Sunday, October 31, 2021

Damned Old House - an Adventure for 1 Wandering Exorcist

Introduction

Duet games are very interesting to me - I like the idea of something you can play with only 1 PC and a GM. They're easy to organize, they go quickly, and they're better at creating an atmosphere.

I'm also very interested in the Sword Exorcist class - an investigator who has to determine the cause of a ghost's death and the things attaching it to the world of the living in order to fight it effectively. However, I've always thought it was kind of difficult to use in a standard OSR game, because of how different their goals are when compared to more standard classes, and how rarely their abilities will get to be used

But, neither of those problems exist when you make a game built around the Sword Exorcist. One where ghost investigations are the entire game, and where all (or at least most) of your enemies will be ghosts.

So, I combined those two interests into this combination game and module. The setting is ambiguously 1800s-ish; factories spring up in towns, Parliament has replaced the kings of old, and new ideas about what a nation is fuel equally new wars between them. But even with these new advancements, old ghosts aren't going away.

(oh yeah also the other influence on this, and the source of the name, is this Russian pop-punk song from the 2000s i found on the internet somehow. don't ask questions)

The Exorcist

An Exorcist uses the stats from your preferred OSR game, but has no class. Instead, they have a particular set of starting equipment and abilities. All Exorcists bear a sword in a wooden scabbard, bound with silver. It cannot be drawn unless particular preparations are made, but even sheathed it deals 1d4 damage, even to ghosts.

They have also been trained to have a second sight. While a ghost may rarely appear to others, it is always seen clearly by the Exorcist.

Exorcists will also bring other, more specialized equipment - any two entries from this list can be chosen by the Exorcist at any point while they are in town. It is generally best to not choose all your items until your investigation is complete, to ensure you have the right tools.

1. 4 paper warding marks. When one is placed on a wall or floor, the passage of a ghost will cause it to burn with a cold white flame which you can see through walls with your second sight. 

2. 3 rations worth of hard dried bread and salted meat paste.

3. Six candles. Five are normal, but the sixth (with ink designs covering it, and a wick of human hair and foul-smelling oil) will reveal invisible things touched by its light, and let you see through thin walls, into closed chests, and otherwise through obstacles.

4. A hand crossbow, with six silver-tipped darts. This deals 1d6 damage to people, and some ghosts are weak to silver, due to its antibiotic properties.

5. A one-handed hammer, for knocking holes in walls, smashing windows, and generally causing problems.

6. A grey silk shroud. If the corpse a ghost is connected to is found and shrouded, the ghost's HD is halved.

To draw your sword, you must know three things:

1. The Form - how does the ghost manifest? What does it do?

2. The Truth - how did the ghost die? Who was involved?

3. The Reason - why does the ghost still hang on? What does it want?

When your sword is drawn, the targeted ghost is unable to flee - it must stand and fight. The sword glows unnaturally, deals 10 damage with each strike, and has Advantage on to-hit rolls if your system uses them.

from Mononoke, the original basis for the Sword Exorcist

Damned Old House

GM Introduction

Decades ago, an old man lived in a house on the edge of a small village. The man's name is forgotten - the village's name is irrelevant. As old men do, he eventually died.

The people of the town feared and distrusted him - they said he was a thief, a con, and a killer. When a sheep died or a child fell ill, people's eyes turned to his home.

When he passed, the town got together, beat his corpse, hid it in a wall, and bricked up his house. Now, his spirit wanders, tearing at the boards across the windows and the bricks laid in the doorways. The villagers keep their distance - the truth has been forgotten, now all that survives are tales of the Damned Old House.

The Form: the ghost manifests as an old man, and devours light and food

The Truth: the ghost died of starvation and disease because it was unable to buy food or fuel

The Reason: the community bricked up the house and the corpse instead of burying it (note that this does not mean any unburied corpse will create a ghost - people spent more effort boarding up the house than it would've taken to bury the body. this insult is the cause)

The Exorcist has to answer these questions correctly, but not in detail - "the ghost looks like an old man", "starved" and "was abandoned" still count, because they're correct.

Player Introduction

You arrive in a small town, on the edge of a forest. A ruined, ancient house on the edge of town is seething with energy through your second sight. A ghost is here - an old, raging one.

Next to the damned old house is a smaller, two-story home in good condition, and more homes start to show up as you get closer and closer to the town square. Around the square is a small stone church with a narrow graveyard, a few more homes, and a squat building with a sign reading "Licensed by Parliament for distribution - Year 492" over a picture of a blue-striped shield with a dog's head. All the way on the other side of town from the haunted house is a large brick factory with a single red-painted smokestack.

NPCs and Stories

The house closest to the ghost's residence is owned by the Timur family: Sonia, her husband Yevgeny, and their six year old son Maksim. Sonia and Yevgeny will both say they've seen the ghost appear on cloudy days, and that it bites at the boards nailed to the windows until the sun returns. (Clue: the ghost is afraid of light.)

If asked about the origin of the ghost, they will both say that they both listened to the local priest, Father Baksin, who often discusses the ghost's past. They say the ghost was a sinful, avaricious man, who was so attached to his money that he rose from the dead to count it, over and over, forever.

Maksim will tell a different story he had heard from a friend; the old man killed himself by accident, in an explosion while trying to make a potion that would let him become young. That's why he's afraid of fire. If asked to prove this, Maksim will talk about how he lit a candle in his room, and when the ghost looked through his window the candle went out, instantly.

Yevgeny will also talk about one of the people he used to work with at the factory, Vasily. He says Vasily went, along with many others, to destroy the ghost. They fought valiantly, planning to burn down the house and destroy the old man's body, but they were repelled - Vasily nearly died, and a few others did. Now he's retired, and spends most of his time in the local bar, when he isn't on vacation.

Father Baksin works in a small church, in the center of town. His version of his story is slightly different than the Timurs', saying the old man was named Hikmat Salil, and that his body was buried in the town's graveyard when he died, though that was before Father Baksin started to work at this church. He says that the man was greedy, but that was not his real sin. He was a prospector, and his money came from a miraculous discovery of gold he found with his brother. When the mine caved in, Feodor gathered the food they had brought, and kept it all for himself. By the time he got out, his brother had starved. Now, the ghost is starving, gnawing at the walls of the house to try and feed itself.

