Friday, April 3, 2020

[Class] Childcatcher

Childcatchers are an uncommon profession. They are usually employed by evil witches, tyrannical governments, or cruel authorities looking to prosecute the youth. Dark ritualists may also keep a Childcatcher around to keep up the fresh sacrifices. It should also be said that Childcatchers don't necessarily have to hunt all children, just the bad ones- races suffer from prejudice or half-breeds may be rooted out from certain societies. Regardless of the reason; they are infamous and are not likely to make many friends, even among the morally dubious "adventurer" types.

The main powers of the Childcatcher revolve around children. In this case, “Children” are considered too young to be their own people, but older then a helpless infant. Old enough to run away, either on their own or with assistance, but not old enough to be an adult. If you want to catch a runaway adult slave, you call a slave hunter. If you want to catch a runaway child slave, then you call the Childcatcher. The age range for your abilities work on children between the ages of 4 to 12 years old. You can stretch a little into ages outside this range depending on your level, but your abilities are weakened or lost entirely once the child gets too old.

The Childcatcher @MGM Pictures
HD- d8
Max AC- 14 / Minimum Hit-Points- 3

You are a Childcatcher. You hunt runaway brats, or add these abilities to the arsenal of a team of very diverse and morally duplicitous people. Rarely, childish monsters can be the subject of your abilities- this does not apply to monster children, only monsters who act and take the forms of children, like a zombie kid or evil midget.

You're quite fast. Your minimum Dexterity score is equal to your level. This bonus starts as inconsequential but will eventually mean that high level Childcatchers will be around average Dexterity even if they aren't the type for it; simply to get your hands and feet to the places the little ones try to run and hide.

Your main tools are the net, cage, traps, and leather bolas. You do not use clubs to beat and incapacitate, as these are too harsh for small childish bodies to endure. You're also skilled in trickery- Childcatchers often catch children with promises of candy or games. You gain a bonus of +1 to reaction checks with children who you are trying to catch, and this ability also grants you a reaction check even with children who are trying to avoid or are smart enough to know you're hunting them. This bonus to reaction checks increases at 3rd, 6th, and 9th level.

Childcatchers gain bonuses with the above weapons even against adults; though they tend to be inappropriately sized and not as easy to contain as a trapped kid. You gain +1 to hit with ranged weapons at 2nd and 8th level, and enemies get a -1 to saves to break free from any trap, cage, or net you've got them in. This negative gets worse for them every odd level past the first, maxing out at a -5 at 9th level.

Finally; you can detect Children. You can trace sticky fingered little brats by the nose at 5th level, giving you a range of smelling a Child up to 30 ft and through permeable barriers. At 10th level this bonus increases to 50 ft and gets even more precise- you can tell the stink of where a child has been or the smell of children of different races, as well as more esoteric aromas, such as a child who is an orphan or one that has a fairy godmother and the like.

At 10th level, you become a Childcatching Master. Beyond the abilities awarded to you from your other moves, you have advanced to a point where you are educating other Childcatchers and will almost certainly have opportunities to serve the most powerful beings of the realm who wish to use your services. Along with this, up to 1d4+1 Childcatcher apprentices will join you- your normal hirelings can also advance into the career if you so wish it, but most lose their other class levels first, only keeping their HD if it was higher. You also gain the power to squeeze your head and chest into places where an adult normally can't fit- letting you access hideouts for little sprouts.

Finally; your abilities as a Childcatcher make you an infamous boogeyman for children everywhere. As long as a child is scared of you, you can bypass any magical protections or wards that protect them, though not if the adult who cast them is present. However this ability is a double edged sword; attacks done by children who are fighting back normally deal 1 damage or less to adults of other classes, but to you these attacks deal 1d4 damage from the fighting spirit of any resistant brat who tries to stop you; an uprising of child slaves or a jailbreak could mean your death.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

[Class] Build Crafter

Terraria @Re-Logic
Build Crafter
Maximum AC- 22 / Minimum Starting Hit-Points- 6

The build-crafter is not a normal person. They appear in the world seemingly out of the aether, and have an obsession with building, mining, crafting, and other tasks to gain mastery over the land. Buildcrafters can technically roam anywhere, but most spend their time building fortresses and improving the quality of their gear. They almost never speak or sleep, rarely eat except on the move, and seem strangely unphased by the weather or attacks by monsters and wild animals. They rarely speak to anyone, but can communicate if needed.

Unlike other classes, the Build Crafter does not level up. Instead, their power is based entirely on their equipment. Give them a starting AC of 10 and a to-hit and damage bonus of +0. They gain no bonuses to saves, and begin only wearing basic clothing. With each full set of armor they craft and wear, their defensive power increases. With each weapon they craft and use, their offensive power increases along with it, regardless of the weapon's stats. Use the tier list below to determine what materials are worth what grades and levels. The To-Hit Bonus applies as magic, with the second bonus number only applying to damage when the materials get truly insane in quality.

