Monday, October 31, 2011

What You Did While You Were a Werewolf

Who wouldn't want to be a lycanthrope?  You get strength, invulnerability, near immortality for just a bit of anger issues.  Point your aggression at foes and it's win-win.  But, what if characters that catch lycanthropy have no control over it whatsoever and in fact only learn after the fact what they did while changed.  This seems more in line with the original folklore than later Hollywood and D&D renditions.  I'm imagining this as a Rientsian carousal type table.  Some ideas:

  1. Killed the party's livestock
  2. Killed all the livestock in a campaign hex
  3. Killed a party member's animal friend
  4. Killed a random hireling
  5. Smashed up the local tavern/hangout
  6. Infected a family member
  7. Killed the local priest/clergy
  8. Infected the local priest/clergy
  9. Killed the local ruler
  10. Infected the local ruler
  11. Wake up next to unconscious young person (infected?)
  12. Wake up next to unconscious child(ren) (infected?)
  13. Wake up next to sleeping animal of lycanthropy type
  14. Wake up in a bell tower
  15. Wake up under a bridge
  16. Wake up on a an altar
  17. Stashed bodies in a bell tower
  18. Stashed bodies under a bridge
  19. Left bodies on a an altar
  20. Infected all of a local orphanage
  21. Infected all of a local brothel
  22. Destroyed local apothecary gardens, good luck finding healing/potions
  23. Accidentally set fire to childhood home/friend's home
  24. Accidentally set fire to local place of worship
  25. All your equipment is missing/scattered
  26. Accidentally set fire to the docks
  27. Dug up a corpse from local cemetery and brought it back with you
  28. Dug up all dead in local cemetery
  29. Slaughtered a city guard patrol
  30. Let yourself be seen clearly from the highest point nearby, hunted now


  1. Yeah - lycanthropy should be some good chaotic fun and the curse that it is... Owwwwooooooooo!

  2. Great idea for the all-encompassing book of tables!

  3. Random tables are an interesting option to handling lycanthropy, rather than just making the character into an NPC.

  4. This is a really good idea!

    I think it probably needs a bit more work to be really usable:
    Maybe seperating out the location with a general "where do you wake up" roll dependent on the area you are in, (I like the "scatter dice on a map then pick the highest" method myself) so you can use it in different kinds of settlement, and a "what signs of shameful deeds are there" roll. If they don't fit the location, perhaps you brought them with you!

    That way if you get "sacreligious" and "temple", you're on the altar, if you get "sacreligious" and "farmers barn" perhaps you wake up in an empty barn with a broken door, with one of the statues from the roof of the temple, cracked and scored with tooth marks as if you were hunting it.

  5. Thanks. Yeah, you could make a roll all the dice chart with more abstracted categories: who did it involve, what was done, etc. You could also have a "where did it happen?" category, or use the drop technique you mention and roll them all on the map and use that to determine location at the same time.

  6. "who did it involve" yeah that's a good idea.

    I was pondering with my last idea how the GM should set the magnitude of the event socially, and so determine it's consequences. In your table it's easy, consequences are built in. My one intentionally only implies colour, "what do you see" vs "what was done", so as to give space for the GM to smooth it in.

    But that still leaves it up to the GM how extreme the consequences are, which is almost taking you back to square one! I don't want to decide how bad it is to be a werewolf today, I want to roll for it!

    So maybe you could have a roll that sets social emphasis, something like:

    1-5: Effects poor people in the immediate area, but will probably be quickly forgotten
    6-10: Effects poor people in the immediate area, and will be remembered for a while.
    11: Effects poor people in the immediate area, perminant significant loss.
    12-13: Upsets someone influential, but they can recover from it quickly
    14-15: Upsets someone influential, but they'll hold a grudge if they find out you did it.
    16: Perminantly disadvantage somone influential, and they'll want who ever did this to /pay/.
    17: Disrespects, or damages an obvious pillar of the community, public compensation and apology will be expected.
    18: Damages a pillar of the community, permanent loss of reputation for the group.
    19: Damages the parties own resources, a few days adventure will put it right.
    20: Damages the parties own resources, and serious questing will be required to fix it.

