October 09, 2023

Of Men, You Make Beasts

 This is a table of horrible beasts for the more grisly parts of your games. Largely inspired by Loch's Ashes to Ashes game and PRIMEUMATON's GLOGtober prompt "Cool things to replace your eyes, teeth, and fingernails with,"

Obvious content warning - body horror.

(Cursed Wolf (2012) by Morgan Allen)
  1. A man. Its jaw distends to its knees and is brimming with snakes. It has the eyes of a cat and bear paws instead of feet. Every snake is venomous - roll for a random poison on your nastiest table when bitten.

  2. A woman. It has the head of a star-nosed mole - the size of a human ribcage. It has antlers instead of arms and rooster combs instead of nipples. When threatened or curious it makes a horrible gurgling sound and then begins to spray acid from its nose like a garden sprinkler.

  3. An old woman. Its skin sags so much that it trails behind like a long robe. Beneath the sags it has the legs of a spider and an arm-length proboscis. Anyone stung ages 1d10 years.

  4. A baby boy. Its head is a giant flea and it has the legs of a frog. It can mimic any voice it hears perfectly. If it can smell you - it gains knowledge of your greatest deeds, worst failures, parent's names, where you were born, and the names of the people you've killed.

  5. A man. Every inch of its skin is covered in ears. It has two pairs of bat wings which grow from its back and buttocks. If a spell is cast in earshot of it, the ears begin to scream and cast the spell back at the caster.

  6. A gibbon. Instead of a head, it has two human legs which it uses to walk. Ten beaks from different birds sprout from its chest. As long as its beaks chirp, everyone within earshot is deafened and moves as if intoxicated.

  7. A bull. It has horse legs for horns and hooves for teeth. Twenty infant arms dangle uselessly from its underside and clap when it charges. Its mere presence is supernaturally unnerving. Every round save vs fear or flee. Gain one sleep paralysis demon per save made.

  8. A hyena. Its neck is 7 feet long and frilled with human nipples. Its shoulders are covered in bleeding barnacles. The nipples persistently leak fire oil, leaving a puddle wherever this creature goes.

  9. A rat the size of a wolf. Its head is weighed down by a large crown of sharpened phalanges. Its tail is replaced with an elephant's trunk. In its presence all currency becomes white-hot.

  10. Twenty-eight tigers grafted together with human gums - collectively the size of a cabin. Somehow it can still sprint at the speed of a man. No supernatural abilities - but who needs those when you have the sheer force of twenty-eight tigers piled atop one another.

  11. A snapping turtle the size of a wolf. Its shell is replaced with a giant mound of gums dotted with ingrown teeth. Staring at it makes any recent wounds open and bleed profusely.

  12. An anaconda. It has six meaty frog-legs protruding out of its eye sockets. Human canines cover its underside. The grip of its frog legs is equivalent to an industrial vice.

  13. A shark. It has two massive sloth arms growing from the sides of its head which allow for clumsy movement on land. Instead of teeth it has barbed human tongues and a goat's eye at the end of its throat. If it can see you, it can attack you. The tongues extend to unnatural lengths to rip into your flesh.

  14. A knotted mass of moray eels, collectively the size of a boulder. Instead of a face, each eel has a human hand with a bony spike sticking out of the palm. If disturbed the bony spikes fire in all directions like a volley of arrows. They take an hour to regrow.

  15. A wasp the size of a human head. Instead of wings it has a pair of beating human lungs. Growing beside its abdomen is the bulging abdomens of a spider and ant. On death it releases a small cloud of purple gas that quickly combusts.

  16. A beetle the size of a wolf. Its horns are replaced with the biting heads of caiman. Its carapace is replaced with matted human hair. If you get close to it, human arms will emerge from the hair and try to grab your weapons.

  17. A hummingbird. Eight large spider legs jut from its sides. It has the large bulging eyes of a tarsier drooping off its head. Its pecks lay eggs. Over the course of three days a fist-sized pimple will grow on the pecking site and burst, releasing 1d6 identical hummingbird-beasts.

  18. An owl the size of an aircraft. Instead of feathers it has luxurious locks of human hair. Giant gibbering mouths reveal themselves from beneath its wingspan. Areas it flies over experience brief showers of acid rain, increased crime rates, and visceral apocalyptic visions.

  19. A mass of dog legs, collectively the size of a man. Rolls across the landscape like a tumbleweed in the wind. As harmless as it is useless.

  20. A sluggish mass of sclera and vitreous fluid - its surface pockmarked with the irises of hundreds of different animals. Anyone who touches it with bare skin goes blind for an hour. A copy of their iris is added to the growing mass.

Design Notes

This table is obviously not exhaustive. If I have learned anything from Loch's Ashes to Ashes - it's that there's an infinite number of ways to fuck a living creature up. Use this table as a jumping off point - run wild. In the age of beasts, nothing is too absurd to walk the Earth.

September 18, 2023

Bullfighter Jacket (D100 Fantasy Cloak Patches)

 This is a collection of d100 patches to be sewn onto your adventurer's cloak.

For those unfamiliar, in the sci-fi TTRPG Mothership every PC is given a patch sewn onto their coveralls. It does not have any explicit mechanical benefit but it adds so much flavor to your PC and how they present themselves to the world.

I want to have a fantasy equivalent of this, and from observing many character designs I have found a coverall's fantasy equal appears to be a nice cloak. I recommend you roll these at the beginning of character creation as Mothership does - as this allows players to speculate why their characters have these patches and what it says about their personality, past, occupation, etc.

If a cloak doesn't work, patches can always be sewn onto the pack your adventurers carry their beloved loot or used as tattoos for those who like commitment.

