Wednesday, December 25, 2019

That Old Silk Hat

And now, a bit of Christmas magick: an artifact for Unknown Armies, third edition.  Enjoy!


That Old Silk Hat

Power: Significant

Description: That Old Silk Hat is usually treated as a joke or urban legend (it seems soundly ludicrous to think the holiday song "Frosty the Snowman" holds mystical significance), but some checkers in the occult underground claim it's an actual thing.
     That Old Silk Hat appears as an old, unassuming, and somewhat battered top hat, made of cheap felt.  Any story depicting it usually indicates it's found in the garbage or has been otherwise abandoned — it usually smells like refuse, and is occasionally described as being crusted with blood.  The stories claim That Old Silk Hat rarely stays in one place for long, as misfortune tends to befall those who use it.  It won't be long before it shows up in some dumpster, or abandoned basement, or forgotten corner of someone's garage...
     Chargers in the know claim there are many such hats, each with a limited number of uses.  In that case, the magick is not in the hat, but in the ritual that empowers them.  The chargers who tell such tales claim a ritual to empower That Old Silk Hat is a significant one, and requires the ritualist to murder someone and entomb them in a snow effigy.  The hat placed atop the snow effigy is then empowered as That Old Silk Hat.
     (Such a ritual would probably take 2 significant charges, and would empower the hat for a number of uses equal to the sum of the dice.)

Effect: When That Old Silk Hat is placed on a mound of snow that has been sculpted to resemble a human shape (typically at least given a face and rudimentary limbs, although most people who receive That Old Silk Hat are under explicit instructions to make the snowman "as lifelike as possible;" some of them are quite elaborate), the hat summons the nearest demon to animate the snowman.
     While demons are always hungry for experiences on this side of the Veil, That Old Silk Hat does nothing to make the snowman stronger, or grant it significant structural activity.  As such, snow golems animated by the hat are pretty fragile, and will still melt if the ambient temperature gets too far above freezing.
     As a result, demons are usually pretty annoyed with being trapped in a snow-body.
     Still, it beats being on the other side of the Veil.  Clever (and stupid) checkers can use this to communicate with demons, and particularly smart ones use this as a negotiation tactic; after all, a summoned demon probably needs the occultist to enact any particular schemes it has in mind, so it allows a would-be demonologist to negotiate from a position of strength.
     While in a snow body, a demon's wound threshold is only equal to 20% of its Urge (round down), and it only deals an amount of damage equal to the tens place of the roll when making hand-to-hand attacks.  When a snowbound demon makes a melee attack, it takes the same damage itself as it shakes its snow body apart.  A snow-body only takes hand-to-hand damage from guns, although any explosions or sufficiently large trauma will probably deal full damage.  (When in doubt, the snowman is fragile and probably just falls apart.)  If you're tracking movement, snow-bodies can typically only move at half-speed (check out "Running Around" on page 63 of Book One: Play), and take 1d10 wounds if they move at full speed.  Likewise, if it's too warm outside, the demon can take anywhere from 1d10 wounds per hour to 1d10 wounds per minute.  (Although the degradation of a snow-body in high temperatures is ultimately up to the discretion of the GM.)
     A would-be snow-sculptor can potentially heal a snow body by re-packing the snow, restoring a demon's full wound threshold with a few minutes' work.
     A demon is released when its snow-body is destroyed or when the hat is removed.  Sensation-junkies they are, however, no demon will willingly remove its own hat.  (If, as some stories say, That Old Silk Hat has limited uses, any given found hat probably has 1d10 uses.  A single "use" ends when the demon is banished; there is otherwise no time limit.)
     At the GM's discretion, a particularly skilled snow-sculptor might be able to make a sturdier-than-normal body.  If a character has an Identity uniquely suited to building a particularly-sturdy snowman, then the snow-body has a wound threshold equal to the character's roll or 20% of the demon's Urge, whichever is higher.  Likewise, such a snow golem might deal additional damage on a successful Struggle roll, such as dealing half standard hand-to-hand damage, whole damage, or even weapon damage (for a sculptor adding sticks and knives to the snowman's construction).  Such a snow golem might even maintain its integrity when it makes hand-to-hand attacks.
     It is exceedingly unlikely someone could make a snow sculpture sturdy enough to use a gun, but who knows?
     A character living in a cold climate or otherwise with access to a sufficiently-large, frozen place could potentially keep a single snowbound demon around for a long time, if they so chose.  It's possible that a particularly demented charger has a demonic snowman familiar stashed away in an old restaurant freezer somewhere.

Monday, December 9, 2019

A Land of Frozen Horror

Allegedly, I sometimes run a blog.

Shoe Skogen recently asked what I was working on, so I might as well show everyone.

One of my D&D 5e games was set in a brutal, frozen waste, but the PCs ran afoul of a local organized crime syndicate and escaped via the Gardens of YnnAs written, the player characters emerge in a random place (which might be the place they just left), but I figured my players would balk if I threw them into whatever randomness I wanted to run, so I gave them a choice.

I received the following two requests in response:

1) An arctic place, like Icewind Dale (this from the ranger with the arctic specialization)
2) Ravenloft (this from the wizard playing the spooky necromancer)

I figured, why not both?, and so was this cursed arctic land born. Here is the map so far:

Click to enlarge! Starfield hexes represent the Mists of Ravenloft.
As per standard Ravenloft, the land is cursed, tied to the Fisher King-like monster who rules it. In this case, our would-be Strahd is a ruler combining aspects of Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, and Joseph Stalin: seeking to modernize and Westernize his land, he turned to greater and more dangerous technologies until the ensuing magical catastrophe destroyed his glorious utopia.

Where a sensible ruler might decide to scrap that experiment, our darklord instead decided that his attempts to modernize his city failed because just wasn't ambitious and ruthless enough.  That's how his realm was sucked into the Domains of Dread, cursed by the ambitions of one man. (And doomed to repeat the same cycle time and again.)

In the interest of avoiding yet another European fantasy world, I'm instead drawing inspiration from Inuit, Mongolian, and Siberian sources. I also have Skerples' Magical Industrial Revolution fresh on my mind (as you might gather from the "industrial magic city rapidly spiraling into disaster" setup), which likewise pushes me to draw material from dungeonpunk settings such as Eberron: Rising from the Last War and Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica languishing on my shelf. In addition to whatever other weird or spooky content I include in this game. (It's given me yet another excuse to delve into my 2e and 3e Ravenloft collection, which always brings me joy. And to revisit A Kayak Full of Ghosts, which you should absolutely read.)

