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.

Sunless Horizon: The Seeleh and the Poloi

The Seeleh are a race of insectoids, with six legs arranged around a humanoid torso. The entirety of the body is covered in a thin membrane beneath a set of armored plates.

The Seeleh live incredibly long lives, up to 700 years. However, living takes energy. To conserve it, the Seeleh are slow. Slow to act, slow to make decisions, and slow to move.

Once a day, the Seeleh's membrane can fill with air, increasing their size to 15 by 15 feet. While in this state, the Seeleh cannot move, but can survive in a vacuum for 30 minutes. This occurs automatically upon contact with a vacuum, or at will.

If the Seeleh is damaged while in this state, the membrane ruptures, and takes 3 days to regrow.

Seeleh are commonly poor: due to their strength, they are often forced into low-paying labor jobs. Because of this, most Seeleh take up a second job (such as derelict raiding) to make ends meet. The Seeleh are stereotyped as nearly-mindless brutes, because of their societal position and inhuman appearance.

The Poloi are frilled humanoids. Around their neck is a set of pheremone sacs; some hold compound α, which causes joy. Others contain pheremone β, which imparts sadness, or pheremone γ, which triggers anger.

The Poloi can distribute their pheremones through either touch or in a small radius around themselves. Poloi are generally stereotyped as untrustworthy: after all, when someone can influence your mind by touching you or even standing near you, how do you know if you're still in control of yourself?

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Iyr Specurem

Iyr Titans

When the Iyr come to the world in their invasions, they do not just bring their glass and crystal armies. Through their holes in the universe, they drag titanic machines of war. Each of these is built to crack fortresses, burn cities, and crush kingdoms.

Each Titan has several locations that can be targeted. You can either have your players choose a location to target, or use the table provided in the statblock.


The Specurem are flying titans built in the image of the long-dead wyrms of the Iyr's home universe. They are the grandest of the Iyr's horrors, each taking decades or centuries of effort by the Iyr's greatest shapers. Iyr Warmasters pull them through rifts to use as command vehicles and mobile fortresses. They, just like the other titans, have no mind of their own: if not controlled, they will not move, even to defend themselves.

Iyr Specurem
Gargantuan Construct

Armor Class: Variable
Hit Points: Variable
Speed: fly 100 ft (hover)

STR: 25 (+7)
DEX: 8 (-1)
CON: 25 (+7)
INT: 10 (+0)
WIS: 16 (+3)
CHA: 8 (-1)

Damage Immunities: Psychic, Poison, Acid 
Condition Immunities: Poisoned, Exhaustion, Charmed
Senses: blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 22
Languages: Can understand Iyrn but not speak it.

Titanic: Whenever the Iyr Specurem is attacked, roll 1d6 and consult the following chart.

1-2: Head AC 19, 75 Health If destroyed, the Iyr Specurem loses use of the Obliterate action and the Bite action.

2-5: Arms (2) AC 17, 50 Health Each If one is destroyed, the Iyr Specurem can only make one Claw attack per turn. If both are destroyed, the Iyr Specurem can no longer make Claw attacks.

6: Body AC 19, 100 Health If destroyed, the Iyr Specurem dies.

Claw: (Melee Weapon Attack) +13 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d8+7) slashing damage

Bite: +11 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d6+7) slashing damage and 14 (2d6+7) radiant damage.

Obliterate (Recharge 5-6): The Iyr Specurem's head flashes a burning light in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw, taking 56 (16d6) radiant damage and being blinded for 3 turns on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Legendary Actions
Bite: The Iyr Specurem makes a Bite attack.

Flash: Everyone within 50 ft. of the Iyr Specurem must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be blinded for 3 turns.

Blink: The Iyr Specurem moves 50 ft. instantly.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Myconids - Everybody Else Has 'Em

Atavia - "What, is this the 5th project now?"

 Atavia is a mini-setting I'm making: condensing the most interesting parts of Age of the Ecclesiarchy (the thing with the Desolation in it) into a large island.

Atavia is divided into 4 baronies: Graam, in the top-left, Bös, in the top right, De Bahn to the right, and A'Tirae at the bottom.

Yeah, okay, great. What was that about myconids?


The top third of the map is the Motherland: an aboveground mushroom forest growing from the Mother Pillar, a 20-story tall fungus on the border of De Bahn and Bös. The area around the Mother Pillar is... unpleasant, let's say.

Myconids aren't very common in the Motherland: a sapient creature takes quite a lot of energy compared to something like a Shrieker. Because of the immense amount of material required to keep a Myconid alive, they aren't used for "menial" tasks, such as releasing spores: there are cheaper, easier fungi for that. Myconids are created specifically for communication: to be the pleasant, humanoid face of the inscrutable alien mind of the Motherland.
There is one issue with that, however: brains take up a lot of energy, which the Myconids can't store easily. Because of this, Myconids have a tiny memory: a small amount of Common, how to walk, and how to use their arms. This means that asked basically any question at all, they tell the questioner to stay where they are, and run off, looking for a Commune.

Communes are memory stores for the Motherland: they can't move and can't speak, but are connected to the Motherland. When a Myconid needs the answer to a question, a Commune absorbs it, writes the answer into the Myconid's "flesh" and spits it back out.

Myconid's don't last long: the whole "having a brain thing" burns them out after a couple days.

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

ZINES   "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 ...