Wednesday, March 31, 2021

40 Minute Settings- Heap

Heap is a shithole. It's like a garbage dump of different worlds. Once the technology to create portals becomes wildly available to a civilization, they will naturally start to throw away all their garbage. At first it might just be nuclear waste, plastics that never degrade, that sort of thing. But pretty soon they'll dump their normal litter and garbage away, and then it's only a matter of time before the excess population gets dumped too.

It happened to Earth, but it has happened to other places too. The world gets crowded. Over populated. People start to want to look for a better life. At first they don't even have to trick people, just give them the option. Keep the communication between the worlds as sparse as possible. Nobody ever comes back of course, that's the point of a depopulation program. They're told they can go here for a better life, a fresh start. Meaningless bribes like the removal of all debt or allowing them to breed again in eugenic societies- genetic dead ends are dumped in Heap like any other cesspit. Soon after, refugees from oppression and wars will go there, and punishment for crime will include permanent relocation.

Heap is a nexus of many worlds. Humans are there, as well as the pig-like Azon and the enigmatic Phissy. All these species and more have ended up opening stable connections to Heap, and all of them used it as a trash can. Heap is a world littered with garbage. Cities were built here, but the canals between them are filled with sewage. Huge sinkholes filled with trash have becomes the main scavenging locations for the impoverished residents. Heap is filled with high rises and micro apartments. Nobody who lives here has much of a choice, so the landlords have a field day. They can charge pretty much whatever they want- it's either that or go live like one of the many millions of homeless vagabonds digging through trash.

Heap's People
The many species who live in Heap do so because they were either tricked or forced to come here, they aren't usually happy about it. Getting sent to Heap is almost always a one-way ticket. Nobody is allowed to come back to their homelands without special connections or an insane bribe, and everybody in Heap is living hand to mouth. Well, almost everybody.

Heap is a world of urban decay. The place was falling apart when they built it. Now it's much worse. Cracked pavement and falling apart infrastructure are the norm. The water and lights mostly work, but it's expensive and spotty because you can never know when somebody will start siphoning it off your building. The canals are how people get around now, airboats are the luxury sports cars of Heap. People living here are hard scrabble. They dress in stolen rags, usually plucked from a corpse of somebody who tied slowly of toxic poisoning from the air and water. They work whatever filthy jobs they can. Certain outreach programs have given jobs to the area, but they're busywork at best. Painting garbage to make it look nice to anyone flying overhead, underwater canal welders, a few factories. Those who work in the health clinics (and whorehouses) can make a decent living. But of course, owning anything is an invitation to be robbed.

Most people work odd jobs. Garbage scavengers, growing food in the gutters, and petty theft are how most people get by here. One of the most controversial careers is those who work for the landlords. The eviction officers. You don't even get paid for that, they just slip a copy of the keys in your box and you force the tenants out. You get first dibs on whatever they have. That's what Heap is like.

Heap has grocery stores, spas, hardware stores. It's a normal “civilized” place. You just start to notice that all the doors and windows have bars on them. Armed guards patrol the stores from catwalks- ready to shoot shoplifters without a trial. Everything is just so slightly out of your price range. Everything's a bit dingy and faded. Most things here a recalled from the “real” world out there, the place you can't go back to. You don't think you've seen a tree since you came here. You could try calling the police if something bad happens, but you know they won't come. That's what life is like.

Heap's Technology
Heap is a place where many alien races and cultures have come together. It seems that everyone who has developed portal technology has about the same overall level of technology, but with different specialties and off shoots. Humans ended up being really good at computers. The bug aliens whose name nobody can pronounce have incredible body modifications. Drugs are a Heap specialty- it's a home grown thing here. Only way to design stuff that can make one species high and another one not dead is to have a LOT of hands on experience.

Guns are also made in this place. Often modified or hand crafted, making bullets is one of the most stable and good forms of work in this miserable place because of how much they are used. Not a night goes by when you don't hear gunshots- you just hope it's not in your own apartment building. Turf wars by the gangs or grudges being settled are more then enough to keep the bullet factors working all the time. Everybody with anything to defend in Heap is strapped.

Those who need to fight for a living in Heap- mobsters, eviction agents, people on the run- they need special help. Guns aren't enough. Instead, they turn to the special methods. Their bodies are sliced open, alien doctors sowing the ligaments back up with little chips inside. These are morphs. Imagine someone putting a flamethrower in your arm, powered by your blood. Now imagine what kind of daily routine and diet you'd need to keep to both avoid dying and to keep it in working order. Morphs are unique, special enhancements people put in themselves. It's as much of a burden as it is a gift. All of them show signs of it on the outside.

Those with morphs to spit fire or acid have burns along their arm- most put their morph in their non-dominant hand, as to keep their good one for punching or shooting. Ice morphs are cold, of course. Morphs that turn your body into a hive for insects or leeches are very nasty, but very effective in the closed environments where fights break out. Heap is an artificial environment, it's not like people have easy access to bugspray. Some morphs are put into the legs, chest, eyes or other parts of the body. Some people have urban travel morphs- their legs are skinless, bulging with muscle, which must be massaged and bathed in salt every day or else they'll start to cramp and probably sever an artery with how hard they'll spasm. In return for this sacrifice, you'll be able to jump a few stories- right up to your mark's window. Why not? It's not like you have a long life expectancy here anyway, what with the pollution and toxic air.

Hope for Heap
Heap is a bad place. Everybody here is on edge, racial tensions run high. Nobody likes the greedy landlords and everyone thinks everybody else owes them something. It's kind of rough. But even with all that, there is life growing up from the gutters. Kids (god forbid) play in the gutters sometimes, under careful eye of their parents. People have barbecues; sometimes the smell of alien cookery wafts into your window, and it smells good. Sometimes the pie guy wheels his cart outside your building. Damn, that guy is great. He carries a shotgun under his cart and can fire bone spurs from his head under his chef hat but he's the nicest food-cart guy around. The graffiti on the walls is beautiful. This place is filled with artists and musicians, exiled from their worlds because their art wasn't worth enough in capital to keep them in a place that wasn't the garbage pit. But sometimes this garbage pit isn't so bad.

There is of course, talk of revolution. Some want to destroy Heap, return to their home worlds, break the portals and force their people to take them back, or better yet, stop the cruel march of progress that is forcing people to the Heap dimension in the first place. Some people talk of a socialist revolution in Heap itself; taking all the property and giving it to the average citizen, instead of to the rich landlords who don't even need to visit this smelly dimension to get their checks. Some just think we need God here, or charity drives, or just hope. Maybe we can have hope. But hope needs to be defended with more then just words.

Author Afterwards
This world of mine is based on a few concepts. The idea of Heap peeked out at me when I was thinking about my home setting Garden again in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps if I could go back in time and change what I thought, I would have made Garden into what Heap is. Heap to me is the more grown up, better, more fully fleshed out version of Garden. But I can't just abandon Garden, it's got too much work and love put into it, but it's a bit silly. I think making Heap a sort of prison or outside place that is better explained in why it exists helps with the feel a bit.

The idea behind the Morphs and Heap in general came from Bioshock. One of my favorite games. I think this version of a “magic system” is a little better then the psychic stuff from Garden, but that's just a gut feeling, not idea how it actually looks from the outside. I also love the sort of dark and dingy modern life aesthetic seen in a few places, like Paratopic or any Puppet Combo games. I don't really have much else to add here- Heap is a sort of vague idea on my mind and I decided to write it up using my 40 minute setting format. Hope you enjoyed it, there might be other projects involving Heap in the future, it's gripped me in ways that I didn't expect.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

So whatever happened to the Dwarves?