None/improvised, or equipment made by others.
Wooden or bones.
Stone, obsidian, horn.
Basic bronze or improvised metals like tin and copper.
Basic Iron
Damascus Iron / Sacred Copper
Glowsteel / Meteorite Ore
Deep Iron / Magical Alloyed Steel
Mithril or Adamantine
Stone of the Firmament / Cloudstuff spun into bowstrings
Pure Elemental Essences / Forged Starlight
Divine Ores or Cosmic Energies shaped into steel and scale

The Build-Crafter is a skilled laborer with supernatural ability to shape the land and perform heavy work. They by default work as hard and fast as three men working on a single task for basic labor all by themselves, which is further increased by whatever tools they are using. This means a Build-Crafter with a basic iron shovel may be able to clear and level a field in a few hours what would take a team of men a full day. With a magical mithril pickaxe a Build-Crafter could hollow out a mountain with some time, gathering all the raw ore and gems needed for their projects. However- to gather a material, you must have a tool of the material's tier or one less at least.

The Build-Crafters hit points are determined by their largest fortress or home, which they do not need to be in just simply kept clear of invaders or monsters inhabiting it to gain its benefit. For each tier of home, the Build Crafter gains an additional +1d6 hit points. Use the average tier of their fortress, armor, weapon, and accessories put together to determine the build-crafters HD for the purposes of spell resistance and magic item egos.

No structure, or reliant on accommodations provided by others.
One room hut, or structure built into a natural cave.
Large one-room house or cabin or furnished small cave system.
Three room house made of at least wood.
Two story house made of at least wood.
Three room house made of at least stone.
Two story house made of stone or shale.
Wooden fortress w/moat or tower
Stone “box” castle or megastructure of wood.
Castle fortress with at least two towers, made of stone.
Three or more layers of walls and stone, or a small fort made of exotic material.
Castle fortress with adjoining forts and dungeon, or made with exotic material.
Multi-layered stone city with many buildings and towers.
Large castle made of supernatural material- never melting ice, hellrock, etc.
Flying Castle Island or Megatropolis

Finally; Build Crafters do not use equipment and tools built by others the vast majority of the time, they must create them themselves. The exception are other Build-Crafter beings, who will sometimes team up in wordless agreement to accomplish some huge project, or they may even kill each other to steal their equipment. Fights between build crafters can be terrifying for anyone else; they may take cover in a stone walled castle simply to have the other break through the side with a pickaxe, or create traps of explosive material to kill their foes and creating each holes in the ground.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

[Class] Asshole

HD- d8
Max AC- 14 / Minimum Hit-Points- 2

If you play this class, you're an asshole. If your DM lets you play this class, he's an even bigger asshole. If you dislike using a swearword as a name, call it a “Craven” instead.

You are a bit of a mix of a Fighter and Thief. You pick locks as a Rogue two levels below your own, and gain +1 to hit at 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th level. You may also add this bonus to your damage if you are using an underhanded tactic- aiming for the groin, throwing glass shards in the eyes, coating your weapon in poison or sewage, etc.

The Asshole is a coward. They are cheats, backstabbers, and bastards the lot of them. Once per session per Asshole level, you may put another player character into a spot to gain an advantage. Jump behind them during combat to make them take a hit meant for you, shove them down the ladder so you can succeed your saving throw to avoiding the trap, or “borrowing” something of theirs which they are not allowed to take back unless you give it back, such as a magic item or valuable treasure.

At 10th level, you become a Self Righteous Asshole. You are granted an estate for your “deeds” and “heroism”, and are put in charge of a retinue or 20 loyal and gullible dullards. These dullards are larger and stronger then normal men, most will be half ogre or from a giant bloodline, but are loyal to a fault. If they are ever shown and proven your treachery to them however, they will rip you apart.

As a Self Righteous Asshole, you gain the ability to enforce your morality on others- as you have “proven” your worth so many times before. Any infraction of the law or morality can be punished as swiftly or harshly as you deem to your subjects- you are quick to become a very cruel lord. You can never be punished by an authority figure higher then yourself, even the church or king, as you will always side step responsibility and appear as noble as you can be to them. However once you become a Self-Righteous Asshole; upon death your soul will be claimed and fought over by so many demons, devils, and judgmental gods that you cannot be resurrected.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

On Numen

There is a force in the universe behind the presence of people. It is the force behind commands, requests, manners, ranks, titles, and the relationships between people- but this force exists on a cosmic level. As you grow in importance, this power grows with you. It could be thought that this power IS your skill, daring, luck, power, and strength all in one, or is a result of growing these, or is the force from which all of these things flow. I am course referring to Numen.

