Sunday, March 29, 2020

On Numen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 27, 2020

Hedge Wizard Spells - 8 Spells

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 20, 2020

The Underhills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Wand of Corpsegrowth

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 16, 2020

30 Mostly-Generic Fantasy Races

Roll on this table as a supplement to determine what relatively standard and widespread fantasy race you want to include in your fantasy setting- excluding the generic standbys of Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Halfling, Gnome, and Human.

Art @Sean Andrew Murray
30 Mostly-Generic Fantasy Races
[1] The “Barbarian” Human. Taller, sometimes partially giant.
[2] The “Amazon” Human. Female only offshoot.
[3] The “Dark” Human. Something like Drow, or just unnaturally (pitch black) dark skin.
[4] Lizard people. Always from the swamp or desert.
[5] Plant people. Not treants- just have green skin and like leaves for hair.
[6] Multi-colored skin people. May be Genie born, or like Gensai.
[7] Treants. Actually playable sticks and branches, the Ents. May be “dryads” instead.
[8] Wolf people. May be “domestic dog” race instead, with many various breeds.
[9] Dhampir people. Vampire-like powers, white hair, can go out in the sun.
[10] Tieflings, or Cambions. Half demon type people.
[11] Kobolds. The less flighty and stupid variety for playable characters.
[12] Dragonborn.
[13] Gel/Slime people. Almost certainly a single amorphous mass in humanoid shape.
[14] Monstergirls and/or monsterboys. Looks like a human with animal ears and tails.
[15] Snake people. Most depictions are Naga like, with a long tail instead of legs.
[16] Cat people. Lazy, vain, good at being thieves.
[17] Mermaids. Possibly more like Aquaman, or maybe with little gils instead of ears.
[18] Warforged. Robot people, probably more arcane then mechanical.
[19] Puppet and/or Scarecrow people.
[20] Bat people.
[21] Mushroom people.
[22] Stone/Mountain people. May be the “trolls” or too big and not necessarily playable.
[23] Minotaurs.
[24] Centaurs
[25] Satyrs
[26] Monkey or Ape people.
[27] Goblins. Often these are monsters and not a normal “race”, but some crossover exists.
[28] Undead/Forsaken intelligent zombie and/or ghost people.
[29] Weird fluffy/furry monster with no recognizable animal origin. Like Gossamer. Or Yetis.
[30] Shapeshifter/changeling race.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Garden- Potpurri

Random Tables

What weird allergic reaction do you have from eating alien food? - 1d8
[1] Your stomach feels bloated. After four days, you realize the particulants are stuck.
[2] Big purple zits, all over your face. They go away once you pop them.
[3] You cough up a weird worm creature. It tips its hat to you; thanks you for birthing it.
[4] Permanent heterochromia. The second eye color is normal for your species, you think.
[5] Your hair falls out. It grows back at an astonishing rate, but it's the wrong color.
[6] You lose all color vision and see in black and white for about three weeks.
[7] You seem fine, but get a fuzzy feeling in your fingers. Touching lightbulbs makes them flicker and radios you operate spit out static and random words. Lasts for three days.
[8] Grimly, you feel as though you are going to die for a day. Then you wake up refreshed, with a scar across your belly like a crooked smile and a newfound appreciation for being alive.

What scavenged metal is your armor made from? - 1d8
[1] Soup cans, with a smiling alien face.
[2] License plates; etched with political slogans.
[3] Like a hundred pie tins. If you look at the edges you can see the layers pressed together.
[4] Car scrap. The hood ornament is squished in on the right shoulder.
[5] Rusty bolts and nails; melted down into a smooth iron with reddish streak.
[6] Struts from a cell phone tower- found in the forests around Garden.
[7] It's a barrel, with some cut out holes and a few joints, but mostly just a barrel.
[8] Not metal, plastics. Alien superplastics. Very strong, but difficult to shape into anything but the flat plates used for armor. Lacks intricate shaping without their native technology.

What is that gangster greasing his gun with? - 1d6
[1] Bastard Oil. Claims to be made of bastard sons, just a joke, actually clam grease.
[2] Oil from the Uskar Bean. The bean is carnivorous, so its price is inflated.
[3] Midnight Vinegar. It's a common cooking and lubricating oil in Garden. Made from moonplants.
[4] Spit. And a lot of it. He's from a rather drooly species.
[5] Conductive Juice. Used in certain batteries and power facilities on Garden, toxic.
[6] Animal fat, possibly from a wild hog or street lemur.