In some fantasy settings, dwarves are extinct. It may be that there are only humans remaining, or that all the dwarves that remain are deep dwellers with little interest in the surface world. There are dungeons, perhaps, and ancient cities dwarves once ruled, but now are silent and teeming with monsters and traps.

So what happened to the Dwarves? Well I'll tell you- they decided to live on the surface.

When it comes to sustaining a civilization, hunter gathering can only take you so far. This goes double for cave dwelling civilizations. For fantasy ecologies this isn't as much of an issue, but most people don't see the caverns realms or underdark as a good place for farmining and supporting a large population. Small families can live off fungus farms, but not empires. People like to live near their food sources.

Perhaps in ancient days, the world was terrorized by the wars of the gods, or the clashes of huge and powerful races on the surface world. Dwarves lived in the Earth, afraid to stick their heads out. They developed and advanced, gaining technology and building a culture and society that could go out into the world and conquer it; maybe not all of it, but enough to make a life among the hills and valleys.

But Dwarves aren't very well suited to life above ground. Dwarven bodies are compact and strong, but not known to be especially fast or dexterous. Up on the surface, being able to move quickly and see farther is more important. Being able to use a bow and arrow is a lot more important on the surface then underground. Perhaps the dwarves got a bit taller. This could have been through magical or societal eugenics, or perhaps it just happened naturally. Maybe it was a blessing of the Gods.

Dwarves are the fantasy version of the cave man. Cave men and neolithic people wouldn't be able to survive in a fantasy world with other older, more powerful intelligent races like Elves or lizardmen. They wouldn't be able to defeat dragons and giant monsters without steel- our human ancestors in the real world slaughtered almost all of the world's megafauna with stone tipped spears, but fantasy monsters tend to be several layers of magnitude more scary then even our scariest predators.

So instead, pre-humans in fantasy lived deep underground. Formed by the salt of the earth, hiding from sight, they learned the crafts of fire and steel first, before language or writing. These were more important to them. Once they reached the surface, they became a bit softer in a way, but more developed to. Not necessarily more intelligent- man's gift is his intelligence, without it they could never survive in this world or the fantasy one. But the intelligence was just shifted to different things.

So what happened to the Dwarves? Well, they became humans.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Where does a Dragon's Firebreath come out of exactly?

Art @Saeed Ramez
Roll a d6 to find out.

[1] Out of their throat, basically belch or vomit it out.
[2] Out of their nose, snort it out. May light things on fire when they sneeze or get mad.
[3] Out of fire glands or valves in their mouth; similar to a spitting cobra. Pic related.
[4] Gas is released from their body, spark pouch in throat/mouth ignites it safely at distance.
[5] Forms on the outside of their mouth from fluid that ignites with the air. Fire is partially liquid and kind of “sprays”, may be almost like a fantasy version of napalm. Very nasty.
[6] Out of their butthole lol.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Legend of Grimrock is Amazing (also critque)

I feel weird writing a post like this because, besides very small indie games like World of Horror or Hylics, any game I play is probably something my readers already have played, or know about and just don't care about. If it's something both popular, well known, and high quality, then you've probably already heard about it.

Legend of Grimrock is exactly that kind of game. I'd imagine anyone who likes oldschool dungeon crawlers, cRPGs, and tabletop roleplaying games already knows about Grimrock. However there is a non zero chance that at least one of you haven't seen this game. And let me tell you, if you like D&D, you like dungeons, you like fantasy, and you like fun fucking games, then this game IS your game.

Legend of Grimrock
Legend of Grimrock is amazing. I love everything about it. The story of the game is very simple; four prisoners of various fantasy races and classes are dropped in a pit as sentence for their unknown crimes. This pit is a massive dungeon- if you manage to escape it, you may go free. There are no towns or NPCs, you have to make your way through the dungeon using only what you can find or make yourself. It has a character creation system, fun loot and combat, and tons of secrets.

Strangely, even though this game is almost exclusive dungeon crawling at its finest, I can't really call it an “OSR” game. That may sound strange, but hear me out. OSR is mostly about dungeon crawling to get treasure for XP. There is wilderness crawling and domain management at higher levels. Grimrock is certainly a dungeon crawler, but there's no gold- almost all your advancement is done in the dungeon. Resources management is important, but you don't restock them at town and worry as much about carry weight. It's more of a survival horror game if you think about it that way- getting put in a bad situation and making the most of what you're given.

Legend of Grimrock has a unique magic system, one of the best I've seen for this kind of game. You have to arrange runes on a “rune board” available only to magic using characters. These runes make spells that have magical effects when cast, usually either damage dealing spells of the various elements, protect yourself from the elements, or spells that create light or darkness, among others. What I love about these spells is its a bit of a challenge to arrange them just right every time- you feel very D&D Wizardish for preparing your runes before you go into a fight or drop down into a pit, just in case there are enemies down there. It doesn't have quite the same thrill or impact as vancian magic, but it's a pretty good approximation in a game both with a mana bar and no daily limits. The Wizard also feels more risk/reward in that sense, as in combat it takes a lot longer to set up and cast a spell then to swing a sword or shoot a bow.

The other thing I love about it is the map and world design. You can never “lose” items in this game, because every single location in the game world is a place you can reach. So if you accidentally shoot an arrow (they have unlimited uses by the way, you just get limited arrows throughout the game, so you need to retrieve them) over a pit, you can fall down the pit and find it later. If there's a pressure plate across a chasm, you can find a secret wall or door to go grab it. Many secrets are visible to the player and you just have to find a way across. There are secrets within secrets. Because of this design, the world feels very much like a real space. If you drop down into a pit, it isn't an instant death pit or just a warp-back-up and take a little damage pit like in most games, no, the pit is an actual place that can have items, monsters, or secrets of its own. Everything in the world feels incredibly self contained and realized for that reason.

Then they made a second one. Oh boy. It takes place on an island, and while it isn't quite as “whole” as the first game feels in that sense, it has all the same gameplay and more. Spells have been expanded, the world is non-linear, there's tons of new content, new classes, and new stuff. This game has secrets out the ass and made me feel wonder multiple times from uncovering secret puzzles. One of the few games I've played where using a walkthrough isn't as fun as figuring things out for yourself (for the most part). It's just damn good. The Trickster character is amazing. I loved the alchemy. It's better then the first.

Oh and the treasure! Grimrock is inspiring me so hard to make a dungeon where you can't restock at a town, you just need to find and make everything you use. Grimrock nails that so good, both games. I also love the high fantasy gear you actually find. Full plate is not the end of the road- you can find crystal plates that grant a semi-magical boost in the form of more maximum health. You can find meteor armor which is the best protective gear in the game, and so on. It feels very fantastical in a good way. The same goes for the weapons.

I can't really say anything else without spoilers, so just play it for yourself first. Everything below this part will be a spoiler.

Random Nitpicks
However, everything isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Nothing major, these are just tiny, tiny changes or little nitpicks that I had with the second game compared to the first.

