Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Moth Tower - 10 Spells

(All art, names, and ideas were taken from listening to this album.)

Red Solar Veils
This spell can only be cast in outer space, or if you're flying around on a Spelljammer or what have you. This spell creates forth "solar wind" of a red hue, the sparkling colors like tiny gemstone fragments across the black void of nothingness.

When this spell is created, one can use it to shroud a vessel, ship, small moon, or flying cosmic fortress behind the winds, making it harder to see and granting +2 AC against ranged ship-to-ship attacks, OR the solar wind can be angled in a certain direction. This pushes ships with a solar sail at about the rate of a standard tailwind, but is slower then a properly fueled ship equipped with a warp drive or fantasy space-engine.

[2] Hollow Dream, Empty Ship
The spell name is a metaphor. What it does is not a metaphor, but to many cultures who have never seen the spell in action, it is also considered a metaphor.

Each person's mind is like a landscape. Within each person's mental maze are three little men, who are the spirits of their creativity, and the ones who craft the dreams they experience each night. With this spell, you can force a restrained or sleeping captive to lose one, two, or three of their little men by shaking their head and dripping them out of their ear, pulling them out through their nose with a hook, etc.

The three little men are as follows;
Passion, who creates the landscapes, emotions, and music in dreams. His tool is the paintbrush. Without Passion, ones creativity cannot inspire any emotion or action.

Vindication, who draws things from the real world and includes them in dreams. His tool is the pliers. Without Vindication, ones creativity has no voice or personality.

Appraisal, who defies logic in dreams and makes them unknown and unique each night. His tool is the protractor. Without Appraisal, ones creativity becomes amateur and one has no sense of quality or rigor to how it should be created or presented.

The little men outside the head are insanely clever, motivated, and creative- but each only for their virtue of what they want or like. The little men respect whoever's head they came from, but will only go back in by force (pushed into ear canal) or persuaded if the head they come from is promised to take hallucinogenic drugs (they like to share a trip for inspiration). If left alone or to escape, they will start and abandon tons of individual art projects; lacking the wholeness to complete anything.

These little men have a use outside of their owners body. Beyond being useful as art critics and creators (only for their individual field however), each one has a magic tool that can be used to perform magical actions similar to cantrips in relation to the tool. Appraisal can flatten piles of sand or leaves out into a clean plane. Vindication can pluck tiny grains of sand from a bag of rice with his pliers, etc. Consider each little man as a 1 Hit-Point pest creature with minor magic abilities.

For each little man removed from the person's head, they lose that aspect of their dreams and creativity. With all three gone, they lack the ability to be creative, cannot make art (or craft weapons / magic items) or music, and can no longer dream. If all three men are lost, treat Charisma modifier as +0 regardless of what it was before, positive or negative. If a little man dies outside of its owners head, they don't grow back.

[3] Gather Thy Storms, Sweep The Realm
This spell is related to political power and requires a certain amount of Charisma to cast. The caster must have a Charisma modifier of +1 or someone who speaks for them with a Charisma of +2 or greater in order for this spell to work.

This spell bottles up and prepares a great force in the populace of a place or culture. It requires time to set up and has no effect on highly homogeneous and happy cultures, who have no need or desire for these poisonous outside ideas.

Every season spent protesting, demonstrating, informing, or running secret meetings and discussions on a great subject or towards a specific group in the society grows the power of this spell. This power is like a chaotic ball of vipers, which becomes more dangerous the longer they are knotted together. Every season spent empowering this spell act as a +10% to its spell power.

Finally, this spell is released all at once by a single action done by the spell caster in a public place, witnessed by those not "in the know" about the spell. Traditionally, this is done with a thrown stone, but this can be anything from giving a single copper piece to a beggar or a single insult hurled at an important official. At the same moment, the caster wills the spell to activate, and rolls a 1d20.

The resultant roll is the percent of people in society who will spring into action over the result of this spell; not necessarily following what the message is, but reacting in a way that is reasonable and logical for that person. You could also think of it as the percentage of chaos or disruption that would break out over the society at the same moment. For instance, the caster using this spell to build up unrest against something evil or wicked in the society will create a massive wave of sympathizers and rebels against the people in power, where as a caster using this spell to foster hatred against a single noble family will invoke this percentage of the population to rise up against them in angry mobs and so on.

In a highly unstable society, increase the die roll to a 2d20 instead. In a more peaceful society, roll a 1d10. For every point of percentage that goes over 100%, that many people in neighboring provinces, lands, cultures, or nearby species will be effected by and pick sides in this specific societal movement- the caster can't control what side they take- but they will produce more chaos.

[4] Sharpen Thy Knife, Curse The Sky
To cast this spell, one requires a weapon. First, the weapon must be ritually charged by its user. The user must carry and exclusively use this weapon in combat- no other weapons may be used. Poisons or sword-oils may be used with the weapon, as long as the weapon is still the primary method of dispatching foes. Every season that this is their sole weapon and carried around with them; they get +1 to the following rolls with this spell.

When this spell is cast, the user directs the flow of the spell with their weapon. The spell can be cast anywhere not in view of the outdoors or the sky itself. The weapon waves through the air and reveals destinies of those the caster mentally thinks of. For each character conjured forth in this way, roll a d20 + Int modifier + above modifier. If you roll over their HD, they are heraby affected by the spell. If the roll fails, they fade from the vision and are not affected by the spell.

Once the target(s) of the spell are set, the weapon is shattered apart. Roll 1d6  + the modifier above. This many cataclysms will be set upon the individuals cursed by this spell. These are very significant, equivalent to the death of their closest allies, a serious maiming, or losing their entire livelihood or more.

[5] Embers of Light
This spell can be cast in ruins of once great civilizations, or at least a vacant collapsing mud hut. The more happy or good memories that were in that place, the more powerful the spell. Consider how closely the previous occupants embodied the alignment of Law.

When the spell is cast, the area is illuminated by tiny flicking images of previous lives and moments of light and life. If enough goodness is present, the spell also acts as Protection from Evil. The light level produced by this spell is dependent on the previous occupants. Happy families or temples to holy gods of the past will be very bright, where as darker times or criminal hideaways will produce very little light at all, leaving the place quite dim.

The light in this area is localized to the room or dwelling. During the effects of this spell, the caster may concentrate the "light" into a single white stone, which now glows dimly with the light present, between the brightness of a firebug or a full torch. This stone also contains all the elements of good in it, making it act as a holy symbol. It dims at a rate of 1 light level per hour, crumbling to dust when expended.

[6] Black Sphere Above Us
When cast, the user may nullify any single source of light they are aware of or experiencing. This nullification lasts for three combat rounds.

[7] Molecule of Voids
This spell draws forth a single mote of essence from an endless, lifeless void in another distant realm. The void-mote is about the size of a seed, and floats in the air freely, pinned in place where it was created. The caster may use a saving throw vs spells to move the seed around in the air, but if they fail this roll the seed becomes stuck in place and starts to grow larger, increasing in size every round until it reaches about a room's size, and then disappears- this takes about an exploration turn. Otherwise, this spell lasts a maximum of three exploration turns.

The molecule draws upon all life, light, heat, and energy from your world to draw it into and disperse it into an endless, lifeless void. Any living thing that touches the void directly must save vs death or be pulled inside, dying. If the void is within a few feet or being adjacent, the molecule saps the heat from the target, dealing 1d6 cold damage per round and causing freezing slowness or hypothermia if exposed long enough. The molecule also draws in inanimate matter, but only that which directly touches it- it can be used to carve a tiny hole through a stone wall by making it move through the wall, for example, but it does not draw in a great mass of the earth or objects into itself as it does for living things or fires. Energetic crystals can also be fully drawn into the void molecule.

In exchange for filling the molecule with life and/or energy, the void releases several new "molecules" at the end of the spell. Keep track of everything drawn into this spell; the number of HD, entities, or energies worth of spell slots/+1 bonuses to rolls worth of magical enchantment crystals or whatever are converted to a percent- +1% per HD and +1% per unit of energy or "thing" that should count as a unit. At the end of the spell, roll percentile. This percentile value is kept between castings of the spell.

If the percentile roll fails, then the void is displeased with the caster. The next time the spell is cast, there is a 1 in 6 chance it does not function, which increases by +1 in 6 each time the percentile roll fails. If the spell fails to function from this, the void molecule is sealed and that spell caster can never cast this spell again.

If the percentile roll is under the percent, then the void is pleased with and rewards the spell caster with a random boom. Roll a d4 on the table below. If the percentile value is at 75% or better, add +1 to the roll on this table.

  1. The spell returns the spell slot / mana points it cost to cast back to its user.
  2. The void crystallizes into a black ball. This is ball made of stabilized negative space. This black ball can be used as a casting focus or material component of Disintegrate or similar spells. When used, it increases the caster's level by +1 for this cast and then disappears.
  3. The void releases several powder of a random Magical Substance.
  4. (Use this result on a roll of 4 or higher) The void is pleased with you. From now on, the void-molecule is increased in size to a grape, deals 1d8 damage per round if adjacent, and lasts an extra exploration turn. Reduce whatever percentage you have for this spell down to half. Every time you get this result, the spell will get more powerful and the void more hungry.

