rifts into reality with their bare hands.

They are now unwavering in their devotion to finding (and clearing, if necessary) the best path for their caravan. They are known as Waybringers, and others think of them as incredibly helpful but also ferociously violent.

Waybringers character class
As Fighter except:
  • Experience requirements as Dwarf (2,200 for second level, and so on).
  • Bump up the Hit Die of the Fighter by one degree in your chosen rule set.
  • No armour or shields, only travelling clothes and a hood or hat, for the Waybringer instinctively seeks to emulate the Goddess. Despite this, your quasi-divine nature gives you a natural AC of 6, with a +1 bonus every 3 levels after the first.
  • The Waybringer understands that there are things lurking in the dark corners of the planes that are immune to the bite of steel. Therefore, they will fight them on equal terms: with their bare hands! Unarmed attacks do 1d8 damage, increasing in die size at levels 5 and 9, and you gain a +2 bonus to grappling. You also ignore any monster's immunity to non-magic weaponry.
  • They are also skilled in bushcraft, with a 3-6 chance of success on 1d6. This increases to 2-6 at 6th level.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Galli Character Class (Black Hack version)

I made a Black Hack version of the Galli as a character class as Fiona presented them in her blog post about why she hate clerics.

They are priestesses who sometimes practice sacred prostitution. It is not the first time that I see a character built around sacred sex work in OSR publications. This is a subject that can easily be problematic but I guess that it can also be used in a mature and respectful way. In the case of the Galli, this is again associating trans characters with sex work, but at the same time sex work is a part of the history of trans people and sex workers are also part of our community, I don't think that they should be erased. I played Satareh, a houri custom character class (a sacred prostitute) up to level 4 in the Ultan's Door campaign and I really appreciated this character, her role as a sex worker did not really come up during play, as our adventuring mostly happened outside the city but playing her made me think about how sex work could be handled in play.

Some guidelines to handle sex worker characters in a campaign:
  • Lines and veils should be discussed with the player (and the group). 
  • The player should always be in charge of the sex work of their character, they need to be the one who decide to initiate it or not. 
  • The character can be tied to a temple or a brothel but they also need to be autonomous and be able to leave when they want. Their temple or brothel should generally be a positive network of contacts. There can be issues or problems to deal with but they should be optional and the affiliation should not be used by the GM as a excuse to coerce or abuse the character or to impose things on them.
  • Humanize the NPCs sex workers and patrons, give them quality, flaws and relationships. Some of them may have problems that the PC can decide to get involved with or not. 
  • Be careful not to shame the character for their sex work or to gratuitously joke about it at the table. Some NPCs may have a bad opinion of sex workers but don't make it the default reaction.  
  • If you use the trope of the troublesome client, be careful not to remove the agency of the character, give them opportunities to handle the situation in their own way and give them means of ending or exiting the scene if they wish. 
  • Never use rape as a threat. There is so many other ways of depicting a troublesome client and other kinds of troubles to explore.  
  • If for some reason pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections come into play, always warn the player when there is a risk so that they have a choice of taking that risk or not. I would personally advice to discuss these when you first talk about the player's lines to see if these risks should even be on the table. When they happen, give the character various options to handle the situation. 
  • Try to avoid tropes like magical pregnancy, or again discuss them with the player and if you decide to explore them give various solutions and be careful with the character agency, don't impose this kind of tropes on the character, always present them as a choice. 

GALLI as character class (by Fiona)
Who are they: castrated individuals[1] who dress in luxurious robes, attractive headgear (crowns, laurel wreathes, or Phrygian caps) and excessive makeup. Their hair is long and their features feminine. They have knives, bronze shields, and tympanum and dance ecstatically. They are preceded by frenzied music and wafts of heady incense. They bear a representation of their goddess atop a donkey. They perform for money. Because of the edict against castration of a citizen, they are drawn from the ranks of low born and foreigners. Sometimes they practice sacred prostitution. The object of equal measures of scorn and religious awe.
Why are they: they wander around and perform blessings (a shield dance over newborns, blessing crops to be fertile as Attis represents the life-death-rebirth cycle of crops) and tell fortunes. The actual operations of the cult are opaque (it is, after all, a mystery cult).
Domains: the boundary between life and death, the wild (particularly birds of prey and lions), frenzied dancing, mountains and stones in general. In chthonic ritual practice can contact an ancient race of smiths/magicians who can work metal, teach the secrets of mathematics and literacy and bestow magic; they will also witness oaths and bind them.
How is one initiated: the only requirement is the devotion necessary to castrate oneself in a fit of divine madness during the 'Day of Blood' (March 24) in symbolic mourning for the temporary death of Attis. Then you become a mendicant priest and perform for the glory of Attis & Cybele.

