Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Silhouettes XLVIII

For your charts, maps, and player handouts, these are all public domain, so use them as you wish.

A wild dog, rabid dog, or wolf:

And with all the insects I posted last year I never got in a praying mantis:
A Viking warrior on horseback:
and another priest or wizard calling for a spell:

These have all been added as vector graphics to the zip file linked in my sidebar to the right.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Two Cool Things

Hubert Duprat took caddis fly larvae and let them build their cocoons with precious materials.  What if dragon young weren't lizards but grub-like things that did this?   (via Boing Boing)

This is a triple gear designed by mathematicians Saul Schleimer, Henry Segerman.  All three gears actually rotate.  Maybe the hearts of constructs look like this.  (via Metafilter)

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Sort of shaped like this
I'll drop the in-game prose and just talk at you as a DM for this one.  I thought it would be cool to have religious hermits that, rather than living atop poles, lived down in holes.  Not caves-- think a bottle-shape carved from sandstone, the eremite living below with food lowered down and waste pulled out.

Now imagine a community of these holes close together.  They would probably do that to make it easier on the support folks.  Or maybe the support folks get inspired and carve out their own cells nearby.

  Now imagine all the support folk die of plague.  Or a war causes them to flee.  Plenty of creepy implications for our eremites.  Years later, players visit the valley/cave with all the hermit holes.  Some are filled with water.  Some have undead in them.  But all have a chance for holding holy items and texts.  Some might have mini libraries (no reason these hole dwellers need to be completely ascetic, maybe living underground is more symbolic).

You end up with something like B1's magic pools for players to investigate.  And I'm always interested in trying to put players in positions where they feel vulnerable as they explore-- like going down a hole alone.  Or, worse yet, submerging themselves in a water-filled hole.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


These men and women are always found in bustling, lively, people-filled places.  Taverns and brothels, smithies and guardrooms--They smile, remain quiet, and seem to thrive amidst the noise.  Perhaps their mystic energy is so strong, to meditate on it in silence would cause them to ascend.  Perhaps they are demons and undistracted contemplation would cause them take their true form.  Whatever the cause, they are loathe to be alone.  But their time among people gives them great insight.  Anthony the Lesser was said to know every secret desire from watching a person's gait.  Teresa Albina was said to know the number of days till a person's next sickness, next love, and eventual death on first sight. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Misc VI

Wake in Another World
When an adventuring party sleeps they awake in a different dungeon.  It is a real place, not a dream.  When they sleep there they awake back in their first world.  How long does this go on?  What caused it?  What interesting things can be done with alternating one-day time limits?

Next level of the idea is that when there is a TPK the party wakes up somewhere else, another world, and they are changed.

Construct Class
You are a statue.  You start play with ~5 HD and all the related bonuses.  You never go up in level, however.  And you do not heal.  I wonder if balancing power with a limited total amount of life would be an interesting challenge for experienced players.

Option one is to allow "upgrades" by purchasing enchantments and smithing/stone work.  Essentially you could "level" by using gp as xp.

Class as Race
Entering a profession in this weird world changes you physically.  Wizards gradually become wizened, sexless things.  Fighters grow in size and brawn up.  Rogues become thinner and harder to see in shadows.  Changing class might require surgery or at least prolonged sickness.

Class as Lifestage
In this weird world everyone starts as a rogue.  When they die, they transform into fighters.  And when they die in that form they transform into wizards.  The order can vary according to your taste, but all are stages in the life arc of one creature.  What will the final death reveal?

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Astronomers

They worship in ziggurats of yellow brick.  Inside of these are thousands of tiny, brass plaques.  Each of these is a binding ascertained through the study of extinct constellations.  On each is written a required offering and its reward.  The reward is not described, but a destination given in time and space for its retrieval.  An offering might be anything from a copper coin to a life.  A reward might be anything from wealth raining from the sky to a quiet voice that answers three questions.  The times of granting run from long past to far in the future.  It is possible that a visitor exploring the ruins of the Astronomers can still find some of these that are yet to come to pass.  But some scholars warn that doubling an offering will break a binding, resulting in chaos, and it's hard to know what those in the past have offered.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Crude Magic

The idea of a teleport spell that doesn't cleanly and efficiently move you from point A to point B, but instead swaps chunks of the ground you are standing on got me thinking what if spells in general were more clunky?

