Thursday, 30 November 2017

Class: Beast-Man

Credit, Piotr Chrzanowski

It is said that magic is a wondrous thing. It gives mere mortals power over the constraints placed upon them by the universe. It can renew life or snuff it out in an instant. It allows those who wield it to see the true nature of things, and they see the roiling mass of chaos that surrounds everything. This chaos seeks to twist and change all it touches, corrupting the very fabric of reality and those who dwell within its fragile shell.

Accursed and feared, Beast-men are those poor mortals who succumbed to the insidious warping influence that uncontrolled arcane energy has on mortal flesh. What was once a young apprentice who fouled up a spell, or a miner who happened upon a lode of unrefined wytchfire stone, now stands as a twisted slab of muscle and gristle with the features of a wild animal - a Beast-Man.

Hated and feared by their non-mutated brethren for what they represent, most Beast-Men are killed or driven into the wilds to fend for themselves, where some survive and multiply. Many nurse a hatred of non-mutants and gleefully raid and pillage civilised areas, seeking to wreak havoc and mayhem among the people who scorned them. Some few eke a fragile living on the edges of society as guides, shepherds and hunters where they are not outright condemned or driven off. Such an existence is an uneasy one for the people around them see the potential for corruption to claim them all, and the Beast-Man sees a constant reminder of what they have lost.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess

SAVES
As Fighter

HIT DICE
As Fighter

ADVANCES
As Fighter

SKILLS
Beast-Men start with a 3-in-6 Bushcraft skill. This advances in-line with a Dwarf's Architecture skill.

Their Stealth skill has a 5-in-6 chance of succeeding when in wilderness areas, like a halfling.

SPECIAL
Beast-Men apply a +1 bonus to their Strength modifier. They use the standard (non-Fighter) base attack bonus, but have access to the Fighter's attack options (improved parry, press etc.).

Beast-Men have a 5% chance (when rolling the character) to be spellcasters. If so they start with Read Magic in their spellbook and must obey the same restrictions as Magic-Users when preparing and casting their spells.

When creating a Beast-Man the player must state which creature they represent - they then take +2 to any reaction rolls made when encountering said creature. A Beast-Man's reaction roll is always made with a -4 penalty when encountering 'civilised' peoples, unless said peoples have a good reason for interacting with them at the GM's discretion.

Credit, Piotr Chrzanowski

The Black Hack

Starting HP: d10 + 4
HP Per Level/Resting: 1d10
Weapons & Armor: Any and All

Attack Damage: 1d8 / 1d6 Unarmed or Improvising

SPECIAL FEATURES

Roll with Advantage when testing DEX to move stealthily in wilderness areas.

Roll with Advantage when navigating, tracking, hunting, foraging and building shelter in wilderness areas.

Roll with Advantage when testing CHA to influence other Beast-Men. Roll with Disadvantage when testing CHA to influence non-Beast-Men.

LEVELLING UP

Roll to see if attributes increase, roll twice for STR and DEX.


The above classes are meant to provide a character who can hold their own in a fight and who have considerable advantages in wilderness areas - things like tracking prey, foraging for food and laying ambushes all come naturally to this class. The main disadvantage is that many ordinary people will hate this character for what they are, which presents an issue that the party would need to take creative steps to avoid.

Space Goblins


I've veered somewhat heavily into sci-fi/science-fantasy territory in my setting design, with Egradus existing against a backdrop of a galactic war and in sort of post-post-apocalyptic state. Not Fallout or Mad Max levels of post apocalypse, but far enough along that the planet and the things on it have largely recovered from whatever ravages have wracked it.

This has led me to cast my eye over stock fantasy races and think about how they fit into this world. I've settled on plenty of them being genetically and/or magically engineered in one way or another by long-dead progenitor species, or mutated through exposure to magical fallout, actual fallout and other environmental contaminants. As such I've decided to take a slightly different tack with goblins, with some liberal inspiration from Warhammer 40,000.

