Monday, December 27, 2021

Lucidity Is Not A Possibility (Orbiters Local 519 Dungeon, Aliens, Weapons)

    This is a spaceship (a dungeon) for Archon's hack Orbiters Local 519, a game of derelictcrawling, salvage and insurance fraud. I've also included some optional alien PC races from a planetary romance setting I used in my pre-GLOG days. Purple text is read-aloud narration.


    The System is, obviously, a solar system. It's made up of dozens of life-bearing planets, with almost as many intelligent species, orbiting a subgiant star named, unimaginatively, "the Sun". The System's civilizations have been spacefaring for a few centuries, but tech level is still sub Star Wars — it's a bit like the Honor Harrington books, if you've read those. No generic "forcefields", no robots, no AI, no hyperdrives, hacky mechanical artificial-gravity, combat largely centered on torpedo salvos (love a salvo) and railgun broadsides and boarding actions (love a good boarding action). Everything I need for rough and tumble dieselpunk planetary romance.

    I read Orbiters Local and said to myself, "G. R. Michael, this is a brilliant little game. Spaceship scavenging. Space hulks. Space. What a great idea. Say, how about you write out some crap for the System setting from all those years ago?", to which I responded, "Yeah, maybe". Seven months later, here we all are.


Avian (Lesser)

    Slender, feathered, six-limbed humanoids from the gas-dwarf moon of Ava. As the first space-faring race of the System they spread their technology and their values to other civilizations (much to their own regret). Employed as engineers, architects and armorers on every world, station and ship out there. Culturally, Avians follow a rigid caste system which can only be escaped through off-world service.

3' humanoid, 12' of batlike wings.
No movement penalty in microgravity. Free movement in pressurized microgravity (flight).
3' humanoid, extra pair of massive arms
No movement penalty in microgravity. Strength is 16 when forcing things with extra arms. Extra hands count as terrifying size.

Pure (Lesser)

    Slender, scaled, six-limbed humanoids from the volcanic moon of Purity. Closely related to the Avians, though a little taller, more assertive, and with more toxic stingers and fangs and suchlike. The Pure are often stereotyped as all being pirates, procurers, poisoners, phanatical worshipers of the god of Hell, or some combination thereof. This stereotype is very accurate.

5' humanoid, weird eyes
Remain conscious in hard vacuum. Choose: natural thermal scope OR natural electronics scanner.

Sylvan (Normal)

    Tall, willowy, catgirl humanoids from the forest planet of Satanazes. Introduced to the System relatively recently by corporate interests trying to abduct the males of their species, the monstrous Woses, for use as some kind of bioweapon (this was a hilariously bad idea). Sylvans considerably outnumber the males; this situation is partially alleviated by large harems and partially alleviated by wandering catgirl sharpshooter mercenaries.

7' humanoid, catgirl
Agility is 3d4+4. +1 reaction rolls (everyone loves catgirls).

Lithian (Normal)

    Horned, highly-reflective, batlike humanoids from the desert planet of Lith. A nation of gunboat capitalists, ferocious in battle and dominant in commerce. The word for their incandescently pactolian super-terrestrial world means "the larger of the two suns" on both of its inhabited moons (Ava and Purity). Lithians are found in every corner of the System and at every level of the social totem pole, except for the bottom, which is for the people they don't like.

6' humanoid, crown of horns
+1 to Strength, Agility and Perception.


    "While docked at fueling station over the gas-giant Eos, your crew hears of a tragic accident: two boats, one of them a massive cargo hauler, have collided in low orbit. They're expected to fall into the clouds below in days, if not hours, and be lost forever. What a shame."

    "The privately-owned LUCIDITY IS NOT A POSSIBILITY was carrying material to a construction point in Eos orbit when she was struck. As a cargo hauler, the boat is blimp-shaped, with a small (usually detachable) area for the crew and a cavernous (usually depressurized) area for the stuff. She's newer-model, so the powerplant should still be operational if it has fuel, and the phantom-grav should keep working well past crush-depth. Her manifest isn't particularly detailed but you should expect heaps of steel beams and plenty of construction equipment."

    "A smaller boat smacked into her, hard. So hard that you only have automated distress signals; no one from either boat called for help themselves. The second boat blared about a second and a half of factory-default radio-noise before dying. That means it was probably a pirate or a smuggler with jailbroken systems; either way, you have no information on who she was or what she was carrying."

    "Reclaiming the main cargo hull with a mothership your size is out of the question. The thing is hundreds of meters across and it's falling into the gravity well of a gas-giant as we speak. Instead, recover as much high-value cargo as possible, and try to salvage the crew-area. Salvaging the crew-area will count as a successful mission."
- Manifest indicates 10 spacers and 2 "guests". Confirm the status of all 12 who were on board at the time of collision.
- Identify the second ship and prep it for salvage.
- ???
- ???

scale suggestive, not intended to be accurate.

    That, uh, "map" is for my own reference, and is only semi-readable to others. Let me give you some more information:


    "The LUCIDITY IS NOT A POSSIBILITY sits in low, decaying orbit, almost brushing the farthest-reaching fingers of the gas giant's clouds. The crew-area clings to the swollen cargo-area like a beetle on a ball of shit. Her tiny plasma engines are still online and struggling to keep the structure upright; the much larger primary engines, on the cargo-area, are dark and cold.
    "The second boat, the one responsible for this collision, looks like an Avian warship. Long, thin, designed for ramming cargo boats like this and disemboweling them. She sticks halfway out from the side of the cargo-area, bent like a hairpin. Looks like someone tried to jam a cigarette into an egg and gave up. Her engines are dead as well.
    "There's pretty significant damage to the hull of the cargo area, obviously. Looks like the whole thing warped and buckled from the forces of the impact. Pseudo-gravity is online, and the warship is visibly fighting to tear free by gutting the cargo-area completely. You might have a few hours before the superstructure collapses, or you might have thirty minutes."

    You don't need to point them out immediately, but a quick glance at the hauler makes it obvious to the PCs (all veteran spacemen) where points of interest like the conning tower, phantom-acceleration room and power plants are relative to each other.


    "There are three plausible entrances to the cargo boat. The conning tower on the crew-area should have an airlock appropriate for your shuttle, and the lights are on so the systems should be functional. The massive loading doors on the bow of the cargo-area probably weigh as much as your shuttle, but there are wickets for easy access to the bay, which you should be able to hack or otherwise breach. Finally, there's a whopping great hole where the warship rammed the cargo-area. Shouldn't be a problem to hop from the shuttle into the Lucidity."

    It will, in fact, be a problem to hop from the shuttle into the Lucidity. The pseudo-gravity is leaking; a jump from the transport shuttle over to the hull might turn from a straight line to a ballistic arc just at the end, sending you "down" and, probably, towards the atmosphere of the gas-giant. Uhoh.

The Koss Transport:

    She's what the Avian warship collided with in the hull. Bad luck for the Avians; these transports were built in the second Battery War specifically to withstand collisions like that. Koss transports are 50m long and shaped something like a horseshoe crab. Their armor is the second-closest thing to indestructible in the System, and they have a dozen tiny pseudo-gravity systems built into their hulls for the sole purpose of bleeding off impulse (techno-babble for "their interiors don't have artificial gravity but also the crew doesn't splatter when the ship hits something").
    The transport can physically blat lighter, twinkier boats out of heaven. She can intercept fire from battleship main-guns without flinching, and run an arbitrarily-dense blockade with up to a dozen (skinny) (tightly-packed) VIPs and a single pilot. Koss transports are the armored limos of space: you wouldn't want to pay for the gas on a roadtrip, and you wouldn't want to have to crack one open with only a conventional warhead.