Numen is the power in the voice that makes things obey. Numen is not necessarily a tool of tyrants or conquerors; the calm voice over a storm to calm the nerves or to lead a troop in glorious battle are both uses of the art. Most Numen is expressed through the spoken word, but not always. It is the way and reason why some people just seem to fill the room with their presence. Why you can see someone by how they “carry” themselves and they just seem important, or powerful, or kind, or dangerous. Numen is power personified.

The more powerful one becomes, the more powerful this becomes. The power of even common folk to hold undead at bay through sheer belief is a use of Numen- though this is closer to borrowing the Numen of a stalwart deity then using yourself. At first, Numen's effects are subtle, limited to those with understanding, but eventually, fate can be bent. Even greater beings command even greater forces. Cultures with great high kings may see their rulers commanding barren trees to give fruit, or calling the rain down, or calling for the true criminal to be found, and these things will so happen. If not directly, through happenstance, but the more powerful the individual is, the more obvious and rapidly things will obey their wishes.

At the command of a God- rivers stop and storms are tempered. Wars cease and men stand still. This power is not sorcery. The God isn't brewing a potion or speaking a spell incantation, they merely raise their hand and the world obeys. This is because the Numen of a God is simply that powerful; they do not require droll magic to perform this act.

It is also the power behind the highest wizards, demonic forces, and heroic super-men. When a Wizard flicks his wrist to slam the windows shut, it is not a spell doing it, truly, but the man's decades of cultivation of his Numen. Intentional or otherwise, Numen grows through experience, hardship, and training. It is akin to ki/qi/chi. It is level ups and experience points justified in a fantasy world.

Numen doesn't need to be quite as deep as all of the above though; you can think of it as bullshit factor. Maybe your players wants to do something dumb, like wear a mass of chains around their body and get stated as chainmail. At level one? That's bullshit. But at level eight? Max level? “Higher”? Why not? At that point, just let them have it. I don't see the point in entrenching realism in a high fantasy game world, especially characters that are growing to such a point. Instead of the only vector of their growth being in their stats, skills, and HD, let the world around them bend a little bit. This is Xianxia cultivation, not reality.

Magic items are influenced by Numen. So are the “themes” of a character. The north-man viking guy can totally channel the cold wind of the north to blow your ship around the icebergs, but somebody else in the party couldn't. Gods likewise have power over their specific aspects most of all. Any God can transform a disobedient mortal into a monster or animal or whatever, but only the God of Fire can make a volcano explode or turn somebody into a volcano. That takes mojo. Also, if you don't like the name “Numen” and think it's too Romanish for your fantasy setting, just use Mojo instead. That's just as good, if not better.

Extra Uses of Numen
[1] Vague/cheaty equipment uses. Welding two axe blades to the end of a “walking stick” to make an improvised battle axe that wizards can use?

[2] Pour your essence into a magic item and control people like Sauron. Beings with enough Numen don't die the first time around for this reason, hence why “Mortals” and “Immortals” are totally different breeds of people.

[3] Purely flavor movement/unimportant mechanics. I've never understood why people get annoyed when the Rogue player wants to do backflips. If the mechanics are the same as moving, and especially if the combat is theater of the mind, this literally does not matter in the slightest. The Rogue has 16+ Dex and is level 5? He can do backflips and slash people on the way down. Don't even need to change his to-hit and AC. Just play the game.

[4] The presence. When a weird old man wanders into the King's court, but yet everyone seems to want to listen to him anyway? It's the power of his wisdom and Numen. Normally they'd write off the old cot as an insane loony, but Numen forces people to look past appearances.

[???] Same as the one right above but specific to a character. The big reveal. When your character gets their mask pulled off and everyone KNOWS who it is despite these societies not having photographs or it being literally years since you saw someone but they instantly jump into your mind. Odysseus returning from the Iliad and all that.

[5] Intimdiation Checks. Instead of rolling or adding in an extra ruling for it, whoever has higher Numen can force the other one to look away. Especially if done through eye contact.

[6] When a dog/robot/magic item has to choose between two masters, it will pick the one with the greatest Numen.

[7] In universe fact checking or power level scanning. You take a look at the guy's Numen aura energy or hear his voice and can just tell he's a 7th level Fighter with x and y special moves.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Hedge Wizard Spells - 8 Spells

(All art, names, and ideas were taken from listening to this album.)
[1] Ancient Vibrations
This spell can be cast on people or objects. If cast on a person, it reawakens a long since atrophied and dormant part of their body which can let them vibrate at a specific frequency. This vibration acts as unique identifier for that person's bloodline, as closely related people have similar vibrations, and can be used to do things like open old ancestral tombs or secret stone lockboxes.

Secondly, if cast on an object, this spell causes it to rattle with the secret lore of olden times. For most objects, this makes them have a +1 to hit or AC for a single round such if used on a sword, shield, or helmet, but it falls away or you drop it after each round you use it from its rapid movement. The one exception to this are instruments. If cast on an instrument, the instrument can be used to shatter apart a stone wall or rampart; creating an opening where men could pass through if the other side is clear. This only works on walls of a thickness equal to or less then a typical armspan. The instrument used to cast this spell becomes still and silent forevermore.