[1] Galli are in various sources referred to with masculine pronouns, feminine pronouns and 3rd gender pronouns sometimes pegged to if they have castrated themselves.

GALLI (Black Hack version by Evlyn)
Starting HP: 1d6+4
HP per level / resting: d6
Weapons: daggers
Armor: bronze shields
Attack Damage: 1d6 / 1d4 unarmed or improvising

SPECIAL FEATURES
  • Gain advantage to CHA tests while dancing or playing music.
  • Gain advantage to INT tests while bestowing knowledge of metallurgy, mathematics, agriculture and literacy. 
Once by day they can:
  • Sacred prostitution: when offering your service to a community test CHA, on a failure people avoid you (for different reasons), on a success you gain (level)d6x10 coins for the day, some rumors and a advantage for your next WIS test.
  • Fortunes: name someone and test WIS, on a fail you bestow disadvantage to a random attribute, on a success you bestow advantage to a attribute of your choice. The disadvantage or advantage will trigger the next time this attribute is tested by that person.
  • Shield Dance: while dancing you cannot attack but you gain advantage to defend against attacks, after d6 rounds of dancing you enter a battle frenzy and gain advantage to attack alongside a extra attack until the end of the fight.

Once by divine favor they can:
  • Witnessing a Oath: when someone swear something you may declare that you witness the Oath, if the person break their Oath they will gain disadvantage to all their tests until they try to rectify their oath or ask you to “divine” their penance. (NPCs will simply fail at everything)
  • Bless with fertility: take a turn to bless someone or something with fertility. Test WIS, on a natural 20 what will grow will be full of life but you must describe a monstruous feature that the gods bestow on them. On a failure you must declare that the gods do not approve the blessing. On a success you can divine a natural feature or trait of what will grow. On a natural 1 you must describe a divine feature that the gods bestow on them. (The blessing do not cause pregnancy, it only affect fertility) 
  • Replace a random encounter roll with a encounter with a lion. This lion will be neutral toward the Galli, test CHA to befriend it, on a failure the lion will leave and the Galli gain disadvantage to her next CHA test, on a success the lion will remain with the Galli until he fight once for her.
  • Commune with the dead: test CHA, on a failure the dead bestow a bad fortune upon you (like the fortune ability), on a success the dead will answer d6 of your questions. Undeads will return to their normal behaviors after chatting.
  • Contact Cthonian beings: test CHA, on a natural 20 you awaken a grumpy cthonian monster, on a failure d6 ill intended bitter cthonians will meet you, on a success you summon d6 helpful cthonians, on a natural 1, d6 cthonians come to bestow a gift from below the earth. The cthonians take d6 turns to arrive.
  • Summon the Ambrosia of Cybele: personally gather honey, grapes and sacred herbs, bless them to transform them into ambrosia. When blessing them chose a effect: heal 2d6HP OR restore lost charisma OR work as divine Hormone Replacement Therapy (changes still take time).
Ways of winning divine favors 
(You can accumulate one favor by level)  
  • Being castrated (you can start play with one favor).
  • Convert followers to worship.
  • Observe the holy week of Attis being pledged to Cybele.
  • Make a sacrifice of a ram to Attis (Criobolium) or a bull to Cybele (Taurbolium). 
  • Ritually sacrifice the testicles of a potent animal.
  • Observe minor holidays organized around the import of Cybele's worship. 
  • Flagellation and frenzy demonstrating devotion. 
  • Give solid agricultural advice in line with the religious calendar.
  • Dying and being reborn (earn 1d6 favors)

LEVELING UP
Roll to see if attributes increase, roll twice for WIS and CHA.


