Friday, October 12, 2018

The City of Gateway, Part 1

Gateway is part of Age of the Ecclesiarchy, an abandoned setting where the ur-god, Ilephoth, looms above the world, wearing the sun as a crown. The world is (mostly) ruled by the Ecclesiarchy: worshippers of Ilephoth, Archon Above Heaven, He Who Struck Down the Hateful Moon.

The city of Gateway is placed just on the edge of the Desolation, where the Ecclesiarchy's territory ends. Gateway is so far from the capital that the Divine Legion can't reach it without months of marching, meaning it's left almost entirely alone (as well as being almost the only place you'll see an elf).

Major Figures of Gateway

The most important person in Gateway depends on who you ask. If you ask a loyal Ecclesiarchist, they'll say Governor Tiberius, a weak-willed pitiful man terrified that Gateway is slipping out of his control.

If you ask anyone else, they'll probably say Sashiseth Iazelmei, one of the 4 prospective leaders of the Hand of Acor, a criminal organization/rebellion/cult. The last leader, Solana Aelrue, died in the Rain of Embers, where the Divine Legion burned down half the city in a demonstration of force. If anything, the Rain of Embers made the problem worse: the death of Solana lead the rest of the Hand to collapse into infighting as Solana's officers made a grab for power after her death.

As unstable as it is, the
Hand of Acor is the government in Gateway, as far as the people are concerned: the Watch spends most of its time being manipulated by Commander Acosta as she tries to climb the ranks of the Ecclesiarchy, leaving Sashiseth's private security the job of keeping the town from sliding the rest of the way into anarchy.

The other three prospects for leader are less well-respected. One, an illiterate ogre Solana kept as an enforcer, took the name Tagnor Bonecrusher after being told people would find it intimidating. (Most people just laugh.) Elissa Grove, one of the Hand's spies, wants to be leader, but she knows her followers couldn't win in a straight fight against Sashiseth or Tagnor's.

Imbril Arasys is the last candidate, and one of the few magic-users in the Ecclesiarchy to have escaped conscription into the Divine Legion. In Solana's time, he trained her wizards for use in the Hand. Since the Rain of Embers, he's dug a 5-story basement into an abandoned home, where it is said he works with the Lich Queen Amara Naumys to overthrow the Ecclesiarchy: a cause he wants to turn the Hand to.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hack & Slash (No, Not the Blog)

If you're here because of the link on the cover, welcome! Hack & Slash is far from the pinnacle of RPGs (trust me), but you can add to it easily: if you want a new mechanic (a chance to miss attacks, overland travel, or rules for ranged weapons, perhaps?), new weapons, new monsters, and especially new adventures, MAKE THEM. If you want to tear the entire thing apart and write your own, do that!

But one thing: if you do add something to the game, tell me about it! Send new rules, enemies, and whatever else you come up with to

For everybody else:

Hack & Slash is incredibly simple: it's a classless 2d6 system without AC or experience, and a basically handwaved equipment system, intended to bring RPGs to more people as simply as possible. The entire game is 6 pages long (7 if you include the cover.)

Isn't it adorable?

I plan to expand on the system with Total Hack & Slash as well as Between the Stars, a sci-fi version, both in a very short format.

You can get the pdf for Hack & Slash here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Barony of Gault: A Rhombuscrawl (Crawlhex? I dunno.)

A Whatnow?

The Rhombuscrawl was created back in March by d4 Caltrops. Along with being one of the least pleasant words to say I've ever seen (though I take the blame for it), it's an excellent way of making a smaller scale of hexcrawl.

A rhombuscrawl is made up of a standard 6-mile hex, tessellated into 12 rhombuses (or diamonds if you want to be boring). Each rhombus contains... something, and you travel between them as you do hexes (just a bit faster).

The second motivation for this project was one of Dungeon of Signs' old articles about Castle Caldwell, where he went into detail about how to generally improve the module, at least to his taste. So, between the two, I decided to give d4 Caltrops' system a practical test.