What's the name of the Talkie you're going to? - 1d20
[1] All's Fair in Love and War
[2] The Street Samurai
[3] Silver Screen, Golden Girl
[4] Night of the Leachbear
[5] Mrrkba's Growth & Enterprise (Company Propaganda/new employee training film)
[6] Spawn of the Flapper
[7] Speakeasy Slims
[8] Sex Around the Cosmos
[9] Postman's Dance
[10] Cigar-Smoke Curtsy
[11] The One AM Man
[12] Knife Fight!
[13] Creature from Behind the Sign
[14] Mr.Gumshoe
[15] Hovercar Exhibition- Garden's Rich and Powerful show their Rides
[16] Our City Speaks
[17] Service-Tunnel Spelunkers
[18] Radio Man
[19] The Haunted Apartment
[20] Chimneys- Maintenance, Operation, Safety, and Fun from the whole Family!

Garden Symbols
Garden is a city of signs. Neon signs to advertise businesses, hand painted posters for back alley shops, gang tags, hobo signs, new arrival graffiti, and many more. These signs and symbols may have more power behind them then just chalk or paint on brick and paper. The psychic powers behind Garden may also change reality itself from these symbols, and one who learns them may be able to manipulate them beyond what seems possible.

Symbolicists (1+1 HD, +1 Armor, +2 Resistance, 1d6 Guns, Jams on roll of 1, powerful symbols)
Numbers- One or 1d4

These cultists love and study the symbols present throughout the streets and back-alleys. They appear disheveled, with poorly maintained weapons, but are quite tough due to their inner drive and fanaticism. They are not typically violent, except to those who dare to remove their precious symbols while they are studying them, or on a 1 in 20 chance they think one of the party members are part of a secret group called “The Darkeners”. The Symboliscists have no proof that this group even exists, except for the black stud piercings they carry in their pockets; said to be taken from the bodies of the Darkeners agents. The studs are uniform, made of an unknown material, and are stained with blood from different alien races giving some credence to their insane ramblings.

Beyond their innate strength and psychic resistance from their beliefs; the Symbolicists are also known to have powerful symbols that they have cultivated. These symbols are difficult to replicate, as the mind only expands in a certain way if you have the capacity for it. Even if you copy the symbol, it won't have the same effect as if a Symbolicist drew it; it is believed the Symbolicists' power is yet another unexplored facet of psychic powers. Those with capacity for psionic power but no direct mental control may manifest it instead as symbol power; similar to what is believed to happen to those who develop the murderous intent of the Slashers. The Symbolicists each know one “magic” symbol. There is no “magic” in Garden, but the powers of the mind can seemingly cause the impossible to happen. Each symbol has no effect unless the victim of the symbol can see it.

Symbolicist Symbols- Roll 1d6
[1] Stopping Symbol. If you see this symbol on a door or by a passage, you must make a save to pass through it.
[2] Carstop Symbol. If you see this while operating a car, the car stalls and requires three rounds to get moving again. Only works on hovercars, traditional engines are unaffected.
[3] Marking Symbol. This symbol marked on an object makes it disappear if left alone and unwatched for at least one hour. One day, it will be found again in one of the mysterious lockers underground.
[4] Killing Symbol. This symbol must be drawn in blood. Whoever sees it takes 2 more damage on the next melee attack they are subject to. Symbolicists are not immune to it.
[5] Sign from Above. If you can hear a radio when seeing this symbol; strange coded messages are heard in the static. Causes 1d4 Psychic Stress. Symbolicists receive no stress, instead, they write the messages down to find a hidden meaning.
[6] Power Symbol. Grants Psychic Resistance of +1 and the power to sense nearby psychics capable of manifesting a fully fledged Psychic power. Symbolicists who know this sign have it stitched on the inside of their clothes, or can draw it on their body for its effects.

Among the symbols of Garden, some common symbols are much less serious and even humorous. The most common of these “cultural” symbols is the sign of the suicidal glider. This symbol lacks much formal use among the homeless, the symbolicists, mercenaries, or even companies. It's just a sort of funny image, kind of like that Cool S shape people like. This symbol is sometimes used in advertising or as a funny background gag in a show, and one local brewery uses it on their draft.