[8] Unsullied by Time
This spell allows a magic user to maintain their youth. When this spell is cast, the magic user stops aging. Their physical appearance, as well as physical body and form, cannot change outside of damage. This means no amount of exercise can make them stronger, any diseases or mutations they are suffering from cannot be removed, but they cannot get new ones either and so on.

If the magic user is struck with an aging effect, such as the touch of a high level undead or even a reverse-aging effect by powerful healing magic, the spell will be broken and they will only age up or down 50% of what the original spell would have down, from the stasis effect. Once the spell is broken it has to be cast fresh again, and this spell is quite complex and long-standing to cast. It is a useful spell for a magician with the ability to cast it, but other forms of immortality should be sought by the one who wishes to be unkillable as well as simply ageless.

[9] Trembling at Dawn
This spell must be cast at dusk. When the magic words are enchanted, the nearby darkness grows thicker and fuller then it would have as night falls. Things seem to get "worse", with enemies and obstacles becoming more powerful, or the waves besieging a small town getting stronger and more powerful. If anyone is suffering from a curse is serious injury that is in general "on your side", it will get progressively worse as the night goes on.

Once this night is over, if you manage to survive it, all enemies are routed (as though under the effects of supernatural fear or Turn Undead), over-time damage and effects are ended, and things generally improve and get better then would have without this spell; but a very difficult period between the spell being cast and the blessed dawn is the true test.

[10] Moth Tower
This place transports you to the Moth Tower- an ancient structure lost in time and space. The tower is surrounded by a harsh wasteland with ruins on its southern side, with a thin woodline to the north leading up to a forested mountain farther way. It is always in the middle of dusk when you arrive, and then quickly turns to night and stays that way until you leave this place; for this and many other reasons, this realm has never been fully explored. The tower itself is a gray, foreboding structure that seems to stretch up forever into the sky above.

The Moth Tower's innards are totally covered in layers of dust, fallen like snow. Every level of the tower is a circular room with a staircase upwards to the next floor on the opposite side. The rooms are filled with the brim with old things; dusty, rusted, moth-eaten. The ceilings and rafters of each room are filled with dull gray moths, which give this place its name. Every level of the tower you climb, the moths become more active and aggressive. If a moth lands on you, you save or age up one year, with your equipment, food, and magical enchantments or diseases advancing as though they were also brought up by a year. Every floor past the first, assume at least 1d4 moths may try to land on a person each floor without some kind of protection. Additionally, as the floors go higher, the objects in the room become more and more old and forgotten, eventually leading to treasure troves of things no person remembers and who are not written down in any manuscript or page of any book- these things are free for the taking, but so very lost to time.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Flying Cosmic Fortress Generator

Above the world; above the sapphire mountains, above the sky-lands, above even the realms of dawn and dusk- there are the cosmic realms. Space, with glowing stars and planets and cosmic streams. These places, so far away that no mortals, or even immortals from your realm scarcely go.

For one reason or another, you've ended up here. But this realm is too abstract and deadly for a living thing; it is infinite and boundless in all directions and ways. There are Fortresses here; anchors of sanity and reality in this hostile place. These flying castles all look artificial, created from wood or brick or platinum- like flying fortresses in the cosmic void.

Flying Cosmic Fortresses
These cosmic fortresses are flying on the astral/cosmic realms. It's basically outer space, but remember this is fantasy outer space. Gravity is still down, you can breath in the air (it's cold and sterile), it's warm enough to not freeze, and so on. However, these effects that protect beings only exist in and a short distance outside it. If you "fell" off the fortress you'd fall down into the void and then float around like it was outer space.

The Fortresses themselves are totally alone and isolated. It's not possible to leave one without some kind of powerful magic or divine aide. You are within a far realm now; distant and separated from the Gods and Spirits of your home world. All Cleric spells and magic is cast as though the caster is a level lower.

To create a Flying Cosmic Fortress; roll once on each table below.

What does the Flying Cosmic Fortress look like? - Roll d20
[1] Fortress carved into a single giant stone.
[2] Stereotypical castle with a moat that endlessly drops water into the void.
[3] Ancient jungle temple.
[4] Huge overgrown tree or plant, windows carved into branches and stems.
[5] Giant Mansion floating in space.
[6] Multiple towers w/ Spinnerets.
[7] Like a giant bee hive or insect nest. Original inhabitants may or may not be exterminated.
[8] Crafted from metal, roughly bolted together.
[9] Looks like a giant crystal. All the "windows" here are colored as the crystal is. Random Color.
[10] Like a giant sailing ship. Like the ark, but huge-er and in space.
[11] Artificial donut shape from smooth stone. Normal gravity; down.
[12] Looks like a weird dark mass, undulating in space. Inside is a little better.
[13] Icosahedron sphere. Made of brass and exotic metals. Many inner chambers.
[14] Like a miniature city- brims with magictech lights.
[15] Glacier. Crevice leads to interior. Endless blizzard 5 in 6 turns on top.
[16] Looks like a chunk ripped from the normal world; a grassland with a small house on it. The edge just drops into void. House houses tunnel to interior dungeon inside the whole thing.
[17] Giant chained body of some space whale or other horrible giant creature from the depths of the cosmic realms. May or may not still be alive.
[18] Massive yawning cave entrance. The inside is subterranean, but has a large central chamber that looks out into the void. From inside, looks like a giant mouth kinda.
[19] Looks like a giant dark cube from the outside. Doors on the sides sheer-drop into void. No balconies, but sides are not perfectly smooth. Butt-clenching jumps on the outside.
[20] Separate chambers connected with large colorful tubes of various lengths and sizes. Looks like a god damn McDonald's playplace.

What's this Flying Cosmic Fortress's Special Feature? - Roll d8
[1] Fortress is a sphere. Gravity similar to our moon regardless of size. Think Mario Galaxy.
[2] It's really, really big. Megadungeon.
[3] Has a secondary fortress with the same designs as the first connected to it by a long chain.
[4] Built on/in/around a giant dead/sleeping megaverse giant God thing.
[5] Has a guidance system and could eventually be flown around like a really cool starship.
[6] Has a Room of Requirement like effect. Safe rooms or fresh water chambers appear when adventurers seek them. The rooms stop appearing if abused.
[7] The bottom has a second fortress, inverse gravity, light/dark world, etc. Roll again on the appearance table for the other side.
[8] Race of intelligent, neutral beings live there called the Curators. Use the Fantasy Race Generator to give them an appearance. They live in the walls, perform maintenance, and may believe the otherworldly entity who governs this place created them (it probably didn't).

What can you see in the Void next to this Flying Cosmic Fortress?
- Roll d12
[1] Black hole sucking up light. Fortress is not at risk. Don't fly off that direction.
[2] Several small "islands" of the same design as the main Fortress.
[3] Huge metal scaffolding and frames connected to island; possibly interstellar dock?
[4] It's surrounded by a nebula cloud; hard to see through.
[5] Field of undead servitors. Spaced apart evenly; a spherical defense grid.
[6] Shipwrecked hauls of space boats.
[7] Giant tentacles coming out of black portals. Fingers of an old one- mostly inactive.
[8] Swirling "winds" of elemental or magical energy. Turbulent approach.
[9] Buoys or signposts- hinting at dangers or distances.
[10] Stars. They are extra bright around this Fortress, making it dazzling.
[11] Nothing.
[12] Absolutely nothing.

What kind of Dangers are in this Fortress? - Roll d10
[1] Mechanical traps. Has a gravity changing puzzle that can fling you into void if you fuck up.
[2] Contains a cosmic forge or engine. Sporadically releases intense magic radiation.
[3] It's crumbling or being eroded by cosmic nothingness. Watch your step.
[4] Eternal guardian statue-people things. Only attack if you break "rules". Laser eyes.
[5] It has been used as storage for all manner of dangerous and cursed magic items.
[6] Infested with cosmic pests. Dangerous, only because cosmic. Think this blogpost.
[7] The place is partially cloaked in layers of astral space; the player-characters own ego and personal experiences begin to warp the place and manifest. Think Silent Hill.
[8] Fortress Stalkers. Monsters that are made of the same material and look just like parts of the fortress. Slink around silently and try to kill people. Native to this place.
[9] Otherworldly phenomena like time dilation, gravity anomalies, recursive hallways, non-euclidean geometry and more. Has a paradox contained within crystal; mostly safe.
[10] Masses of reactive elemental slime. Colored as element. Deal 1d6 damage of a random element when touched or disturbed. On a roll of 6, you suffer an extra effect.

How did you get to this Flying Cosmic Fortress? - Roll d6
[1] Walked through an unmarked portal / doorway in space-time.
[2] Extreme spell failure / broke a major magical artifact and this was the result.
[3] Took the Airship up too high. It can't come down without special preparations.
[4] It wasn't flying at first. Activated some dungeon's mechanism; it lifted off.
[5] Willing accepted a challenge from a powerful otherworldly entity to win favor. (Roll subtable)
[6] Unwillingly whisked away at the whim of some powerful otherworldly entity. (Roll subtable)

(Subtable) Why did some Supernatural being send you here? - Roll d6
[1] To test your resolve against difficult challenges.
[2] To perform some minor bit of "house keeping" that it doesn't want to do itself.
[3] To observe your kind in action up close and personal.
[4] To punish or execute. If you manage to survive, it will be impressed and let you go.
To participate in a multiverse tournament battle to the death!
[6] It made a mistake when trying to teleport you somewhere else. 1 in 1000 chance if you teleport via genie you end up here instead. Takes 2d6 days for it to find you again.

