Sunday, November 29, 2015

Goonthas and Grinnas

Most people who encounter the goonthas for the first time assume that the clothed, chattering creatures riding the wagons are the people in charge, and the buffalo-things are just beasts of burden.  They would be mistaken.

by deskridge

Feathered buffalo with mildy-deformed faces.  They are travelling merchants, and they pull their own wagons: shiny, black domes on mirror-like wheels.  Their prices are fair, but they are never cheap.  The goonthas do not deal in cheap products or services.

Their caravans sometimes carry travellers, who have hired the goonthas.  But the caravans are primarily staffed by apelike creatures called grinnas.

Those who purchase many of their wares discover that goonthas are kindly, benevolent creatures that talk freely of their lives and their experiences in the surrounding areas.  They will not speak of where they came from, or their origins.  They will look kindly on the party if the party offers to pull their wagons for a while (this is one of the rumors you may hear in town).

But woe to those who do not purchase anything from the goonthas.  Those unlucky souls will be attacked by grinnas, while the goontha watches on, sadly.  (These are not the goonthas' grinnas--these are different grinnas from somewhere else, somehow.)

The PCs can murder as many grinnas as they want.  The goonthas will always get more, somehow.  But if the goonthas or their cargo are threatened, they will attack like bison that cast spells like level 6 wizards.  If you don't have bison stats, you can borrow mine (but I want them back when you're done).

HD AC leather Gore 2d6 Trample 1d10 (Dex negates, 60' line)
Move 15 Int 14 Morale 6
Possible Spells grounding, telekinetic shove, scorching ray, heat metal, sleep, dream eater


Black haired chimpanzees, except their heads resemble bleached bird skulls.  They wear clothing compulsively and communicate with each other with a complicated series of noises that sounds like language.  Despite the clothing and the language, they are completely unintelligent.  The complex noises communicate through tone, nothing more.  They carry weapons (usually rapiers) but attack by biting.

They ape civilization, but they are animals at heart.  The goonthas use them to load cargo.

HD 2 AC unarmored Bite 1d6
Move 12 Int 2 Morale 9
* Grabby - Whenever a grinna hits a creature, it has a 50% chance (i.e. if the damage die is odd-numbered) of attempting a grapple as a free action.  (Still requires a successful opposed Str check.)  They have Str 12.

from temple run
New Spells

Level 3 Wizard Spell
All flight, levitation, hovering within 200' of the caster is cancelled, dispelled, and made impossible.  Creatures that fall from the sky cannot reduce fall damage through any means.  (No feather fall, tumbling, etc.)  Lasts 1 minute per caster level.

Telekinetic Shove
Level 3 Wizard Spell
An object or creature within 50' is shoved/hurled as if by a stone giant.  Creatures get a save to negate.  This is enough to throw a human-sized creature (1d4 * 10 feet, plus 10 feet for every two caster levels), and deals 1d6 damage for every 10' travelled.  A creature thrown at another creature requires an attack roll to hit, but does equal damage to the target if it does.

Dream Eater
Level 1 Wizard Spell
A sleeping creature within 50' takes 1d6 damage for every caster level (max 5d6).  The caster heals for the same amount.  No save.

Bestow Phobia
Level 4 Wizard Spell
A creature must save or gain a phobia of the caster's choice.  Phobia cannot be too specific (no person-specific phobias).  Limit possible phobias to the ones in your game's insanity list, if you have one.  Treat phobia like a permanent curse.

Goontha Inventory

Each Goontha caravan carries 1d6-2 passengers (min 0) and 1d6+1 of the following items.

1. Stolen Memories.  Stored in a snuff box.  If inhaled, the sniffer gains 1000xp.  Then they must save or gain a permanent insanity from the cognitive dissonance between two sets of memories.  Costs 1500gp.

2. Saddle of Horses.  Anything that wears this saddle turns into a horse for as long as they wear the saddle.  (Horses are unable to remove their own saddles.)  Costs 3000gp.

3. Potion of Amnesia.  Drinker forgets the last 3 minutes, no save.  Also works to reverse the effects of xp drain.  Costs 1000gp.

4. Bottle of Flesh-Eating Beetles.  (Treat as a HD 2 swarm.)  Costs 900gp.

5. Stone Sarcophagus of the Invisible King.  Any undead that is closed inside the sarcophagus will obey the first person to speak to it, after it emerges from the sarcophagus.  Only capable of dominating one undead at a time.  Costs 5000gp.

6. Spider Throne.  You sit in the chair and it walks around on metal spider legs.  It has no attacks, but treat it like an HD 8 creature with plate armor.  It moves as fast as a horse, but cannot gallop.  Costs 3000gp.

7. A Bag of Black Sugar.  Anyone who eats more than a pinch of black sugar must obey all one-word commands that are given to them for the rest of the day.  Treat any direct command as if it were a command spell.  No save.  One bag contains 20 doses.  Costs 2000gp.

8. Bottled Lightning.  Fires a 5d6 lightning bolt when opened.  Costs 1000gp.

9. Bottled Explosion Elemental.  Looks like an inch-long dolphin in a jar that glows like a lightbulb filament.  Talks like a pirate king, demands respect and the opportunity to explode artistically.  Explodes into a 5d6 fireball when broken (usually by throwing).  If the party was impolite to the explosion elemental, it will not explode immediately, and instead fly over to the players and detonate on top of them.  If the players are polite to the explosion elemental and offer it something it wants (the chance to impress royalty and/or sexy ladies by exploding in front of them) it might be persuaded into doing some specific favor for them, as long as that favor doesn't take more than a minute and involves exploding at the end.

10. Scroll of Bestow Phobia (see above).  Currently contains the fear of the dark.  Costs 900gp.

11. Human Egg.  Looks like a dragon egg, only slightly smaller.  Hatches into a baby that will grow into in a perfectly normal adult in 18 days.  Costs 1500gp.

12. Dragon Egg.  Hatches into a perfectly normal baby red dragon.  Costs 4000gp.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

d8 Shitty Goblin Weapons

The Tao of Goblins

Before we move onto the weirder stuff, make sure that you have the basics covered.

Shitty Gear

Goblins are always armed--but they're always armed with low-quality weapons.  Whenever a goblin does maximum damage with their shitty weapon, it breaks.  Goblins usually then continue the fight by biting (1d4 damage, no penalty to attack roll).  Goblins often smear their weapons with their poop (disease saves).

Their armor is also rubbish.  In my head, the archytypal goblin is naked except for an oversized helmet.  Or just wears a huge pile of sewn ratskins with the tails flopping all around, like a Lady Gaga dress.  Or just wears a pair of human-size plate-mail boots and a dead bat codpiece.


Goblins love setting things on fire.  They love molotovs, but struggle to get ahold of good glass bottles.  More frequently, they have one goblin throw a bladder full of oil, and then another goblin throw a torch.

As a DM, this is more fun, too.  Everyone is confident in the fight until half the party is doused in highly flammable oil (harvested from the goblin fish, naturally) and three more goblins join the combat bearing torches.

The other thing that goblins love is escalation.  Fire spreads, and a trivial encounter with 3 goblins can quickly get out of hand if the bookshelves catch.

Fire is also great for destroying things that the PCs care about.  The goblins don't care if the wizard's library burns down, but the PC's probably care a lot about the scrolls in there, and might have to split their attention between fending off goblins and saving scrolls.

Goblins also like stinkpots, smoke bombs, and bladder-balloons filled with explosive gases.