Random Cthonians Table (d6) 
  1. Dwarfs or Gnomes covered with dirt and roots. 
  2. Armored molerats people (or other burrowing animals) 
  3. Blind morlocks or troglodytes. 
  4. A cyclop and the assistants they crafted.  
  5. Fossilized nymphs. 
  6. Mad Geomancers. 
Cthonian's Gifts (d10)
  1. Knowledge
  2. Gem or magical stone 
  3. Petrified body part
  4. Key to a secret passage
  5. Helm or shield
  6. Earth song dagger 
  7. Statuette of a cthonian monster 
  8. Crystallized bones or creature
  9. Perfume or balm 
  10. Jewelry or erotic item 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Swimming between dreams (Sharkman Black Hack version)

I wrote a Black Hack version of the excellent SHARKMAN Dreams... that Evey posted a while ago, also check out the Blogs On Tape interpretation, the reading is just perfect.

I appreciate how Sharkman is not really aware of her gender, she just swim through her dreams and reality. I wish that I could feel like that sometimes... Being able to forget about my gender or even who I am for a while. Well I am presently swimming through difficult emotions and I certainly feel like a fish out of the water, I am trying to post some stuff that relate to what I feel, it kind of help me to digest my emotions.

I wanted to craft a mini 8 pages zine with both Evey's version and mine but I need more material to fill up 3 more pages.

The Black Hack is becoming my favorite system to craft custom character classes.

"There may be more sharkman somewhere, but as far as anyone knows there is just this one sharkman. Sharkman can’t really say.
Sharkman looks a bit surprised all the time. That’s just shark eyes, though he? she? it? is usually surprised. Sharkman does not understand our dry world.
He? is gullible, easily confused, and utterly alien.
Her? big flipper feet are cumbersome. His? strangely still flipper hands couldn’t be dexterous, could they? It’s never unarmed, not with that big dopey, dangerous grin. It seems curious but this is difficult to discern. That frightening, inhuman, kind of goofy expression never changes.
It’s no wonder the possibly innocent or possibly bloodthirsty thing fell in with the worst sort of crowd…"

-Evey Lockhart

SHARKMAN (Black Hack version by Evlyn M)
Starting HP: 1d10+4
HP per level: d10 / resting: d10 (underwater) d6 (dry land)
Weapons: biting and more biting!
Armor: his cold, thick, unfeeling flesh count as leather armor
Attack Damage: 1d10 biting / 1d6 unarmed or improvising

SPECIAL FEATURES
  • Sharkman roll with advantage when underwater, including her attacks.
  • Sharkman is clumsy on the dryland and sometime roll DEX with disadvantage.
  • Sharkman can smell blood from 100 yards away on land, 1 mile away in water.
  • Once he taste blood, sharkman make 1 attack per level and she must devour what she kill (this take 1 round by HD).
  • Sharkman regain d10 + the prey’s HD in lost HP when he devour a prey.
  • Sharkman can sort of talk, in a gurgling, raspy, disconcerting way. Player must choose and abide by a 10 words speaking vocabulary for the character.
  • Sharkman does not understand and roll with disadvantage when the dryland confuse her.
LEVELING UP
Roll to see if attributes increase, roll twice for STR and DEX. Sharkman also learn 1d4 new words.

SHARKMAN DREAMS (d20)
  1. Mermaids sing underwater, make up a word and add it to your vocabulary without defining it.
  2. Mating with a shark or a human (genders are blurry and never the same).
  3. Vomiting humans and shark babies.
  4. Taking bites off something gigantic.
  5. A friend bleeding in the cold water.
  6. Drowning on the dryland or gasping for air.
  7. Being stuck in a infinite net, someone (or something) else is struggling too.
  8. Having your fins being cut by a fisherman and being throw back into the water.
  9. A underwater moon.
  10. A sunken temple.
  11. Being experimented on by deep ones.
  12. Sunken ship.
  13. Swimming freely with normal sharks.
  14. Catching a glimpse of a other sharkman in the distance.
  15. Being alone on a beach.
  16. Being touched and calmed by a mute and scared mermaid.
  17. Fighting a giant undead octopus, catching a glimpse of it milky eye.
  18. Being captured by aquatic humanoids.
  19. Walking in a empty city.
  20. In the deepest abyss, Dagon slowly open his? (her?) maw and say a word, make up a word and add it to your vocabulary without defining it.



Friday, July 5, 2019

Transgender representation in OSR cyberpunk games

The last trailer of Cyberpunk 2077 and it in-game advert depicting a trans woman showing off her HUGE cyberdick with the slogan "MIX IT UP" made me think about the cyberpunk genre and about transgender representation. 


There was also some discussions online about Cyperpunk 2077, some of them, where people were not super defensive, were interesting and made me want to respond in the classic OSR/DIY fashion: by crafting my own thing, so I started working on a trans positive Cyberpunk zine. 

