Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Werk: Xilmpa

In this week's Wednesday Werk, we'll look at the Xilmpa.

The Xilmpa are a conquering, warrior race of crocodilian humanoids.  Horror, disease, and destruction follow in their wake, but the reasons are unclear.  Some scholars seem to think they are cursed, while others believe they are infected with the raw soulstuff of the Elemental Chaos.

Partial credit.  The Xilmpa are known to enslave those they conquer for use in their mining operations, as their desire for rare minerals is insatiable.  Oddly, reports suggest they eat these materials.  For strength.

In fact, reports filter back from blasted wastes and ancient mines that the creatures ignore silver and gold, instead mining and eating a silvery-grey metal sometimes called the Dross of the Sun God, but also known as the Excrement of Pelor.

(If you clicked the second link, you'd know the stuff as uranium.)

Some claim the strange metal gives the creatures their strength.  Others suggest they're addicted to it.  Still others say they need it to survive.  Some say all these things are true.

Supposedly, a group of Xilmpa are mobilizing.  Even now, those in the know have offered a large bounty for any who can stop their quest, for the creatures supposedly seek an ancient holy site known as the Sun's Kingdom on Earth.  If they find it, they may be unstoppable.

(These creatures may also be found on Gamma Terra.  Assume they go looking for uranium deposits and other sources of radiation to feed.  At the DM's discretion, they might be cannibalistic, devouring other mutants for the high background radiation in their blood.  On second thought, you might just want to assume they eat people anyway, just to make them more unpleasant.)

In combat, the Xilmpa are efficient hunters.  They typically open with Geislun Auga, attempting to irradiate and weaken opponents before wading into melee.  They attack efficiently and make optimal use of group tactics; if several can surround one opponent, they will typically try to stack as many status effects as possible on that opponent to deal maximum damage.  If that is not possible, Claw is a favored attack as it deals a little extra damage.

DMs without access to Gamma World should assume that radiation damage is a unique damage keyword only found on things that are, well, radioactive.  Radiation damage is probably only a hazard in uranium mines, natural nuclear fission reactors, and the like (I recently updated Expedition to the Barrier Peaks to 4e, and included radiation damage there, too).  It is best described as a combination of disease, necrotic, poison, and radiant, but it is truthfully none of these.  Adventurers are only likely to encounter it with regard to the Xilmpa, and so probably will not have resistances or vulnerabilities to radiation, nor will they deal radiation damage; it simply allows the Xilmpa to persist in toxic environments of the DM's devising.

Additionally, enterprising DMs can create mutant Xilmpa strains in the same method as mutant Almas strains, as described in this Wednesday Werk post.  Simply swap out Geilsun Auga (actually a reskinned Das Gamma Auge Alpha Mutation) for another Alpha Mutation and you're ready to go.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Epic Destiny: Planeswalker

I just created the most unholy abomination, and for that, I am truly sorry.

So, many moons ago, I got my first booster pack of Magic: the Gathering in 1995 because I thought it looked neat.  (In a rather telling anecdote, I was not entirely aware of the nature of the game and thought the cards to be something resembling Tarot cardsWheel of Fortune was even among the first cards I obtained, further cementing the connection in my mind.)

I was never terribly good, and rarely had the opportunity to play, but I knew enough of the setting to think it was rather neat.  (We'll pretend I didn't read any of the comic books or novels and move on.)  Nigh-godlike planeswalkers go plane-hopping through various alien environments, making power plays — it's a lot like Planescape if the main characters were all arrogant, near-omnipotent dicks.

Well, that having been said, among my many casual assumptions lies the one that the multiverse of Domina and the multiverse of D&D are the same place.  Or could be the same place.

As such, why aren't there Planeswalkers in D&D?

In general, the reason why every D&D setting isn't a magic-ravaged wasteland is because they're all too backwater for Planeswalkers to care.  Important stuff is happening elsewhere in the multiverse, and they've got better things to do than slum in worlds of dying magic when they could go into magic-rich worlds and bask in the Mana.  However, that doesn't mean that the occasional Planeswalker doesn't wander through from time to time.