Oh and if you want a quick way to understand and suck up the exact artstyle and feel I'm going for, just go play Amid Evil.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Lich Generator

All liches begin with;

  • 5 HD
  • AC of 12
  • Morale of 14
  • +3 To-Hit
  • One Death Touch attack per round. Save vs Death to avoid.
  • Immune to Necrotic Damage / Death-Spells
  • Casts Spells x2 (Has Twice as many spells as its HD should)
  • One Signature Spell
  • Immortality - Returns after Death (Can only be slain permanently if its Phylactery is destroyed)
  • Powerful Numen - Treat HD as 10 for purposes of Magic Spells/Special Moves/Etc.
  • Undead Minions (10x1d4 HD worth of Undead encountered with the Lich if not surprised)
  • Alignment of Lawful Evil

The Death Touch - Roll d6 to determine what kind of Death Touch this Lich has
[1] Dark Flame (Deals 3d6 fire damage on hit, cannot heal naturally) Cold, black fire.
[2] Black Bolt (Deals 2d8 shock damage on hit, attack chains to next nearest enemy with zero To-Hit bonus until an attack fails) Crackling, life-seeking lightning jumps from the lich's fingers.
[3] Cruel Ice (Deals 2d6 Ice damage on hit, save again or limb touched is frozen solid. If limb is struck with blunt weapon; shatters and is destroyed. Limb must be dethawed with warm fire, or a torch that has had Healing Potion drizzled over it) Freezing touch that locks joints into place.
[4] Necrotic (Deals 3d6 damage, save again on hit or have 1d6 levels drained) The power of the dead, sapping life from the living. Each time this death-touch hits, the Lich looks more whole and alive as he saps your life force, but it quickly rots away within mere hours. It is a living black hole.
[5] Corrupting (Deals 4d4 damage on hit, save again or shift alignment one step towards Evil, if Evil save or be Dominated by the Lich) The Lich's body pulses with the centipedes and unholy creatures crawling underneath its skin. The lich's touch sends them into your own body, corrupting you.
[6] Aging (Ages victim 2d20 years on hit, rusts and spoils equipment that isn't Magic) This Death-Touch doesn't deal direct damage, but ages the victim. Everything they're carrying also ages at the same rate; food spoils, potions go flat, metal rusts to nothing. Only eternal items are safe. has no direct effects but characters of advanced age for their species will probably take stat penalties, or just fall over dead.

Decaying Form - Roll d8
[1] Skull Face (+1 AC, +1 Morale) Living body with a bloody skeletal face, as though flayed.
[2] Corpulent (+1 HD, Can Float out of melee; hit by reach) Filled with corpse-gas.
[3] Mummy (Roll a 2nd Signature Spell) Bandages adorned with arcane symbols
[4] Rotten (+2 To-Hit, Inflicts Random Disease on hit with Death Touch) Rotting flesh.
[5] Wraith (Ethereal - Can only be hit with Magic weapons. Turn Undead is twice as effective) Not a physical form, but a smokey, cloaked wraith with glowing eyes. More vulnerable to the spirit.
[6] Cancerous (Resistant to Elements; takes half damage from Fire, Shock, Frost) Its bulbs and tumors are filled with all sorts of pus; arcane experiments on this disposable shell.
[7] Skeleton Jelly (Doesn't lose its body after dying- instead just regenerates from the single smallest remaining piece of itself. Phylactery gives it memory, Alignment to Neutral Evil) The Lich is a skeleton jelly- a skeleton with a goopy outer shell containing everything it was and is.
[8] Grafted (+3 Hit Points, has Sword attack at 1d6, doesn't count as Undead until harmed) Body is made up of many borrowed limbs, surgically attached. Detects as a living person until some of its stitches are split and ichor spilled. May be disguised as a regular person or adventurer.

Dark Artifact - Roll d10
The Lich carries the Dark Artifact on its person at all times. If killed, the artifact will drop with the Lich, and the Lich will become very angry at it being stolen- it will attempt to recover it with whatever means necessary. All Dark Artifacts are cursed; living beings who touch them must save or die unless its wrapped in white cloth.
[1] Sacrificial Dagger (1d4+1 Magic, steals one prepared spell on hit) Cruel wizard killer.
[2] Vial of Pure Darkness (All light sources dimmed nearby) Trapped primordial darkness.
[3] Chaos Medallion (Generate a Chaos Medallion) This Lich is a champion of evil gods.
[4] Witch Finger (Enemies get -2 to spell saves, Increase die size for all dice of Death Touch) Worn around the neck like a talisman.
[5] Capirote (Has two Necromancer apprentices at 4 HD / level- they cast Spells) Tall conical cap, black, like a cultist. Enslaves the minds of the foolish, and promises immortality through death.
[6] Flask of Unholy Water (Deals 1d6 damage if splashed on Good beings, restores 2d6 hit points to undead creatures) Dark, stagnant water. Water placed within becomes unblessed in 1d6 turns.
[7] Yew Wand (Spells deal +2 damage, Gains 1d6 Magic Blast attack at range - Requires To-Hit roll and deals damage typed as Necrotic) The Yew tree is poison and associated with dark magic.
[8] Stained Ring (Grants 25% Magic Resistance, alignment shifts toward Chaotic while worn) Golden ring that can never seem to be cleaned. The stains change every time you inspect it.
[9] Turnkey Raven (Delivers messages to minions; can carry things weighing less then 1 pound, indestructible) Lifelike raven with a turnkey slot. One crank lets it fly anywhere in the world.
[10] Skull Staff (1d4+1 Magic Staff, Necromancy spells deal +2 damage, can rattle the staff and raise up a corpse into a basic 1 HD skeleton or 2 HD zombie depending on its condition) Generic humanoid skull on a black wood staff. Charged with necromancer's power.

Signature Spell - Roll d8
[1] White Legion
The caster raises both their arms above their head and commands their army to rise. Every round, 1d10 skeletons (1 HD with 1d6 decayed weapons) rise from ancient soils- this effect continues even after the round the spell began, it's a constant effect, allowing the caster to fight while the ancient dead pour in from below.

This lasts until 100 skeletons have been raised or the ground is sanctified by a Holy Sword being shoved into the soil to stop the spell.

[2] Dispel Hope
Caster holds out their hand and strikes all within the range of their vision in front of them in the moment of casting. All struck become filled with despair, and loses a part of their will to live. Everyone hit by the spell has -2 to all saving throws. In addition; anyone under its effects automatically fails saves vs death if they have 50% of their hit points remaining. All Hirelings struck by this wave must also make a morale check to flee. On success, they stand their ground but lose -1 Loyalty.

This spell lasts until a rowdy fireplace song, a strong religious experience, or an exhilarating celebration of life.

[3] Electric Blue Tendrils
When cast, electric tendrils appear. Breaking free requires a supernatural level of Strength (+3 or greater) or several cuts with an axe or sword with a rubber handle. Each round you are trapped you take 2d8 shock damage. Trying to cut the tentacles with something not insulted will shock your hand instead, dealing 1d8 damage. The spell can target up to three human sized targets, or two significantly larger targets- assume each target has 1d4+2 tentacles wrapping around them- consider the tentacles as 1 HD creatures. This spells lasts for 3 rounds, or until all the tentacles are dead.

Most Lich spells are based on the dark arts of necromancy, or at least are powerful curses. Not this one. This spell conjures tentacles from random places they can crop up in the area; out from sand, poking up from sewer drains, out of boxes and bags, etc. These tentacles are being pulled in by an otherworldly entity, and are charged with unusual energies.

[4] Finger Beam
This spell is a ranged, nigh-inescapable version of the Death Touch attack the Lich has. The Lich's finger glows and fires out a beam that curves, sweeps, and spirals towards its target in a flashy rainbow lightshow. Save vs beams with disadvantage, or else you are hit with its effect.

If a PC or somebody else learns this spell, then the finger beam will do the same damage as their finger possibly could on a hard poke- so one damage if you aim for the eyes or something. You need to already have badass dark magic powers for this to be good, sorry.

[5] Pillars of Zircon
Conjures forth 2d6+2 pillars made of a strange, dull silvery metal. They rise from the ground, and are just about round enough for a man to stand on. The caster can ensure one appears under them on the round the turn this spell is cast, letting them ascend upwards.

These pillars can block an attack- consider each to have an AC of 14 and 2 HD in terms of raw durability. They are also totally immune to corrosion, and acidic or corrosive powers nearby them fail and weaken. You take -1 damage from acid attacks and spells if you're in the same room as the pillars, half damage if you are touching or standing on a pillar, and no damage from acid at all if you're standing among the pillars. Acidic liquid would turn to nasty water if splashed into the pillars, and the acid breath of a dragon would just turn into harmless wisps of vapor.

