Tuesday, September 29, 2020

10 Tribes of Technobarbarians & their Ancient Artifacts

Each tribe of Technobarbarians holds and defends an ancient megalith or advanced machine from the times before savagery. Make no mistake, these are barbarians and their main skill is always in warfare; but each tribe has a special technological skill that has been passed down through the generations. To the fellow survivors and hardy wasters of the post-apocalypse, these may as well be sorceries.

Art @Jimmy Duda
[1] Arcologia
Skill- Nutrition and Sanitation.

These barbarians live nomadic lives on the “holy mountain”, which they claim is the center of the world and the great pole that the sun rotates around each day. The mountain is a massive arcology; a humongous internal city-scape where a citizen of the before times may live their entire lives without needing to step outside. The doorways into this super structure are thankfully closed; nobody knows what sort of horrible descendants of the rich advanced people that once lived within have left behind, or how many robotic servants may still be lurking in those dark halls.

[2] Protectors
Skill- Computer Science & Robotics (mostly in how to destroy them)

These barbarians live around a dark pit, within which is the core of an evil super-computer hyper intelligence. This machine hates all living things, and is encased in something no primitive human tool can pierce, but is thankfully powerless. It can only make threats. Routinely cursing and describing in great details the tortures it will inflict upon the tribe if they don't help regain its power; they have become steadfast in defending this relic from evil hands. These barbarians are highly suspicious of and destroy any technology coming within their territory, as they vaguely know that the super computer can interface with technology to regain functions or go beyond its otherwise powerless physical shell.

[3] Mirroiands
Skill- Solar Energy Capture

In a hot desert waste, these barbarians protect a great refraction tower of solar energy. At the top of this tower is where their Sun-Shamans can aim the great discs, creating beams of heat during the hottest parts of the day to incinerate those who march against this tribe, to fry birds for food, or to help forge slag metal dragged from ancient derelicts into useful iron for tools. These barbarians are ruled by these Sun-Shamans, who are always blind. While those who are born blind are preferred for the role, everyone who becomes a Sun-Shaman eventually goes blind anyway from the intense light and glare of these magic solar reflection array. They don't actually need to be able to see to use the array however; helpful accessibility controls built in from the time before mean that the blind can aim it just as well as anyone else.

[4] Arcadians
Skill- Herbology and Husbandry

These barbarians are mostly settled; they live in a harsh land with a secret canyon. Within this canyons are thousands of ridges, cliff sides, and faces fitted with tubs lined with an unusual, artificial material no human can name in this age (plastic). Within the tubs are thousands of plants, vines, and miniature trees which bare the fruit of a thousand varieties. They grow without dirt, water is simply moved through the system endlessly and moving over their roots like sorcery. The barbarians here are becoming a thriving farming civilization, but must defend their homeland and its secret garden at all costs, as it is too tempting a prize for enemy powers to try and steal.

[5] Sky-Watchers
Skill- Astronomy; can navigate by watching the night sky.

In a land of falling meteorites, these barbarians live on the move. Every few weeks, meteors crash in the desert landscape, causing explosions and great tremors on the night they fall. These meteors come from the sky; made of metal and glass, with complex construction that mimics that of the advanced peoples that were before the times of savages. These objects remain hot for days on end after falling; the barbarians crowd around them at night to stave off the desert's cold. Within these fallen stars are occasional glowing objects, packages of strange tasting food, sometimes even advanced weapons or the bones of a person from before. It is equal parts exciting and frightening to open a fallen star; they are known by the Sky-Watchers as Caskets of the Sky.

[6] Hivers
Skill- Aeronautics. (They can design parachutes and gliders)

These barbarians are more nomadic then the others, and their technological wonder is mobile. It is a massive swarm of tiny flying machines which buzz like insects. They follow the holder of the sacred scroll, which is a baton of lights that directs the swarm to both the motions and mental commands of its wielder- the heart-rate monitor in the handle can cause them to fly in to protect the holder, for example. The drone swarm must remain within a few miles of the spread out radio towers in the region, but is otherwise free to move anywhere the commander wishes, and they often hide it within caves or on the top of every tree and fallen ruins at night. The drone swarm is terrifying to behold, nearly immune to your arrow fire, and can rip a man apart or carry him into the sky to be stolen away or dropped to his death, which is the traditional method of execution for those who break the tribal taboos.

[7] Homemakers
Skill- Domestic

This is a small tribe of barbarians living within the ruin of a long forgotten city- without natural sources of water or game to hunt nearby this ancient spot of civilization, it is not valuable land. These barbarians mostly protect a single residence; a house from the before time. Its walls all still stand, its windows clean and sparkling. There is a square of perfect green grass kept around the house at all times in the year, water that shouts from tiny devices in the grass which the tribe collects when the rains refuse to come. The house is always well painted and locked at night. The barbarians both fear and respect the false man inside- he appears in the shape of a man, but with transparent skin like water frozen in place. The man has never attacked them, but it can shatter chains and stone with its hands, and does so to remove anything put on the outside of the house by the tribe. The robot is only active at night, which is when the barbarians marvel at the electric lights or “frozen fires” as they call them that line the residence's walls and pour out from its windows.

[8] False Tree Tribe
Skill- Radio Signals & Climbing

Around a forest of dead and dying trees, ancient gray husks from the olden days, these barbarians hold to be holy a fake tree. Near the center of this woodland is a tree with a bold brown trunk, with bright green leaves arranged in symmetrical patterns. Every day this tree moves slightly; releasing and intaking huge quantities of gas all at once, gaining power by the sunlight that hits its artifical glass leaves. It also emits a high pitched buzzing sound that causes the dogs in the barbarians' camp to go wild for a few minutes; the signals stop after a moment. These barbarians tell their young to climb as high as they dare, and up in the branches they stay as still as they can and hold on tight as the signals during that time of day blast their brains and make them wobble and speak in riddles for a day or two after exposure. This is a rite of passage by the barbarians, and many future events as have ordained from these oracles. However, the children who climb too high or become too unsteady will fall to their death; as such the ritual is always dangerous.

[9] Replayers
Skill- History & Costuming

This tribe lives around a small square pedestal made of metal that was deployed in the center of a stony field. In front of this pedestal is a large square expanse, about 50 ft each direction, which is cordoned off with stones and ropes put up by the tribe as holy ground. Anyone who enters this field is said to be disturbing the spirits that sleep within. The leader of this tribe has access to four special “tapes” which, if placed into the pedestal, make a frozen image appear in the holy square. This image are like people and things stuck in place, all from the time before, a hologram that the barbarians believe are spirits frozen in place and time. The first tape shows a beautiful park with grass and trees, among them children playing with a feast of food on a table and on several unusual cooking devices. This is believed to be heaven that the tribesmen who die in glorious battle may be allowed to join if they prove themselves. The other three tapes show times of warfare frozen in time; warriors in metal using weapons similar to the barbarians, warriors in trenches and giant metal wagons rolling over muddy ground, and the third being an advanced war with glass and plastics formed into strangely shaped rods with bright flashes of light emitting out the ends. These three tapes are considered hell and intruders or prisoners of war are sacrificed within these scenes of destruction; as the tribe thinks they will trap their souls within them and bring more power to their warrior clan.

[10] Mattori
Skill- Weaving & Leathermaking

Outside of a lowly fabrication factory, this barbarian tribe roams. The old factory still functions, but is severely limited in what it can achieve. Once a touch-screen display could create custom rugs, mats, throw pillows, and other homely decor options on demand for costumers. Now the dye wells are long dry and the material chute is empty; except for what the barbarians put in. Killing and skinning intruders and tribal enemies alive; filling the dye reserves with their blood and pushing the button, these barbarians create brutal constructs of woven skin and hair, sprayed and painted with blood by using this gruesome factory. Around the entrances to their land they have plastered these as warnings to all who dare approach.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

20 Weapons from the Celestial Armory

This is a collection of magical and divine weapons that are in use by Celestial Guardians, Angels, Arrogant Wizardlings beyond their station and Paladins on a Most-Holy Quest. While cosmically in a lower regard then the Astras, these powerful weapons can sometimes be gifted to the most pure hearted souls in the battle against evil; or stolen from the heavenly halls to use their power for wicked means. Also, this list is built with “bonus to hit” being totally separate from “bonus to damage”, so don't double up unless you want these divine weapons to be twice as accurate (which is fine too I guess).

