Monday, January 13, 2020

Preparing Sewer Rats, Part 1 (Base Premise & Prep Tools)

I think it's vital to have a filler game - something you can easily set up and run when you're missing people from your campaign, have to run on short notice, or have a schedule too unreliable to make a campaign work.

In my group, Libra has been serving as our filler game, but it takes longer to prep than I'd like (reading Delta Green shotgun scenarios can only get you so far), and everyone's starting to get bored. So, with the new year starting, I began:

Sewer Rats

Sewer Rats is an idea largely stolen from this D&D Wiki post, where someone created a premise for a low-fantasy dungeoncrawler, and promptly ruined everything by deciding to run it in 3.5e.

This series will be comprised of 4-ish posts, probably completed within the next month:

1: Base Premise and Prep Tools
2: Bestiary
3: Equipment and Progression through Self-Debasement
4: Finishing Touches
X: Play Reports

Base Premise

Sewer Rats is an Into the Odd campaign where the players work as repairmen/pest control in the sewers and other under-places of a fantasy metropolis. They're underfunded, underequipped, overstressed, and have learned from experience that everyone who outranks them is dangerously incompetent at best and actively malicious at worst. (If your underlings die, you get to report "unusually high danger", netting you a nice raise thanks to your "increased responsibility".)

The gameplay loop is simple - enter the dungeon, complete your Objectives, realize the map your superior gave you is wrong, nearly die, get rewarded with new equipment from the Ratcatcher's Guild, repeat. It's a nice, simple dungeon crawl with as little extraneous nonsense as possible.

Everything is going to be done entirely as-written in Into the Odd - I know that if I start changing anything it'll just end up as a classless GLOG hack, and I want to try another system for a

Prep Tools

One of the main reasons I'm transitioning to this campaign is the ease of prep: with a bit of work now, making dungeons later will be quick and easy.

The first step here is maps, where there are 3 standard options:
1. make your own map because you're not lazy
2. grab premade maps
3. use a random map generator

Now, all of these options have some problems: I'm not going to make my own maps because I am lazy, eventually I'm going to run out of premade sewer maps, and random map generators don't know how to make a decent map and I'm too grumpy to deal with it.

So instead, I commit heresy.

heresy
Instead of any of those normal reasonable options, I decided to do all of them at once. I went over to Dyson's Dodecahedron, searched for "sewer", grabbed all the maps, and frantically cut them apart into vague shapes, before rebuilding them to make horrid monstrosities like this.

Objectives

Next, we have to put things in them; monsters will be coming later, but for know the most important thing is Objectives - things (other than "kill kill kill clear the dungeon") you have to accomplish before you leave. I'm splitting these into Primary (not completing your primary objective makes the Ratcatcher's Guild "somewhat irritated"), and Secondary (completing secondary objectives gives you rewards in the form of extra equipment).

1d6 x 2 Objectives
  1. Primary: A group of Guildsmen went down into the sewers and haven't come back. Rescue everyone still alive. Secondary: Bring back the bodies and equipment of any casualties.
  2. Primary: A pipe's shattered. Escort a repair team down and protect them while they fix it. Secondary: Keep all of the repair team members alive.
  3. Primary: Some kind of monster has killed the last two teams we sent down there. Get rid of it. Secondary: Capture the monster and bring it back up to the surface.
  4. Primary: Bring down this giant pile of volatile explosives and detonate them here. Secondary: Go through and clear out the area on the other side.
  5. Primary: Make a map of this area. Secondary: Prep the area for others to come through (disarming traps, building bridges).
  6. Primary: We think one of the other Guildsmen parties is "losing" their equipment down in a sewer, then retrieving it to sell. Follow them on their next mission. Secondary: If our suspicions are right, capture them and bring them up to the surface.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

A Jackal's Hoard (Sunless Horizon)

A lot of Sunless Horizon posts have been very high-scope: civilizations, environments and overviews make up the majority of the words thrown around about the setting.

So, let's go all the way down the scale, and look at one Jackal, and the tools they carry.