[2] Huffing Petrichor
This spell can only be cast immediately (up to one hour) after it rains. This spell uses the freshness of the air as its catalyst. When it is magick'd into being the spellcaster is surrounded by a cloud of fresh air while the particles of magic reach out further around them in all directions, causing whoever breathes them a mild sense of euphoria. This also smells very strongly of petrichor.

The fresh air surrounding the spell caster is of superb quality and protects against poison gas and shortness of breath. Restore 2d6 damage taken from toxic gas damage if applicable to anyone within the fresh air bubble around the spell caster. This can also be used to freshen up a dungeon environment, climb on top of the hill of trash, and so on, but this bubble cannot penetrate water on its own so it cannot be used for underwater exploration. The surrounding bubble of petrichor causes confusion and euphoria, meaning you roll +1 to reaction checks to enemies affected by it and they have -1 morale for lack of being able to work together. The petrichor bubble of smell is about the distance of a forest clearing, where as the bubble around the caster is about 10 ft in all directions.

[3] Odd Visions
This spell must be cast with a crystal ball, scrying bowl, or other item of visual divination. The spell lasts for two turns, and only affects the spell caster. Spell casters high on a hallucinogenic drug while casting this spell gain a +2 saving throw for its use.

When cast; this spell puts the user into a trance and grants them visions of things. These visions are seen in their scrying object, and will end the moment they look away. As such, it is possible for someone else to prematurely end this spell by covering the scrying device or shoving the spellcaster aside, but the spellcaster themselves cannot move or willingly do anything but watch the visions.

For the first turn staring and scrying, the spellcaster will see visions of outer realms and worlds beyond their imaginations, beings from other times and places, impossible geometries, and so on. The spell caster must make a saving throw at this point. If they fail, they are overwhelmed by the visions and black out or close their eyes to make it stop, failing the spell. They also receive a single point of insanity, -1 morale or Charisma, or some other appropriate negative for seeing what they have seen.

For the second turn of staring, the spellcaster sees the impossible realign with the real world. No longer are they overwhelmed, but instead it provides great insight. If the spell is interrupted at this point, the spellcaster receives no negative repercussions but did not complete the spell fully. If the spell is fully completed, then the spellcaster must roll on this table.

Odd Vision Table – 1d4
  1. You go blind for 2d6 days, but are filled with an inner peace. As your sight returns though, you forget why.
  2. You've attracted the attention of something beyond. If you didn't have a supernatural entity as your patron, you do now. If you did, then your old familiar is eaten and replaced.
  3. Your horizons have expanded. Your character gains the first they do not have; Aggressive Bisexuality, No phobias, Ambidexterity, the ability to “see” colors via touch.
  4. You have learned some type of incredible, Terrible Knowledge.

[4] As Old As The Hills
This spell requires the use of three ritual implements; the ritual chalice, a ritual dagger, and a circle of stones, rope, or ash. This spell requires the user to stand in the center of the circle atop an old hill, to cut their wrist with the ritual dagger, and the ritual chalice (filled with wine) to end the effect.

As the user's blood falls onto the hill, they start to age rapidly. For every point of damage they inflict upon themselves, they age by five or ten years. Without a disease already ravaging them, they can become quite old without a too much risk of death. By letting your blood flow out, you become older and older, and as you become more old you gain more spiritual authority, and the wisdom of age, while your body shrivels up and becomes weaker. For each point of damage you inflict upon yourself, you can treat your Wisdom modifier as +1 higher until the effect ends.

If the ritual chalice is drunk by the spellcaster, then the spell effect ends and their youth is returned. If the chalice is spilled or the spell interrupted, then the spell caster will remain the age the spell had made them, and leaving the circle means the weight of the world bears down upon them, and they will be subject to the normal terrors and spirits that possess the elderly with the shakes and senility.

[5] Cemetary Violence
This spell is cast in a graveyard or cemetery. If any battling or fighting is to take place there during or right after the casting of this spell, the magic of the spell makes the battle more “final”. Piles of dirt move to open up new graves which bodies conveniently fall into. Hands of the buried reach up to hold still the dying before they can escape (those at 0 or less HP but aren't instantly dead, not those simply knocked to the ground), weapons pierce organs and spells cast their most deadly magic, etc.

While under the effects of Cemetary Violence, all combat damage that results in a kill is a kill, regardless of other abilities or items that may prevent it, unless they have spiritual authority over their graveyard. The prophet of the God that this graveyard is watched by could come back from the dead here, but not a nercomancer rising themselves from the dead.

Additionally, weapons or attacks made using elements from the graveyard, such as smashing someone over the head with a tombstone or stabbing them with a rusty fence pike, have +2 to hit and damage. The undertaker of the graveyard also gets this bonus.