Gearing up for a conflict between traditional cultures and industrialized ones, five main factions emerge:

  • The Khan, darklord and architect of the Cosmic City, rapidly leading his land to another cycle of industrialization and destruction;
  • the Church of Ezra, formerly a powerful political entity that oppressed the traditional religions of the native peoples before the Khan determined the Church comprised dangerous political rivals and purged them;
  • the druids and other followers of the Old Ways, attempting to desperately hold on to their traditional way of life;
  • the poor nomads and townsfolk stuck in the middle of this grudge match;
  • and the Idea of Thorns, which my players accidentally brought from the Gardens of Ynn.
A handful of interesting locations include a ruined port city that is the current stronghold of the Church-of-Ezra-in-exile, a crumbling factory upon the coast, a university thoroughly infiltrated by a secret society of sorcerers, the Cosmic City itself, the occultum mines on the far side of the continent, and the railway that joins the city and the mines (which is choking out the settlements that used to rely on traffic along the Khan's Road for survival).

I'd say it's more overtly political than some of my games, but then again, I'm also running a modern occult game about LGBT+ activism and the examination of violence as a public health concern, and another series of fantasy games where the central antagonist is an allegorical American nightmare. So at least I'm consistent, right?

When the setting is a little more developed, I might try to put it somewhere if I can navigate the thorny issues inherent in Hasbro's intellectual property copyrights. Or perhaps it will be yet another meditation on transience, a piece of art that exists only in the meeting of the minds at the table.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Voice Work

These notes are largely for my future reference, but maybe they're worth noting for someone else.

I recently introduced a handful of NPCs in my long-running D&D game that have goofy voices. Since I routinely juggle a lot of characters, some of which are only played occasionally but have distinctive voices, I should probably record my notes somewhere. (Were I really slick, I ought to actually record the voices, but that's only useful if I go back and listen to the recordings.)

Goruthrel: The wizard's new familiar, a spider summoned from Faerie. Vaguely midwestern — not quite a Minnesota accent, but that same sort of wholesome, overstimulated, swear-less mode of speech. She always seems scattered and disorganized. Put a lot of extra stutters and "ums" in your speech, and make sure to click your tongue and say, "Whew," when appropriate. Despite not swearing or even being terribly vicious, she is from Faerie, so occasionally say something totally untoward. ("Oh, well, I mean, ah, I guess we could just, just go right ahead and kill them all, right?") To get into character, my insertion phrase is, "Oh, oh geeze. Oh my." She always sounds flustered, but is actually pretty smart. (This is in direct contrast with the wizard's previous familiar, a quasit who was gleefully waiting for him to die.)

Tetposmeton: A devil and loan shark, cutting deals in Sigil. (An Amnizu, if that matters.) Smile incredibly wide while talking; if it almost hurts, you're probably smiling enough. He talks like some manner of mutant, Frank Zappa-esque radio announcer or disc jockey (the phrase "ice pick in the forehead" from "Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt" is a good insertion phrase), like Casey Kasem on entirely too much cocaine. If someone seems iffy, keep talking — bombard them with so much information that they'll eventually agree to the whole thing. You're somewhere between a used car salesman and their best friend; all participants know you're corrupt, so you might as well go whole hog.

Tingletam Finglefam: A creepy gnome alchemist. As per Noel Fielding, he's from Souuuf Londen. Sounds like The Hitcher when he's being gross, not when he sounds like an old man. Talks with his hands in this demented, Rumpelstiltskin-like fashion, like some sort of marionette. When I need to get into that character, his key phrase is, "stony giblets." Say, "stony giblets," in the Cockney accent, and I'm ready to go. Just be vaguely unseemly and gross.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Spider Sailors of the Super-Sargasso!

Artisanally-crafted fantasy worlds are often filled with logical concepts taken to their completely illogical conclusions. So here's a very stupid concept that might have to become A Thing™.

Winds and electric fields potentially blow anything sufficiently small into the upper atmosphere — viruses, bacteria, insects, whatever. (A lot of snow crystals form around plant viroids, for example.) There's a constant, dusty stream of life floating above our heads. Scientists call this "aeroplankton," and it's rad. Spiders do it all the time.

When the aeroplankton topic was mentioned the other day, it sparked the realization that fantasy worlds are replete with weird diseases and giant spiders. You can probably see where I'm going with this.

Imagine a layer of the atmosphere teeming with flying oozes blown thin and floating like weather balloons. Parachuting spiders, parasailing across the sky, occasionally landing on the decks of airships or raining down on unsuspecting towns. ("The farmers' alamanc says to stay in doors today, giant spider migration is supposed to hit. Lock your barns, or else they'll eat all the sheep.") Everything's fine one minute, then your town suddenly gets hit with mummy rot that's been floating in the upper atmosphere from that adventuring crew that blew up that tomb a few weeks ago.

In theory, only low-weight things can be blown about by this method, but fantasy worlds are dumb and filled with contradictions. Maybe giant spiders can ride the magnetic fields with their strange, magic webs. Slimes grow thin, blowing away like paper on the wind as part of their mass-migration strategy. Treants sporulate, their consciousness blowing away in the wind until they root and grow elsewhere. (The odds of some complicated magical life cycles emerging from this behavior are high. Cast purify food and drink in the right spot, and you suddenly have something a century old and 5,000 miles distant growing there. If you think aeroplankton and fire ecology are complicated, what happens when you add gods and magic and ancient conspiracies to the mix?)

Even if you find megafauna skating across the sky stretches credulity, you can still get somewhere with strange spores, eldritch diseases, and tiny animals being randomly blown into your town. One day, your town is normal. The next? You suddenly have a fungoid incursion, and now the political situation is significantly different.

Aeroplankton: add them to your random encounter chart today!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Ynnian Changelings for 5e

(Skip my chatter and download the race here, if you want.)

My players fled the frozen waste by drawing a door in chalk upon a garden wall...

That's right, you heard right: one of my rotating 5e groups thought fantasy mythic Norway sucked so hard they fled into Emmy Allen's The Gardens of Ynn. Those poor goddamn fools.

Well, last session, there was an incident with some Splicing Vats, and the extremely gross goblin assassin turned into a grotesque plant monster before the rest of the party finally put him down. (Or did they?)

But that means the player needs to make a new character, and as per the rules set forth in The Gardens of Ynn, that character must be a Ynnian changeling, a person lost for so long in the Other Garden that they adapted. In The Gardens of Ynn, there's a custom race-as-class for it, but since we're playing 5e like a bunch of corporate sell-outs, I made a custom 5e race for it.

(Hey, we're not sell-outs, it's just cut-up! Truth be told, after dying repeatedly in Lamentations of the Flame Princess, my players voted to switch to 5e. Honestly, it has only seemed more kind because they're higher level. They're still mutated and mutilated, and we've had two deaths since the switch.)

If you care about balance, it's probably a little weak compared to other races at lower levels, but might get more potent depending upon which mutations you roll and which layer of the garden on which the changeling is found. Not that it matters; you can only play a Ynnian changeling if your replacement PC shows up in the Other Garden, otherwise you pick a standard race.