Credit, Pedro Kruger Garcia
















Everyone in Egradus knows about goblins. They harass your livestock, sour your milk, make off with your children and burn your barn down. Goblins are, in fact, responsible for all of these things, but rarely consistently and never all at the same time.

Goblins are different all over the world - a goblin in Yoon-Suin might possess long limbs and a prehensile tail for use in the jungles; a goblin in the Ugishi riverlands might have webbed extremities and gills; an Arkonosian goblin may have silvered skin and a heightened resistance to magic, and so on. They are nothing if not adaptable, and it takes only a few spawnings before a new population of goblins is adapted to its environment. The common denominator among goblins is adaptability, small stature, extreme omnivorism and an attitude that oscillates between maniacally mischievous and psychotically deranged.

Goblins aren't actually from Egradus (not that that's anything special in this setting) but in fact come from... somewhere else in space... They don't know where from and certainly no-one else does. They arrived a long time ago on the back of a large meteorite - the terrible conditions of cosmic radiation and hard vacuum had reduced them to little more than small, spore-like blobs. The impact obliterated most of them, along with everything else in a 20 mile radius, but enough of the spores survived to move on to the next stage of the goblinoid life cycle - the spawning pool.

Like this, but greener and with more shit

These spawning pools are created when several goblins migrate away from their current grounds (read: the other ones throw things at or stab them until they leave) and find a suitable site for a new brood. The goblins gather biomass from the local area and gorge on it until they are little more than bloated, distended bellies. Then they explode. The goopy, acidic mess that remains pools in a divot and soon new goblins start to crawl from it. They start out very small, but grow swiftly and rapidly become only quite small. The new goblins scrounge organic matter (read: leaves, shit, bones, twigs and children) from their surrounding environment and cast it into the spawning pool. This agglomeration of local organic matter influences the genes of the next generation of goblins, allowing them to absorb features of the local organisms and adapt to the new environment. They also throw any other bits of old shit in there so goblins often come out wrong with spoons stuck in their heads, or a boot where their hand should be.

Widely regarded as stupid, goblin minds are, like their bodies, highly adaptable. This feature doesn’t get exercised much of its own accord but a goblin can be trained to perform a wide array of tasks to an excellent level, and it only takes years of work and the survival of several dozen murder and arson attempts. Trained goblin savants are hugely expensive, and hugely rare; luckily they don’t seem to die of old age. Some noble families have had entire generations worth of wealth overseen by a wizened goblin savant accountant, with only the occasional devouring of a servant.

I feel this gives them a good range of use in your game - they can still fill the traditional role of chaotic and aggressive annoyances to a low level party but with an enduring threat that the more they interact with the party and the environment around them, the more well suited to the place they become. You could also include them as NPCs with varying degrees of intelligence and loyalty, and even make them treasure in their own right if a particular goblin finishing school has need of new stock.

I'll be writing up some mechanical rules for them in the next few posts, but hopefully this post has made my overall aims and intentions clear!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

A Game of 40 Questions

Skerples over at the excellent Coins and Scrolls has recently posted a set of answers to Jeff Rients' famous twenty quick questions for your campaign setting. In a fit of genius or madness they also decided to answer Scrap Princess' slightly more eclectic set of questions. I'll go ahead and throw my hat into the ring with the following, and will link to further posts of relevance as I write them.

JEFF'S QUESTIONS

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?

This is a bit of an open-ended one - there are a multitude of deities on Egradus, ranging from village harvest spirits to nation-spanning gods of incredible power. The main faiths are those of Xixher (fire will purge all darkness, the darkness conveniently being that which is not Xixher), Auric (gold and banks and interest and debts, especially the debts) and Yenta (whispers, secrets and mysteries).