First off, there are now five races. I actually like the ratlings a lot in this game, but I find their inclusion a little strange. The first game had four races and three classes. You could have a totally balanced party with one of race- minotaurs fit best for warriors, lizardmen were best at being rogues, and Insects were the best for magic. Then humans, who were very neutral and average, were a bit of the everyman race. With the inclusion of ratlings however, this isn't quite the same anymore. Now both rats and lizard people are sort of the dexterity/rogue type race. Now of course, this is a nitpick because it isn't entirely true- not only are the classes way different and having a race that is both dexterous and gets extra carrying capacity (the rats) mean they are uniquely suited to be an alchemist, the number of classes in the game has grown and you can have a much more weird or interesting party. I don't think it's bad at all, but I did feel bad that I had to leave one of the races out of my playthrough's party. Maybe that's dumb, I mean obviously you could go through the whole game playing as four humans, but ever since I played Grimrock one I went through the game with one member of the party as each member of the four races, it made the party feel like a group of random fantasy creatures thrown into a dangerous situation just trying to make it, which is exactly what the game was! With the inclusion of ratlings, you now have to leave one out. Like I said, very small nitpick, but it feels important enough to mention.

Second; Grimrock 2 (specifically) doesn't use its tilesets enough. It could be partially because my specific path through the game were such that I did areas with similar tilesets back to back, and the new tilesets were great- but it feels like every dungeon is the same mossy cobbestone type, with the castle tileset getting used only very sparringly. With that being said I feel they did an excellent job making each dungeon feel at least partially unique both in their layouts and how the architecture was used, and the new tilesets (namely ALL of the outdoor areas, which weren't in the first game at all) and the temple tileset where very nice.

Also just for writing up this blogpost- I loaded up the Grimrock 1 dungeon editor and looked at the tilesets. I can't believe they didn't repurpose the prison tileset in Grimrock 2! What a waste! That was a great tileset and would have broken up the montomey of having the crypts, the sewers beneath the hamlet, the Runes of Desarune and a few other random places using that same generic cobblestone tileset. I feel like making the Ruins of Desarune that prison tileset (or a new tileset) would have been superior, as it would have made that large dungeon you spend a lot of time in more memorable, and those random transitory areas could use the cobblestone dungeon tileset.

The above here is probably my biggest minor nitpick- Grimrock 1 all took place in a single dungeon. Everything was underground. In Grimrock 2, the grid-based movement and outdoor area detracted just a bit from that purity. It's not necessarily bad, like I said it's a nitpick for a reason, but it is something I think about from time to time. Grimrock 1 had a lot more mystery in that regard; every single item and thing you read in the game references a mysterious outside world with tons of lore that you don't get to see anything of except their artifacts. In Grimrock two, you get a much better look at these- visiting the temple for example, and it doesn't feel quite as mystifying.

Oh and yet another minor nitpick here- in Grimrock 2, you fight a lot of rat people. In Grimrock 1, you don't fight any members of any of the playable races. Turning them into monsters robs them of their sentience in that sense. You could just assume that all members of intelligent races would be intelligent, reasonable people that wouldn't just randomly attack you in the dungeon. Of course this is a bit hypocritical, because I always used to think the cave ogre from Grimrock one was actually a minotaur, but then again the sizes don't quite work right in that regard, even a minotaur couldn't exist on the same square as your party! It's way too big!

Differences between Grimrock 1 and 2
The classes of Grimrock 2 are both more and less fleshed out then the first game. In Grimrock 1, you pick a single class for each character which has their own large skill tree. Whenever you level up, you put a point in a skill. In Grimrock 2 that system has been changed, now everyone has a shared skill tree, with classes acting as a set of starting health/energy points, equipment usages, and a few random bonuses put here or there.

No, I did not play with the farmer class. I still don't know if I would.

Here's the thing about this new system; Grimrock 1 had classes that felt really distinct but the skills were also distinct. I think changing the system from having Axe/Hammer/Sword specializations from Grimrock 1 to just Light and Heavy weapons in Grimrock 2 was a really good change, BUT there are minor things lost from it. For example, in Grimrock 1 I was planning out my characters builds, and once I had finished a skill tree I would look at other skills. See, Grimrock 1 had skills that granted minor stat bonuses and random boosts- you would get to Axe level 3 or whatever and that character would get +1 Strength. So even if you didn't use Axes, it was interesting that you could put some points into that to gain a stat bonus. Grimrock 2 did away with this and skills don't feel quite as interesting. Less skills in total and less “perks” you get for leveling up skills. It is nice you can do things like level up a Mage in armor so they can wear heavier equipment, which in Legend of Grimrock 1 they had to put points into Staff Defense skill which capped their armor at light, they could never get to heavy. The Battlemage, whilst being very cool, feels like a straight upgrade to the regular Wizard. The fact that you need to have some elemental magic to use the (special abilities at least) of certain weapons despite them being more fitting to fighters feels a bit off, but not bad.

Also- last nitpick about classes. In Grimrock 2 it feels like alchemist is almost mandatory.

As for weapons; Guns feel better then bows (even though I never used them in my playthrough- I wanted a bow user like in the first game) which is fine since they use limited ammo and arrows never break or get lost permanently unless if you make a mistake. I also want to mention even though I just complained about the skill requirements for certain weapons in Grimrock 2, I do think the end game weapons are just super cool- I love the Meteor Hammer and how it can charge up to unleash a meteor storm- the best offensive spell in the game.

I am a bit disappointed the Dismantler doesn't make a return in Grimrock 2. I loved Grimrock for putting it in the game the way they did; if you haven't played Grimrock one by now; there is an entire optional level of the dungeon, the Vault, which only exists to house the Dismantler. It's really cool. Grimrock 2 has a lot of optional content but nothing quite so extensive. If there was an entire dungeon or section of the map dedicated to hiding one uber-powerful item, I think that would be worth it 100% and elevate the game to new heights, though I know development time isn't unlimited.

Speaking of spells; I feel like Grimrock 2 made the magic system both worse and better. It's worse because it felt like experimenting with spells in the first game was more fun and consistent. You'd combine runes together and, with the right combinations, make a spell. The game would even give you certain scrolls like “Fire Shield” but would never teach you Shock Shield, but you could figure out Shock Shield yourself by just using the same runes with Air instead of Fire with the runes. That bit was extremely cool. Grimrock 2 adds a few very cool new spells, by no means are they bad, but I liked the first game's method of clicking runes to prepare spells with casting over the second game's dragging a path along the runes, mostly for the same reason.

The problem with magic in Grimrock, especially Grimrock 2, is an almost complete lack of utility spells. Besides Light which you are using constantly, the only other really good ones are the shielding spells and invisibility. Invisibility is really good by the way, not complaining, but I cannot BELIEVE this game has so much underwater stuff, but there is no water magic spell that grants water breathing? Or water walking? What the fuck?!

So here comes the biggest negative complaint- I think Grimrock 2 was a bit rushed. I don't have any evidence to support it, but I honestly feel like it was just judging from the stat of the game. Why do I think that? Two reasons. Firstly, the pyramid area is missing a boss. Now don't get me wrong, the “reveal” at the end of the pyramid that just dumps you into that desert with hundreds of mummies was great, in fact it felt like a cutscene and I actually dropped my guard for a bit until realizing it was time to play, but in general the fact we didn't fight what pharaoh you stick two keys into at the end of the pyramid was a bit of a letdown. The same also applies to the magma golems. You fight two magma golems against the “final showdown” on top of Castle Nex, and then you're forced to fight two in the desert (for the true ending) and it feels a bit like treading the same ground again. I think having an actual boss here at least- maybe a sandworm or one fire golem creature, would have worked well. Though the enemy gauntlet with the mummies was too good to pass up.

