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.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Metamorph Creation

You get a Metamorph when you fuck up making a Chimera.

The different body parts reject each other. Instead of forming one cohesive crossbreed, they form a black ooze which shape shifts between different forms. The Metamorph is uncomfortable in all of its bodies, switching between them and its abilities at will- it can be a slime, a dog, a man with weapon created from ooze, all within a few moments of each other. The Metamorph is more like a violent, bloodthirsty shapeshifter then a living creature; and it only “lives” for a few hours once created as its lack of stability causes its death.

To create a Metamorph on purpose requires a specific process, and several body parts and samples from multiple creatures. They are then placed in a large cylinder filled with several dangerous and very expensive alchemical agents; such as Thaumetic Sulphite and Voltaxic Sulphite, and heated to cause a powerful reaction. Because of the fact that Metamorphs lash out at every living thing they see and will always attempt to kill their makers; the concept of creating one except as a trap seems daft. Even in the short period that it is alive, especially during its gestation process in the tube, the Metamorph can create several rare or potent thaumaturgical compounds and alchemical reagents- things that cannot be created in a test tube by require a living belly to stew. Imagine combining the potency of a dragon's body with the healing properties of a unicorn- but you will have to content with a powerful foe to take it.

Each part of the metamorph, parts of the living things put into its vial, determine its capabilities. Note that this isn't a realistic depiction of a chimera; behaviors aren't just altered by the brains, it is all organs. This is magical thinking that powers our fantasy world. The metamorph with a liver of a pig, the stomach of a sheep, and heart of a lion will sweat and smell like a pig, want to eat grass, and have a warriors heart of a lion, and so on. If any primary body part is mixed, use the one that is most prevalent or comes from the creature with the most HD, which is dominant over the other body parts.

Metamorph Generator Tables
All Metamorphs start with 8 HD, 14 AC, and 14 morale. It lives for 4+1d4 Hours.

The Vitae is the primary liquid biomass placed in the contained.
Hot Blood, from mammals and birds, adds +2 to hit
Cold Blood, such as from reptiles, add +2 AC
Insect Ichor adds +2 to saves and poison to its attack
Plant Sap adds +1 HD to the Metamorph
Black Blood of a monster or living-dead make it immune to all 1st level spells.
Gel or Slime Ooze make the creature immune to acid and gain an extra 1d4 acid attack.

The Organs determine the Metamorph's behaviors and attacks.
Predator Organs make the morph attack with a deadly pounce; dealing 2d8 damage on a hit.
Prey Organs make the metamorph attack in self defensive desperation; two attacks at 2d4 on a hit.
Organs of Intelligent creatures make the metamorph attack with precision. Deals 2d6 with +3 to hit.
Abomination organs makes the metamorph attack with a random elemental blast at 2d10, but -2 to hit as it is blasted out of an unidentifiable orifice.

The Structural body parts put into place changes the Metamorph's form and speed.
Bones grant the Metamorph more speed and weight. Always goes first.
Shells of insects or crustaceans give the metamorph average speed, but +2 AC
Fibrous structures such as from jellyfish or only leather/skin placed within; the Metamorph goes at a normal speed but can squeeze its body through any gap.
Dried Wood makes the Metamorph more plant like. Rooted in place, adds +2 HD, goes last in each combat round. No weakness to fire; it's made of goo and ichor.

The Eyes determine the Metamorph senses and magic.
Bird's Eyes grant incredible vision. +2 to hit and ranged attacks; goo bow or evil spit.
Beast Eyes grant +1 morale and the Metamorph can track through brush.
Fish Eyes are unblinking, lidless. Metamorph cannot be surprised. Casts Hold Person once p round.
Man's Eyes are full of desire. Can read and knows two random 1st level spells, casts them once p day.
Monster Eyes glow in the dark. Will lead party members into traps or other monster ambushes.

Why Make these things at All? - Roll 1d4
[1] Metamorph's ooze can be sieved and boiled to produce 2d10+10 healing potions.
[2] Chemical processes within the Metamorph create 2d6 random gemstones as waste products.
[3] Studying the body of the creature unlocks secret knowledge of life. What makes you, you?
[4] Metamorph is born in a “dormant” state. First sample of blood or hair given to it; it will hunt and kill whoever the sample belongs to.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Arena Ranks by Aquatic Creatures

This is a list of positions and the rough level of prestige/power each rank of gladiator has. Usually a rank is placed against a fighter of a rank one or two higher to 'advance' in rank. Every level can face off against lower levels, they just don't give the prestige necessary by either the crowd or the association to consider it a “placement” match.