20 Weapons in the Celestial Armory
[1] War Asp – 1d6 Damage, +2 to hit, Deadly Poison
This looks like a snake. It's a snake that has no problem being held, and never bites its master. The snake can be flung around like a weapon, the way many ancient Gods use its venom as a tool of death. Because the snake can aim itself when it is whipped or tossed, it gets +2 to hit as it aims at the enemy's weak point.

For mortals, assume the snake's venom is save vs poison or die. Against elephants, gods, giants, or other beings who make sense the snake venom just deals 2d6 damage. The snake can aim for weak points but naturally cannot bite through metal armors. Enemies can also cut off the snake's head with a slicing weapon; requires a successful to-hit roll at -4

[2] Magic Clam – Adds +1 to damage and AC, Magic Pearls
This “weapon” is for the use of magical spells. Once per day, the clam produces a magical pearl inside itself. By holding the clam, you can make it open like a purse which lets you access the pearl. The pearl can be expended, turning into a brilliant display of stellar light, to empower any spell you cast. The spell is cast as though you are two caster levels higher, or the saving throw is increased in difficulty by +2, or you may add an extra specific quality to the spell's effect. For example, if you cast polymorph with a pearl instead of turning someone into a “pig” you can turn someone into a “pig that looks tasty”.

Simply by holding the magic clam, you are blessed by its energy. You deal +1 damage with all attacks and gain +1 AC.

[3] Agony Branch – 1d8, +2 to hit, catastrophic pain
This weapon appears as a simple piece of dried wood with a small amount of leather wrapped around the base for a simple handle. The wood doesn't even look thick enough to be useful as a club! However, the surface and interior of this wooden branch is filled with tiny, almost microscopic bullet ants with an agonizingly painful bite. This bite can pierce any skin; even thick skin like a rhinoceros or perfect, divine jade or bronze skin seen in some divine beings; as such even angels have to hold this by the leather handle (soaked in liquid smoke for three centuries to keep the bugs out of it) to avoid being stung and suffering the same pain.

At first being bit, it deals 1d8 damage and then causes horrible pain at the site of contact. The being in question loses 3d6 Wisdom. If this causes their Wisdom to drop below zero, set their Wisdom to 1. This new Wisdom score is how much the pain is hurting them and how badly it interferes with them. Every year, the character may make a saving throw to restore 1 point of lost Wisdom. Because the branch only needs the slightest grazing blow to work, it has an attack bonus of +2 to hit.

[4] Great Chakram – 2d4+2, +4 to hit
This metal hoop is used as a deadly chakram. Spun on a single finger, this chakram is much larger then a normal one, being about the size of a smell shield. It is made of heavenly alloys and of such perfect geometrical composition though that it can be spun in perfect balance until needing to be thrown. The chakram flies with unerring speed and accuracy, making it extremely likely to hit its target. The weapon also only needs to barely grace its target; the razor-thin line across your skin explodes into a gory gash from its spinning deadliness. This weapon can also be used in melee as a 1d4+2 deadly slicing ring, but only when spun and launched does its true power show.

Heavenly warriors and angels tend to use chakrams and javelins over divine arrows. This is because they often forget to retrieve their arrows after using them, letting them fall into the hands of mortals. At least with a chakram or throwing star, they have a motivation to retrieve them, as they were only given one at the start of their duty to heaven at the beginning of time, and it needs to last all the way until the end.

[5] Deadly Bubble – Slow Floating, Save or take 2d20
The bubble is about the size of a play ball and has a dark purple tinge. It can be blown at an opponent, and it generally floats towards their direction but is easily knocked aside by the wind. If it hits the foe or is popped, it explodes and deals 2d20 damage to everyone in a small area who fails a save. If the bubble is a direct hit against target that target doesn't get a save.

The Deadly Bubbles were created over a thousand years ago by an ancient God of the Seas. Only after these first few cataclysmic bubbles were formed from this God's foaming spittle, they lost their voice utterly and these are the last remnants of that power.

[6] Refined Teacup – Frighten Animals, Heal for 3d6 on Drink
This is a “weapon” in the same way a a wall is “armor”. It appears as a white and green fragile bit of fine crockery, clacking with each small movement and shake. Its rim has a silver lining and the clattering noises this teacup makes on its saucer have an unusual effect on animals; it causes panic from the high pitched scrapping. Animals in the player's party go crazy and flee the area, half animals or intelligent animals must either make a morale check or get -2 to attack the holder of the teacup. Within the divine teacup is a magical liquid that, if drank by any living being, restores 3d6 hit points, curses most earthly diseases, and restores 1d6 points of any damaged attribute, or a full level of level drain. Once the liquid has been drained from the teacup, it disappears along with the saucer back to heaven, as the divine realm is not one to leave a guest with an empty cup.

This divine teacup is sometimes seen in artwork depicting warrior angels and celestial beings; who can somehow hold it in a melee. Anyone with a superhuman level of agility (+4 Dex mod) can hold the saucer in a fight while attacking, dodging, or casting spells without breaking it or having it fall. Divine entities are imbued with perfect divine grace and can therefore do pretty much anything without the saucer and the teacup spilling. Also, the divine tea inside the teacup refills the life energy of living creatures; it is poison to undead. Tossing the contents of the divine teacup on an undead creature will deal 3d6 damage instead, destroying their unlife.

[7] Tassel Spear – 1d8+2, +4 to hit
This magic spear is made of holy white wood with light-shining metal on the end. It is a holy weapon and is very potent against the undead and demons, and is an all-around powerful instrument. Just below the head on the shaft of this spear is a long red tassel made of divine holyfibre. It cannot be cut or burnt, and usually just drifts in the breeze or moves along with the head of the spear and flows beautifully like flowing water.

If you make a successful attack with this weapon, the magic tassel can be animated to wrap around anything the user of the spear wishes. So you could make the tassel wrap around the knife in the enemy's belt and stab them with it (deal an extra attack at 1d4), you could make the tassel wrap around a foe's weapon in an attempt to disarm, or to tie the spear to them and make your next round of combat easier with a +2 to hit from being lined up, etc. During the heights of the ancient war between Good and Evil it is said that every single soldier was given one of these spears, but surprisingly few of them remain in the celestial armory; the holyfibre was taken and the essences of the spear broken down and reused in new, more peaceful projects as the Gods and Demons finished their war.

[8] Mighty Falchion – 1d8+3, +2 to hit, Shreds armor on hit
Appearing as a sword with a thick midsection, the Mighty Falchion is a powerfully crafted bit of heavenly strength wrapped in steel and inlaid with gold. The image of writing fire is emblazoned on the face of the blade in gold leaf, and the blade itself is might of lightly colored holy ore as many of the divine weapons in the celestial armory are. This Falchion seems to chop with concussive force; gravity and momentum work in tandem with the lightening effect this weapon has on the user's grip when held, making it easy to use despite being deceptively heavy.

First, the Falchion is hard and sharp enough, and even a simple swipe has a huge amount of power behind it, the blade can chop through almost any armor. Only the strongest of dense deep black metal or other heavenly ore, or the greatest of magical alloys such as Adamantine, are treated as similar levels of material hardness. This means that after each successful hit, ignore all damage reduction from well made or padded armor if any and reduce the armor's AC by the damage dealt.

Secondly, the Falchion can chop through most other materials like wood and bone as well as thin brickwork and stone. As long as you have leverage for the attack, you can pound away at inanimate objects to shave off mass or to cut straight through with the right angle and thickness. However- it is not like Adamantine and will dull eventually if you're using it to cut stone and metal.

[9] Dagger of Green Glass – 2d4+1, +4 to hit
Magical dagger forged of glass only found in the deepest, purest caverns in the Earth. The daggers themselves are glass and partially transparent, infinite and finally cut fractal angles going onwards inside to infinity show a type of otherwordly craftsmanship. Without such perfect cuts, these incredibly brittle and sharp knives would shatter into a million pieces with even trying to cut soft flesh. These can be used in stealth and in a grapple, and with heavenly hands using them they can bypass most armors. The sharpness of this blade is so great that it will cut its holder as well. If you made an attack roll after moving, or on the same roll after drawing the weapon, or if your opponent has stunned you even attempted a disarm, then you take 1 damage from the blade's edge just barely cutting your body.