I considered having fixed stat modifiers (probably +1 Wisdom, +2 Charisma), but left them customizable on the theory that changelings can be from any initial racial stock. Otherwise, it looks like standard 5e races. As always, I welcome your feedback.

Anyway, enough chatter:

Download the Ynnian changeling for 5e

Friday, September 13, 2019

Fear and Loathing in Indianapolis: GenCon 2019

"I looked pretty bad: wearing old Levis and white Chuck Taylor All-Star basketball sneakers… and my ten-peso Acapulco shirt had long since come apart at the shoulder seams from all that road-wind. My beard was about three days old, bordering on standard wino trim, and my eyes were totally hidden by Sandy Bull's Saigon-mirror shades.

"But my voice had the tone of a man who knows he has a reservation. I was gambling on my attorney's foresight but I couldn't pass a chance to put the horn into a cop: and I was right. The reservation was in my attorney's name. The desk-clerk hit his bell to summon the bag-boy. 'This is all I have with me, right now,' I said, 'The rest is out there in that white Cadillac convertible.' I pointed to the car that we could all see parked just outside the front door. 'Can you have somebody drive it around to the room?' The desk-clerk was friendly. 'Don't worry about a thing, sir. Just enjoy your stay here – and if there's anything you need, just call the desk.' I nodded and smiled, half-watching the stunned reaction of the cop-crowd right next to me. They were stupid with shock. Here they were arguing with every piece of leverage they could command, for a room they'd already paid for – and suddenly their whole act gets side-swiped by some crusty drifter who looks like something out of an upper-Michigan hobo jungle. And he checks in with a handful of credit cards! Jesus! What's happening in this world?"

— HST, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


My scribbled notes, shattered checkbook, and dangerously-stacked shelves imply Nicole and I attended Gen Con 52 (August 1-4, 2019).

(If you want previous after-action reports, you can read about Gen Con 49 and Gen Con 50. They haven't aged particularly well, but such are the vagaries of life on this wretched internet of ours. What's that old Lynn White quote about the Dark Ages? "If it was dark, it was the darkness of the womb?")

I'll keep this one comparatively short.

Wednesday

The drive to and Indianapolis was accompanied by The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories. (We have minimal exposure to the Forgotten Realms, so it was an amusing diversion. And totally worth it to hear Ice-T say, "Menzoberranzan," over and over again.) When we ran out of audiobook on the return journey, we transitioned to Queen, as one does.

Dispatches from liminal spaces.
We eventually traversed the wastelands and arrived in Indianapolis. We had to rush to pick up materials for a game I was running Friday morning, but I did get an unexpected Exhibitor badge and a bunch of swag from Atlas Games, so that was pretty sweet.

Seriously, folks: run for Special Ops. It's clear they're still working out some of logistics, but they take great care of you.

Ol' Johnny Two-Badges
We were originally going to go to the Gong Farmer's Almanac stapling party, but it wrapped early, so we went back to the room.

Thursday

Here's the most important part of the weekend: there was a cat who clearly lives around our hotel. She was incredibly sweet, and we took to visiting with her each day and calling her Gen.

Oh, to be a little Gen Con cat.
We headed to the Exhibition Hall, and I finally encountered No Rest for the Wicked in the flesh.

The baby comes home!
We also met Kalin Kadiev in person. A longtime Unknown Armies Fan Club member and an illustrator for Chaosium, it's been a long time coming. We continued around the Exhibition Hall and grabbed the standard array of stuff before we had to hustle to a No Small Crimes in Lankhmar game at 2 PM. It was fun! (Protip: if you're going to rob a house, make sure it's not a wizard's house. Things get dicey.)
We also had an opportunity to meet Mike and Shoe in real life (after playing in Ben L.'s Dreamlands game with them for a number of weeks), and she ran Six-String for us (which she talks a bit about here). We sadly didn't get far into the playtest, but we await the finished product with baited breath.

Friday

I was running Maria in Three Parts for Unknown Armies at 8 AM, so we had to turn around and head back to the convention.

I will freely admit: it wasn't my best work. The adventure has a lot of moving parts, and in the shuffle, I skipped one which would have enhanced the runtime. But as it was, they managed to reunite the Marias and save the day, so it all worked out.

There was food and more Exhibition Hall. At some point, we encountered cosplay of Sweet from MCDM's The Chain stream.

Who is this under my knife?
Then, we returned to the hotel to change before the ENnie Awards.

Those are some ENnies.
Somewhere when I was getting drinks, Nicole met Janet Forbes of World Anvil and Michael Kesavan of DeadAussieGamer. Doubly exciting because World Anvil won an ENnie this year!

As you have no doubt heard, Chaosium swept the ENnie awards, although there were some notable others, with Mothership having an excellent showing. The winners are listed here.

Saturday

I was running Over the Edge at noon, so I dressed in my Al Amarjan best.

Thank you for your consent.
Under Broken Wings went more smoothly than Maria in Three Parts, I think. We had a rockstar woodwind player, his tiny fireplug of a bodyguard, a monster-hunting monsterfucker, and a thief who always lies. After becoming trapped in the Stately Arms, running into vein-creatures and rubbery hair monsters and a manic dentist named Dr. Benway, they managed to solve the strange occurrences and leave.

After that, we hustled to PST Productions' Once in a Lifetime LARP. (Amusingly, Once in a Lifetime was the very first PST game I played over a decade earlier.) If you want to see pictures of the event, they're over on Facebook.

Sunday

We headed to The Goodies and annual Goodman Games raffle. We also had the chance to meet with Max and Kate, both known to us from the Unknown Armies Fan Club. (And Kate's been playing in an online Unknown Armies game with us for a couple of months now.) Then it was back to the hotel room to prepare for the long journey home the following day.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Tale of Two Swords

A parable about the importance of choosing names. This is a tale of two sapient swords, Perversion and Pervert.

Perversion

It probably looks something like this.
Crafted by the warlord Bamara Ondus in the second millennium before the Common Epoch, Perversion is a wicked sword: a slayer of Men, a burner of churches, and a bastion standing in opposition of Law. (They say Bamara Ondus forged the sword — or had it commissioned, sources differ — to launch a pogrom against the dragonborn of the northeastern Sorrowfell Plains. The fact that the sword is currently lost, as well as the prolonged existence of Archmagus Iandak Voiddrake, implies how well that went.)

