Sunday, February 23, 2020

Room Full of Vampires

There are a lot of kinds of vampires. Beyond different bloodlines, different weaknesses, and different cultures around them; vampires are an incredibly diverse group of monsters and not-monsters. Ignorant villagers and the superstitious often mistake things that are objectively not vampires, and call them vampires or think they share weaknesses. Vampires hunters sometimes mistake things that are objectively vampires as to not be vampires; even things that are vampires are indeed very different from each other. Here's a comprehensive guide.

Art @Julia Lepetit
Things that aren't Vampires
Vampire bats, intelligent or made into a Wizard's familiar. So to are the anthropomorphized vampire bats not actually vampires, even though they drink blood and fly around. You don't think you'd have to specify this one, but it happens.

People with porphyria in real life, or a blood-anemia disease in a fantasy world. They may drink blood to help them live longer lives and maintain their health, or people who need to steal blood because their blood doesn't clot correctly. Not actual vampires, just inbred nobles with a disease.

Vampire Cultists and vampire worshippers. These beings may drink blood, wear capes, or offer up blood to the night sky to attempt to woo a master vampire to come down and give them immortality. Also includes vampire hunters who drink the blood of vampires, since drinking addictive vampire blood may transfer some of their power into the mortal for a short period of time with none of the weaknesses, though it does require hunting some dangerous prey.

Blood collectors are not vampires. Some hemomancers and degenerate nobles bathe in the blood of virgins to regain their youth, some even drinking it to fortify their inner body, but they are still not vampires. Many become vampires eventually or are well on their way to it though.

Mosquito men who live in human skin suits. People often try to “turn” these undead to find no effect, they aren't undead, just gut sucking insectoid monsters. These are not vampires no matter how similar to how they feed; they just drain peoples fluids and wear their skin-suits to blend in to find their next victim; they aren't actually undead vampires. Can usually be told apart by feeding through a proboscis sucker out of the mouth instead of fangs.

Things that are Vampires
Recently raised from the dead Strigoi vampires. These are just dead corpses that came back to life, either due to improper burial rites or because they died too early and wished to remain alive so badly they came back. They sneak out of their graves at night, sneak into people's houses and drink their blood, returning to the grave. These are a weaker vampire type, and have little intelligence or magical powers beyond their supernatural strength and agility. It is also said greater types of vampires can anoint a tombstone with some of their own blood to create more of these vampires as lesser thralls.

Greater vampires, or Vampyr are the classic type. They feed off of the life force of living mortals; usually in the form of blood, and many were once dark sorcerers who chose to transform themselves into these creatures to become immortal. Vampires of this type come in a million different varieties, with a strong bond between sire and offspring for each vampire generation. This creates a vampire hierarchy, with the original progenitor of the bloodline usually sits on top, and a web of intrigue as the vampyrs in the line jockey for position and prestige. Each generation of vampire gets weaker, but they inherent some of the power of their ancestors the older they become, and sometimes if they overpower and kill their elder vampires they can drain their blood to become more powerful.

Genetic vampires, also called Dhampirs or blood-touched, are a type of undead that isn't totally dead. They still have a little warmth, and a heart that beats about once an hour. This vampirism is a trait that runs in a family; parents can have children which grow to adults, just much slower then normal. They have some resistance to, but are still harmed by sunlight, and they are still turned by holy symbols. Any destroyed result instead has them paralyzed for an exploration turn. Also, as a less-mystic type of vampire, these vampires can survive on any kind of blood and often herd goats or cattle to feed off of at night, though human blood is the most delicious and addictive.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Ink Robe & Scampercord

Ink-Robe – Magic Robe +1
The Ink-Robe is a magical robe made of sticky ink, folded and pressed into the shape of a long flowing robe. The vast majority of ink robes are black, with areas of dark gray to give a bit of texture. More expensive and uncommon robes include those made of red ink, some with gold ink, and even more rare and expensive are those made of blue ink, requiring lapis lazuli. Inkrobes with lighter colors and gray ink are “watered down” and weaker, and it is a symbol of shame to wear an inferior robe like this.

Inkrobes are primarily useful for magic users. While wearing the robe, it grants a bonus to your AC of +1, some minor protection from the magical ink. The inkrobe also reforms itself whenever damaged- stitching together after being cut or bubbled into a burnt crust. It's practically indestructible, with the sole exception of water. Additionally, wearing this robe grants +1 to your saves against spells.

Additionally, the Inkrobe has a further ability to “steal” words out of books. By wiping your sleeve along a book or scroll, you can steal the words away as ink, which is hidden on the robe's surface. It's only visible if the ink and robe are different colors, and each time you are hit with a mace the words on the robe get all jumbled up. By wiping the sleeve against a new page you can transfer the words over, or by washing the robe away you can pick up the letters like tiny metal puzzle pieces and shove them back onto the page. This can also be done against ink drawings, annotations, magical glyphs and so forth; anything written in ink. The robe can 'store' one page of ink at a time.

Whenever a significant amount of water is splashed onto the magic user wearing this robe, it washes away the robe in a puddle of sticky muck, which only reforms once it is collected and dries out. If the amount of water splashed onto you is equal to a bucket or a blast from an elemental rod of water, you get a saving throw to avoid it. If the amount is more then that, or you are fully submerged in water or caught in the rain, then you do not get a saving throw.

The scampercord is made of any normal rope. The rope must be frayed at the end, each tassel is tied into a complex double knot formation at the end of the cord. This becomes the “body” of the magical item later on, with the tassels becoming the “feet”.

The scampercord looks like a spider with a long trailing rope behind it. It is a bunch of knots and cords tied together in a complex magical way, giving them false life. Anyone holding the end of the cord may direct this scamperer with their thoughts, letting them climb the rope up surfaces too complex or far away to throw, go around corners to tie itself to things, bind up a defeated enemies hands without having to get too close, and so on. Scampercords are not special in and of themselves- their magic comes from the knot and if cut or undone they will cease functioning.