The role of clerics on Egradus is more similar to a paladin - they are chosen by their deity and infused with their power for holy purposes. The majority of faiths bar them from holding any real rank as having someone who is literally a vessel of your god's divine will looking over your shoulder makes it harder to lie, cheat and embezzle, and when a cleric lies, cheats and embezzles they can say it was all part of the plan. Hence, adventuring and wandering clerics.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

At the very least you'd need to go to a large town, preferably a city. Villages and hamlets would have basic supplies and necessities but weapons and armour would be very expensive, if they were available at all.

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

You might have some luck finding a forward-thinking orcish smith-engineer in the city states of the Crescent Sea, but it would be best to go about this at night to avoid the questions and crossbow bolts of the militia.

Alternatively you could find a troll. A well-fed, polite, troll.

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

The High Academician of the Akornosian Academy of Natural Philosophy.

There was a mage of terrible power who went north to the Blightspire after ravaging Izoa with an army of abominations, but everyone forgot about him.

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

This is a topic of much debate between the Ferrovia School, the Jade Sashes and Free Blade Guild, who all insist on their respective champions but shy away from contesting the matter.

Everyone else knows it's Kasim Thrice-Blessed, of Firze, but no one knows where he is.

6. Who is the richest person in the land?

Most definitely the High Usurer of the Gilded House - the temple of Auric, God of Coin.

The Pasha of Shaxecan and the Arch-Lector of the Church of the Sacred Fire vie for the distant second place.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?

Your best bet would be to head to a temple and see if any clerics are passing through.

Alternatively a mage might be able to help. This has its downsides.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

Clerics can deal with most of these but they are rather rare.
  • Poison - your local cunning woman, pellar, apothecary or witch.
  • Disease - priests of Radohir (though be careful they don't try and use you as some sort of weird incubator), apothecaries, barber-surgeons.
  • Curse - witches, mages, priests, eldritch spirits.
  • Level Drain - I don't use level drain in my games.
  • Lycanthropy - Lycanthropes are very rare in my games, but mutation is infinitely more common and you will probably be set upon by a mob the moment you reach anywhere civilised. If you survive, maybe a mage? Though you'll likely just end up in a worse stage. You might as well go and live with the Beast-men.
  • Polymorphy - Definitely a mage.
  • Alignment Change - It's happened, deal with it.
  • Death - See above. Although that copper-smelling man with the too-wide smile does have something interesting to say...
  • Undeath - Please report to your nearest armed garrison for disposal. Thank you for your co-operation.

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

The Order of the Carmine Web on Akornos is the most well-known. The more knowledge you acquire, however, the more rivals you gain.

Shaxecan boasts a large number of independent mage-engineers who are working on revolutionary discoveries.

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

Most cities will have at least a few alchemists, scholars and noted craftsmen. If you want the best, head to the Academy of Natural Philosophy on Akornos. Also, many of the learned guilds of the Yellow City in Yoon-Suin are reputed to have vast troves of knowledge stored in their ancient halls.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?

Anywhere, if you have the coin. If you want mercenaries of quality you have several options - Shaxecan and the merchant cities of the Crescent Sea host several condotierri Free Shooter Companies of repute, Ithorun boasts boat-loads of fearless Elf-touched warriors, Namavskan pulks are known to be the finest light cavalry in the region, and Amon-Klari pikemen are renowned for their discipline under brutal conditions.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

No Ithorunian will touch a sword. They fight only with spear, axe, club or bow.

Arcane magic will get you funny looks and the occasional mob lynching in Amon-Klar, but it isn't quite outlawed. Yet.

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?

There's one right over there!

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

There's the occasional war-kraken that is spotted in the Topaz Sea but the main holders of bounties and infamy will be Beast-man raiders in the civilised lands. Oh and there's the occasional dragon but good luck with that; they tend to keep to themselves anyway.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

Amon-Klar is gearing up to dominate the Black Coast. Namavska encroaches on Balgoro. The Hundred Kingdoms continue their usual routine of endemic, brutal warfare.