The suicidal glider image is based on a specific alien race. The race of pterodactyl-like creatures comes from a world with a hot, very active sun. They biologically have the ability to fly there, but only when the sun shines on their skin to give them energy (they are slightly green, to signify chloroplasts) and when the day is hot enough to create thermal columns so they can rise up into the air. In Garden however, it is always night and it doesn't get that hot, so these gliders are permanently grounded here. Needless to say, the ones that live here commonly commit suicide because of this; the ones who do not commonly get their wings disfigured with aesthetic holes or just removing the skin flaps entirely. Regardless of the small community that lives here for native-born gliders that live in the city, the image of them being all suicidal sad saps has lived on and ingrained itself in the public consciousness.
Inspiration & Ideas
Originally, and in all blog posts since I've started talking about it, Garden has always had a lot of hover cars. They're the one blip of sci fi technology in the setting that is commonly used. Originally I think the inspiration for Garden came from a bit of an “electropunk” angle, and as such it sort of had flying cars as a way to really sell the idea of unlimited or free flowing electricity as the primary driver behind the entire tech level. I still like this idea. In my mind, a mental image of a hovercar with a heavy teslacoil or exposed plasma orb as the engine, chromed up hot rods made with scrap parts and raced by scrappy street gangs sticks out to me the most about the car culture.

Of course, I still like that idea, and it is also entirely possible to use electricity to power a more normal car. But I also have had idea for the otherwise; motorcars. The oldschool model Ts and other nice old cars with an open top that look more like horseless carriages with cranks on the front to turn them on. I love these aesthetically and think it would nicely smooth out the tech level of Garden, make it a little more believable that a city with black and white movies and radio as the primary form of media used these instead of hover cars. Of course this presents a problem; where does the gasoline come from? This might potentially more interesting then the mystery of where the power comes from. Instead of a single source, it comes in from a million places. Maybe some members of certain species are hunted down as soon as they reach Garden, as their blood makes a nice fuel. Maybe biofuels from vegetables grown under the moonless night are what is used, or perhaps a strange oil from beneath the earth or even from the service tunnels. Eldritch Americana (the Goblin Punch setting which is one of the biggest inspiration to Garden when I first wrote it) used blood from an elder god, which is equally awesome for this purpose.

The City & Politics & Money
Garden was always meant to be anarchistic, but the exact idea of who owned or controlled the city was a little suspect. At first, the idea behind Garden was extremely closely tied in aesthetic to the real life Kowloon Walled City; less like an actual city to a single fortress. Extremely tied knit and cramped, this would be more plausible to explain where the people of this weird dark forest dimension could actually survive together- a fortress of lights among the darkness. I decided to change this, or generally expand upon it, so I could include more types of city, more districts, more scope and scale, and so on. Of course, I absolutely love Kowloon's aesthetics- I want at least one district of my Garden to closely mirror it. It may not have been a good place to live in real life, but it's too cool not to include.

Of course, the politics of Garden had changed a lot too. From a rag tag group of survivors in the darkness to a city with warring factions. I had thought of several types of governments; from councils of city elites being the most favored and most used “in practice” to the more perpetual chaos. That's another thing taken from Bastion, another huge inspiration to Garden, to which I think I may have kept too closely to the source material at first. While I by no means think settings (or make settings) with any kind of logical realistic good sense, I do think having some sort of authority gives more legitimacy to the government of Garden.

Of course with that said, we now need to figure out who actually owns Garden. Nobody does literally, but who is the most powerful? A particularly grounded reality warper? A group of gangsters dividing the city like a pie? A megacorporation? An otherwise well meaning OR extremist government, that is powerless in the bickering city state? All of these ideas and more had crossed my mind at some point, but I think I like all of them. For sure though, the money in Garden has to be printed by someone. I always knew the money was glow in the dark, it was papery monopoly money that glowed whatever bright shitty color it was dyed, but who actually makes it?

Granny X
I still never found a good name for her, or maybe I did and I forgot it. Granny 'something' was one of the my favorite ideas for a character or organization. Once meant to be either the leader of the city, or at least an important figurehead, the idea behind some harmless old lady being some criminal mastermind and ruthless tycoon was too good to pass up. I think Mom from Futurama might have been the biggest inspiration here- but the idea isn't bad on its own.

As for this Granny character- one of my favorite first things I thought of about Garden would be what mass produced goods would people need to get buy in this city, with so few engines and productive capabilities of its own? Remember- Garden uses everything again and again, everything is scrapped. I think originally the idea was that cars weren't used in Garden because everyone's cars were scrapped to make engines for the factories- with most people getting majorly ripped off. So heavy machinery was out of the question. I think my favorite idea for the Granny character was that she was a tycoon that sold cookware. While that isn't quite as instantly recognizable as something like tobacco or some kind of drug, I think it works. Remember, everyone that ended up in Garden was lost, probably in a car or on a riding beast, so when they arrive they need to have a stocked kitchen to live off of. Without modern appliances or less of them, mass produced scrap iron pots, pans, knives, and plates would be a huge business in the city. All of them would have Granny 'x' name or symbol on them, showing her subtle power over each and every member of the city.