The cord-makers who learn this technique can perform it on any piece of rope, and it lasts up to 2 seasons before the cords loosen. At that point, even if not used and kept in a closest somewhere, the lashings will have gotten too slippery and will come undone after one last use of the scampercord. Other long, flexible materials like a strand of glint, a tentacle, some iron chains and so on can also be tied into a scampercord by an expert knotsman, but will come undone in 1d4 uses due to the inherent difficulty in making and keeping a knot with anything that is not rope or twine.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Evil Sorceress Generator

By what lofty title is she Called? - 1d10
[1] The Jade Princess.
[2] The Queen of the Living.
[3] The Widowmaker
[4] The Maneater
[5] The She-Wolf
[6] Maiden in Black
[7] Maiden in White
[8] Queen in Red
[9] The High Priestess
[10] The Enchantress

What luxurious outfit graces her form? - 1d10
[1] Sleek black leather.
[2] Fur coat from a dire or rare beast.
[3] Lizard or dragon skin shawl.
[4] Jewelry. She wears no clothing beyond gold and gem.
[5] The finest silk in the world.
[6] She is naked. She is only covered by wisps of smokey magic, sand, or posing.
[7] Humble black dress with a funeral veil.
[8] Skin-tight bodysuit, with her skin painted to match its pattern and color.
[9] Tribal outfit. Leaves, bones, animal skins.
[10] Traditional ornamental dress. Heavy makeup and expertly styled hair.

What dangerous creature is her faithful pet? - 1d10
[1] Wyvern. It has an animal mind, protecting her as though she was its mother.
[2] Massive wooly bear.
[3] Brass bull that snorts fire. Skin is as hard as metal, about an elephant in size.
[4] Two Tigers. She strokes them by her throne as loyal pussycats.
[5] Magical Panther. It's a panther that can turn invisible and “disappear” if found. Assassin.
[6] Champion Dog. Its form is like a great dane; ageless and unnaturally skilled.
[7] Pack of Wolves.
[8] Idiotic simpleton. He's a giant, 8ft tall, with metal bolted into his skin.
[9] Giant Newt. Can attack like a shark in water, or plop onto land like a crocodile.
[10] Massive Boa constrictor.

How does she seduce men (to their doom)? - 1d8
[1] By touching a lock of her hair. On her head, or shaven and given as a gift.
[2] By locking eyes with her.
[3] The slender caress of her hands.
[4] Her voice.
[5] The smell of her perfume.
[6] The sound of her music; plucking a lute's string.
[7] Sneaky love potion, mixed in with drink or food.
[8] Her dainty gifts, kind manner, and pleasing hospitality. One week under her roof is all it takes.

What powerful man is under her spell? - 1d8
[1] The local King, who is cheating on his rightful wife with her. She's politically unassailable.
[2] Great magician.
[3] Lowborn lumberjack. He's so strong he carries trees by himself.
[4] Master Thief. He can break into palaces, steal anything she desires.
[5] Bishop or other reigning official. May not have broken vows yet, but will if she wants.
[6] Warlord, or Orc King. Has an army of barbarians at her beck and call.
[7] Two of the wealthiest merchants in the land. Cutthroat, the two constantly buy out kingdoms to have better access to her favorite flower; hire assassins to kill each other. She is amused.
[8] The world's greatest duelist- total chauvinist. Bombastic personality and arrogant womanizer- but infatuated with the Sorceress. Kills to defend her honor and wishes to marry her.

What symbol is associated with her magic? - 1d12
[1] Crescent Moon.
[2] Distant Star.
[3] Twisted crafts of wicker and hazel.
[4] Snakes.
[5] Human skulls.
[6] Animal fangs and horns; fashioned into necklaces or crowns.
[7] The loom. Enchantments spun as wool.
[8] An empty chalice.
[9] The dagger and a circle or line drawn in sand.
[10] The bubbling cauldron.
[11] Green, blue, or purple fire.
[12] A man tied to a tree, upside down, hanging from one ankle.

How did she gain her magic powers? - 1d6
[1] She was born with it. Her magical lineage descended from the fair folk, or of a monsterous race.
[2] Was a gift from a Goddess.
[3] Taught to her from her Mother. This family's secret power runs from Mother to Daughter.
[4] She learned it herself through hard work; her ambition is obsession.
[5] She seduced a magical creatures; an Elf King or Otherworldly Man. When he slept in his bed, she stole the power from him and fled.
[6] Seduced a well learned scholar, manipulated him into researching dark secrets and shattering his mind from ancient secrets. Discarded him when he was no longer useful.

What is the nature of her vanity? - 1d6
[1] She wishes to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Nothing more, or less.
[2] To be desired is to have power over others. To be the most desired, is to be the most in control.
[3] The power of her magic comes with a price- a disdain for all beneath you.
[4] She is scornful and hateful. Every woman more attractive then her is despised simply for being born that way. She was born as hateful as a fire.
[5] Beauty is fleeting. Art is immortal. To have your beauty made into art and story is to have your beauty become immortal. No wrinkle blemishes a portrait.
[6] It's not intentional. Forces outside of her have put her in this position. Manipulation is as natural to her as breathing is to us.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The BIG Mutation Table

Many entries will link to other blog articles, which may occasionally break. If you notice a broken link and call it out in the comments, I will get to fixing it as soon as possible.

Anyway- this is the result of several years of writing and illustrating. The results are weighted towards mutations that are mostly neutral, that have positive AND negative effects, or just weird effects in general. This is how I tend to write mutations. The outliers are made to be less common and on the extreme ends of your roll. This table has been planned for quite a long time, so I am finally glad to see it finished! Total number of potential outcomes is pretty high. I think you'll get some mileage.

