Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Scepter of Dying Leaves

Scepter of Dying Leaves – One Handed Magic Scepter
Ego- 8
Stats- 1d4+2 Bludgeoning Damage

Created and wrapped in an elvish glamour, this magical item represents the dying of Autumn, the end of things, but also the unchanging laws of the wild and the magic within. To claim the scepter is no easy feat, as scant few Elf-Lords have managed to create one themselves. The scepter is somehow a legendary item that “dies” eventually, so creating a new one is either the creation of a legendary item or the revival of another one, it blurs the line between the two.

While holding the scepter, the person with it in their power is lord of the forest. As the Scepter can only be made and used in Autumn, this limits your time as lord of the forest to that season in fall. The “Lord of the Forest” is King and Commander of all animals, spirits, fairies, elves (begrudgingly), and Old Trolls (treacherously) within the forest it is made. They must obey your commands as Hirelings with 10 Loyalty, adding your normal Charisma modifier for any rolls to stretch their obedience. Those who are abused by the Lord or are broken in morale are immune to the Scepter for the rest of that Scepter's lifespan. There is no protection against these beings bending the rules, or leaving the forest to avoid the wrath or commands of an unworthy tyrant.

The Scepter has magic powers. Beyond the command over the Forest, the Forest can command the plants. Trees which are losing their leaves are affected by this power, but evergreens, fungi, and so forth are immune. Motioning with the scepter can command a tree or group of trees to get up and move, swing branches, shake to loose someone climbing in them, etc. There is no limit to how often this power can be used. You can also forces the trees to shake and give off their last mana- the leaves on the tree turn glowing orange and fall down as bright glowing energy which if scooped up and pressed or preserved can become a minor source of magical energy, flavored after nature magic and the coming of Winter. Additionally, anyone struck by the Scepter who is over 80 years old must make a saving throw vs death, or die. Those killed by the Scepter in this way have their bodies disappear when nobody is looking, reappearing only underneath the biggest suitable pile of leaves nearby. Whenever this Scepter is used during an Elf-War, hundreds of Elf corpses are found in silent, standing gravestones from this power; the Scepter is a formidable weapon against the immortal.

The Scepter has a very powerful Ego. As such, warriors or beings who attempt to even touch it who are UNDER 3rd level must make a saving throw vs paralysis or be turned into a wooden statue of twigs and roots, their body destroyed despite the plants keeping their likeness. If you are EQUAL TO OR OVER 3rd level but still lack the Ego to claim this weapon fully, then instead it causes accelerated aging of 1d6 years for the Season you claim it. Additionally, using the power of this scepter means the creatures and beings of the woods will only obey you once, and then they become immune to your commands or aura of authority until the Scepter is remade or claimed by a worthy person. Ego weapons require the character's level/HD to be equal to the Ego of the weapon or higher to be fully claimed- In this weapon's case, the Weapon has no class alliegence and only reacts to character level in total, with Elves getting a +2 bonus to their level for the purposes of this weapon's Ego.

Finally, the Scepter dies. At the first snowflake of winter, the first light of the first day of spring, or the first butterfly of summer; the wilting on the scepter accelerates to becoming nothing but black dust in 2d6 days. While Winter always follows Fall, magical shenanigans or traveling to strange lands with unusual seasons can attempt to preserve the scepter beyond its normal time. Some Elf Lands are still ruled by immortal Autumn-Lords the tyrants placing a magical spell over the land to keep it in that falling time of year forever, ruling with an eternal scepter.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Lost Mystique of the MU, and How to Fix It (Long Rant)

I once made up a dumb quote. It went like this; “Fantasy is just retrofuturism for the Pre-Sciences.” It's pretty dumb, I know, but I think it has a lot of merit. Fantasy worlds and media tends to focus on the beliefs of ancient peoples, and then show those beliefs as being how the world actually works in the body of fiction. Gods are real and grant blessings or curses. Secret knowledge can cure diseases, or create energy or matter from nothing.

Side note: I began writing up  this "rant" several months ago, and lo and behold Goblin Punch had to write an article about this very thing I'm complaining about and beat me to it.

This is a short essay about magic users, why I'm upset with them, and why I changed them into something else. I've marked this as a 'rant', which is a tag I usually use for long rambling nonsense like this, so feel free to skip it if it isn't your thing.

Art @Sarunas Macijauskas
Note- This isn't talking about Magical or “Supernatural” elements as a whole, but specifically the type of “Magic” that spellcasters can use. Witches, Sorcerers, etc. Casting spells and making charms are both common things in fantasy media. Having a role dedicated to the pursuit of magic is sensible, logical, and fits in perfectly with a game about loose archetypes. The Fighter. The Magic-User. The Holy Man. The Elf. These are classic classes which the original game of D&D was built around. Over time, these roles changed to be less thematic and more practical, though paradoxically some of the implied coverages of the classes (the Fighter, specifically) was reduced to give rise to extra bonus classes like the Barbarian and Ranger. Please note, I am not actually a D&D historian, so any of all of this could be wrong, but it's right for my essay.

While some worlds feature wild magic, natural magic, or supernatural elements, this is distinct from the concept of “Magic” as a craft or profession. Magic is a force that can be manipulated in the form of spells, items, incantations and so on. The idea behind giving magic a purpose and a use in a game is extremely simple. For one, it gives a use for “smart” characters. While in real life smarts is obviously really good, you need something in a “game” where the players control the character using their real life intelligence. Obviously in real life being smart is extremely beneficial as it comes with the ability to create plans or understand the natural world better, but in a fantasy game? Players already do that. Player characters instead need a vector to be smart, and in a world without computers to hack or technology to build and repair, making smarts central the “magic class” makes perfect sense. Wizard means Wise Man after all.

We can see this role personified in fantasy media as the Wizard. This is a catch all category, including Sorcerers, Half-Magic Gish types, Evil Witches, Druids to an extent. Putting this role in a game to play makes sense. Plus, magic systems are some of the easiest things to tweak and hack, and making up new spells and magic unique stuff is both easy, rewarding, and lets you flex creativity.

"Pig in Time" @Andrea Radeck
However, there is a problem. Fantasy Magic as we see in media doesn't exactly match the magic we see in games. This is a general rule, not based on the specific games people play. While Vancian magic isn't common outside of Dying Earth and D&D material, it has all the trappings of standard pop culture and fantasy magic. Spells to turn people into animals? Easy. Spells to control weather? Sensible. Spells to summon beings from other worlds? Control minds? Cast wishes? Etc.

These have the surface level of magic being the same, but the magic we want to see and enjoy conceptually doesn't really work in game rules. Now this isn't to say there aren't some games with better magic systems then others mechanically or flavorwise, but most games there is a disconnect between magic and fantasy magic. It's gameified for use in the game, but cannot be specific enough to allow for all the cool interactions we'd like to see and give each spell a high fantasy/mythological feel. It also can't be general enough to let the players run amok with it, as they would quickly find a way to break the system. Even with the best possible group and DM, I struggle to think of a way to put magic into a game that would be as cool or flexible as the magic we see in books and TV.