Another reason why I think it was a bit rushed is the lack of enemy variety in some areas of the game. Castle Nex, for example, is kind of short and only really has one unique enemy type- the Dark Acolytes. These guys remind me of the Goromogs from the first game, but they aren't quite as imposing. The Goromogs could open doors, which was a unique thing they could do, and cast spells. The Dark Acolytes are kind of cool just by how silently they appear, I am not ashamed to admit they made me jump pretty hard when they appeared while I was trying to solve the library puzzle.

The Final Bosses
This is going to be the biggest nitpick of all; and also even more spoilery. If you still haven't played the games and are just reading this far anyway, then by all means this is your last warning.

Grimrock one and two both had amazing final bosses. I can't stress enough how good they are. They are also so good for different reasons.

You see, bosses in Grimrock 2 are a full spectacle. They have a health bar and a name, often having unique attacks or (more commonly) spawning in with a bunch of minions to make the fight tougher. The true final boss in Grimrock 2 begins after you've already gotten all five elemental essences, unlocked the secrets of the island, and it's a pretty tough fight. At first, you battle the trickster, a recurring enemy you fight throughout the game. I love the Trickster. He's annoying and his AI is perfect at manipulating and keeping up with the player in the grid and semi-turn based nature of combat. After reducing the Trickster's HP down to zero, he suddenly swaps in place with the Island Master, who is revealed to have been the trickster the entire time. This is somewhat spoiled if you get the first ending, since you see the Island Master is still alive after you defeat him on top of Castle Nex.

I hate to admit, I had NO idea the Trickster was the Island Master. It was a great surprise, I loved it. Fighting both back to back was fine, though I kind of wished the Trickster had more attacks then just throwing bombs or had a little less health- though locking you in various rooms with traps and extra monsters was great. Finally defeating the Island Master is satisfying, it's quite a hard fight, and afterwards you are rewarded with a unique magic staff and the master key. I think it was a spark of genius for them to put that gold key that contains that one wand right outside the hub, so if you never opened it you could test out the master key and realize it opens every lock in the game. Just perfect.

The reason why I liked this fight is because it felt like a return to basics in a good way. You're in your element, within the Trickster's lair that uses the default, basic tileset, with traps, pits, and doors everywhere. It's not the same as the epic fight on the rooftop of Castle Nex in it's clean, sterile arena. That's why I think it makes such a good final boss. It's the final boss of a dungeon crawler, not the final boss of your standard epic fantasy adventure.

But here's the thing- the first game did that better.

Legend of Grimrock 1 doesn't really have bosses. At least, not traditional bosses. The bosses aren't theatrical, the first time you fight an ogre or a giant crab feel like bosses, but there is no health bar or epic music that plays. They're just weird enemies in your dungeon. The final boss of Grimrock is amazing in that regard. It's a fucking cube. The “Undying One”, which is also what has been showing up in your character's dreams as you rest, with gears spinning in the background as the symbol of the dungeon itself. The dungeon was built to house it, not to house you. You're just an intruder.

Then, you activate the cube. You have no idea that it is going to attack you. And then what does it do? It starts turning and slamming into the floor, moving the way you do, grid based. You have to be on your toes to avoid it. You can't hurt it without stunning it first- either with a "special weapon" you find in its arena and with the Dismantler, the game's epic sword for beating the totally optional vault level (I'm very glad they gave you a fitting reward like that from beating that level). It's a great final boss because it isn't like anything else you've fought, it's an encounter but a good one. One that feels important and meaningful, without a health bar or anything special like that. It's as much of a puzzle as it is a boss and it perfectly encapsulates the idea of a “dungeon” boss. I think the best part about it is, since it instantly crushes and kills your whole party if it rolls over you, you can't really fight it head on, so no amount of leveling up or grinding will make it too easy. In the same way, finding every secret in the game doesn't make you so powerful that you can breeze through the final boss. Those elements are really positive to me in crafting a meaningful final encounter.

Why am I talking so much about a six year old game? Why is this post called “Legend of Grimrock is Amazing” but the vast majority of it is complaints and critique? No idea lol.

Friday, March 26, 2021

6 Weird uses of "Comprehend Languages"

Language of Dance
You lose the ability to talk, but you emote. This is the language of mimes and anything that dances to get attention. While under the effects of this, you can't cast any other spells, but you gain +2 AC from your ability to read and react to the words of motion. On the plus side, you can now understand giant bees and Swerda, or anything else that communicates through dance.

[2] Language of Magic
You lose the ability to talk normally, but can still cast spells through the strange warbled effect of your incantation-speaking voice. While comprehending magic itself, you can see what spells an enemy magician is about to cast the round beforehand as the energies being to gather around their body in an invisible aura. The DM must tell you what spell(s) the enemy magician has prepared at least one round before using them. Finally, you can understand creatures of pure magic or those creatures from the astral plane if they couldn't already be understood by a regular "Comprehend Languages" spell.

[3] Language of Machines
You lose the ability to speak and cast spells. However, your eyes become incredibly attuned to movements, and connections between objects as well as their apparent weight, composition, and purpose. By simply staring at an exposed collection of gears through a crack in the wall, you can tell the general purpose of a machine by staring at a small amount of its constituent parts. (The "purpose" here is always told in vague terms. Like a machine that shifts the walls of a labyrinth around is described as "it seems like its meant to move heavy weight" and so on).

Secondly, you gain +2 to saves against devices and traps. If you can somehow communicate with the other party members during this spell (or just attack yourself), you can also tell the weak points of various automatons and not!Robots in a fantasy world, granting advantage on attack rolls.

[4] Language of Water
You lose the ability to speak, but only above land. You can still cast spells, but only in the water. Spells come out as big bubbles that have to be popped by something sharp, with the spell being cast wherever the bubble popped. This spell does not grant water breathing. While under the effects of this spell, you can instinctively feel the motions, volume distortions, detiritus, and sound through a body of water. You can tell when a creature that is big enough to display at least a man sized amount of water is drawing near; you can avoid one random encounter while underwater.

[5] Language of Cloth
You lose the ability to speak. You can only cast spells if their target is yourself or directly around yourself/the target of the spell (you billow out your robe to make the spell come out). You gain the ability to understand the stories written in every piece of cloth and along every thread of twine. By looking at people's clothes you can see where they have been recently, and general ideas about their lifestyle. By touching and examining a piece of cloth or fabric you can tell generally where it has come from or who made it. This spell also lets you identify magic items by wearing them and feeling them up, but only magic items made of cloth. Finally, this language lets you see if anyone is hiding something under their clothes by reading the tiniest creases and folds of their outfit when they move and stand. This ability does not work on bottomless bags or bags of holding, since the item is just a gateway to another space.

[6] Language of Winds
You lose the ability to speak and cast spells, but can read the wind. You can gather smells and sounds from farther away; whispers across a city square filter into your ears from a distance, and can tell where and what is causing any given plume of smoke or sudden pillar of dust.

Additionally, by breathing and flowing your breath out in certain sequences, you can make the wind follow your motions. You can produce a stiff breeze to knock over objects, a gale wind to knock away arrows or push people back, or strength/reduce a storm in strength; taking a round, two rounds, or a turn respectively. Once you've used one of these, the wind moves on leaving you with nobody to talk to until the next time you cast this spell. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Critique of an Expansion of a Generator (Pantheon Generator Review)

So Dan over at Throne of Salt made an expansion to my Pantheon Generator. Firstly, I'd love to say thank you for your kind words about my generator, it's actually my most popular post on my entire blog. It seemed incredibly popular and I'm glad people are thinking about it. Now let's talk about the expansion that Dan made.