He will also offer to let you enter the church's library, which includes most of the town's old news and other documents. With a day of searching the library, you can find the journal of the last priest, who ran the church when the man died. In his journal, he describes "the old man who lives in the house on the edge of town" constantly - saying the community blames him for ill children, dead livestock, and even bad weather. 

One entry, dated around the time of the old man's death, says that when he went to his house to collect his body, it had already been bricked up. He says he has sent a letter to a nearby city asking for an Exorcist - he worries this poor treatment may cause problems in the future.

In the church's graveyard, there is a grave for a Hikmat Salil, who died decades ago, around the correct time. There is another grave for his wife, Atiya, that has no date of death written - she is still alive.

If she is found, she says her husband and her had recently moved to the town when Hikmat fell ill and died. He had never lived in that cursed old house, he definitely wasn't some kind of evil alchemist, and for God's sake he died in his thirties. 

She tells the same story that Yevgeny did, about the last time the town tried to deal with the ghost. However, her version is less flattering - according to Atiya, the angry mob ransacked her house first, saying it was her husband who haunted the house, and that it was her fault somehow. Then, they went to the old man's house and when they came back out, one of them was dead of a terrible wound. She says that she bets the idiot got separated, and someone stabbed him thinking he was a ghost. A few others came out with bite wounds - the ghost, she guesses. She remembers a man named Vasily who led them into her house - she tries to avoid him, now.

Vasily is a cheerful old man, scarred both by the ghost's attacks and his time in the War, which he gladly tells increasingly unlikely stories about. Hearing him say it, no one on his side ever actually died, and the War was a constant roller coaster of exhilarating action and romance. 

He takes a similar tone talking about the ghost - talking about how he personally decapitated the old man's corpse with an axe, and built a great bonfire in the house's common room to burn the place to the ground. And yet, no matter how much wood they piled on to the fire, it barely grew, and whenever they stopped for even a moment, it began to shrink.

Vasily also talks about a woman named Atiya, saying she was really responsible for the ghost - it was her husband, and when he inherited great riches from his dying father, Atiya poisoned him to take it all for herself. But the evil of her act cursed the money, which melted into the ground and vanished. Out of rage, Atiya shackled her husband's spirit to the house, so he could never reach the afterlife. Vasily says he'd gladly kill the witch if he could, but he's afraid of facing her himself.

The Damned Old House


Random Events & Encounters

1. The ghost is frightened by light - if the Exorcist has a candle, torch, or other tool, the ghost puts it out.

2. The ghost is starving - if the Exorcist has food, 1 ration-worth of it vanishes. If they don't, they feel a sudden bite on their shoulder, and take 1d4 damage.

3. The ghost tears at a window in a random room, trying to pull the boards off of it. If the sun is out, the ghost takes 1 damage. No matter what, the window is now open.

4. The ghost weeps audibly. The Exorcist can hear what direction the ghost is from them.

5. The ghost panics, and moves across two rooms this turn.

6. The house creaks and shudders, but nothing happens.

The ghost starts in room 11, and moves one room per exploration turn at random. It will move into rooms with the Exorcist, but will try to flee when damaged.

Room Key

1. Foyer. Dust hangs in the air and covers the ground, along with a few broken clubs and rusted knives from the last attempted exorcism.

2. Living room. Bookshelves hold old copies of religious texts, cookbooks, and novels. The rest of the furniture is gone, and the window is no longer boarded up, allowing sunlight into the room. 

3. Dining room. A long table and three chairs, all covered in bite marks. The skeletal corpse of the dead member of the angry mob lies atop the table, with a makeshift spear next to it.

4. Fireplace room. A large fireplace built on the east wall is empty. The ashes of a bonfire made of sticks and furniture dominate the room, yet nothing is burned. The ghost will not enter this room, fearing even the memory of the fire.

5. Kitchen. Empty cans and drained bottles of oil lie on the floor and counters, some of them seemingly untouched since the man lived.

6. Workshop. Filled with saws, axes, wrenches, and other tools.

7. Trapped room. This room has no ceiling, allowing the Exorcist to see into room 10. When the mob came, one of them set a bear trap in this room to prevent the ghost from coming through. It still lies there today, covered in dust. If stepped on, it deals 2d4 damage.

8. Bathroom. Under the sink are a few containers of powdered cleaning products.

9. Overgrown room. The east wall has fallen apart, and the room is now filled with stinging nettles. Under them is a wooden box, which contains about 12 gp in banknotes and a small key to the study's desk in room 12.

10. Bedroom hallway. The floor has mostly collapsed, leaving only a single thin beam, which requires a DEX check to cross safely. On a failure, the Exorcist falls into room 6. On a failure by 5 or more, they fall into room 7. Falling deals 1d6 damage, and falling into room 7 may cause the bear trap to go off.

11. Main bedroom. The bed is gone, taken for the fire. The southern wall is missing its wallpaper, and a section of it is made of wooden boards instead of brick. Behind those boards is the corpse of the old man, mummified, beaten, and burned.

12. Study. The only piece of furniture left is a large desk, with a locked drawer unlocked by the key in room 9. Inside are a set of loose papers, all undated journal entries. One talks about a few children from town who came and threw rocks through his window - the old man stayed inside, afraid of both the stones and of worsening his reputation. Another talks about when he invited a young man and his wife from another country for dinner. They had a wonderful time, and he hopes to do it again someday.

13. Guest bedroom. The bed is gone, and the floor is marred by dried blood - this is where the member of the mob died. A bloodied knife still sits on the ground.

The Ghost

When the Exorcist's sword is drawn, the ghost is forced to fight. The ghost takes 1d8 damage per round spent in sunlight.

HP: 36

AC: 10

Each round, the ghost will do two of these things:

Collapse: the ghost will cause part of the roof to collapse, forcing the Exorcist to make a DEX save or take 1d8 damage and be knocked prone. This will also let a beam of sunlight into the room.

Devour: if the Exorcist still has rations, the ghost consumes 1d3 of them. Otherwise, it deals 2d4 damage.

Extinguish: the ghost puts out all the light in the room, and causes the temperature to drop precipitously. The first time this happens, it deals 1 damage. The second time, 1d4. Then 1d6, 1d8, etc. Each use allows a CON save for half. Doing something to heat up the room will make the damage go back to 1.

