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

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