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

You could become a clubfighter in Yoon-Suin if you don't mind permanent traumatic brain injury. Gangs in the lower levels of Ramliya will often run fist- and knife-fights for a pretty purse. More conventional gladiatorial combat is a popular spectator sport in the Ugishi Riverlands and the lawless reaches of the Wildmarch.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

Plenty! The Grey Halls of Yenta are constantly searching for new secrets, names and plots to squirrel away at their headquarters up in the heights of Ramliya. The Order of the Carmine Web are effectively the shadow government of Akornos and are searching for ever more powerful magical artefacts. Various sects and heresies crop up to plot against their Orthodox brethren. The Elves are doing Elf things.

18. What is there to eat around here?

Yoon-Suin has plenty of bugs, otherwise it's fairly standard fare. Food in the East is spiced and seasoned with various musky delights from the Sweet-Fever Land while food in the West tends towards more floral seasonings. If you're wealthy, anyway.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

Oh absolutely! Better adventurers than you have tried.

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

In a cave deep beneath the mountains. Though if they're down there they've made a bed of plutonium and you should probably avoid them.

Credit, Juan Pablo Roldan

SCRAP'S QUESTIONS

1. Is there weaponized Squid?

Weaponised squid are not commonly available. Squid-men could classify as weaponised as they are violently unfriendly and quite lethal.

Can I start with one?

No.

How much are they?

It's not so much a money thing as a rabid-xenophobia thing.

Can I have one as a pet/horse/best friend?

If you raised one, maybe.

Can I play one?

No.

Can I dual wield them?

If you're a god, maybe.

2. Is there undead robots?

Sort of. There are really old robots around and none of them really work right anymore. Some of them have been reactivated several hundred times over. Most of them don't have souls.

Can I play one?

Maybe, if you're in the right place.

Or have one as a pet or a gun that shoots them?

Again, maybe. The guns that shoot them are old and really beaten up, though.

Do Icebergs walk across the land?

Nope.

Can I be from one?

Nope.

Is godzilla frozen in one?

Something like Godzilla. But bigger, snake-ier and meaner. And with tentacles.

Can I play a godzilla?

Hell no.

4. What do birds know?

It depends. Swallows exist in all timelines at once so they know an awful lot but none of it makes sense. If you shrink yourself down enough you could hitch a ride into a parallel timeline and see for yourself.

The crows exist in a Cold War with cats - both of them vie for favour with the Grey Halls of Yenta, which they buy with secrets. The cats are currently ascendant. Experienced spies and saboteurs cultivate extensive contacts among the two species.

5. Does medicine work like it does here but no-one knows CPR or does it work like a cartoon so I cure amnesia with more head injurys or does it work like medieval euro people thought it did with demons in your teeth?

A little of all three, really. Most places are discovering rudimentary medicine but having enough humans in one place bends the rules a bit - what they believe to be true tends to become a bit more real, for both good and bad things. Sometimes there are demons in your teeth.

Do I start with demons in my teeth?

If you like. I wouldn't recommend it.

Do I know CPR?

Nope.

Can I invent CPR?

Another nope.

Can I give myself powers with additionally organs?

Hell yes!

What planet is in ascension in my spleen midmorning?

Oprade. Its green light enhances the bilious humours and calms the spirit. Do not worry about the pulsing sensation.

6. I want to play a hobbit but really I'm the fleas controlling the hobbit. Where is that in the book?

It's not in the book, sadly.

Could I take over a new guy with my fleas?

If the fleas were a thing, then probably.

Or another players guy?

I'd have to stop you there.

7. How much could I rent my body out to spirits before I lost control of my character?

Renting out the body is mostly an all-or-nothing thing, but it's well-regulated for the most part. It's renting out bits of your soul that you should be worried about.

What are the names of the spirits?

Some of them have familiar names and look like you, others have names that are colours and look like pain.

Are they cool?

It's a mixed bag. Demons tend to be very nasty unless they wear masks, but then it is impolite to refer to them as demons.