The sharp geometry of this weapon is infused with an unnatural deadliness. Anyone cut by this knife could truly be harmed much worse by it, the cosmic level of uncertainty can be manipulated by the cutter. While holding the blade and after making a successful hit, you can twist it in the air to cause an additional +1d6+1 damage to whoever was harmed by the blade last round, including the wielder if they were cut by on accident.

[10] Crushing Claws – 2d2+2, +2 to hit
These appear as punch daggers or “claw” style weapons with golden foil and blackened ornate steel. The tips of these claws are thicker then the bases, each claw-tip is ended with a cube. While this would render a mortal weapon totally useless, for a divine weapon it can still work. This means these claw weapons actually deal blunt or crushing damage instead of slashing or piercing. These claws gouge out heavy dents and divots in stone and metal as long as the person using them has the strength to wield them; it can be used against golems and the bloodless just as well as a hammer.

Beyond just being powerful blunt weapons, these claws are quite good at destroying things. By punching with force, you can selectively destroy or crack different materials, or guide existing cracks in very hard objects like walls or metals. Doing so means a rapid flurry of blows could break open unstoppable, impenetrable mega-armor or guide the crack in a wall up to a specific guard-post so you can slip inside.

[11] White Lotus – 1d6+1 Petals, +4 to hit
This white lotus-flower is held in one hand. Divine beings can fire petals off the flower with this same hand, but mortals will need to use another hand to pluck a petal and then throw it. The petals fly either straight or in great looping patterns, and are very hard to avoid. Each lotus has a number of uses which is equal to its number of petals. The number of petals depends on how many centuries the lotus has been cultivated for, but it is always a holy number. The most common number of petals on a lotus therefore are 12, 21, 36, 50, and 77.

The magic flower petals cut and slash along the edge of their leaves; staining them red and sinking to the ground from the new weight. They cannot be used as weapons again, but the petals themselves can be picked up and be brewed into a celestial bloodstained tea. Additionally, the flower petals can catch the wind and use it; therefore spells that bring up barriers of air or wind to block arrows or other projectiles are therefore ineffective against the holy white lotus petals.

[12] Forge-Lord's Hammer – 1d6+3 Magic Hammer, +3 to hit
Magic hammer with a red cap on the striking surface, which is always steaming from the heat and the moisture in the air touching it. This magical hammer isn't quite the same as the hammer of the forge-God himself, instead it is more like the hammers his arch angels use or the ones who uses when his main one is stolen by the devil to bend people's lampposts or whatever. The celestial servants are a lot more careful about this one getting down into the mortal realm due to it causing problems a lot more longer lasting then most of the other divine weapons.

Beyond just being a strong magical hammer that channels the heat of the forge and the skill of the craftsman, the Forge-Lord's hammer can be used to imbue regular items with magical properties. This only works on metal (wood erupts on fire if struck with it, glass and shells too delicate, paper and leather burn up, even if you could find a use for a hammer when working with those) but can imbue metal items like weapons or armor with magical properties. Anything forged with this hammer counts as a +1 magic weapon with a hint of divine or holy energy within it; meaning these mass produced items clog up all the temples and churches, hence the celestial beings wanting a lot less of these floating around. Think about it, if you visited a temple in spirit form you'd want to see cool statues and murals not a million dime-a-dozen armor pieces some crafter made with a special hammer. Also the hammer can repair any item, even magic ones, in one turn of hammering and careful mending. There's no limit to these abilities, you just need the materials, time, and skill.

[13] Death Scarab – 4+2 HD Flying Scarab Automaton
Could have been invented by the God of Death or the God of the Desert Sun. Either way, this jet black scarab is mechanical and is large enough to fill the palm of your hand, but not too cumbersome despite its heavy size and heft. By flicking a switch that makes the wings pop open and throwing the scarab, it activates and becomes a robotic killing machine.

Death Scarab (4+2 HD, +4 AC, 2d6 grinding jaws, leap & glide, latch on is save to avoid)
Morale: N/A

Whenever the Death Scarab is released, it attacks whoever it is thrown at first. It will fly around the target and then attempt to latch on to them. You get a save to avoid being latched on, on failure the bug lands on you and starts to attack you- it never misses once it is latched on. Once the beetle is latched on you cannot get it off unless it is broken off (+1 magic blunt weapon or better) or someone with supernatural strength (+4) can pull it off your body. Every round it deals 2d6 damage with grinding, flesh-ripping jaws. The beetle can also jump about 20 ft in the air and glide around; not quite true flight but enough to cross great distances.

[14] Devil's Pitchfork – Xd6, +X to hit, Multi-Headed Spear
It is a well known fact that devils are servants of the Gods as much as angels are, their job is just a bit different. Stabbing people with this pitchfork deals damage based on the weight of their sins. The pitchfork has a number of heads on it according to the number of seven deadly sins the victim of the attack has committed without properly repenting of the sins at a temple or being forgiven by a high priest or the gods themselves.

The pitchfork gets +1 to hit per Seven Deadly Sin the target is guilty of. The pitchfork deals 1d6 damage per Seven Deadly Sin the target is guilty of.

Everyone also sees the pitchfork with a different number of heads, according to how many sins they are guilty of. Holy men and those who have a clean heart will see the pitchfork as just a harmless nub, and will take no damage from its attacks. The holder of the pitchfork will also see the number of heads as the number of sins they have committed, but how good or evil the holder is has no effect on the pitchfork's power.

[15] Angelic Bow – 1d10+1 Magic Bow
Bow made of white, heavenly wood and beautifully carved with a feather motif on both ends. The drawstring is made of holy silvered metal. It has an unlimited supply of magic arrows which appear from the air when pulled back- white arrows with finest feather fletchings and curved, hollow arrowheads. If you speak into the head of the arrow- you can make whoever is struck with it say aloud whatever you whispered into the magical arrowhead.

This bow is very strong- it's as a warbow. But the strength requirements are beyond mortal men, perhaps as a test to prevent those not of divine blood to be able to use it- for much the same reason, it also provides no bonus to hit- the user must possess the skill to make use of its power. You must have a Strength score of +3 to pull back the string, which takes one combat round + one round to fire. Those of +4 or higher Strength modifier can pull the string just fine. This restriction is waived for Fighters of name level, who can command weapons with their spirit.

Additionally, the weapon's arrows fly like the angels. Each arrow loosed can travel almost any distance, though its striking force and chance to hit is the same regardless of range. The arrow can be fired from in the sky to hit any place on the ground the flier can see; hence angels using these to make heretics confess to their sins or give good men the strength to speak out against evil- by shooting them with the arrows of the word. Angels and other divine beings know how to hit someone with an arrow where they will both not feel it and it will deal no damage, but mortals are too clumsy.

[16] Holy Manuscript – 1d4+1 Magic Book
This magical tome is a very holy book, imbued with the powers of the Gods themselves- thrice blessed from their very beings. Note that it's unusual to find Clerical magic in the Celestial Spheres- the power of a holy man is very specifically a piece of heaven dropped to earth. But in the Celestial Realms, the power of holy magic emanates from everything. This book acts a a locus then of holy energy, which radiates from it like a hot stone melting the ice of sin all around it if brought to any other realm.
This holy manuscript can appear as an old bible, a stone tablet of prayers, or an ancient scroll bound in seaweed- as long as it can store writing, the Manuscript can appear as it.

This holy book can blast holy energy at a target for 1d4+1 damage, which requires no attack roll. Obviously, those of divine nature are immune, as are Clerics.

The manuscript also grants its holder the full set of Cleric spells of a 9
th level Cleric- and that many casts per day. Every spell must be cast by opening the book and reading a prayer for a full round. It is also a holy symbol +3 and turns undead as though by a 12th level Cleric, if such a thing even exists in your game. Just assume it turns everything except the Devil himself, basically. The Domain of the Cleric spells is random, but based on whatever the holy book is about. The full accounts of a Sea God's great journey across the ocean, the private diary of the Goddess of Love, or the lists of laws and tax codes for the God of Order could also be picked up and used as holy manuscripts with these same powers and abilities; if you managed to get them.