[6] Clairvoyance
Clairvoyance is a classic wizard spell. It's up there with invisibility and fireball. It's also very hard to pull off. In order to cast Clairvoyance, at least TWO of these must be true for that character.
  • At least TWO positive points of Intelligence modifier
  • At least ONE positive point of Wisdom modifier
  • Character has had their third eye opened
  • Character learned Clairvoyance from a Master (not a spellbook)
  • Character is of a very high level/reached “Name level”
  • Character is the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

If at least two are true, the character may cast Clairvoyance once per day. If three to four are true, they may cast Clairvoyance as much as they wish, but repeated use of the spell deals 2 points of damage to their Charisma ability score. If their Charisma drops to 9 or less, they go blind but may continue to use Clairvoyance to see the world around them if they so choose. The Charisma score can be healed normally with rest or magical healing. If the character has 5 or 6 of the categories above are True, then their Clairvoyance is “always on” and in a radius of 15ft around them at all times.

Clairvoyance grants the ability of the user to know things. They may pose any question or bit of information to the DM, which must be answered truthfully. “What's inside this box?” is a valid question, as is “Where are they taking the box?”. Each additional bit of information unlocked down the string counts as an extra use of Clairvoyance. You can read minds with Clairvoyance as well; simply asking about a person's memories, their plans, or their prepared spells or location are all accepted. However, certain magical materials or concepts block Clairvoyance. For example, the true form of a demon or angel cannot be learned by Clairvoyance, as material such as lead or silvered mirrors block all forms of scrying, including Clairvoyance.

[7] Conjurer's Clutter
The Conjurer's Clutter is a two way trap spell. It can only be cast in an indoor space, with a lot of objects or objects laying around. Something like a well stocked pantry, library, or conjurer's workshop would be a good candidate. The person who casts this spell must be well acquainted to this mess, living there or using it to store valuable goods of their own or for their master.

The 'clutter' in this spell makes up the objects around. These objects begin to move when not watched, hiding and moving around to make the area as confusing as possible. Piles of objects move in front of windows or doorways, even forming fake passages that close up behind you if you aren't careful. The clutter also protects its most valuable items within its deepest parts, almost as if a dungeon was erected to protect something, but homely. The Sorcerer who cast this spell is not immune to it; the items will be just as hard to retrieve for them as they would anyway else. It takes one hour per item you wish to find among the clutter, plus an additional turn for every other significant item within the hoard and/or for every extra wizard level of the caster.

[8] More True Than Time Thought
This magic spell works on the power of the past. Those who cast this spell are historian-wizards, with one eye firmly set on the world that has ended, and with only one in the present. Those who cast this spell become old in some way; if not in age, then old in speech or appearance or attitude towards new ideas and younger people. Oldness is contagious in that way.

Once this spell is cast; the user must forget a moment of today and lose -1000xp or the equivalent in your game. Then, they must focus on something that happened from the past and, depending on how ancient or memorable it was, the past happens again. It happens before them and is both a spirit or illusion, but also real. People can watch the past play out again, but they can also influence it to some degree. For example, if you cast this spell on a hill where a great battle was fought, the warriors of that battle will appear again, as though alive, and both sides will battle. You can aid with one side, the side that lost in the “real” history, but if they win, things start to change. You can change the past, but it isn't fullproof. Sometimes a person may reappear that was supposed to have died, and people's memories will selectively change to shroud what really happened in myth, since you've changed the outcome of the past. The more ancient the past was though, the most ghostly and harder to influence these events play out become. Speeches by great warrior-kings that happened a thousand years ago are muffled to unrecognizably, and the ghostly phantoms would only shift their glance at you for a moment if you tried to distract them; the past would refuse to change.

Friday, March 20, 2020

The Underhills

Deep beneath the Earth, there are entire landscapes, nations, inner places. The vast darkness of the underworld, black oceans, and the subterranean realms of endless cave systems. The mythic underworld. Hell, or an inner sun.

The Orcs come from a place like this. Their Underhills. This is a vast inner chamber, a huge expanse where one can see for miles. It has days and nights, its own weather, vast hills and grasslands. While a chamber within the inner earth, it is a realm like any on the surface; mushroom forests, farms, black lakes with shadowy islands with myths and legends surrounding them. On the perimeter are gigantic artificial slopes; built through a combination of earthworks, carving, and masonry, which lead upwards into the P'Orc walled fortresses that defend their heartlands from the rest of the cavernous worlds, and from interlopers from the surface. These ramps can extend up to 100 feet into the air, and provide the space and gentle angle for huge caravans of soldiers or giant monsters to be led around.