Weep: the ghost cries of the things it has endured, forcing the Exorcist to see them. The Exorcist must make a CHA save or lose an action next turn (instead of moving and attacking they can only move or attack, for example) as they push through the ghost's memories.

When the ghost is defeated, it disintegrates into feathery fragments, which ascend through the roof of the house and into Heaven.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Translator & The Dead Language (GLOG Class)

On the GLOG discord and its close siblings, an idea for an archaeological campaign has been simmering - a megadungeon (which, for the purposes of this post, will be called the Inverted Pyramid) has been discovered, and the PCs enter to write its history, translate its Dead Language, and learn about its Builders - not to just loot the place (after all, any common thieves could manage that) but to research it.


One of the ideas of this hypothetical campaign is a stronger divide between class roles - a Fighter is not someone who's slightly better at fighting, they solve fighting problems. Other characters are at best incompetent and at worst actively harmful in a fight.

But, if one character solves fighting problems, we need other kinds of problems - traps and the like are already well-trodden ground, so the Translator deals with a new issue - the Dead Language used by the civilization that built the Inverted Pyramid.

The Dead Language
The Dead Language comes in two forms - Terrestrial Script (ansi e-tan, literally "words that are close to the ground"), a normal language used for writing and record-keeping, and the Spiritual Script (ansi en-ot, "words that are in the sky"). The Spiritual Script can, with the correct enunciation and enough focus, cause changes in the world around you.

Some people in the OSR space are both knowledgeable and determined/crazy enough to make their own conlang. I am neither. Instead, here is a list of 20 sample words of Terrestrial Script, which the Translator can roll on at character creation. If you want, you can expand this into an actual conlang, substitute one you already like for it, or otherwise mess with Terrestrial Script. If you aren't interested in taking these steps, simply tell the Translator the words they know, and surround them with meaningless syllables.

  1. Here (en, is also attached to words as a prefix to show that they are in the same place - en-ot meaning "in the sky").
  2. Animal (shur)
  3. With/Having (sen, can be put between two words to display ownership - shur-sen-tut meaning "an animal with think", or a person)
  4. Not (ja, attached to words as a prefix to show the inverse - ja-qut meaning "not safe")
  5. Light (wer)
  6. Food (pone)
  7. High/Important/Valuable (noian)
  8. Say/Write (tursa)
  9. Stone (met)
  10. You (ti, is also used as the number "two")
  11. Me (fir, is also used as the number "one")
  12. Them (dren, is also used as the number "three")
  13. Away (os, is put between words to show they are far apart. When seen as a lone word, usually means an instruction to stay away)
  14. Moving (wase)
  15. Water/Road (sunsir)
  16. History (kohi, also used as a prefix to show the past-tense)
  17. Future (shajli, used as a prefix to show the future-tense)
  18. Prophecy (shajlike - either used on its own to mean "a foretelling", or as a prefix to show a particular kind of future-tense that is best compared to "after we are all dead")
  19. Hand (feshed, is also used as the number "four", and as a word similar to, but not identical to, "angel")
  20. Air/Sky (ot, is also used as the number "five" or just "many")
A note on the Dead Language's numbers: sen is placed between them to add, os is placed between them to subtract (ot-sen-fashed is 5+4, ot-os-feshed is 5-4). However, ot-sen-fashed-dren-fir-ti doesn't mean "15", but means "more than could ever be counted", and usually appears in historical texts to mark the passage of generations, or in religious texts to describe the Builders' god (who, for example, is described has having "innumerable hands/angels".

Heaven's Vault is a video game about translation that I stole parts of the Terrestrial Script from (sort of) - you should play it! (I say, having only played a couple hours of it)

In contrast to Terrestrial Script being an actual language used by the Builders, Spiritual Script is a magic system - specifically, a modified version of rune magic system from Ten Foot Polemic, along with standard GLOG magic dice.

Guidelines for GLOG Rune Magic
If a rune already exists (placed on one of the walls of the Inverted Pyramid, for example), it requires no MD or magical talent to use. You just push and the effect goes off.

If you're making a rune, you need to invest MD into it. For every MD you use, you can add a Minor Rune. These MD aren't rolled until the rune is activated.

Generally, damaging runes deal [best] damage, or [dice] damage with some kind of status effect (freezing, poison, etc.). Remember, the campaign's structure is based on heavy class specialization - the Translator is supposed to do minimal or no fighting.

Take and Repel runes each have a range of 20*[dice] feet. Make runes will, by default, place the created object either in or directly over the user's hand (Make Earth drops some dirt in your hand, Make Light creates a hovering glow-sphere).

The Translator

A: Old Notes, Close Study, +1 MD 
B: Rubbing, +1 MD
C: Good Handwriting, +1 MD
D: Ancient's Tongue, +1 MD
Δ: University Tenure

Old Notes
You start knowing 3 random words of Terrestrial Script. You also begin with one Meticulous Die, representing your focus and concentration. Unlike Magic Dice, this cannot be used to cast spells. Instead, it can be used for Close Study of Terrestrial Script, and empowering rubbings of Spiritual Script. Meticulous Dice decay and are regained in the same way as Magic Dice, but do not have Mishaps or Dooms except during Close Study.

Close Study
If you can't determine the meaning of a piece of Terrestrial Script on your own, you can invest MD (along with one hour of study per MD used) to look through known words, assumed etymology, and other hints, eventually coming up with translations of [dice] words in the writing being studied. If a Mishap is rolled, one word in your translation is wrong - it still kind of works in this line, but it doesn't mean that. (For example, you may mistranslate "the king rode a chariot pulled by oxen" as talking about a farmer, or about a plow). If a Doom is rolled, your concentration is broken. You spend your time pacing, unable to focus, and accomplish nothing.

Rubbing
With the right equipment, you can make a rubbing of a piece of Spiritual Script, and invest MD in it. The rubbing can be activated by anyone, and your MD return immediately when it is used.

You cannot make rubbings of rubbings.

Good Handwriting
You have analyzed the Spiritual Script enough that you can write runes of your own.

Ancient's Tongue
After dozens of sleepless nights poring over assumed descendants of the Dead Language and carefully transcribing the ramblings of the Inverted Pyramid's undead, you have recreated a spoken version of Terrestrial Script. 