This disconnect is the same as the one in video games. In a video game, your character might be a Wizard with a few select powers and spells, but you'll get quests where you need to find a specific item for a specific NPC to cast a specific ritualized spell that you simply don't have access to. Why? Obviously it's the limitations of the medium, but tabletop games still have this issue. Your Wizards can't suddenly put two and two together and think of how to end the evil rampaging spell by mixing a few magical reagents and using their knowledge to know it will be strongest when cast on the full moon. This shit isn't in any game books and has to be made up by the spots, which hey isn't that bad and I want to do it, but you can't make a rule to do it.

Art @ThemeFinland
Magic in games sucks. I hate it. Reading spell lists got boring after my first game. I want too much out of it, I'm not even saying it's objectively bad. I just don't like it. If spells are too orderly and procedural, like having ice, fire, and lightning balls all listed out with the same mana cost and damage but just with different elements, I'm bored. If you have D&D of a few basic attack spells but in different intensities and forms; Shocking Grasp, Burning Hands, Cone of Cold. All different forms of attack but all doing the same basic thing, which is more interesting but doesn't feel complete enough.

Like I said, I'm enormously picky. I want myth and legend, or more accurately, my shitty pop culture understanding and personal feelings of it, to be codified into game rules. Thus losing their 'magic' no matter how good it is.

I feel like games can do a lot better. Some of this discussion is spurred on by balance, but it's not an exclusive issue. Magic is something I've thought about a lot, even on this blog. I've read many rulebooks exclusively for their magic content, and have had many online discussions about magic. As such, I feel as though my homebrew can be put to end this entirely self centered problem, though I am by no means claiming to be the absolute most expert in this topic. It took a long time, but I think I have finally found the solution.

The problem is the archetypal Wizard.

The Wizard doesn't exist in mythology, really. It does, but not the fireball slinging Wizard of D&D fame. As many have stated before, the “self learned scholar who learns magical power” isn't much of a thing in traditional fantasy. Almost all Wizards are Gods, angels, or supernatural innately. Magic tends not to be the province of humans, except for the real life magic of folklore. Things like drawing a talisman to ward off evil or creating a curse tablet to spurn the lover who left you. We can see here that the type of magic avaliable to the “player characters” would be more subtle stuff- based on Fate, the supplication of the spirits, alchemy (to explain their limited understanding of chemistry), and so forth. This is the way these people thought the world actually worked. It's retrofuturism of prescience.

The other problem is that this type of magic that isn't really present in myth and legend, it is also too exclusive. The idea that magic items are “enchanted” by a Wizard to give them power is one of the most cancerous ideas ever. I despise this concept. Ancient blades of power are forged through secrets that blacksmiths know, not some arcane mana-points Wizards put into it. Anyone can pray to the Gods for guidance and a blessing against the forces of evil, not just a specific class or feature.

Art @pita
But magic is cool! People like the Wizard. I like the Wizard. They are the perfect self insert for the “nerd” type of stereotype, using intelligence and cleverness. To possess forces beyond the physical body. It's extremely interesting, both to imagine and use in a game, to have these types of powers. It's not even exclusively a power fantasy either, it makes for interesting gameplay. What other character type can reasonably have abilities this powerful? If you gave it something like super heroes, they'd be too powerful conceptually to exist in these kinds of worlds because they'd just always have access to these powers. But by putting it into magic, he can give it rules and restrictions. Checks and balances.

Magic is also extremely easy to build for. Entire magic systems, fictional or otherwise, inspire entire ideas out of them. How settings work. How empires and warfare would work with access to powers like this. I've created entire backwards ideas just for this- Gold and gems are among the few things magic can't duplicate. It has “antimagical” properties innately. That's why Kings and Queens wear crowns and jewelry on their heads and bodies. It's a great little idea that nestles in your head. Not just that, but magic systems almost by themselves define the fictional world they are in. I've created what feels like dozens of magic systems myself for this exact reason.

The best magic systems are, in my opinion, either closely tied to the setting they come from, or things so tightly interwoven with a class or identity they become indistinguishable. This faerie class by ATWC is still one of my absolute favorite “casters” I've ever seen, it's at the very least the best Elf-as-class expy I've ever seen. But I have a problem with these solutions. I don't have a super specific setting, I'm not Tolkien. I want gameplay classes that can fit into many different settings or campaign types. As generalist as possible, lacking flavor, but having flavor on the back end. Of course, this entire rant can just be ignored if you like making classes based on thematic concepts. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not something I'm personally doing. Hence the issue.

On top of all that, giving spells to people is one of the only ways to get the fantasy game out of its rut of human-capability. You can also offer things like superhuman races or mutations, magic items, and other powers that the DM rules in stead of a set spell or magic system, but those alone won't work alongside the abilities of player character needing a “magic expert”. The Wizard doesn't fit into what I consider the gameplay loop, not just of my pseudo-OSR standard D&D homebrewing, but into most games. Creating classes based on gameplay needs is superior to creating one on a thematic basis, because it the gameplay centric classes, like the “tank” or “healer” if you want to use video game terminology, can be directly interfaced into gameplay.

But there's a problem with all of this. This is invented. It wasn't wholly invented by D&D of course, but it partially was; you can see its influence in early video games. If it wasn't Gygax somebody else would have probably capitalized on the Gandalf/Odin symbolism and make something popular. Once again, I want to stress that I'm not saying Wizards only came from this; there are Conan's rival sorcerers, Lovecraft's occultists calling upon the power of the old gods, and other examples. But the countless video games, movies, newer fantasy books and so on, in my opinion, have been tainted. Magic is a force to be manipulated, not the way the fantasy world works at its core.

Art @Christina Kraus
The Fantasy World isn't the real world. This is my biggest problem with magic users and magic since I started this hobby. It took me a long time to start understanding it, but I think I am ready to explain it. The problem is people can't throw away their understanding of our world, taught to you in schools and based on scientific learning. You can't immerse yourself in a culture that is objectively wrong. But you can, because in the fantasy world, they are right. Another great resources to help me understand this better was this blogpost by Skerples, which is highly recommended for reading this essay. His writings on Medieval culture and beliefs are extremely helpful for anyone who wants to better make or break fantasy worlds. Another is this excellent summary from darkshire.net

In the fantasy world, dragons do not fly because they have some special magically force that uplifts them. Nor do they need (though many have) some lighter then air gas-sac to explain this issue away. They fly because the God of Fire created them to serve as his messengers. The normal human weaknesses we understand innately do not exist in the fantasy space unless you chose them to be there. People in real life come back from long military campaigns with injuries and wear that makes them permanently crippled for life. In the fantasy world, fighting hard and surviving literally let you cultivate your life force and make you more powerful. Diseases are caused by foul smelling vapors and miasma, and fate is determined by the motions of the stars.