Without further ado:

D100 Patches
(Art by the brilliant Dominik Mayer)

  1. "Not A Mimic" (Arrow Pointing Up)
  2. "FIRST" (Hand Clenching Gold Coins)
  3. "Tread Lightly" (10 Foot Pole)
  4. "Flrghlrghhud" ("Fuck Off" In Goblin)
  5. "Stand Clear" (Fireball)
  6. Dark Shape With Three Red Eyes
  7. "Too Young To Die" (Cherub)
  8. "Manifesting" (Pile Of Gems)
  9. "Designated Lantern Boy"
  10. "GREETINGS, I AM:" (Character's Name)
  11. "We Come In Peace" (Praying Hands)
  12. "Chin Up, Soldier" (Torch With Halo)
  13. Goblin (Horribly Drawn)
  14. Grinning Moon
  15. "I'm Parched" (Potion)
  16. "Open Up" (Hand With Lockpicks For Fingers)
  17. "Approaching Rock Bottom" (Unlit Torch)
  18. "SEEK PHYSICAL PERFECTION" (Crossed Scimitars)
  19. "HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?" (Person's Face)
  20. "No Rest For The Wicked"
  21. Plowshares (Crossed)
  22. Elf Ear (Bite Taken Out Of It)
  23. "Knock Knock" (Warhammer)
  24. "All Is Fair In Love And War" (Red Coins)
  25. Knotted Dwarven Beard, Shaped Into A Fist
  26. Rope Shaped Into Infinity
  27. "Halt!" (Tower Shield)
  28. "Don't Talk To Me Before I've Had My Ale"
  29. "Sticks And Stones / May Break My Bones / But Words Will Never Hurt Me"
  30. "KINGKILLER" (Flamberge)
  31. Symbol To An Obscure Deity
  32. Chess Pawn Carrying Banner
  33. "Zzz" (Shut Eye)
  34. Pinup Model (Barmaid)
  35. "Lucky Patch / DO NOT REMOVE"
  36. Knife Wedged Into A Human Spine
  37. Snake Eyes On Dice
  38. Ace Of Spades
  39. "Guide My Hand" (Constellation)
  40. A Fine-Print Description Of What To Do With Your Remains
  41. "Goo-Drinker" (Open Mouth)
  42. "First One In / Last One Out"
  43. Grocery List
  44. Jester Tripping
  45. "Dirty Worker" (Hand, Shovel, Heart)
  46. Self Portrait
  47. "Strength Is The Only Virtue" (A Dog Eating A Dog)
  48. Three Sunflowers
  49. "I'm Fine" (Face Wearing Mask)
  50. "The Gods Are Our Greatest Teachers" (Bruised Face Smiling)
  51. "Angel Of Death" (Halo Of Teeth)
  52. "Trust No One" (Deformed Human Figure)
  53. Hand With Six Curled Fingers
  54. Pinup Model (Dwarf)
  55. "Once Upon A Time..." (Blackletter)
  56. "Love Thy Brother" (Two Fawns Sleeping)
  57. "Live Free Die Young" (Dancing Skeleton)
  58. "Hardly Broke A Sweat" (Dragon Skull)
  59. "Too Old For This Shit"
  60. "All Mine!" (Hissing Cat)
  61. "Don't Bother Me, I'm Pondering" (Orb)
  62. "Take Me Away From Here" (Boat)
  63. Pinup Model (Holding Knife Behind Back)
  64. "All Shall Be Revealed In Time" (Open Spellbook)
  65. Portrait (Player Character's Mother)
  66. "In Need Of Repair"
  67. "Omens Abound" (Ravens)
  68. "Keep Talking And Nobody Dies"
  69. "I Want To Have Fuck With You"
  70. "Never Forget" (Person's Portrait)
  71. "Upstart Hero" (Knight Helm)
  72. Ship In A Bottle
  73. Portrait (Indescribably Grotesque)
  74. "Give Me Money / Give Me Love"
  75. Pinup Model (Blushing Noble)
  76. "Don't Die On Me"
  78. Horse (Horribly Drawn)
  79. "Think Outside The Box" (Gelatinous Cube)
  80. Three Names (One Crossed Off)
  81. "Death Comes Faster Than The Realization"
  82. "Stay Alive At All Costs" (Amputee Adventurer)
  84. A Folkloric Hero
  85. Crown Atop A Throne
  86. "Powered By Ale"
  87. "The Dungeon IS My Home" (Sad Adventurer)
  88. "NOPE."
  89. "Out Of My Sight, Insect"
  90. "Sorry, Mom / Sorry, Dad"
  91. "MEAT SHIELD" (Scarred Muscles)
  92. Obscure Country's Flag
  93. "PROPERTY OF:" (Another Character's Name)
  94. "Made You Look" (Laughing Man)
  95. "It's The Thought That Counts" (Lit Lantern)
  96. "If You Are Reading This / I Love You"
  97. "Stop Touching My Shit"
  98. "Help Wanted"
  99. "Next One's On Me" (Raised Tankard)
  100. "Victory Is Ours!" (Merry Band Of Adventurers)

Closing Thoughts

You can always roll these up for rival adventuring parties to get a better hold of their personalities or just have an identifying feature that is a little more strange.

Obviously using patches will immediately give your game a bit more of a "punk" flavoring and make your PCs view themselves as more scrappy. Many of these are a little goofy because adventurers are an weird lot and patches are often made to be quirky. If you're running a campaign for more dignified folks, you can always use banners or family crests instead.

Additionally, put enough of the same patch on people of similar beliefs and you may have a guild or secret society forming. Perhaps "Designated Lantern Boy" patch is something given by the Lantern Boy Union - premium dungeon fodder who demand pesky things like worker's rights. Let the free association flow - run wild.

September 17, 2023

Eyes of the Hidden

 This is a table of d6 x d20 sixth senses all adventurers may have.