However, only 10 glyphs of your spoken version are correct (roll randomly once again). The rest, you'll have to correct through speaking to liches, mummies, golems, and other inhabitants.

Δ: University Tenure
Write, then publish, an article demonstrating comprehensive knowledge of written Terrestrial and Spiritual Script.

2d4 excitable archaeology students arrive at the camp, each with one Meticulous Die they can apply to Close Study. They are uninterested in entering the Inverted Pyramid itself, due to its danger. Any further discoveries published will bring another 1d4 students.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Xenoterrarium Cube


The Xenoterrarium Cube is a rare creation, beloved by the more space-obsessed breed of wizard. They are a living ooze, bred to replicate the environment of a far-off world, ensuring their occupants stay alive and comfortable.

Killing them is discouraged - the aliens within may not live long, but their reactions with terrestrial biology are unpredictable.

They are rarely hostile, as they wish to keep their passengers alive. Though, if the Cube determines the passenger needs fresh food, they will go hunting.

Stats

HD: 3

AC: 12

Attacks with tendrils (which may be acidic, alkaline, or otherwise dangerous): two attacks, both at +2 to-hit, dealing 2d4 damage.

May also attack with the alien within: roll once on the Alien table to determine this attack's effects. When the Xenoterrarium Cube dies, the death effect on the Alien table activates as its passenger is exposed to the elements.

Alien Table

1. A long, deep red worm. It can attack by swimming into one of the Cube's tendrils, then reaching out to bite. This bite deals 1d6 damage and requires a Save against hallucinations from its psychoactive venom. When the Cube dies, the worm sublimates on contact with the air, releasing a 20x20 foot cloud of its poison.

2. A grey metallic sphere. It can attack by firing a laser at -2 to-hit (as it is refracted by the Cube), which deals 2d6 damage and sets the target on fire. It can be reflected with mirrors, though the Cube is immune to it. When the Cube dies, the sphere rusts away, leaving only the baseball-sized laser core. This core will set anything within 10 feet of it on fire until it is either smashed or doused with water.

3. A squid with knotted, thin tentacles bunched up in the small space of the Cube. It can stretch them, carefully, to grapple a PC within up to 100 feet of the Cube. When the Cube dies, the tendrils writhe as the alien burns, grabbing and throwing anything within 20 feet.

4. A two-foot-tall blue humanoid, capable of psychic communication and telepathic control of the Cube. It has interests and ambitions just as any person does. If provoked, it will attack with psychic bursts (1d4 damage and Save against temporary blindness as it cuts the signal between your eyes and brain). When the Cube is killed, the passenger attempts to escape by possessing someone within 50 feet, preferably an NPC. If it attempts to possess a PC, they must Save - on a pass, the alien's consciousness is repelled, and it dies. On a failed Save, the alien enters their head - not as a controller, but as a passenger. Both the PC and the alien can now talk to each other through thought.

5. A pair of hundred-legged lizards, separated by a ooze wall. They can both attack by spraying superheated blood from their eyes, leaving cloudy streaks through the Cube. This is two ranged attacks, each at +1 to-hit and dealing 1d6 damage. When the Cube dies, the wall collapses and both lizards fight to the death even as their scales crack from the Earth's air.

6. A spider-like creature with curled legs, constantly hopping up and down. As an attack, it will jump out of the Cube, trailing ooze behind it, and crash into a PC, dealing 1d8 damage and forcing a Save against falling prone, then bounce back into the cube. When the Cube dies, the alien begins to bounce randomly off the walls, accelerating with every impact as it speeds through the dungeon and dealing 1d8 damage plus one for every dungeon turn since it was freed when it hits something. Eventually, hopefully, it will find its way out of the dungeon and bounce back into space.

Cube Details Table

1. A tiny point of red light sits at the top of the cube - a miniature Sun to warm the passenger.

2. A gnarled tree with silver leaves grows through the cube.

3. Grass grows down from the top of the cube into the terrarium.

4. Tiny winged fish-bugs swim in spirals around the cube's main inhabitant.

5. Multicolored gravel covers the floor of the Cube.

6. A single pastel blue cloud sits, perfectly still, in the Cube's false sky.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

A Catalog of Parts for Tiny Robots

My unnamed GLOG/Engine Heart/PBTA hack thing is one of my favorite current projects, but without a list of Parts, it's mostly unplayable.

So here's a list of Parts, to make it less unplayable. 

These Parts come in three categories: Arms, which you use to pick things up, move them around, and otherwise do arm things, Legs, which you use to move (though they aren't always legs, per se), and Tools. Each robot can have one set of Arms, one set of Legs, and two Tools.

As a little review of the system: there are five stats, Strength (STR), Speed (SPD), Dexterity (DEX), Comprehension (COM), and Mirroring (MIR). Each has an amount of dice, from 2 to 4, which are treated like GLOG magic dice - invest as many as you want in a roll, they're lost if they roll more than 3, and on doubles or triples Bad Things happen.

Of course, these 3 sets of 6 parts certainly aren't the limit of the system - I'm planning to make more, and anyone else interested in the game can too (and probably should, if they actually plan to run it).

lifter arms + caster wheels

Arms

1. Lifter Arms (arms)

a pair of massive pistons connect to a narrow platform in front of you, just barely able to reach above your head

Invest [strength], and lift the platform up to your head-height with up to [sum]*100 pounds on board. 

2. Extender Arms (arms)

a small claw on a telescopic pole

The arm can extend up to ten feet. Invest [strength], and you can lift up to [sum] pounds, minus one for every foot you've extended the arm.

3. Tendril Arms (arms)

thin, many-fingered claws on flexible tendrils let you reach through tiny spaces and even around corners

Invest [dexterity]: you can reach [dice] feet around corners and through any space wider than a finger, lifting [dice] pounds.

4. Humanoid Arms (arms)

five-fingered hands with thumbs and elbows are perfect for using human tools: anything from keyboards to steering wheels

When you try to use a human tool, invest [comprehension] and check the [sum]:

10+: you operate the device perfectly, doing exactly what you want

7-9: you certainly did something, even if it wasn't quite what you were trying to do

6-: you have no idea what this is, or how to use it. You do nothing.

5. Magnet Arms (arms)

a large electromagnet lets you push and pull heavy metal objects, even from far away

Invest [strength], and push or pull a metal object weighing [sum]*100 pounds from [dice]*20 feet away.