Dedicated to the Demon Lord Baphomet, Perversion is as cunning as the demon lord in whose name it was forged. It is a +3 bastard sword, and Chaotic (Evil) in alignment. (If your system doesn't differentiate among different swords, treat it as a long sword.) In Labyrinth Lord, it has Intelligence 12 and Psyche 5, with a total Willpower 18. (In 5e terms, it has Intelligence 17, Wisdom 12, Charisma 18. If you're using another system, it should have an effective total Ego 18 with which to oppose characters, however that shakes out stat-wise. It's a fairly strong-willed sword.) It communicates telepathically with its wielder, an imperious voice resonating in the skull. It wishes to smite the Lawful and reward the ambitious, eventually uplifting the cause of Chaos amidst the ruins of civilization.

Perversion is adept at navigating mazes and smiting the weak. It can detect secret doors and sloping passages within 10'. When it attacks a foe, its damage dice "explode" — so if you roll an "8" on that 1d8, roll another d8. (If you roll additional dice on a crit, go ahead and assume all of them "explode.") While holding Perversion, the wielder regenerates 1 hit point per round.

It is intelligent enough to suggest its wielder engage subtly, although it relishes any opportunity to goad its wielder into berserker rages and glorious combat.

Pervert

Maybe a little like this.
Urrion Slenderblade forged this magic blade millennia ago in an attempt to remove parts of his own id he considered strange or shameful. The histories do not record whether he was ultimately successful in hiding his urges in swords, but they do record at least one sword he forged. Although it is more properly known by its Elvish name, Solavelque ("the sword of forgotten memory"), it is more frequently called by its Common moniker, Pervert.

According to the tales, Urrion instilled his sexual urges into this blade, to "better purify himself for the trials ahead." (The tales don't record what these trials were or why he potentially considered his sexuality shameful — most elves don't dwell overmuch on that sort of thing, although it is possible that his tribe had certain unrecorded rituals or taboos that might shed light on this strange practice.) Pervert counts as a +1 rapier, Chaotic (Neutral) in alignment. In Labyrinth Lord, it has Intelligence 10 and Psyche 5, with a total Willpower 15. (In 5e terms, it has Intelligence 16, Wisdom 10, Charisma 15. If you're using another system, it should have an effective total Ego 15 with which to oppose characters, however that shakes out stat-wise. It's a moderately strong-willed sword.) It speaks its desires aloud, a reedy voice capable of speaking Common, Elvish, Sylvan, Gnomish, or Chaotic (Neutral).

Pervert detects gems and jewelry within 60', invisible or hidden creatures within 20', and has the unique ability to sense the gender identities and sexual proclivities of sapient creatures within 10'. This is very much based on how a given creature perceives itself, and so is mutable from moment to moment. Beyond just sexual inclination, this also gives an inclination of symbolic societal gender roles as the person understands them — are they aggressive or nurturing, for instance? (Astute observers no doubt recognize this last sense as the first channel of The Sexual Rebis avatar from Unknown Armies.)

Pervert doesn't have motivations or goals, per se, but it is an expression of its creator's repressed desires without the mediating influence of nerves, time, or a sense of scale. If the Referee wants to include Pervert, they have to make a decision as to how weird or pushy the sword is about its appetites. I left the sword's convictions deliberately vague, as well as whatever Urrion considered "shameful." It could be anything from the sword pining over a lost love that Urrion considered a distraction, to straight-up Slaanesh worship. You have to judge what works best for your player group, whether it should be dramatic, tragic, comedic, or grotesque. (Personally, I'd go for whatever mood is most currently lacking.)

The obligatory warning: This is not an excuse to push your players into an uncomfortable situation. If they don't want to deeply delve into the psychology of a sapient sword and its long-dead Elven creator, Pervert is not the sword for them.

Monday, September 9, 2019

You'll Catch Your Death

I've previously outed myself as a recovering microbiologist, so it comes as little surprise that I liberally sprinkle disease and other such biological ephemera in my scenarios. (One of the players in my Los Angeles-set Unknown Armies game was bitten by an extradimensional raccoon, and was dismayed that her character became feverish and the bite wound became swollen despite passing her Fitness roll. I reminded her that fever is the sign that your body is doing what it's supposed to; the symptoms would have been far worse — and rules-influencing rather than merely descriptive flavor — had she failed.)

The following content originates from an early draft of No Rest for the Wicked. I'm glad to have dropped the prospect of cold weather as an antagonist, but the rules are still potentially useful, so here you are. As written, this is for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but easily adaptable to any sort of old-school adventure game.

Hypothermia and Pneumonia

If player characters insist on sleeping outdoors on a cold, rainy night, they can potentially deal with the following complications:

If the player characters lack bedrolls and tents, the cold and wet threatens them with hypothermia. The player characters must save versus Paralyzation every turn or else lose a point of Constitution. Constitution lost to hypothermia potentially returns at a rate of 1 point per turn of rest, provided the characters are resting in a warm, dry space. Characters gain a +2 to the save if they have winter clothes.

If the player characters lack tents and winter clothing, sleeping in the cold, wet night threatens them with a respiratory ailment like bronchitis or pneumonia. If player characters spend more than 2 + Con modifier hours (minimum of 1 hour) out in the bad weather, the Referee should save versus Poison on their behalf. Failure indicates characters become feverish and are wracked with coughing fits within the next day or two. Three days after initial infection, the Referee should save versus Poison on the character's behalf again. (This roll is made at a -2 if the character is not resting during the infection, i.e. still adventuring.) Failure means the character loses 1 point of Constitution and 1d2 hit points. This saving throw repeats every 6 hours for 7 days. If the character survives the week, the disease passes. Lost Constitution returns at a rate of 1 point for every day of rest. At the Referee's option, a character might permanently lose 1 point of Constitution if their Constitution becomes low enough (maybe within Con 1-3).

Friday, September 6, 2019

Alacritous Ogre



Here is an intensely stupid conversation from a couple of weeks ago.

A friend of mine was watching the above speedrun, and given Shrek's movement speed, conversation turned to, "How terrifying is a permanently hasted ogre?"

Now your players can find out.

BECMI-style Stats:

(as modified from Labyrinth Lord)
No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4 + 1
Attacks: 2 (club)
Damage: 1d10
Save: F4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XX + 1,000 gp
XP: 290

Ogre culture is as described on page 90 of Labyrinth Lord, except these ogres live at double-speed. Weird, smelly, violent, giant-sized speed-freaks.

5e-style Stats:

Alacritous Ogre
Large giant, chaotic evil
Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 59 (7d10+21)
Speed 80 ft.
Str 19 (+4), Dex 8 (-1), Con 16 (+3), Int 5 (-3), Wis 7 (-2), Cha 7 (-2)
Skills Athletics +6
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 8
Languages Common, Giant
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
Evasion.  If the ogre is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.
Actions
Multiattack.  The ogre makes two weapon attacks.
Greatclub.  Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.  Hit: 13 (2d8+4) bludgeoning damage.
Javelin.  Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30/120 ft., one target.  Hit: 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Gen Con Bound

I can still hear the voices of my ancestors calling to me, telling me to avoid giving out personal information on the internet.  But we're all social media's stooges, so I suppose I might as well do this.