There are little towns, orc mansions, escaped slaves hiding out in lichen woods. Instead of being harassed by wolves, travelers are attacked by three foot long carnivorous centipedes. There are tiny, nigh-extinct tribal species of almost-races who carry spear and sling. Man-Orcs live here, with their slaves, with their empire build within and around it. Slaves are more common here then orcs for the most part; unemployed Squealers- which are like tiny goblin-sized runt pig people without darkvision, must fumble through this dim place looking for work, or trying to avoid getting eaten. P'Orcs sometimes lay out a blanket and take a picnic in this vast darkness.

Around the outside perimeter of the vast underhills is the true heart of the P'Orc civilization. The Sow's Tail, as it is called, due to the fact it wraps around and up the Underhills. It defends the land from the outside, and it defends itself from the inside. The occasionally awakened monster, slave rebellion, or Orcish civil war will generate a threat in the Underhills themselves. The real rulers of the Orcs, the Great Sows, don't even live in the Underhills. It is the grand fortress where they live, defended in all directions. This facet of Orc civilization explains much of their racial consciousness; us versus everybody. An empire of fortresses. The Underhills isn't so much their heartland as their backyard.

The Hills
While what is actually wandering in the Hills now is a subject of stories told round the campfire, everybody knows how they got here. It is said in the ancient days, the first Great Sows cast their first great spells to command the great boar-wyrms to swallows the lands above and brind them down, away from the wretched sunlight that Orcs cannot stand. The boar-wyrms went, devouring whole forests, swallows oceans, vomiting them out in great masses. The great mess settled, rotted, becoming soil and mixed with the bodies and shit of the first great Orcish wars- the fertile land became the Underhills, an entire world under the world. Some believe that this ancient act of theft is where the animosity between the Orcs and the Elves come from; though no P'Orc is alive today from those years to speak of it, there are probably a few Elves who recall.

The Hills are covered in bright blue, somewhat glowing cavern moss. Great herds of beasts feed from this grass, and it is fed by the cavernous ecosystem, Orc droppings, and slave farms around the land. There are black rivers and estuaries. The air is damp, ever so slightly, but peaceful and quiet. The Hills have both day and night. The “day” is when flocks of great glowing birds; seemingly leagues above your head, cry and fly around the roof of the chamber. From your vantage, it looks merely like some kind of strange magical glowing clouds have risen to the top of the world. Sometimes these birds fall to the ground dead, and their glowing oils in their feathers can be used as tattoo ink or useful for writing in a dark place like this; they command high prices and many slaves buy their freedom through routine collection of the fallen skybeasts.

The Hills are home to slaves, squealers, monsters, and Man-Orcs. There is a semi-autonomous slave economy. Mortals trapped in this realm find it easy enough to navigate in the day, even if it isn't too bright. While during the “day” here, you get -2 to hit with ranged weapons unless you can see in the dark. During the night, it is even darker and you can't see two feet in front of your eyes. Slaves are sometimes allowed to travel between camps with few, if any, chaperons. They ply their trades in Orc-owned estates, picking at the fallen stalactites or flattening out the stalagmites in search of gems and ore for their Orc masters. Many young orcs will gladly be “hired” by some slaves or escapees, pretending to be their master for any orc patrols and just traveling together. It is a land of adventure.

Orcs fight for status- but not all do so through conquest. While it is by far the most popular, Man-Orcs who choose a less warlike life can still find some status through trade. After all, an army marches on its stomach. Orcs farm down here, tracts of land raising bulbs of garlic, or “cattle” ranchers, who tend to huge flightless bats that nip at the cave moss and grow to huge sizes. Some Orcs perform massive projects of engineering. Creating the ramps into the great wall fortress, building megastructures, even expanding their own cavern inches at a time. All of these require the slave labor that keeps the Orcish economy going. However even the most accomplished civilian P'orc is still mocked, and rightly so. Any male without missing limbs, torn of ears, scars, or a limp is hardly a man at all. As if they have ever turned the head of Sow. They are insulted by the term that fits them best; Virgins.

There is a town. It is the only “free” town down here, where the P'Orcs respect some boundaries, but are still cruel tyrants. This town is made up of free slaves or the occasional traders from other civilizations, living among a few ramshackle huts and longhouses built from fallen mushroom wood. Any escaped PCs will have to rely on this town to hide them, as the young orcs will gladly recapture any escaped or upstart slaves and beat them to death for honor and status. This is the one place where you can regain supplies down here, and find somebody nice to talk to, if you aren't an Orc at least. Squealers live among this town too, finding the residents no less suspicious then the true Orcs, but at least they don't get beat as much. The town is led by a “Head Witch” as tradition; P'Orcs would never respect anything in their own homeland not ran by a woman with magic powers.

While traveling through the hills, you'll have a wandering encounter table. Put Orc Slaver patrols on it, along with desperate escaped slaves, groups of Squealers acting as “bandits”, albino pigs squealing and alerting nearby Orcs of your presence, giant cave bat cattle, centipedes, worms, wyrms, and whatever else you like.