The form of life is mutable. Either through magic spell or mutagen, you are being changed. Whenever you fail a saving throw against a mutation, or are forced through one for whatever reason, you may roll on this table. If an entry does not specify a body part, or a mutation must occur on a certain body part, roll a 1d8 to determine what body part is selected. Certain races may have additional body parts- such as wings, tails, or long manes that may also be mutated or added. If a character is a centaur or has 4 arms, expand the table below to a d12 with the extra arms/legs.

Many entries on this table contain links to other pages. Click on the link and follow the instructions on that page to generate the result. Certain entries may also have small, nested tables in the form of lists. In these cases, roll the number indicated and then the result on the list is the number you use.

Bodypart Selection Table- 1d10
[1] Head/Horns
[2] Neck/Shoulders
[3] Left Arm
[4] Right Arm
[5] Chest/Back/Wings
[6] Stomach
[7] Groin/Tail/Pelvis
[8] Left Leg
[9] Right Leg
[10] Skin/Hair/Misc

The BIG Mutation Table – 1d100
[1] You are permanently warped into a horrible genetic aberration, with a constantly shifting form. It is made up of many kingdoms of life; plant, animal, man. The creature has 1 less HD then your character's level, and becomes a mindless NPC monster. Bummer.
The monster then (1d3)- Goes on a rampage and attacks the nearest being, starts eating nearby corpses or greenery, or runs away to find a safe place to nest & brood.

[2] You are heavily degenerated. Reroll all of your stats, and take the results if they are lower then your current ones. You are simply scarred by genetic errors, poorly built structures, and a weakened and unhealthy body. Normal cure spells will not work on you, is this is what your body is meant to be like, as though born with this form. Only a wish or divine intervention can revert these changes. If you rolled none of your new stats lower then your older ones, then you instead degenerate into an ancestral, unevolved animal form. Orcs turn into pigs, Humans become featherless bipeds, etc.

[3] You have gained an innate weakness to one of the elements, present in your flesh or skin. (1d4) Fire, Cold, Lightning, or Acid has become your nemesis. You take double damage from this element. After you die, your corpse will reanimate as an undead weak to the same element you were in life.

[4] You grow a second “face” underneath your first. It's a bit like a goiter that grows under your chin and is smaller, but has eyes and a mouth. Roll a random set of Eyes and Mouth (teeth table) on the Cavern Beast Generator to determine its stats and what it looks like. The face is almost always asleep when you're on the surface, but its eye(s) blink open when you go deeper underground. The face also follows your mental commands, but has a bit of an animal mind that betrays your subconscious. The face will, for example, bite or spit at those you hate and are forced up close to, even if you wish to keep your dislike of them a secret, or lick the neck and face of a lover, even in public.

[5-7] You have become misshappen. Roll on the misshapen subtable on the Weird Monster Generator until you get an 8, then gain a special power rolled on that special power table. Add those limbs to your body, which are otherwise act as normal limbs. Extra heads have simplistic and similar, but still distinct personalities and voices, to you. Like an unoriginal conjoined twin.

[8-9] Roll on the Rat Mutation table. The next time you eat some cheese, roll on that table again.

[10-11] Your head morphs into an animal head. Roll on the Random Animal table to determine what animal it is. You will gain/lose a bite attack based on what head you get. Your stats do not change, but you may see better or worse, gain nightvision or antanee, have a powerful nose, etc. You can still speak your normal languages, but can also speak the language of that animal and partially communicate with members of that species. You also will probably no longer be able to wear a regular helmet, and your clearly inhuman appearance may give you an additional -1 to reaction checks with civilized folks.

[12-16] Roll on the Blood Mutations table.

[17] Your body's humors have been disrupted! One of your Four humors are underproducing, while the rest are overproducing. The humor you are having trouble creating is (1d4) Hot & Dry, Hot & Wet, Cold & Dry, or Cold & Wet. You now have to eat an entire meal dedicated to that humor, such as lathering it with spices or eating very specific foods. On the upside your body's overproducing of the other humors has increased your energy and activity levels. You can now be fully rested with just 4 hours of sleep, and heal +1 hit points per day as long as your humors are kept in balance.

[18-20] Roll on the Nose Mutations table.

[21] You grow an elephant trunk in place of your nose. The trunk can be used as a prehensile limb that can grip objects roughly, but can only use small weapons like daggers or clubs at a -2 to attack rolls. You can also breath through it, but you lose some of your sensitivity to smell. 
The trunk looks (1d3) Like a typical gray elephant trunk, like your normal skin covering stretched into a weird trunk-like shape, brown and super fuzzy as a wooly mammoth trunk.

[22-27] Roll on the Eye Mutations table.

[28] You gain Darkvision. This means your eyes glow in the dark- letting you see in darkness. Your eyes glow a specific color based on your race. Sneaking around without closing your eyes in darkness confers a -2 penalty to all Stealth rolls.

[29-33] Roll on the Hardcore Mutations table.

[34] Your mouth and digestive process changes. Your spit become mildly acidic, dealing 1 damage to creatures if not wiped off after an exploration turn and dealing minor damage to stonework or metals if spit on and left for long periods of time. This applies to all your bodily fluids, thus making you very dangerous to other people around you as well, though you are thankfully immune to it. Your stomach can use this spit, as well as its newfound ability, to digest basically anything. You can scrap lichen off the walls, eat any creature's meat, chew pinecones, etc. Basically anything biological, no matter how rotten or hard, can be eaten and its nutrients absorbed by you. You don't need to forage for food.

[35-37] Roll on the Teeth Mutations table.

[38-40] Crystals grow in your flesh. Roll on the Flesh Crystal Growths table.