Since a couple people have asked: If you want to say hello at Gen Con, I'll no doubt be around — probably bouncing around the vicinity of the Lamentations booth (booth #3010) and shilling the few copies of No Rest for the Wicked likely to make it.  Buy them and I'll devalue them with my signature upon request!

I'll no doubt be flitting around the Atlas Games (booth #1421) or Goodman Games (booth #117) booths, although that's likely to be more of a transient thing.  If you're at the Gong Farmer's Local #282 meeting on Wednesday night, I should be there.

If you want more definitive information to dispatch assassins and end this wretched charade, I am likely to be found at the following places:

Thursday, 2 PM: Playing No Small Crimes in Lankhmar (ICC: 127-128: 14)

Friday, 8 AM: Running Maria in Three Parts (Marriott: Indiana Ballroom C: 1)

Friday, 6 PM: The ENnies! (Union Station: Grand Hall)

Saturday, 12 PM: Running Under Broken Wings (Marriott: Indiana Ballroom C: 2)

Saturday, 5 PM: Playing Once in a Lifetime (Hyatt: Network)

Sunday, 2 PM: The Goodies! (ICC: 127-128)

Friday, July 19, 2019

Spore Week: I Dreamt A Dream Of Human Iniquity, And It Disturbed My Rest

Can a mind think a thought so toxic it becomes a viral meme unto itself, churning and ripping through the other minds it infects?

A dungeon concept to round out Spore Week.

(I'll actually have to revisit and stat it out eventually, but one step at a time.)

Most people on the surface see the strange, purplish, bloated mushroom men of the deepearth — creatures that cannot speak and shun the sun and raise the dead with strange growths — and fear them, assuming them monstrous when they are in fact enlightenment-seeking pacifists.

People always assume all sorts of things about creatures which they do not understand.

And so it was that noted tomb robber Lupus Gaertner (7th-level thief) saw fit to penetrate the subterranean tunnels of the mushroom men and steal their riches, assuming that all under the sun is like himself and values gold from the earth.

He instead sneaked through lightless tunnels, finding no treasure but the strange alchemies of the fungus men and their peace-loving king.  His interrogations yielded nothing, so he slew the myconids' king.

Imagine his surprise when the king's cap sloughed off his head.

Donning the mushroom cap, Lupus found he could command and control the furtive fungus men.  They are clumsy and die in the sunlight, but night raids are better anyway, and stealth is less important when you have overwhelming force

Old Lupus began his slow transformation into the new Mushroom King when he donned the King's Crown, eventually becoming a myconid himself.  But his human ambitions remained, and he only uses the meld as a psychonautical training exercise to better prepare himself and his loyal subjects — a way to astrally case target sites and practice burglary strategies.

The myconids are essentially helpless victims, but the local populace will not see it that way, assuming that the mushroom men's nightly raids are of their own volition.  Even if Lupus is killed, they might continue their raids, simply assuming this is now their work.

About 100 myconids of various sizes lair in the lightless tunnels beneath the earth.  Old Lupus Gaertner is their king, twelve feet tall but still wily and possessing his various thieves' skills and tools in addition to his capabilities as a myconid sovereign.

The mushroom men themselves hold little treasure apart from their fungal and alchemical preparations: three potions of anointment (special poisons brewed by the mushroom men that elevate a 5 HD myconid adult to a 6 HD myconid sovereign; they are deadly poisons — save vs. poison or die — if consumed by non-myconids), and five potions of another type.  (You can use these strange growths to round out the potions, or you can roll on the potions table from some source like Labyrinth Lord.  I generated oil of etherealness, potion of giant control, potion of growth, potion of plant control, and potion of poison.)  Lupus tightly controls the myconids' alchemy, always trying to maintain his control.  (He is especially worried about those potions of anointment, as he wants to keep his hegemony over the myconid circles, but he keeps them in case they ever come in handy.  Especially because they form a deadly poison to humans.)

Although myconids don't usually keep treasure, Lupus stashed his old loot throughout the complex before completing his transformation, not to mention what he and the myconids have gathered on raids.  He probably has the equivalent of Hoard Class X stashed throughout the underground complex, although what he plans on doing with all that money is anyone's guess.

For maximum gonzo, the player characters play a circle of myconids trying to find out why this other circle has suddenly started attacking humans and drawing entirely too much attention to the local mushroom men.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Spore Week: The Crown of the Mushroom King

Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Is there an actual King of all Mushrooms?  Is this just a particularly venerable myconid sovereign?  Or is there an actual mycelial king lurking somewhere in the Deepearth, secretly lording over all fungi?

Regardless, there is a crown, and it is said to belong to the Mushroom King.

(Who knows how it works?  Fungal sovereignty no doubt works differently than the monarchies of humans and demihumans.)

The crown appears to be a standard sort of mushroom cap in a rich purple color.  It is shaped to fit on standard humanoid-sized heads, although it's elastic enough to be a little forgiving.

Why do the caps conform to human symbolism, anyway?
Regardless, whomever acquires and wears the cap of the mushroom king effectively gains the spore-based powers of a myconid sovereign.  Other myconids will follow your orders more or less without question.  Additionally, as per the AD&D Monstrous Manual, pages 264-265, the character can use each of the following spore types six times per day:
  • Distress: This spore type is used to alert other myconids to danger or a need for aid. The cloud expands at a rate of 40 feet per round, expanding to its maximum of 120 feet in three rounds.
  • Reproducer: These spores are only emitted at the proper time for growing new myconids so the population can be rigidly controlled. They are also automatically ejected by a dying myconid.
  • Rapport: These spores are primarily used in the melding process. However, they can be used by the myconids to communicate with other species, since the fungus men do not talk. A small cloud of spores is aimed at one person; if the person fails a saving throw vs. poison (it can choose to fail), it can go into telepathic rapport, speaking mind-to-mind with the myconid as if it were normal speech. The range of this effect is 40 feet and the duration is 60 minutes.
  • Pacifier: This type of spore cloud may be spewed at a single creature. If the creature fails its saving throw vs. poison, it becomes totally passive, unable to do anything. The affected creature only observes; it is unable to perform any action even if attacked. The range of this effect is 40 feet and the duration is 6 rounds. The duration of this effect is a number of rounds equal to the Hit Dice of the myconid.
  • Hallucinator: This type of spore is usually used in the melding ritual, but a myconid can project them at an attacker. The spore cloud may be shot at one creature, and if that creature fails its saving throw vs. poison, it suffers violent hallucinations for 60 minutes. Hallucinating creatures react as follows (roll 1d20): 1-10 Cower and whimper; 11-15 Stare into nothingness; 16-18 Flee shrieking in a random direction; 19-20 Try to kill the closest creature. The range of this effect is 40 feet.
  • Animator: The king uses these spores to infect a dead animal or creature. A purple fungus quickly covers the corpse, taking over the dead body systems and putting it to work, animating the corpse to resemble a zombie (AC 10, Move 9, HD 1, hp 4, #AT 2, Dmg bony claws for 1-3/1-3). It is not undead and cannot be turned by priests. It always strikes last in a round. The body continues to rot and the fungus gradually replaces the missing parts, becoming specialized to take over their functions. Eventually, however, the decay proceeds too far, and the body stops functioning, able to rest at last. Animation takes place 1d4 days after infection, and the corpse is animated for 1d4+1 weeks before it decays. Animated creatures will follow simple orders given by the animator (with rapport spores) to the best of their ability. Orders take priority over self-preservation.
If you're using 5e rules, the character wearing the crown can use the animating spores, hallucination spores, pacifying spores, and rapport spores from the myconid sovereign stat block (Monster Manual, page 232).  The crown requires attunement, and counts as a very rare item.