While working on my zine I acquired a bunch of cyberpunk inspired OSR publications and I used the PDF search function to check how trans people are represented in them. Since there is a lot of trans people in the OSR scene, I was wondering if the representation would be stronger and more positive or creative.    


There was no results for the words sex, trans and gender in these publications, except for Cyberpanky NOW, Polychrome and Augmented Reality.

In Cyberpanky NOW there is a gender identity table that you can roll on when you create a character:

Gender Identity
1. Straight male
2. Gay male
3. Transgender male pre-op
4. Transgender male post-op
5. Bisexual male
6. Straight female
7. Gay female
8. Transgender female pre-op
9. Transgender female post-op
10. Bisexual female

If you use this table, your character have 40% chances of being trans and 80% chances of not being straight. This is kind of interesting but there is no other context and this is the only place were the word "trans" is mentioned. 

Polychrome have "biosculpts" and mention that gender reassignment is relatively simple. 
"Biosculpt: Available in two different varieties, a biosculpt job involves the implantation of immuno neutral tissues and artificial implants to produce a desired appearance. Gender reassignment is relatively simple (...)"
Polychrome also mention the existence of "other" genders but they are relegated to sex work. 
"The Nightingale: On the surface, the Nightingale is a typical,
slightly upscale underhab knocking shop, with the almost 100%
artificial madame Miss Cecilia overseeing a stable of men, women,
and other genders available for varied entertainments." 
And then there is the notion of cyber ninjas undergoing biosculpting gender reassignment to better approach their target.
"Some specialists take regular biosculpt jobs to alter their
appearance and gender so as to optimally appeal to a target, getting
close enough to execute them in an unguarded moment. These
“Judiths” or “Judies” can easily command as much as 50,000 credits
for the successful assassination of a mid-level corp manager."
Undergoing gender reassignment procedures just to better approach a target is a pretty problematic trope, I guess that cyber ninjas don't really care about their gender because ninjas only exist as assassins, not as people. Maybe only gender fluid people become cyber ninja, but the text don't go there.

Deep Morphean Transmissions don't represent any trans character but it feature artworks by Scrap Princess. 

Extinguish the Sun #02 don't feature anything trans related but it credit two trans women: I did some commissioned artwork and there is a character class written by Fiona Maeve Geist. There is also a interview with Daniel Sell who mention that he often work with queer and trans people.  
"HOW INCLUSIVE DO YOU THINK THE OSR COMMUNITY IS AS COMPARED TO TABLETOP ROLE-PLAYING GAMES AS A WHOLE?It’s inclusive for sure, but compared to games as a whole I have no idea. As a rule I don’t engage in the broader community; I’m already too busy and I don’t need to deal with rubes on top of that. I work with more trans and queer people that not, and am openly gay myself, but I don’t seek them out.Most people I work with come to me with their projects in hand, or I find them because I know I’ll enjoy working with them."
Augmented Reality The Holistic City Kit for Cyberpunk Games was the most interesting to check out as the book attempt to breath life to a cyberpunk urban sprawl through the use of random tables. 

While searching the PDF for the words trans, sex and gender I found these results:
  • There is a Transvestite entry in the looks table for cabbies.
  • There is trans man and trans woman entries in the sex workers table.
  • Street gangs can roll transgender as a descriptor.
  • Street gangs also feature this entry: Premier suppliers of street level gender reassignment technology.
  • The random table for the Fixers have this entry: Hormone-locked teen transsexual; outrageous flirt.
  • A random trait for NPCs: Substandard gender reassignment.
Trans identities are relegated to the margins and are mostly sexualized and kind of othered. The book can generate trans sex workers and outrageous transsexual fixers but it won't generate cool transgender agents, gun slingers or slicers or maybe just a trans barista who can serve you a warm cup of soy café and chat about her favorite trid shows. Representation wise this is a let down.

My observations...

Transgender characters are pretty absent from the Cyberpunk OSR publications. When transgender characters are represented, like too often in the Cyberpunk genre, they are sexualized and are othered instead of being normalized or being cast as positive or significant characters. The only exception was Cyberpanky NOW who somehow subtly suggest that trans and queer people are often the main characters in the game.

But that said, there is very few cyberpunk themed OSR products and some of these publications don't really present a setting. I hope that more cyberpunk stuff will emerge. 