[17] Ice Baton – 1d4+1, +1 to hit
It looks like a magical ice dildo. Fattened on both ends, the rod is cold to the touch and difficult to use for creatures who aren't immune to normal cold; a celestial entity or an ice-monster could use this, but a mortal could also hold it with fur lined gloves. The air sounds like its cracking whenever you swing it.

The Ice Baton deals cold damage- chilling whatever it strikes to the bone. In addition to dealing 1d4+1 damage from the hit itself, the target must save or have their blood become as slush. In this state, they can only act once every other turn, enemies get advantage to hit them, and take 1d6 cold damage per round. If struck again in this chilled state; save or their blood freezes, and they cannot move at all and become paralyzed with cold and helpless. Any solid blow with a weapon will shatter them and kill them instantly. Being chilled and frozen in this way can be healed by warming them with the touch of a divine being, drinking a potion of liquid fire, or with pure sunlight. Normal fire lacks the spiritual authority to chill the ice that has grown around them.

The Ice Baton also contains useful ice magic- it can be used to freeze a path on a body of water, extinguish fires, chill drinks, or create a magical 'dead zone' in a blizzard or snowstorm. These magical batons are sometimes given to the guardians of the winters- who coat the world in their blankets of snow to change the seasons. Only a truly master pickpocket could steal one out of their all white coats made of eternal heavenly snow.

[18] Sons of Fortune – Varies
These are magical coins. The God of Merchants, Mercenaries, Exploration, and Manifest Destiny are the creators of these items. Every coin has the face of a grinning solider on one side, and a symbol representing the divine vault of heavenly splendors. They are simply highly valued pure coins if not active; each one is worth about double whatever a normal coin of its type is. Within any given box of these coins, you will find 3d10 Copper, 2d8 Silver, and 2d4 Gold.

These coins are used by placing them in the ground, where they will instantly sprout up as fully grown warriors. The warriors are adorned with armor and weapons made of metal that match their coin, though the metals that they actually use are divine in nature and are considered armed with magic weapons and protected by magic armor. The soldiers rise up and will defend their creator to the death with absolute loyalty. They will fight anything that their creator demands once they have been made, and will then disband once all the fighting in the area has ceased and disappear with a salute. The coins do not return to the box unless they were unable to defeat the opponent (such as the enemy ran away). They coins are also lost if they are killed; their gear and corpses remain however, so one could get some very useful magical items out of their bodies. Also; the warriors are born fully equipped, but what they bring out is based on what is needed; they will either bring out melee weapons and shields in a close range scrap, OR ranged weapons if they are to act as scouting or support forces. Each rank of coin has a different possible loadout.

The Copper coins create Copperish warriors. They appear like rank and file infantry, usually armed with spears or axes and large shields with minimal armor OR with bows. Their weapons are magic at +1 to hit and damage, and they have 14 AC. They die in one hit.

The Silver coins create Silverish warriors. They appear like lieutenants and centurions; ornate armor and with some leadership ability. Usually they wield swords and shields, a single long glaive polearm OR with crossbows. Their weapons are magic at +2 to hit and damage, and they have 16 AC. They die in one hit by a powerful weapon, but two with regular weapons.

The Gold coins create Goldish warriors. They appear as mighty heroes or kings, often adorned with crowns melded into their gilded armor. They can appear with almost any weapon- usually exotic to best meet the situation like a chain-claw and dagger to fight a shield wielding opponent, or with a boomerang to fight a flier and so on. Their favored implement is a golden greatsword. Their weapons are magic at +3 to hit and damage, they have 18 AC, and they die only with three powerful hits and ignore all weaker damage.

[19] Brazen Bracelet – 2d8, +4 to hit
These dangerous flames are kept in reserve for when the Gods need to destroy the world and start back over. After a few eons of burning without fuel and getting colder (still insanely hot for mortals) sometimes bits of these fires are sliced off and carefully placed in the Celestial Armoury for use by the servants of the Gods. They are then stored within a divine brass bracelet. Each bead has a tiny flame, brightly burning inside which is dulled by the metal orbs within. If you are wearing this bracelet on an arm, you can channel the fire as a flame attack; which deals 2d8 damage and has a +4 to hit, but can only strike targets in a close to melee range; about the length of a spear.

Every time the Brazen Bracelet is used, it spurts out a supernaturally hot and powerful fire, which dies quickly without divine material to feed its flame. Because the flame appears almost instantly, it is very hard to dodge or block and has a to hit bonus of +4. It is still very powerful even for how short it lasts; the hot fire looks orange and red which highlights of bright yellow wisps- appearing much more colorful and lively then mortal fires. Each time the Bracelet is used, keep track and mark a use. The beads are numbered 9, 13, or 17 depending on their size and level of power in the Celestial Armory. Once the number of uses reaches the number of beads, reduce the damage to 1d8. Once the number of uses reaches the number of beads x2, it dies out and cannot be used again.

The only way to recharge the bracelet is to let it simmer in fire. Mortal fires take 1d6 years to reduce the number of uses by just one. Supernatural or alchemical furnaces can manage one per season; but only a divine fire where the beads were forged can recharge it with speed.

[20] Thunder Thimbles – 3d4, +1 to hit, Stun power
These are metal nail-guards, enchanted with the magic of the skies and created from holy fulgurite. They look like rough metallic clumps twisted into shape, but are somehow still beautiful and delicate all the same. They attack by scratching in close range, and can be heard whining a low hum whenever they are ready to strike- they are super charged with electrical energy, straight from the thunderbolt of the Gods.

Whenever these Thunder Thimbles hit a foe, it deals 3d4 damage. For each '4' rolled on the damage dice, the enemy is shocked by electricity and stunned for one round. These stack, and can only be ended prematurely by enemies with a special technique, immunity to electricity or paralysis, or those who have a large metal object nearby to ground the lightning. This means the safest armor to wear against these weapons is actual heavy metal- those wearing a full suit of plate are only stunned a maximum of 1 round on a hit. If you are standing on a metal floor, or are wading through a pile of dead knights in armor, then the electricity merely does its damage as it passes through you and doesn't continually shock you which causes the stun.

The Thunder Thimbles have a final power- they can be snapped to create a thunderclap. This thunderclap is incredibly loud and can shatter glass. It also surprises anyone who can hear it- they lose combat initiative and are surprised from it. Also, anyone caught in the blast is deafened for 1d6 turns and cannot hear spell incantations or orders.

Breaking a Thunder Thimble doesn't lower the power of the rest, each set of them is 3 or 4 finger guards. Breaking one means the others still have their electricity, you just lose the item if the final one is broken.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Iron Sarcophagus Concept + Character Retirerment for Karma

Your player character has just passed by the Celestial Guardians, defeating them. You have slain a great evil or found a secret place. Maybe you have Wisdom 18 or are a very holy man, maybe you have done great deeds.

Regardless of the reason, you are now offered a chance for a greater cause. By laying in the blue-iron sarcophagus; you will fall into a deep sleep the moment the lid is shut. At that moment, your body will be put into a magical slumber that purifies you, making you immortal and ageless, as well as giving you absolute health and the cure to all disease. The coffin is unbreakable, totally unable to be opened by any means. But you are asleep, and will remain that way for ages long since. The rise and fall of your people, and of many hundred more mortal races, will pass by without end as you sleep.

You will awake only at the end of time, when the fabled heroes of old awaken to battle with the most evil machinations long set in motion upon the first night of the world. You will be among the number of the great heroes, the Sleepers, who must fight to determine the fate of the world.

If you lay down in the coffin, you'll lose your character. Consider your character gone. They aren't dead, just asleep, and the world they will become awake in is so far from your campaign that nothing in it will matter in that lofty time of ancient prophecy. For every level your character had, or for every great deed they achieved, grant yourself one karma.