Of course, I'm not decrying sci-fi depictions of fantasy or more realistic, grounded campaigns. I'm just saying that they existing as this sort of “norm” is a problem. Magic Users are not necessarily the only people using magic. In fact, making a 'magic expert' a class at all presents the issue where they must be the best at magic, but since magic can do anything, and you put that magic in the control of the players and give them the direction, and pretty soon it is a toolbox. It's not mythical, it's not special, and it doesn't give the same "feeling" of what I'm after.

Meanwhile, mythology is rife with warrior-wizards. Some dude who kills hundreds of enemies, by himself, is not “mundane”. And you may say that those characters are Gods or blessed by a God- but neither are Wizards just “normal people” either. But yet you want high fantasy Wizards with low fantasy, “mundane” warriors? It's nonsensical. Also, I don't want to derail this too much into a hypothetical discussion about class balance, it isn't just about warriors vs wizards. My problem is farther reaching then that.

So I don't want these systems. I don't want magic in neat little spells, I want magic that everyone can use and profit from, something that makes the world of fantasy feel fantastic. I like Wizards, but I don't like them at the same time. Making rules for players to use magic that ticks all of my boxes is either impossible or so out of my reach as a designer I simply can't. Does that mean that magic should only be in the DM's toolbox as a Deus Ex Machina? Probably not- but can you do something close, while giving the players some fun enjoyment to be had? I don't see why not. I think you can do it, and if you can, then we can try to make it.

Of course, the problem then becomes, how do you gamify this?

Art @Vlad Tesoff (NSFW)
So here's where all this comes from. I started playing tabletop games about 8 odd years or so ago, though I technically started much earlier then that playing “Adventurers” with whichever of my friends on campouts would tolerate playing pretend. And I guess what I did with the extra tent pole? It was a Wizard staff, you bet your ass it was. I remember learning about tabletop games like D&D and was mystified. In truth, most people learn D&D as their first game, but I kind of had an outsider perspective. I never knew exactly how D&D worked, how rolls and stats worked, what HD and AC and all that was until many years later. Instead, I read the monster manuals on the computer, or read the rulebooks for other games I found online like Ars Magica and Unknown Armies. I scoured the White Wolf wikis for every scrap of lore I could learn about Vampire, Werewolf, Wraith, Changeling, and Mage. And in short? I was really, really interested in the magic systems.

But enough of a history lesson. Why am I telling you this? So I can say my next bit with authority. The Wizard isn't a role. It's a thematic role, not a real one. Games are based on gameplay and game mechanics. Roles are based on those mechanics. The idea behind a game (and the game-world you want to present to be as logically consistent with the game as possible, but that's a topic for another day) is that the characters and archetypes for a group are all doing something central and important for the game. There is no practical difference between a character who has an unlimited use magical ranged blast power and a Fighter with a bow. Hanging up these classes and archetypes on the symbols and aesthetics instead of the practical terms isn't in my opinion great game design.

But then there's the other problem, what is great game design?

In my opinion then, the best games are designed with the core gameplay in mind. I've kind of fallen out of favor of calling myself an “OSR” blogger because my stuff is more DIY. It's idea vomit, not based on old D&D manuals and not necessarily trying to replicate the gameplay and experiences of those people. And I want to mention I understand people who only want that kind of experience. Actual OSR gameplay is very much like historical reenactment in a way, it's like somebody bringing foam swords to a reenactment battle so they can have more fun when hitting each other. It's not the point of the exercise, even if it appears similar at a distance. So then, what is the core gameplay? What archetypes or classes are central to the core gameplay loop?

Well, in my opinion, the core gameplay elements are Fighting, Bypassing Obstacles, and Resource Management. Other elements of the game such as mapping is a mostly meta-game outside of the game (so you don't need a cartographer class), or things like social mechanics (which are mostly roleplayed and can be done by any character, dragging a diplomat along with your party wouldn't be fun in most games about dungeon exploration and high fantasy exploration, but they could be in say, a long distance silk road style game). Exploration and wonderment is also core to the game, but is something everyone is doing when they play, there's no real room for an 'explorer' class unless you're adding these thematic roles I talked about. This would mean if we were going to be “good” designers and cut down the classes or roles of the player characters to just those three tenants. Fighting. Bypass. Resources.

Well, what fantasy archetypes fit those closest? That would be Fighter, the Rogue, and then a Healer or support. This is an opinion of course; some could say the oldschool games with just Fighter, MU, and Cleric fit this description, but I personally prefer the whole “creative solutions” is better then a spell to handle things. It just fits anyway; the Rogue is more common of an archetype then a problem-solving Wizard who isn't a magical demigod. But I've ranted about this enough.

I ended up thinking long and hard about what kind of magic system I wanted in my game, and I decided that for the sake of my game's world, balance, and so forth- I wanted a support. I was done with the spell mastering, generic MU. Now I went through several steps- from imagining the fantasy class incarnations of the MU as more specific, interesting, and evocative. I thought of creating a unique magic words magic system, the second draft of with will probably never see the light of day. I instead thought of changing my class dynamic entirely. I went from mentally removing the concept of the Cleric (for the simple 3 class system of Fighter, Rogue, Magic-User that you see a lot in pop culture and I personally enjoy), to basically getting rid of the MU and putting the Cleric back in. But the problem persisted. I still like the aesthetics of a magic using robe guy. I still like the squishy guy in the backline. I still like the scholar and clever Wizard dude who mixes potions. I just don't like his artificial place of importance, his spells with no seeming guiding principle.

Eventually, I settled on creating a white magic user. Something that had a strict role in the party; as a support. The original idea was simple, a “class” that had the same weaknesses as a Wizard, but with the Cleric spell list. I really liked this idea at first, and after experimenting with the 2d6 rolls to cast spells vs a contested opponent I shamelessly stole from another blog, This was the original draft of the Sage class, which I fortunately already found the perfect name for. This later was changed again when I realized that the magic was unnecessary too. I want to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the old fashioned “keep everything as grounded/boring as possible to make the more magical parts stand out!” even though that's basically what I ended up doing. But it's because, in my opinion, I hope to have created a new movement or paradigm shift. You can think that is hyperbole for what I have created, and you might be right, but I sincerely think what I ended up settling on is pretty good.

And that is the Sage. The non-magical variety. It has everything you could want in the archetypal MU, but none of the issues that come with it.