    This transport has four stasis pods, two of them smashed and their occupants killed, two of them on emergency power and their occupants badly injured. The transport's captain is lying prone behind a rifle on the loading ramp, in position to defend her ship and her crew with her life, if she hadn't bled to death in her ruptured suit a few hours ago. She died cold — bad luck. On her body is half of a contract stick. Combined with the other half, found in the Command room up in the crew-area, makes you the legal owner of one more combat mission for the two surviving Koss mercenaries. Worth a credit to the right buyer.

    The ship itself is a secondary objective if you can get it out of the cargo-area and to the Mothership for scrapping. The controls have been fried by EM, but you could try and jury-rig them to bash your way out of the hold, or just cut the hull out from beneath the transport.

Primary and Secondary Lifts:

    The elevator cars are smashed at the bottom of the shafts. If the pseudo-grav is still on, you'll have to climb with a grappling hook or magnet boots. The two shafts could be cut through fairly easily. If they're cut or collapse on their own (this happened to one group) then the cargo-area will start to rapidly fall into Eos and the crew-area will stabilize its own orbit, making for relatively easy salvage.

Navigation Room:

    The crewmen in this room died very, very hot — good luck. The hold was pressurized, so the warship's impact popped the hydraulic seals at the base of the primary lift, the door into the nav room, and the door into the crew quarters. The six corpses in these rooms show signs of primary blast injury; mottled faces, ruptured chest cavities, and crushed eyeballs. Go all in on the scene. "They're dead, but they don't even look surprised about it". Say things like "the walls are splashed with frozen blood" and "loops of icy intestines are splayed out like spaghetti".

Command Room:

    There's a handwritten note left on the big fancy captain's chair, reading

        Not my fault.
        Can't hail the rest of the crew.
        Falling into Eos.
        If you're looting my ship sometime in the next two hours, fuck you.

            Captain Valerio Adhara

    Of the two ultra-premium lifepods (mahogany paneling, leather seats), one is missing. The other can be jettisoned empty, or filled with bulky loot if you'd like. The shuttle can pick it up easily enough.
    An examination of the console reveals that the captain deleted his half of the contract with the Koss mercenaries, but forgot to empty his trashbin. It's easily recovered.

Phantom Acceleration Room:

    Here's how Lithians make artificial gravity: they start with a few discs-within-discs of ultradense material suspended on a cushion of magnetism, they spin 'em up to incredible speed, mrmflrbhurbabfm, linear momentum to angular momentum, linear moment to angular moment, mmmblafdhbiblf, gravity is not a force, murmblfhf, impulse, curved spacetime, bup bup bup.

    This is all well and good unless you're standing in the room with those spinning discs when your boat gets hit by something. The crewmember who was in here has been reduced to something like 13 kilos of carbon dust and 42 kilos of water vapor, assuming he started out at 70 kilos.

Loading Area NPCs:

    As soon as anything interesting happens on the boat, Zayman will try sending out from his hardsuit. The shuttle will hear him and notify the PCs by radio. If they're ever face-to-face, Centiplease, as a Psion, will contact the PCs telepathically and try to negotiate a deal to get him and his bodyguard off the ship and onto a neutral space station. It's not unreasonable for some Lithian company-men to want their comings and goings to be kept hush-hush, but Centiplease and Zayman will carelessly reference their warship instead of their cargo-hauler, will unconvincingly claim to be normal crewmen with no idea what happened, and have obviously been in a recent firefight.
    If pressed, Zayman will explain a "hypothetical" where "maybe" a group of "freedom fighters/terrorists" attempted to "intercept a Lithian black-ops squad" and were "unpleasantly surprised by the contents of the cargo-hauler" but were ultimately successful in killing the black-ops squad and "throwing their bodies" out of a convenient "airlock". Hypothetically. He can give the PCs dogtags if they think they need physical evidence of the fate of the two guests.
    If pressed further, or if the players start seriously discussing a plan to attack the two OOC, Zayman will use his Jump Jets to tackle the nearest PC and burn Simulspace rerolls kill the Hell out of them with his Vibro-Wakizashi. Be up front with the PCs about the risk; he's got Threat Projection, after all. Zayman will sell his life dearly to protect Centiplease, though the two of them are probably toast against more than one or two PCs. A sad end for a legendary pair of space-bandits.

    Centiplease's organization has enough money to make their rescue a secondary objective. Turning them in to the authorities for the bounty also counts. Faction play!

NPCs and Monsters

    Laser-rats are, technically, a kind of mustelid.
: ½.
Lasers: 1d4 damage, 1d6 if they didn't fire last turn.

    Freezer-burned and somewhat crazy, wearing a bubble-helmet and not enough layers on his body. Miraculously survived the impact despite being exhausted, dehydrated, and space-crazy. Either desperate for rescue or murderously enraged, depending on the reaction roll.
HD: 1.
Wrench: hits for 1d4 damage.
Space-Crazed Babble: Every round you can hear his voice, make a Perception check. If you succeed, take 1 point of damage.

    As Cirripeds.

    As Anguillomorph.

Wose Young Juvenile
    The males of the Sylvan species are apex predators and obligate fratricides. They look like the reasonable halfway point between tigers and gorillas. They're brawny and ugly, with shredding-claws, crushing-jaws and camouflage stripes. Young juveniles are about the size of a shuttle.
HD: 20
Armor: 2
Obligate Fratricide: Must attack organic creatures which are larger than a rabbit AND not a Sylvan. Cannot fail morale checks if doing so would prevent him from attacking a valid target.
Apex: On his turn, makes one bite attack and two claw attacks
Bite: 1d6 damage, healing for the same amount if used on a biological enemy.
Claw: 1d8 damage, ignoring 1 point of armor.

Koss Mercenary
    Wearing combat-rated Hardsuits in their company's liverie, and armed to their many needle-like teeth. Koss women are about 12' at eye-level and feel no moral pangs when stomping on childlike enemies.
HD: 3
Armor: 1
Monstrous Size: PCs fail strength checks by default. Has 20 strength, if it matters.
Power Armor: Wearing the equivalent of a Hardsuit equipped with Coolant Tanks, Ablative Armor and a Tower Shield. Equipped with a Monstrous Handgun and a random weapon from their list.
Monstrous Handgun: 60' range, 1d6 damage.
K76 Sip-Northover Incendiary Problems Projector: a rapid-fire incendiary limpet launcher, designed for area-denial and ambuscades. 1d6 damage in 10' radius, pierces Thin walls when set off. Rounds stick to metal and can be detonated later. 100' range. Targets caught in the blast are set on fire, taking 1d4 damage a round until they take an action putting themselves out. Can be fired twice in a combat turn generating the Heat of two attacks.
K205 Cryptogenic Ski-Troop Enabler: a backblast cryo-fluid launcher, designed to give the user high-speed movement over level ground and small enemies. 1d8 damage in a 60' line, piercing no walls, generating no Heat. When firing the weapon everything within a semicircle behind you is tossed 30' away. If you lack 30' of rear clearance, you are tossed forward.
LSW-500 Woman-Portable Beam (Variable Lens): an internal-spooling incendiary beam emitter. 1d6 damage at 100', 1d8 if you didn't attack last turn, piercing no walls. Sets targets on fire. Internal mechanisms can change the beam type (the Ammo), given 1 Heat and an exploration turn.
[unnamed, poorly advised hunter-killer drone project]: a light flak drone hive. Deals 1d4 damage to anyone within 60' (goes around corners), piercing no walls. Max damage to flying enemies and objects.
K202 BLASH: a bombardment explosive rocket pod, for safely obliterating your enemies in a mixed-cover mixed-allegiance and target-rich environment. 2d4 damage in a 20' radius at 200', piercing Thick walls. Damage is divvied out to targets in the blast radius as you please. Can deal maximum damage in one attack, though its ammunition is expended for the rest of the mission