When you make your next character, you may spend Karma to;
  • Reroll one ability score at generation OR a failed save in game for 1 Karma
  • Increase starting Hit-Points by 1 for 2 Karma
  • Have a prophetic dream from your past self, grants knowledge for 1 Karma
  • Draw upon cosmic power; meditate for a turn, spend 1 Karma, gain +1 to hit and saving throws for one exploration turn or in-game day for overland travel.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

10 Men Cloaks

For the Thunder Clans, iron and pale are the two metals that represent life. But clothing is also held in great esteem; beyond the moccasin, the shield, and even the great torc; the truest symbol of a person is their cloak. The cloak is worn as a protection from the cold and rain, and from enemy warriors and wildlife. It is a sign of status, as both poor and rich men wear them. Anyone without a cloak outside is either in greatest ease on a short trip of which they will return home shortly, or in desperate straits as they have lost their own.

Among these warrior clans, different traditions have sprung up over the years. Most of them are magical. The 10 Men Cloaks are no exception. The creation of weaving a 10 Man Cloak is somewhat of a secret, but it tends to involve throwing ten spears, marching ten leagues, and weaving ten strands into the cloak. Of course, finished cloaks have a lot more then 10 strands, and women do most of the sowing in this culture, so its probably really they who finish these cloaks for the warriors.

Once a cloak is complete, it becomes both a powerful symbol of the clan as well as a weapon of war. Of course, they have been around so long in those hills that you won't surprise anyone by using the cloak; they can easily be thwarted by just making a “guest” or decoy take off their cloak, since that will break the spell early. To foreign peoples however, it is a great and startling surprise.

10 Man Cloak – Magic Cloak +2
Stats- Provides +2 AC

The 10 Man Cloak is a magical cloak weaved and created by the magic of a clan. They are decorated and clearly belong to a clan member, and are almost always used by and given to leaders and warriors. Beyond being a useful and powerful piece of armor, the 10 Man Cloak have another power; the power to hide and carry with you warriors from your clan.

Each person who wishes can slink underneath the cloak and “hide” with them, walking and traveling underneath the magic article of cloth. They will not be able to see or know what is happening around them, just following the legs of the wearer. While under the cloak, too much movement or noise will create a slight disturbance in the cloak, hinting at something wrong. As such, stealth is still important. When the cloak is thrown off, the travelers leave underneath the flap, or they charge out from the spot of light underneath and besides the wearer's side.

The cloak is physically bigger then most, but could not hide ten men under it, at least at first glance. However, it can. Up to ten people can travel along with the wearer, being able to sneakily invade a fort or move under cover from this magical cloak.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Four Cat Rōnin

The cat samurai once all served a master. Their master is gone. Now they are Rōnin. These swordsmen fight and travel together, and so as a special rule they do not break morale except as a group. If one loses morale, the others will defend them to find a suitable opening to escape.

All of the Rōnin are cats, and as such they all have a collection of cat-like abilites. They can see well in dim light, their AC bonus comes purely from swiftness instead of armor, and they always land on their feet; taking no damage from falls.

Art @Kokudou Juunigou

From left to right.

[1] Ricecake (4 HD, +2 to hit, +4 AC, 1d8 Catana, morale check to attack unprovoked)

Polite, charming, and an exemplar of the samurai code. He always stands at ease, but is capable of springing into action at any time. Ricecake is an attractive cat, good with the ladies, and he has a running rivalry with any Fierce Cock he comes across, preferring to humiliate them in single combat.

Because of his polite and highly honorable countenance, it is difficult to hate him and enacting acts of violence against him unprovoked requires a morale check. This is waived if the person in question is a bloody murderer to begin with, and of course this grants no protection if he's tried to kill you before.

[2] Sushi (5+2 HD, +3 to hit, +3 AC, 1d8+1 Catana, random blade art)

Morale- 14

The oldest and largest of the group. He's strong, so his melee attacks do an extra point of damage. Experienced in most matters, especially with money. Sushi is the one most concerned with the group's financial well being in the future and is seeking more permanent employment; if the party looks wealthy enough and powerful enough he will offer to join them, but only through Ricecake as his negotiator.

Sushi's Blade Art Table – 1d4

(1) Wavecut- Sushi's sword slashes can travel 20 ft through water and retain their sharpness and impact (essentially- ranged sword attacks, but only when within water). This move can also be used to let him cut “windows” in thick fog or supernatural darkness to peek out or see in, or can be used to cut open passages in thick fog or supernatural darkness to quickly escape it without getting lost.

(2) Power Claw- This is an unarmed technique. Gives his unarmed fist attacks 1d6+1 damage and can break wooden objects with them, like bar stools or shields. Also, he gets +1 AC for his bones and skin being tougher, but only for the days when he has this ability active.

(3) Red Flight- Sushi can jump like a cat, from the ground to the top of a short building. If he makes an attack while ascending upwards (such as to strike at people on the top of a hill or embankment) he deals 1d10+1 damage on a hit instead.

(4) Superiority- During a combat round, Sushi can hold his stance instead of attacking. He gains +3 AC for that round against all attacks. Everyone who attacks him and misses takes 1d4 damage from his counter attacks.

Sushi is also an incredible swordsman. Every day he meditates on the foundational principles, and rolls on the table above. This is his blade art for that day, which he will forget and replace with another one on the list the next day. It is random which one he will have when he battles with someone.

[3] Mask (4 HD, +2 to hit, +4 AC, 1d8+2 Falseblade)

Morale- 13

The quiet, mysterious member of the group. He is missing the last three inches off the end of his tail; he chopped it off himself to regain his honor after failing his previous master on a mission. Mask is also the only member of the Rōnin to have a magical sword.

Falseblade – Magic Sword +2

The Falseblade is a +2 Magic Sword and has a few unique properties. The first is that the Falseblade deals double damage against anyone else using a sword. This ability only applies to enemy combatants who are using swords, such as in a duel, against Mask. The second property is that the Falseblade looks, acts, and is used like a sword but is not a sword for the purposes of magic spells, blade arts, or other special class or character features. If you have a bonus to parry enemy's with swords, it doesn't work on the Falseblade, even though it looks and acts exactly like a Catana sword.

Needless to say, Mask has never lost a duel.

[4] Tidbits (4-1 HD, +3 to hit, +3 AC, 1d8 Catana, rage)

Morale- 13

The youngest and smallest of the group, Tidbits has developed a bit of a complex. To make up for his small size, he has adopted a very aggressive persona and is willing to challenge anyone to a duel to the death for almost any slight. While the least experienced of the Rōnin, he is still an excellent swordsman and is a fearsome duelist.

When Tidbits health drops to 6 points of HP or less (and thus puts him in lethal range on the next standard weapon's attack) he begins to fight with a devilish fury. He gains +2 AC and to hit for the rest of combat, but when combat ends he loses consciousness for 1d6 turns.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Dirt Simple Megadungeons

Do you lack the creativity, skill, time, or talent to create a Megadungeon? Do you want a dungeon crawling experience that is epic in scale but without all the hard work? Then this rule is for you.

Instead of writing or making a full mega dungeon, write up and create vague “zones” instead. The zone may be each floor of the dungeon, or different areas on each floor. Perhaps the first floor of a megadungeon is an underground cavern that leads into an ancient crypt. The cavern and the tomb would both be one “zone” of the megadungeon. You describe them in open terms, sights and smells, and accompanying random tables, but you don't draw every room and corridor.

Every exploration hour, the players roll a 1d6 on the table. They find;
[1] Random Encounter
[2] Faction HQ or Monster Lair
[3] Hazard (Trap, Precarious movement, or dungeon “puzzle”)
[4] Landmark (Safe zone, unusual architecture, interesting tidbit)
[5] Snapshot or “Cut Away” Dungeon
[6] Stairs/Next Zone Passage

The reason why “hours” are used here is to make megadungeons feel big. Every turn for you is an in-game hour of exploring many side passages, large caverns, going through several transitional areas and sparsely populated dungeon hallways and side rooms. You might say these areas are smoothing over a more boring part of dungeon gameplay; retracing your steps, dealing with straggling monster encounters, climbing up and down walls that are not inherently dangerous; that sort of thing all rolled into an hour-long unit of time.

This means that you're still getting basically one encounter per hour. You also lose one torch every roll of this dice, indicated you've explored quite a lot of dungeon by then.