As a reminder to potential aliens or gelatinous cubes in the audience, all senses give information, just through different ways. With this in mind, this table is divided into two pieces. Roll 1d6 on the first table to get the way something is sensed, and 1d20 on the second table to get the information sensed. Combine the two results for fun and profit:

5/6ths Of The Way To True Attunement
(Art by the wonderful Konstantin Vavilov)

If you...
  1. See something very closely
  2. Smell something
  3. Taste something
  4. Touch something
  5. Hear something
  6. Read about something
... you can intuitively determine...
  1. Who created it
  2. Its exact weight and height
  3. Its name (not true name) and any nicknames
  4. Its purpose and its thoughts on the meaning of life
  5. If it is magical (not how, just if)
  6. If it is cursed or blessed
  7. What diseases it carries
  8. Its greatest deed
  9. Its most shameful secret
  10. How many lives it has taken
  11. Its closest friend
  12. Its worst enemy
  13. Its strongest desire
  14. Its worst fear
  15. Any languages it speaks
  16. Where and when it was created
  17. Everything it has done in the past hour in chronological order
  18. Its recurring dreams
  19. Its exact monetary value
  20. Its emotional value to its owner (if it has an owner)

Closing Thoughts
I find that gifting these senses to adventurers can be done in three fun ways:
  • Through magical or alchemic mutation. This is obvious but also a tried and true classic.
  • Through birth. Perhaps if you have these senses, you are bound for the grim gold-laden path of being an adventurer. This obviously has implications on your setting.
  • After your first successful adventure. Perhaps the dungeon changes you and you leave with a piece of the Mythic Underworld with you. If you want to go real crazy, roll a new sense each level-up.
Odd scenarios will arise when your player asks you "I lick the mushroom, who is its closest friend?" Feel free to give an odd response back like "Sarro Fogmoon, Druid of the Stonewood, Ally of All Things Fungal and Creeping". Giving information like this is a great way to plant adventure seeds and give information about the mechanics and places of your world at large.

Although, you don't need to give some groundbreaking information through these senses all the time. Perhaps the answer to "I lick the mushroom, who is its closest friend?" is "I don't know, it's a mushroom, most mushrooms don't have friends,"

To cut the work on yourself, you don't need to describe every instance of when something is tasted, touched, smelled, etc. Only give out this information when a player asks for it and takes the appropriate action with the appropriate sense deliberately. Additionally, make sure that the players know that you will not be automatically describing whether every meal they eat is magical and whatnot and that they must explicitly ask if they wish to receive information.

Feel free to add to the list. Nothing is stopping you from putting "Kill something", "Kiss something" or even "Prank something" on the d6 list, or "Its response to the trolley problem", "Who it has romantic feelings for" or "The last lie it told" on the d20 list as well. Just be aware that these will often be more specific than the classic few senses listed up there and it will also encourage your players to interact with the world in certain ways.

August 26, 2023

Fifteen Blows (Five Duelist Styles)

 I couldn't resist. Required reading, Loch's excellent Duelist - a fighter that's actually kinda fun.

A Duelist's Halo
Art By Konstantin Vavilov

Ψ - Mercy
The style of the warrior nuns on the Northern frontier, where the sun bleaches all. Requires a blunt weapon.
You might have learned it from one of their fold, or in a near-death experience
  1. Technique: Liturgical Waltz - When you would make two successful attacks on a target, you may shove them up to 20' for free.
  2. Stance: Divine Repose - Brace your arms in prayer and fall to your knees. You cannot cause any harm to others in any way and you move at a crawl. But you cannot die and you cannot be dismembered.
  3. Technique: Make Them See God - When you could riposte, you can instead make the opponent go into Divine Repose for a round by beating them into that position.
  4. Stance: Deathtrap Enlightenment - Your eyes glow a yellow weirdlight. Murderers of the first degree cannot make eye contact with you. Cursed items quiver under your gaze.

Ψ - Hadal
The style of unknowable things come to rise from the ocean and cynic's nightmares.
You might have learned it from an indescribable fish in your dreams, or etched on the ocean floor.

  1. Technique: We All Float Down Here - Upon a successful attack, you may change the opponent's gravity. They move and fight as if they were swimming in water. Fighters get a save.
  2. Technique: Abyss On Earth - Forgo one of your attacks to vomit a vantablack fog. It covers a 20' by 20' area and lingers for 3 rounds. It is impossible by any means mundane or magical to see through it or dispel it.
  3. Stance: Flight Of The Fish - If in darkness, you can move in the air as if you were swimming in water.
  4. Stance: Trench Fighting - Your extra AC from panache isn't lost when you're submerged in water.

Ψ - School Of Flight
The style of the Students of Flight in their fortress-academy high in the mountains.
You might have learned it from the lessons of the school, or in the entrails of a roc.

  1. Technique: Rising Action - When you would riposte, you instead launch yourself off the opponent's weapon up to 20' in the air.
  2. Technique: Falling Action - If you are above someone's head, you can make an extra attack with advantage for free.
  3. Stance: Airborne Fighting - Your extra AC from panache isn't lost when you're in air. You always fall on your feet and take no damage from falls you prepared for.
  4. Stance: Stolen Flight - You can jump up to 10' in the air given you have an arm's length of space to move.

Ψ - Ultraviolent
The style of imperceptible light. Needless to say, its students are elusive.
You might have learned it from an invisible mentor, or on a blank notebook reeking of lemon juice.

  1. Technique: Blinding Blood - When you would take damage, your wounds bleed a strong purple weirdlight. Everybody who can see you hurt must make a save or be blinded.
  2. Technique: Speed Of Light - If you can see a strong light source you can teleport on top of it in the blink of an eye. Using this to teleport to the sun is an inadvisable, but possible decision.
  3. Stance: UV Cloak - Your body becomes invisible. Your equipment does not benefit from this invisibility.
  4. Stance: Light's Witness - You can see invisible foes. They glow a strange fluorescent pale and have trailing afterimages.

Ψ - Ook
The style of the primates in the West whose weaponry consists of sticks and stones. Requires a rock.
You might have learned it over tea by a wise orangutan chieftain, or by bonding with your own special rock in a way incomprehensible to others.

  1. Technique: Skipping Stones - You can make melee attacks on anybody you see by skipping your stone across their heads. 
  2. Technique: OOK OOK AAH - If you deal max damage, you may disable the opponent's ability to communicate in anything but ooks, aahs, and eeks.
  3. Stance: Rollout - As long as you are rolling in one direction, you cannot be stopped or moved against your will.
  4. Stance: Primal Respect - Take a posture ridiculous to civilized folk but revered by animals. Animals will not attack you unless you have attacked them first. If you are hostile to them, you are the sole focus of their attention.