6. Cargo Hook (arms)

a winch and strong cable connected to a large metal hook. however, you need someone else's help to connected it to things

Invest [strength], and drag [dice] tons across flat ground, as long as someone's hooked you to it.

extender arms
Legs

1. Sprinter Wheels (legs)

lightweight magnesium wheels allow you to rush along flat surfaces, but smooth tires cripple your handling

When you need to move fast, invest [speed] and check the [sum]:

10+: you hit highway speeds immediately, in a straight line

7-9: you begin to accelerate, and will reach top speed next turn

6-: the tires spin and screech, unable to grip the ground

Strength (STR), Speed (SPD), Dexterity (DEX), Comprehension (COM), and Mirroring (MIR).

2. Heavy Treads (legs)

metal plates on a rubber track make it easy for you to crawl over difficult terrain unharmed

When you need to cross tough terrain, invest [speed] and check the [sum]:

10+: you cross over mud, rubble, plants, and other obstacles as long as they're less than a foot high.

7-9: slowly, you can drag yourself past obstacles as long as they're less than a foot high. If you're chasing, or being chased, you're just too slow.

6-: you slip or sink, becoming trapped in the terrain.

3. Humanoid Legs (legs)

strong springs and powerful joints let you jump and make your way over stairs

When you need to jump, invest [speed] and check the [sum]:

10+: With a short running start, you fling yourself through the air, landing perfectly.

7-9: You jump, but not quite far enough. If you're jumping up to a ledge or over a gap, you can grab the edge if you have hands that can.

6-: Oops. You hop, but miss the landing and fall.

4. Hover Fan (legs)

a spinning blade lets you hover over any obstacle, but it has a harsh weight limit

You always over about a foot off the ground. When you need to increase the fan's power, invest [speed]: you can ascend another [sum] inches, or carry [sum] pounds for [dice] minutes.

5. Rocket Pack (legs)

twin solid fuel boosters give unparalleled flight ability, but landing can be difficult

Invest [speed] to fling yourself [sum]*[dice] feet into the air. Getting back down without smashing your casing is your own problem.

6. Caster Wheels (legs)

round wheels on 360 degree bearings let you reach high speeds without sacrificing turning

When you need to move fast, invest [speed] and check the [sum]:

10+: you move at 20 miles per hour, and can turn in any direction instantly without slowing down

7-9: you start to pick up speed, and will reach top speed next turn

6-: you accelerate, only to realize you're going in the wrong direction

Tools

1. Solar Panel (tool)

some robots are built for work where they will rarely, if ever, be able to recharge

You can regain one die per day for free by spending an hour in the sun.

2. Extra Battery (tool)

extra power can be sent to any part to improve its function

When you fully Recharge, you also gain 1 Power Die.

3. Fluid Pump (tool)

used to soak up or spray out liquids for firefighting, installing insulation, or similar work

When used to absorb liquid, invest [strength] - you can gather up [sum] gallons of liquid and store it safely.

When used to spray a stored liquid, invest [dexterity] and check the [sum]:

10+: you fire exactly as much as you want, exactly where you want it

7-9: your aim is good, your control is not. You drench the target in all the liquid you have stored

6-: the pump's hose writhes like an angry snake, dumping all the liquid you have all over the place, and all over everyone near you

4. Welding Torch (tool)

used for industrial work, putting together metal objects

When you weld things together, invest [comprehension] and check the [sum]:

10+: you perfectly move and weld the objects together, creating whatever you had intended to

7-9: your welds are off. The object will work, once.

6-: you put in too much heat. Whatever metal you had gathered melts into slag.

5. Friendly Screen (tool)

sets of speakers and a pixelated screen, displaying emoticons

When you try to talk to a human, invest [mirroring] and check the [sum]:

10+: it works perfectly, and they understand you completely

7-9: you stumble over your words - they're so much more complex than binary. They can't quite tell what you're trying to say.

6-: the speakers overload, blasting a buzzing, screeching noise. They probably don't want to talk to you anymore.

6. Anchor (tool)

a set of spike-tipped pistons let you ensure your stability in any conditions

When you extend the spikes, invest [strength] and record the [sum] - you cannot be moved unless something rolls a higher [sum] trying to move you. Humans tend to have 2 Strength, being hit by a car is an automatic roll of 40. 

fluid pump + heavy treads

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Escape from McNeil Island, Expanded

Escape from McNeil Island was an adventure made by purplecthulhu for Libra, and then posted as a set of GM's notes. I've expanded the adventure into a small pointcrawl with everything you need to run it - win conditions, random encounters, a bestiary, etc.

The PCs are psychics, magicians, and other supernatural entities placed in OSIRIS Containment Facility 302, on a small island in Washington. Due to a set of unrelated incidents, they've all been moved to the site's infimary, putting them in a perfect place to escape when охотник убийца, a Soviet supersoldier project, breaks out of the ConFac, leaving it in chaos.

You can download the adventure here.
 
also ha this is actually a GLOGtober post i tricked you

 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Eye of Newt and... uh... what was the other thing? (GLOG Class: Dabbler Cultist)

I don't know if this is a Buckets of Blood class, a starting point for Libra 2e, both, or neither.

You've managed to get your hands on a powerful tome of magic - the Necronomicon, a heavily redacted copy of The King in Yellow, the secret negative-first edition of D&D, or another incomprehensible resource. The problem is, you haven't gotten any time to actually read the thing. Getting spells and rituals out of it is like pulling teeth - everything's hidden under codes or behind allegories.

This is a slightly abnormal spellcasting class - by default, it has no MD. Each of its spells is a ritual, with 4 Ritual Implements. For every Implement the character uses in the casting of the spell, you add one Malevolence Die to the spell. Casting a ritual takes [dice] hours, and when the ritual is complete, the Ritual Implements are destroyed.

Malevolence Dice are d6s, and hit Mishaps and Dooms in the same way as Magic Dice. However, they do not return on any rolled result.

You manage to learn a spell from the Tome every template - roll 1d10 to figure out what it is.