Some ideas for the races of Garden had come from a very, very old forum concept. The idea that humans would be visited by dimensional travelers from an alternate universe, called Ghouls. These Ghouls came from another world that was dying, and they teleported in and were essentially refugees in our world from this other realm. I participated in this thread before it died off, and the idea stuck with me, and eventually corrupted its way into something like Garden; except instead of one race it was many.

Of course, the desire to create a few set races was always there. A few different dimensions, with perhaps fully fleshed out tech levels and cultures. I let that slide by because of my love of the gonzo weirdness, and it means less work for me. Just saying “oh dude the aliens can be ANYTHING bro” is so much lazier then actually putting in some effort, which is probably why I went with that. Of course, I also once had an alternate idea to Garden. A “humans only” version of the city with people just of different timelines. I liked this idea after reading the book Wayward Pines, which has a semi-similar concept. The idea is that everyone in Garden is a person who is trapped from a different time period, all missing different people. Amelia Earhart was probably among one of their earlier inhabitants, though there could have been even older people there too, living on fire light.

Garden also went through a few revisions when it came to firearms. Some of the first ideas I was given was to make firearms ultra rare, a sort of useless weapon, due to the expense of trying to upkeep such a complex weapon with such a low tech level. These ideas didn't come from me, but from online discussion, which I didn't fully agree with. Later on, I decided to drop this idea in favor of something more mystic- guns were more like unique, quasi-magical weapons. Each one probably used its own ammo type and had a special power. The idea to make them like this is attractive, and better fit the idea of the inspiration from Goblin Punch again, but I also decided against this after writing FLASHBANG!

The idea of guns being omnipresent works to make the game more about tactical squad shootouts and big gang gunfights- less about sword and sorcery adventuring with a modern coat of paint. Not that I'm against that, that's one of the things I always wanted to evoke.

Conclusion & Author Notes
All in all, Garden is one of the my weirder and also more fond ideas I ever had. It's grown quite a lot, and the near personal level I have to all the nights spent driving home past quiet walled communities and subdivisions with their little dimly lit garden paths and atriums was a huge inspiration to the concept of Garden, among many of the sources I have listed here. It's also regrettably something I don't post about enough I think; that is partially due to the difficulty of getting art- originally I probably thought of using this blog with art made by others, until I started to use more of my own simple drawings instead. Still, even then drawing stuff from Garden is really hard. It's not generic fantasy, it's not even really modern fantasy, it's gonzo modern electropunk fantasy. That's one of the reasons it's been one of those things I feel like I don't talk about enough; it's still something a little special to me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

10 Sketched Monsters

[1] Minceform
HD- 1d6+2
AC- 10 +1d6
Morale- 10 +1d6
Numbers- One if by accidental creation, 2d4 in breeding colony
Attacks- Bite at 1d6+1, plus appendages.
Abilities- Appendages, Possible Poison, Chaos Biology, Erratic Behavior

The Minceform is an abomination. It is a combination of many kinds of living things; it may have the head of a fish with the body of a man, with the trunks or branches of trees as limbs and the tail of any great beast or reptile. Every part of the Minceform is from another animal or being, with an amalgamation of these parts making the whole.

Every Minceform has a body and (at least) one head, but they also have limbs. They have 1d4x2 limbs, symmetrically attached down their body. Consider these limbs as possible weapons, with at least half being dedicated to legs. If the Minceform only has 2 limbs, then it can stand on one of them temporarily to swipe with the other. Limb attacks deal 1d4+1 damage if the limb is of an animal or thorny plant; anything that can actually do damage. Every Minceform also has a 1 in 4 chance of having a poison bite, determined when the creature is rolled. If bit, you must save against poison or you take 1 damage per round for the next 1d8 rounds.

Every Minceform is unique. Due to their mix of traits, different spells or abilities only have a 1 in 6 chance to work on them, but each “part” of them could be used to target them. For example, a Hold Person spell only has a 1 in 6 chance of working on a Minceform if it has a person limb, but that same Minceform may also be affected by control animal spell or rebuke undead. Minceforms share these strange genetic traits with each other through “spawning”. They don't sexually reproduce, instead, they release strange writhing worms from their skin or mouth, which find other worms to spin around and form double helix pairs with. This forms a new Minceform after a long larval state where they are vulnerable. During these states, animals in nature seem to target and even work together to destroy the Minceform offspring and their colonies, as if the law of the wilds acts against the chaos.