August 24, 2023

Class-As-Species (Anatomically Correct Wizards)

Adventurers are different from all other kind of folk in every aspect, mainly as a result of their class. But nobody seems to know what a class is other than it makes you better at killing shit and getting fat stacks. What if we took it in an absolute direction:

Fighters, Thieves, Wizards and the like are not occupations, they are all species that appear human on the surface, but are anatomically unique. 

All branching evolutions come from and still inherit the traits of:

If you take any other class-as-species Delta, you must take this Delta. Be born (or rebirthed) with numinous qualities.
  • With a mere look you know any given object's monetary value.
  • You give off pheromones that have a certain effect on people. People treat you as more important than you often actually are.
  • You metabolize gold. All other food tastes like ash, but gold? Indescribable ambrosia. You must adventure to live - your appetite is voracious.
A flock of Adventurer subspecies (called a Party)
(By Konstantin Vavilov)

If not born a Fighter , you can be reborn as one by: Bathing in the burning blood of a dragon and melting into a Fighter; Wearing a piece of armor for a month without ever taking it off; Divine blessing.
  • What people mistake for a suit of armor is actually your flesh. Add [LEVEL + 1] to your AC. You are never treated as unarmored, as it is embedded into your skin.
  • Your sympathetic nervous system works wonders. When in extreme danger, pick either fight or flight. If you choose fight, gain +1 attack per round and you cannot die until you are out of danger (but can still be damaged and dismembered while in danger). If you choose flight, gain +[LEVEL] Dexterity, run twice as fast, and clamber up surfaces like a mountain goat.
If not born a Thief , you can be reborn as one by: Embracing a grue with mutual love; Drinking Cocoon Poison from the Underworld and waiting a month; An unholy pact.
  • The tips of your fingers are sharpened like fangs (count as dual-wielding knives if unarmed). You are immune to poisons that are transmitted by skin contact.
  • You make no sound you didn't intend to make. Your eyes look like those of a cat.
If not born a Wizard, you can be reborn as one by: Eating a lich's phylactery; Placing your soul in a hat and renouncing your humanity; ; Drinking the wrong potion.
  • You are not a humanoid, instead you are a parasitic hat piloting a body. If placed on the head of a creature with [LEVEL] or less HD than you, you can pilot it. Creatures get an Intelligence save to resist. Even if the creature is not magical, you have an inherent 1 MD.
  • You can smell magic. Different schools of magic have different scents. Cinnamon for pyromancy, vanilla for necromancy, onion for illusions, etc.

August 16, 2023

Blood Of The Fang

This is a collection of Delta templates related to classic monsters, massively inspired by Loch's recent post on Delta templates. For those unfamiliar with GLOG, a Delta template is a set of abilities you can gain dietetically through weird rite, ritual, and other odd action. It provides a diegetic way of advancement through experimentation and narrative costs to the PCs. Maybe if you had a whole monster manual accompanied by Deltas for each entry the players would engage even the smallest kobold with interest and ambition.

This is not an exhaustive list, but you knew that already. Edit as suits your wants and needs:
Power Takes Many Forms (art by Konstantin Vavilov)

Petrify a basilisk. Place the statue in a town square as a permanent installation. If the statue is torn down, moved from its location, or the basilisk is unpetrified, start again.
  • When you kill, the victim turns to stone.
  • You can tear into stone and other earthwork with your body as if it were ground beef.
  • When you first meet someone who has heard of you, but has never seen your face, they freeze and cower instinctively.

Land the killing blow on a bear with your bare hands. Show its mother what you've done, laugh, and walk away. After this, all bears you meet conspire to ruin your life. Start again once a bear has mauled you within an inch of your life.
  • You are immune to being ignored and the most notable person in a group when you will it.
  • You can perfectly mimic the roar of any beast you've heard that has HD less than or equal to your own.
  • You cannot be knocked prone unwillingly.

Replace one of your eyes with an eye from a living beholder. If the beholder dies or the eye is removed, start again.
  • When people make eye contact with you, the ringing of mosquitoes fills their head, deafening them for the duration eye contact is made and leaving a nauseous aftertaste.
  • ALL rolls for morale or Wisdom in your presence have their penalties doubled (if there are any negative modifiers). This does not affect you.
  • You can communicate with the beholder in your dreams. If the beholder dies, you are shown who and what caused their death in your dreams.

Eat the most valuable item in a dragon's hoard. If you cannot find a way to eat it or keep it down, start again. Beware - knaves' eyes and dwarves' noses will be able to sense the treasure lingering in your guts.
  • You have an innate sense of how valuable items are both monetarily and emotionally to their owner.
  • You can move nearby gold objects you could reasonably wield in one hand with your mind.
  • You deal +1d4 damage against those with less money on their person than you.

Eat the highest-hanging fruit on an ent's body. Survive the wrath of the forest while the fruit digests. If you ever discard the digested fruit from your person, start again.
  • When you will it, you can turn your skin to bark. You take half damage from bludgeoning, piercing, and falling. You take double damage from fire and necromancy.
  • You cannot be killed by poisoning. Surviving poison still remains an incredibly unpleasant experience.
  • When you lie prone on dirt or stone, a cloak of foliage and underbrush quickly grows and effectively conceals you over the course of a minute.

Wear a fishman's head over your own. Decry your humanity in a public display including a crowd of strangers, a body of water, and the destruction of 100 gp. After this, if the fishman's head is removed, start again.
  • When you will it, you can emit a foul odor that blinds all who smell it, including yourself.
  • You can talk to bodies of water. Their language sounds like moving sand. Only ones that are particularly old or sacred have much to say. They are often wise but poetically obtuse. Oceans and seas are too busy to talk unless you're very important.
  • You can breathe underwater, unless the body of water does not like you.

