Saturday, October 15, 2022

See It Descend Into - Premise & Classes

See It Descend Into is a megadungeon campaign I am, in theory, going to write and run.




The players are citizens of a nation undergoing colonization by the foreign Pentarchy, and attempt to recover and record archaeological information of the ancient stepwell-palace known as the Inverted Pyramid before the Pentarchy sends their own teams to strip it of anything of value and send it back to their capital to rot in a warehouse.

The Inverted Pyramid is filled with writing in the now-lost Dead Language, and decorated with murals, sculptures, and other artwork. XP comes not from the value of treasures looted from the Pyramid, but instead from analysis, with bonuses for taking photographs, translating inscriptions, and recording the context of the artifact. 

the stepwell Chand Baori, in Rajasthan


See It Descend Into is using a GLOG variation too generic to post here, and so far 4 classes - a Fighter (quite overtuned, as an experiment in hyper-specialized classes), an Explorer (a form of Thief entirely about trap management), a Quartermaster (general-purpose support class), and the Translator I posted last year.

One mechanical note is the prevalence of a damaged keyword - items can be damaged through strenuous or nonstandard uses (beating a door down with a crowbar, etc). Once damaged, they can be used once more before they break, but can be repaired in town or by Quartermasters.

The Fighter (stolen from deus ex parabola and Vayra)

The Fighter A: Subclass, Expertise, +1 to hit and damage B: Extra Attack, +1 to hit and damage C: Subclass II, +1 to hit and damage D: Extra Attack, +1 to hit and damage Δ: A Heavy, Iron Hand Subclass Choose between The Foreign Method and The Native Method. Gain its first bonus now, and its second at template C. The Foreign Method An altered form of the Pentarchy’s martial practices, taken up by rebels in the places that would not be Provinces. 1: You can damage a weapon to reroll its damage dice. 2: Stolen power from the Pentarchy’s divine bureaucracy lets you name a single specific action (attacking with swords, walking East) Illegal during combat. Everyone understands this declaration, even if they do not speak your, or any, language. You must immediately make a free attack against anyone committing an Illegal act - these attacks ignore maximum ranges. If you commit an Illegal act, you die instantly. The Native Method Once common, now rarely mastered in a world dominated by firearms and switchblades. With a few changes of your own, however, it still holds on. 1: You may fill up to [templates] inventory slots with muscle (+1 STR), sinew (+1 DEX) or fat (1 point of damage reduction), through a day of focused effort per slot filled, emptied, or changed. 2: You can take 1d4 damage and burn away one of your filled slots to: leap 20’ horizontally, make a pair of unarmed attacks immediately after another attack, throw a grappled target ten feet, and perform other feats. Expertise Whenever you hit someone with an attack, you can attempt a combat maneuver against them for free. Δ: A Heavy, Iron Hand Kill two foes with a single strike. All damage dice on all your weapons explode on their highest result. 1d6 wayward students will soon approach you, pledging their service in exchange for your teachings.

The Explorer (stolen from deus ex parabola and Michael)

A: Skilled, Click

B: Stay Away

C: Under Tension

D: Experienced

Δ: Steady Hands


Given a few minutes, you have a [templates]-in-6 chance to succeed at any of your Skills (any 2 of Climb Sheer Surfaces, Hear Noises, Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, and Pick Locks), in addition to normal resolution rules. 


If you set off a trap, you get to act before it goes off, but before it reveals what it does. Guessing a safe option (ducking under the hammer trap) protects you, guessing the wrong option (ducking into the spike pit) does not. Shoving another party member in the path of the trap is always an option.

Stay Away

You can invert your Skills, letting you roll to Render Walls Impassible, Move Silently, See in the Dark, Hear Noises, and Sabotage Doors.

Under Tension

If you already know there is a trap before you set it off (finding the pressure plate, but not knowing what it will do), you can make a Save - on a success, it doesn’t go off, but you know exactly what it would’ve done if it had. On a failure, you can still react with Click.