[41] Crystals grow in your flesh. In this case, it is Azurite ore growing on your body on a random body part. Azurite is a blue ore with the power to transmit, store, and release energy. Roll on the Azurite Power Table to determine what type of power you gain by using Azuritre. These crystals also sap your body of its energy; take lose -1d6 Constitution from these leeching crystals. If this would kill you, you lose your energy over the course of a few weeks, granting a small chance to find a cure or removing the mutation before the Azurite turns you into a zombie, drained of all life force.

[42-46] Roll on the Leg & Feet Mutations table.

[47] Your legs fuse together to become something new. Your legs combine to become (1d4) the tail of a mermaid, the body or “foot” of a slug, the coiling muscular tail of a snake, OR the entire four legs and lower body of a random quadrupedal animal making you into something akin to a centaur. Roll 1d8 on the Random Animal Table to determine this animal in the event of the above result.

[48-52] Roll on the Miscellaneous Mutations table.

[53] Thy flesh twists. Roll 1d3 random Body Parts, which have twisted around backwards. Certain body parts, like the chest, do not twist backwards and are instead twisted into a spiral. Due to the severity of this effect, the next night you go to sleep you toss and turn- waking up in a very strange sleeping position and having 1d2 of your twisted body parts realigned to normal. You can have the permanently stuck body parts treated by physicians and healers over the course of several years to turn them back to normal. However, your joints in these affected body parts become much more flexible; if your head was screwed on backwards and then cured, you can turn your head around 180 degrees, if your arm was twisted backwards you can fully bend it back, etc. As a result, you gain Dexterity points permanently equal to the number of limbs twisted back.

[54-59] Roll on the Freaky Fingers table.

[60] Your arm warps. Roll a random arm, then roll on the random Arms Table on the Weird Monster Generator. This arm replaces the offending limb. It gains or loses its usefulness based on whatever arm you rolled, having similar stats and abilities. If you roll the human hand, it has tattoos and gains a streak of criminality (picking people's pockets, flipping the bird, goosing passersbys, etc.)

[61-62] Roll on the Hair Mutations table.

[63] Your limbs are undergoing a serious transformation. Blisters form, retracting 1d4 of your limbs into the huge bread-loaf sized pustules at the terminus of your joints. These pustules can be squeezed by you once per day to fire out tiny, milky white translucent tendrils that sting whatever they touch, with the effect of the sting being listed below. You lose the use of these limbs while they are “changing”, and lancing or destroying these pustules destroys the limb permanently. After one year, these limbs emerge as long gray tendrils that can be used as a rough prehensile limb that is safe to the touch for others, though lacking the dexterity of a normal hand or foot. The end of these tendril has a slit and can be opened to reveal a small tentacled “hand” or “foot” that has the fully effectiveness of the limb but carries with it your poisonous sting.

Additionally, all of these stinging tentacles you have have the effect of (1d2) save vs paralysis or be paralyzed for 1d4 rounds, or save vs poison else take 2d6 damage from the stingers.

[64-66] Roll on the Torso Mutations table.

[67] Roll a Random Bodypart. Then, roll on the skin coverings table from the Mutant Wasteland Guide Generator. This is the skin this bodypart is now covered by, losing its fur if you had any. You gain +1 AC if the area has natural armor on it from the Mutant table.

[68] Generate a Random Alien Organ. This organ grows inside your chest over the period of 1d4 days, and its purpose should be shifted to better fit a fantasy setting. You gain +2 hit points from the increased body mass and bulk, but (1d3) you must eat an extra ration per day, extraterrestrials from another dimension will stalk you to vivisect the organ and take it, or you must consume a rare and expensive spice mixed with water once a month for its specifics nutrients or else you will sicken and die over the course of 1d8 days.

[69] Regardless of your gender, you have become pregnant. Your body must carry the creature for 2d6+2 months, and then you will birth it through the most fitting opening. This creature is a 0 HD monster generated using the Cavern Beast Generator. It is helpless and feeble until it has at least 1 HD. It has imprinted on you and believes you as its mother, and will not ever attack you, but hates the sun and wishes very much to remain in the darkness. The creature gains 1 HD every 1d4 years it develops, growing its attacks and power the older it gets. It is considered fully adult when it reaches the HD it would have had if generated solely on the Cavern Beast Generator.

[70-72] You change race. Over the course of 1d6 days, you mutate into a totally different being, with some vague similarities between your old body type, voice, face, coloration and so forth with your new form. But you are still wholly different, gaining and losing racial traits or bonuses as normal. Roll on your favorite gonzo race table, or GLOG Race Table by Skerples.

[73] Roll a Random Bodypart. If that body part is holding a magic item, then it “fuses” with the item. Your skin starts to grow over it and meld it to your form. An item held in your hand has its flesh melded onto it, if you're wearing a magic necklace the necklace is covered by a layer of skin and dully glows through it, etc.The item is now stuck to you and awkwardly trapped within a layer of your skin, which can only be cut out with surgical tools. If there is no magic item touching that part of your body, instead this mutation hides in wait until a magic item is placed there or brushes against it. You cannot use this bodypart as normal or equip an item in that slot, but can make full use of the item that is trapped inside of you with its full modifiers and uses per day.

Additionally, over the years this item is consumed more wholly, breaking down and changing into a biological form. When a magic sword is fused subsumed by your arm's flesh, it looks the same as it did before, just melded to you. After many seasons, the sword will begin to have bone and keratin elements, mixing with your biology and eventually seeming as though it is wholly a part of your body. At this point the item can not be surgically removed, but it will regenerate if damaged and you gain more control over it. For example, items with a one use per day rule will now have two uses a day, but you must consume an extra ration to feed the energy cost and so on.