John McCambridge


A Bag of Tricks

All Jackals carry a weapon, to keep them safe even when separated from their group. This one carries a Breaker Pike  - a long metal pole attached to a violent shrapnel bomb - tied next to their pack. Breaker Pikes can only be used once, but their wave of red-hot metal can shatter even the hardiest Disciple.

On their hip rides a Zipgun - a makeshift derringer chosen for its light weight. Below it is a pouch of Red Salt, a beloved painkiller. Applied dry to wounds, it quickly draws out water and blood, turning from a fine powder to a thick paste. This paste is said to be close enough to flesh that it tricks the soul into thinking it is unharmed, causing it to relax. In reality, while it does contain pain relieving compounds, it exacerbates wounds by drying them out.

They wear a set of piecemeal armor - cloth covered in assorted metal plates. On the shoulder is a flashlight, set low to conserve batteries. In combat, they would turn it to strobe, disorienting and blinding the darkness-accustomed denizens of the halls. Tied to the front plate of the armor are bags of ashes, said to drive back Disciples (as the soul held within the ash assaults them).

Around their neck is a figurine pendant to delay pain - as the body is damaged, the soul takes refuge in the figure. Later, as it realizes the pendant is not its true body, the pain appears.

In their pack are tools - everything from tiny screwdrivers to giant wrenches to dismantle any valuable components of the ship, along with ropes, crowbars, and torches to help them climb up walls and break through doors.

Atop their head rests a gas mask - many of the most damaged parts of Ein Sof leak poisonous vapors, and it never hurts to be too careful.

Friday, December 27, 2019

His Seraphim (Sunless Horizon)

This is a pretty short post, mostly to try out a more vague style. Tell me what you think in the comments!

Playing a Long Game

Keter is, to a point, under siege - the Navigator Houses spread through His halls, pulling apart the decks, opening doors, and tearing out components all across Ein Soph. It's not a problem yet, but Keter knows, some day thousands of years from now, His resources will be expended. There's only so much metal.

But there is endless flesh.

The Seraphs 

Seraphs are built from human DNA, saved in the Ein Soph's databanks. They are stretched, modified, augmented. They become awful, crawling things - if this stage fails, they are released, where they become a Hanged King of the Ghouls. 

From here, they are enhanced - permanently affixed to titanic exoskeletons, welded to horrific weapons, and anointed by Infopriests. 

The Seven

Luminous Uriel

Uriel bows under the weight of its weapon - a titanic plasma emitter, releasing tides of burning light. As the emitter fires, Uriel burns, screaming as its flesh melts against its armor.

Its light is unstoppable, slipping through the smallest hole in its blind quest to burn away heresy.

Silver-Tongued Gabriel

Gabriel reaches out with its dozen tongues, hunting for those who would escape Keter's wrath. Its voice is a honeyed lie, twisting itself to draw in its prey. It has hunted through the halls forever, tuning its mimicry over countless repetitions.

Valorous Michael

Michael is Keter's sword and hand, descending from heaven to scatter His foes. Its bent, twisted hands grasp a long, time-dulled blade it brings to bear to crush all who would stand against it.

Merciful Raphael

Raphael brings mercy and darkness to the legions raised against Keter. High towers stand upon its back, pouring out nanobot suspension fluid - an oily black liquid that twitches and slithers as if alive, and grows featureless arms to grasp and infect.

Truth-Giving Selaphiel

Selaphiel shows the truth to heretics - its wide eyes display His words, and those that see them suffer. All of His infohazards are arranged in front of it, chosen as a surgeon chooses their tools.

Radiant Jegudiel

Jegudiel glows with an unearthly light - Cherenkov radiation ejected from its heart, a violently unstable reactor. Its breath ferries dust and ash out into the world, and the light of its heart goes with it. 

Trumpeting Barachiel


Barachiel is a guardian angel, in total control of the world around it. Doors open at its glance, machines scream and join it, augments rebel against their masters. Antennae sprout from its eyeless, blinded head, projecting its binary orders.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Secret Santicorn 2019: Sci-Fi Dungeon Fill

BlueWolf from the OSR Discord requested: "General sci-fi dungeon room fills. Encounters, tricks, traps, treasures, details for ""empty"" rooms or means of travel between far reaches of the dungeon. One line per fill is fine. As many as you feel like. Gonzo is fine, doesn't have to be hard sci-fi."