Goblins ride lots of beasties.  They're pretty bad at controlling them, though.  These beasties have a 5% chance each round of combat of freaking out--carnivores will start attacking people at random, while non-carnivores will probably just run away, usually carrying its rider with it.
  • bats (fly)
  • pigs (charge)
  • cave lizards (climb on ceilings)
  • dire rats (disease)
  • humans (ask for rescue through their bridles)
  • a single dragon with like, 200 goblins strapped to it, poking it with sticks

Goblins do a lot of shitty drugs, but the most relevant one is a fungus called badsauce.  It grows in guano.  This mostly makes them shoot barf out their noses and scream a lot, but sometimes it improves their initiative (+4 to initiative on a d20 initiative, +1 on a d6) and makes them immune to fear and sleep.  These goblins have a 5% chance of having a seizure each round of combat (losing their turn).

You could also have druggy berserkers, who snort monstershit out of rat-bladder snuff bags.  This gives them +3 to hit and damage, but then they pass the fuck out after 1d3 turns.  Monstershit is made from purple worm feces.

Just treat them like methed-out hobbits and you'll do fine.

No Fair Fights

The preferred goblin strategy is just to be numerous.  They'll run away and come back with reinforcements if they think they need to.  Generally speaking, there are always more goblins nearby, and the noise of combat (goblins shrieking out their warsongs) will attract 1d8 reinforcements after 1d8 turns (assuming that the combat even lasts that long).  This only happens once.

But goblins only charge you as one big shrieking horde when they heavily outnumber you  Otherwise, they get tricksy.

From high ledges, wrapped in darkness, thew throw down rocks, spears, and rats.

They often have arrow slits carved out between rooms so that they can snipe you.

Splitting the party with falling porticullises, collapsing bridges, etc.

Against heavily armored fighters, they'll come back with nets.  Six goblins will attempt to tackle and immobilize the fighter (and those +2 aid another bonuses add up fast).  Or they'll just smash spider egg-clusters on the fighter's platemail, and one round later there will be thousands of baby spiders crawling around in his armor.

They run away when they are losing.  (The one thing that goblins are smart about is knowing when they are losing.)  Usually all in different directions, and usually to go get reinforcements.  Goblins never fight to the death (unless drugs are involved).

They also build a lot of shitty traps, but I already wrote about that earlier this week.

by diomahesa
Weirder Weapons

Now that we've got that covered, we can move on to the weirder stuff.

1. Headcage

These are like buckets at the end of a short-strung fishing pole.  Goblins will try to slam it down on your head (-2 to hit for awkwardness), where it will lock into place, effectively blinding you.

Frequently, there will be a starving rat trapped in there with.  It'll probably try to eat your face off.  You might have to kill it by banging your bucket-head on a wall until you bludgeon the rat to death with your own face.

2. Goblin Tank

This is just a solid dome of rusted armor, cooking pans, and heavy garbage.  A quartet of goblins will crawl underneath it and shove it around, like a rat trapped under a cereal bowl.  It weighs about 500 pounds, but goblins are really strong for their size.  They're like chimps (except with way more poop-flinging).

There's a few holes in the tank so that they can stick spears through.  One of them might even have a crossbow.

Because the thing is basically just a huge hunk of solid metal, the AC is really high.  Like two points better than plate, or something.  On the plus side, it moves about as fast as you'd expect.  A drunkard could outrun it by crawling.  It also doesn't do stairs very well.  And once you kill 3/4 of the goblins, the last goblin is basically trapped in there--it's too heavy to shove along the ground.

3. Goblin Ball

This is just a giant hamsterball made of wood/metal and covered with spikes.  A quartet of goblins runs around inside of one of these balls, which is taller than a man.  It does trample damage like a warhorse, but the goblins waste a turn between each charge as they fumble over each other, barfing and cussing.

If you catch them during one of these orientations, you can roll them off a cliff or something, as long as the people doing the pushing are stronger than four goblins combined.

Actually, definitely keep a cliff nearby if you write a goblin ball encounter.  Maybe in the previous room or something.  Or at least, a long stairway.

4. Goblin Buzzsaw

Two goblins are required to operate this unwieldy piece of shit.  One to turn the crank and the other to swing it around and cut down mushrooms (which is what it was designed for).  It does a crazy amount of damage (like 2d8, when a normal goblin does 1d6).

5. Rat Flail

This is a bunch of drugged-up rats, tied together by their tails and attached to a stick, along with some sharp, heavy objects that some goblin thought belonged on a flail.  In addition to doing normal flail damage, it also deposits an angry rat on the defender if the damage roll is an odd number.  It usually only works for about 3 hits before all the rats die/fall apart.

The rat will latch on and begin gnawing.  Use the same rules as for an attached weasel.  (And don't tell me that your edition of D&D doesn't have rules for attached weasels!)

6. Goblin Bomber

This is just a goblin with a barrel of explosives strapped to his back, and a torch in his hand.  Treat it like a 2d6 fireball.  The goblin will be all hopped up on goblin drugs, too.  The idea is to kill them before they can run up to you and detonate (this is not hard).  Or just splash him with water so his torch goes out.

7. Goblin Bungees

This is when a bunch of goblins ambush the party by jumping down on them, attempt to grab one or two party members, and then abscond with them back up to some hidden ledge on the ceiling.  It takes a moment for the goblins upstairs to reel in the bungee jumpers, though, so the stolen party member ascends at a more manageable rate of 10'/round.

Expect a few of the bungees (made from twisted goblin gut) to snap.  So in addition to trying to rescue to rapidly ascending friends, you also have to deal with a few goblins trying to stab you in the groins.  (A large and exhaustive catalog of different groin-stabbing maneuvers is as close as goblins have ever come to developing a martial art.)

8. Vermin-on-a-Stick

Sometimes goblins will catch a spider, centipede, or scorpion and tie it to the end of a stick.  Not only does this become the battle standard of that goblin squad, it's also a (sort of) effective weapon.  You try fighting a goblin who keeps shoving a centipede in your face.  It's fully alive, and very biteful.

9. Stacking

Much like baby goats, goblins are fond of standing on top of each other.  In its simplest incarnation, this is two goblins in a trenchcoat pretending to be a tall, skinny orc.  The deception is poor, because the stranger has really short arms and is pointing a crossbow at you from his crotch.

But goblin stacking can get surprisingly elaborate.  Six goblins equipped with the proper hooks and straps can form a towering form that has the stats of an ogre.  When the pseudo-ogre is killed, it falls apart into its constituent goblins, who spend the next round climbing out of their harnesses.  The whole thing also de-voltrons if the players cut the right straps (this requires luck or experience).

There are even rumors of goblin tribes that can assemble into larger, more ridiculous forms, and even change them mid-combat.

10. Surprisingly Potent Weapons

Between the rampant incompetence and sharp sticks covered in poop, it's easy to forget that goblins are as intelligent as anyone else, and just as capable of mastering advanced skills (they're just hampered by short attention spans, poor risk assessment, and a complete lack of impulse control).

Powerful goblin wizards exist (possibly travelling around inside her gelatinous cube mount).  So do legendary goblin swordsman (usually accompanied by a swarm of semi-competent apprentices).

And of course, goblins dig in deep places.  And when they find weird shit, they aren't afraid to press all the buttons.  Goblins sometimes inherit ancient superweapons, like powered armor (with two goblins crammed inside) or laser tanks (which spends a lot of time running into walls and running over allies).