Firstly, I'd like to start by saying that this is not supposed to necessarily be a value judgment of which one of us “did it better”, nor am I trying to claim stole my idea or anything. This is just seem feedback. It seems his post was pretty popular too, so clearly this concept interests people.

The Changes
Let's start with Dan's new “Where did they come from?” table is good. I like the subtle changes to my first table- his table feels more appropriate from “ground up” worldbuilding- what the people of the world actually believe happened, as opposed to my table which is more objective. I think making information more pertinent to the players is a better use of time then creating objective facts about a setting anyway, so I do think his table is better in that regard.

Now the change to the prime God / head of the pantheon is an interesting one. The concept of having the Prime God being a trio of beings instead of just one, or a opposite pair, or something even more complex (like absent entirely, which I think is a good one) is kind of cool. But here's where we get to the unpleasant part. The thing is I don't like the Moiety thing. I'm somewhat confused why it's even being included at all, but I think I have both a reason and a counter to it. Let me explain.

I think what Dan was going for here was the concept of creating a sort of scheme for the God(s) in the pantheon. Something like a Pantheon being ruled over by squabbling sisters of the Sun and Moon is an interesting concept- this exact setup is how two important Gods from Path of Exile are portrayed- Solaris and Lunaris. Here's the problem though- imagine if you wanted to expand out the pantheon more. Would you then create multiple Gods that fit with this theme of Day versus Night? Well, you wouldn't. I mean you kind of could, but it wouldn't feel the same. You see, the struggle of Day and Night between Solaris and Lunaris is its own thing. It's setting specific, and it works because they're locked in eternal conflict.

When I went to create the Pantheon Generator, I did so because I wanted it to be a way for people to create their own Pantheons similar to Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology. Other mythologies, such as Hindu, Japanese, or Chinese I'd also like to emulate somehow, but I'm less familiar with those. The issue here is these pantheons don't really have this idea of Moeity. I mean you have good and evil and yin and yang, but they aren't necessarily evenly split down the middle. What's the point of arbitrarily putting Gods into categories of “passive” and “active”?

Now here's my rebuttal to this- Humans are very good at finding patterns even where they don't exist. It's the basis of superstition and, by any metric, religion and religious practice itself. Goblin Punch had a good post about this just recently too. Here's my reasoning- I would never need to use Moiety for my generator because I would naturally find connections without needing to. The strange love or friendship between the God of Storms and the God of Wines is something you can extrapolate- Oh, those two Gods are paired up? Well, that's a good in-setting myth to explain why the ocean tumbles and makes waves during a storm- the ocean God must be getting drunk off the gifts of the wine God! It's an easy, cheap, basic explanation and easy myth to remember.

Next complaint (feels like this is just me complaining about Dan's generator at this point) I dislike the change to the appearance table. The reason why the God appearances are aged and specific are to encapsulate the ideas of mythology. I used the term “Mature” here to mean adult, probably bearded if a man, to fit stuff like Zeus and Odin as being the old and prime members of their pantheons, hence why Prime Gods are the aged ones. But I didn't feel right calling them “old”. In my mind, the inclusion of apparent age and sex to a God says a lot about their character and helps build the mythology. By breaking it down into a basic gender table I think you lose that. And while you could just determine the ages after you make the God, I think it's interesting to roll a God of the Underworld who is young and a God of War who is old. It instantly creates a dynamic that you wouldn't get if you just ran off a list- male, female, female, androgynous, etc. However, I did like the concept of having them portrayed as multiple genders, though I don't know how many examples of that there actually were in old mythologies, it does add to the mystique a bit. I kind of implied that with the androgynous appearance roll- the idea of things like Mercury/Hermes having both male and females traits or forms. (I mean Gods change their sex all the time so I guess you can argue it doesn't really matter, but a primary depiction is still more fitting with classic mythology anyway).

Now let's address the elephant in the room- this bit.

You can only have viable godly offspring between gods of different moieties (I mean, it's possible to get double hot and double cold, but that's where you get legendary monsters) - the god's typical physical representation has nothing to do with it.”

Here's the thing, if you're trying to emulate classic mythology like I am doing, a God's gender is supremely important to their pairing. Godly pantheons are incestuous families, at least in the sources from where I am pulling. While there are examples of exceptions of this, like Loki turning into a female horse, and he still had a wife who gave birth to several important Gods. I don't really want to turn this into some kind of discussion about sex and gender or whatever, but if you're creating a mythology that has godly parents and pairings, then the vast majority are going to be heterosexual. Doing otherwise just feels weird at best, and blatant pandering at worst.

I do like the changes to the relationship table, which gives it a bit more depth. Finally, picking domains off of tarot cards is interesting, though personally I think Gods are a bit more suited to embody physical phenomena then some of the abstract traits included there (for a more mythological pantheon anyway); but overall I think this is a very nice addition.

All in all, I feel a bit confused by what Dan's table is trying to accomplish, though I think you could easily use it to create a cool pantheon. Finally, the concept of the “Godhead” being something that isn't an original couple is a good idea that I didn't include in my own generator. I think I'd like to create a more complex, “fantasy religion generator” at some point that included things like Monotheism, Ancestor worship, and Lovecraftian outer-gods as potential symbols of worship along with a more traditional pantheon, maybe with each part as fully fleshed out as the Pantheon Generators we have made. Maybe one of YOU can work on this project- let me know! Thanks for reading, Dan. Bye.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Fairy Tale (d8) Generator

Once upon a time, there was...
[1] A very brave young boy
[2] A baby born with unnatural strength
[3] A very kind young girl
[4] A very wise old man
[5] A very beautiful woman
[6] A very noble king
[7] A very lonely spirit
[8] A very good dog

And they were happy, except...
[1] They had very mean parents/family members.
[2] They were eaten alive by a giant monster.
[3] They fell into a den of lions/bears/velociraptors.
[4] They were sick or got stuck somewhere on a very important day.
[5] They were cursed through no fault of their own.
[6] They saw people suffering and nobody seemed to care.
[7] They knew something important, but nobody would believe them.
[8] They were hurt and couldn't walk/talk/see.

So they had to...
[1] Seek help from somebody very far away.
[2] Pull themselves up and work very hard.
[3] Cry and pray for help.
[4] Use something precious/magical they wanted to use on something else.
[5] Do something they really didn't want to do.
[6] Make a friend out of someone they didn't like before.
[7] Be very patient and think very hard.
[8] Fall back on what they knew best.

And then...
[1] There was a fairy who took pity on them, and solved their problems with her magic.
[2] They found just the right thing to get them out of their situation.
[3] Word spread about what they did, and everyone liked them now.
[4] Fate rewarded their good deeds three times over.
[5] A mighty king was impressed and made them very rich/very important/sent them home.
[6] They became even more brave/strong/kind/wise/beautiful/noble/good then before.
[7] Through some coincidence, they scared all the bad/silly/misunderstanding people away.
[8] They found everything went right back to normal.

And finally...
[1-7] They lived happily ever after.
[8] They killed all the bad/silly/misunderstanding people in extremely violent and gory ways.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Amulet of Ventan

Amulet of Ventan
- Magic Amulet +2
Stats- +2 to Saves vs Magic

This magic amulet is infused with the powers of arcane magic, and has been worn by many magicians throughout the years, whose essence has infused it with magical powers.