More importantly, it doesn't preclude arcane adventuring types from awakening their Sparks and someday ascending into the ranks of the arcane elite.

As such, I've prepared a D&D 4e Epic Destiny path for Planeswalkers.  Let's hope that this doesn't unleash a Vancian spell card system and D&D/Vanguard crossovers aplenty from Wizards.

Unless you're into that, of course, in which case, maybe that's what you want.

Download the document here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

There and Back Again: Post-Modern Fellowship

No, not The Stand.

I mean this insane idea I keep having.  Somewhere in my brain meats, I want to run an old-school D&D game, probably using B/X or an associated retroclone (Labyrinth Lord or Lamentations of the Flame Princess; likely the latter out of personal preference, and because it suggests that the experiment would be more warped).

The setting doesn't really matter; maybe I'd use Greyhawk, or Blackmoor, or LotFP's implied setting, or even grim and terrible Athas.  Or maybe I totally wouldn't care and it would be a homebrew.  The whole adventure might take place in a megadungeon.

That's not the important part.

The important part is that there's a game, and its sequel.

The first game features fifteen characters — if there are fewer than fifteen players, then roles get doubled.  Whatever the case, there are fifteen characters available: 1 halfling, 1 magic-user, and 13 dwarves.

The second game features nine characters: 4 halflings, 1 magic-user, 2 fighters (one of whom may be a ranger if the rules support it), 1 dwarf, and 1 elf.

In no other ways should the game directly reference Middle-earth (other than whatever typical D&D tropes happen to emulate Tolkien, of course).  The goal is not to emulate The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, but to use the same party makeup and see how things go.

The only other Tolkien trope I might adapt is to attach grand significance to an otherwise "mundane" magic item found in the first game and make it the focus of the second game.  That +1 dagger found on the first level of the megadungeon?  It turns out it's Ichor-Spilt, Assassin-Blade of the Gods, and the gods aren't too keen on having somebody running around with the only threat to their power.  That treasure map you never quite had time to decipher and only promised a few greasy coins, anyway?  Well, actually, it leads to the Tomb of the Thrice-Damned Forgotten Lord, and that becomes the megadungeon setting of the entire sequel.

One game ends when all characters retire or die.

Addendum: It did occur to me that there is one small problem with this setup.  No party cleric.  I don't know whether I'd have the PCs tough it out, or whether I should just let the party magic-user cast from the magic-user and cleric lists.  Tolkien made his magic-users angels or somesuch, after all...

Deadlands, Part XXIII

When last we left our heroes, they met the Gentleman (again), found the ritual to stop the Doomsday Clock, found the Angel of Death (aka Ruby's brother John Michael Patrick), shot Bashiel in the face, and murdered a small army of devil-babies.

This guy + Confederate uniform = John Michael Patrick

As Father Seward just attempted (and failed) to heal David Hood's wounds and developed a few of his own, Jake casts a hex to heal Father Seward's wounds and Seward prays over Hood again.  This time, all is successful, and everyone is uninjured.

As John Michael Patrick seems the best specimen to use as the ritual's sacrifice, they decide to wait for him to return, presumably around the dawn.  The prospect of just sitting around is dispelled however, as Jake hears a slow, clapping sound from upstairs.  No one else hears it.  He follows the sound, and Father Seward follows him, to the upstairs bathroom, where Jake sees his old mentor Cobb in the mirror, just clapping.  Jake speaks to him, and the image does not alter, so Jake smashes the mirror.  The sound and image stop, and everyone returns downstairs.

With the excitement passed, watches are set for three-hour shifts so everyone gets six hours of sleep; David and Jeb take first watch, Father Seward and Jake take second watch, Ruby and Rufina take third watch.