Orc Sex
Now, dear viewer, it is impossible to continue to talk about Orcs without first discussing their unique biology. I will spare you most of the details, but Orc society and the Underhills themselves are greatly influenced by the omnipresent desire for pig sex. There is no other way around it.

Simply put, to humans, elves, and most people, there is a generally agreed consensus that the two genders need each other to survive. While some cultures may put one over another, they are inextricably linked. There would be no men without women, and no women without men. This is simply a fact. But for Orcs, this is not true.

Orc Women do not need Orc Men. Firstly, Orc Women are better then Orc men. It's not up for debate. Great Sows have a bloodline that stretches back to ancient days. Each is huge, bigger then any man-Orc, and is skilled with magic. They can make underdark creatures cower from the sound of their voice alone, and their skills at summoning and black magic are second to none. And secondly, Orc Women, the Great Sows, are pregnant for life. It wouldn't be too hard to find a willing male being from another race to lay with a virgin sow. There are plenty of neutral, even friendly, monster-men who would gladly take the virginity of a young Orcess. Even moreso; Great Sows will eventually come to term with a pregnancy of not a Squealer or Albino feral clever-pig, but with another female Orc in her womb. Sometimes thought to be the gift of a dark god, or the spirit of their race, reproducing all without the touch of any man.

Of course, Orc Women want Orc Men around. It's nice if, for your first time, you can sleep with something that roughly looks and smell likes you, and is more then vaguely biologically compatible. They want intimacy too, and a stronger bloodline beyond these runts, from which they need men, and men more then once. And it's even nicer if who you have sex with goes out of their way to conquer empires, carving a path, gather gleaming gold and servants to put at your feet. That is why Men Orc exist, and that is why they fight.

Orc biology is not the same as humans, or most intelligent races for that matter. Orc women are always pregnant, which means they are not gestating one baby at once. They're ballooned with many young at once, they have many heaving breasts to feed them. Giving birth is a not a dangerous and somewhat special event, but a common chore. Their bodies are well adapted for this. They can breed with an Orc while pregnant with another child and later on birth a warrior son. Orc women even know sorcery that allows an Orc-Man to come back to life after death; the greatest old orcs will mate with a Sow, die in glorious battle, and she will feel his soul return to her womb to be reborn as a warrior once more.

Since Orcs are commonly thought of as a dark mirror to humans, humans often point to Orcs as an example of what not to do. "This is why women can't be in charge, least we grow floppy ears and want to move underground!"

Orc Society
With the above information, we can finally speak about Orc Society, and understand it fully. Orc society does not really live in the Underhills; it truly lives in the walled Fortress. This grand structure, which extends around the Underhills acting as a defense from within and from without, are home to the linchpin of Orc society- The Great Sows.

These fortresses are dungeons. They have traps, monsters, armies of elite Orc warriors within, and a boss. The Great Sows themselves surround themselves by their suitors, young sons, and squealers to defend them. Even if the thought of invasion from humans from the surface is ridiculous, it has happened before. Even moreso, dangerous from other trbies of Orcs and underdark races sneaking into the forts to kill the Sow are a danger. Between these fortresses are hidden passages and tunnels; some so small and tight that only a Squealer carrying a message (or surface-dwelling gnome, far in over his head) could pass by. There are false walls made of paper, with centuries old goblin mummies waiting for an intruder to pass for a quick stabbing.

Once a raid is done, and the Orcs return home, celebrations begin. Slaves are divided up and put to task. Loot is thrown into huge storerooms to be sorted at later, or simply to increase the coffers of treasure for the Orc Queens to feel pride over. Stolen food is quickly emptied into great troughs in communal dining areas and sloppily devoured. Orcs view food separated and presented as humans do it as humiliating- it's slave food. Why would you put all your favorite things apart from each other, instead of mixing them together and getting to enjoy it all at once? For this reason, Orc-slaves are fed small traditional meals on plates, ingredients separated, and then the warriors smugly eat their slop; beaming with pride as they humiliate the lesser humans. Unlike humans, Orcs of higher status sit at the center of the feeding trough instead of at the head of a table. This way, more of the food falls down into their lips as they eat.

Orcs craftsmen aren't bad either. While the great melt days produce slag iron used for slave collars and basic tools, more advanced crafts are used. Orcs care little for the aesthetic quality of their work, or even really its objective quality, preferring strength of arms over a sharp cutting edge. But still, when it comes to prosthetics is where orc engineering really shines. Civilizations that exist within the underground tend to learn iron working and smelting before learning how to read and write or build shelters, as the ease of getting both ores and coal and the need for it in these rocky realms and the necessity for tools to fight the monsters here and to mine extra chambers or side areas is very high. Orcs use bartering as much as possible, but if currency must be used then raw nuggets of silver and gold pulled from the cavern walls and washed in acid to burn away the dirt can be carried and used as a convenient currency. They judge them by size and weight, and the gift of a cart load of these nuggets or a well crafted magic clever can sometimes gain the favor of a Sow for an Orc who has never fought in a single war.