Rhombus Entries

1. A giant cave holds the frog queen Taga's "kingdom"; 40-odd frogpeople in a shoddily-built set of wooden shacks. Taga herself has a throne stolen from Castle Gault, worth a large amount of money (and even more to the Daughter).

Taga is indifferent to the PCs and to the collapse of the barony; she just wants to take as much as possible before it's reinstated. However, she does have something she needs from them: one of her raiding parties hasn't reported back from the castle in a few weeks. She doesn't care about the raiders (although they are still alive), she just wants the loot back.

2. 4 of the baron's old knights, turned into test subjects by the Baroness, stand around the ashes of a fire in a destroyed camp. All 4 want the Baroness dead, but their augmentations make them unstable (rage 1/day, 1-in-12 chance of occuring randomly each turn).

3. The village of Hea is dying. The people have been afflicted with an unnatural disease that makes the swamp's water soak into the villager's skin, weighing them down until they collapse. The town's apothecary knows it's being caused by the Watching Lady.

4. A single spire, the remains of the church of Naab the Verdant, pokes out of a marshy lake, inhabited only by the High Priestess of Naab, whose name has been lost to time, and her flock, held together with scrolls imbued with the life-granting prayers of their order.

The High Priestess has sat in her church for hundreds of years, insulated from the outside world. She is not violent, unless she find out how long it's been (and more importantly, that nobody worships her god anymore), at which point she leads her worshippers to Rhombus 8, in an attempt to take over the castle (and afterwards, the barony.)

5. A single watchtower, overgrown with vines, used to watch over this patch of land. Now, a few of the Daughter's soldiers try to hold it.

6. An old farm, half-sunken into the swamp, is inhabited by a small group of the baroness's creations, who tore through the area before settling down. They plan to launch an attack on the watchtower at Rhombus 5.

7. The Watching Lady, an experienced witch, lives in a hut made of live plants and inhabited by a swarm of stinging beetles. She acts nice and attempts to draw the PCs into her house before attacking them. The curse on the town of Lea is powered by a fragment of her soul: killing her removes it.

8. The crumbling Castle Gault, half-sunken into the swamp, looms over its Barony. The Daughter's army has surrounded it, ordered to let nothing in or out, but not only is there a side building with an old escape tunnel leading into the courtyard, many of the Daughter's soldiers disagree with her methods, and would gladly allow the party inside, to clear the castle.

The barony's near-collapse has emptied the castle of everything but outlaws, Taga's frogperson looting parties, and the Baroness's abominations. In the castle's catacombs, the Baroness continues to work on her husband's twisted form.

9. A nearby lord has built an outpost here, manned by a group of conscripts. They don't know what's going on in the barony, and the Daughter or Taga would reward you for getting them out, so one of them could take over.

10. A wagon of new soldiers and supplies trundles along a poorly built road on the way to Castle Gault. The detachment orders the PCs to stay away from the cart: they've been having some problems with bandits recently, and don't trust anyone.

11. The small town of Soum, and the new capital of Gault, sits above the swamp on stilts. The Daughter rules from here, overcome with paranoia. At night, the streets are patrolled by a militia, in case any of the Baroness's creations have escaped.

They have.

One of the Baroness's more humanoid abominations roams the streets at night in a heavy cloak, ambushing the militiamen and leaving them dried husks. It lives in a badly-maintained house on the outskirts of town, where it's known as an eccentric foreigner by the name of Mr. Winston.

The militia are so worried the news of Mr. Winston would send the Daughter into one of her fits, they haven't told her about him. They would pay nicely for you to help kill him, especially if you can without the Daughter hearing about it.

12. A group of Taga's frogpeople have captured Marquis de Pont, a minor noble and old friend of the Daughter. He's being kept in a "cage" made of sticks, guarded by a pair of inattentive frogmen. The rest of the group had gone back to Taga's cave to get reinforcements: they'll be back soon.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Reviewing Zines, Part 1 of ∞: Phasic and Broken System

"I got some zines. A lot of zines. So many zines. And I need to put something on the blog. Hmm..."