If the rank titles and concepts here are too specific/flavorful for you, then use more generic ranks like “rookie”, “squire”, and “champion” and use these names for a Merperson arena instead or something.

Arena Ranks & Their General Standing

Minnows are the virgin fighters. All of their fights are advancement fights. They are usually pitted against common animals like boars, or in small groups against a single, pitiful looking starved lion. Occasionally, a more experienced fighter will be fought against several minnows at once, which is an advancement match for both groups- winner take all.

Clownfish. Not a real rank. It is a diminutive name used for those who hug the walls or barricades and avoid fighting as much as possible during their matches. Mocked and spurned by the crowds.

Jellyfish are second rank fighters. Usually so named because they lack a consistent “form”. They may cycle through several matches, even wear masks to take on several new personas. Arena coordinators may invent several conflicting backstories for them until they earn enough fighting skill and crowd appeal to actually be memorable.

Eels are the common “support” fighters. Eels tend to constantly slip into random matches or exhibition bouts to try and get a little fame. They may act as the archers during a gauntlet match, or drive the ships in a flood arena battle royale. Eels are sometimes recruited and cycled from the normal arena rotation, or some never leave this position. It's slightly less dangerous then being a normal arena fighter. Also a common name for chariot racers of low to mid rank.

Trout are the mainline fighters. Usually among the most common members of an arena's stable. So named because they all look and act the same. They constantly jockey for position in their own circle. Due to lacking individual prestige groups of them are sometimes set up to fight in huge battles or act as the “rival” racers in chariot races.

Gulls. Not a real rank. Term used for mercenaries or solo adventurers who are experienced or famous enough to get placed into moderate matches for a few short fights- usually done to drum up some press or get a little short term wealth while staying in the arena's city. So named for the diving birds only entering the sea for a short period to snatch one fish.

Barracudas are standard, trout rank fighters who are now considered above average. Connotation of being an expert at 1 on 1 duels over spectacle fights.

Urchins are the prickly, asshole fighters nobody likes. Tend to be ugly, brutally efficient, or have an annoying voice or personality. They tend to be about this rank, as they are too good to get killed off by the arena coordinators by normal fighters. Can eventually win the crowd over just by being so damn stubborn and hard for the coordinators to kill off. In such cases, they are sometimes named by the meat inside of an urchin or clam, or given the name Barnacle if they get old.

Penguins are the same as gulls, but are part of a professional company that sells its services as temp spectacle fighters and showmen for heavily depopulated or failing arenas. They only hire the best warriors who can win and keep a crowd. Heavy connotations of professionalism and high skill.

Sharks are the big boys. Battles against sharks are highly celebrated and advertised as the 'main events' of the evening. Long rivalries are established between the shark personas, like the scars of an actual shark as well. Also so named for the feeling of dread one may feel if a shark enters the arena with your favorite rookie fighter.

Turtles are the name given to "Shark" rank fighters who fight in an overly defensive, boring way. Negative connotation. Sometimes further mocked by being named "Tortoise", they are avoiding the competition but not even going in the water. If they occasionally lash out and totally destroy someone, then they're given the moniker of "Snapping Turtle" and are less disliked.

Dolphins are of the “shark” rank but are the most popular fighter of that level. Not quite a champ, but still very much beloved. Have a connotation of being the “face” fighters, who spare opponents the most (to keep the profitable rivalries going) and generally playing the crowd. The occasional murderer or anti-hero that steals the hearts of a very brutal crowd can also become a “black dolphin”.

Mako are of the “Dolphin” rank, but only for chariot races. AKA Number one racer. Very similar to a medieval NASCAR driver, but back in the early 2000s when NASCAR was actually popular.

Manatee. Not a real rank. It's a joke term used to describe the hypothetical idea of a fat noble falling into the arena and being forced to fight for their life. It's happened once or twice.

Octopus. Very uncommon rank given to high level fighters who act as the “jellyfish” rank- changing styles constantly or knowing many skills.. Also so named for any high skill masked gladiator, who will tear off their mask at the last moment to reveal their true identity, usually as part of the drama.

Kraken is a colloquial term for the current reigning champion of the arena. Also sometimes called “Whale Shark” or “Swordfish” depending on the culture.

Whales are the old champions. Similar to dolphins but with less flavor of the month. Also so named for their rarity. Coordinators are very hesitant to put an older, retiring whale in the ring with a younger and more ambitious fighter in case they lose one of their big names. There are a few minor sub ranks here, like the “Killer Whales” who are only brought in to kill off popular smaller characters as well as the “White Whale” who never technically reached champion status or beat the current reigning champ but are as popular as ex-champions.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

10 Torso Mutations

[1] Your internal organs get loose and start to shift around. List down your internal organs of lungs, heart, liver, and stomach. Roll 1d4 for each against each to see which location each one shifts to. This has little practical effect, as all the organs continue to function, but now you must be stabbed in very weird places to die.