Centiplease Fortigaster
    An Avian scholar. The smallest caste, both physically and in raw numbers, but the top of the heap regardless. Their feathered wings are five meters from tip to tip. Their bones are too heavy for true flight, but they can hurt you terrible by flapping.
    HD: 3 (1/11 HP when you encounter him)
    Psion A–B: knows Lesser Telekinesis, Send/Receive and Remote Viewing.
    Scholarly Swordsman: may make two attacks per turn with his bitching space katanas
    Bitching Space Katanas: 1d6 damage, ignoring a point of armor.

Zayman Hazred
    A Pure. Grizzled, dangerous, wearing a hardsuit he's been tinkering with for 20 years. Probably rather gruff unless there's another old coot in a hardsuit or another mercenary with a simulspace addiction.
    HD: 3 (6/11 HP when you encounter him)
    Armor: 1
    Powered Armor: Wearing the equivalent of a Hardsuit equipped with Jump Jets, Passive Radiators and Ablative Armor.
    Mercenary A–B: knows Microgravity Agility 1, Threat Projection 1, Simulspace Addict 2
    Double-Barreled Varmint Gun: a rapid-fire frangible scattergun, for killing space-vermin without puncturing walls. 1d8 damage in a 30', rerolls 1s and 2s on damage rolls against unarmored targets, pierces no walls.
    Vibro-Wakizashi: a snub-nosed armor-piercing melee weapon, for killing the Hell out of combat robots and people in power armor. Deals 1d12 damage at grappling range, ignoring armor, passing through Thick walls.

Weapon Generation.

    Archon has two or three different systems now, but this is the way I do it. Roll 3d12 for Weapon, Ammo and Augmentation.

1. Rifle- 1d6 damage, pierces Thin walls, 100' range.
2. Beam Emitter - 1d6 damage, doesn't pierce, charges to 1d8 if you didn't use it last round, 100' range.
3. Rocket Pod - 2d4 damage, split the damage between as many targets as you want, pierce Thin walls, 200' range.
4. Scattergun - 1d8 damage in a 30' cone, pierces Thin walls.
5. Melee - 1d10 damage in melee, pierces Thin walls.
6. Drone hive - 1d6 damage, can fly around corners, doesn't pierce, 60' range.
7. Autocannon - 1d8 damage, 20' radius, pierces Thick walls, 100' range.
8. Limpet Launcher - 1d6 damage, 10' radius, pierces Thin walls when set off, rounds stick to metal and can be detonated later, 100' range.
9. Fluid Thrower - 1d8 damage in a 60' line. doesn't pierce walls, generates no Heat.
10. Claymore Array - 1d6 damage to everyone within 100', destroys Thin walls.
11. Disc Launcher - 1d6 damage at 100', ricochets to a random target for 1d4 damage. Doesn't pierce walls.
12. Assault Cannon - 2d6 damage, +1 Heat per combat, pierces Thick walls, 100' range.

1. Armor-piercing - ignores armor, wall pierce up step.
2. Frangible- no longer pierces walls. Reroll 1s and 2s on damage rolls against unarmored targets.
3. Flak - no longer pierces walls. Deals maximum damage to drones and other fast-moving targets.
4. Explosive - damage radius is increased by 20', wall pierce up one step.
5. Recursive - adds Heat to damage rolls.
6. Incendiary - targets take 1d4 damage each round until the fire is put out.
7. Cryo - targets must Save or cannot move on their next turn.
8. Pulse - targets must Save or be knocked down when hit.
9. Rail-assisted - range up one step.
10. Beacon - all your subsequent attacks against target have +1 damage. stacks.
11. Spalling - ignores armor, deals extra damage equal to target's armor.
12. Wildcat - damage die up one step, gain 1 Heat if damage is above normal maximum.

1. Light - damage die and wall-piercing down one step, reduce Heat cost to fire by 1.
2. Heavy - damage die and wall-piercing down one step, increase Heat cost to fire by 1.
3. Autonomous - fires under the control of a computer. You can use this weapon and take another action.
4. Rapid-fire - you may attack twice, each attack costing normal Heat.
5. Hardpoint-mounted - damage, wall piercing and range up one step, increase Heat cost to fire by one. You cannot move and fire this weapon on the same turn.
6. Assisted Targeting - spend an action and choose a target. Damage against that target is rolled with advantage. Targeting does not cost Heat.
7. Bombardment - you can choose to have the weapon deal its maximum damage on its attack, but it runs out of ammunition or charge and cannot be used again during this expedition.
8. Heatsink - the first shot during each combat generates 1 less Heat.
9. Internal Spool - may change Ammo type. This takes 1 Exploration Turn, and generates 1 Heat.
10. Backblast - When firing the weapon, everything within a semicircle behind you is tossed 30' away. If you lack 30' of rear clearance, you are tossed forward.
11. Snub Barrel - range down one step. Damage up one step.
12. Badly Malfunctioning - deals 1 damage to you when it would generate Heat. Damage die up one step.

Damage steps: 1, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, 1d20
Range steps: grapple, melee, 30', 60', 100', 200', 500'
Wall-piercing steps: none, Thin, Thick, Armored, any number of walls until it hits Armored, any number of walls

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Smoky Sputtering Torch (GLOG Classes: Monk 5e Conversions)

    5e conversion is easy! Subclasses have 4 thingies, GLOG classes have 4 thingies. The conversion is practically already done. While 5e content is often lame and bad, you can depend on me to make it worse; I have your back.

    These were made with the assistance of Liches Get Stitches and, more broadly, the double-secret triple-platinum Discord server for the ruleset formerly known as "GLOG".

Source: Divine ceremony by Reicheran


    Like barbarians, monks tap into a primal force of the universe. But where barbarians prefer terrific explosions of vitality and noise, monks seek enlightenment and careful control. Is it fair to call one more impressive than the other? Is a little natural talent somehow superior to mastery achieved over a lifetime of training? Can you hope to make something perfect by adding to it?

    All monks have a pool of chi which they use to fuel their kung-fu. This chi takes up slots in your inventory like exhaustion; just like exhaustion, you take a point of damage if something would occupy the same slot. When you take an hour to calmly and silently meditate (it is nigh impossible to do this in a city), you may fill as much of your inventory with chi as you wish.
    You may use chi to: leap 20' horizontally, reduce damage from an arrow or thrown weapon by 1d6, treat a fall as if it were 10' shorter, upgrade an unarmed attack to deal 1d6 plus your highest modifier damage (it's your job to explain why intelligence makes you punch better but it shouldn't be hard. You're a smart kid), make a pair of unarmed attacks immediately after making any other attack, or whatever cool shit you can get your DM to permit. You may only spend as much chi in a round as you have templates as a Monk.