(There are ten entries on this d8 table because goblins count good.)

by nraminhos
See also:

Proxy Soul Homunculus

This is a continuation of my last post about homunculi.

First, look at this picture that my sister drew!  It's of a couple homunculi contemplating either (a) the ineffable ennui of existence, or (b) what to have for lunch.

She has a tumblr if you want to see more pretty pictures.  (And you should.)

Proxy Souls

If you were turned into a dog, it would be like something.  There are sights (other dogs) and smells (doggy buttholes).  There are thoughts (consciousness) and sensations (qualia).  There might be parts you can't explain very well (all those weird smells) when you turn back into a human, but it's still there.

If you were turned into a stone, it would not be like anything.  There are no inputs, no thoughts.

If you were turned into a calculator, it's probably the same as being a rock.  It's not like anything.  Same thing for a computer.  And--presumably--an android.

Now imagine a perfect android--one that can duplicate a human perfectly.  Imagine that it can duplicate you perfectly.  If you stab it with a needle, it will say ouch (or whatever it is you say when you get stabbed by a needle).  It would react exactly like you would, in all situations.

What if it had an organic brain?  And flesh and blood just like you?  What if it was identical to you in all ways, except that it lacks consciousness and sensations.

It's just like you, except that there's no light on inside.

They are also called philosophical zombies.  This is what a proxy soul is.  It imitates sentience without actually experiencing it.  (Serylites are accused of the same thing.)

Proxy Homunculi

Homunculi are empty bodies, lacking souls.  Proxy souls are the simplest way of creating a completely obedient homunculus.  They're popular for that reason.

But proxy soul homunculi do more than just ape the human ape.  They're blank spots in the web of consciousness that covers the planet.  They're void zones.  In the rich strata of sentience, they're negative space.

Class Abilities

Modes of Slavery

A proxy soul homunculus is a slave homunculus.  They are controlled by whoever wears their slave ring (created at the same time as the proxy soul).    The slave ring is worn by another PC.

Proxy souls have three modes of slavery.  Their controller can order them from one mode into another with a word.

Sleep is exactly what it sounds like.  Each night, they must be ordered to sleep, and each morning they must be ordered to wake up.  This is the only way they can sleep (and they need to sleep like anyone else).

Automate causes the homunculi to behave like a robot.  They look and act like emotionless automata.  This makes them immune to emotions (both good and bad).  It also strips them of all initiative.  They are unable to do anything except the simplest tasks, and even then, only when directly ordered to do so by whoever is wearing their slave ring.  (Think zombie-level obedience.)

Imitate causes them to behave exactly like a person.  Or more importantly, exactly like a PC.  They are still obedient to whoever wears the slave ring, but their obedience is more interpretive.  They cannot directly disobey an order.  Like a bastard genie, they are forced to obey the word of an order, but not the spirit.

Magical Void

Proxy Soul Homunculi cannot be targeted by spells, even spells that normally work on objects.  They are also undetectable to all scrying and detection spells.  They are a blank spot.

Memory Smudge

As an action, the homunculus can cause a sentient creature to forget the last six seconds of the homunculus' actions.  Save negates.  If this memory loss causes any logical inconsistencies, the attempt automatically fails.

For example, a homunculus could stick his head into a room and shout "poops!" thereby alerting a goblin.  But then the homunculus would activate this ability, and the goblin would forget that he ever saw the homunculus (if the goblin failed its save).

This wouldn't work if the homunculus stabbed the goblin first, because then the goblin would create an inconsistency.  Why am I bleeding if no one stabbed me?  And then the attempt would automatically fail.  It would also fail if the goblin saw any other party members.

Soul Trap

Proxy Soul Homunculi cannot be possessed (by ghosts, demons, etc).  Any creature that attempts to possess a proxy soul homunculi must save or be trapped inside it's cage-like negabrain.  (The lack of a soul where there should be one creates a spiritual "negative pressure" zone.)  A homunculus can hold a number of souls equal to its level.

Talk to Soul

After collecting a few souls, the brain of the proxy soul homunculus becomes like a jar of fireflies.  The homunculus can chat with these souls whenever it wants.  They are usually unhelpful (-3 to reaction rolls, by default) but can sometimes be bargained with.  Even dead people have wants.

And of course, you can always catch a friendly soul.  But be warned: souls were meant to pass on into afterlife.  Souls that remain on the material plane for too long tend to. . . destabilize.

Catcher in the Rye

The homunculus can perform a certain action on the corpse of a creature that died within the last round.  The creature must then save or its soul becomes trapped in the homunculus.

Absorb Soul

As an action, a homunculus can absorb a captured soul.  This heals the homunculus for 1d6 for every HD of the soul, and causes the homunculi to temporarily (or permanently) gain some elements of the absorbed soul's personality.

In theory, this is how a proxy soul can stop being a proxy soul.  If it absorbs enough souls in a short enough time, it can become a gestalt soul homunculus.  This is less of a class ability concern, through, and more of a plot point for the DM, if she wishes to elaborate upon it.

Soulful Face Sucky

The homunculus opens up their face like a goddamn skull puzzle and sucks in someone's soul (save or die).  The soul must be within 10'.  Souls without a body to tether them (e.g. ghosts) get -4 on this save.

The Proxy Homunculi Class

Honestly, just build your own from the abilities listed above.  If it were up to me, though, I'd start with a cleric, strip away spellcasting and turn undead, and add this stuff:

Level 1 - Modes of Slavery, Magical Void
Level 2 - Memory Smudge 1/day
Level 3 - Soul Trap, Talk to Soul
Level 4 - Memory Smudge 2/day
Level 5 - Catcher in the Rye
Level 6 - Memory Smudge 3/day
Level 7 - Devour Soul
Level 8 - Memory Smudge at-will
Level 9 - Soulful Face Sucky 1/day

Roleplaying a Person Without a Soul

Proxy souls are able to talk candidly about the experience of having a soul.  There really isn't much to say--they have no reference point of what being souled is like, and so struggle to relate the experience.  Or more accurately, the non-experience.

Aside from that, they're just like normal people.

Do they want souls?  What a cheesy question.  They don't have any desires beyond what they were created to have.  (Of course, they can start developing idiosyncrasies once they've had a few souls lodged in their vacuous headmeats for a while.  It's an inherently unstable position.)


If you don't like the modes of slavery ability, you can strip it out of there.  The class works just fine without it.  I think the whole master-slave thing might be an interesting thing to explore, with the right group.  How much does the creator care about the homunculus?  How much does the homunculus (seem to) care about the creator?

It could be a person growing out of mindlessness and into open resentment, and subversion of orders.   It could be a frail old wizard who built a homunculus to look like a warrior-ideal version of his younger self, a vicarious vehicle, set to inherit the wizard's possessions.  It could be a Pygmalion-Galatea relationship.

Or it could be a awkward pain-in-the-ass that makes everyone at the table uncomfortable.  I don't know; playtesting is needed.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Another d6 Shitty Goblin Traps

1. Slow Step Trigger

As the party steps on one of the stairs, the stair clicks down and a mechanism begins whirring.  After a couple seconds, a ticking sound is also heard.  The character who stepped on the lever can feel a tension in the trigger--it will snap back up as soon as weight is taken off it.

As the player probably suspects, the trap actually activates when weight is taken off the trigger.  The player has 18 seconds before the trap activates anyway.  100 pounds of weight is sufficient to keep the lever depressed.