The “Snapshot” or “Cut Away” Dungeon is essentially where your players get traditional dungeon crawling among this otherwise abstract system. This snapshot is something the DM prepares in advance for each major area or place in the megadungeon. Essentially, a small to medium scale dungeon with several rooms, corridors, and tactical exploration and placement. The idea here is to concentrate your quality of dungeon making into these areas, so that you can have the “feel” of a megadungeon, without having to draw every single hallway and room.

Thursday, September 17, 2020


I can't take all the credit for this one; many of these ideas were sourced from Anonymous contributors.

Bitterhound – 1d8+1 Magic Hammer

This is a magic hammer appearing as the head of a dog. It is wrought in a dark iron and it's unusual shape has not inhibited its killing potential. If this hammer strikes a foe and the wielder lets go of the hammer OR if they are killed/knocked out that round and lose grip of the hammer, the “mouth” of the hammer opens and has bitten the target instead. It still deals the regular damage of the attack, but the hammer has now got its jaws on the target.

The dog's mouth grips into flesh very hard, and on certain body parts, may bite down to the bone. Any attempt to chisel or pull off the hammer will result in it just biting down harder, with all the unending pressure of metal. In this form, the hammer emits a subtle curse onto the wearer.

Wild animals that are hunted in part by dogs (bears, boars, wolves, rabbits, foxes, etc.) now despise the one who the hammer has bitten into. They always roll the worst possible reaction checks, or run into one group of 1d4 of any of these types of animals once per day when traveling through the wilderness. Within a city or town, the animals are kept mostly at bay, but when traveling the roads they will always stalk and try to attack the person right as soon as they are alone or setting up camp. Animals that are too small to pose a serious threat instead attempt to steal or damage vital party equipment, or even lead the bitten one off a cliff or into a more dangerous monster with a fake chase.

This power is only active while the “dog” is biting the person. If the hammer's head is broken off from its handle, the head continues to bite and the effect continues. The Bitterhound's curse is ended by casting a remove curse spell, or upon death where it releases its jaws and serve a new master.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Cosmology and the Chain of Limits- Higher & Lower Realms

Alternate realities, dimensions, realms, or planes of existence aren't uniform. This goes beyond differences to the overall alignment, the residents, the size and geography, or even the “rules” of the dimension. On top of all these; every reality sits on a level on the cosmic chain of limits. Every realm or place that can exist exists at a state of highness and energy- some scholars believe the chain is limitless in both directions, while some think that there is a definite bottom- a lifeless, lightless pit of nothingness where the great evils will one day be banished forever.

However, all of these limits exist as a spectrum and only are characterized through relativistic means. For instance, the mortal realm or “prime material” plane could be used as the benchmark of standard or neutral, but compared to realms below it is a paradise, and compared to the realms above it is a purgatory. As such, objective measurements are useless. Instead, there is only higher or lower. However, these realms do not necessarily have to be cosmically separated from each other; they could be places in the core setting- in the same way in some more mythologically inspired worlds you can climb to heaven or dig to hell, these could apply to these too.

Additionally, each realm exists on a limit, but the limit can also expand infinitely outwards in horizontal motion as well. You might well exist in a high-fantasy medieval world, and then next to it is a bronze age mythology inspired fantasy world- these are different realms, but they exist on the same level of the cosmic chain.

Realms Higher on the cosmic chain to your own are usually heavenly realms, spirit places, or seem to exude both power, magic, and forms of authority or morality on the realm beneath. Examples of these realms to a human perspective would be places like the Celestial spheres, Asgard, the spirit realm, or other realms of enhanced reality.

These places are, in comparison with a lower realm, more beautiful and filled with life. The beings and races within this realm are more powerful by birth then anything from the lesser realm- spirit beasts are more powerful then mortal animals, demigods are greater then the greatest mortal champions, they have no base beings like orcs or humans, but superior creatures like cloud giants or numenoreans. You could imagine the standard fantasy races as being here but just “better” versions, like wood elves in your home setting are more like high elves here, OR these races are totally replaced with greater beings. The default of generic character/mortal/character sort of standard in this setting is just higher then from the main world.

In this realm, food and drink is of another level higher then the middle realm; even a pauper has lavish feasts fit for a King in our place. The same to goes for magic and treasure. The Gods or Kami may trade platinum coins between themselves for standard transactions; gold is too common and lesser of a material. These realms also often contain supernatural metals or materials too that is much higher in strength and purity then anything in realms below; one of these falling to the mortal realm is equivalent to a high level magic item being dropped at random.

To beings of lesser realms; coming here is like a supreme challenge. Everything, from the most basic of threats to the competition from intelligent beings of this realm, become incredibly more difficult as you aren't made of the same stuff. Groups of adventurers of high or name level will be akin to starting adventurers in their home country- imagine dragons or giants being basic level 1 enemies. It would incredibly difficult to carve out a niche in this world- though richly rewarding as even the most basic of treasures or companions would be greater then the greatest in your own world.

Also; beings who come from a lesser dimension to this one may find themselves becoming more powerful over the course of their life from ingesting its food and breathing its air; or through a bit of Lamarckian evolution their offspring would be considered greater. For example, a human mating with a God will produce a demigod, or simply living and being raised in a higher dimension equates to better-then-perfect growth conditions from your home world, resulting in superiority.

Realms Lower then your own on the cosmic chain are dark, shadowy, or entropic places. Lost or fallen spirits tend to end up here, either as punishment or weakness for being unable to stay in a higher realm. You could imagine dying to be like falling down a realm, where as ascension is going up a realm. Many scholars theorize the cosmic chain is not a linear chain but more like a steep funnel; it's incredibly easy to fall down, but very hard to climb up. Examples of lower dimensions include hell dimensions, shadow realms, ghost or veil worlds- something like the Upside Down or Silent Hill's dark world would be examples, or the shadow world/dark world from many games could apply. You could also apply this to fallen worlds too; something like the world of Dark Souls could be thought of as having fallen into a “lower” cosmic state then it used to be.

These places are, in comparison to the neutral middle realm above it, darker and deader. They tend to be more quiet, with less biodiversity and less life- the cosmic order and laws of nature are less important here, which tends to mean more chaos and unreality in a bad way, as opposed to higher realms which are more filled with magic, these realms are more filled with curses and oppressive darkness. They drain energy instead of giving it; much like a negative energy plane. For this reason, the beings that live here are lesser in number, weaker, less intelligent, and less moral or reliable then beings above them. You could imagine “dark” or stunted versions of the mortal races or animals- perhaps just the standard races but with more present mutations or general apathy, or a more pre-modernist view of the ancient world (people were old at 25 year old, everyone was dumb and illiterate and burned witches left and right; that kind of nonsense) but taken straight as how these lesser people actually are. Or the more standard races or animals could be replaced with totally new ones; things like the Tarkatan from Mortal Kombat; not necessarily inferior to beings of the realms above in terms of strength but more savage and less refined or spiritual.

The physical world of this dimension is also lesser then the one above it. Food may rot quicker and silver, if it exists at all, would tarnish quickly though would be unparalleled in its beauty. Most physical items are less sturdy and rot away faster, people are less wealthy regardless of the actual economic systems; Kings and nobles of this realm would live in homes that a standard villager in the core fantasy world would have. In the same way, magic and warfare are similarly different; the most powerful archmage in this setting may only be able to cast 3rd or 4th level spells from the core fantasy world; your apprentices are equivalent to practiced magicians in this world. This could just be because the ambient magic here is weaker then the upper dimensions; though this wouldn't stop a tremendously powerful magic from your world being an unstoppable demigod in equivalence. As for combat; the same applies- the most powerful troops here may have cobbled together armor and weapons and fight about as strong as some goblins or orcs if they're really outstanding.

Exploring this realm from the realm above would be very easy- you would be outclassing everything here with even a modicum of experience. To the people of this realm, your characters would seem incredible beautiful, smart, strong, and powerful with only average or slightly above-average ability scores. You would very much be like characters in a video game where you're worshiped as the chosen one after the tutorial mission! Even a medium level group of adventures from this world would be able to defeat and dominate almost everything here- the greatest monster in this world may be a single ogre or troll in comparison to the weakness of its people. It would be incredibly easy to dominate this world and live as Kings, but everything here would hardly be worth it. The treasure would be much less value then that from your home world; gold may not even exist, the biggest gemstone is just a tiny thing that would go on a wedding band in your world and here it would be the crown jewel of an Emperor.