A: Familiar, +1 Spell
B: +1 Spell, Sacrifice
C: +1 Spell, Beseech
D: +1 Spell, Awful Gift

Familiar
The book has taught you to create a 3 foot-tall creature - something between a rat and a child. With bribes of food, drink, and pocket change, it can be ordered to perform almost any task: touching things you think might be dangerous, grabbing loot, watching someone through their window, using the pedals of a car, etc. However, the familiar is largely incompetent, and apt to fall asleep when given a boring task, become flustered with an overly exciting one, trip over its own feet, and generally fail unless kept a close eye on.

Sacrifice
By spilling your own blood upon the altar (or car dashboard, or picnic table) and taking 1d4 damage, you can increase the size of one of the Malevolence Dice in a ritual to a d8. You can repeat this for every die in the ritual if you so wish.

Beseech
Read through the pages and scream and cry and perhaps they will listen to you. In a tight corner, call out to the Tome and it will do something to save you. Give you a tool, or summon its agents, or perform an unbidden ritual.

Immediately afterwards, you suffer a Doom.

Patrick Tilp

Spells

1. To See All Things Through the Eyes of the Stars
Observe either a location or person you have seen before within [dice] miles for up to [sum] minutes. By default, you see through it in a grainy, black-and-white view. For every extra MD added, choose one:

- vision through Scry is perfectly clear
- you can hear through Scry
- you can speak through Scry
- Scry will warn you of interesting things or if a predetermined event occurs, even if you're asleep or not paying attention

Ritual Implements
1. A human eye. If it's your eye, it counts as two Implements.
2. The circuits of a security camera either from that location, or that has seen that person in the last week.
3. An entire living owl.
4. Three pieces of written information about the target - the address, coordinates, etc., of the location, the height, hair color, birth date, etc. of the person. 

2. To Strike a Foe Across Innumerable Distances
A human (or at least near-human) target you know the name of, could pick out of a lineup, and have met face-to-face must Save or die instantly. If they pass the save, they take [sum] damage. If they fail the Save, their death seems accidental - a sudden heart attack, a falling object, a car crash. If they pass, damage dealt appears as cuts from an invisible source, and if the damage is lethal the target explodes.

Ritual Implements
1. A piece of the target - blood, hair, skin, etc. Especially large or deep pieces (bone marrow, an entire finger, etc.) count as two Implements.
2. A weapon that has killed at least five people.
3. A picture of the target that has been taken within the last day.
4. The tooth of a dangerous animal (wolves, bears, venomous snakes, etc).

3. To Create a Homunculus 
A humanoid creature with a flat face, fingerless hands, and empty grey eyes is formed through application of magic. It has [dice]*2 HD, 10+[dice] AC, a [dice] bonus to hit, and deals [dice]d6 damage. If you ignore an MD for the purpose of statistics (a monster summoned with 2 MD only having 2 HD, 11 AC, a +1 bonus to-hit, and 1d6 damage), you may also give the monster some kind of special ability - an arm with opposable thumbs, the ability to fly, night vision, etc. If this would give the monster 0 MD in its statistics, it has 1 HP, 10 AC, and can't attack.

Ritual Implements
1. Two hundred pounds of raw meat.
2. The corpse of an animal with the special ability you are trying to give the monster. If there is no special ability, or the ability does not appear in any animal, a human corpse can be used instead.
3. A lightning strike, or similarly large amount of electricity.
4. A false womb of baked clay, filled with nutrient jelly.

4. To Ward Oneself Against Stones, Arrows, and Blows
After the ritual is complete, you and up to [dice] other participants have +[dice] AC, and when missed by a ranged attack, may redirect them back to anyone you wish (using the same to-hit roll). This lasts for [dice] hours.

Ritual Implements
1. The whole and unblemished skin of a songbird.
2. Dandelion seeds, crushed into powder.
3. The shell of a tortoise, painted with glyphs in the tortoise's blood.
4. An engraved stone, thrown at the ritual's caster.

5. To Repel Demons and Other Unnatural Beings
A ghost, fairy, or other creature from another plane with [sum] HD or less is banished back to its home plane, and cannot be summoned again for [dice] hours. This spell can also be used to create a barrier [dice]*10 feet in diameter that cannot be crossed by creatures of that type with [dice] or less HD, which lasts until the barrier is broken.

Ritual Implements
1. An object from the creature's home plane.
2. A vial of water blessed by a religious figure (it doesn't matter what religion).
3. Salt that has never been touched by the light of the sun.
4. Meteoric iron filings.

6. To Give Oneself the Red Right Hand Whose Touch is Death
You, or another human subject, has their right hand changed. The veins within start to glow faintly red, and the nails stretch and sharpen. This lasts for [best] hours, and during this time anything touched by the Hand will take [dice]d6 damage. It also gives a +[dice] bonus to-hit.

The Hand will also rot wood, dissolve stone, and rust metal it touches - generally [dice]/2 inches of the material per round where the hand touches.

Ritual Implements
1, An injection of the blood of an unnatural being.
2. A powdery paste of rotten wood, gravel, and rust flakes.
3. A fire to plunge the hand into at the culmination of the ritual.
4. Five fingers: one from someone who was murdered, one from someone who died peacefully, one from someone who died of illness, one from someone who died at least one hundred years ago, and the last from someone who was mauled by animals.

7. To Perform the Sign of the Evil Eye, Which Afears Beasts and Birds
After the ritual is complete, for [best] hours your gaze will be poisoned, and inflict fear on animals under it. Any natural, real animal (as opposed to supernatural creatures or people) with [dice] HD or less will flee rather than fight you. If they are cornered, commanded, or otherwise forced to fight, they take [best] damage - any inspection of the body will reveal long-term heavy metals poisoning.

Ritual Implements
1. The heart of a dog.
2. A thin needle with a drop of fatal poison, carefully stuck into the palate. The poison from the needle will be pulled into the eyes, making their gaze dangerous.
3. An arrow with a flint head and feather fletching.
4. A chime, rung throughout the duration of the ritual.

8. To Restore the Health of Those Injured or Infirm
A target regains all of their HP, and for every MD invested, a wound (such as a broken bone) or a malady (poisons, diseases) is cured. With 3 or more [dice], you can restore lost limbs or organs.

Ritual Implements
1. A bath in rubbing alcohol for the person to be healed.
2. A pound of leaves from a willow tree, crushed and consumed by the patient.
3. Ten feet of white silk.
4. An accurate sculpture of the patient. If it is inhumanly accurate, it counts as two Implements.