Way of Mortal Combat

    You can read about him here. He works a little differently, don't bother me about it.

Way of Saintly Virtue

    You can read about him here. He also works a little differently, fuck off.

Way of the Drunken Master

    True Drunken Masters are indistinguishable from morons. You spend your nights playing your qin at the finest of whorehouses, and your days nursing a hangover with hair-of-the-dog by the pint. When fighting, you tilt and lurch like a murderous wino; when doing anything else, you tilt and lurch like a murderous wino. Literati and the upper-crust, inexplicably, adore you.

Skills: 1. Epic poetry 2. Courtly seduction 3. Formal duels
Starting Equipment: Wine-stained finery (as unarmored), kukri (wickedly curved, light), well-cared-for qin, wineskin of very strong brandy (3 doses), calligraphy set.
  • A Drunk "Technique", +2 Save
  • B Tipsy Sway
  • C Heaven Protects Children and Idiots, +2 Save
  • D Intoxicated Frenzy
Drunk "Technique"
    Despite your wobbling and teetering, you cannot fall off anything which can bear your weight (tightropes, ledges around buildings, the tops of peoples' heads in a crowd). Any roll that would knock you over has disadvantage (or vice versa if you're the one rolling).
Tipsy Sway
    Terrain and conditions that would slow a normal person do not slow you. Your bobbing and weaving, mostly through accident, makes it more difficult (disadvantage) to grapple you with ropes and nets and nigh-impossible to do so with bare hands. You could stumble through a grasping crowd without being brushed once.
Heaven Protects Children and Idiots
    If it is even remotely feasible for you to have avoided damage (this works on a car crash but not on a Sun Soul bombing), spend 2 chi and do so with a pratfall and a shiteating grin.
Intoxicated Frenzy
    Spend a chi to immediately make an unarmed attack against someone, by kneeing them in the kidney or slamming your forearm into their nose or some such. This works at any time, even during someone else's turn in combat. Outside of combat these attacks are plausibly an accident.

Way of the Sun Soul

    When the universe was young, bearers of Sun Souls were common. Over the eons most faded, or ascended. Many — but not all — of the g_ds themselves began as Sun Souls. In these blasted latter-ages of the world apotheosis is less common, but still possible.

Skills: 1. Archaeological burgling 2. Largescale architecture 3. Management
Starting Equipment: White loincloth (as unarmored), painted begging bowl, healthy and thorough tan, calligraphy set.
  • A Sunlit Body, +2 to-hit
  • B Solar Crown
  • C Radiant Arc of the Sun, +2 AC
  • D Sideration
Sunlit Body
    Fire and heat cannot hurt you (though smoke inhalation still can). Four hours of meditation in direct sunlight is as good as a full meal. You do not cast a shadow outdoors.
Solar Crown
    If you focus your chi into your crown and eye chakras, you can project a brilliant beam of sunlight from your forehead and a halo of the same from your scalp, both visible for miles. It takes one point of chi to maintain these lights for an hour.
Radiant Arc of the Sun
    If you focus your chi in your heart and stomach chakras, you can create a blazing sphere about the size of a cannonball. You can throw this sphere about 300' (it is weightless and ignores most air resistance), where it explodes in a brief but deadly flash. This deals 2d6 fire damage to all creatures within 30'. The sphere costs 2 chi to create initially, and for every additional chi you invest the damage increases by 2d6.
    At-will, a crackling haze of charged particles rises from your skin. Anyone who approaches within 10' takes 1d6 plasma damage, and you take 1 point of damage when this happens. Metal objects in the area spontaneously weld together. Grapes explode. If this kills you, your soul has an X-in-20 chance of rising into the heavens as a new star (where X is the number of people your plasma-field killed at the same time as you). If this roll fails, your soul breaks into extremely valuable gemstone fragments and a harmless purple fog which dissipates into the atmosphere.

Way of the Kensei

    That other schools ignore the sword is a missed opportunity. For a sword is not merely a weapon. Most "weapons" are, in reality, tools; spears are tools of hunting, nunchucks are tools of threshing, and staffs are tools of walking. But a sword is an extension of the self, a part of the self, just as much as hands and feet. You can't say you have mastered your self until you have mastered your sword.

Skills: 1. Nature painting 2. Lying to authorities 3. Horses, + proficiency in bladed weapons.
Starting Equipment: katana (medium, but using wisdom instead of strength), wakizashi (light), brightly-colored traveling clothes (as unarmored), letter of introduction (from important NPC), calligraphy set.
  • A Sword Saint, Extra attack
  • B Respect
  • C Advanced Striking Technique #5 (Lethal), +2 to-hit
  • D Exemplary Edge Maintenance
Sword Saint
    You may parry and guard like a sword-shepherd.
    You're recognized as a member of the Right Sort, even if you were born a peasant, or are currently wearing shabby hobo clothing. Nobles and military officials and minor divinities will tolerate backtalk and advice from you (don't expect this to work on emperors or tigers, of course). Members of the Right Sort are permitted more-or-less open warfare against each other without interference from Johnny Law.
Advanced Striking Technique #5 (Lethal)
    The golden age of the Kensei is long over and most legendary techniques have been lost to time. Not this one, though. Nobody could forget this one. By spending a point of chi, an attack from your sword can hit a visible target at any range. For each additional point of chi you invest, roll another of the sword's damage dice and add the result to the total damage.
Exemplary Edge Maintenance
    In your hands, every sword is a magical +1 weapon with the enchantment "Reroll a missed attack once per day".

Way of the Long Death

    To die quickly is easy. To live forever is difficult. But to die forever... few accomplish this. The followers of the Long Death resemble their cousins, the liches, only superficially. They possess martial arts instead of arcane powers, and where normal liches seek an eternity to gain knowledge and magic, the monks of the Long Death only wish to study one thing.

Skills: 1. Forgotten ancient culture 2. Human anatomy 3. Esoteric religion
Starting Equipment: Dusty yet festive clothing (as unarmored, +1 to reaction), steel mask which completely conceals the face, travel sewing kit, bottle of eau de cologne (10 doses), calligraphy set.
  • A Dead Vespers
  • B Hour of Reaping
  • C The Touch of the Long Death
  • D Lessons Internalized
Dead Vespers
    You are undead. Sunlight and running water hurt you like fire (and, incidentally, so does fire). You do not need to sleep or eat, and cannot be poisoned. You don't have darkvision but you can see the chakras of intelligent beings, even through a blindfold (which is good because you're going to have to wear one during the daytime). Healing spells and potions damage you, and you cannot heal by resting. You must repair your body with a needle and thread at a rate of 1HP an hour. You can sew on reasonably-fresh limbs if you lose your old ones, which might let you re-roll physical stats if they're particularly high-quality. If you are reduced to 0HP your body falls apart at the joints, but you can be sewn back together by your friends if they recover all of your chakras (if they recover at least four of the chakras you'll still be O.K. but they have to sew new ones in, and you must re-roll a mental stat for each original chakra you lost and take the lower value).
Hour of Reaping
    You can, at-will, project an unwholesome aura. Living creatures who can see you get a sudden nagging feeling they need to get the Hell away from you as fast as possible. Provokes morale checks from most NPCs.
The Touch of the Long Death
    A graze from a finger inflicts 2d8 points of necrotic damage to a creature per chi you invest. This damage is dealt at a rate of 1 per day, and permanently lowers the max HP of the victim. Magical healing counteracts the remaining damage, but does not regenerate the missing max HP.
    The experience of living in a rotting body is excruciating, and yet the victim feels obligated to keep a written record. At the moment of annihilation they make a save; if they fail, they become undead. This is the beginning of the journey you once took
Lessons Internalized
    If you kiss a dying humanoid who has at least as many HD as you, you can draw their soul out between their lips and swallow it. This permanently increases your HP by 1 (up to a maximum of 8HP*level). Most people would rather leap into the sea than let this happen to their soul. Doing this before witnesses provokes an immediate morale check, or a reaction check if there are enough of them to cut you to pieces at the joints and lay those pieces on a pyre.