Firstly, wearing this amulet grants the wearer the ability to read. This only grants the power to read the most commonly-used writing system of their own language, as well as granting the ability to read the shit-scrawl of magic users in their crazy people books. (Read Magic). If you could already read before, this amulet just grants a little insight between the lines and makes text "clearer", letting you better pick up on things you maybe missed due to a lack of vocabulary or intelligence.

Secondly, anyone wearing this amulet can learn magic. You can now multiclass into a Magic User the next time you level up. In games without multiclassing, this is pretty cool. Keep the highest HD from whatever class you have, but take on the next XP requirements/penalties for your new MU class. This does not let you bypass normal level caps or leveling requirements; you just can pick your next level up to be a MU instead of a Fighter or Rogue or whatever you are. In universe, this is caused by an unlocking of the more abstract, deeper levels of the mind that allows unraveling the layers of meaning that make up spell craft. You could use this on a 0 level hireling or retainer and teach them magic over the course of a few seasons (downtime turns) with some tutoring, or even from being self taught if they have the material.

Lastly, it grants protection against magical spells. The Amulet grants +2 saves vs magic as a passive effect. However, it has a bonus power. The wearer may hold the amulet aloft, invoke it, and in a flash of blue light any spell effect will be ended or countered- but the amulet will disappear. From then on, the owner of the amulet ceases to own it and will not find it again as the amulet disappears to find a new master to serve.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

[Class] Maraketh Warrior

The Maraketh are a human culture which lives in the harsh deserts of Vastiri and other wastelands. They are a matriarchal society where women are in charge- the Sekhema or leader of the people is always a woman. These are warrior women, relying on speed and agility to defeat their foes. They are often seen riding on Rhexs- large dinosaurish creatures, while using bows and spears as their martial art. While the society is ruled by women, men can still be expected to fight, and if they do adopt the traditions of the womenfolk of their society; preferring agility instead of brute strength. As such, this class can be played by both men and women.

If you dislike the direct Path of Exile reference here; just rename this class to "Wasteland Warrior" or something.

Maraketh Warrior
Max AC- 15 / Minimum Hit-Points- 5

To play a Maraketh Warrior, your Strength must be equal to or less than your Dexterity. You must also have a Constitution modifier of +0 or better. You can either make these class requirements you need to get when rolling a character, or grant bonuses for picking this class that grant these stats instead.

The Maraketh are more lightly armored then a traditional Fighter, but are just as skilled. Progress your To-Hit as a Fighter. You gain the damage bonus of a Fighter starting at 3rd level.

In addition to being a trained Fighter, you also gain the ability to survive in the desert. You do not need to make survival checks or worry about carrying water rations in hot and wasteland climates.

At 5th level, your maximum AC raises by +1.

At 6th level, you gain the special Maraketh fighting style known as Blood and Sand. These are supernatural battle stances which enhance your abilities. While at first these simply appear as a special combat stance, they are magical in nature and small grains of sand or droplets of blood can be seen swirling around the user in the midst of a bloody battle.

While within Sand stance, the first enemy to attack you in melee range each round must save or be blinded. They then must make their attack roll at the negative of being blind (usually disadvantage), and they are blinded until the next round. The number of enemies you automatically blind before they attack increases by +1 at levels 8 and 10.

While withing Blood stance, you maim enemies with powerful blows. After you've damaged an enemy with a weapon; they s must save if they try to move. On failure, they take 1d3 damage. They can avoid this by standing still for a round to hold their body together. This debuff effects every enemy you strike in melee. The damage for this ability increases to d4 at level 8 and d6 at level 10.

At 10th level, you become a Sekhema Guard and gain the supernatural ability of Wasteland. By blowing a handful of desert sands into an enemy's face, they are stunned and dazed for one round, unable to act. Within that one round, they experience several days of isolation in a barren wasteland, and must roll the number penalties for starvation and surviving in an inhospitable wilderness.  After the round is over, they will return just as physically drained as though they had survived that time for real; characters with a low Constitution score may simply be killed by this special move.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Cats of Corrooll

The Cats are both a spell and a magic item. Without the item, you can't cast the spell. If you have the item but can't cast spells, it's useless. They are one in the same.

The Cats of Corrooll are a set of carved stone cat statuettes. Each cat has a unique appearance, and underneath each in an ancient script is the cat's name and a ritual phrase. The phrase roughly translates to “We scream at night, but we are not afraid.” Every statuette has the same ritual phrase. You can cast the spell as long as you have at least one cat.

When the spell is cast, each cat you have present at the time of casting will turn its head towards you, and speaks through the statuette, though they do not truly become animate with false life. The cats all have their own names and are more then happy to engage with polite conversation with anyone who casts the spell- they are friendly, helpful, polite, and they even like to flatter or flirt with the spellcaster. They want whoever owns them to like them and protect them. They don't want to be destroyed or trapped in a place where they can never be found again- an eternity of darkness at the bottom of a great sea is a terrifying prospect to a motionless, immortal entity.

The cats only want two things. The first is to stay safe, and the second is to stay together. Each cat will try to subtly manipulate its owner to acquire more cats. Each one grants power to its owner, so having more of them makes their owner more powerful and, therefore, the cats are more safe.

The cats are made of carved stone and are quite tough. They cannot be destroyed by falls (as they always land on their bases) but can be with magic hammers or items, especially ones shaped or based on dogs.

The Cats
Wherever at least one of the cats is being held; strange haunting begin to happen at night. Not in the same room, but in the city itself. Whatever town or village they are within, the cats will stalk. Every night they appear as formless specters, only appearing as a cat in the corner of your eye or from their frightening yowls. The cats examine the city, listen to every word spoken, watch sins committed through open windows, and sometimes even arrange accidents to kill people.

Every cat has a name and a voice. They can be made to move by speaking the incantation- the identical ritual phrase on each. Their heads will turn to look at the one who spoke it. The cats can then speak and tell the owner everyone and everything they have seen that night. Whatever the master wishes, they will tell him about. The cats have a strange memory- they can remember people, names, or commands but forget everything they have seen or heard when in their specter forms after the new moon. Their ability for spying is not unlimited; conversations held in windowless back rooms inside huge mansions will not be heard, unless it's a place a stray or wandering cat could reasonably roam.

For every cat you have in your collection, roll once each on your rumor/secrets table. You automatically know which rumors are true, or at least have a 4 in 6 chance to know if someone is spreading a false rumor.

You can also direct your cat's attention. Instead of gathering information, you can assign a cat an individual to keep tabs on. The cat will track their movements through the city, where they go or what they whisper if they are loud enough to be heard through a window or under a door. Especially wily marks, like rogues or elves, may require multiple cats to keep up with. Increase the number of cats you need by +1 if they know you're watching them as well.

Finally, as a last resort, the physical “bodies” of the cats can be used as a magic wand. Each cat statue can be used once per day like this, ejecting a black cat spirit with a hiss that deals 1d4+1 damage, save for half. Each cat statue you use as a wand cannot manifest that night, as this is exhausting.

Friday, March 19, 2021


Art @Markus Manowski
The “leaning” disease is a very rare, communicable condition that affects the inner ear. Those who catch the disease go through several stages from first exposure, to symptoms, to eventual death. There is no known cure for the disease, but if both a patient's ear drums are severed with a red hot needle, the symptoms of the disease will not progress further. Patients will always be deaf and will require a walking cane due to the loss of their center of gravity, but this is a small price to pay to avoid the worst of the effects this disease has.