Trap a gelatinous cube in a suit of armor. Once half an hour has passed and it has accepted its new shell, climb into the armor. If the suit of armor is removed, start again.
  • You can turn into a sentient puddle of gelatin over the course of a minute. You  move at the pace of a toddler and take double damage from the cold but you can also fit through cracks the size of your pinky and are immune to piercing, acid, and suffocation. When you reform, one detail about your original form is off.
  • Attempts to read your mind or alter it fail. The person attempting to read/manipulate you leaks slime from their mouth and nostrils for a minute.
  • When you will it, your feet and hands leave a trail of slippery slime.

Romance a ghoul. Get it to kiss you with genuine passion, which requires it to overcome the urge to rip off gnaw on your face-meat. If the ghoul falls out of love with you, start again.
  • Your kiss can paralyze if you will it. The length of paralysis is equal to the length of the kiss.
  • Your mouth has the grip strength of an industrial vice.
  • You can appear as any age you desire. The process takes as many hours as years you are advancing if you are becoming older. The process as many days as years you are regressing if you are becoming younger.

Make a comfortable home within a giant's innards. Store something of great value in there and fall asleep. You will wake up changed. If the house is destroyed or looted, start again. Beware, dead giants are teeming with other wannabe tenants.
  • You are 10 feet tall. Adjust Strength and inventory space as appropriate. 
  • Your voice is far deeper. If you will it, you can let out a scream that breaks all glass in earshot.
  • You deal +1d4 damage against people with less self-confidence than you.

Observe a live goblin long enough to draw them. Decry your humanity in a public display including a crowd of strangers and willing participants who will beat you into the shape you have drawn. If the drawing is destroyed, you will heal over the course of a week and have to start again.
  • You no longer take fall damage. Instead, you bounce.
  • Your fingers count as lockpicks.
  • If you are naked and on all fours you can climb walls like a spider and run as fast as a rabid dog.

Eat a grue's tongue. Easier said than done. There is no reversing this - you are no longer truly safe in shadows or dreams.
  • You can turn your skin and all equipment worn vantablack (the purest black) if you will it. 
  • You can store three items in your shadow. Each item must not be bigger than you and must have taken a life. The weightier the shadow, the more grue attention it attracts.
  • You can put out any light source in earshot if you will it. This attracts the attention of grues.

Domesticate a mimic. Feed 1,000 gp worth of treasure to it. It will produce one dose of mimic milk for you to drink. If you take back the treasure you donated, start again.
  • You can instantly disguise yourself as an object you have seen before, smaller than a cart but big enough to contain your body. Objects you  mimic work perfectly well for mundane purposes. You are still harmed normally while in disguise if something attacks.
  • You can talk to traps. Their language sounds like mechanical clicking and electrical whirring. They are naturally duplicitous but very eager to brag how many people they have killed and how you are certainly next. Gaining a trap's respect is nigh-impossible.
  • By tasting an object, you know if it is magic or not.


I like Deltas because I am a big fan of diegetic advancement while also liking the template system of GLOG. The issue is that designing Deltas is surprisingly difficult. I think I have devised of a way to make a compelling Delta while still being easy for the GM to generate, though. This process helped me:

First and above all, every Delta you make should get players scheming how to fulfill its requirements and imagining what they'd do with the given powers. Throw sense out the window when making the requirements to get a Delta, the weirder the ritual to get the Delta, the better, because that captures attention and gives you more material to work with. Get evocative, let the funk take over.

Ideally with Deltas related to monsters, you want the requirements and the abilities granted to relate to the monster's primary characteristics (e.g., a dragon obviously has fire as a theming) or secondary characteristics (but a dragon also keeps hoards of gold, which could be something to tap into)

I've found that going back to the old maxim of "fast, cheap, or good - pick two" is great for making the requirements for a Delta. When designing most of my Delta's requirements, I returned to this reliable "here's three options, pick two,":
  • It is hard to execute. This is simple - the requirement needs a lot of problem solving and thinking in order to work in the first place. For example: petrifying a basilisk asks a lot of the players but it is achievable.
  • It comes with a lingering cost or drawback. The requirement either needs you to uphold some kind of maintenance you didn't have to before or inflicts a considerable drawback on you as long as the requirement is upheld. For example: you may need to care for a beholder's life if you want to continue benefitting from the Delta they provide.
  • It requires you to do something that will certainly make you a pariah in society's eyes. The requirement needs a public display of devotion which risks putting you at odds with certain sects of society. For example: adventurers who know (or sense, in the case of dwarves) that you have eaten part of a dragon's hoard will want to have a search around your guts.
Personally, I have found the most success in always picking the first option and then picking one of the other two options, or at least designing around the first option primarily. I feel as if choosing just the bottom two options makes this a downtime event with some consequences, which is less exciting to me than an adventure players must actively seek to improve themselves in strange ways.

As goes in the OSR, you should be open to accepting multiple answers to any problem a requirement presents. If a player is thinking cleverly, they should be rewarded. For example: a player does not petrify the basilisk in a conventional way, rather, petrifies it with fear for an extended period of time, or a paralyzing poison, or what have you. These are delightful solutions and should be accepted as valid in my opinion. 

As for abilities, each Delta template should give 2-3 abilities as a job well done. I don't have any particular advice around the design of abilities aside from also trying to relate these abilities to the particular monster or ritual required to get the Delta template. Don't be stingy with the abilities, especially if the Delta template can be taken away.

You can also always go more minimal with your Deltas. A recent example of this is Phlox's Fighter Deltas here. A few sentences can do the trick. I just like going big or going home with my Deltas so they feel more like strange, epic quests that change your character in some unignorable way.

All in all, Delta templates should get the players dreaming of what to do to get them, and then what to do with the abilities provided. Knowledge of how to get a Delta template can be a reward of its own, if the requirement is not already known to the players. 

Oh, also give your Deltas a kick-ass name - that always helps.