Tome Spells

All Dabbler Cultists have a Tome, through which magic is revealed to them. This Tome determines spells 9 and 10, as well as your Awful Gift.

Necronomicon
9. To Return the Souls of the Deceased to Their Mortal Shells
To perform this ritual, you need to have the corpse with you. It does not count as a Ritual Implement, it's just a requirement. 

A corpse of a human being or other sentient near-human creature with [dice]*2 or less HD is raised as an undead being. If [dice] is two or less, they return as a mindless servitor (stats as Skeleton). If 3 or more MD are used, they return perfectly conscious and in total control of their faculties (stats as Ghoul). 

Ritual Implements
1. Two pure gold coins, to place on the eyes of the corpse.
2. An object the deceased owned and adored in life.
3. A living family member of the deceased. They do not disappear when the ritual is complete.
4. Embalming tools and fluids, to ensure the corpse's integrity.

10. To Create a Terrible Killing Fire to Purge the Holy and Their Subjects
Creates a small amulet in the shape of a skull. When it is broken, it explodes into green poison fire in a [dice]*20 foot radius, lasting for [dice] minutes. Everyone within takes [best] damage with every breath, and anything combustible ignites. Any survivors are ailed, losing half of all their stats and being reduced to only one action per turn until they get comprehensive medical attention.

Ritual Implements
1. White phosphorous, safely contained in mineral oil. (The mineral oil is not a necessity, but it makes it way easier to work with).
2. The blood of someone who had been poisoned to death.
3. The ashes of a clearly, unequivocally, evil person.
4. A pound of uranium or another radioactive material.

Awful Gift - Lichdom
You die, yet live. You no longer need food, water, or air - nor do you bleed. However, you no longer heal naturally. Instead you must repair yourself - stealing fresh tissue, stapling lost limbs on, and replacing bones with sticks.

T*e K*ng ** Yel**w
9. To Mesmerize Those Who Read This Text
Blindly copy hidden parts of the King in Yellow, creating a dangerous piece of text. Anyone looking at the text must Save or be paralyzed for [dice] minutes. On a passed Save, they do not need to Save again. The text's power slowly declines, ending after [best] days.

The text can be written on anything, as long as you have the mundane tools needed to write it (pens, paint, etc.).

Ritual Implements
1. A grey silk blindfold.
2. A small amount of cerebrospinal fluid added to the ink or paint used.
3. Hallucinogenic drugs, to keep your mind from absorbing the text as you stare at it.
4. A blacklight, to reveal hidden sections of the play.

10. To Turn an Object to Stone With Application of an Alchemical Mixture
An object is turned to stone for [sum] days, through the application of an alchemical solution. For every MD added, the object can be larger (1 MD - a cat. 2 MD a dog, 3 MD a person, 4 MD a cow). You can do this to a living creature with no Save, as long as they stay within the range for the time of the ritual.

If 4 MD are used, the duration can be whatever you want, up to infinite.

Ritual Implements
1. A circle of yellow cloth, to contain and absorb the Mixture and focus its energies.
2. Mercury, poured carefully over particular parts of the object.
3. Lead disks, balanced under the subject.
4. A strong magnetic field (an MRI machine, or something equal).

Awful Gift - The Pallid Mask
Through the eyes of the mask, the world's true form, a lie, is revealed to you. The lakes are made of mist, the towers rise behind the moon, and the robes of the King are curtains surrounding the world.

You can tell automatically when someone lies, and when you lie, it is believed. A Charisma check will be required if the lie is directly disproved by something the target sees (saying the sky is green will work, but you'll need to make a check if they can see the sky). If this check passes, they believe the lie over the truth.

In the domain of the King, there is no difference.


D&D -1e
9. To Turn a Building Into a Stronghold, or Create One From Nothing
Up to [dice] floors of the building you are in are replaced with torchlit stone chambers, filled with [sum] HD of monsters (orcs, beholders, and other standard D&D fare) and set with [dice] traps.

Then, check one MD's roll on this table for each floor to determine the treasure inside:
1 - nothing
2 - 1d100gp
3 - 2d6 × 10gp
4 - 1d100 + minor magic item
5 - 2d6 × 10gp + 2 minor magic items
6 - 2d6 × 10gp + major magic item

All gold pieces found within do not match examples from any archaeological site.

If the spell is cast outside of a building, it creates [dice]*2 rooms of dungeon, with only [best] HD of monsters, [dice]/2 traps, and one roll on the treasure table.

Ritual Implements
1. A stone from a building at least 500 years old.
2. A pile of swords, bows, axes, and other weapons to outfit the dungeon's inhabitants.
3. A map, made by you, of the location being dungeonized.
4. A single small symbol written in every room of the building. If you are creating a dungeon from scratch, the symbol must be placed every 5 feet.

10. To Turn One Into a Fiery Beast, in Parts and Steps
For [sum] hours, you take on some of the attributes of a dragon. For every MD applied, choose one option from this list:

1. Scales: gain [dice] AC for the duration of the spell
2. Wings: gain the ability to fly at [best]*10 feet per round.
3. Breath: [dice]/2 times during the spell's duration, breathe a cone of fire dealing [dice]d6 damage.
4. Eyes: you can see treasure, even through walls. When you make eye contact with someone, you can see their greatest ambition and most pitiable failure.

Ritual Implements
1. A dinosaur's bone, at least as long as you are tall.
2. An entire, living, komodo dragon.
3. A fire that has burned for six days and six nights without stopping.
4. A gold bar, worth at least $1,000.

Awful Gift - Engraved Icosahedron
A small 20-sided shape, engraved with unknown symbols. Whenever a d20 is rolled for a stat check, a Save, or a to-hit roll, you can reroll it, taking the second roll. Every time you do this, you lose 1 HP.

Unbible
9. To Summon a Devil in Order to Write a Binding Pact With Them
devil is summoned. For every MD invested, roll once on the Prices and Boons tables. The caster can choose which result is actually applied. (For example, a 2 MD summoning would roll 2 dice on each table, then the Dabbler Cultist chooses one die from each of those sets).

Ritual Implements
1. An engraved brass container filled with blessed wax. The engravings must be made by someone who has not killed any living thing, nor consumed anything but water, for one month.
2. A lion's skin, with the name of the devil written on the inside.
3. A golden chain, at least 10 feet long.
4. A human heart.