The Sage is a guide. The Wise-Man. They value Intelligence (for knowledge and magic) and Wisdom (for healing). Their healing is their primary 'combat' or game mechanic ability, but in universe they're all about knowledge and learning. They'll be the most literate characters in settings where that's an issue. They'll probably know the most languages, they can decipher the ancient runes. They have everything the MU has, in a nice and easily digested package. They fit into basically every setting- it's much more sensible to imagine a temple priest or old wise man from the woods as a Sage then a magical MU with this many spells and components. They also fit into basically every society too, no longer do you have to either handwave the issue of powerful entities with mind controlling, transmuting, teleporting, or other potentially setting-breaking spells. Not saying this is an inherent problem for everyone who runs a D&D game; any DM can create good reasons or sufficiently explain away this issue. They also fit, in my mind, on my imaginary list of armor classes and HD rolls- I never liked Clerics being stronger then Rogues. Now its goes Sage, Rogue, Fighter in combat strength and armor. Sages just do all of this for me in a way that I like. They fit the last checkbox on my list of checkboxes.

The best part about all of this is, as a DM, my control over the game means I can still have what I want. You can still insert all your favorite magic system ideas. The whole idea of forcing spirits to due your bidding? Magic is exclusively down through alchemy? Magical words have power if learned and spoken in the right order? All of it still works in the game with the Sage. You can slap on the Sage with some bonuses to this to make them more 'magic' focused but it probably isn't required. I want the Fighter to learn a magic word to improve his swordplay. I want the Rogue to drink a potion that lets her talk to birds so she can spy on people. This is fantasy. You don't even really sacrifice powerful end game things like high level spells and magic item crafting; the players can still get the magical stuff at the “late game” to make the game world more convenient. Instead of a flying spell, grant them a flying carpet. Like I said earlier, I think finding a way to climb out of a pit is more interesting then the MU burning a single spell to accomplish it, but with high character levels or campaigns that can scale on many different vector, the ability to make certain things trivial (usually with magic user spells in other games) can still be done. The Sage also looks and feels like a Wizard in play, squishy, all about dem' artifacts. Still a keeper of knowledge, but more about the healing art. Maybe for the pseudo-intellectuals in your group, they can pride themselves on playing the “most complex class” which is normally a MU, but in this game it's still the Sage. So this imaginary strawman I just made up can be smug and eltist about being a support class, which is a perfect solution- take that, imaginary strawman. Plus, you can do one better and make everyone capable of doing magic with the systems above. It's all based on your in game knowledge, resources, and character level or stats. How much your willing to sacrifice, or what spirits owe you a favor? This is magic in its best form.

I haven't even sacrificed the aesthetics. Sages still carry books and bags filled with stuff. They're still everything a scholarly, somewhat magical inclined character would want. Plus, you can even keep their combat abilities similar too. I have recently fallen in love with this idea; “arcane” to hit rolls modified by Intelligence and magic “weapons” in the form of wands and staves. Normally in games these are magical artifacts in and of themselves, you find a rod of fireballs. Instead, here, they're relatively common weapons for the bright and gifted. You can tell the Sage he's still a Wizard, just wave a wand and blast some energy at an enemy. It's not nearly as powerful as a Sleep spell, but hey, it's aesthetically close without having this song and dance about resource management vs impact vs cost of replacing the resources in the resource-management minigame AND much less of a hassle to balance encounters around. Plus, you can take it away; it's not that annoying problem of Wizards being at full power regardless of their situation as long as they have spells prepared. If you're separated from your stuff, you're just as toast as everyone else. You still keep resource management not based around combat with other in game items. Good players know how to use things like marbles, chalk, ropes and such to their advantage in a dungeon. These resources still run out. Using a more complex first aid system; those items run out. Create a game where they're scrambling to collect, carry, and use these over spell slots and I think you have a more interesting and engaging game environment. For everyone- the players and DM included.

This rant began as a explanation over why I became invested in creating the concept behind the “Sage” class and why I truly enjoy it so much, despite it going through several, sometimes contradictory, iterations and levels. It quickly ballooned out into this massive history lesson.

Secondly, I want to state that this does not mean I am done writing spell lists, classes that use spells, or new magic systems. I enjoy these things very much, this is simply my way of finally expressing a long, complex process of figuring out what I like in fantasy, and how I solved a 'problem'. I truly believe that many people who have problems with roleplaying games, finding them meaningful or lacking in that creative spark, that this very well could be your solution. I sincerely believe in what I write here, and you, dear reader, are to be the judge of it. Thank you for reading.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Mutant Wasteland-Guide Generator

There is a mutant who will gladly take you through the radioactive desert wasteland. He is a guide and will help you avoid the worst patches of radiation and the feral, cannibal mutants. What's he like?

What's up with his Skin and why does he cover it with his Cloak?- 1d8
[1] Blackened, like from a fire.
[2] White and albino. Easily sunburnt.
[3] Leathery gray or brown skin. Animal smell.
[4] Insectoid chitin. Dull gray plates.
[5] Green, glows in the dark.
[6] Melty. Looks like its saggy and wrinkled, a bit like its melting. Still solid though.
[7] Taut, papery skin. Visible blood and lymph travels through it, partially transparent.
[8] Purplish-gray color, with armored skin coverings. Roll on the subtable below.

(Subtable) Purple-Skin Coverings Armor- 1d4
[1] Squares patches of eczema, made into tough leathery plates.
[2] Lumps of fat and waste bubbled to the surface. Retards fire.
[3] Studs, material as horn.
[4] Ridges of bone, growing along the nervous system tract.

What's his “Lucky” Arm Like?- 1d6
[1] Squashed. The limb is shorter then normal. The bones, connective tissue, muscles and so forth are all the same, just much more densely packaged, and as such basically impossible to cut off.
[2] Elongated. The arm is much longer then normal. Has an extra joint. It is weaker and less tough then you'd expect, with thin skin and brittle bones, but is very fast and gives good reach.
[3] Noodly. Emaciated and very thin, but has some prehensile properties. You can smack it with a hammer and the bones just bend and jumble around; doesn't hurt.
[4] Muscular. It's roughly human shape, but is incredibly vascular and tinted red with its intense blood flow. Insanely strong, sometimes acts out violently as though with a mind of its own.
[5] Fat. The limb is fat and sags, heavy and bloated. Acts as a fat store for trips across the radioactive desert. If you cut into it, it bleeds greasy water.
[6] Tubular. It inflates only when in use, requiring a heavy breath and has an innate direct line of air from the lungs, otherwise hangs down like an empty glove. Can be hidden with ease.

What are the Fingers on his “Lucky” Arm like?- 1d6
[1] Cat's claws.
[2] Stubby, visible pores, excellent grip for climbing.
[3] Fused into a mitten shape.
[4] Standard. Little tattoo of an hourglass on his middle knuckle.
[5] Desiccated and shriveled. Looks like bone with tight skin covering; still functions.
[6] Aligned into points. Skin on the tip is regularly cut off to be manicured, else grows long fingernail like protrusions too rapdily; dangle down to touch the floor in two months without a trim.