[74-75] Your brain experiences a surge of maturation and new structures form within it. You gain the abilities of a beginner Psychic. You may eventually learn a Psychic trick or even develop a full blown Psychic power through leveling up, and training with your new power. This power is not considered magical, and may even work in alternate realities where magic does not exist. However, by becoming a Psychic you have opened the door for astral beings, psionic creatures, and harrowing life experiences to all be able to both sense you as well as cause your mind harm from the psionic attacks or stress. Roll on the Psychic Trick table to see what power you can develop.

[76-77] You grow horns. The horns sprout from your head and can be used as a 1d3 improvised weapon in combat if you butt your head around. The horns appear as the horns of a (1d6) Bull, Mountain Goat, Demon, Antelope, Moose, Stag. In the case you rolled a Moose or Stag, they are not horns but actually antlers, and will fall off and grow back each year.

[78] Your skeletal structure painfully shifts and hardens. You gain a slightly different silhouette and a slightly different looking face, but otherwise look the same. You gain +1 AC from your newfound skeletal development, but lose -1d4 Dexterity. When you die, the skeleton inside your body is very strange. Roll on the Weird Skeleton Table.

[79] Your bodily constitution has changed considerably. Your body stores fat as a layer of thin, but tough blubber just under the skin. You gain +1d6 Constitution points and a considerable amount of heft, but are not much fatter then you were before. This layer of blubber has also made you resistant to cold damage. However, your overactive immune system means you have developed a new deadly allergy to (1d4) Wine, Paper, Glass, Honey. Save vs death on touch, no save if ingested.

[80] You begin to grow manfruits. Unless you're a woman, then it's womanfruits. Or “personfruits”, whatever works for you. These grow along your sides, hanging out from your body on small twigs that poke out from your flesh painlessly. These 'fruits' have no effect on you, and indeed taste and make you feel terrible if you eat them, but others can eat your fruits or sup their juices and restore 1d3 hit points and will also restore 1 point to any damaged attribute. You grow 1d4 fruits during Summer and Autumn, 2d6 fruits during Spring, and are bare for the Winter.

[81] You're half slime! Your skin and flesh sags and takes on a new viscosity, more like ooze or gel. Your bones remain intact, and are the only anchor points to your physical body- you're much like a skeleton jelly. Your body has a new consistency closer to that of (1d4) Wet Sand, Clay, Gelatin, or Liquid Cement. You take -2 damage from slashing or piercing weapons and you don't bleed.
Additionally; Your internal organs (1d3) have disappeared and your entire body volume does the job, now float freely around you and can be removed without harm for short periods of time, or have turned into spiders which seek to escape you from wounds and bite your foes whenever possible.

[82-83] Roll on the Rubber Forehead Alien Generator to determine what your face and forehead changes like- roll on the first two “Characteristic” tables. You also gain the benefit of their culture as a sort of newfound mental acuity in that subject. If your setting has more prejudice against mutated people, then this mutation is less egregious. If you've already rolled this one, instead just roll on the Characteristics table and then roll on the Terrible Knowledge table instead.

[84] Your body now naturally absorbs magical energy, much like a sponge. You suck up a specific type of energy; roll on the 6 Types of Magical Energy table. If you absorb enough of this energy, you start to glow its colors and can produce a minor magical effect relating to it by spending the energy. However, due to your body's newfound openness to magic, you suffer a -4 to all saving throws vs all spells.

[85-86] You grow a tail. If you already have a tail, you grow a second one. This new tail is determined by rolling on Priunt's Random Tail Table- from the Really Powerful Hirelings Table. You gain the tail and its abilities. If chopped off, you get a saving throw to have it grow back the next morning. The tail will always grow back the same type that you had before. If you fail this save, the loss of the tail is permanent.

[87] You gain a hint of the “Other” in you. You are not an Other, but the Others will ignore you, treating you as one of their own, or like a background noise as long as you do not attack them or interfere with their plans and cults. Roll on the Other Tell Table and you gain that tell. You also gain the ability to distinguish an Other by sight and smell.

[88-93] Roll on the Weird & Terrifying Powers table. Some of the powers are more mystical and abstract to work with mutations, in which case, just roll a d30 on the table, which is where the majority of the more physical and biological powers or mutations are.

[94-95] You develop a strange patch of skin somewhere on your body. Roll a random bodypart for the location. Roll on the Cavern Beast Generator skin table to determine what it is. You gain the benefit.

[96-97] Your pineal gland fully activates, and you grow your third eye on your forehead. You gain +1d3 Wisdom. Additionally, your eye has the special power of (1d4)- Seeing the Invisible, Seeing through all illusions, Detecting Magic, or Detecting Alignment.

[98] You experience an astonishing rate of growth and development, like a second puberty. Your oldest scars disappear, you grow an inch or two in height, and your secondary sex characteristics are enhanced. Restore any damaged attributes you have and roll 1d6 twice to determine two different random stats. These stats are improved by +1d4 points permanently.

[99-100] Roll on the Really Good Mutations table. Nice.

Friday, January 24, 2020

40 Minute Settings- Etthurhia

This is a new “feature” on this blog. I want to write more, but sometimes it's hard to decide how to iron out details of a fantasy world without any sort of guide or rules. So instead, we're making something new. This is going to be a fantasy world built in 40 minutes. I'm starting a timer before I start writing the setting proper after I've generated some stuff to get started.

I don't really do a lot of “worldbuilding”. However, I want to try it sometimes. Instead of making it just about my pet fantasy setting, instead I decided to do something different and force myself to write using random generation. This is going to feature a lot of randomly generated stuff for inspiration along with a strict time limit.

Darkness, nature, swamps, eldritch through a natural lens.

Musical Accompaniment
Some music from Skyrim. Nature/Ambient.

Magic Card Inspiration
Cycled through random cards until a monoBlack, monoGreen card, and then Sorcery were found.
-Bog Elemental
-Daybreak Ranger/Nightfall Predator
-Portent of Betrayal

Generated Invocations
By Xeipi!
By The Celestial Swamps Of Grmaurme!
By The One-thousand Flock Of Visodaeo!
I Call Upon Hidden Hacrotha!
I Evoke The Necropolis Of Phedenim!