Note: These pillars don't do anything for the Lich's own Death Touch- as the only corrosive effect comes from magical aging. It does however seem to work against effects that speed up or create effects of advanced decay on undead creatures. Spells that putrefy are cancelled by these pillars.

[6] The Backwards Arm Curse
The target of this spell has all of their arms turn around backwards. The joints snap back (but don't cause damage). The arms will attack enemies of the spellcaster, and the victim of this spell is helpless to control his arms- the first round this spell is cast the arms will likely attack whoever was behind the target of this spell- stabbing and slashing with their own weapons- the cursed arms get the same attack bonuses, special moves, and magic items or weapons that the hands could have used. This means a powerful Fighter having their arm cursed means they'll attack with full strength to anyone who gets close enough- Meanwhile, the target of this spell loses their attacks or abilities that require hands, but still controls their voice and legs, so they can move others and warn them about their loss of control.

If the victim of this spell focuses all of their energies, they can make a saving throw vs spells to snap one of their arms back into place and regain control over it. Each arm takes a round to bring under control in this way.

[7] Orbs of Torment
This spell conjures forth three balls of dark energy; flashing with red lightning. The three orbs are summoned at the casting of this spell, but can be flung one orb per round by a simple point of a finger or order by the spellcaster. The orbs move slow enough that they can be avoided by running your full combat round away from them; no save otherwise.

These orbs are magical orbs of Torment. When they hit a living thing, they cut their current hitpoints by half. Getting struck by Torment feels like a mix of torture and exhaustion all over.

[8] Grotesque
This spell can be cast on anything within a stone's throw. Intelligent and living targets of this spell inherently resist it automatically if they are unwilling, as pretty much any living thing would object to being made into a Grotesque. If you are currently Dominated by the Lich, they you cannot resist the transformation. 

This spell utterly warps the subject, turning it into something loathsome and grotesque, hence its namesake. If this spell is cast on inanimate matter, it would turn it into a roughly animated golem or animated object(s) with stretched smiles, wrinkled faces, and cartoonish and frightening expressions. Living things are similarly made cartoonish, but always somewhat offensive and a sort of innate frightfulness like things that are scary to children. The Grotesque also acts like a caricature; its assumed and actual traits from before it was transformed taken to a absurd degree. For example, a Nobleman turned into a Grotesque would be very fat, lazy, and scream at everyone to pay taxes or order his "guards" (other monsters nearby) to take off their heads. All Grotesques are assumed to be Chaotic Evil, but will serve a more powerful master- a creature with higher HD. Remember; the Lich that made this thing counts as 10 HD for spells like this; so it will serve the Lich even if the Lich is more feeble then the Grotesque.

The subject of this spell becomes a 6 HD Grotesque, with stats befitting its nature. If it had a higher HD before, then roll 6 HD and keep whichever Hit-Point Total is higher. The Grotesque gains a few magic attacks, can cast Spells, and has an AC and other stats/resistances based on its composite material, or once again based on whatever it had before it was transformed in the case of a living thing. For example, a Grotesque made of a pile of bricks would be slow, but have high AC, and can throw bricks at 1d4+1 damage at range, twice per round. Grotesques are not undead, but are considered supernatural evil creatures and can be Turned / Exorcised as undead can.

The Grotesque also has innately has three abilities;

  • Aura of Cowardice which unnerves the weak willed; retainers must make a morale check or flee the first time they are hit by one of its attacks or spells.
  • Aura of Hate, which makes enemy spells and attempts to Turn Undead or cast holy magic have a 50% chance to fail within its presence, which lasts until it dies.
  • Black Speech, which just means the Grotesque is constantly speaking, insulting, and generally saying awful things. Every round, it has a 1 in 6 chance to send a Curse at you, based on what it says.

Turning someone or something into a Grotesque is permanent. If you slay a Grotesque and are of Lawful or Good alignment, the Gods will reward you by curing any curse or disease you are suffering from in that moment for your service in smiting something so awful, or hopefully remove some of the curses you got for fighting it.

What are this Lich's signature kind of undead minion? - Roll d10
[1] Plague rats. Like thirty thousand. Not really undead, but can swarm and fill rooms like water.
[2] Skeletons. The Lich is constantly frustrated by their bumbling antics and awful bone puns.
[3] Zombies. Specifically, ones with iron parts, tools, and weapons nailed into their flesh.
[4] Mummies. Desiccated corpses raised on mass from ancient evil desert tomb.
[5] Corpse-Golem. Roughly stitched together, raised in an industrial assembly line.
[6] Animal skeletons. You don't see this as much as you think you should. Bone birds still fly.
[7] Black Puddings. Has one really big one that ate most of the others, named Princess.
[8] Ghosts. "Keeps" all of them in one really cursed mirror. Don't break it, seriously.
[9] Tomb-Golems. Always in the forms of religious figures; animated creatures but technically undead as the souls and blood are infused within the stones. Can't move while you look at them.
[10] Grotesques. Just a few handfuls of them, each a totally unique bastard to deal with. Normally these "fluff" tables at the end don't change the monster stats- but you should probably give the Lich the Grotesque spell if you get this option so it makes sense.

How has this Lich been spending its Centuries in Undeath? - Roll d8
[1] You know, catching up on chores, reading, taking some time to itself. Still.
[2] Plotting world domination, of course.
[3] Uncovering arcane secrets. It's Signature Spell is one of many prototypes they've invented.
[4] Involved in a complex string of plots with another immortal creature; friendly rivals.
[5] Becoming the absolutely uncontested master in a game that nobody plays anymore.
[6] Learning how to play musical instruments. All of them.
[7] Opening tiny accounts in all the world's banks, accumulating massive interest over centuries, and starting wars by sending out chain letters and fake notices of inheritance over them.
[8] Mapping of the next life. Every time it "dies" it has some time to explore around the next hill or talk to the next weird angel spirit-guide thing. Isn't mad when you kill its body.

What is the Lich's Phylactery? - Roll d20
[1] Pin stuck in a stuffed heart stuffed in a doll stuffed in the belly of a stuffed dog.
[2] Really old tortoise. May or may not be undead; hard to tell.
[3] One shard of a broken magic sword in a museum owned by haughty nobles.
[4] Its diary from when it was alive. Protects it for embarrassing secrets more then anything.
[5] The old church bell that hasn't rung right for over a century.
[6] Its soul inhabits its manse. Burn the house down; the lich's soul burns with it.
[7] Tarnished silver coin; face of a queen with a cheeky wink. In some random bank vault.
[8] Jet gemstone. Dodecahedron cut.
[9] Looks like an owl chick with glowing red eyes, cowers in an old oak tree's hollow center.
[10] Very old, fat blind koi in the lich's serene garden pond.
[11] Vial of pure spring water. Drink it and the Lich will hunt you down before you can piss it out- which is what actually counts as destroying it. Otherwise, your blood will go in the next vial.
[12] Magic necklace with a glowing purple amethyst. Gives sweet magic bonuses, to dissuade people from destroying it.
[13] Black ooze in a shadowy corner. Takes the form of a viper with a poison bite if you approach it. Cut off its head to slay the lich for good.
[14] Ceremonial golden plaque on the cornerstone of a castle, which the lich helped fund for a good king a long time ago. Too arrogant to use a pseudonym.
[15] One black scale on a white dragon. The dragon knows about it- and keeps it on its body in exchange for a lot of juicy treasure.
[16] Eternal flower kept in a glass case. One petal falls off each time the lich feels any remorse for its actions; it will also die permanently if all the petals fall off. 1d6 petals are left.
[17] Golden tooth kept in its body. Most people take it and sell it- its enchanted to be totally immune to fire so if people try to melt it down the lich can just retrieve it later when they reform.
[18] Electrified heart, in a box. If you touch it or bring a metal weapon within an inch; shocks you with 1d8 damage as a kind of defense mechanism. Stab it with wood, or just shoot it with an arrow.
[19] Tiny little 3 year old, blonde w/ pigtails, totally innocent villager girl. Enchanted to be eternally young and continually orphaned when her adoptive parents die of "random undead attacks". It's supposed to be a moral conundrum to kill her to stop the lich but if you just get her to drink some holy water it kills the lich's soul inside while she is totally unharmed.
[20] The Moon. Fuck you.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Damn you! (Freeform Curse Magic)

To say the name of a thing is the same as bringing the thing to you- which is why you never speak the name of a dreaded creature. To speak of something that can go wrong, then it will happen. This is a common superstition, as words have power. The most venomous use of words can be a curse- a curse inflicted by words.

To wish ill on someone directly is to curse them. All you have to do is speak; to tell them they will fail, their children will go blind, their crops will wither; anything can be a curse if spoken with conviction and malice. "May your genitals rot and fall off!" is as valid a magical attack as any fireball or magic missile.

Also; the referee gets to decide how the curse is actually implemented. The curse may be a subtle, fate-altering sort of thing where you question if it even exists, a sort of lingering sickness or malaise that permeates the cursed beings or place, or it could be a visible streak of glowing magical power that brands its victims with its effects like ghostly glowing tattoos that are bound to their skin. You could also have the curse's level of supernatural effect (in terms of aesthetics; the rules are the same) to be based on the power level of its caster.