The trap is less interesting than the trigger, but may I suggest: a door at the top of the stairs bursts open, releasing several tons of goblin sewage.  The wave is crested by what I can only describe as rusty goblin knife-boats.

2. Curiosity Tube

This is a just a hole in the wall that leads to the inside of a metal pipe--remnants of old dwarven construction.  The edges of the hole are sharpened, and the metal pipe inside wobbles loosely.  If the pipe is rapped on, an adventurer can hear that there is empty space outside the walls of the pipe.

The pipe is actually on a pivot.  Anyone who crawls far enough into it will cause the pipe to tip over, dumping the poor adventurer into a 30' fall, where they'll land on a bunch of crocodile skeletons with daggers strapped to their backs (like a stegosaurus).

3. Box of Jumping Spiders

Just full of spiders, filled to the brim.  They've been eating each other to survive.  At the bottom of the chest is a donkey skull, a chunk of dragon coprolite, 188 copper coins, and 12 flat, round, brown coins that look sort of like copper coins.

4. God in the Ceiling

This is just a goblin who is hiding in a secret compartment in the ceiling.  The goblin will attempt to convince the party that he is "the human god" and that they should put down all of their money on the floor and then walk away.  He will not do a very good job of this.

If the goblin is challenged, he will attack the party with a faulty wand of lightning bolts.  (The wand was broken in half and then repaired with a mixture of goblin dung and spiderwebs, and has a 25% chance of backfiring on the user.)

5. Falling Cage

There's a lever in the center of the room with a bunch of gold coins glued to it.  Above the lever is a huge cage, hanging from a chain.  It appears to be a goblin version of that falling crate trap thing.

The lever is on a hair-trigger, and the tiniest jostle will activate it.  This will cause the cage to fall, hopefully trapping a foolish human inside it.  Then there is a creaking from above and then 800 feet of heavy chain will crash down into the room, followed by a 4000 pound crane of dwarven construction, covered with chalk drawings of penises.  The noise will attract 1d20+5 goblins.  One goblin is armed with a rivet gun that fires adamantine bolts, while the rest of the goblins are armed with sharp sticks smeared with goblin poop.

Anyone inside the sturdy cage will be safe from the falling rubbish.  The cage can be lifted by a combined Strength score of 28.

6. Ratty Was a Rolling Stone

Opening the door will cause a panel to open behind the party, revealing a wooden gate that rattles a couple of times.  The spring that was supposed to open the door snaps off because the lock that was supposed to open didn't open.

Behind the wooden gate, a bunch of dire rats are gnawing on some elephant bones.

Behind the door is a ramp going up.  A the top of the ramp are a bunch of goblins with boulders, which they will roll down the ramp once they notice the party ascending it.  Aside from being your standard "goblins rolling rocks at you" scenario, the rocks will also smash open the rat cage.

There is a small hole halfway up the ramp, which could offer a hiding place from any rolling boulders (if a player wants to dash up there and jump in it).  The hole is full of goblin poop and rusty knives.  Also, the goblins keep a smaller boulder on hand, explicitly to roll into this hole.

7. Because Number 6 Sucked

This is a ratapult.  It's a catapult that throws rats.  In addition to getting hit in the face with a bag filled with rats and rocks, there's also a bunch of rats gnawing on your face.

If the goblins fumble their attack roll, their rats escape and start attacking them.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Time Tortoise (and Paradox Damage)

HD 4 Armor plate Bite 1d6
Move 1/4 human Int 10 Mor 7

*Imperfect Time Stop: When the tortoise uses this ability, the flow of time within 200' of the tortoise slows to a crawl (1/100th normal speed), no save. Obviously, combat is impossible when you are fighting at 1% normal speed.  Even a tortoise will sidestep your arrows.  The only thing that isn't affected by this is perception and thought: your thinking and senses are not slowed.

However, with enough willpower, a creature can break free from this effect and act normally.  They make this decision at the start of their turn, and if they choose to take their turn normally, they take 1d6 paradox damage if they move from their location, and 1d4 paradox damage if they take an action.  A character can take both types of damage; for example, if they both move and swing a sword.

This damage is reduced by 1 point for each turn you spend waiting (minimum 0 damage), and therefor reducing your temporal pressure.  A character that waits for 3 turns before acting takes 1d6-3 damage from moving and 1d4-3 damage from taking an action.

The tortoises can eat time stopped meat just fine.  They trundle up to you and start eating your leg while all you can do is watch.  And since you are mechanically helpless, the tortoise automatically hits for maximum damage.  If they could somehow reach your neck, they could coup-de-grace you.  They can reach the necks of halflings.  A creature can defend themselves from a tortoise bite as a reaction, but it follows the same rules as taking an action: you take 1d4 paradox damage, reduced by 1 point for each turn you've waited.

Time tortoises usually leave this aura deactivated until combat starts.  No sense alerting their enemies too early.

Time tortoises are vegetarians, and do not swallow any meat that they bite off (in triangular chunks).

A Note About Paradox Damage

Paradox damage looks like thousands of wounds opening and closing on you as various potential futures collide and collapse into a stable waveform of possibility.  Sort of like a strobe light of gore.  You actually die and resurrect several hundred times in a turn when you suffer paradox damage.  It's very painful, but it's also very instantaneous.  It doesn't feel like pain as much as it feels like the memory of pain.

A character that dies of paradox damage dies as normal, but later on the party is attacked by a time-fucked version of that character as soon as it is impossible for that too happen.  For example, after the wizard dies from paradox damage and the party returns to their horses, one of the horses turns into an alternate reality-version of the wizard with three eyes and a crab claw, and then attacks them.  Or the barbarian bursts from the chest that the rogue was attempting to open, and begins biting him with his snake fingers.


Yes, this is just a weird mini-game layered on top of the combat system.  I like it.

I also like mechanics that give the players a choice: is it better to stand still or take damage?  More interesting than just giving time stop to some shitty turtle monster.  (Although I like that idea, too, for different reasons.)

Will it result in slow, slow gameplay as players spend all of their turns saying "I wait"?  Hopefully not, since the time-consuming part of a turn is thinking (and rolling), and the decision making happens once ("I should wait for 3 turns") and then people get into the groove of quickly waiting while the tortoises totter around munching on kneecaps.

The Breath of Flies (Part 2 of the Dembraava Wilds)


There is a dead city in the middle of the Dembraava Wilds.  The forest killed it.

The city is a labyrinth of tortuous roots and broken stone.  In the century since the city was abandoned, the trees tore it apart.  We humans cannot see the violence--it happens too slowly for us to recoil from the cruel aggression.  But there is pain in the fractured foundations, and although there is no blood on the ground, we can feel the wrath that fell on this place.

Walls have been thrown down.  Stone buildings have been shattered and picked up by wooden claws that will crush them to dust over the next hundred years.  The old maps are worthless.

The forest has fallen on this place with all the violence it can muster.  Druids who see the place for the first time are shocked.  They hate the cities, but this is the equivalent of an elephant trampling a child into a pulp.  It's shocking because it's excessive--the druids don't feel bad for the city, they're just surprised that a forest could get so mad.  Forests have emotions, and the predominant feeling in Dembraava is one of cool, calculating hatred.

The Dembraava Rangers

It is a difficult job, and many of them die to keep the road open.  They do this so that merchants can continue to grow richer.

But some of them were once rangers of Paladros.  This forest was their ancestors' home, and in some stubborn part of their brain, they still hope to reclaim that city-corpse.