8. What level do I have to get my character to before I am the g.m?

I rule with absolute power.

Can I half be the g.m at an early level?

I'll take any help I can get!

What about when you leave the room?

I am an expert at retcons.

9. What is the dumbest thing I can spend my money on?

Probably sponsoring a peasant. Peasants are pretty stupid.

no dumber than that but cool. Like a pet with a pet with a weapon?

You could give the peasant a weapon... Congratulations, Olaf the Porter is now a hireling!

Can pets dual wield?

Dual-wielding is a thing - it gives a bonus to armour class or attack depending on how you do it.

10. How ugly can my guy be? Like Can I basically be a walking fish?

Really damn ugly. Maybe not Charles II levels of ugly, but pretty ugly.

No wait I wanna be a walking fish. What is the reverse scuba technology like in this world?

If you're in the right place you could create a Fish-man character. They can walk on land without issue

11. The lamp oil? Is that like cooking oil, kerosene, white spirits or napalm?

On Izoa it's mostly flax-seed oil. Seal blubber is more common in Ithorun and fish oil is common in Oloris.

How much can I buy of it?

Depends on the coin - barrels of the stuff are pricey, but flasks are a lot more affordable.

12. How does physics work in this world?

Much like it does in ours, which is not as intended. Also there's a parasitic microuniverse of pure entropy latched on somewhere in the mix.

What makes the planets stay up?

Momentum and gravity.

Are there planets? 

There are!

Is it elves?

Elves have to obey the laws of physics just like everything else. Well, not quite everything...

Can I play an elf from another planet? 

In the right circumstances, yes!

Does everything work like how we though it did in the past?

It depends what you mean by that. If you get enough humans in a single place then sheer belief tends to bend the rules a bit.

Can I discover stuff and pass it off as a magic? 

Real magic users would suss you out pretty quickly, but sure.

Is possible to use the scientific process to organise the concepts of magic?

That's what the adherents of the nascent doctrine of natural philosophy are attempting! They're making a lot of mistakes and don't know what the scientific method is, but they're trying. It may or may not be possible.

13. Can I start with weapon hands?

If you start in Yoon-Suin you can be a Crab-man, so possibly! If you really wanted you could sacrifice a hand and have a cleaver or something fixed to the stump.

What about crab claws?

See above!

Can  I play a crab with human hands?

A man sized-crab or a crab-sized crab? The former, no, the latter, maybe.

Can I have one as a pet?

Crab-men in Yoon-Suin are generally chattel property.

Do they live on a different planet?

Some crabs do, not Crab-men though.

Can we go there?

That depends on how well you handle hard vacuum.

14. What cultures approve of cannibalism?

It's not so much approved of as tolerated in Ithorun, where official duels end up with the (dead) loser being eaten by the victor.

Terogor happily feasts on disciples of the Sacred Fire.

What about if we are super rich?

If you meet the above criteria, sure.

Aren't rich cannibals be default , I mean if you think about it?

You could make an argument for that, though it depends on how desperate the poor are for food.

How is the class struggle here anyway?

No outright class struggle but the emergence of a solid middle class is upsetting the old order, especially around the Crescent Sea.

Is there a Karl Marx?

Not in the sense of someone arguing for a revolution of the proletariat. There isn't really a proletariat, actually.

How receptive are people to the ideas of anarcho-syndicalism here?

Most of them would find the concept alien and dangerous.

15. Can my character not be real , but a hallucination of another character?

Flesh and blood characters only, I'm afraid. You might end in an incorporeal form though.

But I still wanna be able to do stuff. What are the stats for that?

No stats for that.

16. Which is the rome but with lava fire country in this world?

That would be the Kothen Imperium, but it doesn't exist any more and there's a sea where most of it used to be.

What about the ice circus country?