You know what's coming, right?
Of course, there are side effects to joining with another species.  Wearers find that the cap does not easily come off; indeed, after the wearer dons the cap, it joins with them and reacts as a part of the body.  (Attempts to pry it off are exceedingly painful.  If someone makes a good faith attempt to pull it off, it stays put and deals 1d4 damage.)  This precludes the use of helms, and at the GM's discretion, worsens the character's Armor Class by one or two points as the head is now a much larger target.  (It is possible that the character can get a custom helm manufactured, but that sucker is going to be heavy.  To avoid collapsing your neck from the strain, you'll probably end up having to wear custom armor that makes you look like the Juggernaut.  Or maybe druids or elves can manufacture something appropriate.)

Maybe you get used to it after a while, and regain your full Armor Class.  That all depends on how generous your GM might be.

At this point, sufficiently high-level restoration magic can still remove the cap.  (Remove Curse doesn't work, though, as strictly speaking, it's not a curse  It's just part of you now.)

Every week you wear it, make a saving throw vs. poison.  On a failed save, you begin the transformation into a myconid over the course of 1d6 weeks.  At the end of this time, switch your race or class: you're permanently a myconid now, and the cap has bonded with you permanently.  (Good news, though: if you're using 5e attunement, it stops being attuned when you become a myconid.  It's part of you now, although you're unlikely to find another magic hat that will fit you.)

It's up to the GM if you eventually become so absorbed by your myconid sovereign mindset that you become an NPC, but that seems a likely outcome for most afflicted with the Crown.

If the wearer is slain, the cap detaches, ready for another host.

Probably best to remove it before then.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Spore Week: Strange Growths of the Beeheath Undermarket

You saved his village!  He's so proud of you!
Adventurers recently cleared out the stretch of sewer beneath the Beeheath Market Square, and in the process, found a circle of myconids living within the storage rooms of the old Gewerbestadt Night Market.

In time, as sewer workers survey the site and begin shoring up the old aqueducts, the myconids will no doubt encounter humanity and become exposed to commerce and trade and human values.

Such is the way of things.

At that time, travelers will no doubt want to trade for their wondrous fungal remedies.  The myconids do not understand trade — you can just give people stuff they need, after all — but it is the way of these strange mammalian things, so they will adapt.

They don't sell many standard goods, other than rations at standard prices.  (Hope you like mushrooms!)  For the discerning adventurer, here are some nonstandard goods they might sell.  Alternately, since the characters arguably helped them by clearing out the sewers of vermin, perhaps they just have one of these waiting when next they visit!  (Coincidentally, the next one grows to maturity the visit after the last one is consumed.  Funny how that timing works.)


As any mycologist can tell you, identifying fungi is difficult, even if you're well-trained.  Characters can only identify what a given fungus is and does at great difficulty, if at all.  (It's probably easier to identify it after you've eaten it, though.)  Assume the descriptions below are guidelines; the fungi can have greater similarities if you want to make future identification more difficult.

The myconids don't know what these mushrooms do to non-fungal lifeforms, so they can't help you.  They're very interested to know what happens when you consume these mushrooms, though.

The face of a dedicated scientist.
Assign prices to the following.  (10gp or 25gp per syllable in the name is a good rule of thumb.)  Alternatively, roll 1d12 to see which type of mushroom is available on any given visit:

1. I Dreamt A Dream Of Fullness, Of Wholeness, And It Was My Entirety
A standard healing potion: like a cure light wounds spell (1d6+1 hp) in an old-school game, or a potion of healing (2d4+2 hp) in a 5e game.
A brownish, greyish morel with a warm, nutty flavor.

2. I Had A Dream Of The Cosmos, And It Was I, And I Was It
You know it was coming.  Replicates the effects of an enlarge spell for an hour.  (For old school games, assume it grants double size and double Strength-based damage for the duration.)
A sticky red-and-white spotted toadstool.  Tastes sour, like illusions of grandeur.

3. For the Eukarya Is Mykarya, All Are Connected, All Are Siblings In The World
The consumer must make a saving throw vs. poison.  (Or a DC 13 Constitution check.)  On a failed save, the consumer begins the transformation into a slime mold.  This takes a turn (10 minutes), and is quite painful.  However, once complete, the character can ooze through cracks as small as one inch without difficulty (and without slowing down), and the character can cling to walls and ceilings, moving at standard rates without climbing checks.  The character's equipment is left behind, but the ooze-character makes a dandy scout.  At the end of every hour, the character makes the same saving throw vs. poison, turning back into themselves (albeit bereft of equipment) on a successful save.  If the character fails five such saving throws in a row, the change is permanent.  (Although appropriate magic can probably reverse the transformation.)
A patch of purple-brown mold with an acrid aroma but pleasing, cotton candy taste.

4. The Motive Force Of The Mind Sets The Whole World Into Motion
The consumer gains +1d6 Intelligence for an hour.  (Alternately, for a 5e-type game, gain advantage on Intelligence checks as per enhance ability.)  The character can probably do calculations in their head for the duration.
A juicy purple toadstool, it probably leaves stains on the inside of your pack.  Tastes like cool lemonade on a hot desert day.

5. The Deepest Root Lies Not In The Earth, But In Oneself
You can communicate telepathically with nearby intelligent creatures (creatures of higher than animal intelligence that you can see within 60 feet) for the duration.  They cannot communicate back, though.
A brownish-orange bracket, chewing it tastes of nutty wood and a mild metallic aftertaste.

6. The Fruit Was Birthed In The Mind, And It Will Take Root In All Minds
You grow fruiting bodies that rupture, sporulating in a cloud around you.  For 1d6 rounds, you can order people to do things as per a suggestion spell.  They fall under this compulsion for only 1d6 turns (ten-minute increments for you new school folks), but it requires no further concentration from you to enact.  This spell only affects creatures that breathe and can understand your language.  They can roll a save vs. poison to resist the compulsion.  (For 5e-type games, roll a DC 13 Constitution saving throw to resist the suggestion.)
A white puffball, tasting of exotic fruits and ambition.