Way of the Open Hand

    Swords! Liquor! Magic! How terrible! The monastic life should be about simplicity, sobriety, and meditation. Time spent studying war and sorcery is time that would have been better spent praying for the benefit of Creation or developing one's own discipline, perhaps beneath a waterfall of some sort. All a monk really needs is a good heart, the ability to vaporize human beings with his bare hands, and a sense of humor.

Skills: 1. Cooking 2. Gab 3. Ancient history
Starting Equipment: Saffron robe (as unarmored), clay lantern on a bit of rope, wooden flask of oil (3 doses), calligraphy set (the brushes have bone handles).

  • A Lesson of the Buffalo, +1 HP
  • B Useful Heart, +1 HP
  • C Thirteen Blows Between One Heartbeat and the Next, +1 HP
  • D Timeless Body, +1 HP
Lesson of the Buffalo
    While you aren't carrying a weapon or a tool, your inventory space is doubled. Weapons and tools have rigid handles, or metal heads. If someone shoots you with an arrow or stabs you with a knife, you aren't "carrying" that arrow or knife.
Useful Heart
    If you would fail a save of some kind, you may spend a chi point and reroll it. You may spend a chi point to heal 1HP.
Thirteen Blows Between One Heartbeat and the Next
    There is no limit on how much chi you may spend in a round.
Timeless Body
    You do not age if you do not wish to. While you sit in silent and unblinking meditation, you do not require food or water or rest or air.

Way of the Shadow

    Over the centuries, many organizations and many masters have claimed to be the true incarnations and successors of this semi-legendary order. It's possible they were all lying. Indeed, it's possible that the secretive Shadows never existed at all outside of fable and nightmare. Nobody has ever proved that they've seen one.

Skills: 1. Agriculture 2. Theater costuming 3. Gambling games
Starting Equipment: Matte black bodysuit with big red silk sash (as unarmored, +1 to sneaking), two sais (light), grapnel and 50' of rope, bundle of lockpicks, calligraphy set.
  • A Pass Without Trace, +2 skill
  • B Spreading Night
  • C Razor Edge Between Light and Death, +2 skill
  • D Shadow Step
Pass Without Trace
    Your mastery of the Shadow-Arts lets you move silently and without a trace. Leave as many footprints in snow or loam as you would on a marble floor, and make as much noise passing through gravel or water as you would walking on that marble floor in silk slippers.
Spreading Night
    Shadows you can see lie in any direction you wish, including towards lightsources. If you focus on a shadow for a moment it becomes inky-black with a stark edge, and this lasts for several minutes.
Razor Edge Between Light and Death
    Spend one chi per HD to instantly and silently slay any mortal creature occupying your darkness. When their bodies are found, they have no visible wounds.
Shadow Step
    Between the blinks of any observers, move up to 60' from one stark shadow to another. In a totally dark environment you cannot be seen with darkvision or located by sound, though you may act as if you were present.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Index Librorum Vulgatorum

    It is becoming difficult for me to navigate my own blog. Therefore shall I lay out an index for ease of reference.

Source: Ogun by spaghettibastard


The Unfinished World


5e Conversions

Best Case Scenario

  • The initial post explaining the rules for a lite-weight squad-tactics skirmish and roleplaying game in a modern urban horror setting for 2 to 5 players.
  • An updated rule set after actually getting some playtesting done. 
  • The most up-to-date document is in the sidebar under the heading "Houserules"! Check it out, keep your nose to the sanding wheel.

Fullmetal Humorist (name pending, anyhow)

GLOGtober 2020

  • Guns, day 1. Injuries for firearms.
  • Blood, day 2. Vampires, their treasure, their cool swords.
  • Goblins, day 3. Terrible magic swords.
  • Swirling Rainbow Vortices, day 4. The Horizon Walker, remade in GLOG.
  • Maps, day 5. A throne room and a garden.

Other Things

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Containing Multitudes (GLOG Wizard Schools)

    Felt sluggish and uncreative recently. Underperforming. Lurdane. (I wrote those sentences in February of 2021). Here's a wizard school in the classic GLOG tradition.

Source: Castle landscape study by 88grzes

Banking Wizard

    Transmutation to make an alchemist weep! They spend their lives trying to turn lead into gold, while a banker can turn time into gold, and oil into cattle, and other peoples' desperation into profit, plus a thousand thousand other operations besides! Wears a bowler hat instead of a big pointy one and uses a huge brass key instead of a magic wand.

Skills: 1. Art history 2. Lock design 3. Esoteric literature
Starting Equipment: Bowler hat, illfitting suit (as unarmored, +1 to reaction rolls), big brass key (spell focus), hat derringer (1d10 damage at 10', fails and jams on a fumble, takes a full set of tools and half an hour to disassemble and reload, ⅓rd slot)

Perk: you are a recognized part of the treasure economy. Dragons won’t attack you (unless you piss them off by stealing or whatever), and if you offer to catalogue their hoard will offer you room and board for the duration. Dragons love people talking about their hoards. This works on royal treasuries as well, but not on real banks (which have their own Bank Wizards on retainer).
Drawback: you serve durante bene placito of the Dragon Concern. Stealing from a dragon’s hoard, or trafficking stolen goods, can result in your title and magical power being stripped if you're caught.

1. Instantly buff and clean an object of stone or metal smaller than a horse.
2. Rub your hands together and huff on them until they glow with heat, to light tinder or guide you through total darkness. Startling but not damaging if used as a weapon.
3. Count up to 10,000 objects in a glance.