1d6 Generic SF Dungeon Fill
1: Three small cone-shaped maintenance robots scoot past you, beeping. If you grab one, you can steal its tools.
2: A sec-droid questions one of you - they've mistaken you for a smuggler operating in the area.
3: In front of the locked exit is a slow pressure plate - you can walk over it safely, but if you stand on it for long enough to do anything, it electrifies the floor.
4: This room is dominated by a giant communications console, where you can contact the creators of the dungeon - this is only an outpost.
5: A research area for man-scale hyperspace travel. The prototype teleporter can be used to skip to any area of the dungeon, but it might not bring all of your stuff with you.
6: The door opens to a landing pad, with automated cargo ships landing, being unloaded, and taking off. The cargo lies abandoned (but watched) on the floor.

excuse me sir
1d6 Cyberpunk Dungeon Fill
1: An "outdoor" office, with floors covered in plastic grass and a blue-painted ceiling.
2: An autotherapist, charging $1 a minute for its mechanized discussion.
3: Three medical robots carry a man on a stretcher, who desperately attempts to fall off and avoid the hospital and the debt it will bring.
4: A bioprinter used to mass-produce nutrient paste. If hacked, it can create other organic compounds.
5: A VR work farm, filled with dozens of workers. Stay completely silent - they are not used to sound, and panic will quickly turn them into a mob.
6: A prototype nanoplague held in a boxy cryocontainer. Want to touch it?

don't touch it


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tyranny in Heaven (Sunless Horizon)

The Navigator Houses are the most important civilization in Sunless Horizon - as the assumed home of the characters, it'll be the first group the players interact with. Because of this need, it's more standard - a nice, easy to understand, feudal nightmare dystopia.

The 11 Houses are desperate - since the Retreat, they've lost most of their manufacturing capability, all of their territory, and all of their context. Now, they're frantically scrabbling to grab as much as they can before another House manages to.

The Houses
The 11 Houses all work on the same feudal framework, but conditions are vastly different between them. For example, in House Thamiel, the military is so thinly-spread keeping hold of far-flung territory that other factions have started to gain influence in the cities. House Harab Serapel has a long-standing tradition of councils - any noble position must be held by at least 2 people.

The Peasants
https://www.artstation.com/stonejackit
The vast majority of the Navigator Houses' population is in the peasantry - farmers, artisans, workers of all types. They have no power, no food, no money, and no medicine. They are taught little about the world - from above comes the belief of the Peasant Gods, and from within come their own superstitions.

Their money flows upwards, to the nobility - if they don't pay in gold, the nobles will take their tithe in blood.

The Nobility
They stand 10 feet tall, hidden under baroque robes and masks. They never speak, communicating to their herald-interpreters in obscure sign languages. They say they are perfect and immortal.

Over generations, they have improved their bodies and minds, bending their flesh to their will. But now, their mistakes begin to reveal themselves. They rot from the inside, consumed by innumerable cancers and plagues.

They need flesh. Flesh to fuel the bioengineering machines that made them into what they are. Flesh to prolong their life, if even for a day.

As long as the tithes come up from the peasants, as long as the machines still function, they will never die.

Their Ranks 
Banner-Bearer: Knights and commanders, though they hold no lands. They are expected to lead in battle.
Overseer: Leaders of a city and its surrounding lands - they have total control over the Watch, the taxes, the planning, everything.
Hierarch: Controllers of a province, taking taxes up from their Overseers, and leading their Army during wartime.
Lord Navigator: They lead the Houses, collecting tithes from the Hierarchs below. Once, they met in councils to decide the future of the Navigator Houses, but now they fight petty wars for territory and control.

Their Lie
The Lord Navigators are in control of the ship. Keter is simply a servant who broke His bonds. As long as the Navigator Houses stay stable, and the nobility stays in control, they will reach their destination.

Their Armies
Each Hierarch builds their own army out of soldiers offered up from their Overseers. These armies are used to expand their holdings, fight back against incursions from the wilderness, and keep their Overseers in line.