What's this Mutant's Face like?- 1d6
[1] Chiseled, ragged, teeth grinded down from lifetime of pain.
[2] Innocent, with long hair streaked down. Almost looks like they're hiding their face.
[3] Nose is missing, as though a leper.
[4] Bubbled over from radiation.
[5] Smooshed in, has trouble breathing and speaking at the same time. From physical trauma.
[6] Mouth is pronounced outwards, has inhuman grinding teeth and a weak jaw.

How does he walk? - 1d6
[1] Just fine on his own, thanks.
[2] With a hobble, he has a bad leg.
[3] With a long warbled walking stick. He's a bit older.
[4] With a short iron pipe. Doubles as weapon.
[5] Through short, but still inhumanly capable leaps and bounds. Like a weird frog.
[6] Demands to be carried or pulled in a cart. So emaciated he barely weighs anything.

How does he Protect himself? - 1d8
[1] He doesn't. That's why he needs to “serve” people by “guiding” them!
[2] He doesn't. He runs away and leads his foes into his traps and random monster dens.
[3] An old rifle. He counts the bullets each night before and after sleep.
[4] With a wicked old rusted knife.
[5] Fights with fists and kicks. Mutations have made him inhumanly strong.
[6] With a metal club. Has painted it up and down, “practices” and thinks he's a swordfighter.
[7] Using a hidden natural weapon, granted by mutation. Poison stinger, ejecting his stomach, etc.
[8] Has a pair of well trained dogs. They mean well, despite having eyes that look like fried eggs.

What's his Area of Expertise? - 1d10
[1] Knows a secret bunker that possesses old world ammo + giant killer robot.
[2] Knows how to filter the water from the ancient sewer into something drinkable.
[3] Knows a secret passage to avoid the mutated flesh eating megaphants.
[4] Knows the secret to “master the blazing bolt”. He just straps a car battery to his back.
[5] Draws maps. Maps are child like, with landmarks and little monster stick figures.
[6] Writes books about the land. One fact is dangerously false; acts as copy protection.
[7] Mechanically gifted. Could actually get a car running with proper materials.
[8] Tells tall tales about the old world. He was there.
[9] Everyone owes him a favor.
[10] Is absolutely insane. His mad cackle even gives raiders pause.

What's the One Place he Refuses to take you? - 1d6
[1] An active bomb in a carter. He doesn't want it to blow up.
[2] A nuclear waste dumping ground. Can't afford to absorb any more radiation.
[3] The Metal-Heads' territory. The worst raider gang; weld metal to their skin to prove toughness.
[4] The Albino Pit-Bird's lair. He has nightmares of it eating him alive.
[5] His wife's grave.
[6] A friendly town. Horrible, painful disease has broken out there. It must be contained.

What's his Attitude towards Death? - 1d8
[1] As an old friend.
[2] As a bitter conclusion.
[3] Something people should remember.
[4] Something people should cover with a tarp and leave to rot.
[5] Food for the vultures.
[6] There are worse fates.
[7] I have too much left I want to do.
[8] Sweet release.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

[Class] Witch

HD- d6
Max AC- 13 / Minimum Hit-Points- 2

Some of those who learn the power of magic do so in institutions, where as others learn in small groups or through master-student relationships. Witches are of the latter. Most Witches are women, but not all, though all are inducted into the hedge crafts from small covens or from their mothers teaching it down the line of descendants. Witches have a special appreciation for the natural world, and are most likely to understand and channel the natural magics of the world then the more artificial, arcane magics of your typical school taught Sorcerer.

Witches can cast spells. They gain spell slots which can be used to prepare and cast spells, the table below shows the spell slots they have available per level.

As a Witch, you are skilled in curses, hexes, and spells that enchant the minds of others. At 4th level, Witches gain the power to Bewitch people. To Bewitch someone is similar to a Charm spell, except it has an indefinite duration and the Bewitched person can be convinced or tricked into doing things a Charmed person normally wouldn't do; like attack someone else on the Charmer's behalf. All Witches know at least one method to Bewitch someone, which they learn once they get high enough level to put people under their spells.
Bewitched individuals have another weakness; any important item or part of their body (like a scrap of hair) can be kept by the Witch as a Fetish. Fetishes can be cast in spells and rituals as though it was a person, allowing the Witch to cast spells at a potentially infinite range; but the Witch and the target must be within the same plane of existence or dimension. Additionally, anyone who is Bewitched always fails the saving throws against the Witch's spells.

At 10th level, you become Elder Witch. You attract the attention of young girls and wandering men to join your coven- and you have learned an innate understanding on how to manipulate the politics of Witch society. You also cease aging, but most Witches at this experience level are old and will as such continue to be old. You also learn the secret ability to make flying brooms, both for yourselves and to grant to other beings. Anyone can ride a flying broom as long as they are not too heavy, but for nonmagical folk, it can be quite hard to guide the bucking broom. It costs 6000c to create a flying broom, and you can make two per season. It is quite possible to manufacture flying brooms, but due to their bristles dulling and falling out with use and due to the fact they are easily burnt by fire flying brooms tend to get lost through the years much quicker then other magic items.

Witch Spell-Slots Table










Thursday, November 28, 2019

20 Really Good Mutations

Most mutations are very bad, both in real life and in tabletop games. How about some really good ones instead? You get these for drinking an evolution potion, being blessed by the God of life, or from just being really lucky rolling on a random mutation table.

20 Really Good Mutations
[1] One of your hands, at random, becomes plant based. Your fingers wither and die, the palm cracks and bleeds, but shortly after leaves and shoots bloom in their place, and soon the entire hand is formed from green leafy plant matter with all of its normal strength and dexterity. This hand grants you +2 hit points from being such a hearty part of your body. Additionally, this plant body part can regrow if ever chopped or burnt off; simply holding it under water will allow it to become green and healthy again, and it will regrow in a season if ever forcibly removed or mutilated.

From now on, any seed you “plant” in that hand's palm can blossom into either a single small fruit of that plant type, a tiny adult version of that plant, or create a single use of a magical or potion-ingredient effect that that plant can have. It takes one turn of resting in your palm to sprout, and then you can make use of the plant for one turn before it dies off and falls away. This would allow you to turn an apple seed into a single apple for one ration's worth of food, for example, or a few leaves worth for a single dose of a poison plant whose seed you put in that palm.

[2] Your muscles gain some of the traits of sponges and other primitive life forms. While giving yourself a slightly flabby look, you can 'inflate' your muscles at will full of blood and energy to gain all of your strength back- and then some. Treat your strength modifier as +1 at all times, even when you are affected by things that make you weaker or entangled. If you spend a combat round flexing and pumping up your muscles, they inflate to a much larger size and you treat them as +2 for all rolls involving strength. If your Strength modifier was already +2, then treat them as a +3. You can also use this ability to forcibly push out rot grubs, burrowing worms, and other flesh-eating creatures or objects forcing their way into your body if they found entry through a muscular spot. Simply flex and they will be ejected by the force of your muscular spasm- you take 1 damage each time you do this though from the blood used to flush out your wounds.