[2] You grow 1d4x2 extra nipples.

[3] Your hips and spine have shifted to be more like a theropod dinosaur. You still walk on two legs but your upper body is bent forward at an angle. Standing up totally straight hurts your back and makes your gait bow-legged and awkward now. You can run 5ft faster when in a full sprint, but without a tail to balance you out you'll slip and fall on any attack or saving throw that rolls a 1. This negative is negated totally if you manage to grow or add a prosthetic tail to help steer you while running.

[4] Your ribcage shifts and your entire torso implodes into some horrible perfect spheroid. Your heart is located at the very center, well protected. You need special armor and you are noticeably shorter. On the upside, you can roll down hills twice as fast as you can run.

[5] Your muscles are folding downwards. You gain incredible abs and +1 Strength as they concentrate around your waist, but a simple karate chop between your shoulderblades will cause you to be knocked out for 1d4 exploration turns- you basically have no resistance up there.

[6] Your spine melts. You find it impossible to walk or do almost anything for a week. Then, it grows back as two separate spinal columns, each about halfway between your shoulder and your spine's old position. This means you no longer have a straight backwards spines, but two spines to do the job of one. If any attack were to break your spine, you have a 3 in 4 chance to survive it as the other one picks up the slack. You can also pick up heavy loads at weird angles without injurying yourself. You look very strange from the back without a shirt on.

[7] There are white and orange bees living in your chest. They make honey from blood, and put larvae in the nooks and crannies of your bones. They can only exit your chest through your belly button- and they will defend you, their hive, whenever summoned. You can summon a small swarm of 2d10 bees by holding your belly button open. The bees will also take any additionally blood spilt on the ground of nearby corpses and return it to inside your body to make more honey, but only while the blood it's warm and fresh. You can feel them buzzing around when you sleep.

[8] Your sweat production goes into overdrive. Whenever you overheat, your entire torso sweats great sheets of liquid at a time, dripping off you rapidly. This makes you smell terrible but you also cool off extremely fast, and is a godsend in deserts as long as you have enough water to keep up.

[9] You grow large gills along your sides. These gills can be opened to reveal fuzzy tendrils that filter oxygen from water, but are not as efficient as gills would be on the side of your neck. Your gills grant you an additional turn of underwater time before you need to take a breath, but make easy targets giving you -1 AC

[10] You grow a Spetlzefran. It is a beige colored organ, squished against your right lung, opposite of the heart. You lose -1d3 Constitution due to compressing your other lung and generally increasing your blood requirements, but the Spetlzefran is a useful organ. Firstly, it improves the quality of your blood by trapping and killing slow or sluggish blood as well as adding purifying nutrients into your veins. Your lifespan is increased by +20 years if you are a human, adjust according to the recipient's race. Secondly, is squeezes your arteries very hard during a life or death struggle, and thus giving you a moment of firing blood from your eyes, mouth, ears, or any other bodily opening if you so chose- temporarily blinding foes and afflicting them with any negative effects your blood would normally have. You can only do this once per day before the blood lose makes you feel dizzy.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Corpsefire Man

There are many things that eat the dead. And there are many dead bodies that are left behind after a great battle. But less people know about those who seek to burn the dead, to inhale their smoke and taste the ashes of their burning flesh. Just as you can become blind to the reeking stench of your own home, some become so accustomed to burning flesh that that smell is too forgotten. But what of those who begin to enjoy the smell, feel it is comfortable, that happy memories are binded up with it? What about those who eventually smell it as fresh air?

Only those who have fought in many battles, or scavenged from many battlefields. Those are the people who smell the corpses burning. And eventually, some start to like it. But what do you do when peace is at hand and there are no more burning corpses? You must start making them.

Corpsefire Man (2 to 4 HD, AC 14 from scavenged armor, 1d4+2 torch OR 1d6 scavenged sword, fire powers, fire sense, partially undead)
Numbers- One if solo stalking the countryside, 1d4 after a huge cremation or funeral pyre
Morale- 8 to 10

The corpsefire men are like ghouls. Once living people who have become dead, or partially dead, in their cannibalistic sacrilege of the dead. The difference is that corpsefire men do not eat the corpse, they simply become so accustomed to, and begin to crave, the smell of burning bodies that this hunger consumes them more then the hunger to eat. Eventually, a corpsefire man stops eating entirely and his nose will be totally burnt off, leaving nothing but a gaping burnt black hole where his nose once was. Before this point, running smelling salts by a high level Sage or being hit with a powerful cure curse spell can help prevent or stop the decay of the Corpsefire Man. This ghoulish look is the final transformation of the corpsefire man into a monster.