  1. Contact Dragon
    R: [dice]*100 miles T: the closest dragon in range D: [sum] minutes
        Rings up the closest dragon for a chat. They can speak with you, and can see you and your surroundings. At two MD you may specify a dragon to not be contacted. At three MD you may name any number of dragons to not be contacted, and at four you may disable the video feature.
  2. Dangerous Counterfeit
    R: touch T: an object D: [dice] weeks
        Touch an object to create an illusory copy, identical in every way to mortal eyes. It explodes (within a few seconds, or upon being touched by someone with desire in their hearts, your choice) in a 5' cloud of rainbow-colored stinking, clinging, staining smoke for [sum] damage (save to avoid).
  3. Validate Paperwork
    R: touch T: [sum] pages of written documentation D: n/a
        Target pages are checked over by team of invisible, intangible, irresistible forensic accountants. At one [die], pages that contain false statements or falsified numbers are marked at the top with an indecipherable red scrawl. At two [dice], sentences containing the same are underlined in red. At three, specific words or numbers are crossed out. When cast with four [dice], the auditors will include comments in the margins indicating why they believe the lies were written, and where it might be possible to find the true information.
  4. Timed Lock
    R: touch T: a doorway or container D: permanent
        If the target does not have a mundane lock, it is fastened shut until someone forces it open with [dice] penalty. If the target does have a lock, the penalty is [dice]+[sum], and it resists picking from any thief with fewer than [dice] levels.
        You may designate intervals and occasions when up to [dice] authorized persons may open the target with a touch.
  5. Worry Coin
    R: your own pockets T: ditto D: indefinite
        When this spell is cast, [best] coins appear in your pocket. They seem to be copper, silver, gold or platinum, depending on the [dice] invested, but are actually lead, and peasants don't accept magic elf coins as currency from some fucking Wizard.
        The coins may be "spent" by anyone who possesses one for a +[dice] bonus to any roll (only one coin may be used per roll, but you could spend a coin on an attack roll and another on the damage roll). MD invested in this spell are not returned until every coin is used; if this is an issue, you may contact the Dragon Concern to have extant coins declared null and void.
  6. Warning Light
    R: touch T: object D: [dice]*2 hours
        Object illuminates within [dice]*10'. As you cast, you may decide what color the light is, what color it changes to if a creature is within 10', and whether or not it flashes.
  7. Locate Debtor
    R: reaching through time and space and across planes T: someone whose signature you hold while casting D: [sum]*[dice] hours
        A ghostly-green arrow appears in the air above your head for the duration, pointing in the direction of the target. If they are on another plane, the arrow points towards nearest portal it is possible for you to reach them through, though it may be dangerous or unpleasant to reach. It points to the target's phylactery if currently disembodied, to their temple if currently unincarnated, and to their heir if they are dead (in which case the arrow is spectral-blue).
  8. Triplicate Contract
    R: touch T: a contract to be signed by at least two creatures D: indefinite
        A copy of the target contract is made and delivered to the Desk of the Chairman of the Diabolic Chambers of Commerce, and third to the Office of the Director-General of the Dragon Concern. If a signator breaks the terms of the contract (disputes resolved by majority vote of the holders of the existing copies), they take [sum]*[dice] points of force damage. This damage is applied immediately, at any range, and ignores all wards, shields and lawyers.
  9. Fast Horse
    R: 20' T: an unoccupied space large enough for a chunky horse D: one hour
        An incredibly ugly and mean horse (4HD, morale 13, hooves/hooves/bite 1d8/1d8/1d6) arrives. Only you or someone holding onto you may ride it; any other creature who attempts to approach within 10' of the horse is promptly savaged. If summoned with one [die] the horse is as fast as a fast horse (about 20mph), at two it's faster than the fastest horse (some 60mph), at three it's faster than the wind (about 120mph) and at four [dice] it's faster than its own mocking whinny (about 800mph). Disappears at the end of duration or upon being ridden [sum] miles.
  10. Create/Destroy Containers
    R: 100' T: things you wish to be contained, or else a bunch of containers D: instant
        Conjure or dissipate up to [sum] sacks, bags, boxes, pouches, crates, jugs and jars within range. Maximum container size corresponds to [dice] invested: purse-sized at one, footlocker-sized at two, coffin-sized at three and horse-sized at four. Conjured containers automatically pack up objects; unwilling creatures get a save.
  11. Transfer Value
    R: n/a T: a [dice]*10' cubic volume containing valuables, or up to [sum]*10gp on your person D: instant
        As you cast this on a volume of space, you must pace its borders. Objects inside the space are instantly and silently transported to the Infinite Hoard Dimension and are be replaced by cash amounts roughly equivalent to their value. Cash is in local currency (contact the Dragon Concern if you want to change your account's preferences). Artifacts and art will receive almost 100% of their nominal value, but expect equipment and materiel to receive 50% at best, drastically reduced if noticeably second-hand. This spell ignores closed-off spaces on general principle (no using it to teleport treasure out of a vault without breaching the vault), and deductions will be made if the Concern has to pop open any chests themselves.
        If cast on money instead, you may summon up to [dice] pieces of equipment or materiel with total value equal to or less than the spent cash minus a 5gp teleportation fee.
        Yes: you can use this spell for garbage disposal or to hide bodies. You can use this incredibly powerful teleportation spell, designed by immortal masters of that school of magic, to move your garbage into the Infinite Hoard Dimension owned by the banking concern that represents all dragons everywhere. A banking concern which, to be clear, still employs those masters of teleportation. It is possible for you to dump 3d6 goblin corpses on top of the big pile of priceless artworks and legendary artifacts and millions and millions and millions of pieces of copper, silver, gold, platinum and electrum, you know, the big pile in the dimension where the dragons keep their most prized possessions. You can do this.
  12. Forced Stockoification
    R: touch T: a creature of [dice] HD or fewer D: permanent
        The creature's unique and non-interchangeable units of value are up for sale, all [sum]*10 shares of them (imagine that creatures are worth about 100gp per HD). The caster has dibs, and can buy as much as they have cash-on-hand in the first thirty seconds or so. How the soul-market works is up to your DM, I don't have to explain shit.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Who, Whom, Why (GLOG Setting: Urban Fantasy/Wozerds)

    This post is a lightly-edited stream of consciousness I assembled from several discussions over the course of a few weeks (months? I have no sense of time) in the emergency-use-only double-premium 70% cacao GLOG server. If I were going to run this, I would write a sensible few pdf pages with actual rules (linked here when I write 'em), but before you read that I want you to follow along with this post. Feel the vibes, the mood, get into the headspace. Grimy urban-fantasy workaday warlocks. Hardboiled smalltimers in a city where it's always night.

Source: Harry Dresden, by thegryph.


    Read a longform complaint about the Dresden Files. Brought up an interesting idea (which is, of course, not really explained or expanded upon in the Dresden Files) of wizards and magical types somehow consuming their emotions, using them as fuel for their magic.

     Harry Dresden is someone who, due to incomplete wizardly training, vacillates wildly between terror and irrational calm, or calm and irrational anger; thus the emotional-fuel explanation correlates closely with what we see happening on the page. Perhaps, as a wizard, you become grey and emotionless over the years. You become a caricature of yourself, as every part of your psyche not devoted to sorcery is sacrificed for sorcery's sake. Not DF canon, but interesting fanon extended to a logical conclusion.

    "Weird. Do certain spells consume certain emotions?"
    Perhaps. There's a suggestion in DF that evil magic somehow burns up your connection to others. Or, and here's the good part, that some magic is considered capital-E Evil because of the parts of your personality it eats. Mind control is bad, but the reason the wizards will kill you for using it is that it turns you into someone who can no longer consider it wrong. "Time travel" keeps coming up in the books whenever people list evil dark magic, without any real explanation. Why is it bad to travel through time? What does it cost you that makes wizard society write you off as a lich? it doesn't seem inherently harmful — ponder this, come up with something interesting. I bet it's better than the DF lore.

    Wozerds have a defining emotion. Something they tend towards, in a vacuum. Dresden gets angry and he uses that anger to fuel his magic. When he's too weak to do something? That pisses him off, so he becomes stronger. This is portrayed as a good thing because his author is a hack fraud. Consistent heroic arc of him being the stinkiest gorilla in the cage.


    In the excellent web-serial Pact, from all sorts of places. Wizards ("practitioners", in-universe) can draw from, spooks and such, goblin goons, time, fairies, divine sponsorship, demon traffick, elements, potions, weapons, ghosts... I dunno. Go read it if you're interested.