So, I'm going to start reviewing RPG zines as filler content between things people actually care about. Both of these are free PDFs, and both are no longer being released.


Phasic is an Encounter Critical zine by Jeff Rients, with its fifth and last issue released in 2012.

Issue 1
I don't have much experience with Encounter Critical, but the first issue is almost entirely useless, containing a d6 table of why the Shunned Towns are shunned (containing terrible fashion sense as an entry), a short description of a Challenge of the Superfriends episode from 1978, and 100 Damnation Van accessories (most of which are the kind of thing you could come up with almost instantly, and besides, how often are you going to buy a Damnation Van?).

Two of the articles, however, are (somewhat) useful: one is a 20 entry list of "Tradeable Limbs", which could make an interesting addition to character creation in a gonzo post-apocalyptic game, and half of a set of rules for sanity. Perfect.

Issue 2 is an adventure: Raiders of the Mercenary Coast: Epilogue. It doesn't actually make sense, has terrible formatting, and is 50% statblocks.

Issue 3 includes an article about the city of Tidy Island Bay, which details a few locations. It also has a d100 mutation table and a 1d12 "Devilishness in the Details" tables, which has 12 other character-changing possibilities, including working for the antagonist Darth Viraxis, which it details in the next article. The final article is a d8 table of extra chronometer functions.

Issue 4 is a crossword puzzle.

Issue 5 is the final issue, marked as the "Special Damnation Issue". The first article is a set of random tables for creating a war locomotive, which is one of the best articles in the zine's run. The second is a small essay about the Damnation Van, along with a statblock for one in Risus's system.

After that is an overly complex method of determining the damage dealt from a Damnation Van collision, and a 3-page campaign setting ending in "To Be Continued..."

Broken System


Broken System was a 1-issue zine created by ANT-LERR, in the same style as the Blasphemous Roster. It's incoherent, but in a good way, and full of evocative images and concepts. It includes things like a d8 table titled "IF YOU DIG UP THESE BONES, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU SHOULD DO" and a collage-like map of the territory of the Fog Barons.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

OSR: GLOG Class: Tech

The Tech is a caster/skill character for my SF GLOG hack. It works using the spellcasting rules, with a heavy focus on utility rather than combat. Techs are all wired with a Remote Interface; a small computer connected to their brain, allowing them to... interface remotely.

Most of the Programs the Tech has reference Synthetic or Hybrid targets; Synthetics are robots, androids, whatever you want to call them, and Hybrids are augmented humans. Organics are... organic.
Image result for cyberpunk
Yeah, you definitely need that many eyes.
The Tech uses CD (Charge Dice) instead of MD, and Programs instead of spells. This means absolutely nothing, it just makes more sense.

Skill Rules
I'm using Lost Pages' 1d6 skill system, minus use magic items. The PC gains these skills with 2 Tech templates.

A: Remote Interface, +1 CD
B: Skills, +1 CD 
C: +1 CD
D: +1 CD 

Perk: Phone calls are directed into your Remote Interface.

Drawback: When hit with a crit, your Remote Interface is damaged. It automatically reboots itself in 1d6 turns; if you manually fix it, it takes 1d3.

Cantrip-type Programs
1. Turn an electronic device (lightbulb, computer, etc.) on or off.

2. Flash colors into a Synthetic or Hybrid character's face, giving them a -1 to hit on their next attack.

3. Change the image on a screen to anything you want. This does not take an action.

Program List

Terminal: Collect
R: 50' T: 1 computer D: 0
Tear through the defenses on a target terminal, extracting [dice] pieces of information (passwords, bits of map, etc.).

Camera: Loop
R: 50' T: [dice] cameras or other sensors D: [sum] rounds

Loops a camera for [sum] rounds. While the camera is looped, it displays whatever was in front of it when it was first looped.