When a patient first catches the disease, they develop minor tinnitus and unusual sleeping habits- often rolling over to odd or bent angles while asleep, or rolling out of bed accidentally onto the floor. They will then begin to develop these symptoms in waking hours, leading to a loss of coordination.

Strangely, this disease causes patients to exhibit unnatural feats of agility and balance. Patients will start sleeping standing up, or “planking” at odd angles, somehow able to hold and keep these poses even while asleep. Patients seem to turn with an imaginary source of gravity, standing with a “lean” or pressing up against a wall or furniture to anchor themselves. Eventually, patients will sway and lean in impossible feats- balancing on only their tip toes or top of their head as their body slants unnaturally.

At about this part in the progression, the disease becomes communicable to others. The leaner will start to give off a creaking noise somewhere inside them, believed to be located in the inner ear. This sound itself seems to be the vector for contamination, as proper earplugs can help act as protection, but within a week the low “thumping” sounds coming from heavily progressed patients can infect others simply by feeling it. The exact amount of time or number of exposures needed to infect others is unknown, though certain genes seem to make some people far more susceptible or resistant then others. Those who are known to have no fear of heights since childhood seem to be almost immune to the “virus”. These are recommended for patients nearing the end of their life span.

Once a subject has begun to “emit”, they should be placed in quarantine until their body has found the appropriate “angle”. When they no longer need any support from the ground and ignore gravity entierly; they are three minutes from death. All organ and brain function ceases. Their body should be disposed of in a reinforced coffin, preferably circular or spheroid. Cylindrical or traditional rectangular coffins tend to bend from the aftershocks of the body, which can cause distress to the grieving.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Cup Full of Demons

Cup Full of Demons -
Magic Cup
Stats- It's a cup.

This is a magic cup full of demons. It smells faintly of brimstone. Any liquid put inside spoils; including water. If you leave the cup on a table and walk away or try to see inside the shadows of the cup, you will sometimes see little demons peaking out, but otherwise the cup appears empty.

Drinking directly from the cup when it appears empty and shaking it will cause you to "drink" down demons. The little bastards cry with glee when you do this, because it is precisely what they want. You gain 1d6x100 experience points each time you drink, but are possessed by the demon in question for an equal number of hours to your roll on the d6 above. Demons typically try to do things related to their sins, or will lie and cheat to decieve party members and pretend to still be you, to get others to drink from the cup. Also, each time you drink from the cup, your soul is stained and will be judged more harshly for the next life; as though imbibing the very essence of evil.

Secondly, the cup can be used as a magic focus in dark magic rituals, granting +1 to caster level if swished around and unleashing infernal power.

Finally; the cup is full of demons. If you turn it over and shake it, it will release tiny demons into the world, each with 1 hit point and dealing a maximum of 1 damage. These demons are not loyal to the cup's owner but are generally agreeable to those of evil alignment. You can keep shaking the cup as much as you want to create a hoard of these guys, but since they are eaten by rats and spiders it's unlikely you'll hasten the apocalypse very much by doing this.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Garden- Strange Object Generator

These objects are the most mysterious and secret treasures of Garden. Often hoarded by the rich, these incredible objects are only found within the lockers that line the walls in Garden's secret underground service tunnels, which no one truly owns or has fully mapped. The mysterious tunnels are dangerous and finding a locker with anything in it is rare, but whenever they are found, they can fetch a high price- if you can get it out of there in one piece.

Roll once for each table.

Physical Form – 1d20
[1] Guitar OR Saxophone
[2] Toaster
[3] Film Reel. Don't try to watch it.
[4] Unopened glass bottle of Coca Cola
[5] Martini Glass
[6] Origami folded from newspaper. The shape is a random animal.
[7] Really big book. It's an almanac for a city you've never heard of.
[8] Penny OR Single Bullet
[9] Steering Wheel.
[10] Pinstripe Suit. One size off.
[11] Fuzzy Dice. Like the kind you hang from your rear view mirror.
[12] Milk man's cap.
[13] Typewriter.
[14] Powder case. Mirror in the lid.
[15] Ceramic Lamp. Pink, with white lampshade.
[16] Rotary Phone. If you plug it in and try to use it, you just hear ominous whispers.
[17] Teddy Bear
[18] The object is something from the past of whoever opened the locker.
[19] The object is a bit old fashioned. Roll on the Random Item Table.
[20] Roll on this table again, but roll once on the Unusual Form table below.

Unusual Form – 1d12
The strange object gets to be extra strange. This unusual form modifies the object you roll on the physical form table.
[1] It's rusted, corroded, or moth-eaten very heavily. Still works otherwise.
[2] The object is warped, as though bent through a machine. Still works otherwise.
[3] The object is covered in stickers/patches, autographs, graffiti, etc.
[4] Made of paper mache. If Origami Shape- it's made of folded sheet metal.
[5] Made of metal. It looks like a perfect cast. If it's already metal- double in size.
[6] It's not an object, just a life-sized portrait of an object instead. Artist's skill is phenomenal.
[7] Normal appearance, glows in the dark. Random color.
[8] Normal appearance, hums ominously in quiet places.
[9] Normal appearance, but sepia tone. Like it was pulled out of a movie.
[10] The object grows little green mushrooms out of its cracks. Only if kept moist.
[11] The object grows fur, which can be pulled out easily. Sheds.
[12] The object grows metal spikes, which can be clipped with some difficulty. Be careful.

Every Strange Object has an ability. There are six kinds of strange object abilities. In order to “get” the benefit or negative of any ability, the person must be the last one to touch it or currently holding/carrying it. Objects small enough to fit in the palm of your hand or pocket must be carried to have their effects, otherwise you must touch an object once a week and be the last person to touch it to have the effects. Large objects that cannot be carried grant their effects to its "owner"- usually the person who last touched it. You must touch the object once a week to continue its ability.

Very rarely, certain Strange Objects are found with incredible abilities- even for a Strange Object. For a Major strange object; roll on the special subtable. If you roll a Major Strange object with identical abilities to another one in your campaign; reroll. These are unique.

Basic Ability Table - 1d6
[1] Lucky
[2] Cursed
[3] Bane
[4] Boon
[5] Psychic Amplifier
[6] Psychic Blocker

Strange Object Abilities
Lucky items grant luck to their owner. This translates as a +1 to any d20 roll, once per night. This effect is usually passive but can be called upon by a character by stroking the amulet, affixing their “lucky” hat, etc. This power can only work on one person once per night; if you steal a lucky item after it's been used, you'll feel like its luck has been “used up” until tomorrow.

For objects that are small, they must be carried to have the effect. For larger objects, you simply need to touch it once a week. Large objects can also grant this effect a degree of separation away; if you order someone to do something for you, the 'luck' of this item can benefit whoever you are ordering around. There are crime lords who have “antiques” in their homes that are actually lucky items from the storage lockers; things just seem to go their way and their gang prospers.

Cursed items are the opposite of lucky items. If you touch a cursed item, you automatically fail the next saving throw that comes your way. Unlike lucky items, this has no limit on how many people or times it can harm you, but only one “curse” hangs over you at a time until it strikes. Wearing thin gloves when you touch it or brushing up against it still counts as touching it- you need a more secure or thicker case to protect yourself from its effects for transport.

Cursed items work if you touch it, if it be small or big. If you can trick or force someone into touching it, it could be used as a kind of weapon, but otherwise it's just a liability. However, even Cursed items are worth a fortune, as any Strange Object is very valuable.