Staying in this realm for extended periods of time from a higher dimension would be bad for the health. Perhaps its because the realm is higher in quantities of negative energy (or just lacks as much life energy); you'd be eating poor food and breathing poor air, and you'd slowly degrade over time from this, despite your inherent superiority over the beings here. It could also just be the same as the higher realm where only children born here are lessened- in much the same way when a God comes down and has a demigod, they are lesser then the true God. In the same way; a human breeding with a being in this realm may result in a greater then average but lesser to what the human would be in the real world. This feels very similar to how Gods might degrade their bloodlines through mixing with mortals is what happens if you live among these lesser beings from a world lesser in cosmic importance.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Sea of Thieves is OSR + 12 Random Pirate Treasures

This isn't exactly a revolutionary opinion, and I'm sure other people have talked about wavecrawls before, but Sea of Thieves is like super OSR as fuck.

You have limited supplies on the open ocean, and your main goal is to get treasure. Every fight with other ships drains your supplies- wood planks for repair, food for healing, as well as your cannonballs. Treasure chests are carried aboard your ship and while having more of them doesn't slow you down as per encumbrance, it does make for more risk and more reward- as its a gamble to keep sailing when you already have a bunch of chests as you could be sunk and lose it all. Some treasure chests are also cursed and add to more resources- such as the Chest of Sorrows which cries and fills up your ship with water that you have to bail out.

While the open ocean is hostile and unforgiving with many encounters; skeleton crews, other players, sea monsters, storms and so on- islands are your sources of respite. In many ways these are like towns, but islands are even better in D&D towns because while they can be used for resupply they can ALSO be plundered for treasure, some of them being inhabited by dangerous skeletons or traps as well. Plus solving the riddles from each treasure map to find treasure is just genius. You could totally port this game right over into dungeon crawling adventures with or without the basic classes or typical rules and it would feel right at home.

12 Random Pirate Treasures – Roll to see what you find in a pirate's treasure chest!
[1] Doubloons matey!
[2] Mummified Monkey. Worth a fortune to one insane collector.
[3] Turtle Shell Hat. Makes you look like a turtle while you're swimming, +1 AC
[4] Crate of limes; protects against scurvy.
[5] Jollyjack Sword. The OG pirate's cutlass. +1 magic weapon, cuts your flag into people's skin.
[6] Mermaids comb. Valuable on its own; present to the mermaids and one will marry you.
[7] Walrus cream. Rub on skin for good ointment- makes you smell nice. If you put some on and smell like it around a walrus; it will want to marry you. Right now. On the beach.
[8] Salted Megaladon Meat. Very tasty, restores 1d6 hit points for being such a delicacy.
[9] Reed Whistle of Winds. Blow the whistle and the winds blow as long as you can hold your note.
[10] Rat stick. It's just a stick used to beat up stowaway rats. Deals 1d2 damage. Somehow every rat knows about this stick and fears it. Rats make a morale check when hit.
[11] Bastard Banana. Looks like a banana. When unpeeled, unsuspecting fruit-eater is attacked by the hundred venomous spiders just released. Pick up the peel and fold it up to reuse.
[12] Cursed Cannonball. +2 to hit. If it lands on the enemy ship, will lodge and plug it's own hole in their hull; appears ineffective. Actually curses the whole ship as long as its onboard.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Vagueposting- Weapons

Vagueposting- “Weapons”
I've been recently mulling over the concept of “weapons” and the advancement of weapons. More specifically; vague weapons that aren't really real, or rather, how they can be described without going into detail. These “weapons” are essentially a retrofuturistic vision of what ancient or fantasy people imagined weapons of the future being life, but without relying on actual real world technology and with as little magical or supernatural context as possible. Also in this write up I'm going to use the term “weapon” for 99% of it but armor, equipment, or even vehicles could be substituted based on what you're looking for.

Imagine it like this; a club is the most basic and primitive weapon a person could use. Then it advances to a spear. Then the spear becomes the short sword, made of bronze, and then later the swerd in an iron age sense. Of course at this point we can't say objectively a poleaxe is superior to a sword, obviously in real life weapons are used for different purposes. Now in real life, we know that from this point we could roughly (very generally) say that weapons advanced to muskets, then guns, and then will advance to laser guns or robot drones (more then likely the drones in real life). But in a fantasy setting, these are using types of technology and such that didn't exist in the day. Naturally neither did metalworking exist that could make the fullplate and polearms of the day exist in the bronze ages, but hopefully you get a concept of what I'm going for here.

This rather vague concept for weapons and “weapons” as superior and advanced things in a fantasy context (more on that weapon) comes from three main sources that I can think of at this time. I'm sure there are more that vaguely fit this, and I'm sure I've seen more that I can't list now (probably something from Dominions), but these are the ones I thought of while writing this “vague post”.

The first is from “Conan of the Isles”, the only Conan book I have read at the time of this writing. My Appendix N is shameful, I know. In this book, Conan has a vision of being taken to a black hall which shows an endless battle between good and evil; man and chaos. In this battle, Conan sees men in animal skins battling with clubs; primitives fighting with primitive weapons. People of his day fighting with more contemporary weapons, and then people fighting with weapons he doesn't recognize. These are obviously implied to by guns and laser weapons and the like, but in our context they could be anything. They are intentionally left vague, which I think is great.

The second is from a little game called “Defenders of the Oasis”, which is one of my secret favorite games. It's a casual game that would have been a phone game if it was released anywhere close to 10 years ago. Basically you play as a Pharaoh and have to find an obelisk to obtain a glyph of power- the whole while connecting cities on the map with roads, mining for ancient technology, and growing in power to fight barbarians that attack at the end of each stage. I really, really like this game partially for its story and in-universe elements; mostly for divorcing magic and the supernatural from the western fantasy Wizard archetype that is so prevalent and that I complain about all the time. In this fantasy setting, which is literally just Egypt, the Pharaoh IS magic and he is powerful.

In one of the campaigns, you actually play as a female priestess. You don't get a new sprite or anything (it's a shitty old game remember), but in the first level you steal the glyph from the sacred isle of the Gods, which angers them. The first god who sends their wrath at you is Thoth, who brings down “scrolls of wisdom” which the barbarians use to make mighty weapons and armor. I love this passage because of how vague it is. In game, we get to see what weapons and armor they are more or less (just gives the barbarians technology bonuses in fights, which usually only you get), but in lore it could mean anything, which is why I like it. Thoth's knowledge of weapons, you could easily imagine, would include things like muskets and modern guns and catapults and stuff. But this doesn't really fit the imagine of an Egyptian supernatural technology alternate history; I'd much prefer to see this as something like a giant mechanical scarab, the kopesh designed in such a way it can cut through almost anything, weaving the hot desert sands into cloaks that let you blend into the dunes, that kind of thing. It's almost magic and a bit mystical without being a “spell”, you know? It's “knowledge”, which fits better in a mythological setting anyway. Many of the powers of the Gods could just be secret knowledge, and magic is often fluffed as secret knowledge, not something separate.

The third and final example I have for this concept is from a great Chinese wuxia movie, this one called the “Dragon Gate Inn”. I love this movie and it's shitty translation. It's chalk full of Chinese fantasy tropes, which I love. There's an evil Eunuch who wants to take over the legitimate government, tons of people on wires battling with decent choreography and sword fights with decent special effects- all practical for this day and age which has a charm to itself. However right in the opening scenes of this movie we can see how cruel and evil the Ennuch's splinter government is; they are testing “new weapons” on prisoners. All of these are arrowheads; the “Plum Blossom” arrow, the “Dog Teeth” arrow, and the “Phoenix Tail” arrow. The Plum Blossom and Dog Teeth just seem to be deadly effective, where as the Phoenix Tail arrow is fired and dramatically curves to strike down the last prisoner, implying it has some kind of homing or tracking ability.