[3] The mutagens course through your eyes. Your vision blurs and you find your eyes shifting into that of another creature. Beyond their new captivating purple colored iris, the orbs are extremely sensitive and pristine such as from a hawk or other bird of prey. You can see farther distances then most and any vision problems you may have had before are corrected- adjust your Wisdom modifier to +0 if it's negative, purely from your vision alone. As for other abilities; Firstly, they can shift into feline slits in bright light, making you immune to flares or blinding powder. Second, they can dilate very wide in dark places, giving incredible nightvision similar to many underworld creatures.

But along with these, your eyes also gain the power to see a faint outline of invisible creatures or spell effects, though you only have a 1 in 6 chance to notice them each round until you spot them, in which case you can track them as long as your vision is not interrupted. You also gain the ability to see body heat with a bit of concentration, see unusual and indescribable colors that normal people cannot, and focus your vision over a round to see through a single thin object not made of lead. Your newfound sensitive eyes do come at a small price though; after your eyes mutate you must make a saving throw every time you open your eyes for the first week and a half or so- on failed save you are too disoriented by your incredible vision and vomit. Once the acclimation period has ended you now have your newfound superpowered eyes for life.

[4] Your chest bulges and is inflamed, for a few days you experience strange periods of tiredness and boundless energy back to back, and feel as though you are being dragged two directions at once. Soon, you realize that you have grown a second heart, and after that it becomes stable, beating in sync with your first. Your body feels stronger already- you gain +1d8 maximum hit points and treat your HD for the purposes of spells, resistances, or monster abilities as one size higher. Your physical endurance also improves, letting you run all day without becoming tired and moving at full encumbrance without any sort of exhaustion penalties.

Additionally, your second heart grants you a second chance. If you are struck and fail a save with a heart seeking arrow or poison that destroys your heart (aka causing instant death), you instead live with your first heart. Roll 1d8 and lose that many hit points permanently, but you don't die.

[5] Your colon feels extremely healthy. Whenever you are suffering from a disease or poison that was ingested, you get a second saving throw to resist the effects if the first one failed about 4-6 hours after consuming or drinking the item. If the poison kills too fast for this second save to kick in, consider it a single level of level drain unless you fail the second save, in which case it causes death as normal.

Also; you only need to piss once a week and shit once every two weeks, though you can go more often if you don't want to piss an entire stream. Whenever you poop, your poop comes out as a solid, very dense round ball. If you store up your poop and polish it a bit you can use it as a cannonball on a long ocean voyage, with little daily poop balls being used as musket bullets.

[6] Your shoulders, back, and arms become double jointed. If you're a biped, you can now snap your joints back and run on all fours. While on all fours, you cannot use tools or attack besides biting or kicking, but you move +50% faster. You also take double damage from caltrops. It takes one combat round to snap back upright. If you're quadrapedal, you become a biped instead from using this ability. Even without grasping hands, your paws or claws can still clumsily open doors and push levers, and you can carry small items by holding them against your chest and in your mouth. You can also attack with regular weapons like swords or spears, but must roll disadvantage at the clumsy imitation of normal bipedal combat.

[7] Your skin crawls. Somehow detached from your muscles, but yet still a part of you. You can shake and wiggle tattoos, brands, scars, or other blemishes on your body to other parts of them or fade them out, and can even move wounds with a turn's concentration- these are usually just for cosmetic reasons, but could also be used to avoid painful injuries from repeated stress. Such as moving the slave-lashes you got on your feet to your back or sides to avoid further damage and pain while on tomorrow's march. Your skin can creepily crawl around, letting you move while prone without moving your limbs by sliding across the floor at a very slow pace, like a slug.

Additionally, you have the power to jump out of your skin. Your flesh and bones come out of your skin alive and in one piece, but with several disadvantages. While in this form you'll be almost impossible to recognize physically, looking like a strange flesh zombie but still glistening with fresh blood. Secondly you'll automatically fail any saving throws vs poison or disease, as anything splashed on your body is absorbed directly into the blood and tissues. However, in this form you can jump into the skin of another creature to take on its appearance, though you may move and act differently, and sound differently, then what the creature normally seems. If your original skin is destroyed while you are out of it you will lose -1d4 levels from level drain and never be able to regain your original appearance without a much greater form of regenerative magic.

[8] Your fingers turn blotchy white on both hands. This blueish-tint gives your fingers the appearance of being stained with something, or being frozen solid. While you cannot remove this coloration you can pretty easily hide it with a simple pair of gloves. These coloration also gives you several powers.

Your hands become immune to cold. You can touch things that are “too cold to touch” without injury, and can hold your hands in front of your face when being targeted by ice breath or cold spells, granting you a +2 to saves from deflecting the frost away from you. You can also now 'cut' ice by touching it at your will. You can cut out perfect cubes or spheres of ice with a little practice, though this only works on purely frozen ice and not snow or slush. You could use this to carve rooms or stairs in a glacier. This power also works on clear glass, letting you cut holes in glass windows or objects similar to a burglar; the glass and ice can stick to your fingers to make retrieval of these objects easy. Your hands are immune to cold, but you still take standard damage from cold sources.

[9] Your body tingles, you feel healthy all the time. If the first wound you take during a day is not fire or acid, you restore 50% of the damage from that wound at the end of an exploration turn. This explosive healing also grants +1 hit points per day of bed rest and you are sick for 1 day less as well from common diseases that pass through your system. This healing doesn't seem to speed up your metabolism or cause premature aging, your body is just that active when it comes to healing you.

[10] Your ribs are replaced with a highly mobile, pressurized gas with beneficial properties. The gas inside your chest follows a roughly rib-like shape, and provides the same protection to your heart and lungs as your normal ribs do, but prevent knives and blades from slipping through the gaps in your ribs as they are a solid sheet, without impeding flexibility. Additionally, this gas slips out to instantly shut cuts or stabs on your torso and back, melding the wound with a pure white, boney plate until it is healed and consumed by your skin and flesh above it through natural healing. You gain +4 hit points.

[11] Your eyes and skull gain an unusual hinge, letting you mash your upper face together. This lets you combine your two eyes into a single larger Cyclops eye. This cyclops eye has terrible depth perception giving -4 to all ranged attacks, and if it is destroyed you will lose both of your regular eyes, but the cyclops eye has many magic properties. It can see the basic materials of any crafted item, can identify magic items that aren't legendary in status, grants vision that allows you to see unimpeded for 6 miles from a high place, and finally allows you to levitate objects of 1 load unit or less by staring at them. Your eyes can be split back apart when you choose, requiring a single exploration turn and causing a headache to split or merge your eyes into the magic cyclops eye.