     When push comes to shove, Harry Dresden whips out the fire; that's his preferred element. It's a good match for him, emotionally. He can always depend on it to fuck up whatever is giving him a little bit of trouble this week. Other wizards presumably have other favored elements, and I've chosen to correspond those to the eight Pritchard emotions. Everything a human feels is a combination of these (according to his stupid model).

     The Disgust wizard, with a condescending sneer on his face and in his heart. Black, poisonous ink comes to him naturally, spreading across the floor and up the walls, marking his surroundings, driving off the undeserving.
    Trust, silk. He believes the bridge will hold his weight and it does. His friends won't fail him and they don't. Wrapped in sturdy threads, his friends won't fail him, therefore they don't.
    Amazement wizards. A flash of insight. A crackling lightning bolt.

     Does this track with Dresden? Well, he has wild and unexplained mood swings. The author presumably thinks is Macho, but it can be interpreted as Harry (our narrator) not wanting to confront his addiction to emotional damage. Why confront your fear when you can eat it, and turn it into a fireball?

    "I think Vigilance deals with the very near future, right before shit happens. Always ready, always anticipating, and then the Vigilance goes away. Waves of paranoia and serenity?"

     "Hmm. If you use your emotions to power your spells, wouldn't you be skewed toward the opposite end? Rage wizard slowly losing their anger?"
    Exactly, which we see with Dresden. fear, irrational calm. calm, irrational anger.
    "But a normal person is capable of all the vibrant colors. Does a wizard exist in the colors minus the one they cast with? Do they spend more time in the color diametrically opposed to their casting color?"
    Ah: a normal person is capable of all the colors, a wizard was capable of all the colors but burns most of them up in casting. Their defining emotion is the one they return to after losing everything else, is the idea.

  • Rage: fire (directed, destructive)
  • Disgust: ink (poison, corrosive)
  • Sadness: ice (defensive, absorbing)
  • Amazement: lightning (bright, electric)
  • Fear: wind (howling, incorporeal)
  • Trust: silk (strong, binding)
  • Joy: music (effective, insidious)
  • Vigilance: paper (warning, informing)

Counterclockwise, from Rage.

    Wizards burn their self down, end up in the middle, and then gravitate towards their "thing". Old wizards basically only experience neutral tranquility and the extremes of their defining emotion, since the rest of their emotions are used up.

     Of course, individual wizards have their own spin on things, their own emotional timbre. Dresden is an ass, more gorilla than man, and his fire is ruby-red and hungry. It destroys things that were stupid enough to cross him. Maybe your Rage wizard is a righteous type, and his fire is smokeless and blindingly brilliant, driving away shadows. Or maybe you're a sullen angry sort, closer to the Disgust side of anger. Your fire is sticky, slow, foul. Its smoke stains the clouds with greasy soot and the smell of garbage.

    Lots of details about DF are almost interesting. Wizards are oldschool because they kill technology, their magic gives them a troublesome aura, that's good. But it's not plot-relevant! It's just an excuse for humorous contrivances and sympathy-inducing inconveniences, none of which have any effect on the story! What about a magical-power stat? Measures how much of a wizard you are. When you need to use a delicate electronic (like a cellphone), X-in-20 chance it just immediately fries.

    "X-in-20 chance also implies 'With a minute or two of futzing and muttering, you can fry any delicate electronic', which is the sort of minor class feature you give to full spellcasters"
    That's another thing that should come up more often in DF but doesn't. I think a deliberate attempt to fry someone's gizmos happens once, and every other time it happens it's just comic relief.

     Other things wizards can do:
  • Swear binding contracts on their own name.
  • Insist on being taken seriously by Elder Things (no obligation, but they can still insist).
  • Charge up the batteries in magical doodads.
  • Look into someone's eyes and see their soul (usually an awful idea, doubly so since they can see yours).
  • Switch on Wozerd Vision to reveal magic and Hidden Stuff (usually an awful idea, since you can't forget what you've seen, and some of them don't want to be seen).
  • Live a long time unless they die.
    This is what being a wizard gives you. Education on things like rituals and spells and negotiating with demons, those are things you must learn.

    What goes on a wizard's character sheet?
    His six derived stats, g20 style. His... number of MD? Is this MD based? Power? Defining element/emotion, of course. We'll figure out the rest.

    Another detail, stolen as much from Pact wizards as DF ones: wizard gear gets better with age. New stuff melts in their hands, old stuff becomes heavy with significance. "If new stuff melts in their hands, how do they get old stuff?"
    By buying second-hand. Wozerds do lots of thrifting.

    I suppose things like plant/animal fiber cloth, wax candles, and suchlike don't count as "new" stuff. So organic materials get something of a pass — though maybe not for all wizards. Now I'm imagining a necromancer who just kills anything near him younger than a few years. Animals, insects, children, trees. The grass wilting as he passes because his antiquity-aura is too powerful and too hostile.

     A section on the sheet dedicated to Rivals. Opposite alignment, preferably? If supernatural favor is something that can be spent as a resource, supernatural enmity should be as well.

    Other thoughts on equipment: wizards like them a nice tall hat, and lumpy wool robes. Breaks up the silhouette, and insulates from fire. Handy when fighting a big demon thing half-blinded by sunlight.
    "Hats are serious business. They sit on top of the seat of your power, insulating your crackling, fizzing brainmatter."
    Yes, you can hide a crown in there, or a diadem, or a spare wand, or a familiar... Ah, of course. on the wizard character sheet: Implements, Domain and Familiar.

The kinds of things a wizard is concerned with. Note the spikes around the name, to protect it from elfs.

     Another idea in Pact, present but not really explored in DF: magical beings need to follow more rules than normal humans. The more magic you are, the less yourself you are. In Pact they're explicitly bound by rules, while in DF it's more of a corruption thing. Internal, rather than external Either way: less of a person, more of a force.

    Most people get up to 4MD without sacrificing too much. Beyond that, you need a few Taboos, a few Deals. Promise to Bwbch, the Scarecrow-Demon, to destroy every bird you can, +1MD. Swear to the universe that you'll never get caught lying, +1MD. That sort of thing.

    As an aside (as if this whole post wasn't already an aside), the greatest part of Pact are the caster classes.
    "I'm a 'wizard', but I don't cast any spells. Everything it looks like I'm doing with magic is actually done by the army of horrible goblins who consider me their queen."
    "I'm a 'wizard', but I don't cast any spells. Instead I'm incredibly haunted by 1,000,000 ghosts and bad things just happen in my presence. The only difference between me and a muggle is that I was ready for the poltergeist shit."
    "I'm a 'wizard', but all my spells get poured into the family's store of Time Magic, and I'm limited to tricking the universe into thinking I can see the future (which sort-of works if I talk fast and nobody actually checks)."

    Many strange sources.

    Potions? Surely some wozerds get their powers from potions. The most exciting bit of alchemy I've recently seen is an unreleased Steam game (with a great demo) called Potion Craft. In it, brewing potions is depicted as navigating a literal map of the conceptual space. It's a compelling visual, representing alchemy experiments as forays into unexplored territory. Hic svnt dracone.

Each ingredient moves you a certain distance in a certain direction, sometimes following a certain pattern of movement. Potions are points of interest on the map, and dead-zones spoil your potion when you enter them.

    Of course, exactly copying this without a computer is hard. I don't want to challenge a computer game on the battlefield of "lots of simple but tedious math done many many times"; D&D 4e tried that and lost (Oh-ho!). I prefer fights where my victory is assured.