About Transploitation 

So there is a lot of transploitation in the Cyberpunk genre as trans identities are often used by the genre as a tool to sell a edgy, transgressive and decadent future. In the discussions I had about Cyberpunk 2077 and it big dick MIX IT UP advert, a lot of people told me that this is transploitative but it is on brand for the Mega Corporations. I agree but the issue is that Cyberpunk generally use a straight cis white male gaze to explore the future. Most cyberpunk protagonists are generic cis male characters, "broody Tintins" who are used as point of view characters to give to their audience a familiar perspective that let them explore the weird cyberpunk stuff. These point of view protagonists are not transgender characters who can address how the corporations use their image. If this was the case, maybe it could be something interesting to explore. If not, it is just exploitation.

The main advantage of roleplaying games is that you can author your own character but I appreciate it when the game's writers are able to add some nuanced diversity on their own. Like everyone else, I like it when I find stuff that inspire me in a game or when I can identify with some elements of the setting.


Transgender Representation

I think the key, as always is to present a good diversity of characters. I want my cyberpunk games to present multiple trans characters, so that some of them can be ordinary trans folks while others can be more marginal people. I want to see cool and flawed cyberpunk characters in the same book. Don't forget that trans people network a lot to find info and to support each other, before, during and after our social and/or physical transition. That gothic trans girl who record porno simsenses certainly know a quiet corporate trans woman, a pre-op net slicer who don't care about their meat body, the cute non binary barista who take a bit of estrogen and that cool street samurai trans man who kick major asses. 



Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Scrolls Reading Catastrophes

Reading scrolls don't usually require a test but if it would and you naturally happen to roll a fumble...

Scrolls Reading Catastrophes! (d12)
  1. All non magical writings in a radius of d6 x 10m vanish. 
  2. The effect of the spell transfer into the nearest text and will trigger upon reading. 
  3. The scroll burst in fire inflicting 1 point of damage by spell level to the reader 
  4. The scroll crumble into a crystalline dust, the dust can be snorted to gain a point of INT for 2d6 hours. 
  5. The text of the scroll is tattooed on the skin of the reader on a hard to read location but is still usable. 
  6. When the reader try to talk, tiny scroll containing what they try to say appear in their mouth. 
  7. The reader see people as cloud of moving words for 1d6 hours. 
  8. The scroll expand and wrap around the reader, make a saving throw to avoid being entangled. 
  9. The non magical equipment and clothings of the reader turn to paper or parchment. 
  10. A word from the spell's name escape from the scroll and transform into a physical manifestation of what it mean. 
  11. The scroll fold into a territorial origami creature that have 1HD by spell level. The creature need to eat books and other scrolls for sustenance and can track them by smell. 
  12. The scroll become sentient and communicate by manifesting words on itself. The scroll can still cast itself but it will be hard to convince it to do so. The sentient scroll know all languages ever written and can be used as a translator.  
UPDATE:
Extra nastier effects that take the table to a d20

13. All non magical texts in a radius of d6 x 10m burst into bright blue flame and inflict 1 point of damage by level of the spell.
14. All magical texts in a radius of d6 x 10m cast the spell effect (targets are random).
15. The scroll summon a angry elemental of (d6: 1.parchment paper, 2.words, 3.ink, 4. strangling scrolls, 5. vellum skin, 6. of the nature of scroll's spell). The elemental have 2d6 HD.
16. The words written on the scroll spring to life and become nasty 1HD creatures. The scroll spawn (spell level)d6 words creatures. These creatures follow and harrow the group, hindering them at every occasion. They will attack anyone who attempt to read something.    
17. The caster blood turn to ink, save or die. If the reader survive they now have magical ink blood.
18. The reader vanish forever and their name is added to the spell title. The spell can still be casted. (If Ezra casted Fire Ball, the spell is now named Ezra's Fire Ball. When a other reader roll this effect while casting the same spell, their name is added to the list (like: Ezra-Nathaniel-Irwin's Fire Ball).
19. The reader vanish and their life is transcribed into the scroll. The caster can be casted back to life as a spell of their own level. 
20. The reader vanish forever and their name become a new word that everyone know. The player decide of the meaning.

Old Notes about a Call of Cthulhu "West Marches" campaign.

I found this while reading through some of my old notes.