Corpsefire men tend to wear armor and use swords scavenged from the fallen warriors at old battlefields, or occasionally stolen from funeral pyres while the owners were not looking. If a corpse is burning, they can smell it from up to their HD in hexes or that many miles away, and will seek to get closer to the scent. Corpsefire men kill people and set fire to the bodies, even people who are merely comatose, and so a horrible burning death awaits those who are captured by the corpsefire men. They also sometimes carry torches instead. When using any fire based weapon, spell, attack, or special move the corpsefire men get +2 to hit and damage- this represents their innate power with fire. However, they have no defense over fire and will just as easily burn as anyone else if tossed in.

The corpsefire men can be burned by fire but have no fear of it, and may walk through flames to pull someone inside as long as they are not totally consumed by the fire in the process. Corpsefire men do fear the wrath of the Gods at what kind of creature they become; they can be turned, but the result can never be a “destroyed”, due to their bodies still technically being alive. The older the corpsefire man gets, the more undead they become, so eventually one could become so gaunt and inhuman they may just be able to be destroyed by holy wrath- but by that point they have probably been consumed by their own flames of mad hunger.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Hu

We know from hence the races came. Lizard Man. Goat Man. Horse Man. Each one is the uplifted, enchanted form of an animal given a bipedal shape and a mind to create and build.

But what about Humans. Humans are clearly Hu-Mans, made from a Hu and uplifted into a Man. But what's a Hu? What were Hu-Mans before they became Men?

The Hu
The Hu are flightless bipedal birds. They have no feathers, only bare skin, and form small tight-knit communities as dwellers in shallow caves and large wooden canopies of fallen trees. They squawk and have no known language. They do not use tools, but can weave 'basket-like' nests to protect their young. They form these into bowls to carry their eggs from nest to nest in case of trouble, which is about the only thing their small, clumsy wings can carry.

Hus live in small colonies and form into mating pairs. They are known to be highly protective of their young, and due to poor differentiation between them, mothers and fathers will dab the tip of their beaks into pond scum or clay and “draw” a small symbol on their chick's bodies. Due to the fact the Hu never bathe, this symbol stays with them until young adulthood when they no longer need looking after. This is one of the few occasions of body art among animals, an activity mostly reserved for members of the intelligent races. The Hu have also been known to mark the same symbols onto fallen tree logs, and will build “bridges” of long sticks between fallen logs for the grubs within to climb between them. By doing this, the Hu are ranching small worms and other creatures to fresh wood to eat before the Hu eat them as a valuable source of protein.

The Hu survive off a diet of nuts and seeds in addition to their grub “farming”. Because it can be hard and tedious to pluck up seeds with their beaks when they don't have a long neck to make ground foraging easy; the Hu will instead roll a stone over the seeds with their feet, crushing them up into dust in small communal recession areas, which are then mixed with water, which is carried in with a small bowl. The Hu will then often fight over who gets to eat the soupy mixture; the tallest male and the prettiest females dance and bump chests until the winner is determined, in which case they get to eat the soup. Sometimes this takes so long the soup mildly ferments, and the Hu will sometimes seemingly prolong these “fights” to allow this to happen. While the losers of these battles can still get food, losing means going off and pout in a corner in shame. Sometimes, Hu kick one of their baskets over their own head, which is assumed to be a method to “hide” themselves from the rest of their flock during periods of stress and isolation from the group.

There is an unmistakable element of sadness and awareness in their eyes. It is clear these things have the capacity to be human. It is clear all who are Men, were once Hu in some way. All of their behaviors are instinctual, but human behaviors dulled without the intellect of being -Man. The Hu are nonetheless a rambunctious species despite their shyness and rarity.

Hu (1 HD, -2 AC, 1d2 beak, panicked squawking)
Numbers- 1d6 tending to grub logs, 2d6 fighting over seed-drink, 3d20 in large nesting colony
Morale- 4

The Hu are an extremely weak creature. It is trivial for a person with weapons or armor to kill the Hu, do to their exposed naked bodies and lack of offensive weaponry. The main advantage of the Hu is their large numbers; in which case a failed morale check causes all Hu within the hex to hear it, putting them on edge and making it more likely for them to avoid surprise and avoid notice entirely. Hu are known to pick up nests and move over a single warning call, so it is almost impossible to sneak up on a colony by surprise.

(Idea stolen from Skerples.)