Speaking Curses
To cast a curse, the curser must simply speak out load and wish ill upon someone. Saying this directly to their face is many times more powerful then saying it alone, but curses can be cast even when the victim of the curse is nowhere present. Typically, in these curses, a proxy or voodoo doll is used to cast the curse. Or the curse is put in place through written text or symbols; nailing a severed chicken head on a neighbor's door is an example. Witches are quite skilled in this.

The real terror of curses though is that anyone can do them. It's not just witches or sorcerers or those with magical powers. I really like the idea of some random beggar the PC's harass and rob can curse them with horrible misfortune.

There are two kinds of curses. Spiteful Curses and Vengeful Curses.

Spiteful Curses are curses cast by evil or cruel beings. They are often associated with brigands, goblins, demons, sailors, and witches of all kinds. Spiteful curses are differentiated by being purely based on spite and malice- the curser is simply wishing ill on another person through their words. Clerics/Paladins/Holy Men are immune to the effects of spiteful curses. They are protected from evil by their gods- no matter how much a witch screams, the paladin is in the right for burning her at the stake.

Vengeful curses are the much more powerful type of curse. These curses are cast in retaliation; they can be cast by anyone of any alignment. Divine protection does not apply to these kinds of curses, as they are a punishment for sins.

Whenever a character casts a curse, write down the wording of the curse. More vague curses can manifest in more ways, but will be noticed as being part of the curse less often. Something as simple as "misfortune befall you!" is still a curse but could be basically anything, where as "you will transform into a mindless beast on your wedding night and slay your bride!" is much more specific. The words spoken at the time of the curse will determine how the curse manifests, if at all.

Finally, curses don't stack. You can only be affected by one curse at a time, though if a new curse comes around that is similar or eerily related, it can add to the original curse's power.

Spiteful Curses happen in a 1 in 6 chance, where as Vengeful Curse have a 4 in 6 chance of happening. If the curser died just after speaking the curse, then add +1 to the 1 in 6 chance for the curse to happen. If you get cursed by multiple people at once, add another +1.

Curse Mechanics
Once a curse "sticks", the characters suffering from the curse (all present or guilty of the crime that caused the curse in the first place) will now be haunted by it. Whenever a situation or event presents itself that mimics the words of the curse, once per session, the DM can manifest the curse.

For broad curses without a specific "activation"; such as being cursed with bad luck, give a percentage chance of the curse occurring each time it could manifest. Very vague or broad curses could be given 10%, where as something broad but more specific (such as "the spirits of the dead shall drag you to your doom!") could activate whenever the character goes near a pit, tar pit, or patch of quicksand, giving it a 30% chance to activate, etc. In these situations, the characters noticing or calling attention to the fact a curse just happened gives it strength- increase it's chance of manifesting by +5 or +10 percent.

For specific curses ("If you burn my sacred tree I swear you will not live to see the dawn!"), the curse always manifests once it has stuck to the party members.

Whenever the curse manifests the DM/GM must pick one of the following options.

  • Put a bearer of the curse into a bad situation that requires a saving throw
  • They are inflicted by a minor disease, gain a level of level-drain, or take 1d4 damage. (Damage from Curses is inflicted as Terror damage, by the way.)
  • Summon forth a wandering encounter, or a spookily fitting monster. Monsters should still reasonably be able to appear in a normal wandering encounter roll.
  • Cause a morale check in a retainer or animal companion of the cursed
  • An item is lost, misplaced, or damaged. Useful or valuable items are destroyed, critical items are merely inconvenienced. (Lantern is knocked to the floor vs jeweled dagger falls into a ravine)
  • Ominous Portent. Nothing happens- the DM gets a +1 to the next roll relating to the curse. This can only happen twice before the third must manifest another option- as per the magical rule of threes.

Spiteful curses are simple to fix; they require magical aide. Lucky charms, prayers and ablutions at temple allow the individual a saving throw to remove the curse instantly.

Vengeful Curses have more staying power, and are more personal. The cursed can  seek forgiveness from the curser- either through a direct and sincere apology or from performing actions opposite what got them into this mess in the first place to prove they have changed or feel guilt sufficient to be released from the grip of the curse. The magic of a Remove Curse spell has a 1 in 6 chance to succeed; if it fails, then this curse cannot be removed via magic and only divine intervention or reconciliation can end it now.

Finally; the wording of some curses  means they have a set ending. To say that "I will have my revenge on the seventh day!" means that that day has to be where the curse occurs, otherwise it is dispelled and gone forever. In such cases, these curses are more powerful, and the DM may pick three of the options on the above list to happen to the victim(s) of the curse.

Curse Example #1- Blindness

Your party finishes a job of killing a bunch of hobgoblins living in an blind old crone's garden in exchange for some gold. She reveals she lied and only had about half the amount she promised, as she is a poor old woman. Outraged, your barbarian pushes her down and she hits her head on the table, dying. In her last breath she curses you to be blinded by your greed. The DM decides this is enough of a justification for a Vengeful Curse.

In this scenario; the event was morally ambiguous with all parties at fault. If the party members give the old woman a proper burial and if the barbarian feels at least a shed of guilt over what happened; the curse won't happen.

In the event the party raids the old woman's house and spits on her corpse for crossing them, the curse will happen.

Later, a PC slays an acid slime. The DM rules some of the ichor splashes into their eyes and makes them partially blind for the rest of the dungeon, granting a -2 on To-Hit rolls. The next session, another PC is struck with an arrow. The DM rules it is an ominous portent, which barely glanced the side of their skull. The next roll, it is the barbarian who is in a tight spot against an evil sorcerer. The sorcerer casts a flame spell and managed to sear the eyes of the barbarian out of his skull, permanently blinding him just as the old woman warned. With the main victim of the curse punished; the curse is now complete.

Curse Example #2- Dead Mans' Gulch

An old prospector knows of the treasure in Dead Man's Gulch, but refuses to go in their as he doesn't trust anyone else and he can't risk fighting the monsters there himself. When he sees the PCs about to sneak in, he spits and curses at them from above the canyon at a safe distance, saying they will meet their death in the canyon. The DM rolls this for a spiteful curse- the curser is still alive and is acting out of selfish reasons; as such the Paladin in the party is immune to this curse, as they go with God.

The DM rolls the curse to happen. The other party members are effected by the curse. Halfway through, a fight breaks out. The DM rolls a percentile roll to see if anything happens; and it does. The DM rules that a character who failed the surprise roll has to make a save or twist their ankle among the stones, becoming dead weight and making escaping the canyon while monsters pour down to attack more challenging. The party hightails it out of the canyon when they realize it will be tougher then they thought; ending the effects of the curse. In this situation, the party may be immune to any further curses by the prospector, as they already defeated "his curse" the first time.

Curse Example #3- Pharaoh's Curse

The party raids an ancient temple and finds a sarcophagus. The wizard can read the writing on the side to see that it is cursed; anyone within is fated to die from their own hand. You could say that the curse never activates if they never read the warning, or it would happen either way. The wizard begs the party not to open it, but they do anyway for the promise of riches. Black smoke issues from the cistern. Because this is vengeful curse and is applied by an ancient mummy, the DM rules it is quite strong and all who breathe the smoke are cursed with a level of level drain.

Later in the temple, the thief fails a roll and dies to a trap from their reduced saving throw bonus after having a level drained. The fighter is also killed in a fight. The wizard remains and, taking it upon himself to break the curse, returns all the treasure to the sarcophagus and severs his own hand. As the blood soaks the stone, the debt of the curse is repaid and the temple releases its grip on him, letting him leave with his life.

Curse Example #4- Curse of the Shewolf

The party fights a group of wolves in self defense. As the wolves flee, the alpha bitch of the pack reveals she is a magical forest spirit- and curses the party to die in winter. While a spiteful curse, this curse is rolled and activates.

Every time something happens or is found in the woods- a corpse here, sudden snowstorm rolled on a weather table, etc. The party members start to accuse and believe that every event is the result of the curse, giving it more power. The next two times the curse manifests, the DM just creates another portent. Finally, when the party is forced to return to town during a blizzard, the DM rolls on an encounter table with +2 from the portents, calling a group of evil white wolf spirits to attack. The party, low on supplies and health, is wiped from the encounter and the curse of the shewolf is considered ended.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Ultimate Game + On "non games"

This is the ultimate game. The rules go like this. Whenever you try to "do" something in the game, roll a d6. The higher your roll, the better you do. Getting a 6 is like a really good or total success, where as getting a 1 is a total failure. If you get something between, then it has varying degrees of success.

If your character is really good at something, maybe add a +1 to your role do a few specific things. There are no stats or health points or anything, just the roll and maybe a +1 if you're good at something. There's no hit points, but if getting hit once and dying isn't fun then you can do a three strikes and your out kind of system. Everything else that happens in the game world happens because it makes sense to happen.

That was the ultimate game. You're welcome.

On "Non-Games"
Games that have no rules or have only fictional "in universe" rules are an interesting quandary. I've wanted to do a more complete dissertation on them for some time, but it's not a very highly explored or talked about thing, at least in any online circles I happen to frequent. I've written a few things that are close, though the Galaxy Far Away ruleset I talked about before is the stronger example.