Far to the south lies a land of ice and snow, called the Rimelands. Explorers have encountered wondrous things and places but no legible maps exist. Also most of the explorers die or disappear.

Can I have a pet from there?

If you managed to capture and tame something, sure.

17. Can I invent an insect?

By all means, I love it when players come up with extra world details.

as a player like right now I tell you an insect and you put it in the game?

Absolutely.

Or as a character?

Either/or, I'm not fussed.

Can my spells be insects that then exist in this world after I cast them?

Each mage perceives their spells in a different way. It's possible that one mage perceives their magical talents as a horde of insects burrowing and nesting in their brain.

Can I play an insect who is actually a spell cast in this world?

No.

What about as a pet?

Having a pet insect? Sure thing.

18. Is there reverse fire?

Like fire, but cold? Sort of. Xixher's priests claim to be able to make ur-fire - fire that is more real than any other flames in the world. Those who feel it claim it chills their soul but leaves their flesh unmarked.

What about reverse water or earth?

Mages can make airy water that is breathable and actually accelerates fires. Explorers who have travelled to the far north report that chunks of land can be seen orbiting the Blightspire.

What do they wear there?

On reverse Earth? There are many parallel worlds and they wear all kinds of things - myconium sponge robes, chitin plates, humanoid skin...

19. How much money can I make inventing siege engines?

A pretty penny, though you have competition from orcish gunsmiths making cannons and mortars and human mage-engineers making warp-lightning cannons, wytchfire throwers and war golems.

Can I play a siege engine?

Given that they're generally inanimate objects, no.

In what ways are animals used in siege engines?

They haul them or are fired out of them.

20. What is the most significant tree to the economy of the starting place?

Good question. Probably oak, especially in a maritime region. White birch is beloved by many in the harsh frontiers of Oloris.

Is it really a tree or maidens stitched together?

They're really trees. Sometimes a druid might go into hibernation in a hollow beneath the roots of a tree. Sometimes they hibernate for a really long time and are consumed by the roots, entering a sort of waking dream within the tree.

If I play a maiden do I get spells or do people that worship me get spells but only if I'm mad at them?

If you're a maiden who happens to be a mage then you'll get spells. You'll need to attract a reasonable number of worshippers and accrue a fair amount of power before you can grant spells to others, though.

Credit, Nathan Wondrak

Monday, 27 November 2017

A Beginning

I've started this blog as an effort to contain my various rambles, fleeting thoughts, and other RPG-related things that run through my brain from time to time. Mostly this will equate to me posting half-baked, vague and wholly unoriginal ideas about a new setting that I'm designing (and hopefully, at some point, running) for my group.

For the first time since stepping into the GM's seat, I've written up a campaign primer for my players. At first I thought it was far too long but my players seem happy with it, particularly as an aid to choosing their starting position in the world and coming up with a few character ideas. Readers will probably notice that I've inserted pre-written settings in there wholesale, such as Noisms' excellent Yoon-Suin and both Fever Dreaming Marlinko and Slumbering Ursine Dunes from Hydra Cooperative, because why rely on my own anaemic imagination when some of the finest minds in the OSR movement are churning excellent stuff out at a rate of knots?

Anyhow, I've formed a reasonably solid idea of the world's backstory and cosmology and mostly finished a grand-scale map of two reasonably large continents using Cecil Howe's Hex-Kit (which is a must if you want wonderfully vibrant and detailed hex maps). I'll expand on these in future posts. A copy of the northern part of the map (with important/interesting parts highlighted) can be seen below:

City icons are settlements with populations ≥10,000

I've also come up with a name for the setting - Egradus - which sounds oddly fitting for a world set against a backdrop of apocalyptic interstellar warfare, otherworldly influences and a lost, terrible heritage.

I'll be posting more about the various regions and areas of interest in later posts.

Yoon-Suin: Classes

I'll be using the following classes in my Lamentations of the Flame Princess game set in Yoon-Suin: Warrior Thief Magician Holy-Man...

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