They do not venture far from the road.  Not even when one of their number is captured by the wild clans and flayed alive on some distant tree-top.  Not even when the skins are hung over the road to provoke them.  They are smarter than that.

it's tough to find pictures of what I want Paladros to look like
it needs to look like a city impaled by a forest
like Vlad the Impaler became an architecture critic
The Breath of Flies

There are many dangers in the Dembraava Wilds, but one is feared the most because of its subtlety.

It is called the Breath of Flies, because it is believed to be transmitted by the exhalations of carrion diptera.  Others call it Towerbuilder's Madness, and in fact, it is true that some of them do build towers in the middle stages of the disease.

In the earliest stages, it expresses itself as a mild psychosis and a strong desire to be alone.  People become agitated and attack their own party members or--more likely--they simply run off into the forest. (This is a problem if the afflicted person was carrying something essential.)

If the afflicted person ran off near a town or city, the afflicted needs to be found quickly, and their body burned.  If left alive, they could infect the entire town.

In the middle stages, the afflicted person exhibits acrophilia and near-complete dissociation.  They often ramble about "hearing their own voice talking to them" or "opening the secret sun" or their "million bright babies inside them".

They usually climb tall objects at this point.  Trees, towers, cliffs.  They climb them as high as they can, up where the treetop rolls in the wind like a ship at sea.

And once up there--once they are firmly gripping the treetop--they enter the final stage of the disease.

Their arms and legs become rigid, locking them to the treetop.  Tetany arches their backs, tensioning their limbs and throwing their lips into a rictus.  Their eyes turn to the sun and they go blind, being unable to blink.

Many claim that the person dies at this point, but it is not certain.

Then the fungus finally makes itself fully known.  Spores begin to billow out from their mouths, released from their incubation in the lungs.

The limbs die, and harden into a resinous material.  In fact, most of the body dies at this point.  It shrivels, dessicates, and hardens into something like leather.  Everything dies except the lungs, which will continue inhaling and exhaling until every last spare calorie in the body is consumed.  (The heart lives on, as well.)

The fungus is capable of stimulating muscles on its own.  Even if the head is removed, or if it rots off, the body will continue to breath.

An entire human being, rendered down into a bellows.

And a very effective bellows they make, too.  If left unattended, a dead person clinging to a treetop will continue to breathe for weeks after their brain dies, and with each exhalation, a new spume of dusty grey spores.  It falls like a ghastly snow.

This process is of interest to both healers and necromancers, who are interested in the fine graduations of death.  To the layperson, there is only one death, but to the expert, there are many small ones.  The end of the mind's last thought.  The point at which the mind cannot be recovered or revived.  The end of a functioning body.  The end of a functioning organ.  The death of the last cell in a corpse.

Ask a necromancer, and he will tell you that it takes a surprisingly long time for all the parts of a man to die.  Remove a man's head, impale his heart, and he will grow cold.  But it will take a day for his sperm to stop swimming, and three days for the last of his blood to quiet down (white blood cells).  This rude persistence of life--like a guest who refuses to leave after the party has ended--is why the freshest corpses do not make the best undead, paradoxically.

But I digress.

When the afflicted person finally stops breathing, the final ascocarp grows from their lungs, up the trachea, and out their mouth, where it fans itself out into the air.  The disease is capable of disseminating its spores passively, merely releasing them into the breeze.  The ascocarp resembles a flabby antler of pinkish-brown chitin that emerges from the mouth.

In this half-state between fleshy corpse and resinous sculpture, the body is eaten by predators, most famously flies, which swarm over the thing.  The eggs that they lay in the corpse will be entombed by resin before they hatch.  These flies are believed to carry the disease.  The lungs retain moisture (and therefore rotting flesh) the longest, and the sight of thousands of flies flying in and out of the mouth of a hardened corpse is what lends the disease its name.

And like the corpse, the fruiting body eventually hardens into a dry resin.

tetany is a symptom of the breath of flies
see also: the trousseau sign
see also: the chvostek sign
The Dembraava Wilds are full of these ghastly remnants.  All through the forest, you can find withered corpses clutching onto treetops.  After a storm, you can find them on the forest floor, looking for all the world like a wax sculpture of a crow-picked corpse in a contorted pose.  Separating their limbs usually requires a chisel and hammer, but many of them shatter when they hit the ground.

In some cases, they never fall from their arboreal perch, and the tree grows around them.  If their body is intact enough, it may be used as a home for squirrels or wasps, which nest in the vastly-expanded lung cavity.

The Dembraava Rangers call these corpses "watchers", and use them as landmarks.  They are often given names, and colorful stories are told about them.  But the rangers are always careful to avoid touching them, and fallen "watchers" are left where they fall.

The city of Paladros is full of them.  They watch from every ruined rooftop, their empty eyes staring at empty streets.  You can see through their enlarged ribcages into the fossilized fungal maze within.


If the Dembraava Wilds have a boogeyman, it is Zhilov.

A demon of fungus.  An angel of healing.  A spirit of fertility and growth.  A slithering thing that tunnels through the earth like a vast network of tiny white worms.  A woman in a green dress.  A man's voice who speaks from inside trees.  There is no consensus regarding Zhilov's true nature.

But the stories agree on one thing, though: when Zhilov is near, the watcher-corpses begin breathing again.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

d6 Shitty Goblin Traps

Remember that the most common goblin trap is just overthinking.  A room with three off-color tiles that don't do anything.  Levers that just make horrible creaking noises.  Obviously hinged stairs that are supposed to turn into a slide, but are so rusted that they are fixed in place.

Also remember that they incorporate their feces into their traps whenever possible.

1. The Totem Pole

Made of beaten wood, and crude grotesqueries.  It's central mouth has steel fangs clutching a small, metal chest, held in place only with a moderate amount of friction.  With some investigation, steel hinges are discovered to the side of the totem pole's mouth.  When the chest is removed, the jaw closes, and the entire upper half of the totem pole pitches forward, crushing whoever is in front of the totem pole.  This part of the trap is obvious.

That's only the first half of the trap, though.  In fact, the totem pole is hollow, and will spill a powerful acid all over the ground when it falls.  This part of the trap is not obvious.

2. Dead Snake Pit

This stairway collapses and dumps you into a snake pit!  Except the snakes are all dead; the goblins forgot to feed them.

The real danger is the low oxygen levels at the bottom of the shaft.  You can't breath down there, and torches will burn out, too.

3. Shitty Pendulums

A room with slash grooves on the floor and a darkened ceiling obscured by cobwebs.  When a lever is pulled, the far door unlocks and a half-dozen bladed pendulums swing from the ceiling.  You can figure out the safe spots to stand by examining the slash grooves on the floor.

Except the construction is shit, and after a couple of swings, the pendulums will collide, tangle, and the whole mechanism will fall out of the ceiling.  All 4000 lbs of it.  This will collapse the floor, and send the party down a level onto a bunch of bladed pendulums and broken rock.

4. Dragon Statue

A dragon statue that holds a torch in front of it's face.  When the party approaches, it speaks, "What number is green?" because goblins are pretty shit at riddles.  The correct answer is "one", because goblins are number one, but this answer is bullshit and most goblins will get it wrong.  This opens a door to a room full of goblin bombs.

If a wrong answer is given, the dragon will breathe lamp oil over the lit torch, bathing the room in flame.  The easy solution to this is just to remove the torch, but then you have a dragon statue spewing oil over everything.  If you plug its mouth with something (not hard) it'll make a series of creaking noises before its crotch bursts open and spills oil all over the ground.