Choose another 2 skills out of the earlier list or these: Leaping Gaps, Running Away, Attacking Someone Who Can’t See You, Intuiting Thoughts, and Finding a Friend. These do not invert.

Δ: Steady Hands

Kill an enemy with a trap you built.

Once you have determined the presence of a trap, either using Under Tension or good gameplay, you can spend an Exploration Turn to completely extract it, so you can set it up elsewhere.

A stepwell in Karnataka

The Quartermaster (stolen from Skerples, Lexi, and Lexi again.)

A: Evaluate, Boarding School Education, +1 Inventory Slot

B: Prominence, Smithing, +1 Inventory Slot

C: Hidden Market, +1 Inventory Slot 

D: Craftsman, +1 Inventory Slot

Δ: Baron


You know the market value of any mundane item on sight. Unique items like ancient pottery require an Intelligence check to evaluate, and some magical items cannot be evaluated.

Boarding School Education

You know the language of the Pentarchy, letting you easily communicate with guards, foreign merchants, and colonial officials. You gain either +1 or +INT bonus, whichever is higher, to reaction rolls with these groups - they are delighted to see their “””civilizing influence”””.


When you meet someone, you can choose to be the most prominent person in the group or the least obvious person in the group. This doesn’t give you a mechanical bonus to stealth.


You can repair a simple item, including melee weapons, for free during a Rest.

Hidden Market

Items the colonial government has deemed illegal (firearms, drugs, etc.) can still be found and purchased. Roll 1d6 - on a 6, you find exactly what you want. On a 3-5, the item has an issue or condition (works poorly, the original owner wants it back, it’s twice as expensive, etc). On a 1-2, you find nothing.


You can repair up to three items during a Rest, including complex objects like firearms. 

Simple items repaired and upgraded by you get a bonus that lasts a day: armor gets +1 AC, weapons get +1 on attack rolls, lamps last an extra Turn, et cetera.

Δ: Baron

Invest 2,000 Notes into a piece of property to turn it into a successful business of your own.

Gain your choice of 100 Notes or a hireling (up to 3 at a time) each day. Expect insincere invitations to formal events, patronizing interviews from Pentarchy journalists, and near-constant attempts to buy your business out from under you for 1,000 Notes.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Orbiters Local 519 2e, now out on

Orbiters Local 519 is a sci-fi dungeoncrawler about disassembling derelict starships, made for open tables and one-shots. It has a focus on instability - as the players move through the derelict, it falls apart around them, with walls collapsing, pipes leaking, and entire rooms possibly separating from the core.

Along with natural damage, the players are given tools to change the environment themselves: welding torches, plasma cutters, explosives, and barricades.

The post-Kickstarter version found on now includes GM advice, an expanded bestiary, and a large ship generator that determines ship type, disaster, room contents, and more.

The image below links you to the game's page.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Quarter Hour of Writing Challenge: Curses

As explained here. Hit the button, get a prompt, spend 15 minutes flailing wildly at a keyboard.

While curses are common across folklore, modern eigentechnology has turned them into something almost unrecognizable, in the same way a surgical robot has few similarities to trepanation with a rock.

Curses are organized using a few tags:

1. Auditory/Visual/Esoteric: describes the way the curse is cast. Auditory and Visual are both self-explanatory, and Esoteric can range from using other senses (such as touch, or smell) to requiring particular stimulus such as emotional states.

2. "Pronounceability": since the first curses (since recorded as #101a and #105b) were both auditory, the incorrect term "pronounceability" is still used in research into curses. "Pronounceable" curses can be memorized and set up by human agents - Auditory Pronounceable curses being, literally, able to be said by a person, while Visual Pronounceable curses can be drawn by hand. Unpronounceable curses require outside tools such as computerized voices, digital screens, or a chorus of multiple people. Esoteric-method curses are usually unpronounceable. 

3. Targeted/Untargeted: targeted curses can be pointed at a single target, while leaving others in range unharmed. Untargeted curses affected everyone exposed to the stimulus.