Generated Realm Names
Empire of the Windy Bull's Amulet
High Earl's Realm
Knee Province
Living Earldom of the Pipes
Titan's Kingdom

Randomly Generated Fantasy World Name

Randomly Generated Death Worm Names (Took 2)

Random Number between 1 and 1000

That should be enough to get us started. Original generators in order are done by MtG Gatherer, Seventh Sanctum, and

This is a sunken land. It's cracked ground goes from the black swamps to the tall white mountain peaks; those far away places known as the Titan's Kingdom. Only the most cunning or brave of men dare venture in those places, where the ancient ones so built the world.

The only race here is the race of men. Men are made of mud and mud they shall return. The “Gods” are long gone, they are the names for the old Titans who are now finished with their creation, uncaring if all but their mountain fall into black swamps. It seems every year the water is rising, or just getting more clouded and hard to swim. Men built, once, using the tools left behind by the ancient Titans. They could know all 817 of their names, and speak them to make the land go up, then dry, then press it flat, then dot it with trees and shrubs, then make the animals come and birds roost. But these sanctuaries are few and far between now. “Roads” are swinging, precarious bridges made of sticks and bones, the last bits of relatively safe travel between encampments.

Of course, one could brave the swamps. The mud is poison to you. You were made of mud, once, and by touching mud you are losing yourself. The longer one spends in the water, the more they forget. Forget their lives and forget their morals. They wish to betray their fellows, and the signs are all their clearly beforehand; they stop caring for the suffering of others at all, and speak ill of their family when not in earshot. These men are doomed. One day, they will be nothing but the bog itself, sludge rising to swallow and crush others who dare enter.

But not everything is so evil and dark. The Incantations are not wholly forgotten. By speaking to Xeipi, you can know the direction and make the moss grow that way. By calling upon the Celestial Swamps of Grmaurme, you can force away the foul swamp creatures for good ones. The crocodiles and giant dragonflies will leave you alone if you know to call the One-thousand Flock Of Visodaeo; the spawn of all things that fly and swim. Of course, these invocations don't work against the death worms. They were once the predators of the titans, or so it seemed. The most infamous one is Urghirun, black, with a hunger and sadism that strikes fear into the hearts of rulers. He stalks Knee Province, and is the reason none visit, not even to buy their black-salt lanterns.

In the Empire of Windy Bull, the worlds greatest spot of dry land exists. It is two valleys, strung together with a tiny 'wall' of mountains that keep the bog away. The Amulet of the Windy Bull is what is keeping the muck and swamp from tearing these stone walls down. Within the Empire, the men train and fight to search the swamp, both for worthwhile survivors to bring back to join them, as well as plunder. One of the most common invocations is to say “I Evoke The Necropolis Of Phedenim!” to open the doorways to sunken temples. It keeps the basements cleared of muck for a few hours at most. Just enough time to get in, get treasure, and leave before the swamp leeches sift back down through the stonework. The greatest treasure here are names; names of the Titanous Gods, names of debters. Debts are bought and sold as a currency themselves, as sometimes a favor is worth more then gold. No one knows this better then the High Earl.

The High Earl is an oddity amongst the race of men. He is immortal, forever kept alive by the names he has accrued. His true name is so long and his personas so numerous that “High Earl” is the only name of which is useful and convenient to call him by. Within his chest are holes that lead to the Living Earldom of the Pipes- his living body is its own Kingdom. Within it are shades, shadowy figures in the suggestion of a form, with masks. These are the names he has taken as favors. The Earl is a powerful sorcerer as well, possibly the greatest, due to his names and collection of power he had so gained.

The trees near the swamps are bolstered, stakes pushed into soil and twine strung around the saplings, pulled towards the land so their fronds do not hang in the water. This is because of Hidden Hacrotha. One calls his name to sees what is the dark shape hidden under the swamp water. In this place, it is Urnur the death worm, gray in tone, who stalks the waters. He waits for those to get close to the water's edge, hanging over it on a bowed tree, and then he will bite the leaves. So carefully he will pull them into the water; first a toe, then a foot, then a leg, and snap! Bite whatever is just under the surface. The more patient he gets, the more he can eat. He is getting very patient, and very smart for a death worm. This does not bode well for the people of High Earl's Realm.

People trade with dry linens. The air here is damp, everywhere, except Windy Bull of course. The first time a shirt or sock touches swamp water it is like a maiden losing her virginity- it can never quite go back to how it was, regardless of how much you clean and scrub it pure again. A good pair of socks is like a horse here. The mud in your boots is endlessly compacted and squished against your skin; trenchfoot is a common aliment. If only someone knew the invocation to cure it, if there even is one. Trade your nickname to the Earl's men, they may teach you. All names are valuable to his immortal self; when you were called Skipper as a child, or Drunkard as an adult, these are names. Names for names is a trade that all are willing to make, especially for a clean wool coat.

Blue-black mushrooms grow on the trees at shoulder height. They can only be collected when they 'bloom', which is when the water is just below their water level. Water rises and falls like the seasons in other worlds. Black sludge collects at the bottom in summer, the ground almost feels solid for a while, but the further down the endless hills, further away from the Titans' mountain, the deeper the water will get during the flood season. Water doesn't come down from the sky very often here, it comes up from the lowlands, and then up higher still. The small pools left over from the retreat of the water sometimes hold horrible lungfish, or sometimes delicious urchins, whose poison is bought and sold for use in the tanglewood cities in the treetops. Assassins are very valuable up there. And anyone who is a good climber is a good assassin. Most of them refuse to look their victims in the eye; spider climb under the floorboards and stick a needle in your target's foot. It's that easy. They may even speak the wrong invocation because they think it was a simple climbing-snake bite. Foolish tree dwellers. They think they are so safe just because they sleep up there.