May 16, 2022

Making Good Factions (For Your Dungeon)

 Hello. Today we will be diving into yet another aspect of dungeoncraft: factions. I feel like it's pretty well known among the OSR community that your dungeon should have factions, but rarely do I hear what a faction should be aside from a group of people with matching uniforms/aesthetics. So, today I will give criteria for what I find makes a good faction. Like the last post, this can also be a fine jumping-off point for making your own dungeon from scratch, as groups of people can define a place just as well as what people say about a place.

Factions, like people, need homes. They cannot exist in a vacuum, and need a backdrop (in this case, a dungeon) for their antics. Additionally, this setting backdrop can further reinforce faction themes or give you inspiration for further factions.

For this example, I will use the basic structure of the dungeon I implied in my last post. For those who don't want to read that post: the surface is the ruins of a keep, the first level is a set of dungeons which houses now-undead prisoners, the second level is a wizard's alchemical laboratory which is nestled deep within a set of subterranean caves and tunnels, and the third level is a set of overgrown catacombs which is the final resting place for an ancient wizard and their familiars.

With the setting established, let us begin.

Art by Konstantin Vavilov

Before we get to the specifics, I feel that it is important to define what makes a good faction. I believe a good faction is comprised of three specific things:

  • An aesthetic. Be general so you can have some wiggle-room to make unique faction members, but be sure to be weird enough to have them stick in the player's heads. For instance, a group of roving skeleton guards is a workable aesthetic, but it becomes much more memorable if they have cast-iron helmets that look like fish heads. This is all to say, blend general and specific elements to get a unique result players will remember.
  • A hierarchy of power. Factions are made of people, and people have varying amounts of influence. Defining a leader or two, their relation to their grunts, and how they hold power above their grunts is often enough to cement a leader. Although, you can get bonus points if you bend the faction's aesthetic in a unique way so they stand out among the crowd. Additionally, when people gain power, they begin to form goals of their own beyond the rest of the group. Giving a leader ulterior motives or other goals that the rest of the faction is not interested in/does not know about/must be kept a secret can lead to more intrigue.
  • A goal. Something to ground them in the location (in our case, the dungeon) they are meddling with. Again, I feel as if having factions/NPCs with goals is often talked about in the OSR, but rarely with good examples given. Since a goal defines a faction's actions and reasons for staying in the dungeon, I will go to extra lengths to define good goals. They are:
    • Not a means to an end. As vague as this sounds, it is important, because it is quite common to put "power" or "wealth" as a faction's goal in many adventures/dungeons. "Power" or "wealth" is not a goal, they are instead means to achieve a goal. Instead of just stating these means as a goal in and of themselves, we must step into the shoes of our faction we're making and get a little strange.
    • Proactive. Reactive goals (like "guard the vault", etc) give you very little wiggle-room for intrigue and interest. For example, a reactive goal would be for a group of elves to "guard the forest" This gives them little action to do aside from sitting around and maybe picking off the occasional outsider. If you want to make this a proactive goal, first ask yourself if the elves want to achieve their protection of the forest destructively or constructively. For instance, a destructive (yet proactive) goal would be to "kill all non-elves in the nearby industrial city of Littleplume". Meanwhile, a constructive goal would be to "build a great wall around the forest," Both of these more proactive goals give the elves specific outlets to achieve their goals, and are more unique than to simply "acquire power/wealth" You can essentially roll up means with an end to create a more dynamic goal for a faction.
    • Self-serving. There are rarely completely morally good/bad goals in factions. Do not be afraid to have factions with conflicting goals. If two factions have the same goal, consider rolling them into one faction for simplification.

While this sounds quite complicated, on paper it can be distilled into a few short snippets for each faction. When making your own factions and relationship maps, remember that you can always go over it again and use these bullets like a checklist, reworking the base idea that you had until it satisfies you.

Now, I want to take you through a process I'm using to generate my own factions and the relationships they have with each other/the environment. Remember, the basic setting I'm using is a dungeon. The surface is a ruined keep. The first level is a prison filled with undead, the second is an alchemical lab in a cave, the third is a set of catacombs that serve as the resting place for a mage and their familiars. 

I first begin ruining a blank piece of paper with the central setting, the dungeon. I split this into levels because factions can have relationships to (or goals towards) different environments, as well as each other. In the case of dungeons, I like to think of each level as a house for a family, and each level is an uncomfortable neighbor with each other. 

Next, I list out the main body of the factions, or the grunts, just sticking to a general concept, name, and look. I then like to go down the bullet points like a checklist, first making sure that each faction has an aesthetic before leaders or concrete goals. I also list the reasons why these factions currently dwell in these areas of the dungeon. This may or may not be necessary to (for instance, if it's a more beastly faction, it may be harder to say the purpose they live there aside from "it's their habitat), but I find that it can be useful to elaborate on the faction's relationship with the environment.

After this, I tackle the next item on the checklist, the faction leaders/notables. For these, I just try to add what the grunts of the faction would logically have as a leader. For instance, guards without a noble to oversee them would be strange. Wizardly pets without an owner would also be strange. Etc. I also attempt to bend the faction's aesthetic by either amplifying it or altering it (but not altering it to be unrecognizable) so when players see these notables, they can safely assume that they belong to their respective factions and are people of importance. Additionally, I add more relationships between the grunts and their leaders, along with leaders and other leaders that I can think of at the moment. If you cannot come up with relationships between different leaders, think about how you would respond to said leader given the circumstances. For instance, if I was Veroy the Green I'd feel uncomfortable with Sir Nic the Bold burying himself in my set of catacombs, and would have a negative relationship with him.

Once this is done, we get to the last main part of the factioncraft, the goals. Here, I give each main faction its own real-estate on the page. Then I will give each faction a general goal or two, and later I will give leaders their own motivations in the dungeon rooms. Feel free to get more specific during this part of the process, as now you should have somewhat of an idea of what each faction gen

Step 5 is optional, but I like it. Basically, just add some short complicating factions. These complicating factions are largely just grunts, and occupy a smaller area than main factions. Don't feel the need to give them some grand ambitions like the other factions. You can essentially treat these as bands of rival adventurers that may live inside of the dungeon and making life a mess for the rest of the inhabitants.