[2] Great Green Hopping Swordsman
HD- 4
AC- 15
Morale- 12
Numbers- Usually one, Rarely 1d2+1 in Service to a powerful ruler as his personal guards
Attacks- (+3 to hit) Longsword at 1d8+2
Abilities- Spadewhips, Mighty Leaps, Eyestalks, Easily Distracted

The Great Green Hopping Swordsmen (or sometimes called Green Hoppers) are a semi-established race. They have smooth and tough green skin covering their bodies, an unusual head with two whipping appendages, three eye stalks, sharp teeth, extremely powerful legs, and an innate desire for combat and lust. They are born with the skills of a swordsmen innately, quickly advancing through the ranks or fighting many battles at a young age, into becoming experts by the time they are adults.

The Green Hoppers are well suited to combat, despite the fact they wear no armor. They deflect attacks with a combination of their sword skills, jumping ability, and their whip-like appendages on the sides of their heads. These “spadewhips” have a layer of bone and fat just underneath the skin, and can whip around their head fast enough to help the creature avoid swordblows and arrow fire. The main ability of the Green Hoppers though is their leap. Their legs can produce an insane amount of force; lifting and launching the Green Hopper upwards of 40 ft into the air. They can use these to jump out of pits or cages, fly over gaps or go from roof to roof, and makes them basically impossible to catch.

Additionally, the Great Green Hopping Swordsman has three eyestalks on top of their heads. These eyestalks represent both their keen warrior eye, but also their perverted leer. Chopping off one eyestalk drops their to-hit bonus to +2, and chopping off two drops it to +1, representing their loss of their ability to see openings and general reaction time. Removing their eyes also reduces their libido which is the second most noticeable thing about them. These man creatures are from a race that is all male, which is obvious due to the large endowment they have- indeed its the only thing they feel the need to cover with clothing. The Green Hoppers constantly try to woo women of other races with their charm and fighting skill, and if successful, can impregnate women of any intelligent race to eventually give birth to another Hopping Swordsman. This is their only method of reproduction, and as such they journey far and wide to find societies to live in, as they have no settlements or families of their own to settle down with. Because of this, Green Hoppers can be easily distracted by attractive females. They must make a morale check to strike a pretty girl and have a -1 to hit if fighting anywhere near a naked woman; one of their eyestalks will turn to ogle.

[3] Spearslug
HD- 1+1
AC- 11
Morale- 6
Numbers- Usually One
Attacks- (+1 to hit) Flying Spear at 1d6+1, Planted Haft at 1d4
Abilities- Spear Mastery, Slug, Magic Spear,

The Spearslug is a small terrestrial creature with a mucus membrane and an advanced level of skill in martial combat. The slug is always found flying around on a magic spear, and it is not well known where these spears come from. The shaft and construction is clearly created by an intelligent being, but the head is more like a specially sharpened rough spiky stone. The spearslugs possess no language or culture, and simply seem to be born with their skills. The magic spears also seem vital for the slug to live; the slug will die if captured and taken more then 10 steps away from its spear at any given time. Slugs can hold their own against lesser warriors, but are still animals and will prefer to flee.

The spear slug always enters combat on the spear as it flies through the air, as though thrown by a supernaturally strong being, and will continue to fly around until it hits someone. The flying spear does 1d6+1 damage upon a hit. Once the spear is planted in the ground, either in the corpse of someone killed by it or if grounded by another force, the slug will stay near the embedded head and use its tail to flick the spear's shaft around and hit people in the head with the handle as best it can. This mastery over use of the spear is similar to a high level fighter, but due to being a small slimy creature the slug lacks the strength to make much use of it, thus making them not too threatening. However the slugs will know the counters or strategy to avoid or mitigate the effects of all Blade Arts of 2nd degree or lower; the slugs innate combat sense letting them avoid some martial arts moves.

As a slug, the Spearslug is weak to salt but immune to acid. Salt burns the creature like acid, dealing 1d4 damage by shaking a tablesalt shaker over it, where as causing 1d8 damage each round if say dipped in a bucket of salt. Finally, the spear the slugs ride on is a 1d6+1 magic spear. Killing the slug allows you to take the spear for yourself. Rumors of a curse that turns the wielder of the slug-spear into another slug are totally false- the spears are commonly collected and used, especially by races with less sophisticated metalworking who don't mind using a lumpy spiked stone as a spearhead.

[4] Spiked Skullbeetle
HD- 11
AC- 17
Morale- 16
Numbers- Always One
Attacks- (+4 to hit) Jagged Maw at 1d12+4, Legstab at 1d6+4
Abilities- Spiked Body, Eyebeam

These extremely creatures are found only in the timeless wastelands and deserts. They aren't true living or unliving things, more like personified forces of nature, and are extremely powerful. Each skullbeetle appears as a massive, cyclopen skull on the body of a huge black beetle. Its entire form is covered with spikes. The ring around its eye-hole is made of some kind of dark gray metal from ancient times, impossible to sculpt or form into any shape but a ring; good luck harvesting it from this deadly creature. The black hole in the center of its skull is an enigma. Within its skull it channels power to creature massive beams of energy, which is uses to slay anything that meets its empty gaze.