Camera: Takeover
R: touch T: [dice] cameras or other sensors D: concentration
Your Remote Interface connects to cameras and sensors, allowing you to see through them until you break concentration.

Synthetic: Lockdown
R: 80' T: Synthetic creature D: [dice] rounds

Target a Synthetic opponent. They must save or be unable to move or act for [dice] rounds as their servomotors halt violently.

Synthetic: Hallucination
R: 80' T: [dice] Synthetic creatures D: [dice] turns

Target [dice] Synthetic or Hybrid creatures. They must save or begin hallucinating copies of you and the other PCs. Each turn, they get another save.

Device: Honeytrap
R: 80' T: Electronic device D: [dice]x10 minutes
The next person to use a Program on the target device suffers a Mishap, and you are given their location. If more than 3 dice are used, the effect never times out.

Door: Force Open
R: 50' T: one mechanical door D: 0
A targeted door is forced open.

Door: Lock
R: 50' T: one mechanical door D: 10 minutes
A door closes and locks itself, requiring a Str check equal to 10+[dice] to open. If someone is standing the door

Door: Electrify 
R: 50' T: one mechanical door D: [sum] minutes  
Reroute power into a target door; anyone touching it during the duration of the effect takes [sum]x2 damage. If [sum] is above 12, the door audibly crackles.

Release Capacitors
R: self T: self D: [dice]+1 rounds
During this program's duration, any dice you expend on other programs return to your pool on a 1-5, rather than 1-3. When this program's duration ends, you must Save or suffer a Mishap.

Emblem-type Programs

Logic Bomb
R: 100' T: [sum] electronic devices D: [dice] minutes
Take control of [sum] devices you can see. You don't have much time, but you've got a lot of power: doors, turrets, cameras, computer terminals, it's all yours.

Synthetic: Dominate
R: touch T: Synthetic creature D: concentration, must stay within 10' of the target

Physically wire yourself into a Synthetic creature. The target must Save or be completely controlled by the PC. The PC must end their turn within 10' of the target, or the connection is broken.

1. You accidentally ran into a countervirus. It's filling your vision with nonsense, giving you a -2 to hit and to Perception for the rest of the day.
2. Your Remote Interface sparks. Your program fails, and drains the rest of your CD.
3. You're hit with biofeedback, your Remote Interface electrocuting your brain. Take 2d6 damage.

1. You trip an alarm. Someone's going to be coming, and they won't be happy.
2. Your Remote Interface fails. You'll need to pay quite a bit to fix it.
3. Biofeedback from your Remote Interface reaches a critical level. Your head explodes.

Your Doom can be avoided by stealing a military-grade Remote Interface from a government blacksite. Which sounds so safe, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 23, 2018

OSR: Sci-Fi GLOG Classes

These classes are more for XCOM-style near-future SF than gonzo science-fantasy (because I'm boring). They are also designed with 3 main assumptions, without which they don't work as well:

1: There's a lot of guns involved in terms of combat.
2: Reloading one of those guns requires an action.
3: Firing a gun means everyone knows where you are.

Oh, and just in case +Lungfungus is watching me, these haven't been playtested yet, and might (probably will) have quite a few balance problems. Once I find said problems, and fix them, I'll release a second version, which will hopefully include a hacker using a messed-with version of the spellcasting rules.
Image result for sci-fi soldier
Art Credit: Bugrimov Maksim
A: Precise Shot
B: Quick Reload
C: Inspiring Presence
D: Suppressive Fire
Precise Shot: As an action, make a ranged attack with a +1 bonus to hit, but -1 damage.
Quick Reload: Reloading your weapon does not cost an action.
Inspiring Presence: Spend an action to give another PC a free attack, with an extra +2 to hit and +1d4 damage.
Suppressive Fire: Spend 2 shots to suppress a target. Suppressed targets have a -2 penalty to hit, and if they move there is a 4-in-6 chance they are hit, taking your weapon's normal damage.