In the few examples of these I've read, the most common of these follow the concept of the "game as a conversation", which is a nice way to put it and feels very open and approachable. Obviously this will require a consenting, well put-together group. I feel as though if the entire group are very strongly steeped together in the universal tropes and feel of whatever type of game or genre they are playing, this might one of the best if not THE best method of playing tabletop games regardless of context. Though most groups, even good groups, won't be quite as united together in synchronicity to go into this state of absolute "flow"- I certainly haven't, it is more of a theoretical concept.

Imagine, if you will, a group of people deeply invested in Sword & Sorcery and Appendix N material. They end up making a tabletop game with almost no rules- perhaps only a random table or two or a dice roll such as the "ultimate game" written above. Then, they run a tabletop game-as-conversation where the only real goal is to exactly emulate a Sword & Sorcery story as their own characters. In such an example, the exact rules, guidelines, dungeons, or other things that bog down a regular game attempting to emulate a Sword & Sorcery experience would only get in the way of such exact connection- and in this case I would feel the "Non game" of this concept would be superior.

However, these non-games have flaws and weak spots. I don't think they're some end all replacement for "simulationist" or "gamist" games. For starters, many "genres" are too wide spread for this to work. How would you run a non-game with the only genre concerned being a "generic fantasy adventure"? Everyone brings their own idea and baggage to the table when it comes to fantasy. It would be very difficult to get everyone to run and see the game in exactly the same light. Of course, a strong personality in the form of a DM/GM running the game would be best served here- but there will always be that slight disconnect. Oh, you find a trope of elves? Some people's experiences with elves are different then each other; an encounter with elves could be anything from a whimsical moment to a deadly encounter to a banal interaction in a fantasy kitchen-sink world. Though a group can move past this, there is always that slight hesitation that would come from the minds of those playing the game.

There are also a few games that try to emulate the idea of a "non game" by making a non-game a narrative game built around a fantasy milieu which is the real "game". An example might be something like FATE- which is NOT a rules light game, even though people bill it as. It's significantly harder to wrap your head around then an old edition of D&D or something where you control a single, well rounded character- an opinion of mine, sure, but a strong one. As such, FATE is a game based on the narrative beats of a story or experience, where character aspects and elements to scenes move the action forward; but the game's world is assumed to be the glue that holds it together, in the same way a more gamist game like D&D uses its fantasy game world to be its own glue, or perhaps ground floor where the absurdity of the rules is weighed and corrected. Concepts such as the peasant rail gun don't really exist because they are only "real" if the fantasy world beneath them didn't exist. The idea of a non-game game is to make the game about the fantasy milieu that "grounds" the rules without needing rules in the first place. 

(I am now realizing this turned into Vagueposting halfway through writing it.)

So in conclusion, for a "non game" to work successfully, the real challenge is not clever rules design since there are little to no rules, but moreso the ability to communicate the implied setting, theme, or backdrop of the game. If somebody put in a lot of effort to cleverly write or design a setting introduction, write with a strong theme, or use a pre-established base such as the Star Wars example game above; it would at least do the majority of the heavy lifting. I don't know if "non games" are ever going to be widesspread and popular outside of very insular tabletop groups since, obviously, that is where they flourish best. I don't think we'll ever see non-games as published and sold products since there really isn't anything to ship. The closest thing I could think of is a non-game textbook with lots of story ideas, pre-generator characters, or tables and lists to determine what happens whenever there is no agreement on what would happen next. The great thing about these non games though is that technically ANY book is a sourcebook. Just pick up your favorite fantasy novel, emulate the tone and setting, and that's an RPG source book right there- just for a game without any rules.

Monday, September 13, 2021

20 Generic Enemy Spells

So when writing up my old encounter tables, I always tried to have a few spellcasting enemies. I often write up monsters with the explicit descriptor of spells in their stat lines, the idea being the person running a game using this content (let's face it, everyone here is a GM/DM) will substitute their own stocking rules for it.

But after doing so, I have found that there are very poor rules and guidelines in the games at least that I have read of what exactly random NPC spellcasters should have prepared. Unless it's written directly in the encounter or monster write up as having these spells/spell-like abilities it seems to be a toss up between "the same spells a player-character should have at this level" or just winging it and letting the DM decide what spells they have prepared.

So instead, I have written up a list of 20 generic spells that are applicable to NPC magicians. These include rival magic-users to the party, bandit-wizards, orc spellcasters, witches, wizard ghosts, dark cultists, and so on. Fair warning, these spells are really generic, and are meant to be applicable to NPCs that the parties interact with in the dungeon, so they are almost all combat focused. Mostly because if the 1 HD bandit rolled Floating Disk as his starting spell on the MU starting spell table it's mostly just a waste of an encounter. This list avoids that problem totally by making all the spells immediately useful in the context of how PCs will face them; almost always through combat encounters. You could also learn these spells from these characters, offering a unique vector for character advancement.

For rules; assume each monster Magic-User has a number of prepared spells they can cast equal to their HD. If the monster's description or stat-line describes them as being extra powerful (casting as though they were a higher level) or having lots of magical trinkets and artifacts or carrying a spellbook, add extra spells. If the stat-line has them described as being a poor or primitive spell caster, reduce the number of spells but with a minimum of at least one. If you suspect the monster(s) have been fighting or distracted recently, roll a d100 percentile and let the monster MU keep that percentage of their spells. Also if the PCs have done any shenanigans recently like removing vital sources of food and water or killing a bunch of monsters belonging to a specific monster group, the enemy MUs may also have less spells because of that.

Spells are cast by the enemy magic user by speaking an incantation. Because the spell is spoken; a successful hit on the enemy during casting interrupts their spell. Spells are declared during the opponent's round, but only take effect on the start of the next opponent's round, giving the players a chance to retaliate. Intelligent enemies will position guards or try to cast from a far away position so that you can't stop them. I use team initiative and hold my player's to the same rules.

Also; this list doesn't use spell levels because they're lame and I'm tired of them. However, it is roughly ascending in power. So you could say rolls of 1 to 6 are 1st level spells, rolls of 7 to 12 are 2nd level spells, and rolls of 13 to 20 are 3rd level. You could also make the difficulty of learning these spells by studying whatever the slain enemy magicians drop equal to this rough estimate.

You can also use this as a nested table to balance encounters or better control what sort of monsters would have what spells. For a low level monster magician, such as a kobold, goblin, or imp- roll a d6 for one of their spells. If they are strong enough to have more then 1 HD, then they can have another random spell- they're just going to have something small and basic. Special named NPCs or the leaders of a Witch coven etc. may get one or two better spells. For them, you can roll 1d10+10 for a random spell that is on the more powerful side of this list.

20 Enemy Spells

[1] Rust Spray
Sprays a disgusting red-brown fluid that rusts and corrodes metals. The caster chooses what to try and spray- if it hits a sword, the sword gets -2 to hit, if sprayed on armor, -2 AC. If the caster sprays it in your face; you are blinded for one round and get -4 to hit. You can choose to block this with your shield- wooden shields are unaffected, but metal shields will lose 1 point of AC.

This rust spray does work on magic items, but only gives a penalty of -1 AC or To-Hit instead. With a downtime turn of rest, you can clean, polish, and scrub the rust clean and repair your piece of equipment, which removes the negative and restores the item to full strength.

[2] Elemental Blast
Fires a bolt of elemental energy, dealing 1d6 + HD damage on a hit. This spell uses an arcane/magic to-hit roll, which is a d20 + caster's level or HD vs the target's AC, no saving throw. If the damage roll is a 6, the bolt can inflict a bonus effect.

This spell deals damage of a random element. The element is (roll 1d4) Fire, Ice, Lightning, Acid. For generic casters, this damage can be random, but for themed casters like Pyromancers, Ice Witches, etc you can just assign them the most fitting element.

[3] Telekinesis
Telekinesis has three possible modes of use. The caster can use any of the three, but can only use one per casting of this spell. 

Shove the target back a square, or a short distance in theater of the mind. The shove knocks targets prone; requiring a round to stand up. Creatures get a save to avoid being tossed off a ledge/back into spikes and so on. If you get shoved back into somebody else that's the same size or smaller then you, you both fall over. If you get shoved into a wall, take 1d3 improvised damage.

Pull moves the target closer to the caster. Creatures in a backline will be shoved past the person in front of them and now be considered in the front line.

Throw allows the caster to toss a dagger, stone, or other random item as per a thrown attack. The weapon must hit with an unmodified d20 attack roll and deals the damage of the weapon if it hits. This spell cannot be cast on items held or weighed down in some way.

[4] Evil Eye
Stares at a target with evil intent. The target gets -2 against their next saving throw. This spell can also be used on unpaid retainers, lantern-boys, and untrained animals (dogs but not war dogs, etc) and will make one creature flee. Creatures who flee from fights will be very remiss to rejoin the party's exploration even if you actually manage to find them before they're eaten by something.

[5] Darkness
Significantly dims sources of light in the area- torches become as bright as candles, candles becomes as bright as matchsticks. Anyone not holding a torch experiences a negative To-Hit and can't tell what's going on. Creatures who can see in the dark aren't effected and will be more giddy to cast this spell then surface dwellers. Also I know this already a spell everyone has and uses, but I like this version better.