4. Effect: curses usually have one of a few general effects: Fatal, Polymorphic, Amnestic, and Probabilistic are the most common, though others have been confirmed to exist. It is important to note that the modern term "curse" envelops positive effects - Polymorphic curses may reinforce bones, and Probabilistic curses may make the target unusually fortunate while travelling.

5. Cure: all non-Fatal curses will end after a certain period (often the next dusk or dawn, though these curses are often skipped over by the agencies developing them), and all curses can be reversed or deactivated in some way. Importantly, cures can "time out" - a Polymorphic (Rodent) curse may leave the target transformed permanently if not cured in the first week, for example. Cures for Fatal curses override standard human biology - performing the required actions will bring the target back to life & fully restored, no matter the condition of their body.

Curses may be built to go off in the future, instead of when applied. When creating these kinds of Geases, the cure is the most relevant piece - carefully tuning curses to accept only very specific actions is a rapidly growing job market.

Curse Examples

Curse #4201, Auditory, Pronounceable, Targeted, Fatal (Cardiovascular) made the CIA very happy indeed. A fatal spoken curse that only afflicted certain targets, and was easily pronounced and memorized by human agents, would have been the pinnacle of the hexing arts.

However, it turned out to be contagious. Anyone within earshot who wasn't the target of the curse would not only hear it, but recognize it, knowing both its exact wording, use, and who had spoken it.

This would, depending on the situation, either lead to the assassin immediately being struck by the curse four or five times over, cause a rash of "unexplained heart attacks" as a crowd of people suddenly become armed with a completely concealable and unilaterally lethal weapon, or both. 

Curse #4201 can be cured by injecting the deceased with a serum of mercury, crushed daffodil flowers, and exactly one (1) dead ladybug (family Coccinellidae). The cure times out after 23.75 hours.

Curse #576, Auditory, Unpronounceable, Untargeted, Polymorphic (Rodent) also temporarily showed promise. While a computerized voice was needed to speak its dozens of twisting syllables, and everyone in earshot was affected, it could have easily been used for capture missions - turn the target into a rat, stick them in a bag, and then wait for the curse to time out (as non-lethal curses tend to do).

The problem was that it timed out too quickly - as soon as the curse stopped being spoken, the person would switch back to a human. Since it affected everyone in its radius, it couldn't be played constantly without causing chaos.

Later use in prisons and for riot suppression were both banned on ethical grounds.

Friday, April 8, 2022


Best Case Scenario is a combination RPG and skirmish wargame by Deus ex Parabola. It has a vaguely SCP/Delta Green/etc inspired setting, and a set of combat rules that I find quite interesting.

One of my favorite parts is how each player plays as a team of 5 agents, similar to a funnel in DCC or similar games. This makes duet games, with 1 player and 1 GM, completely possible. In fact, both of the missions here: RED GRADIENT UNDERWORLD and SLOWLY SPINNING STATUES, are meant for a single player (though enemy counts and other statistics can be increased for more players).

Both adventures are just written in Google Docs and formatted with a little bit of bolding here and there, because why use effort when you can... not... do that? Additionally, RED GRADIENT UNDERWORLD has been playtested, and worked quite well.

In RED GRADIENT UNDERWORLD (CLOSED-EYE), the PCs are sent to sell a Liver to a group of Fleshgod Inheritors - a cult/gang who hope to eat all the pieces of their god Stel Alune, and mutate when these pieces are consumed. After making the sale, their mission is to trail the Inheritors back to their safehouse without being noticed, and then clear it, capturing or killing the Inheritors.

In SLOWLY SPINNING STATUES (OPEN-EYE), a team of bank robbers seem to possess an anomalous artifact, though they don't know how to use it (in Agency parlance, these sorts of people are known as "buttonmashers"). The local police have already arrived, and the PCs have been given cover as FBI agents. Legitimate FBI agents are on their way - don't let them take over the operation or see anything they shouldn't, then defuse the situation before the buttonmashers get themselves, or their hostages, killed.