Banes are Strange Objects that seem to be anathema to the psychic manifestations and unnatural beings of Garden. While carrying a Bane, you have +2 to hit and deal +2 damage to all psychic beings or constructs of unknown energies. Uniquely, carrying a Bane makes damage you deal against a reality warper not be able to healed by their normal regeneration.

Banes are uncommon, highly sought after items used to hunt down and kill Slashers, Reality Warpers, and other spooky threats that lurk in Garden's shadows. Note that these hunts fail just as often as they succeed, and the Banes are constantly being lost or destroyed, even among the Strange Objects, these are a rarity.

Boons are Strange Objects that are especially stable, and spread that stability to others. The Boon item will be especially hard to damage; ceramic or glass items are weirdly shatter proof, metal items bend back into shape if twisted, cloth and wooden items seem fire retardant. If you carry or have last touched a Boon item, your maximum Hit Points increases by +2. If you go with a week without touching the item, you lose this benefit (maximum, not current).

Boons are commonly seen among the more adventurous sorts of Garden's populace. While a small benefit, the ability to better survive a gunshot or a beating is extremely valuable. The Boon also has a unique ability- if touched by a person with an incurable or terminal illness they receive a saving throw. Upon success, the Boon loses its power permanently and the person becomes healed. If the saving throw fails, the item keeps its power and the person cannot try again on this item, though could have better luck with another Boon- you can imagine how desperate a sick person may be to collect these.

Psychic Amplifiers are the most highly sought after Strange Objects. They enhance waves of psychic energy and sharpen the mind of any psychics who carry it or who have lasted touched it. The psychic in question deals +1 damage with Psychic attacks, and their Psychic powers are boosted by a magnitude of about 10%. So if they could telekinetically shove a 200 pound man, they could now shove a 220 pound man and so on.

Psychic Amplifier are sought after and collected by rich and powerful psychics to boost their powers, but many of the ones who collect them can become too powerful and begin unlocking mind-bending, reality warping abilities instead. The Psychic Amplifers also have a unique ability- if touched by someone with psychic potential, they awaken their psychic powers over the next 2d6 weeks, and the item loses its charge. For this reason, Psychics are even more defensive about these items then one might imagine, and will stop at nothing to hide or keep others away.

Psychic Blockers are Strange Objects with the ability to confound psychic energies and break them apart, similar to interference with radio waves. If you carry a Psychic Blocker, you get +1 resistance to psychic attacks (and +1 to saving throws against psychic powers). If the psychic blocker is too large to carry, then it offers no benefit for touching it but instead “blanks” out the area around out, equal to an apartment or wing of a house, which blocks all attempts at psychic scrying or sensing abilities.

Psychic Blockers are very useful Strange Objects to get a hold of, especially if you're wanted or made a powerful rival in the psychic world. The resistance is also very useful for adventuring types, as it can help protect you against both psychic attacks, psychic traps, and psychic creatures or other negative manifestations of psychic energy and unsolved pathos. In Garden, negative psychic energy can bleed from the walls in some places, and this object acts almost like an anchor to the real world.
Major Strange-Object Ability - 1d12
[1] Roll on the basic ability table; triple effect.
[2] Roll twice on the basic ability table; combine effects. If you get luck + cursed, it makes YOU lucky, but curses EVERYONE else near you.
[3] If you tap, open, shake, or 'use' the object in a specific way; it can release a massive cloud of purple smoke. The smoke can fill up an auditorium. Breathing the smoke for more then three rounds means you must save or be knocked unconscious for a turn.

[4] If the object is small and carried or worn with you; you cannot be harmed by bullets. (Unless if the shooter possess a Bane). The bullets just miss you or hit you but don't "do anything"- the same applies to your own bullets however, and all your guns jam or fail. If the object cannot be carried with you, then all guns and firearms jam and fail within the range of a city block around it. The object's ability is nullified as long as it is kept in a thick, opaque case or hidden in a closet somewhere.
[5] This object transforms once per week- roll a new Physical Form every week. If the object had an Unusual Form, it will always have that same unusual form, otherwise it never gets one (reroll 20s). You cannot observe this object in mid transformation. Carrying or owning this object stops your from aging, but you slowly change into something else.
[6] Within pure darkness, this object becomes a horrible monster. If any light falls on it at all, it simply remains as an object. It will try to escape, and has inscrutable goals.

[7] If you carry this object with you, you can once per week walk through a door that leads somewhere else in the city- you'll appear through a door about three blocks away. If you own this object for at least four years you can begin to decide exactly what door to appear out of that you know, but it must be within the same borough of Garden as a maximum range.
If the object is too large to carry; it works differently. Instead, it allows you to create a semi-permanent portal. You can select a random door, such as an antique door leaning against a wall, a manhole, closet, etc. that will become your emergency portal. You can end up walking through your emergency portal by running blindly, getting lost, or closing your eyes and counting to ten. Maximum once a week.

[8] Somewhere on this object is a dial or knob. If you turn the dial, you can "adjust" how visible you are to others. All the way down makes everyone ignore you, able to walk right past armed guards. Where as all the way up makes you very popular and you can't even attempt stealth. 
This is a psychic or mental effect, not a physical one; you still show up on cameras and are still physical present. People who are hunting you can figure out to shoot where footprints appear as you run even if they can't actually "see" you. This object is also unique as someone can adjust the knob besides you to adjust your setting- it doesn't count as adjusting their own visibility unless they own it or carry it for at least a week.

[9] This object has a "care taker". Somewhere on the object is a name- speaking the name will cause a strange person to appear behind the nearest shadowy corner or from behind you. This person looks like a generic alien of whatever world this object came from. This person sees and hears everything the object can, and can be asked questions. They are generally helpful and know tons of secrets about the city and the previous owners, but cannot guarantee their loyalty to you (they serve whoever owns the item) and refuse to speak on anything about the underground service tunnels.

[10] This object produces money. If the object is small enough to be carried around in your pocket, then it produces a few crumbled dollar bills in it when you reach in. If the object is worn or carried around, then the money will be produced inside of the object, or spit out of a slot when turned on or shaken, etc. Objects carried in the pocket can produce a maximum of $5 per night, and are essentially there when you need them. Objects larger then that can produce a maximum of $20 per night, but don't have to be drawn out at once and can be stored up a while inside the object like a piggy bank.
Obviously, anyone who owns this object will gain a new source of income and be quite rich. The money is created by the object, but can't be detected as counterfit. If the Garden city council switches the currency over, the object will create strange "half dollars" or bills that look like a mix of both for up to a month until it gets it right, producing the right kind of legal tender again.
[11] This object acts as a bank for psychic energy. If you touch the object while you have Psychic stress, the object absorbs 1d6 points of Psychic stress. If you touch the object more then once a night, or if someone without any psychic stress touches it, they are blasted with 2d10 Psychic stress from its stored energy bank. If the object is destroyed, up to an entire city block will be overloaded with psychic energies, causing mass hysteria, unconsciousness, and psychic feedback. All psychic manifestations or creatures gain +1 HD and become more aggressive during this storm.
[12] Touching this object gives you 1d6 Psychic stress, but grants the user a random Psychic Power for about twelve hours. Even people with zero psychic ability can be bestowed a power. When this period ends, they take another 1d6 Psychic stress and one point of internalized stress. 
If a Psychic touches this, they gain a second psychic ability which combines with their first for the same period, but causes no stress. This item can create reality warpers; as few psychics can remain sane after experiencing such a rush of power. The exception are Blankers; touching this object permanently drains it of its charge and the Blanker's power remains unchanged.