Each Stalker template you have gives you +1 Stealth.
A: Low Profile 
B: Vigilance
C: Ambush
D: Obliterate
Low Profile: Ranged attacks have a 2-in-6 chance of revealing you if you are hidden.
Vigilance: If you are surprised, you have a 50% chance to act on the surprise round anyway.
Ambush: Attacking while hidden grants an additional +1 to hit and +1d6 damage.
Obliterate: While hidden, you can make 3 ranged attacks in a turn. This immediately reveals you.

A: Practiced Eye, Long Trajectory
B: Insult to Injury
C: Hold Still
D: Know Thy Enemy
Practiced Eye: After missing a target with a ranged weapon, you gain a +2 bonus to hit that target on the next turn.
Long Trajectory: All ranged weapons gain 50 feet of range while you use them.
Insult to Injury: Ranged attacks deal +1d4 damage if the target has been damaged this turn.
Hold Still: Your ranged weapons have +2 to hit on targets with less than 50% of your health.
Know Thy Enemy: As an action, observe an opponent, then make an Intelligence check. If you succeed, your next ranged attack against that creature does +1d12 damage. If your check succeeds, you cannot use this ability for the rest of the fight: everything's gotten too chaotic.

Each Brawler template you have gives you +1 HP.
A: Adrenaline Pump
B: Augmented Musculature
C: Cybernetic Nerves
D: Automated Hindbrain
Adrenaline Pump: Once per day, the mechanical pump next to heart injects you with a cocktail of chemicals. While the chemicals run through your veins, your Strength score is changed to 18, and you gain +1 to hit and +1 damage with all melee attacks. However, while the pump is active, you don’t think, you solve everything with force.
The pump stays active for 5 rounds, but you can attempt to deactivate it early, with a 2-in-6 chance of success. 
Augmented Musculature: +1 to Strength. Once per day, overcharge the servomotors to deal +1d6 damage on a melee attack.
Cybernetic Nerves: A second set of nerves activates when the Adrenaline Pump turns on: while the Pump is active, you can move twice as far as normal.
Automated Hindbrain: When you die, your Adrenaline Pump empties itself into your veins. You have 5 rounds left to live. Make them count. 

A: Well-Spoken, Provoke
B: Connected
C: Shift the Blame
D: Trust Me
Well-Spoken: As long as there hasn't been a fight yet, you get +1 to reaction rolls, as long as you're the one doing the talking.
Provoke: In combat as an action, you can target an opponent who can see and hear you. The target must save or attack you. This ability cannot force an opponent to make massive mistakes (jumping off cliffs, etc.). Out of combat, the target must save or act in anger (yelling, violence, etc.)
Connected: You know a guy, who also knows a guy, who also probably knows another guy. If there’s something you need (information, items, etc.) which you could feasibly get, you know someone who will get it for you, for a price.
Shift the Blame: In combat as an action, you can target one of the other PCs, and start rattling off all the reasons it was their fault you’re fighting, and how you had nothing to do with it. Opponents must make a save or attack the targeted PC. Out of combat, you can blame someone else for something you’ve done, unless it’s obvious you did it. No save, because you’re just so trustworthy.
Trust Me: You can persuade anybody, for a while. Through a combination of half-truths, regular truths, and absolute nonsense, you can get a group of people to believe whatever lies and excuses you can come up with. After 1d6 minutes, they come to their senses, at which point they’ll be very annoyed.

Monday, August 13, 2018

For King and Cheese Foundry: A System-less One Page Dungeon

What's this, then?
This is a one-page dungeon I made as an escape from Sunless Horizon's more... nihilistic tone. It's meant to be funny, and despite it's lack of stats, it should be easy to run, because the 4 thieves use PC or hireling stats. This scenario might also work well in reverse.

The City of Gateway, Part 1

Gateway is part of Age of the Ecclesiarchy, an abandoned setting where the ur-god, Ilephoth, looms above the world, wearing the sun as a cro...