Of course, the most dangerous men are the opposite of the tree dwellers. The mud men. Those who live near or in the mire proper and enjoy it. When the water retreats and the ground is dark, moist, and squishy for months on end, the mud men dig up things that fell in the swamp long, long centuries ago. Ancient things. Names of Titans who didn't build with the other Titans. Titans that went down hill, towards the black mud sea. Towards the sinkhole at the end of the world. Their names are striken from all the tablets and records- and if you see one, you should do the same. Even uttering their name is forbidden. Too much rides at stake for you to bring their attention to our little pocket of earth that does not consume us as greedily as crocodiles. The mud men are not dangerous for this reason though. They are dangerous because they are changing. They grow fur and claws, they become dumb and impulsive, they learn how to swim. They are becoming beasts; mucks and ooze is the breeding grounds for a return to the mud from whence you came.

Weapons in Etthurhia are simple. Everyone who wishes to live carries a sculptor's knife to mark the mud or tree branches, as well as to help shape and carve into clay. Everyone who wishes to not only live, but actually stand a chance against the foes in the mire carry a sickle-sword. The sword can curve through bog elementals and other creatures; a nice square shield is carried by mercenary companies. Especially those hired by the Earl. The shields are held flat against the ground and their corners interlock for when a rainmaking beast accidentally starts another flood.

People eat muscles. The tiny stuck-on creatures that live on the trees and rocks around the dry and wet seasonal areas- they do best when left alone and in return produce a huge, but nearly impossible to reverse, symbiotic relationship with their humans. Humans get a nearly unlimited food source, and in return, the muscles get several new places to attach. Like human skin. Lovely. The islands that men have built range from tiny foundations on which to build a single tower, to large shelves cutting out a negative space in the trees and mangroves above. Humans must fight to survive in this world, there is no “competition” with the ecosystem. Man will have what man wants.

Swamp Dragon @Ahmad Hilmi
Afterword & Notes
This was a fun experiment. I'm finishing with less then two minutes left, because I can't write anything useful or substantial since it's too hard to think of stuff! Anyway, this ended up being very one-trick, but I think it's a pretty cool dark fantasy/OSR-styled fantasy setting. I love swamps in games and wish the “classic” wasn't just evil place with a monster. Though that's probably one of the reasons I like it.

Anyway, next time I do this, (if I do it at all) I might generate more stuff. I tried very hard to not write too specific here in both detail and ideas; want to keep this pretty reasonable. And there you have it- a fantasy setting built in under 40 minutes!

PS- I can't take total credit for the Mudman. They were at least partially inspired by this post by WWCD, which is one of my all time favorites.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Rubber Forehead Alien Generator

Art @manticoresoul
Where is the location of the “Characteristic” on their Head? - 1d6
[1] Forehead and tips of ears if applicable.
[2] Eyebrow ridges and temples.
[3] “Mask” formation. Around eyes and bridge of nose.
[4] Around nostrils, nose tip, and cheekbones.
[5] All of the above. Heavily characteristic head.
[6] Chin and mouth area.
[7] Shoulders, neck, upper back, etc. Venturing far from “rubber forehead” territory.
[8] All of the above. Very bumpy and inhuman looking body.

How could you define the “Characteristic”? - 2d6
[2] Unfortunate vaginal/phallic shapes.
[3] Look a bit like artificial tubing or a 'vein' very close to the skin surface.
[4] Bulges of skin/fat.
[5] Spots and Dots. Usually a universal color. 1 in 3 chance to roll again for double feature.
[6] Tiny uniform dots. Like pimples but skin colored, and orderly.
[7] Ridges.
[8] Scales/inhuman skin localized in this one spot.
[9] Weird bumpy cluster of skin or a scab-like 'rock' skin covering.
[10] Vent/Gills/similar shelf-like formation.
[11] Antennae or jutting out skin-tag thing. May be hair tendrils instead.
[12] Colored splotches. More disorderly then the 'spots and dots' option.

What's their average Skin Color? - 1d8
[1] Pale Caucasian. “Very white”.
[2] Caucasian.
[3] Tanned/Olive.
[4] Reddish Brown.
[5] “Chocolate” or otherwise a lighter brown.
[6] Very dark brown to black.
[7] Abnormal neutral skin tone. Gray, straw yellow, blue-tinted, pure white/albino, etc.
[8] Totally inhuman skin tone. Bright Green, Transparent, Yellow, Orange, etc.

What's their Special Technology? - 1d8
[1] Crystals. Carry or channel vibrations. Crystal-y backdrops, maybe control panels with crystals.
[2] Special metals/smelting techniques. Or their planet has a “rare element”.
[3] They build the megastructures, or they grew up on one. The only known Dyson-Sphere.
[4] Replicators. If they're common in the setting, then one of these invented them.
[5] Fully functional hologram and simulation chambers.
[6] Mind control or psionic abilities innately.
[7] Biotechnology. May be responsible for creating other alien species and/or bioweapon monsters. Most likely to have “Apeification Gun” or other such nonsense.
[8] Common Sci-Fi tech that is mysteriously uncommon in this setting. Like Cloaking, Force Fields, AI controlled ships, holograms, etc. If it doesn't exist, they're the experts of it instead.

What's their One-Note Culture? - 1d6
[1] Warriors & Honor. Carry dumb looking swords. +1 to hit
[2] Peaceful, all about “meeting” other races. +1 to reaction checks.
[3] Industries workers or cutthroat capitalists. +1d6 to Intelligence
[4] Hardy survivalist race, have trappings of 'desert' cultures. +1 AC
[5] Religious or spiritualist race. +1d6 Wisdom.
[6] Suppression & Domination. Enemies have -1 to morale checks.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Video Games- Better Pickpocketing Mechanics

So this blog is mostly about tabletop games. But I also like video games, and talk about them sometimes. I know everyone thinks they're some expert game designer, we all watch the GDC talks and the youtube videos, we all play around with Unity or Godot for ten minutes and think we're gonna be the next indie darling. We get it, we know we aren't actually that good, it's just arrogance.