By Scorpion141, on the SCP wiki

The lore of Best Case Scenario is being put together on the GLOG server piece by piece, in the anti-canon way best fitting an SCP-influenced game. Both scenarios above expect some knowledge of the setting, so here's some needed context pulled from the Discord:

The Agency/Organization is the group you work for, hoping to suppress and contain the supernatural, as well as knowledge of the supernatural. PCs are agents of the Organization - sometimes responding to an unnatural disaster, 

Depending on who's talking, the Organization may be connected to the U.S. government, a branch of the United Nations, or an independent private agency. Similarly, their scale and reach wanders up and down between versions. 

In my scenarios, the Agency is part of American intelligence, but buried. Their funding and tools come almost entirely by hidden means - a CIA accountant puts in an order for 35 rifles instead of the 30 they need, an NSA technician just happens to nudge a satellite on a route where it passes over an operation, et cetera. 

They maintain three containment facilities - a Low Security Warehouse in New York (for objects that do not require constant supervision), the High Security Center buried under a Superfund site in Idaho, and the Village in Oklahoma (for people adjacent to anomalies, and Strangers - anomalous humanoids able to communicate and cooperate).

CLOSED-EYE, OPEN-EYE, and THIRD-EYE are designations for the publicity of a mission. Generally, CLOSED-EYE missions are meant to be completed without bystanders recognizing the Agents are anything out of the ordinary. Agents are usually provided with plain clothes and concealed weapons, but CLOSED-EYE operations in remote areas could allow more equipment.

OPEN-EYE allows Agents to publicly act - in these scenarios, they are generally provided false documentation as FBI agents, SWAT teams, or other government actors. As well as more obvious equipment (explosives, armored vehicles, etc.), OPEN-EYE permits more interaction with the public - interrogating witnesses, procuring assistance from local police, etc.

THIRD-EYE operations are rare, only undertaken when the threat of the anomaly is more dangerous to the Organization than the publicity gained could be. Equipment accepted during THIRD-EYE operations goes up to, and including, small-scale nuclear weapons. The Organization may directly broadcast evacuation instructions and similar things to civilians in the area. 

Importantly, these designations are unrelated to the danger of a mission. Confronting an identical Star-Cult compound could be CLOSED-EYE if it was in the middle of a city with an uncooperative police force, or THIRD-EYE if it was deep in the Arizona desert.

Bits of slang have also sprouted up in discussions of Best Case Scenario - here's a list, curated and defined by deus ex parabola, and included here because Discord conversations about the game use a worryingly wide array of them, and I expect future modules will do the same.

bogey - a human combatant

spookum - a non-human combatant

boojum - a spookum that is much more dangerous than we hoped

spook hive - many spookums in one place

Charlie-Foxtrot - a fireteam op. in normal military slang this is a mission that's gone to shit: any mission a fireteam is involved in is already a clusterfuck

Delta-Mike - the voice on the other end of the phone, your trusted friend who tells you where to go and who to shoot 

trashbaggers - non-combat teams responsible for cleanup of mission sites and lying to the police and media

friendly - an ally 

zendik - a traitor

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Orbiters Local 519 2e, now funding on Kickstarter!

Orbiters Local 519, the sci-fi dungeoncrawler I released last April, is getting an updated release on Kickstarter.

The new edition keeps the streamlined, Event Die-based exploration of the original, while updating the classes to give more interesting choices and expanding the GM's toolkit with derelict generators and an expanded bestiary. 

Additionally, the new edition is built with open tables in mind, supporting that playstyle by, for example, tracking required resources like Oxygen tracked on a derelict-to-derelict basis; on the start of your shift, you get a certain amount. When you're done, whatever's left over is confiscated by the Company. This helps ease the amount of bookkeeping required as players (and the equipment they own) come in and out.

The new edition also includes art by Locheil, of the Nothic's Eye, and layout by kahva, of Anywhither.

Click on the image below to see the Kickstarter page, which includes a more detailed pitch of the new edition.

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...