How about a magic missile that requires you to carry around a full-size golden arrow and then throw it at your target to activate the spell.  Afterwards you have to go retrieve the thing.

This is similar to requiring material components or making spells more ritual-like.  But I'm also interested in making them weirder, and not so clean and science-like.  

Maybe putting creatures to sleep means your party will be awake all night because the sleep of your own party was used in an exchange. 

To charm someone you need to get them to eat some food you prepared (that sounds familiar did I blog about that before?).

To read languages means you gain the ability to use that language like a native but can only speak that language for the duration.

To shrink yourself creates a pile of fatty, excess meat that awaits your transformation back to normal size.

To fly actually summons two invisible angels that pull you about on invisible cords.  You must speak the language of the angels to navigate or there is no telling where they may decide you need to go.

Continual light requires clenching a bit of coal and fat in your fist, continuously.

Okay, got to get back to work.  Leave your examples of weird, messy, unexpected versions of traditional D&D spells below.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Palimpsest Plains

Here's an idea for a campaign setting.  Thousands of years ago everything was green and shire-like.  People were happy as hobbits.  Then a wizard discovered a way to teleport from one place to another by switching the land you are standing on with that of your destination. 

It was soon discovered that this was very useful for transporting troops.  The chunks or land that were cored and swapped became larger and were swapped from farther away.  Soon these wars spread to other planes and the cores of landscape that overlayed one another became more and more foreign.

Traveling across the plains you might encounter a circle of sand dunes, a perfectly circular salt lake, or geysers of molten steel.  These might be spread about like pock marks or each, nestled within another like rings on a target, or just overlapping like a surreal Venn diagram.

Centuries pass.  Humans have grown accustomed to living in this patchwork world-- fishing the circle lakes, casting the molten steel.  Others have become Restorationists, they long for the great olden days of green beauty (that they never personally saw) and have begun the means to magically return the land to the way it was.  But the people living in these pockets of strange land call them home now and will fight to the death to keep their land from being destroyed or moved. 

Complicate this with the fact that there are Purists within patches that want their swath of land rid of unsightly pockets of other geography.  So, the people of the circular sands would love to be rid of the patch of coral-like pink rock that juts from their sandy land to the edge of space.  But the humans that live there will fight to the death to protect their Reefhome.  But the Reefhomers might ally with the Sand dwellers against the Restorationists.

Of course the shapes don't have to be perfect circles they could be weird jagged shapes or even geometric shapes tied to particular mages.  So the triangular patches were all teleports by the dreaded Angus the ugly.

This would do away with any need to make geography on the hexmap make natural sense.  It would give you a good reason to come up with the weirdest other-planar landscapes you could and it would have built in reasons for wars all over the map.

Thanks to Mr. Richard for the idea spur.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Golden Cultist

No go on that last one?  How about this one:

Name: Anexemander, The Golden Cultist, god of lost causes
Symbol: sword broken off at the hilt
Alignment: Lawful (Evil)
Movement: 90' (30')
AC: 4
HP (HD): 50 (10 HD)
Attacks: 1
Damage: Save versus death on hit
Save:  MU15
Morale: 2
Hoard Class: IX
XP: 5,000

Anexemander if seen in his true form is an aged man with a blindfold that has slipped from across his eyes to cover his mouth.  He was was blind to the truth of the futility of things but can now see.  In seeing he is mute to warn others.  He normally appears in different human forms, male and female.  He works his way into small cults and secret societies. He is the perfect, the Golden Cultist, faithful, unquestioning, generous and trustworthy-- to a point.  Cults he has secreted himself in will gain a ten-fold increase in followers in a matter of weeks.  After a month Anexemander will publicly assassinate the head of the cult, whether mortal or god.  His sword is nothing but the jagged remnants of a blade jutting from a hilt but will cause death in one week to any it hits.