But honestly this shit annoys me. I've played a modest amount of RPGs. The Elder Scrolls Games, Kenshi, Fable, a few others. You know what really annoys me in these games? Beyond stealth and the “thief” archetype in general; Pickpocketing. Pickpocketing in these games is usually a dice roll. You either pickpocket and just get a set amount of gold, perhaps based on your skill, which is lame but not that bad, OR the game lets you open up the NPCs inventory and steal from them, with each item having a chance to get caught. I'm not saying these systems don't function, they're just boring and feel unfinished and tacked on.

This pisses me off for one, it tends to encourage saving and loading over and over until you get to steal successfully. Secondly, in many games, you don't get the XP or you get a piddly amount of XP if you don't successfully steal, further reducing this. On top of this, your chance to steal tends to be not weighted highly, having a 5% chance to steal something is annoying, and makes it hard to train the skill. Of course, these problems don't exist really because people who savescum can use it while people who don't will not use the save and load trick, you can always hack the game to increase your level or just pay for training in some games, it's not a huge deal, but it just feels like it isn't much of a 'viable' archetype, it's just poorly designed. It's a solid success or fail, it's not like swinging a sword where you deal more and more damage with higher level, you just get a chance.

So I have thought about it for a bit and I have some solutions, depending on the inventory system.

Every inventory item has weights. Small items like coins don't weigh much, bigger items like equipment weight more, obviously. Whenever you steal from someone, you can see what you can steal and can then steal from them, which transfers the items to your inventory. There is no chance to be detected here- this is just stealing from a menu right now, the game considers you have successful gained access to their “bag” if you snuck up behind them, no need for a check yet.

So then, the game keeps track of what you stole. If you stole 15 kg or pounds or units or whatever from the NPC, then it will have a little slider that shows how much weight you stole. This slider will be colored- blue/green around the middle, yellow to the sides, and red on the ends. Basically if you are stealing too much at once, and make the weight too low, then the NPC will notice instantly when you exit this menu. However there is a trick, you can buy or make “thief weights” as well as use regular items- you
place these in the NPCs inventory to rebalance the weight. You steal coins from their bag and replace them with little lead discs, you take the sword from their scabbard and put a painted bit of wood inside; it's that kind of gaming abstraction that creates stories, and also makes the archetype more powerful. (You can also put in too much weight, which will make the NPC alerted as well, but that's unlikely to happen unless you are like stacking bombs to blow up in their inventory or something) When you exit this NPC's inventory, as long as the weight stolen isn't in the red zone on either end, they don't notice. 

But they have a timer; over the course of a few seconds, based on how much weight you changed and how high your pickpocket skill is, they will slowly be alerted. At the end of the timer they get the exclamation mark above their head and realize they've been stolen from- and go searching for you. This means pickpocketing isn't just a random chance; squat down, access the inventory, and steal whatever you want- then stand up and walk away. No, it's about successfully stealing but also making an escape, having a route to get away from the target, avoiding their notice. If you steal barely anything they won't ever be alerted to the theft. So a few coins from here or there is a good way to level your skill, but stealing a lot or something valuable like a treasured piece of equipment or entire sack of coins will alert them. Higher skills increase the amount you can steal and how long it takes for them to notice the theft. You can't just shimmy into a corner and crouch for 1.2 seconds to get behind a guy to steal everything, you need to actually sneak up and away so nobody knows.

This method is more hectic, and may be more suited to action-y games with stealth, but works in the same way as above. In this method, you may need to hold down the button for a second to actually get into an NPCs inventory, needing to trail behind them for a second to actually steal, then the game goes into slow motion and opens up the NPCs inventory. If this game uses a grid based inventory system, or weight system but with pictures, it will arrange the items out randomly on a small window that gives you only a few seconds to pick something and back away. You'll see a bunch of coins, food items, clothes items, arrows, etc. just scattered around the NPCs inventory. You need to have skill to see the valuable gemstones or quest item or key you're trying to steal, mousing over it, stealing it, and backing away with your character using the WASD or whatever control scheme your game uses.

Using this method, the higher the player skill the more successfully they can steal. They can just spam click to steal things but the longer they spend on their screen and the more they steal the higher the chance the NPC will turn around and catch them. The idea is to prioritize quick reflexes. If the player character has a high degree of skill then they can stay in this screen for longer, or even make the items displayed in the NPCs inventory more orderly; before it was a jumbled mess, now its more likely the more valuable items will be near the top of the list; meaning a high skill theif can just click click click to grab all the coins and gems and treasure off the top row of the inventory, ignoring the junk, and backing off to avoid getting caught. This system could also be interwoven with the above system here- NPCs will notice they have been stolen from after a few seconds, so you have just enough time to escape and avoid getting caught.

The second version of this method also uses the Thief weights; you're playing inventory Tetris but literally. You have to fill in anything you "steal" with the weights or decoy items; the more holes you leave the more likely/faster they become alerted. You could also have the fun situation of having certain items being hard to steal for this reason; a key can be replaced by any item that is 2 tall and 1 wide, for example, but a master key is 3 tall and 1 wide in blocks; and very few items fit that size. I also really like the idea of not even having or using thief weights; but just having low quality or cheap items you can replace items of people you steal from with. So replacing rare alchemy ingredients in a satchel with some weeds, or putting a wooden training sword in a scabbard instead of a magical steel sword. Some of this stretches believably, but it sounds really fun.