The Skullbeetle is covered in spikes. Trying to climb or grapple this beast is a fool's errand- you take 1d4 damage each round you are climbing on or brushing against the skullbeetle.

The Eyebeam of this creature is its most notable, and fearsome trait. The Eyebeam kills any mortal being it strikes; only a save to dodge out of the way or reflecting the attack with a mirror shield will save you. No normal person can survive it. Its energy washes over its victims and causes them to fall to the ground as emancipated, sun-burnt corpses, as though their body baked in the harsh desert sun for years all in a single moment. The Eyebeam burns through wood and upturns and disrupts but cannot destroy stone and sand. It can fire its Eyebeam once every three rounds.

[5] Scaled Cactus Hand-Demon
HD- 3+2
AC- 14
Morale- 8
Numbers- 1d4-1 (if zero; replace with one with a morale of 4)
Attacks- Two claw attacks at 1d4+1
Abilities- Flying Fists, Disappearing

This creature appears as a humanoid being with bumpy scaled skin and two slightly oversized hands with smooth skin. At the wrists, the hands appear like giant gloves, but are no less alive and connected to the rest of the being. The demon can be turned by a cleric, and always appears in fields of cacti to harass and torment lost souls dying in the desert sun.

The most important ability this creature possess is the power to disappear behind a cactus. To do so, it must simply slip out of sight from any person or being capable of speech- it can disappear right in front of an animal companion, but not where a normal being capable of communicating could ever see it disappear. Whenever it disappears behind a cactus, it can reappear behind a different cactus to a maximum of 50 ft away. It does this to stay away from anyone trying to harm it and to scream taunts, as well as launch its hands as ranged attacks.

The demon's hands are detachable- they can be fired from each wrist like an arrow, which flies as a fist that deals its normal attack damage at a long distance. These hands can also move and crawl around, groping or strangling people, and can disappear behind a cactus as the demon's main body can. Groups of these demons enjoy pouring out waterskins with their flying hands to travelers- staying safely at distance and teasing the weak mortals about their immanent doom to the desert sun.

[6] Ice-Crest
HD- 4
AC- 15
Morale- 11
Numbers- 2d6 in Winter, Always alone in Spring
Attacks- Gore at 1d8+1, Claw at 1d6
Abilities- Ice Element, Haze of Winter

Slightly smaller then a polar bear, the Ice-Crest is a snow beast formed partially from snow. It has a large head with harder ice along it, and a body that is chilling to the touch. As a creature made of Ice, it shares properties similar to Ice elementals. The ice-crest takes no damage from cold spells and attacks, but takes double damage from fire based spells and attacks.

While highly elemental in nature, the ice crest is still an animal. It still must hunt, feed, and breed to continue the species. It mostly feeds off of fresh blood, either gored on its head with the fractures along its face guiding the blood into its mouth or off its claws- but it also seems to draw energy from the cold itself, or that energy is granted to it from a sphere above during the winter season, when they are most active and dangerous- large parties of the beasts travel around the tundras and frozen mountains seeking prey and mates.

Additionally; whenever an Ice-Crest is about to take a killing blow, there is a 1 in 6 chance that the attack will instead strike a nearby piece of ice or pile snow, or the part of the body you were aiming is simply unharmed as though you were striking nothing but snow flurries. This power called the “Haze of Winter” is only active in the winter, when the white bodies of the snow beasts blend in with the snow and sky, making the beasts more tenacious then they appear.

[7] Exasperated Sword-Spirit
HD- 2
AC- 18
Morale- N/A
Numbers- One or 1d3
Attacks- (+2 to hit) Slash at 1d6, Sword-Trick at 1d3+1
Abilities- Intangibility, stern lecture

This spirit lays dormant within weapons. While swords are the most common, some have been found in different weapons like naginatas or daggers- though usually within flashy and skillful weapons. This spirit is typically summoned to inhabit a weapon to train young people in its use, either granting useful advice or acting as a constant, untiring sparring partner. The spirit has no actual physical form besides a face that can appear while it is speaking and the sword held aloft by magical forces. As such, it can only be “hit” by striking the blade itself, or by carefully piercing the magical energy cloud that follows the weapon where the face appears- a very difficult feat.