[6] Hex
Target creature takes 1d4 damage to a random stat. The damage is presented as a physical injury or disease as a curse would- like a great big boil appearing on their nose for Charisma or their veins turning black and getting a bit of a cramp for Dexterity, etc. This damage is recovered at a rate of 1 point per season / in between each session.

[7] Shield
Creates an energetic field around a target, making the next three melee attacks against them be made at disadvantage. The caster can place this on any target within sight distance. The caster can also split up the shield evenly among three different targets for one attack with disadvantage against each creature.

[8] Whirlwind
The caster of this spell is surrounded by a whirlwind. The whirlwind picks up dust and swirls around the caster unpredictably; causing all ranged attacks fired through the whirlwind to have disadvantage to hit. This whirlwind can be large and fierce enough to protect multiple individuals; either around the caster in a radius or a number of people = caster level for theater of the mind. This spell lasts until the caster dies or moves from where they are standing.

[9] Howl
The caster gives off an animal howl. It echoes through the air- if the caster is part of a faction, this spell has a 1 in 6 chance to call reinforcements equal to 50% of a regular patrol size, or the rest of the patrol if they were separated beforehand. If no reinforcements exist, this spell instead has a 1 in 6 chance to draw a wandering encounter in, which will roll reaction checks and can be hostile to both the magician's party as well as the player's party. Unlike other spells, this one can be sustained over multiple rounds if nobody strikes the MU to stop it- every round rolls another chance until the spell is ended, the caster is struck, or an encounter is rolled.

[10] Empower
This spell allows the caster to empower one being in their line of sight with supernatural strength. The target gains +1d6 temporary hit points, +1 AC, and +1 To-Hit and Damage as well as increasing in size and bulk. Goblins become as big as short men, orcs become as big as ogres, etc. This spell will end if the caster is killed. Those who have been empowered by this spell will be extremely tired after a battle, requiring a hearty meal or time to recover; and will have negative versions of this spell's effects until they can recover and sleep it off.

Additionally; this spell can be used on 1 Hit Point vermin or tiny creature like a spider, rat, gremlin, etc. and turn it into a 1 HD giant version as a monster with appropriate stats. The caster has no special control over the creature but the creature will generally attack someone if it is thrown at them as its transforming or if they were the pet of the caster's they'll defend them.

[11] Wrack
Magical curse that causes immense pain. Deals 1d6 damage and causes you to drop whatever you are holding. Shields have straps and aren't dropped, lanterns hung from the belt aren't released by your hand and therefore don't drop, etc. Save to resist the spell.

[12] Levitation
The caster flies up into the air and can fly around. This lets them avoid all melee attacks with short weapons; but reaching weapons like spears or whips can still hit if the ceiling is low enough. Ranged attacks can obviously still hit, but the caster gets +2 AC from flying around quickly. The spells ends if they touch the ground again- they can stay airborne (and pelt spells at you from above) for up to 3 rounds before their flight ends.

[13] Invisibility
The caster or one target they choose turns partially invisible. All of their equipment is made invisible as well. You cannot see them or their shadow either. Hitting the creature without some kind of indication in this form is essentially impossible- assume a negative To-Hit modifier of -10 with situational reductions of this penalty due to surrounding clues like footprints, their reflection that still shows up in mirrors and pools of water, their breath in a cold room, etc.

Every time the invisible creature make a successful attack in melee against someone, or any time you successful harm them, assume that 1d10% of their body is covered in blood now- reduce the penalty to hit them by this percentage. Once the creature reaches a total of 75%+ or more they are revealed enough that their location can be accurately guessed, so no penalty is applied. Assume that throwing a bucket of paint on them or marking them with glowing dust will cover 2d30% of their body in a throw.

[14] Destroy
The caster destroys 1d4 pieces of equipment. Swords shatter, armor falls to pieces, vials burst, wooden staves turns to sawdust, etc. Magic equipment is immune to this effect. This spell can also be used on an animated entity like a golem or living armor and deal (1d4)d8 + caster HD damage. If the being is intelligent, they get a saving throw. Genuinely important, well maintained items like heirlooms or things in protective cases might just be damaged by this spell instead.

[15] Toxic Cloud
This spell creates a toxic cloud of a random color. The cloud can be lighter then air (goes up) or heavier then air (goes down) at the behest of the spell caster. The cloud fills in space but is easily blown away by the wind or other wind related spells or blasts.

The toxic cloud deals 2d6 damage for every round you breathe it in. Having a facemask or covering your mouth with a bit of cloth reduces this to 1d6 damage. Characters may be able to hold their breath to run through the cloud quick enough to get out- but only characters with +2 Constitution or better can succeed at this without breathing. This spell produces enough toxic fumes to fill a large room or battlefield trench, and will slowly dissipate over the course of 3 exploration turns. The caster has no special immunity or resistance against this spell.

[16] Magic Chains
Conjures manacles and ankle-weights on a target's body, and magically connects chains from these into the nearest walls or solid objects. The creature can still attack, block, and cast spells normally but cannot move. The only way to free yourself is to be supernaturally strong to pull the chains out of the wall (+3 Strength or better), break the chains with a +2 Magic Weapon or better, or concentrate for a round to will the chains to disappear- giving you a save vs magic to dispel the chains. You cannot attack or take any other actions during your concentration round.

In addition; even after being freed from the chains you are stuck with the manacles and ankle weights. These increases the target's encumbrance by one unit or step, so an unencumbered character becomes lightly encumbered, encumbered characters become heavily encumbered, etc. If you use weight-based encumbrance, then consider 50% of their maximum weight taken up by this spell. They can be broken off with metal working tools over a turn of downtime- however this makes a tremendous noise and has a 1 in 6 chance to attract a wandering encounter.

[17] Summon
This spell conjures forth a creature of equal HD to the caster. The creature is chosen by the caster when the spell is cast, and requires total concentration. The spell takes 3 rounds. The first round begins the casting and opens the portal, the second round draws the monster through the portal, and the third round binds the monster to the caster's will. If the caster is hit...

During the first round- The portal isn't opened and the spell is wasted.
During the second round- The spell fails, but the portal is opened and energies swirl. Roll a spell cataclysm or for a random demon to come through the portal.
During the third round- The monster is summoned but the caster loses control of it- causing it to attack wildly or run away if its a fearful thing.

If the spell is successful, the monster serves the caster's side faithfully and attacks. It has no morale or never flees from combat. The monster naturally breaks apart and disappears after one day.

[18] Magic Volley
Conjures a volley of magical projectiles. This spell takes two rounds to cast- the first to conjure the projectiles, and the second to fire it. If the caster is hit on the second round, after the projectiles have been created, the spell will go haywire and everyone in the area will take 1d4 damage, save for half, as they fly around wildly.

The projectiles hit a large area, similar to a volley of arrows, emitting from the caster. Assume a 90 degree cone. The spell conjures 2d10 + HD of caster projectiles, each dealing one damage. The projectiles are distributed evenly among all targets in the area, including the caster's allies. If you spend an action raising your shield, you block a number of projectiles equal to your shield's AC bonus from hitting you. If you stand behind someone or something, they will take the projectiles that were headed for you. Cover protects you based on the percentage of your body it hides.

The projectiles are usually magical bolts of energy, but can be themed based on the caster- dealing elemental damage instead if it better fits the monster.

[19] Reflect Spell
This spell can be cast as a reaction, but only if the caster has not cast a spell in the last turn. The caster will stretch out their arms and create a silvery screen that bounces magical energies or blasts back at the sender. Spells will return at roughly the same level of power, angle, and intention as the original spell, simply reversed. So a spell in the form of a cone is sucked up and spit back out in the same cone shape, where as a spell that targets an individual will bounce back to the original spellcaster, etc.

The caster of the first spell (the spell that is being reflected) may make a save vs magic to cancel their spell out before its effect bounces back to them- if you succeed on your save, you lose your own spell but you didn't suffer its effects. If you fail, proceed as though your own spell just hit you. If this spell was used to reflect a magic blast instead, then no save is granted and the countering-caster rolls a magical attack roll +2 to see if they hit you with the reflected blast.

[20] Torment
This spell gives the target a feeling of dread. Their mind is filled with torturous images, feelings of hopelessness, and damages their very will to live. The target of this spell loses 50% of their current hit points. Save to resist the spell.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Garden District- Treebranch

If you looked at Garden from Tower Central or from the air, you would see a large black splotch within the glowing bright city. Before Garden existed, there was just the forest. The landscape was swallowed by the urban growth of the city as the electric lights could keep the darkness at bay, but a small valley retained some of that darkness. It was built in with homes and stores spread out further apart, patrolled and tended to be heavily armed game wardens, now a comfortable getaway. While kept clear of monsters from outside of the city, this part of town has far more wildlife then most, especially of the larger variety. People live here with the elusive pitch-black deer, the megafoxes, many other creatures not found in the back alleys and little walled gardens of Garden. It's secluded, and by far one of the best neighborhoods to disappear to if you're a wanted man.