And that concludes this post. Compared to the last post, I think that it would likely be harder to use this method of mapping factions as a direct way to make a dungeon. The gears turn much easier if you have a very broad idea of what you want, and you can start with some really bold and interesting foundations if you use the rumor generation method of dungeon ideation. I think I find having a set number of principles to stick to when making a faction is the most useful, as compared to the overall mapping of the factions and their relations. This dungeon project is still undergoing massive amounts of work, so don't take anything you've seen here as something you will see in the final draft. I hope you found this helpful!

April 26, 2022

Making Good Rumors (And Later, Dungeons)

Long time, no see. I have been quite busy with life, so I apologize with the 2 year hiatus. I have recently been working on building a dungeon zine project and I have found it to be extraordinarily difficult to actually begin work on a dungeon and know if the concept is any good. I have tried a few methods and each time I find my ideas to be faulty in some way further down the line, or I lose faith in the concept because of a few messy details.

Not to get psychological, but I think this is because I struggle when participating in activities without much structure, like dungeon building. I personally like to make checklists for myself when I lack structure, although I have found that the art of dungeoncraft cannot really be put elegantly into a checklist.

So, I had to get unconventional. Instead of starting dungeons from some nebulous history, why not begin to generate ideas for dungeons by rumor tables, killing two birds with one stone. Basically, with each prompt/entry on the rumor table, a new concept of the dungeon is introduced. This way, with each rumor, the dungeon develops its own character and themes.

Of course, rumors need homes. Before starting the table below, be sure to have a dungeon entrance in mind, something that could reasonably breach the surface into the mythic underworld where all dungeons exist. The surface location could be anything, from a cave entrance to a ruined keep to a ruined spacecraft.

Art by Konstantin Vavilov

Before we get to the prompts to generate a dungeon, I feel that it is important to discuss what makes a good rumor. To me, good rumors are:

* Short and snappy (do not write paragraphs. Nobody speaks in paragraphs. Keep it to a single sentence and save the explanations for the GM if it is necessary, not the players)

* Able to pique player interest (typically by playing into their motivations, such as presenting an opportunity for treasure, knowledge, glory, secrets, a kickass vorpal sword, etc.)

* Strange and speculative (They change the image that the players initially had of the dungeon by introducing a weird concept. For example, "The prison used to hold criminals" is not a rumor, it states the obvious. "The prison used to hold animals who committed criminal offenses" is a rumor, because it fundamentally changes how the players view the dungeon by adding the concept of animals possibly living in the dungeon (even if this rumor is proven to be false, it will change the way they approach the dungeon))

Now, onto the table of rumor prompts:

1. A true rumor about what else lies below the surface of the entrance structure. Be general, give yourself some room to breathe. This is meant to add spatial complexity to a dungeon. For instance, a dungeon is boring if it is just a large set of caves with one theme, but caves with a secret lab as the 2nd level is cool.

2. A partially true rumor about another area that lies below the entrance structure. This is here to add more layers of complexity while giving yourself even more wiggle room. If you feel like adding more major locales to your dungeon, repeat these two prompts to your heart's content.

3. A true fact about the history of the dungeon below. Every dungeon has a history, even if that history is somewhat odd and disjointed as a result of being generated from a rumor table. It is a magical underground complex, go wild! Just remember not to ramble with your history, keeping it to one sentence.

4. A partially true fact about the history of the dungeon below. Adding more history, more wiggle room.

5. A true fact about what is currently going on in the dungeon. This is different from history, since the rumormongers may have to deal with these current events which are somehow related to the dungeon. This prompt is here to add a sense of livelihood to the dungeon. A set of ruins with just history feels like you are walking through something cool that you weren't there for, which often isn't much fun for players.

6. A partially true fact about what is currently going on in the dungeon. You know the drill.

7. A blatantly false and somewhat ridiculous sounding rumor. Now that you have a general idea of what is going on in the dungeon, it is time for you to have more fun. People like to lie and tell tall tales, and the players will joke about the fool who unironically told them this story, assuming they don't fall for it.

8. Roll 1d6. A (1: true, 2-3: partially true, 4-6: false) rumor about a specific treasure in the dungeon. All dungeons worth their salt have some legendary treasure. Whether it is Excalibur or a giant floating eyeball companion, the only rule here is that it should be cool and not mundane. Nobody is going to care that a +1 sword is in the dungeon, latch onto something that the players will immediately think of ways to use and abuse.

9. Roll 1d6. A (1: true, 2-3: partially true, 4-6: false) rumor about some of the flora/fauna in the dungeon. This could be useful for introducing possible recurring environmental hazards, which dungeons should have!

10. Roll 1d6. A (1: true, 2-3: partially true, 4-6: false) rumor about an NPC in the dungeon. This is a little strange, as you must be wise with who this NPC is. The average rumormonger will not know that "A giant beholder will offer you court if you present it a hearty meal", but maybe an adventurer would (and maybe they would like a favor for telling the rumor)

Before we get to an example I am using for my dungeon zine project, and before you get to writing your own tables, I find it important to know how to use these rumors for good setting building. After each rumor you should state in parentheses whether that rumor is true, false, or partially true for GM clarity. In these parentheses, you should explain what that rumor introduces to the dungeon. I find it useful to use improv guidelines as tools for riffing off these dungeon prompts. Simply put:

* If the rumor is true, say "yes, and..."

* If the rumor is partially true, say "yes, but..."

* If the rumor is false, say "no, but..."

With these principles in mind, here is the concept for the dungeon which will be in my zine:

Surface location: A ruined keep atop a flowery hill. Peaceful.

1. "A winding series of overgrown catacombs, filled with long lost treasure, lies beneath the ruined keep." (True. There are catacombs for a wizard and their followers, along with a grand tomb for the wizard's familiars)

2. "A wizard has constructed a lab in the dungeon, researching a powerful spell to take over the world!" (Partially true. There is a lab and a wizard, but he is researching methods to make an undead wife (with disastrous results))

3. "The dungeon used to hold the Punch Brothers, a gang that would rob the rich while disguised as jesters and bards." (True. The Punch Brothers used to be held here and their skeletons can still be found around the dungeon, sometimes animating to rob from treasure hunters!)