However, the years grow long. The spirit in these old swords degrades into something almost murderous; perhaps it forgets how gentle it must be to not cut flesh, or it simply becomes tired of waiting and tries out all of its moves on the first sparring partner it has seen in centuries. Or in some cases, the sword was simply used to tougher students, and doesn't adjust quickly. This is also the reason most people recommend not using animated weapons or servants that you did not have a hand in making- trusting others to create false life is risky.

The spirit can lecture its opponents about their flaws and mistakes in swordplay, which drags at the spirit. Make a morale check, or a saving throw modified by Charisma to the character fighting this spirit. On a failure, they get -2 to hit and damage on a hit from self doubt until the combat is over. If they succeed, they ignore the sword and don't let it hurt their ego. Warriors who actually listen to the sword's advice gain 500 bonus xp, but this requires a bit of extra time actually sparring with the sword and not dying. This only works once, and doesn't apply to people who are more skilled then the sword already. (To-Hit bonus from class and level is higher then +2).

[8] Murder Owl
HD- 1+1
AC- 11
Morale- 7
Numbers- One or Two
Attacks- (+1 to hit) Talons at 1d2
Abilities- Flight, Murder-Vision, Spirit of Death (1 in 6 chance)

The Murder Owl is a fascinating night time creature. It appears as an otherwise normal brown owl, but with blood red eyes. Its eye are very sensitive to light and it will often screech or hoot aggressively if any unnatural light sources are brought nearby it- scaring many travelers and confusing it for other red eyed monsters. As an owl, it can fly and is practically impossible to hit with a melee weapon.

The main power of the owl is its special eyes. The murder own is known to be like most owls; a bird of prey who feeds on field mice and other small critters. But this bird also scavenges corpses in the forests, and does so by use of its magical eyes. To it, blood and signs of struggle appear bright red that glow in the dark, giving it a chance to follow a trail to find a wounded or dead creature to feed upon. If a bear scratches a tree to mark its territory, it would be dark and in the background, but if the bear scratched a tree while trying to take your head off, the Murder-Vision of the owl would see those scratches glowing red- and it could follow them to feed on some carrion.

This Owl has a fearsome reputation. It should be noted that the Owl itself is relatively harmless, only aggressive if cornered or if its nest is disturbed, and is too small to harm most beings seriously. However, the Murder Owls are not always alone. Sometimes, spirits of death follow the murder owl. The death spirits are formless beings, usually seen by those with the special sight as tiny black shadows carrying shining silver knives. The spirits of death will detach from a Murder Owl to follow any intelligent beings that interact with the owl, and as such folklore around these owls warns people not to touch or eat one. The spirits of death follow the affected beings and give the being disadvantage on saving throws against death. The spirit is also feared for its propensity to kill babies- each baby the affected person has has a 1 in 3 chance for their child to be stillborn. This horrible spirit can only be banished by a powerful priest.

Finally, the Murder Owl often has a nest where it stores shiny things it takes off the bodies of travelers and creatures it eats. Each nest is guarded by the murder owl as long as its morale doesn't fail. The nest will contain 2d6x5 coins worth of baubles or coins.

[9] Stinky Fartbutt Arrow-Starfish
HD- 6
AC- 14
Morale- 14
Numbers- 1d4
Attacks- (+3 to hit) Farted Arrows at 1d6+1, Squeeze at 1d10
Abilities- Stink, Abysmal slowness, Regeneration

This creature is stupid. People hate this thing, like a God's cruel joke. However, it exists and it is a serious problems in some places in the world where it haunts. Usually, it inhabits tidal shores and shallow seas that become dry during low tides, which is where its main danger comes from. This creature looks likes a starfish with a human rear end poking up the top. It smells awful, like a mix of the low tide, dead fish, and farts. The creature's terrible smell and complete lack of speed makes it impossible for it to sneak up on anyone. The starfish is drawn to large mollusks and oysters, and will gladly crack open the breastplate of a dead soldier to eat their flesh just as well. Its deathly squeeze is what it does to people it catches in close combat and who are trapped under it.

The starfish can fart arrows. The rear on its back projectile-shits an arrow in any direction it aims, propelled by the starfish's gaseous secretions. The arrows appear exactly as a war arrow, and different regional variants of this starfish may have different arrow heads that it produces as well. The arrow flies true and strikes as any normally fired arrow from a bow would, and can be picked up and reused. Fart Arrows are commonly offered at markets as an alternate to buying normal arrows, despite being made of iron, wood, and feathers as any normal arrow would be, but have the distinct waft of fart stank stuck on them no matter how many times you wash them. Half price.