In times of true war, all Overseers have their armies commandeered by the Lord Navigators.

Their Jackals
The Jackals are scavengers, sent out into the cold halls of Ein Sof to return riches to the nobility. They are given nothing - no supplies, no training, no assistance. They are made of conscripts, the desperate, and the violent.
https://www.artstation.com/hansbinderknott

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

GLOG Urban Fantasy Class - OSIRIS Theurge

we are always watching
This is a modified version of Oblidisideryptch's Warlock.

OSIRIS has been preparing for this for a very long time. They are only the newest organization in a long line of others, all working to reach the same goal - a world free of supernatural influences.

Except for one.

The Pyramid looms in their minds, whispering commands. It has lived forever and back again, existing at all points in space and time. Listen to it.

Let it speak through you.

Template A: +1 Credit, Debt, Obligations, Boon, Favors
Template B: +1 Credit, Combat Meditation
Template C: +1 Credit, Beseech
Template D: +1 Credit, Pinnacle Spells, Patron's Gift

Boon: Your mind cannot be read. You look vaguely plastic and perfectly symmetrical.

Favors
Hover exactly 3.1415926 feet above the ground for 1d4 minutes.
Automatically know the statistics (HP, AC, etc.) of anyone you can see.
Clean, smooth, and polish anything you touch.

Obligations
Prevent [debt] Psychics or Ynnbringers from casting again. Ever.
Enter Ynn and set it aflame.
Kill [debt] enemies of the Pyramid.
Recover [debt] supernatural artifacts.
Destroy 1 supernatural artifact.
Erase the memories of [debt] people who know too much.

Combat Meditation
Deal 4, 8, 12, or 16 damage to yourself to cast dispel magic with [dice] equal to 1/4 of the damage taken (1, 2, 3, or 4).

Beseech
Beg the Pyramid for assistance. Roll 1d6 over your accumulated Debt. If you succeed, the Pyramid will assist you - teleporting you away, summoning OSIRIS agents, giving you back some Credit, etc. No matter what, you gain +3 Debt.

Patron's Gift: The Pyramid is placed inside of your heart. You are omniscient within 1 mile of you.

Spells

1. Squared Missile*
R: 100’ T: one creature or object D: n/a
An outstretched finger releases a shining black projectile, turning in perfect right angles as it travels. A single target takes [dice] squared damage.

2. Numerical Polymorph
R: touch T: one creature D: [sum] minutes
A single creature you touch has 2 of its stats switched. Unwilling targets can make a WIS save to protect themselves.

3. Simplify Object
R: touch T: one object D: n/a
A single object you touch is condensed into a small cube. The cube contains all the material of the object, but no air.

The amount of [dice] added to the spell decides the size of object that can be targeted.
1 die - a cup, toothbrush, or knife.
2 dice - a sword,  set of armor or door
3 dice - a wagon or table
4 dice - a house or car

If this would crush a creature or creatures, it kills an amount of creatures until the total HD reaches the [dice] of the spell.

4. Non-Euclidian Geometry**
R: line of sight T: self D: [sum] rounds
You are adjacent to everything within your line of sight. You are treated as if you were in all of these locations at once, and everything interacts with you as if it were adjacent to you. You do not suffer multiple effects from the same object or entity (if you are standing in every part of a fire, you only take its damage once). You can choose not to be adjacent to up to [dice] things.

5. Sacred Numbers
R: 500' radius T: 500' radius D: [sum] minutes
Choose [sum] numbers. For [sum] minutes, every time one of those numbers is rolled, you regain 1 HP.

6. Prime Attack
R: 100' T: one creature D: [sum] minutes
For [sum] minutes, every time the target rolls a prime number on their damage roll (in standard combat systems) or deals a prime number of damage (in Let There be Blood), they deal double damage.

7. Laplace Transformation**
R: touch T: [sum] creatures or objects D: [sum] minutes
The target loses up to [dice] dimensions of your choice (with a WIS save if unwilling). If you remove length, width, or height, they become 2D (allowing them to fit through gaps that are large enough in the other 2 dimensions, be rolled up like paper, and be invisible when viewed from the removed side) but cannot manipulate items with more dimensions than them.