4. "The God of bees and nature used to live with his followers on the hill the dungeon was built on." (Partially true. The being living up there specialized in controlling nature and overgrowth, but it was a wizard and his followers that lived up there, not a God.)

5. "Newtling thieves have been spotted taking our art and retreating back to the dungeon!" (True. Newtlings are taking the surrounding villages beautiful works of art and putting it up in their caves to appease their Newtling God)

6. "Revolutionary bandits have been flocking to the dungeon because the outlaw Yaakov Yellowbones has returned from the dead!" (Partially true. Bandits are grouping up at the dungeon, but it is not because Yaakov is alive, rather an impersonator has very convincingly taken up the role of Yaakov)

7. "The dungeon is filled with mischievous cats and stalwart dogs who are in an eternal war lasting generations," (Blatantly false. There are no armies of cats and dogs, although there is a loose cat familiar called Magpie who steals from various dungeon inhabitants)

8. "A sword made of blackened bone, capable of raising an army of undead, is waiting to be wielded by the next adventurer who delves into the dungeon" (Rolled a 5, so this is false. The sword does not exist, however certain peculiar bones of blessed undead in the dungeon hold powers similar to this legendary sword.)

9. "Bring a pig with you, they will be able to scare off the many strange alchemical oozes in the dungeon and sniff out secret passages!" (Rolled a 6, so this is false. Pigs will not be able to scare off anything in the dungeon, however they may have a keen nose for several secret locations.)

10. "A garden-drake lives in the dungeon, and you can gain its friendship with exotic food (Rolled a 3, so this is partially true. The garden-drake is in the dungeon and is friendly, but it is not looking for food and will be offended if you bring it meat)

Additionally, there are some extra optional rules you can add to this procedure for generating a dungeon if you want more content outside of the dungeon. Namely, every rumor is reflective of the person or faction who is spouting that rumor. Inside each set of parentheses, include the name of the person or faction who is telling the party these rumors and what connection they have to the dungeon that is related to this rumor. This can be especially useful if you want to add some extra definition to a town close to the dungeon, and turn it from simply a place to restock to a place with factions that interact with the dungeon and may aid/harm the players with their interaction. For instance:

* "Revolutionary bandits have been flocking to the dungeon because the outlaw Yaakov Yellowbones has returned from the dead!" (Partially true. Bandits are grouping up at the dungeon, but it is not because Yaakov is alive, rather an impersonator has very convincingly taken up the role of Yaakov. Told by imperial soldiers, who are under orders to wait for reinforcements and storm the dungeon to capture any bandits and remaining prisoners)

* "A sword made of blackened bone, capable of raising an army of undead, is waiting to be wielded by the next adventurer who delves into the dungeon" (Rolled a 5, so this is false. The sword does not exist, however certain peculiar bones of blessed undead in the dungeon hold powers similar to this legendary sword. Told by twin necromancer adventurers, each controlling a rivalling adventuring party, looking for these necromantic spoils)

* "Bring a pig with you, they will be able to scare off the many strange alchemical oozes in the dungeon and sniff out secret passages!" (Rolled a 6, so this is false. Pigs will not be able to scare off anything in the dungeon, however they may have a keen nose for several secret locations. Told by Squaggus Blemishly, a town merchant who has recently set up shop outside the dungeon and is looking to nickel and dime adventurers)

The only caveat to this extra rule is that it may not work with some of the more general rumors, namely rumors 1 and 2, since these are made just to establish further structural complexity to the dungeon. The most plausible source of these more general rumors would be peasants and mouthy villagers who have not had any real personal experience with the dungeon. Additionally, this optional rule works best when you have a specific faction or NPC with some power telling them. For instance, the PCs will not see Richard Saint Jenkins, the town drunkard, as a potential player in the dungeon since he is a lone man without much power. However, if Richard Saint Jenkins makes it very obvious that he has either numbers (for instance, Richard is a member of the Littledale Keggers, a gang of town drunks who plan to storm to dungeon to get coveted Dungeon Ale) or power (Richard is a known business mogul, heavily investing in research into the dungeon for strange reasons) then this gives the PCs more to consider about Richard Saint Jenkins interest in the dungeon, and perhaps even give them more outlets to negotiate with this NPC for aid (or fail at negotiations and make a new enemy!) These rumors can also work well to establish rival adventuring parties and add more current events happening within the dungeon, transforming the dungeon from a series of dusty tunnels to a sandbox full of gunpowder, waiting to explode into factional chaos with player interaction.

And that concludes this post. I find that this method works for me because it is easier to a slightly disjointed list of exciting stuff that the players may enjoy rather than starting from a vague history and going from there. Of course, this is just a jumping-off point to make something bigger and more complex, a guide to get initial ideas before dungeon ecology, mapping, and etc. I hope you find this helpful!

October 05, 2020

Dicey Classes

Hi, I'm Morgan. I do art and nursing and RPGs. I have RPG thoughts and I've lacked a mouth to scream them for a while. So here I am, giving you all my freshly harvested ideas.

I really like GLOG (The Goblin Laws of Gaming). The system is pretty famous for its template-based classes, the system of magic dice, and manically productive blogging community. I married magic dice and classes and I dearly hope this isn't heresy to the other pretty popular GLOG posters out there. To sum it up, basically every class ability is a spell now and every class gets magic dice. In fact you have a separate inventory with a number of slots equal to your level to carry these little abilities and tricks around.

In the spirit of October and the world's most chaotic Halloween, I've made all the examples extra spooky. Click on the picture below to see the rules. I hope you all enjoy and maybe get a few ideas from this.

Play as vampiric maidens!
(Image From Nabetse Zitro)

Of Men, You Make Beasts

 This is a table of horrible beasts for the more grisly parts of your games. Largely inspired by Loch's Ashes to Ashes game and PRIMEUM...