Either way, the next room contains a bunch of goblins with torches who bust in one round after they hear the dragon go off.

5. OSHA-Violation Spiked Pit

A quartet of obviously discolored tiles marks a spiked pit.  They aren't even the same color.

The real danger is attempting to jump across the pit--the far side is unsupported dirt, and will collapse if more than 100 lbs is put on top of it.  Anyone attempting to jump over the pit will collapse 3' of the far ledge, sending them into the pit and pouring loose dirt on top of them after they land on the spikes.

6. The Ol' Footy-Stabby

This is just a hallway with grated floors.  As you walk along it, goblins with shit-caked spears stab you from below.  They're real dicks about it.  There's probably even a tripwire halfway along the path that they can yank up, too.  The holes they stab through aren't too big, so they get 90% cover from it.

This one actually isn't too hard to overcome (just pour burning oil down the holes and come back later when the smoke clears).  For a more challenging trap, try the Ol' Facey-Stabby, where the goblins are hidden in the ceiling.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Class: Hair Wizards

Each type of hair wizard chooses a type of magic to specialize in: beard, (head) hair, mustache, or nosehair.  Magic cares little for gender--a female hair wizard can have a magic mustache if she so desires.

Beard wizards tend to be earthy, affable, and fond of drinking.  The most famous beard wizard of all time was Strumly Brontlegrim, who once wrestled a bear into a barrel while his beard wrestled another.

Beard wizards have an extradimensional compartment inside their beard.  It can hold one small item.  At level 3, it can hold one significant item.

Hair wizards tend to be attractive, mysterious, and fond of nudity.  Hair wizards are especially fond of towers without ground floor access--many are also accomplished climbers.  The most famous hair wizard was Ethria Casmontiya, who became the first lich-wig.

Hair wizards can extend their hair into a 50' rope, or retract it with the same amount of effort (it requires an action).  At level 3, their hair can extend to 200' long.

Mustache wizards tend to be ostentatious and obsessed with their own popularity.  This is okay, because most of them actually are popular.  The most famous mustache wizard was Huxward Fabberton, who is now known as the inventor of the magic cigar.

Mustache wizards get +4 to save against inhaled poisons.  At level 3, they become immune to inhaled poisons.

There has only ever been one nosehair wizard.  He was both cruel and petty.  Other hair wizards do not speak of him, except to spit when they hear his name mentioned.

Nosehair wizards can use their nosehairs as a whip. They can only perform one whip action per turn, even though they have two nosehairs (one in each nostril).  At level 3, they become capable of dealing lethal damage.

Pubic hair wizards are strictly theoretical.  Most hair wizards are thankful for this.  It would make the conventions awkward.

Hair Wizard Perks

You no longer require a free hand to cast a spell.  Your hair does all the gesticulating for you.

You can change the color and styling of your hair with a minute's concentration.  However, most wizards have a preferred color and style they wear almost exclusively.

Hair Wizard Drawbacks

If your hair is bound or otherwise restrained, you cannot cast spells.

If your hair is shaved or burnt off, you cannot cast spells until it grows back.  A hair wizard's follicles are of such stalwart puissance that it only takes 1d4+4 days for the hair to grow back to a minimum length.

If you fail a save against fire or acid damage, a significant portion of your hair is singed off, and you lose a prepared spell at random.

Hair Wizard Spells

  1. brontlegrim's grip
  2. casmontiya's pet
  3. control hair
  4. charm hairy thing
  5. fabberton's lucubration
  6. hair doll
  7. hair growth
  8. hair panic
  9. loop of cutting
  10. second impression

Brontlegrim's Grip
Level 4
As evard's black tentacles, except they are flammable, like web.

Casmontiya's Pet
Level 1
You create an animate rope from your hair.  Treat it like a giant snake with 1 HD and no bite attack.  It has a powerful knowledge of ropes, and can obey simple verbal commands.  It dies immediately if it takes any slashing damage, but is immune to bludgeoning.

Control Hair
Level 2
When cast on your own mildly-prehensile hair, your hair grows long and powerful, effectively giving you an extra limb that has a Strength four points higher than your own.  (This doesn't allow you to take any more actions/attacks in a round).  If cast on someone else's hair, it lets you control that hair as if the hair had a Strength of 1.  Save negates.  (This spell is especially debilitating to other hair wizards.)

Charm Hairy Thing
Level 1
As charm person, except that it works on all things that have a significant amount of hair.  No effect on creatures that don't have a significant amount of hair (enough hair to grab a fistful of).  Creatures charmed in this way have their hair change color to match yours.

Fabberton's Lucubration
Level 2
By stroking your hair, you have an idea.  Your DM reminds you of something that you've forgotten, or gives you a clue to something that you've missed.

Hair Doll
Level 3
This spell is cast on a hair doll that you've made entirely out of the hair from a singular creature.  This does three things.  First, holding the hair doll lets you know what direction they are in.  Second, holding the hair doll gives them -4 to save against all of your spells.  And lastly, if the doll is burned, they suffer 1d4 rounds of incapacitating agony and then save vs death.

Hair Growth
Level 2
A creature's hair grows to truly voluminous proportions, about triple the length of what is normally the species maximum.  A shaved hair wizard can use this spell to immediately regain their spellcasting ability.  If cast on an exceptionally hairy creature (yeti, mammoth), the grown hair is so encumbering that they get -2 attack and AC.  A moderately hairy creature (such as a bear) merely gets -1.  Save negates.

This spell can be inverted into depilation, where the target loses all of their hair.  Save negates.

This spell can also be inverted into hair retraction, where exceptionally hairy creatures (yeti, mammoths) must save or die, as their hair burrows into their brain.

Hair Panic
Level 1
The wizard's hair immediately shoots out and grabs something no further than 15' away, similar to a lasso.  This spell can be cast as a reaction (similar to feather fall) and can even be used to prevent a fall as long as there is something to grab nearby.  Treat this as a lasso attempt with a +2 bonus.  If used to pull something toward you, the pull attempt can be made in the same turn as casting.

Loop of Cutting
Level 2
By tying a loop of your hair around something, you can cut it.  Doesn't work on adamantine.

Second Impression
Level 1
Your hair is magnificent.  Reroll a reaction roll, this time with a 2 point bonus.

Hair Familiars

Hair familiars exist.  In most cases, they live in your hair, and resemble birds, mice, spiders, or exotic ornamentation.

In some cases, the hair familiar is the hair.  There are many stories of lads and lasses who returned with magical power once a hirsute symbiote grafted itself to their body.  They work together and communicate telepathically, but the hair familiar is an entirely independent creature.  It has its own goals, and it will leave if it feels it is being neglected.


These are immensely powerful spellcasters that have chosen to immortalize themselves in an undead wig.  These wigs immediately dominate anyone who wears them, and frequently survive the death of their hosts (usually because few realize that the wig is the real monster on the scene).

They have powers similar to a lich's, including a lich's deadly touch.

When threatened, they can lift themselves up and run away like a spider, as fast as a human can run.

Scissor Blade

This legendary sword +1 is really, really sharp.  On a critical hit, the target's armor is completely ruined if they fail a save.  Against astral or ethereal enemies, the sword counts as a sword +3, since it is capable of attacking and severing their astral cord.  In fact, that's exactly what it was made to do.