Now in any kind of realistic setting or sense, these would have a lot of problems or be downright impossible. They'd be far less effective then real, simple, straight arrows. But something about this I really like. Like you found a way to sculpt the metal or bind it up just right; these special arrows cause horrible injuries that are hard to heal, making these arrows very good for injuring and capturing enemy soldiers. They may even fly faster or straighter then regular arrows, despite it having no sensible basis in reality. They're just “more advanced”. We don't really get a good idea of what these do in Dragon Pass Inn other then the grievous injuries that the Dog Teeth arrows make when they are used later in the story, but I still like them.

Finally- ask yourself this. How can we port this over and use this organically?

Well firstly, the one big advantage of written media (and by extension, tabletop games) is that this vagueness can abound. You can stretch over long periods of time with a single sentence, or imply a ton of stuff without detailing any of it. Something as simple as “then he brought forth many advanced weapons, and used them to defeat the tribes and bring peace to the land” implies a huge amount without needing to actually show any of it as opposed to a movie or bit of animation which is visual, or a video game which is more tactile. You could easily play a tabletop game and grant a player an “advanced weapon”, never actually describe it, but mention how it isn't necessarily magical or doesn't use technology as we understand it. Of course, this is a bit of a cop out. We wanted to have this cake and eat it too, so some description is both desired and necessary.

Secondly; technology. In many tabletop games with the usual high fantasy setting, technology tends to be in a roughly medieval or renaissance stasis. Of course along with this comes the unrealism- many fantasy settings include things like airships or steampunk elements, clockwork robots, and/or magitech that we could explore to be the creative force behind our “advanced” weapons. In some of these cases this is enough, but in others we might just argue that you can add a few mechanical elements to a weapon that normally wouldn't have them (or just wouldn't work at all) to make it more advanced.

Similar to the Dragone Gate Inn example- we can just not be specific. I like the idea of weapons being tested or made of materials that are just extremely good; unique shapes or construction. Maybe a strangely shaped axe head is just better then a regular axe head, but is hard to make and is therefore a more advanced or rare weapon. It probably has a name to signify it, like Crescent Moon Slicing-Axe. It's an Axe that can perform draw cuts as well as a sword, shaped like a crescent moon, and can still chop wood just as well.

Another example involves things from a campaign a friend of mine ran for me many years ago. In that my character (who I think used polearms or a naginata or something) got a new weapon. Basically it was a polearm with a rotating blade which could be flicked out; it was disguised as a walking stick. My DM declared that this weapon could be used to make sneak attacks too; by flicking the end of the staff the blade could spin out and perform a cut the same as an attack. I was dubious and told him it wouldn't work like that; the spinning blade wouldn't have the same force as a blade on the end of a long lever, but he said not to worry about the realism of it and just accept it. I realize now of course I was in the wrong over this, but like I said, there is a leap to accept a fictional universe with different rules. Now I think the concept is pretty interesting; spring loaded or double edged weapons with twice the effectiveness of a normal weapon, or with bonus features like sneak attacks or bonus to-hit from being accurate and capable of hitting many times in a few seconds.

These weapons are created not by magic users or by specific arcane practices, but instead by practiced weapons smiths and ancient warrior philospher kings. It could be the ancient empire who was against evil magic in the setting used these weapons to cut a swathe in the world; a nice backdrop for a Conan-esque barbarian distrustful of magic but still capable of rising above “mundane” equipment through their superior "technology".

Examples of Vagueposting “Advanced Weapons” Table – Roll 1d10
[1] Long iron poles with no ornamentation. Can be squeezed while pointing at something; destroys it. Could be implied to be laser technology in a fantasy world (ala many modules that have crashed spaceships and stuff) or could be some kind of vague “ultra destructive force” that the metal just “has” and can emit through being crafted and handled in some special way.

[2] Deadly Jacks. Little spiked orbs or caltrops that can be thrown. Somehow fly extremely well, perhaps homing in on living things to get their spikes in, link their hooks together to become spiked chains, and totally nullify any motion or actions to escape their grasp. Maybe less of a “weapon” and more of a cruel torture and capture device. Might be designed in such a way that they always land upwards or just conveniently bounce off walls and terrain and flop into the path of oncoming people so they step on them or get hit by them, because you know, you can just forge the angles that way.

[3] Death Butterfly. Better then the Deadly Jacks. Basically imagine an evil weapons made of sharpened super metal and glass; perhaps an elf super weapon. You throw it and it always returns to the user; even if totally unrealistic it just curves around and comes back to your hands unless trapped in a sack of some material it can't cut through. When you throw it cuts off people's heads and stuff, or just punches through their chest even if your throw really shouldn't have the strength to do that with its weight and leverage and stuff; it just “catches the wind” and punches through people.

[4] Thingamajig-Tier gadget device like from Ed, Edd, & Eddy. Basically a cube, sphere, briefcase, etc. that contains a million weapons. By handling the weapon a certain way, it can activate the different weapons and bring them to bare against your enemies. Also; see a Swiss Army Knife but bigger and with weapons; or the like Cube Style.

[5] Da Vinci-tier machines. Also see the game "Besiege" where you build murder weapons. Mostly things like the carts with spinning blades on them or flying machines. These aren't technically hand-held weapons in the ways the others are but in a lot of ways fit the definition better; a weapon the user is protected while using by riding inside and such. But if you like Fighters more heroic then this isn't exactly what you'd use for their ultimate weapons.

[6] Kill glow. Some kind of powered light as a weapon. Not necessarily shot out of things like a laser beam, but moreso a trained form of light or maybe heat/energy/electricity that flies around and kill things from the users hand. It's a weapon, not a spell. Deal with it.

[7] Pop-Out Spear head. Some sort of spear which has a standard looking spearhead, except it has a lot of very fine holes over it. When shoved into someone, the holes erupt out spikes inside, then quickly draw them back in; causing huge internal damage and causing much worse injuries then first assumed. Having the spikes retract adds to believablity of the spear being able to penetrate into people and then be pulled back out without all the spikes catching in their body.

[8] Super Flail. Just a flail with some super heavy element build into the head, or the head+chain being made in some kind of way where it just becomes inherently super powerful. Can bowl into objects with much more force then possible, like knocking through bricks, busting through steel shields, basically being a bit physically unstoppable.

[9] Gas Blower. Could be something like a forge bellows if you want to make it look more genuine to a fantasy world as opposed to a more modern flamethrower looking thing. These weapons use gas sucked up from the earth and soils of mines. You could see flammable gas, freezing gas, confusion/knockout gas, corrosive gas, lightning-attracting gas and so forth. Fantasy version of natural gasses, but put into a weapon for useful fighting. Also could be put into a hollow flask or whatever and thrown as a bomb, but that tends to be a bit different from a "weapon".

[10] Super Duper Sword. Made of super metals, and curved and refined in the special perfect way. It has a specific shape, edge, and was folded over one million times to produce the finest blade possible. Still not magical, or may have some kind of supernatural power based on how it was made, but isn't girly “wizard” magic. Basically it's just a super powerful sword that due to its angles and construction it can cut straight through lesser metals, block blows easily, slide around enemy armors and stuff, is perfectly balanced and just the right weight and speed, etc.

[x] Liquid metal weapon. Kind of cheating and doesn't fit; since these already exist as other magic items. But basically; a lump or metal or handle which morphs the metal of itself into any weapon when it is needed.

[] Musical weapons. Lutes or harps that can play music that hurts people. Almost counts as this concept but is a bit too thematic and has some cross over with bards, bardic magic, and so on. Some Wuxia or Chinese Fantasy stuff already has some of this though it isn't really a more “advanced” form of normal weaponry, just a thematic take on people being so good at music they fight with it.

[g] Just Guns. This isn't really an answer- as I mentioned earlier. We're trying not to advance weapons in a real world historical sense- but even people in the day had advanced weapons like repeating crossbows and hand-gunnes that would shape the future of warfare. Fighters could still get a bonus with these despite not fitting a martial theme, because they are weapons.

[?] Hand to Hand. Once again, not really an advanced weapon. But the idea of a fighting school or technique getting so good over time that it starts to be better then physical weapons. Your hand to hand kung fu gets so good that any weapon would just be a detriment in a fight- your special technique can rock anybody way better then a sword or axe could.