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

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.

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.

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


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.

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.

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

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.

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


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.


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).

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...