Treebranch is very laid back. Not a lot of construction or manufacturing goes on here. Conversely, people ply outdoor skills and hunting to make their meals; more challenging game is here then the lemurs and hogs in the inner city. It isn't wealthy, but the people here always have acres of land to trade and make everything they need. Sometimes tourists get lost, and it advised to not dig in any of the clearings, as shallow graves from the mobsters and killers of Garden liter the ground like molehills. Rifles are the preferred weapon, and walking on foot is preferred to an obvious hover car.

Everyone here looks old and wise, even if they very clearly aren't. There is a forest-induced leanness to these people. Races included the Fawns, who appreciated the forests and natural beauty, but have taken to marking their horns with reflective paints and wearing white as to not get shot by overzealous hunters. Snappers, the blue-skinned crocodile peoples who mostly live around the docks, have moved here in high numbers due to the ease of finding and trapping small game for their endless carnivorous appetites. Other aliens include the many legged Surbabbi sneaking through the underbrush, but beings of all species can live here as long as they have an appreciation for nature.

Treebranch is the most “rural” part of Garden. As far as a huge, electric walled city goes, this place is as close to rural as you can get without it being a deathtrap. The outside of Garden city is stalked by foul monsters, psychic beings of great power, and the Torchlight society, all of whom will kill any city slickers who dare wander those woods. As such, this place is much like a microcosm of the great outdoors. Seasons and weather are treated more seriously, there are farmers and ranchers, woodsmen, hunters, wild-men, and crazy nature cultists all wrapped up in this little district.

Notable Characters - Roll 1d4
Saen-Man - 7 HP, 1 Armor, 1d4 switchblade, Psychic
He's a fawn, but with most of his fur and hair missing looks more like a creepy monster. He oils his bald head and isn't much for violence, but he has psychic abilities. He tends to avoid people most of the time, feeling their energy and simply hiding himself, but can be found and talked to if you look like reputable sweeps. Saen-Man has his finger on the pulse of life in Treebranch, and can instinctively sense when something damaging to nature happens here; a large fire, toxic waste dump, or poachers. He will insist that you put a stop to these problems but has little to offer in ways of rewards.

[2] Machine Guy - 8 HP, 2 Armor, 1d8+1 repeating rifle
Mysterious tinkerer. Tall blue alien, with two extra arms. He likes to keep the tractors, huskers, combines and all other forms of farm and outdoorsy equipment working here. Severely undercharges, he seems to just really enjoy his work. Has no idea how to work on the hovercars that populate most of Garden's city streets- prefers four wheels fueled by biofuels. Keeps on a mask and an air of mystery around him- rumor says he's on the run from a violent gang after stealing blueprints to a very advanced machines or powerful weapon that he couldn't let fall into their hands.

[3] Dutch - 4 HP, no armor, 1d10 hunting rifle
Makes moonshine, loves his neighbors. He's a human, which is probably weird for people in Garden, you don't see a lot of those. Bit of a hillbilly stereotype, but an honest man. Dutch isn't honest about his secret stash, a case of 800 silver coins, stolen directly from the mint on Earth. He had them with him when he ended up in this world. He's waiting to find a good price for them all, or a way to put them to good use. They're buried a few minutes walk away from his shack.

[4] Little Love - 3 HP, no armor, 1d4+1 pocket pistol
Small blue alien man, all about free love. Lives in a hover-van; currently propped up on fallen logs. Hits on female party members, shares drugs as quick as he talks, surprisingly not a creeper. Currently hiding out in Treebranch after offending several city officials and puritans for both his lifestyle and accidentally leaking the fact they have attended his psychadelic drug orgies in the past. Huge penis.

Notable Gang - Skinners
Holdings- Infamy (+3), Moonshine Addiction (-1)

These semi-tribal hillbillies are said to descend from the Torchlight Society, and a few members can recite their lineage back to before Garden was ever built- just lost souls living in the darkness. They have a large homestead that is fenced in by brutal bone piles and totems made by the members of their defeated enemies- this gang gives treebranch its reputation of being filled with cannibal hillbillies.

The gang is, especially in the past, known for the torturous deaths they inflicted on anyone who crossed them. This fearsome reputation brings fear and respect into the hearts of all treebranch residents; this is especially telling since the people of treebranch tend to be among the most well armed and self-reliant of everyone in the whole city. The gang's original rule of blood-only recruitment had to be lifted a few decades ago due to the original families shrinking and moving away, and the newer generation of the gang are softer then the older. In addition, the gang's main form of income in the form of making moonshine has backfired as most of the gang's members are alcoholics.

The leader of this gang is Two-Is-Better, a fat alien with a gray, eyeless head and a big slobbery mouth. He's very old and may come from a species that is biologically immortal; at least until they get so fat and big they can't move anymore or collapse under their own weight. He was around for the original founding of the gang and was once its second in command, and could tell many stories and reveal truths about Garden's ancient past, but will rarely talk to even residents of Treebranch; city slickers from other districts have no shot.

Notable Location - Growling Tree
Near the heart of Treebranch is a large white tree. It grows alone from the other trees; its scraggling roots uprooting the soil and killing its competition. It has no leaves (anymore) but seemingly gets its energy from an alien, inner source. Some believe it may be the creation of an especially potent Reality Warper. Every night, the tree's roots begin to shift and slither under the soil, breaking up and "swallowing" anything on the surface. Underneath the tree is a patch of  aerated, easily dug soil. It is filled with air pockets, rocks, decaying plants, and corpses of mob hits disposed of here. While there is treasure to be found here; any random shifting or moving of the tree will likely bury you alive, as well as remake any tunnels or chambers you have dug, making you lost in this burrow.

The tree is an anomaly even in a city like this. Beyond its highly energetic state, it is also powered by something in its trunks core. It gives the tree a feeling of heat all throughout its body; the rare piece of root or branch cut from the tree retain some of this heat for several years, leading to the rich and powerful of Garden creating self-heating beds and furniture as the height of luxury. However, the tree is much more "aware" of itself then most plants; it growls. When struck with an axe, it will shiver and move the harmed limb away. Its sap is powerfully fire retardant, and will seemingly erupt into wounds in the wood to put out fires of any size. Those who harm the tree even once will be disliked, causing it to growl at them for getting close; those who cut branches will soon find it impossible to get within touching distance without the tree trying to bury them alive under its roots. If a group it dislikes approaches, the ambient temperature of the clearing will rise too, until eventually it will cause serious harm and fatigue in most species who stick around too long. It remembers those who harm it; but also those who help it and treat it with respect. Only a few highly connected residents of Treebranch can even attempt the dangerous feat of climbing the animate tree; the small cache of owl nests and the unique view at its peak being the only rewards for such a dangerous climb.

Random Encounters in Treebranch - 1d10

[1] Several rednecks are having a party out the back of a big hover-truck. There are at least four dead deer, all of whom are of a rare species that this group is illegal hunting. It's pretty chill once you convince them to put their guns down.

[2] Homeless forest-dweller with leaves in his mane. Probably a criminal on the run. Looks like a mangy upright lion, but a bit too gray and spindly to look majestic. He'll be incredibly gracious for any food; but will absolutely steal the first valuable thing he sees the moment your back is turned. Also knows the location of the Growling Tree and will tell any adventurer-looking group of city slickers if you can find an actual bed for him to sleep in tonight.

[3] You find a Chimney stuck in a tree- its bayonet has been jammed in so deep the muzzle almost touches the bark. Pulling it out requires a very strong person, or several with lots of patience and time. The gun totally works. Roll a Random Gun; it has about half its total capacity of ammo loaded and ready to go.

[4] Two big alien deer in a small clearing. One is covered in horrible sores caused by some kind of flesh-burrowing insect, while the second puts its mouth on them in an attempt to nurse and heal the wounds. If you touch the infected deer, there is a 1 in 10 chance your species is compatible and can be host to the parasite.

[5] The next time you enter a cluster of trees and brush, the air seems to become chilled and the darkness gets darker. Any light-producing tools or flashlights you have dim and you hear ominous whispers. Psychics feel incredible senses of dread, then take 1d3 nonlethal damage as invisible fingernails scratch their bodies. After one turn or a roll of 6 on a d6 by a psychic if they attempt to "dispel" the darkness around you it goes away as though nothing happened.

[6] There is a nigh-pristine fountain of marble and stone hidden away behind two trees and some large stones. The water is drinkable and very clean. There is one small fish in the fountain. If you put your hands inside the fish will cuddle up to them, as though it was a pet abandoned here. The fountain has a small alien-angel statue with golden wings worth about $10 each.

[7] You find a shack with tons of metal tools and bloodied surfaces. There is a 1 in 6 chance you find grisly remains and a useful item if you spend a turn lurking around here. If you stay here for more then three turns for any reason; you will encounter the owner.

[8] You find a patch of disturbed dirt in the nearest convenient place; as though somebody just recently buried something here. If you dig it up, you'll find a weird rock that looks curled up on itself which emanates a strange smell. Any psychis in the party will note that it has a similar "aura" to things brought back up from the city's underground tunnels.After 2d6 hours of being dug up, the next time it is put down somewhere it gets up and starts to crawl away. It crawls towards the city limits to return to the forest outside.

[9] Roll on General Gang Table.

[10] Roll on General Encounters Table.