    The most interesting part of Potion Craft is the solution it immediately proposes to the Alchemy Problem (for those who have a genius-brain like myself). For those who are unfamiliar, and unwilling to click the link I just shared, you fucking imbeciles, the Alchemy Problem is one of how to present stuff-based supernatural powers. Consider the following possibilities:
  • A potion is pretty much a spell. An Alchemist can chuck X numbers of Y potions per day, every day, regardless of how much material they have (or don't have).
  • A potion is an object you can make, given enough money. An Alchemist PC's power level is directly tied to how much cash the DM hands out. There's no other factor: an Alchemist with twice as much money has twice as many potions, and that's that.
  • A potion is an object you can make, given enough time. An Alchemist PC's power level is directly tied to how much downtime the DM included in the campaign. There's no other factor: if the DM gives you no time between adventures, you never have potions. If the DM gives you a few months between adventures, you have infinity potions.
  • A potion is an object you can make, but it takes up inventory space. As soon as you get a cart and a mule, or a bag of holding, or a street urchin, you have infinity potions.
    And if you're of a DM-minded bent, you'll have seen this problem pop up in regards to magic item crafting, sci-fi gadget development, McGyvering rules, &c. All of these possibilities leave something to be desired.

    Alchemy as a map, an Al-Chemic Realm of sorts, is such a cool solution. "If I know how to make a potion or a bomb or whatever, why don't I just mass produce it and have as many as I want, cash allowing?"
    You could, and you should, because the territory shifts over time. Passages through the mountains are closed off by winter storms, as it were. Lakes freeze over. What was a source of Water Breathing Potion is now a frosty step on the path to High Explosive Potion. Segments of the map might flip, rotate, translate, invert. This is why alchemists harvest certain plants only during the full moon.


    Emotions are but fuel. A wizard is only as powerful as their machines; without machines, setting off fuel mostly just produces smoke.

     Vague idea for progression mechanic: make people write down experiences of their PC on the big octagram. Like, memories with emotional baggage? And you burn those memories to fuel spells.
    I've read games where XP is a resource you get a few points of every session, which you immediately invest in stuff. And that feels appropriate for ritual magic. Literally investing your experiences into magical rituals, to get... jump boot, big zoom magick glasses, wand (cool stick).

    But a less abstract XP system (literal experiences that the character goes through) requires a more abstract allotment setup. Who decides what memories are an "experience"? Does every scene count? Then it's entirely out of the player's hands. They get XP proportional to how much attention the DM gives them — which, if they're using XP to make gadgets and spells, is a degenerate system. People with less XP get less XP, since they have less to do.

     Then perhaps the DM decides one, two, three points per session (or thereabouts, i don't know, i haven't figured out what you're spending XP on yet), and every player writes down one, two, three experiences the character had. they don't determine how many, but they get to pick which ones mattered


    That's almost... character-building. Almost seems like a cool idea.
    And it works just fine if the player is "gaming" it. If they decide that they want a lot of Fear Experiences, to make the extremely cool Fear-Based Gear, then... that's the character's takeaway. When they look back on their memories of that adventure, what they most remember is the fear.
     And perhaps the table gets a soft veto; you can't be "disgusted" at a memory of being hit by a car because you're racist against car drivers — unless you established that part of your character beforehand. Ideally the player is thinking about that during the session, so they roleplay being racist to cars at some point, and then we all know the character's racist to car drivers. When the player is stretching things, interpreting innocuous things as Disgust, or going out of their way to be confronted by Disgusting experiences, then the character is experiencing Disgust. That's their natural tendency, to find flaws in things, to feel Disgust.

    Perhaps you can always derive your natural emotion from a memory, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense? If you're just an angry person, you can get angry about lemonade stands or getting hit with a car. "How dare that piece of shit hit me with a car. When I catch him, I'm going to jam him into an industrial box-packager feet first... ooh I'm getting worked up just thinking about cars... grrr..."

    Anyway, Domains are places you can influence (like a clubhouse whose physics you control), Familiars are creatures who do your bidding (or maybe you do theirs, it can get complicated), and Implements cast spells (you can also just blast things with your chosen element, I guess). All of these are maintained, fed, created by and with and for XP.

    "So do Domains have to like, resonate with their favoured emotion? Vigilance guy needs a tall tower, Rage guy needs access to mass media, &c"
    They can be influenced by other memories, I think? Say, you can invest your carefully-stockpiled Rage memories, even if you're by nature a Sad boy, to get an angry fiery Domain. But you're going to be patching the bits in between with sadness. Wherever the cracks show, the ice will shine through.

    "So the optimal Domain has a balance of all emotions?"
    That would be wise. You want things that resonate with different emotions, but also a strong defensible position which resonate with your natural emotions. The Domain must be small enough that you don't step on anyone else's toes, but also big enough to give you space for projects, and to be worth the trouble of maintaining.

    Imagine a Fear wizard who lives in a shitty apartment with a psychotic crack-dealing murderer landlord, so as to have Fear close at hand. Their Domain spreads out from there; perhaps self-reinforcing — as more of the shitty apartment becomes theirs, more tenants leave in a fright, making the building lonelier and darker and quieter. More fearsome, more fearful.

     Wozerds incapable of feeling certain emotions, opposing their natural element? Like D&D wizards and school restrictions? A Rage wizard is not emotionally capable of backing down (fear is another reason to get mad). A Sad wizard can't feel happy about things (even pleasant experiences are ruined with ennui or regret at missed opportunities), a Vigilant wizard can't ever really be surprised (each new emotion another variable in a clockwork life), an Amazed wizard keeps losing focus (he's permanently damaged his ability to care for sixty straight seconds).

    This suggests a mechanic where you can turn your missing emotion into bonus XP. Say, a Rage wizard can get two points of Rage by considering the time they almost got spooked, or a Vigilance wizard can be driven into a fit of paranoid narcissism by thinking of when they were almost caught off guard. Bonus XP, but some sort of negative consequences? There's always a price to pay. What happens to you when you've got an important feeling which you can neither process nor address?


  • FLESH — Literal physical integrity. Those with more flesh are more sturdy. Why can you fall a farther distance without injury? Because your bones and joints are tougher. A starting character has 6 flesh.
  • KARMA — How rightly you sit with the universe. Those with less karma are more unfortunate; coins and cards turn up against them; strangers are less friendly; random chance tilts in their enemies' favor. Add up every stat bonus/malus. The sum is your starting KARMA.
  • TOWER — How high you dwell above the common man. Those who tower above him have more inherent magic, and need rely less on ritual and tools. More inherent magic isn't always a benefit, as it interferes with electronics and binds you tighter to the Laws. Anyone capable of magic (which is every PC) starts with at least 1 TOWER.
  • DMND (CON/STR) to do something physically demanding, kick down doors, knock over foes, free yourself from restraints
  • WAND (STR/XHA) to call up what you can't put down, go where you're not allowed, do what you shouldn't
  • CRCL (XHA/INT) to contact a friend, exploit social connections, call in favors, lay down bindings before a demon eats you
  • GRIM (INT/WIS) to interpret a grimoire, understand a contract, reach the center of a maze, detect magic
  • HNDL (WIS/DEX) to ride a motorcycle, drive a car, shoot a werewolf, duck into a refrigerator when a grenade goes off
  • WELL (DEX/CON) to control yourself, avoid madness, dismiss possession, trust your own ability to survive, hide in a well