Strangely, the creature's internal biology suggests very little about its arrow-creating abilities. The small sac inside its bodies responsible for creating the arrows lies just under the ass on its back, and quickly forms them from different compounds in its blood and various other organs. The creature can fart and arrow every-other round in combat, but this seems strenuous and it prefers to avoid fighting in the event it “runs out” of butt arrows. Also as a starfish, the creature can regenerate lost limbs over the course of a few days and will recover one hit point per exploration turn in the event you have to retreat to fight it again.

[10] Lumpy Skittermen
HD- 2+2
AC- 11
Morale- 9
Numbers- 2d8+2 for a patrol, 1d3 for Guards, 1d50+100 for Village
Attacks- (+2 to hit) Varies
Abilities- Intelligence, Spiderlegs, Eyestalks, Primitive Culture, Magic

The Lumpy Skittermen are a semi-primitive race of beings that inhabit the caverns and craggy mountain regions of the world. They seem to be a very new race, only a few hundred years old at most, and have only developed a proto-language and the beginnings of a culture. Each lumpy skitterman has four spider-like legs that jut out from the bottom of a man-like humanoid torso. Three of their legs are angled towards the front of their body, with one behind. These legs are quite strong at clinging to surfaces and pulling up, as well as clinging to walls, giving skittermen the ability to walk up and down stone inclines and maneuver over stalagmites with ease.

The other curious feature of the skittermen are their lumps- which grow around their head and face in place of hair or other facial features. These grant some small protection against attack. Finally, the skittermen have long tubular eyes that are prehensile. They can look behind their own head with them, or look in multiple directions at once, and they can see quite well in most dark or dim places. As such, the skittermen are very difficult to sneak up on.

Each skittermen has a role in their society. Hunting patrols head out in search of food or useful salvage, guards block important tunnels both inside their cities and outside it, and their “villages” are little more complex then large communal cave chambers for eating, sleeping, and socializing. Small side passages or little rock crags are used to rear young. Each skitterman encountered in a hunting patrol and as guards will have two weapons, one in each hand. Roll on the table below. The village-dwelling skittermen will only have a 1 in 4 chance to have a single weapon or ability in one hand, as they give all their weapons to their warriors. Only few skittermen wear clothing- always to the magically inclined. The shamans of their society seem to have the most authority, and they know some simple destructive or disabling spells taught to each other through sign langauge.

Finally; what little exists of skittermen culture is fascinating. They seem obsessed with treasure maps, and understand the symbols of the maps well enough that they actually make their own. These fake treasure maps are left nearby the camps and hunting grounds where intruders from the surface are found; and may lead to traps or ambushes from a group of guarding skittermen. As a triumph, any dead adventurer found with one of their fake maps has it staked on a metal spike to act as a totem. Any skitterman fighting nearby that totem has +1 to morale.

Skitterman Weapon Table- Roll 1d6
[1] Metal Hook. Deals 1d6 damage, hooks into shields and can drag foes.
[2] Drill Head. Deals 1d4 damage, 1d8+1 against a restrained opponent.
[3] Spiked Club. Deals 1d6+1 damage.
[4] Rock Fist. Deals 1d4 damage, can be thrown as 1d3 ranged rock attack.
[5] Fine Cavedust bag. Bag of fine black dust; thrown has a 1 in 3 chance to extinguish nearby torch or create a cloud of choking smoke at a target stopping spellcasting for 1 round.
[6] Open Hand. This Skitterman can cast a single 1st level spell. Skittermen with two open hands can cast two spells and are given a simple threadbare tunic to denote them as a shaman.

Skitterman Reaction Table
2: They attack.

3-5: The Skittermen throw any ranged weapons they have or strike the floor to create sparks, which they hope scares the invaders as much as sparks of light like that scare them. Their shamans will cast offensive spells at a distance, even before combat is initiated, to scare off the threat.

6-8: The Skittermen point at the party's items and offer a treasure map. This map will lead to a dead end with a chained up beast or a pitfall trap, which the Skittermen patrol occasionally to mop up survivors and take their stuff. They stay back from the torchlight and will slide the map across the floor instead of getting near the torches.

9-11: The Skittermen point at the party's torches and pantomime closing the lantern hoods or snuffing out the torches and candles. If the party obeys, there won't be a fight. The Skittermen will still attack if the group is more then twice the size of the party once the light are out.

12: The Skittermen curiously prod at the party's items, offering a treasure map in exchange. It's not fake, and leads to a small treasure trove of a dead creature. The lair contains 1d4x100 coins. The Skitterman don't care about gold; they will trade the map for food, water, bandages (they think they're bolts of cloth), and anything that smells sweet or salty.