    As you can see, it's 50/50 whether it does something really bad, but basically in the short term even those low rolls will build up into community anger.

  7. But I wonder whether this kind of approach is too "blasted werewolves in my crops again", not enough "what is that horrific thing on the roof". It's almost like I've made a table for going on a bender, rather than one for being a werewolf!

    I suppose you could make it so that the lower rolls just produce contradictory rumours, so you don't know exactly what you did..

  8. I think this is a really good example of two common types of random tables. Zak lays out a taxonomy here:

    The first table, like Jeff's for carousing is trying to be complete-- a one stop shop for all your werewolf needs. So in making it I tried to think of all the most interesting results I could that would also have certain qualities I deemed important 1) they would make PCs not like being a werewolf 2) mostly because they would be bad things done to others without the PC getting to make a choice 3) animal like 4) also, creepy, always creepy.

    The problem, as you notice, is that it constrains the DM because it's so specific and can get repetitive if used more than every now and then. It's also limited by my creativity at the time-- there are certainly other crazy cool possibilities I haven't thought of.

    The solution you seem to be working toward is what Zak calls a breeder, you have multiple results that when mashed together and interpreted give you far more range than the complete table. I called these spurs and most of my roll all the dice tables are trying to do this. (I'd make one now but just don't have the brain cycles.)

    The trick seems to be to abstract out the proper categories. We already started mentioning some. So for players losing their minds and causing problems we might have:

    where did you wake up the next day
    what stuff happened: sacrilege, economic
    How severe was that stuff
    Who was involved
    where did it happen
    who saw/knows about it
    How severe will the consequences/repercussions be

    For a roll all the dice you have 6 categories, if we use the dice roll itself to tell us the two locations (highest and lowest results) on the city map, like you suggest, we could have some other category maybe specific NPC in addition to a general group for the "who"? Or, you might have "Type of consequences," armed searchers, curfew, magic searchers, etc.

    Anyway, that would give you every result you might want but it requires you to figure out what the difference would be between a severity of 8 and of 6 and what does "economic" damage mean in this particular location. But you might decide on some guidelines. My hireling traits has a "how foreign are they?" category and when the result is high enough I say they don't speak common, half of that is a serious accent, etc.

    Anyway, thanks for the comments. A pleasure to think of something besides work.

  9. Thanks, that makes a lot of sense! I do tend to prefer simulationist/breeder/inspirational hybrid generators, but I can really see the point of the "crazy creative stuff" ones: Straight interesting answer, and then on with the session. Swoosh!

    Whereas the other way you get a cute little subsystem to spark the GM's brain. May take a little longer but it suits times when you want to do the creative bit but you need a leg up.

    Do you roll up a few hirelings before people hire them, so they can choose who to hire? Course it could be quite hillarious to find out you somehow accidentaly hired a blind man who doesn't speak common.

    I've got a few more things wurbling around my head about this werewolf thing, but they haven't come to anything yet.

  10. At Jeff Rients' suggestion I have my players roll (they can always back out if they want but they've spent the search fee) to often hilarious results. A bachelor party game had a hireling with no feet hobbling on crutches into the ziggurat with the party and even getting a few combat hits in. Also, one flaw of my chart is that females tend to get a lot of facial hair. :) A lot of foreign mercenaries that don't speak common are challenging for players to give instructions to. No one blind yet though.

  11. Great chart! I'm wondering how this would effect a DP's petitioning ability.

  12. Thanks, off the top of my head, I might rule that it's sorta like an addict-- what you did when out of your mind isn't necessarily on you, but once your head clears you better work towards making it not happen again, and do the best to right the wrongs you can. Of course that's for a Judeo-Christian kind of god that my Allfather is, other powers would view the situation differently.