And credit to +Alasdair Cunningham, who wrote an excellent post about magical beards and inspired me to finish this class.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Dembraava Wilds

They call it the Wilds, but they also call it Oberfel's Folly.  It is their way of blaming him for what the forest has become.  In Oberfel's day, it was wild and dark and tortuous, but since his death it has only grown darker, and the sunlight that reaches the dead leaf floor is little, or none.

There was no concept of ecology, then.  People didn't know that a species could be made extinct.  There was just a desperate king--he was not unjust or ignorant, but he behaved as if he were when the cancer began to gnaw at his heart.  Why else would a man organize the Unicorn Hunts?

Years later, when the charnel yards were excavated, the unicorn bones were gone.

The Wild Clans and their Druids

There are clans of wild people there, who dwell in the leaf and the loam.  They have no art, except the black beetles that grace their brows.  They have no history, except the brown bones they scatter in the rocky stream beds.   They have a language that they despise, and speak it only in dire situations.

They eat their dead, and sleep inside dead logs.  Their teeth become stained black from the insects that they eat.

It is said that they are not true people.  It is said that they procreate by squatting over the rich soil and depositing their seed.  And their children grow like mushrooms, pushing up through the dirt, quietly, patiently.

This is probably not true.

It is also said that the forest itself hides them, so that they can move through its deadly environs unseen and unharmed.  They bury their babies' souls in the ground, so that it becomes their true home.  The twilight realm between the dirt and the treetops is an uncomfortable half-realm they endure.

This is perhaps true.

DM's Notes: Wild clan people are like berserkers with the following ability.

Mother Earth: If this clansperson dies on the soil of the Wilds, the corpse is immediately swallowed up by the soil, and entombed 10' below.

Wild clan elites have 2 HD and can burrow at 1/4 speed, but only in the top 5' of Dembraava soil.

Wild clan druids are just druids that specialize in entombment and insects.  Oddly enough, they revere the mordanfey, even though the mordanfey are undead.

The Dendrognaths

These are more like traps than creatures.

The wild clans of the Wilds sometimes kill wolves and decapitate them.  The wolf heads are then "planted" in an oak tree.  The head continues to live in a strange half-life.  The eyes move and the ears pivot, but they make no other signs of life.  And as the tree grows, so does the head.

The largest oaks in the forest sometimes have dozens of these heads planted in them.  These are usually planted in order to protect the dwelling caves of the wild clans.

And when the head senses a humanoid (not of the clans), it animates.  And that mouldering head, more of a plant than a beast, lunges off the tree and sinks its fangs into the throat of its prey.

One lunge, perhaps two.  Then the head howls and lies still.  The howl is an alarm for the savage tribes.  It tells them that outsiders have come to the forest, with their foul metals and perfumes and written language.

The Mordanfey

They returned from Oberfel's slaughter as leering, lurching things.  Their black hooves leave wounds that never heal (treat as cursed) and their flanks are covered with ragged flaps of peeling leather.  You can hear the beetles that scrabble across their bones.

Their gaunt heads are always crowned with a broken horn, or a sawed-off stump, or a ragged hole where it was dug from their forehead.

It is said that something of their old nature still resides in them.  Although they are filled with hatred and disgust towards the people of the cities, they are also disgusted with themselves.  As long as they are being watched, they will not attack, except in self-defense.  Instead, they usually watch the combat as their druids and insects do the fighting (swarms live inside each one).  Only after their beetles have blinded an opponent do they move in to kill.

Virgins are treated no differently, except that the undead unicorn will spend days trampling the remains into the dead leaves, crying out the whole time as if in pain.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Pillar of Fire

You can see it out there on the wizened flanks of the Elterspine Mountains, where it spills out of the ground.  It howls like a jet engine and is you can feel the radiant heat warming your face like an angry sun.  It pours into the night sky, bright enough to dim the stars by comparison.  Next to your boots, pebbles clack against the black grass, vibrating in tune with the thrumming pillar.

They are other pilgrims here, all wearing their pilgrimage collars.  Colored paint above their eyebrows marks their progress, unless they are wearing a penitent's mask.

The pilgrims began the Hesayan Pilgrimage in Coramont, where the prophetess first gave Truth.  If they have been performing the pilgrimage along the orthodox route, this is the first Miracle that they've seen.

They are watching the Pillar of Fire, but some of them are watching the travelers moving in the opposite direction.  It is said that the devil worshippers perform it backwards, and it is rumored that the Celestialist Hesayans perform the pilgrimage in a heretical order.

Up close, they can see the Pillar blowing out of the naked rock.  They inhale gingerly, but curiously.  This is the hot breath of hell, and they want to know what it tastes like.

A few pilgrims douse themselves in water, and then run up to touch the brass fence that surrounds the Pillar.  When they sprint back (singed and smoking and half-blind) they are grabbed by paladins who beat them for their zeal.  The fence is only to be touched on holy days.

All pilgrims are allowed to do is contemplate temptation, and the willpower to overcome it.

During the day, the flames die down below ground level, and the Pillar becomes a mere pit of fire.  Priests come out from the shrine in their blue robes amid white smoke from their pipes.  The ceremony begins; a blue bell is rung.

While suicide is considered a mortal sin according to the tenets of Hesaya, it is allowed here.  For an appropriate donation, the priests of that place will wash you, annoint you, and fill your lungs with the breath of heaven.  Then you jump into the pit of fire, at the end of mass.  This is the only acceptable suicide.  Devout and desperate people travel here from all over the Hesayan dominion to kill themselves.

If you jump into the fire pit without paying, you are commiting self-murder as well as theft.

Who's Jumping Into the Pit Today? [d6]
1 - A PC's mother, who thinks them dead.
2 - Some old woman with a dead cat.
3 - A cartload of sullen orphans.
4 - A veteran of foreign wars.  His battlecries have turned to ashes in his mouth.
5 - 1d3 criminals fleeing justice.
6 - A pair of forbidden lovers.

According to legend, the Pillar of Fire marks the spot where Iasu banished the demon Jangorian back to hell.  And indeed, the fields around the pillar are studded with clumps of bristly hellgrass, demonseed, and the other abyssal flora.  Everyone watches for demons amid the bristling cones, but there aren't any.

During the winter solstice, the fire actually recedes completely.  This actually creates a passageway to hell, if you want to skip the underdark and proceed immediately to the deepest pits.  You only have a day to finish your descent though, so don't tarry.

Will paladins be chasing you the whole way down?  Probably.

Are people going to be burned alive when the fire is turned back on?  Probably.

Magic Item - Oathbreaker's Armor

This is platemail that you are locked into.  Originally, this was something that aspiring paladins did voluntarily, in order to reinforce their vows by experiencing utter obedience.  Eventually, it became a punishment for paladins (and aspirants).

Each set of Oathbreaker's Armor comes with an oath inscribed on the front.  This is a single rule that the wearer must absolutely follow.  It's usually something like "I will protect this group of pilgrims" or "I will allow no one to enter the Hall of Priests except priests".

Anything that changes the engraved letters on the armor also changes the terms of the wearer's new oath.

While wearing the armor, you cannot speak.  The helmet is usually shaped like an alligator, a creature that is associated with lies.

this is a burning gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan


Velveteens are magically animated stuffed animals.  They are soft and delightful--little happy things that only dance, cuddle, and take naps on your lap.  They behave in all the ways that you wish your cat would.

They are only owned by the rich, because no one else can afford to use magic in such a trivial way.  Or more specifically, the children of the rich.

They are usually sold with a velveteen-slave, whose has the job of ensuring the integrity and cleanliness of the stuffed animal.