7. I Dreamt I Was An Animal Capable of Speech, And The Other Animals Did Hasten To My Words
You grow fruiting bodies that rupture, sporulating in a cloud around you.  For 1d6 turns (ten-minute increments), those nearby must roll a save vs. poison or else be affected as if by charm person.  The charm effect wears off when the duration ends.  As per a regular charm person spell, the affected parties know that you did something to them when the spell wears off.  They get saves if you ask them to do something harmful, as normal.  (Again, DC 13 Constitution saving throw to resist 5e charm person.)
A pink puffball, tasting of port wine and sorrow.

8. The Deepest Root Lies Not In The Earth, But In Oneself, But Oneself Is The Microcosm
For an hour, any creature coming within 30 feet of you must make a saving throw vs. poison or else be affected by your rapport spores.  (5e: DC 13 Constitution saving throw.)  While under the influence of these spores, creatures can communicate telepathically with you or any other creature under the influence of rapport spores, so long as they are within 30 feet.  (However, all creatures thus networked hear this communication, even affected enemies.)  You can likewise communicate with the network.  This affects any living creature smarter than an insect (Intelligence 2+), so long as it isn't an alien spirit (like an elemental.)  The effect ends when the duration ends.
A yellow puffball, tasting of salt and tin.

9. The Dream Of The Fungus-Mind Lives Within Me, Now
The consumer must make a save vs. poison or else be affected by confusion for 1d6 hours.  (Again, DC 13 Constitution saving throw to avoid confusion.)  You are gripped with terrifying hallucinations for the duration.  Hopefully, your companions have something to keep you restrained.
A morel with a washed-out brown color, tasting faintly of strawberries.

10. I Dreamt Not Of The Mycelia, For They Dreamt Of Me First
Hoo, boy.  If someone eats this, they make a saving throw vs. poison.  (DC 13 Constitution saving throw.)  The fungus has a will and controls the character for 1d6 hours.  (That is, the GM controls your character for 1d6 hours.)  What it wants is best left to the mind of the GM, but it's probably strange and alien.  (If you're stuck for ideas, it probably wants to spread, or to spread the meld.  What do your friends do when they catch you seeding local wells with fungal spores?)  You do not remember what you do in this time.
A sticky yellow toadstool, tasting acrid and strange.

11. What Is A God But A New Life Upon The Face Of The World
The consumer makes a save vs. poison.  (DC 13 Con save.)  Failure indicates the spores take root.  Over the next 1d6 hours, a fruiting body appears and grows before falling off.  It gains 10 pounds per hour.  When it falls off, it becomes a 1 HD myconid — AC unarmored, 1 slam attack for 1d4 damage, and its only special powers are to release spores that alert other myconids of danger.  It withers and dies if exposed to direct sunlight for more than an hour.  (If using 5e, use the stats for a myconid sprout.)  It has no particular loyalty to you, although it is likely to regard you as a parent if well-treated.  But are you willing to nurture this thing until it grows into an adult?
A toadstool with a fibrous, bracket-like consistency.  Tastes like wood and nostalgia.

12. I Dreamt Of Home, Of My Truest Self, Of The Meld That Lurks In All Our Selves
Make a save vs. poison or a DC 13 Constitution save.  On a failed save, the consumer falls into a deep slumber lasting 1d4 days.  The consumer's body swells and grows during this time, becoming strange and purplish.  At the end of this time, the consumer's body ruptures, revealing a myconid inside.  The myconid retains the original character's memories and statistics, although it exchanges the original character's race for its own.  (If using the race-as-class variation, it becomes a myconid with the same XP as the original character.)  As with For the Eukarya Is Mykarya, All Are Connected, All Are Siblings In The World, appropriately potent restoration magic might reverse the transformation.
A purple mushroom looking disturbingly like a little myconid.  Smells like the top of a baby's head and has a subtle, musky flavor.  Tastes like home.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Spore Week: Psychonauts of the Cosmic Overmind, Addendum

"Chalk it up to forced consciousness expansion."
After contemplating the Psychonauts of the Cosmic Overmind campaign setup for the past couple of months, I have an opportunity to include it as a side quest sort of thing, so here are the rest of the rules.  I should probably blame my distant memories of Chaosium's Dreamlands supplement for this sort of thing.

If the myconid sovereign hits you with enough rapport spores and hallucination spores, you'll eventually start tripping so hard your mind finds itself in the astral plane.  From there, you could end up anywhere in the multiverse.

Game-wise, this is an excuse for the GM to run any adventure they have lying around, whether or not it's connected to the current plot.  (You can even run another system if you want — run Monsterhearts for a session, and let your fantasy adventurers ponder the raw, existential dread of high school.)  I personally recommend something quite different in tone: take your vanilla fantasy to the Hill Cantons, or Wishery, or the Domains of Dread, or Carcosa, or some other distant vista of your choosing.

The multiverse is yours to explore!
Adventures take no time at all: at most, you're sitting in the myconids' meld for eight hours, but you might spend hours, days, weeks, or months of experiential time in the midst of your long, strange trip.

Characters retain their standard equipment.  If they lose or spend something, they have broken it, eaten it, tossed it away, or otherwise ruined it in a moment of psilocybin-wrought psychosis.  (It's up the GM how recoverable a given piece of equipment is.)  If they acquire equipment in the meld, it does not return to the world with them when the trip ends.  However, it does stay consistently in their minds, and journeys with them across their sojourns into the meld.  (Within reason, of course: if you decide you're running Delta Green this week, but last week they found Blackrazor in White Plume Mountain, maybe they only have their standard issue stuff for this foray.  Or maybe you're going totally gonzo, and yes, they do have the fabled Blackrazor.  Your call.)

If they come up with some clever way to recover their dream-equipment, let them have it.  (At high levels, stuff like plane shift becomes an option.  But I have no doubt that some enterprising lower-level party might undertake a quest to find equipment they left in the meld.)

If you die in the meld, you might die in real life.  Give the players a save vs. death, or a Constitution check, or a system shock roll, or a DC 17 Constitution saving throw, or whatever your death-avoidance mechanic is in your home system.  If they fail, they die for real.  (Alternately, you could go all Dreamlands on it and say that character who die have a bad trip and can never rejoin the meld thereafter.  Perhaps they never dream again, either.)

This is your brain on the meld.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Spore Week: Playable Myconids

Welcome to Spore Week!

(There's no special occasion, I just realized I had a couple of fungus-themed posts on the horizon, so why not make a whole thing of it.)

First up: Myconids.