10. To Ensure the Complete Destruction of Oneself, so You Cannot be Scavenged by the Weak
After this ritual is complete, a small red glyph glows on your heart for [dice] days. If you die during this duration, you explode, dealing [sum]x2 damage to everyone in a [sum]^[dice] foot radius. Increase GORE by 2 in Buckets of Blood or decrease Veil by 2 in Libra 2e if this happens.

Ritual Implements
1. Your favorite possession.
2. Some blood from your nearest living relative.
3. At least one hundred pounds of TNT or another explosive.
4. A true and magically enforced promise to die before the glyph dissipates.

Awful Gift - Book of Red Laws
Why should those who are strong bow to those who are weak? What prevents them from consuming everything, becoming everything, and turning the world to a final perfect shape?

Whenever you kill someone, their name is written in the Book, and you regain 1 HP. Their souls are trapped, and can be traded with the devil instead of your own. Anyone whose name is in the Book is condemned immediately and irrevocably to Hell, no matter how they acted in life.

Mishaps and Dooms

Mishaps
1. More blood is needed: take 1d4 damage.
2. A misread syllable: psychic shock drains every MD used in the spell.
3. More power, next time: the highest rolled die vanishes, and isn't counted for [sum], [dice], or any other effect.
4. Overcharged: arcane power bleeds off into the air like a flashbang. When the ritual is complete, you are blinded for an hour.
5. Slow going: the ritual takes twice as long.
6. An eye, oh the awful eye! A Demon from the Astral Plane has come, hunting disturbances. Increase GORE by 1 in Buckets of Blood or decrease Veil by 1 in Libra 2e. Also, you have to fight a demon.

Dooms
1. You need to do more, faster. Every day you don't perform a ritual, take 1d4 damage.
2. MORE. Every hour you aren't performing a ritual, take 1d4 damage. You can't stop thinking about the book. It has the answers to everything.
3. moremoremoremoremoremoremoredone. Driven by your desperate obsessions, you have both translated and completed a different ritual than the one you intended: Ascension. You vanish, screaming, from this mortal plane.

Monday, September 6, 2021

we've been trying to reach you about your extended warranty: the GLOG hack

Recently, I've been thinking about a new project - combining a minor blog fixation, Engine Heart, with a major blog fixation, the GLOG, along with bits of recent Zine Quest release Scurry! and vague, wrong ideas of what PbtA games look like according to someone who hasn't actually read one.

You play as a group of utility robots, alone and hoping to either make your way back to home or build a new one. The setting is going to be mostly undefined - maybe, like Engine Heart, humanity has been destroyed by an apocalypse. Maybe you just fell off the back of a truck, and need to get back to the factory. Maybe you're on a starship around Neptune, trying to get your rights as workers.

by Locheil, who is cool

Creating a Character

Stats

The stats are Strength (STR), Speed (SPD), Dexterity (DEX), Comprehension (COM), and Mirroring (MIR).

The first three are self-explanatory, but the other two are stranger. Comprehension is your ability to understand things you weren't designed for - will the stack of crates fall over if I move this one? Why is this on fire?

Mirroring is sort of like Charisma, but is more accurately described as your ability to act like a human. People like it when you can talk like them, and some robots could be tricked into thinking you're a person if you say the right words. You could also roll Mirroring to understand what someone is doing.

Some Parts can also give you Power dice, which can be added to any check.

Your stats are chosen from this array: 4, 3, 3, 2, 2.

Parts

The problem is, none of those stats can just get used. Instead, you have only specific actions you can take, based on your Parts.

By default, robots can only do three things - see (if there's light), move at a walking pace, and talk to other robots. Anything else requires the right Part.

Parts come in four slots - Arms, Legs, and two Body parts (A and B).

Gameplay
Rolling Dice
When you use one of your Parts, you invest as many dice from the applicable stat as you want, along with Power dice, if you have them. Depending on the Part being used, you might need to check different things. Some want you to check [sum] against a table, like a PbtA Move:

Sprinter Wheels (legs)
lightweight magnesium wheels allow you to rush along flat surfaces, but smooth tires cripple your handling

Invest [speed] and check the [sum]:

10+: you hit highway speeds immediately, in a straight line

7-9: you begin to accelerate, and will reach top speed next turn

6-: the tires spin and screech, unable to grip the ground

 Others are more similar to GLOG spells:

Lifter Arms (arms)

a pair of massive pistons connect to a narrow platform in front of you, just barely able to reach above your head

Invest [strength], and lift the platform up to your head-height with up to [sum]*100 pounds on board. 

Whenever stat dice are invested, they decay if they roll a 4-6, and if they roll doubles or triples you have a Minor or Major malfunction.

If you have a Minor malfunction, check the number on the dice on this table:
1. Uninsulated wires. Every die used in this check decays, no matter what it rolled.
2. Low batteries. Until you next Recharge, this stat's dice decay on a 3 or more.
3. Bad safety checks. The part used is Damaged.
4. Power surge. The highest-rolling die used in this check is ignored for [sum], [best], or other measurements. If it would decay, it still does.
5. Crossed wires. Decay one die from a different stat.
6. Jammed bearings. Nothing happens. Dice still decay if roll 4+.

If you have a Major malfunction, the part that was used is destroyed completely.

Getting Hurt
If something bad happens to you (falling off a hill, getting crashed into by another robot, catching fire) one of your Parts is damaged. Choose whichever one makes the most sense, or roll 1d4:

1. Arms
2. Legs
3. Body A
4. Body B  

When a Part is damaged, you can't use it until you get it fixed. If a damaged part is hit again, it's destroyed completely, and you'll have to either find a new one, or go without.

Regaining Dice
If you can find a place to Recharge, all your lost stat dice return. The problem is, you can only Recharge somewhere where you can get electricity.

Repairing Parts
Some Parts allow you to repair damaged Parts on other robots, and some places may have machines or friendly robots that will help you. If a Part is destroyed, you might be able to find someone offering new ones, in exchange for help, directions, or other things.

You cannot cannibalize other robots for their Parts. They are well-connected to the robot's frame, and attempting to remove them by force will damage or destroy them.

Sunless Horizon Beta 2.3 Release

Commissioned from Scrap Princess excited screeching I've been posting about  Sunless Horizon  for about a year, and after finally gettin...