As you would expect, they are fabulously expensive.  Steal a velveteen from a princess and you're set for life.  Many have killed and died to get their hands on a velveteen.  It is difficult to sell one, however, since they are each unique and well-known (at least among nobles, who often show their wealth off to each other).

The details of their manufacture are a closely-guarded secret, but they are produced by the Armenjero "Empire", a cliffside mecca for bards and gypsies.  It is famous for it's gambling, and it was won from an archmage of Meltheria in a game of chance.  

One big caveat is that velveteens are condemned by the Church, which claims that they are animated by the souls of the dead.  Velveteens are sufficient to warrant a full investigation by the Church's witch hunters, who will track down the velveteen, interrogate it (fruitlessly, because all they do is wiggle and play), and torture it before burning it to death.

The proof they offer is this: velveteens can be turned by clerics, just as undead can.

How To Use Them In Your Game

Add them to your loot tables.  They're a hell of a lot more interesting than another emerald the size of a baby's fist, and worth about the same.

If nothing else, they can be used to set off traps or something.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Two Spells and a Class: Spellborn Homunculi

my sister drew this picture of spellborn homunculi!
you can see more of her art at
Spell (noun)
A class of extradimensional, ethereal creatures that have been domesticated by humans (much like a cow).  Each spell is a unique entity that lives in the ether, except when it is bound in a spellbook or lured into a wizard's brain (much unlike a cow).  It's more like a pokemon that you fire from a gun (your brain) and not at all like a technique you can learn from scratch.

Homunculus (noun)
An artificially created human, magically sculpted from inchoate arcano-flesh.  They lack bellybuttons and are sterile.  Most are massively inferior to humans in one or two crucial ways.  A few are vastly superior.

New Spells

Create Homunculus
Level 1 Wizard Spell

You create a humanoid body.  The body can appear however you wish, but anything beyond the ken of a normal human is nonfunctional.  (Extra arms will be useless, for example.)

The body lacks a soul and is completely inert.  You can possess it with the magic jar spell.  However, there are all sorts of opportunistic etherofauna that would also love to possess the body (1-in-6 chance per hour of possession) and will do so unless precautions are taken.  (Lead coffins are fairly secure, but a circle of protection against evil is better.)  The body will rot normally (like a normal corpse) and even a few hours of decay is enough to render a blank homunculus uninhabitable (truly like a normal corpse).

If animated, the body generates physical stats normally (3d6 in order).

Requires 35 liters of water, 20 kilograms of carbon, 4 liters of ammonia, 1.5 kilograms of lime, 800 grams of phosphorus, 250 grams of salt, 100 grams of niter, 80 grams of sulfur, 7.5 grams of fluorine, 5 grams of iron, 3 grams of silicon.  This shopping list usually requires a major city and about 1000gp, but not always.  (For example, niter is extremely common in limestone caverns.)

If the ingredients are imbalanced, or if you buy impure materials at discounted prices, you will usually create something, just not what you had intended.

Imbue Homunculus: Living Spell
Level 1 Wizard Spell

Spells are similar things to demons, spirits, and angels.  This spell shoves a spell into an empty homunculus, like a hand into a glove.  The spell then functions as a proxy soul.

Generate mental stats normally (3d6 in order) and roll a reaction die normally.  The homunculus is an NPC with neutral loyalties and a random personality.  They begin knowing language and logic and anything else a four-year-old might know.  They usually begin life by demanding to be given a name.

As part of casting this spell, you must cast a second spell (the spell to be imbued) from your own brain simultaneously.  The spell cannot be higher than a level 1 spell.  You do not get the spell back (it doesn't return to your spellbook at midnight) until the homunculus body is destroyed.

And even then, the spell must pass a loyalty check (like a hireling) to see if it decides to ever return to your spellbook.  The experience of corporeality irrevocably changes a spell, and makes them sentient (as we understand the term).  From then on, the spell permanently has a memory, a personality, and a voice (when it is lured into the wizard's head).

The spellborn homunculus is functionally identical to a level 1 human, except that (a) it gets +4 to save against spells, and (b) it can cast itself 1/day.

The spellborn homunculus also gains characteristics beyond the original design, based on whatever spell it was imbued with.  A homunculus imbued with flaming hands might have their skin turn bright red, or their fingers turn black.  They have no special loyalty to their creator.  On a failed reaction roll, they usually just walk away, determined to find their own destiny.

New PC Class: Spellborn Homunculi

Base it on a cleric, sans cleric spells and turn undead.  If you "die", you return to your wizard's spellbook that night, like any other expended spell (if that's what you desire).  However, if you don't return to your wizard's spellbook and instead choose to wander off, you'll never find your way back (because ethereal geography isn't).

However, if you do die, your wizard can prepare you a new body by recasting the create homunculus spell and then re-imbuing you into it.  (Roll new physical stats for the body).  The only downside is that each time you undergo this process, you need to save or permanently lose a point from a random mental stat (which are permanent).

This class implies that you were created by another player's wizard character.  If you want to be true to theme, you should let that player decide what you look like, and what your name is.  (NPC wizards are wont to create homunculi with weird features, like faceted eyes or black rubber skin.)

Level 1 - Cast Yourself, Save +4 vs spells
Level 2 - Speak With Spells
Level 3 - Cast From Scrolls
Level 5 - Reversion: Dispel Magic
Level 7 - Reversion: See Invisible, See Spells
Level 9 - Reversion: Ethereal Jaunt

mass-produced homunculi
Cast Yourself
You can cast yourself X times per day, where X is your level.  If your spell has a duration, your body is empty for the duration (you're basically in a coma).  You are conscious during this time, and can end the spell whenever you wish (even spells that are not normally dismissable).  You can see and hear from the spell's location.  (So if you were a minor illusion spell and you cast yourself on a location, you would still be able to see and hear from that location.

Speak With Spells
You can speak with spells imprisoned within spellbooks or scrolls.  You can speak with permanent magic effects, as long as those effects were created by a spell.  You can even speak to the spells stored in a wizard's brain.  Spells trapped in spellbooks and scrolls usually beg to be released (but some have gone mad if the imprisonment is long enough--watch out for those).

Spells stored in a wizard's brain can sometimes be convinced to cast themselves at a target of your choice.  If you attempt this, roll a d6: 1 = spell is cast on the target you desire, 6 = you piss off the spell and it casts itself on the worst possible target.  If you try to coax the spell to do something it already wants to do (fire spells like to burn flammable things, for example), your chance of success increases to 2-in-6.

Cast From Scrolls
Just like a wizard.  You can also identify spells in scrolls/spellbooks at a glance.

Reversion: Dispel Magic
Just like the spell.  You're basically a hippy, releasing animals from the zoo.  You can cast this spell as many times as you wish, but each usage costs you 1d6 Charisma.

If your Charisma is dropped to 0 by this, you "die" and your body becomes an inert homunculus again (and is subject to the same incidental demon possession, as normal).  This is true for all "Revert" abilities.

Reversion: See Invisible
You can cast see invisible at will, but each use costs you 1d6 Charisma (which returns at the rate of 1 point per day).  This is literally your proxy soul stretching away from it's homunculus and "sticking its head" back into the ether from whence it came.

See Spells
You can now see what spells a wizard has memorized just be looking at them.

Reversion: Ethereal Jaunt
There's no place like ether.  Just like the spell of the same name.  Costs 1d6 Charisma each time you use it.