If you remove 2 spatial dimensions, they deal [dice]d6 damage to anything they try to pass through. If you remove 3 spatial dimensions, they become a single point and cannot be detected in any way.

If you remove time, they vanish, and reappear at the end of the duration as if no time had passed.

8. Irreality
R: self T: self D: [dice] minutes
For [dice] minutes, you can walk through walls. You also cannot be directly targeted by any effect, but cannot attack or cast any spell.

9.  Simplify Person
R: 100' T: one person or creature D: [sum] minutes
Remove a single stat from a person or creature. They cannot use it for any checks. If Health is removed, the creature begins to take a Wound every time it is damaged. If AC is removed, it is automatically hit by 50% of attacks.

10. Erase Memory***
R: touch T: one creature D: permanent
Erase the last [sum] (minutes/hours/days/weeks, 1/2/3/4 dice) from the target's memory.

* - stolen from Arnold K's Modron Mathmetician
** - stolen from Velexiraptor's Fake Math Wizard
*** - stolen from Velexiraptor's Baleful Star Warlock

Pinnacle Spells

11. Simplify Terrain
R: one mile radius T: the earth D: [dice] hours
The world itself is shaped to the Pyramid's wishes. Everything becomes flatly colored and angular.

It's just like home.

While in this terrain, your movement speed is doubled and you can freely manipulate the ground (as a 4-dice casting of control earth).



12. Enter the Astral Plane
R: touch T: self + [dice] creatures D: [sum] seconds
You and [dice] creatures you are touching vanish completely into the Astral Plane. The Pyramid looms overhead. You may remain here for as long as you want - only [sum] seconds pass in the real world.

While inside the Astral Plane, you may ask the Pyramid [dice] questions. It knows everything, and will answer honestly.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

GLOG Urban Fantasy Class - Ynnbringer

Open the Gates

In my urban fantasy setting, (now called ♎︎) magic comes from Ynn, an alternate dimension where the laws of reality are more flexible and easier to persuade. With enough rituals, the veil between Ynn and the real world can be cut, allowing Ynn to override reality. In this area, and this area only, magic will work. Compared to psychics, Ynnbringers are more powerful, but require time to set up.

This is a modified version of Monsieur's Witch.


Template A: Cut the Veil, +2 MD
Template B: +2 MD, Coven
Template C: +2 MD
Template D: +2 MD, Pinnacle Spells


Cut the Veil

Over the course of 30 minutes, the Ynnbringer can perform the ritual to bring Ynn into reality. These rituals have three intensities, jokingly called Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

While inside of the ritual zone, the Ynnbringer can cast any Spell except for their Pinnacle Spells. They can also cast that ritual's Signs for free. They do not regenerate MD. While they are in the same ritual zone, their spell dice do not increase. They must prepare a new ritual to regain their MD. Rituals decay after 6 hours.

If the altar for the ritual is disturbed, the zone collapses. Real-world objects can be brought into the radius, but objects from Ynn cannot be brought out.

Maiden
The Maiden ritual has a radius of 100 feet. While inside this radius, the Ynnbringer has the following abilities:

Signs
1. Send a telepathic message to anyone inside the ritual radius.
2. Nothing inside the ritual radius makes any sound.

Perk: The Ynnbringer knows the exact location of everyone inside the ritual radius.

Work Die: 1d4

Mother
The Mother ritual has a radius of 100 feet. While inside this radius, the Ynnbringer has the following abilities:

Signs
1. You can make a plant or wooden object inside the ritual radius move. Bend the wooden stocks of rifles, grab people's ankles with vines, drop branches on people's heads.
2. You can move an object from Ynn you are directly holding out of the ritual radius without it vanishing.

Perk: The Mother ritual is powered by a simple incense burner, that can be carried on the Ynnbringer's person. While carried, the ritual's radius is centered on the Ynnbringer.

Drawback: If the Ynnbringer is damaged, they must make a Wisdom save or the ritual collapses.