[12] Lymph Nodes- Yours grow even more as a tangled web. Beyond increasing your saves vs disease by +4, you also have a network of highly developed lymph just beneath the surface of your skin. Through your skin these creeping tendrils can pop up and entangle or grasp at objects or beings nearby you. This is painful and makes you take 1 damage per round they are outside of your body, but can freely slide back in without damage; the holes healing themselves up. These tiny blue tentacles can be used to “stick” yourself against a wall or other surface, wrap around a person in a grapple letting you treat your Strength score as doubled for the grapple, or squeeze and strangle tiny creatures crawling on your like flesh eating rats or piranha trying to bite you. The lymph node mutation lets you lower the damage taken by swarms to a maximum of 1 each round.

[13] You regain the ancestral strength in your jaw. Your progenitor's muscles were much stronger then your own, the ancient men who had to fight to survive. You regain that strength. If you are a man, this gives you a totally manly, handsome jaw. If you're a woman, this retreats back to your cheeks and back of the neck instead, letting you retain a more feminine appearance, but having the same effect. You can bite straight through raw meat, and deal 1d4 damage on a bite. If you're of a nonhuman species who could already do biting attacks, then increase the damage of your bite by +2. This strong jaw is also highly resistant to getting you knocked out when punched hard, meaning you can no longer be knocked out by a punch except on an attack roll of 20. Finally, this ability comes with a slightly painful but not unsightly restructuring of your teeth- you gain wisdom teeth and your teeth have an extra ability to regrow if they are knocked out or damaged.

[14] The space between your brain and skill expands to create a fleshy, lumpy layer of helpful blood and air, fed from your breathing. Extremely useful for general health- increase your maximum hit points by +2 and increase your Intelligence to 8 if it was lower then 8. This also allows you to survive and stay conscious and alive for up to 5 + Con modifier minutes without oxygen or fresh air to breath, but without fresh oxygen you cannot power your muscles, simply avoid brain death.

Additionally, in the event you are beheaded, your brain can stay alive long enough for your head to be sown back onto your body and reconnected. Making a saving throw against death to survive and have your head grow back onto your body.

[15] For a short period of about two weeks after gaining this mutation, you feel an incredible urge to eat things that are hard. You feel as though your entire body is as weak as a sapling and your bones will snap at the slightest touch, despite not having any loss of muscle or bone strength. Over this period of time you will venture to eat metal, stone, wood, bone shards, and anything you can to get hard materials into your system. Additionally during this time, your stomach acid turns a bright pink color in the event you throw up to see it- it has become capable of breaking down these substances. You will need to eat powdered or small grits of these items, as your teeth or jaw have not become any stronger. Based on the amount and number of types of objects you have eaten, your bones become remade into much stronger structures based on the materials you ate- the percentage of hard materials you ate that were not common rocks, stones, wood, and bones should be marked and tallied. These materials include things like iron ore, rare alloys, lead, or magical fantasy metals or crystals.

Consult the table below for the results. You also lose the urge to eat these things and become unable to digest them after this two weeks is up.
Pounds Eaten
AC Bonus
5 lbs
Noticeably tougher finger and toes.
10 lbs
No longer feel pain from bumped elbow.
15 lbs
Takes 2x long to amputate limbs.
20 lbs
Bones are immune to Bone Breaking spells.
+25 lbs
Iron weapons cannot sever your limbs.
+25 lbs w/ Adamantine
Your corpse's bones will make mighty clubs.

The % category indicates how much of your skeleton has changed into a metallic or heavy form. Small percentages mean little streaks of steel in your bones, where as high percentages mean fully metal bones. You can also roll on the percentage value as a percentile roll to avoid your bone breaking from a fall or similar situation where they would snap under the strain.

[16] For a few days, you lose control of your legs. You'll occasionally fall over, jump in place for a few minutes, run with great speed when you meant to just walk, or accidentally kick your partner in bed from the random firing of your legs. After this fews days is up, both your legs feel very different. The muscles in them are taught like snakes and coiled like a spring. You can now jump 10ft high and bound around +15ft faster then your normal movement rate. Your kicks deal 1d4 damage. If your legs are cut and you don't move, the coiled muscles prevent you from losing any blood. You can also now sleep standing up, and you never feel foot pain or exhaustion from long travels, but you will still develop blisters without the proper footware.

[17] You gain a marsupial pouch. Up against your underbelly, this pouch is made of skin and can be 'sucked flat' against your body by the newfound muscular contractions you can do with your pouch. This suction is so strong that your pouch slit is invisible to the naked eye, only a slip of elf paper could find and enter the invisible gap to prove you had a pouch in the first place. You can store items inside the pouch which meld seamlessly with your stomach fat; a dagger would just make you appear chubby instead of having a dagger-like impression against your skin- still more useful for fatter characters. Using this as a hiding place, you can basically keep a small bag's worth of items sucked up close to you and unable to be detected. Being fatter gives you more storage space.

[18] The bottom of your feet grow hard leathery pads. This lets you walk around with bare feet that is tough as a shoe. Your feet also become more flexible- letting you tip toe around most trap pressure-plates and take no damage by moving through caltrops or burning embers. You can use them to walk across tightropes easily. Your feet have the same protection as good leather shoes would give. You also gain a +2 to stealth rolls from your silent, padded footfalls.

Additionally, you can "step out" of these leather pads whenever you choose, similar to a pair of sandals. As long as you are standing on a nonliving object, your leathery foot-pads remain and continue to press down with the same weight as your physical body would if you were still standing there. Such as stepping on a pressure plate that activates when you step off of it- you can simply step out of your leather foot pads and keep it pressed down. If these footpads are destroyed or knocked loose, they crumble to dust. Over the next week they regrow on your itchy feet.

[19] Uncomfortable growths being to form beneath both your wrists, which stretch down to your elbow. After a few days, they solidify into bones. With a motion you can force long bone spines to exit your forearms from your wrists. They exit through the specially made pores on your skin here, and thus cause no injury to yourself. These act as hidden weapons you can summon at a moment's notice. If you are a human sized being, these bone spines deal 1d4 damage. If you are smaller then a human, such as a dwarf or kobold, then these spines only deal 1d3 damage. If you are bigger then a human, then they're similar to the size of a sword and deal 1d6 damage. Finally, if you have any natural venom or poison, these spines gain the ability to deliver your own natural poison when stabbed into a target.