Dreamlands using the West Marches model.
  • The hub is the mansion of a old rich man.
  • His secretary hire dreamers.
  • The old man is never seen. 
  • Lot of cats everywhere in the mansion.
  • The old man also run a refuge for cats.
  • The basement is off limit and contain mummified cats.  
  • Basement is a temple of Bast and contain Egyptian themed spells. 
  • Old man is dead and his soul habit the cats of the house. 
  • Secretary is in fact following his will. 
  • Mansion contain occult library and contain dreams related spells.  
  • Dreaming in the house transfer you to the Dreamlands.
  • You always appear in the same city, like in the West Marches. 
  • The old man left a journal with starting clues for locations to explore around the city. 
  • The old man is know in the Dreamlands as a woman and a priestess of Bast (she was a closeted trans woman). The characters profit from her good reputation in the Dreamlands (while maybe she had a bad rep in the waking world for being eccentric).  
  • Area surrounding the dream city is a hex or point crawl.  
  • Locations to explore are dungeon crawl locations (temples, ruins, etc). 
  • Each location have archaeological clues that point toward a other location. 
  • Some locations have clues that points toward waking world locations to investigate to gain bonus clues about Dreamland locations. 
  • Many dungeon crawl locations lead to the Dreamlands' underworld for higher level play. 
  • Moon cycles affect random encounters?
  • Possibility of playing a cat or a Dreamlands denizen if you die in the Dreamlands?
  • The characters wake up at the end of each sessions.


Chromatic Soup 03: More means of escape


Contribution by Carys, Paul C and Evlyn M

Death Blinking and Reincarnation Cult

There's the moment before death, the moment after, and the blink-of-an-eye in-between of death itself. In that moment, neither living nor dead, one is unshackled from the burden of the body. In that moment, one momentarily glimpses the astral planes before they simply cease to exist. Those with enough will and skill may grab on to that moment a little longer, in the hope of reincarnating. Sometimes that works out for them, sometimes they end up in the body of a dung beetle. Death is a gamble in that way, but a guaranteed ticket to the astral planes when in a pinch.

Liminalis are attuned to the intermediate state of being at the threshold of life and death are trained to experience multiple reincarnations that let them death blink in and out of pocket worlds. Some are psychopompe and have the ability of guiding other people through their reincarnation, as the world end, reincarnation cults build around these Liminalis. 

Your Memories (Liminalis can reroll their results) 
  1. Total recall of all your lives, you are disoriented for 2d6 hours.
  2. Fragment of all your lives. 
  3. Good memory of a random of past live
  4. Good memory of your previous past live
  5. Good memory of your current live
  6. A mix of your current live and a random past live
  7. Partial memory of your current live
  8. Fragment of your current live
  9. Fragment of your current live and glimpse of the future
  10. Blank state, only a vague sense of purpose 
  11. Memory of a imaginary or dreamed live
  12. Memory of the live of someone who died at the same time
Your Form (gender is always random) 
These forms come from your memories when you incarnate in the astral plains but they are native forms when you incarnate in a pocket world. 
  1. A monstruous creature
  2. A large insect  
  3. A small creature
  4. A humble creature
  5. A noble creature
  6. A humanoid creature
  7. A outcast human (1 child, 2-3 teenager, 4-6 adult) 
  8. A commoner human(1 child, 2-3 teenager, 4-6 adult) 
  9. A noble human (1 child, 2-3 teenager, 4-6 adult) 
  10. A magical or feary creature
Astral Burrows 

A child like traveler with a massive caravan of animals that move fluidly in-and-out of human and animal-like qualities. The holes animal-folk dig, no matter how shallow, are astral portals--escape routes. Any time the traveler jump into an animal-dug-hole, without hesitation, they will end up in an astral tunnel. If they hesitate, it's just a hole.

The scholar madam Carveli call these traveler "Puer Aeternus" or eternal childs. She describe them as the incarnation of the idea of someone caught in an eternal childlike state, and that their power relies on faith and luck. Rumor say that Madam Carveli knowledge let her use these burrows and that she follow the trail of these wild caravans, taking note and telling stories or teaching recipes to the Puer Aeternus and their amazed animal companions.

Other people living near the forest or who remained close with nature were also able to join some of these caravans through these astral burrows.