Any in a particularly hopeless situation that call on him may gain aid in the form of a bonus to save or no opportunities.  But his favorite aid is to send tens of followers streaming to the lost cause of those calling for aid.


Why do these gods all have hoard classes?  Some could have lairs, but for those moving around, do they have a bunch of golden swag around their necks?  Are they magic items they should be using when in battle?  I don't know, but all the petty gods have them so I gave this guy one.  His treasure might be more fitting if it was in the form of some kind of 99%-chance-of-being-worthless promisary notes or IOUs.

Again why the Lawful (Evil) alignment, what the heck Telecanter don't you understand the whole war against chaos trope?  I know, I know, see what it means here is that this god is very predictable, he will do the same things like clockwork but those things involve abusing trust and destruction.  He is the worst kind of evil- that which unknowingly works against his own ends.  I don't have alignment in my own game because it is such a simplification that doesn't really add any value to the game for me.  But if it's a problem just consider this dude (and the last) on the side of CHAOS.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Her Name Forgotten

Name: Her Name Forgotten / His Name Forgotten
Symbol: Smoke of Gold
Alignment: Lawful (Evil)
Movement: ~
AC: ~
HP (HD): ~
Attacks: ~
Damage: ~
Save:  MU17
Morale: ~
Hoard Class: -
XP: ~

This may be a Hoax.  A god of forgotten gods.  They say if you kill a god and place its remnants in the perfect spot, golden smoke will consume them and bestow a wish as a reward.  They say each godling slain grants another wish.  They say that a voice, first just a whisper, will drift from the smoke and grow louder with each sacrifice, until it begins making it's will known.

What might happen is that this entity, so weak it has almost become only memory, will take on the best stats of each godlet fed to it.  What might happen is that the god of forgotten gods has golden cultists embedded in many other cults ready to observe the actions of the pcs.  What might happen is that this turns out to really be a manifestation of some other petty god such as: Machuk the Smith, Rosartia, Undek, or Vydia.

How's that for a cop-out petty god?  I don't know, there's something in me that hates nailing something down to specifics.  I want some uncertainty.  Some room for each DM to make it their own.  So, you could make it a real thing that becomes more and more powerful the more the pcs feed it or something else; a rumor meant to hide something, a test by a different petty god, a feud between two of them.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Petty Gods

If you haven't heard yet, go here and download the free pdf.  I've mentioned before that Unknown Gods, the old school product this was riffing on, was a supplement I'd completely missed growing up.  And my view of gods as a young gamer was shaped primarily by actual mythologies and the Dieties & Demigods concept of competing pantheons. 

But the swords and sorcery type game I want to run these days really works better peppered with this idea of small and forgotten gods, like those of the perpetually realigning gods in Lankhmar, which I encountered later on and love.

While some of the gods included are pretty much just jokes and would probably not be of use in the tone of campaign I run, there are still tons of possibilities in Petty Gods even for folks like me.

Aside from adventure hooks that utilize individual godlets, two campaign backgrounds immediately spring to mind:

Street of Forgotten Gods
Set up a central city with a god of forgotten gods, or a god of collecting what's lost.  Then have their priests (or hell, their speaking two-headed goat avatar) offer players opportunities to travel all over a sand box to investigate leads and rumors of things being worshiped by isolated minorities.  The goal could be to discover the nature and proper methods of worship or to even bring back artifacts.  It would function like a Library of del la Torre

Hit List for the Golden Cult
Because many of these are set up as entities that can be encountered physically, fought, and killed, I suppose, conversely, you might have a central religion interested in completely obliterating all remnants of such gods. 

Anyway, thanks to all involved I've already gotten a lot of ideas just skimming through it this morning.  Also, keep an eye on Gorgonmilk's blog because a new and expanded edition is in the works.