Orc Culture
There is still art. Great Sows are the consumers of it for the most part, Man-Orcs being too busy fighting and raiding. Female orcs adorn their bodies with uncut gemstones from the deep earth, tattoo their flesh, create their dark magic iron rods that ply their magical craft. They teach their magic in mother to daughter tradition- reading and writing is secondary and they mostly rely on slaves to scribe their knowledge. Of course, slaves are told that if they do not write accurately and truthfully, the next slave to read the text will be beaten to death, so slaves will obey and write textbooks for their illiterate masters regardless.

Orcs celebrate a few holidays. They have great melt days, where iron objects stolen from the surface world is melted in huge magma & magic fires to create piles of scrap iron to piece together their armors and basic tools. They have hallowed days, where Great Sows lock themselves in a room, see no suitors, and practice chastity in prayers to dark gods or in soulful meditation. They have free-slave days, where the best behaved are let free, and they tip their whips in feathers to soften the blows. The most holy day of all is a day of bloody sacrifice, where slaves, squealers, and animals are taken to remote and quiet places in the hills- they are accompanied by Great Sows into the Underhills for this one occasion, where she will oversee a cart full of beings have their limbs chopped off in specific orders with great cleaving axes and butcher knifes on stone altars. This day is also said to be where the true magic of the Orcess's comes from; this ritual rite powering their sorcery for the rest of the year, every year.

How to use this in your (my) Games
The next time the whole party gets killed by the P'Orcs, you do not need to fade to black or narrate their deaths. Instead, they wake up enslaved. Your wounds are healed and you are told you are now property of the Orcs. You are fed slave soup (watery soup that counts as a light meal, but is filled with mushroom-juices that make you dull in the head and light-sensitive, to better control you) and marched downwards on the two week trek through cavernous lands and dungeon hellscapes to reach the Underhills. Female PCs or hirelings are left behind, sometimes left for dead, sometimes given a single rusting knife and told to fight their way back to the surface.

Once outside the Orc stronghold, you may be given one last chance to escape as an upstart young orc will challenge the expedition leader to a “duel to ears”, as in the orcs slash at each other with knives until one gets an ear cut off. Orcs wait until just before getting home to try this coup- that way they can cross the finish line with all the loot in tow while doing none of the work. You could free yourself here, but then you'd be twenty feet from Orcish territory and lost in the deep parts of the ancient subterranean world, Veins of the Earth style. Maybe this is your transition into that sort of campaign.

Or, you could just play an Orc campaign. Some players are Orcs, some are Squealers, you travel around the Underhills in a big hex crawl. This is your “starter zone”, until you think you're ready to fight to the surface world and carve your own path to a Sow's bedroom. Good luck.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Wand of Corpsegrowth

Wand of Corpsegrowth – 1d4+2 Magical Implement
Ego- 6

The wand of corpsegrowth is a white and black wand that dribbles bright green slime out the tip. When the wand is flung, it fires a sticky string of green energy that deals 1d4+2 magical energy damage to the target. This requires a to-hit roll, modified by Intelligence. The Wand is considered a magical implement as a weapon; and is subject to all bonuses or defenses against magical implements.

The wand of corpsegrowth has an inner chamber that fills with its magical liquid over time. It takes about three days for it to fully refill, though once it is full it drips out the end. At the caster's mental command, the wand can be drizzled over a dead body. This body abosrbs the liquid and starts to change. It grows layers of muscle to extend over its frame. Air pockets fill its bones and gets them bigger, and its skin grows taut over its newfound size. The corpse goes up a category in size. Humans corpses grow roughly to the size of an ogre, ogres to giants. Several small corpses, like a pile of dead rats or a handful of dead dogs, can be sprinkled instead of a single corpse, which causes them to grow.

Corpses that are grown can be animated with the same turn undead spells as they could before. They treat themselves as the same type of undead, with +2 HD, -2 AC from being larger and slower, and +2 to damage with all attacks due to increased size and strength. Intelligent undead, such as a friendly vampire, get a saving throw to avoid this wand's effect if sprinkled with the fluid. Otherwise, it is treated as a mutation.

This wand does not have the powers over the dead, nor does it animate corpses. It merely acts as a powerful conduit to make corpses bigger. Ghouls fight holy wars over it, as the flesh it creates is just as good to eat, if a little gamey. Necromancers are the primary owners of this wand, and its ego is targeted to their kind. Anyone who does not possess at least one necromancer spell and doesn't meet the Ego requirements that tries to use this wand will be punished. Using this wand with an inferior ego has a 1 in 6 chance to cause all Turn Undead spells and actions to fail for the rest of the day. Secondly, the next time any undead attacks the holder of the wand, the wand will shoot its fluid onto that creature, making them larger and more powerful as they are attacking its unworthy holder.