Work Die: 1d6 

Crone
The Crone ritual takes a radius of 250 feet. While inside this radius, the Ynnbringer has the following abilities:

Signs
1. The Crone can speak to any denizen of Ynn.
2. Nothing can enter the ritual radius unless you allow it.

Drawback: The Crone ritual opens the gate far enough that the Idea of Thorns starts to enter it. When the Crone ritual ends, the Ynnbringer must make a Wisdom save or be afflicted by the Idea.

Work Die: 1d8


Coven

Under the eyes of OSIRIS, no lone Ynnbringer lasts long. Their covens are spread far and wide, keeping each other hidden and supported.

The coven is made up of 2d4 Ynnbringers. You can call on them for information and assistance, but they will call on you in return.

Pinnacle Spells

Each of the three Pinnacle Spells is keyed to a particular ritual - Deafen for the Maiden, Barrier for the Mother, and Expel for the Crone. They can be cast as a standard Spell, but only by the ritual they are keyed to.

Spells

1. Sleep
R: 50' T: 20' radius D: 10 min
Every creature within a 20' radius (up to a total of [sum] HD of creatures) falls asleep. They will reawaken in [sum] minutes, or if forced awake (physically).

2. Control Earth

R: 50’ T: a bucket’s worth of earth D: concentration
Control a bucket's worth of soil within 50' of you.
1 die - Slowly excavate, move, and shape 1 bucket worth of dirt.
2 dice - Move and shape a person-sized mass of soil, quickly enough to bury someone.
3 dice - Move and shape 2 person-sized masses. Trigger tremors. Range increases to 100'.
4 dice - Shape all the earth within 100' of you like water.

3. Animate Plants
R: Touch T: [sum] small plants or [dice] trees D: concentration
At your touch, [sum] small plants or [dice] large plants or trees spring to motion. They can be commanded verbally.

4. True Sight

R: self T: self D: [sum] minutes
For [sum] minutes, all is revealed to you. See through all illusions and into people’s auras (allowing you to tell if they are magical or psychic, and see them through walls).

5. Control Weather
R: 100’ radius D: [sum] minutes
For [sum] minutes, the weather is controlled around you.
1 die - sunlight, clouds, light rain
2 dice - bright light, dense darkening clouds, heavy rain
3 dice - blinding light, black out the sky, thunderstorms
4 dice - unnatural creations - plagues of locusts, rains of frogs, firestorms

6. Command
R: touch T: one person D: [dice] minutes
Give a single person you are touching a command up to [dice] words long. This command cannot lead them to their death unless 3 or more dice are used. The effect ends after [dice] minutes.

7. Create IllusionR: 100’ T: n/a D: [dice] minutes
Manifest an illusion. Targets must make a WIS save or be tricked by the illusion. The illusion expires after [dice] minutes.

8. Dispel Magic
R: 100’ T: one magical object or effect D: n/a
An amount of dice equal to the dice of a spell cast must be expended to counter that spell. Magic items will be shut down for [dice] minutes.

9. Disguise Self
R: self T: self D: [sum] minutes
Disguise yourself. Targets must make a WIS save or be tricked by the illusion. The disguise expires after [sum] minutes.

Pinnacle Spells

Maiden: Deafen
R: 100' T: Everyone within the Ritual Radius D: [sum] minutes
Everyone within the Ritual Radius is deafened and takes [dice]d4 damage as a horrible, pulsing sound fills the Ritual Radius. This repeats every round for [sum] minutes, or until canceled by the Ynnbringer.

Mother: Barrier
R: 10' T: n/a D: Permanent
This spell can be cast on another character's turn. If activated when an attack is declared, it activated before the attack hits. This spell creates a 10' wide, 6 inch thick barrier of soil and grass in front of the Ynnbringer. The barrier lasts until destroyed.

Crone: Expel
R: 100' T: one creature D: n/a
A single target takes [sum] damage and is thrown violently from the Ritual Radius.

Sunless Horizon

Sunless Horizon is the most self-indulgent setting I'll ever make, taking inspiration from Veins of the Earth , Axis Mundi , HMS Apolly...