Contributions by Brian Ashford and Evlyn M

Dwarven Astral Tunnel

Dwarves are digging down. Ancient poetry tell that below the fires at the heart of the world in the elemental plane of eternat fire. They are dismantling their vast undercities and using the masonry to line the tunnel they are excavating. Massive copper heat sinks draw the heat out of the tunnel as fast as it can seep through the walls, leaving the descent just about survivable. The excess heat ejects into the sky above the Dwarven Mountains in pointed pillars of blue flame, visible on the horizon from all of this doomed world. 

As more and more human refugees pour in the dwarven kingdom, it was decided that these human will be adopted and assigned into the dwarven houses as having houseless people around is worse for the dwarfs than having humans. Naturally for these human refugees, adapting themselves to the dwarven culture is not a easy task. 

Fae Gate

Fae gates open in shadows, graveyards and rubbish dumps the world over suggesting that escape is possible. Unfortunately entering the faewilds is still illegal and and one setting foot through these gates will be immediately stripped of all possessions and separated from their family members by the fey folk. All refugees from the Prime Material are placed in animal cages until they are taken as pets, livestock or stuffed into a ball only to be used as cute battle arena warriors. Still some desperate people dare to use the gates and are crafty enough to avoid the fey patrols.

Soon the mass of desperate refugees will be overwhelming even for the fey folk and they will see the faewilds overruns with caravans. Most of the fea will decide to die with the world as this is properly tragic but some of them will join the human caravans that venture into the astral plains.

The Tube

Spell casters are all trading Tube Tickets. the Tube is a massive network of shortcuts across the world and, if you know what you are doing, through to other Tube networks in the astral plains and other worlds. It was a wizarding secret but now everyone has hear the rumours. Tickets cost about 100gp if you can find a seller. Family tickets can be bought for 250 provided two of your party can pass as children. 1/6 tickets is a return ticket (a powerful Remove Curse is required to nullify the return half).

The magic guild is crafting golems non-stop to try to handle the ever growing flow of refugees who try to sneak into the tubes. Near the end, the refugees will simply overrun the golems and pour into the tubes, but the wizards will be long gone.


Contributions by Arnold K and Evlyn M (only the last lines)

The Infinite Bridge

Made from living trees that grow from the seafloor, across an infinite ocean. Occasionally burned by hostile groups migrating ahead of you. Filled by clans of tiny nature spirits who are debating whether to allow this evacuation or not. Occasionally the bridge branches to reach different pocket worlds.

Like for the Milky roads, the Infinite Bridge is easily accessible but overcrowded with refugees.

Ship of Stars

Still across an infinite ocean. Changing the state of the ship changes the location. Spin the wheel to travel a thousand miles in a single second. Lower the sails to flip upside down and sail on the underside of the waves. You are not really sailing the ocean, but are traveling among the stars above, reflected in your sails. Beware the red star.

Building or activating the ship will be easier that handling the flow of refugee that gather around and who want to get in. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Chromatic Soup 03: The Melentiwar Moon Gates

Contributions by Gennifer Bone, Harald Wagener (oliof) and Evlyn M

The Melentiwar Monks

An order of monks formed long ago. They have always been preparing for the End, so they have had stores of supplies ready for centuries.

The Ai-Masters of the Order all have magical tattoos that allow them to transpose themselves to a single other pocket world, where they often have small outpost orders.

The Ur-masters of the Order have, in addition to the tattoos, a disk of carved moonstone implanted into the forehead. Once during a full moon, they may take a single person with them to the other world.

Finally, Khe-Masters have so dedicated themselves to the transposition, that they are partially ossified, and unable to move under their own power. However, at certain places of power, they can open a Gate to the other world, that anyone can use. Communities transport the ossified masters on allegorical portable shrines followed by a procession of praying and chanting monks.

When caravans of refugees came looking for them things broke down. In some places, the monks have hired mercenaries to keep things under control. In others, the Khe-Masters have been taken prisoner, and forced to open gates. (but without the proper ceremony, the Gate can open into... unpleasant places)

The satellite pocket worlds can only ever be step stones on the journey, as the monks need to move on to another world before the moon makes a full turn. When there was not much movement between worlds, this was manageable with shifts and careful planning and prioritization of help where the end was possible, but not yet certain.

Now that the end is certain in so many places at once, there aren't enough monks, and certainly way too few Khe-Masters to open the roads to the pocket worlds reliably or often enough. Many of the pocket worlds do not have enough reality to allow creation of food and water, and the reserves of the outposts are ever-dwindling.