[20] Along your upper chest and back, scales of an unknown material form. These are bright orange in color, and hold a comfortable warmth, especially in sunlight. The affected character gains +1 AC from the hard scales granting protection, but also gain an inherent knowledge of what the scales do. As long as they are charged by being outside in the sun while shirtless for a few hours a week, the scales can grant the bearer their power. If the scales are not fed enough sunlight, they retain their AC bonus but lose the ability to channel light. In this case they turn a sickly yellow color until they are fed the requisite amount of sunlight once again.

While in darkness, the user can squeeze their temples to channel the sunlight energy in their scales through their eyes. This makes their eyes glow a bright yellow color, and lets them see in darkness. These eyes act exactly as a lantern, with only illumination on whatever the person is looking at at the time. This doesn't negatively effect stealth as long as you close your eyes, but the light can be seen from quite a distance in a dark place. You can keep your eyes glowing for a maximum of 3 exploration turns worth of time per day as long as your scales are charged up.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

20 Dwarven Light Sources

Art @Marius Schlichting
[1] Fire. Hearthfires, torches, long bronze candlesticks. Fire is a full belly and a good blade, why wouldn't you use fire? Smoke is dealt with easily through ventilation channels.

[2] Lava. Only for deeper fortresses. Magmaforges give off plenty of light, small troughes are cut to illuminate side area- flowing down and not cooling until after they fall into the wide drainage ditches. Some dwarf cities are built hanging like a bat against the roof of a large chamber over a sea of magma; the light and heat travels up enough to warm their homes. Mirrors can help illuminate inner rooms. Throw a carpet over the glass floor whenever you want to sleep.

[3] Trap-Jars. They hold jewel fairies; tiny beings responsible for hiding gemstones in the rock for miners to find. By trapping them in these jars the fairies produce light when shaken up. Eventually they'll find a way to slip out. Usually only outcast or poor Dwarves use these; when the fairies escape they tend to turn any gems the dwarf owned into coal as punishment for being imprisoned.

[4] Crystalline Stone. Stone with many small crystals within that trap and reflect light. Large pillar or floors made of this stone produce a small amount of light, enough to make it visible in the darkness, and enough to give a suggestion of nearby objects and beings. Not useful unless you have a large amount. Dwarf palaces are occasionally built with all crystalline stone, meaning the entire place has a moderate level of light without any energy spent.

[5] Glowing Mushrooms. They grow in little farms, or naturally in the caverns near where Dwarves live. There may be small industries based around these fungi; pressing and squeezing them for their glowing juices. These oils are put into lanterns and torches to light the way.

[6] Sparklers. Yes, like the firework. Little primitive gunpowder devices, rolled up sticks that produce a constant low fizzle and shoot of little sparks as they illuminate a small area. This is the reason Dwarves wear such long beards; keeps the sparks from burning your skin.

[7] Glitter Gas. Type of visible gas that only manifests in deep cavernous regions or nearby geothermal vents. It glows brighter the more pressure it is under; pumped into small glass orbs grants useful light but they explode violently when shattered or dropped.

[8] Olm Oil. Oil harvested from the fatty gills of giant cave olms. This oil is used similar to whaler oil; fueling lanterns and is a household commodity for richer Dwarf families. Also instead of Olms, just use literal underdark ocean great ghost whales.

[9] Magic. Some people don't like Dwarves with magic. Maybe all of it goes into light spells. Dwarf wise-men take handfuls of little polished stones and make them glow, permanently, at the cost of their race's other magical ability. Maybe the hallways just glow from this old magic.

[10] Ambient Light. It comes from the Earth itself, or filtered down from the sunlight lands above, and the lava flows below. Maybe the supernatural stonecarving skills of the dwarves allow light to simply carry further down the dark tunnels. Maybe the light is actually just sunlight and moonlight trapped from sediment; stuck in the pores of the rock and slowly leaking out once picked.

[11] Darkglow Brew. When drunk, mixes with stomach to create a potent glowing mix- can be visible through stomach if the dwarf if bare chested. Not used as a common light sources, but bubbles spat up when burping give off a bit of light. Puking this up create a puddle of rainbow vomit sludge.

[12] Salt Pyres. Deep mountain salts of different colors, purified and refined into a fine grain sand. Thrown in a shallow dish and lit on fire, gives off a low glow from the heated salts, lasts quite a while based on how much salt is present in the pyre.

[13] Electricity. Dwarves are the first and potentially only race to trap this force. By using lighting rods at the top of their hollowed out mountains, they channel this power down into deep chambers with copper wire stretched into cuboid shapes. This power can be siphoned off, bit by bit, to warm and light the sleeping and meeting chambers of the dwarves. Some dwarves may generate it another way, such as the great steam boilers in the bowels of the earth.

[14] Ghosts. Dwarves have a strong respect of their dead, and for good reason. Small glow lanterns or folded paper memorial slips to the dead shine in the darkness with a pale blue light- kept glowing from beyond death by their ancestors. Dwarf tribes who shun their ancestors lose their light, and as such, are lost to the darkness forever.

[15] Eldritch Lights. Glowing lights from down below; an eldritch source of energy. The cracks in the rock put out the light, we reflect and share it with our mirrors and tunnels. It grumbles on occasion, all we have to do is throw down an oath breaker who won't be missed. The grumbling stops, the mountain is quiet, the light continues.

[16] Shining Gears. Gears that turn from machines and steam engines. Unlike other engines, instead of putting their power into a machine or labor, these ones produce light. The small funnel at the end just illuminates a beam of light out of its path. Small cords and wires can be hooked up to funnel this light out of other areas. Not electric. It's gear powered.

[17] Trapped Sunlight. In the same way ancient creatures were preserved and fossiled, so to was the sunlight of ancient days. Cracking open a rock to reveal a dull orange splint of sunlight which can be shattered to release a bright flash, or it can be polished to let out a steady stream of light. Could also be frozen moonlight from a bygone age- the last ice age that froze the whole world.

[18] Glowsteel. It's a type of metal that must be imported, as its crafter must hate something enough to make the metal glow when it is pounded into shape. Dwarves may carry little vials of blood from a different creature, or a little bone talisman tied into their beard, which lets the metal light up as they approach. After many generations, dwarves may not even remember why these talismans work, and have no clue that an orc invasion coming as their steel posts desperately glow blue as a warning.

[19] The Gods. Dwarf Gods grant the gift of light as other Gods grant the gift of rain or success in battle to members of other races. They create little floating planetariums in the dwarf cities which give off pale light from miniature, but very real planetoids hovering just overhead. Maybe light is projected from the blessings of their priests or godly miracles, golden glowing clouds fill the halls of the Dwarf capital, showing both their God's favor and blessing in one.

[20] Domestication. Different glowing animals and creatures are used. Ever-flaming imps are stuffed into cages high above the meeting halls, fat glowbugs are given short leashes and tugged around to provide light to the scholars. Potentially only their bodyparts- farmed and put in lanterns as above, their glowing eyeballs torn out just to keep light in the Dwarvish home.