Join the power of the meld.
Most myconids are furtive, peaceful, and spend most of their time in hallucinogenic rapport they call "the meld."  They consider this to be the reason for their existence.

But occasionally, some myconids go native and seek to explore the world physically rather than metaphorically.  (Scholars postulate that these myconids grew on the corpses of humanoids, and so absorbed humanoid hormones and memories as part of their growth cycle.  But sometimes they just happen without rhyme or reason.)

As such, we present playable myconids for Basic, Advanced, and fifth edition fantasy adventure game variants.


Myconids (Basic Race-as-Class)

Prime Requisite (if your game uses it): Wisdom
HD: d6
Thac0/to-hit: As cleric
Saves: As dwarf
Armor and Weapons: Myconids are typically pacifists and are neither proficient in armor nor weapons, although they can use shields.  However, they can attack with their fists and they become tougher as they age, as described below.
XP: As magic-user; myconids only progress to the ninth level of experience, as described below.

Myconids appear to be toadstool-like humanoids, with spongy flesh in colors from purple to grey.  Adventurous myconids are usually around 6' tall and weigh about 120 pounds.

Myconids usually live underground, and so have the ability to see in the dark with infravision up to 60 feet.  Myconids' hardy constitutions are reflected in their saving throws.  A myconid will speak the common tongue, its own alignment language, and can communicate with other myconids through the use of spores.

The typically dry conditions of the surface force myconids to imbibe double the amount of water per day as other humanoids.  This requirement is waived in cool underground places (like the typical dungeon or cavern) and possibly in places with plenty of humidity and lots of cover (like a rainforest).

Starting at third level, myconids can release spores at foes once per day.  It gains the following options as it levels up:
  • At third level, the myconid may choose to release pacifier spores.  This targets one creature within 40 feet.  If the creature fails its saving throw vs. poison, it becomes totally passive, unable to do anything, although it is still aware of its surroundings.  This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the myconid's level.
  • At fifth level, the myconid may choose to release hallucinator spores.  This targets one creature within 40 feet.  If the creature fails its saving throw vs. poison, it is affected as the target of a confusion spell.  This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the myconid's level.
  • At seventh level, the myconid may choose to release animator spores.  This targets one dead creature.  Over the course of 1d4 days, the creature is raised as a zombie.  (Use the standard zombie statistics from your game of choice.)  It is not undead and cannot be turned.  It follows the myconid's simple instructions (delivered by myconid spores), and lasts 1d4+1 weeks before decaying and becoming useless.  A myconid can typically only control one such zombie at a time.
Myconids do not use weapons or armor, but become increasingly tough over time.  Their hides become tougher and better able to resist damage, and they have a natural slam attack that becomes more powerful the strong the myconid becomes.  Player character myconids naturally develop according to the following chart:

MYCONID SPECIAL ABILITIES
Class Level
AC Bonus
Unarmed Attack Damage
1
0
1d4
2
-1
1d4
3
-1
2d4
4
-2
2d4
5
-2
3d4
6
-3
3d4
7
-3
4d4
8
-4
5d4
9
-4
6d4

Reaching 9th Level: When a myconid reaches 9th level, it has the option of sporulating and creating a circle of myconids.  2d6 HD 1 myconids will arrive to follow the elder myconid.  Myconids do not progress beyond the ninth level of ability, and typically retire to become myconid sovereigns.


Myconids (Advanced Edition Race)

Requirements: WIS 9
Ability Modifiers: WIS +1, CHA -1
Ability Min/Max: STR 3/18, DEX 3/18, CON 6/18, INT 3/16, WIS 8/19, CHA 3/14

Myconids appear to be toadstool-like humanoids, with spongy flesh in colors from purple to grey.  Adventurous myconids are usually around 6' tall and weigh about 120 pounds.

Myconids usually live underground, and so have the ability to see in the dark with infravision up to 60 feet.  Myconids' hardy constitutions grant them a +4 to saving throws against poison.  A myconid will speak the common tongue, its own alignment language, and can communicate with other myconids through the use of spores.

The typically dry conditions of the surface force myconids to imbibe double the amount of water per day as other humanoids.  This requirement is waived in cool underground places (like the typical dungeon or cavern) and possibly in places with plenty of humidity and lots of cover (like a rainforest).

Starting at third level, myconids can release spores at foes once per day.  It gains the following options as it levels up:
  • At third level, the myconid may choose to release pacifier spores.  This targets one creature within 40 feet.  If the creature fails its saving throw vs. poison, it becomes totally passive, unable to do anything, although it is still aware of its surroundings.  This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the myconid's level.
  • At fifth level, the myconid may choose to release hallucinator spores.  This targets one creature within 40 feet.  If the creature fails its saving throw vs. poison, it is affected as the target of a confusion spell.  This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the myconid's level.
  • At seventh level, the myconid may choose to release animator spores.  This targets one dead creature.  Over the course of 1d4 days, the creature is raised as a zombie.  (Use the standard zombie statistics from your game of choice.)  It is not undead and cannot be turned.  It follows the myconid's simple instructions (delivered by myconid spores), and lasts 1d4+1 weeks before decaying and becoming useless.  A myconid can typically only control one such zombie at a time.
Myconids may select from the following classes, with the indicated level limits:

MYCONID CLASSES AVAILABLE
Class
Level Limit
Fighter
9
Magic-User
5
Illusionist
7
Thief
9

Myconid thieves receive the following bonuses and penalties to thief abilities:

MYCONID THIEF SKILL ADJUSTMENTS
Skill
Adjustment
Pick Locks
-5%
Pick Pockets
-5%
Move Silently
+5%
Hide in Shadows
+5%

If you're using Advanced Edition starting ages and age stages, myconids usually start at 1d4+4 years old.  They are considered adolescents from ages 2-4, adults from age 5-12, middle aged from ages 13-16, elderly from ages 17-20, and venerable from ages 21-24.


Myconids (5e Race)

As per standard 5e race design, player character myconids have somewhat different capabilities from standard Monster Manual-derived myconids.  Player character myconids are considered humanoids.

Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1, and your Wisdom score increases by 2.
Age. Myconids mature quickly, typically considered adults at age 4.  They rarely live longer than thirty years, although some specimens may be truly ancient.
Alignment. The orderly, harmonious society of myconids typically gives them lawful mindsets.  They trend neutral, connected as they are with the unbiased attitude of nature.
Size. Myconids are typically around 6 feet tall and weigh around 120 pounds.  Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Superior Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 120 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light.  You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Fungal Essence. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed or poisoned, and you have resistance against poison damage.
Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.
Sporulation. You know the message cantrip requiring no material components. Once you reach 3rd level, you can cast comprehend languages when you finish a long rest, requiring no material components to do so.  Once you reach 5th level, you can cast calm emotions when you finish a long rest.  Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Undercommon.

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