There are also rumors that some of these worlds only exist as long as a monk visits them, and those who stay behind will be turned in to chromatic dust when the pocket world collapses after the last moon disc bearer left.

Eventually the monks and their caravan of refugee will have to leave behind their satellite worlds and walk the long march through the astral plains in search of new worlds. 

Spinetooth Soup!

Ahimsa from Exalted Funeral crafted a Chromatic Soup 01 and Spinetooth Oasis crossover for the Free RPG 2.

This is really neat, you can get the PDF there, you need to select the Spinetooth Soup in the menu.

I love this kind of initiative, you are welcomed to do remixes of my zines in this fashion if you make them available as "pay what you want" so that people can also get them for free if they want. Just drop me a word to notify me and I will be happy to share what you crafted.


Monday, July 1, 2019

Chromatic Soup 03: Dreaming Cults and other means of escape

Contributions by C Huth, Dan D and Evlyn M

The Dreaming cult

Dreaming cults emerge all over the word, brewing various dreaming elixirs and drugs that let their followers dream themselves into the Dreamlands. From there caravan of dreamers leave the crumbling dreamworld, taking along citizen of the Dreamlands. Some people manage to dream themselves differently while others distort their dreamself under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. The cities were the cult take hold become quiet place as people fall sleep one after the others.

Some dreaming cults also become suicide cults as the dreamers plan to die mid-dream, out of belief of a stronger dream transfer or out of fear of having their dream journey interrupted by rivals who may attempt to wake them up to prevent their escape.

Dreamers can use their dream elixir to dream themselves into the pocket worlds they encounter.


Alephic 'Transmitters

Some wizards or technomancers guilds attempt to use a astral aleph to use as either the seed of a remade version of the world, or at least a record thereof. They attempt to connect themselves to a astral aleph to use the aleph to ‘focus’ on this world so others reading the aleph experience it.

Parallels here to computer uploading — you contract with someone on another world to build a copy of you via totalizing aleph-information, who believes that to be ‘you’. Different answers may apply in worlds with hermetic metaphysics. It's more a philosophical question of whether perceiving the thing, even perfectly, is the same as being present with the thing. To continue the 'uploading consciousness' comparison, duplication of the process by different 'end points' would lead to multiple perfect copies/transmissions.

Printed copies of people and things recorded from the dying world form caravans. Some people and things are printed with errors as the world get closer to it sunset. There is also rumor of aleph operators editing or hacking the transmitted data before printing it.

Each caravan carry a portable aleph recorder that let them beam copies of themselves into the aleph terminals that the Builders installed in pocket worlds. The Builders weaved a large network of aleph terminal around the pocket worlds that once formed their astral plains empire, but since the Builders left, most of these terminals are now offline or malfunctioning. 


The Arks of Abzu

As the world is unmade, great arks (or ark-ologies) are constructed to sail the Sea of Chaos that the material world descends back into. Their shells must be hardened with the powers of Creation and Law to resist the unmaking, or be built from nonlocal materials so as to shield the interior from the unmaking.

The protective wards of some ark may breach during the voyage and chaos may infect some the ark's passengers and crew. There is also the danger of encountering raiding chaos ships.

While sailing the astral seas, the arks may emerge into pocket worlds. Since outside of the world, time doesn't really exist, they might emerge from the astral sea into an pocket-world after having experienced vast epochs in their own divergent timelines, or have been transformed by the experience of abyssal timelessness.


Karmic Hitchhiking

Cults form around charismatic guru and holy figures and popular astral travelers who entered a state of meditation that will soon let to the ascent of their consciousness into the astral plains and beyond.

Their followers latch themselves onto the spirit of these greater being as they ascends their consciousness. They unhook when they passes by the astral plains, just before their master ascend into the cosmic planes.

Karmic hitchhiking runs the risk of carrying bits of your ride along with you - sometimes there's enough to overpower you, and you're left as the fragment of a greater being.


The Milk Roads

A highway of translucent white star-stuff that appeared as the world began to sunset. Traveling the Milk Roads is a relatively safe methods, but crowded with caravans. Space and supplies at a premium.

Marching too long on the Milk Roads might lead one to decide it's better to live forever among the stars unthinking than to continue on to a new home. The risks of moving in large groups of desperate people go without saying.

Some people drink the milk of the road, if they survive their eyes become milky white, they spiritually connect to the roads and become starry guides. Starry guides are able to see the fainter milk trails that connect the pocket worlds together.