During the beginning of Jake and Seward's shift, they notice that Rufina is sweating and appears to look somewhat ill.  She is found to have an intense fever — as the next symbol on the clock depicted a wasting woman, it seems that the third hour is upon them.  Since Father Seward and Jake have limited medical knowledge, they debate asking David.  Finally, Rufina awakens, and rest of the party awakens with the commotion.  Rufina expresses an immediate need to go to the bathroom, so Father Seward escorts her upstairs and brings the bedpan out in the hall because of the broken glass in the bathroom.

The diarrhea is horrific.  Strangely, however, it's actually watery; as with the fever sweat, it does not turn to blood.  Father Seward returns downstairs to inform the others, and after some contemplation, David Hood recognizes the description of the "blue death" — cholera (evidently, the epidemic in the quarantined Irish quarter has broken out).  Since there is no potable water, the group decides to feed Rufina fruit.  Father Seward returns upstairs with an apple, which Rufina reluctantly eats as she has no appetite.  She does mention that she should probably boil and drink her water, which seems like a fine idea to try.

Artist's rendering of cholera.

Soon, cholera is upon the whole group, and each person heads to a different portion of the house to struggle through it.  Each person maintains a fruit-eating regimen.  At some point, somebody tries to boil the fluid, but it turns to blood as it heats.

As dawn comes, John Michael Patrick returns.  Between outbursts, Ruby decides to speak to him, and the two of them go off into a room alone.  Quietly, the rest of the group assembles around the door as the conversation between Ruby and her brother becomes more animated.

John still maintains that his soul is beyond saving, and that he has done too many bad things for him to be saved.  For one, he betrayed the group to Bashiel; he serves Bashiel, and that is how the demon knew where they were.  He also says they are too late, for Bashiel is moving the Doomsday Clock.  Ruby, however, argues that there is still good in him, and that there is a way to be redeemed.

Father Seward knocks on the door and interrupts.  John steps outside and closes the door behind him.  Seward indicates that nobody is beyond redemption, and that he wishes to give him the chance.  John agrees, and the two step aside so Seward can take his confession.  Finally, Father Seward makes certain that he fully understands what this will mean — namely, his death — and John still agrees.

Determining that they probably have some time before anybody is wracked with diarrhea, the group decides to leave immediately.  Father Seward takes a minute to bless two bullets for use against Bashiel before they go.

The group arrives at the docks to find a frenzy of activity.  Several people are busy; it appears that they finished loading bladders into the Peerless and are using the crane to place the Doomsday Clock onto the riverboat, presumably to take it out to sea beyond the reach of mortal agents.  Several robed figures — Dustmen, by their look — appear to be among the workers, and a few swarms of babies seem to be wandering around.

The group splits; Jeb goes looking for the riverboat captain in nearby taverns, while David and Jake go looking for a general store.  Father Seward, Ruby, and Rufina head towards the docks with John, attempting to do so stealthily.  No luck.  Bashiel looks down from his rooftop perch.  He does nothing, but the babies detach and start going down side alleys.

David and Jake find a general store, and Jake finds what he was seeking — dynamite.

Pretty soon, the demon babies are upon us.  With the general malaise from cholera, the group is all rather tired.  In the Ruby, Rufina, Seward group, only Rufina is holding her own; Ruby is a fine shot, although not the best, and Father Seward is not reacting as quickly as usual.

Jake takes his dynamite and tells David to hold the babies off.  He bolts.

Things start to run together in the chaos of combat, but the following things happen in the span of roughly half a minute:

  • Rufina starts cleaving through babies with her magic sword.  As she does so, the blade sets off this high-pitched keening.  The Dustmen catch fire when the sound reaches them.
  • Jeb and David meet up.  With plenty of fuel about, they torch a building, killing all the devil-babies inside.  Both are forced to stop, drop, and roll as their pants are on fire.
  • Jake runs for the throng of workers.  His goal is to blow them up to clear a path to the riverboat.  His plan is to light and throw the dynamite when he's close enough.  As he's running, the Dustmen start throwing fireballs at him.  Most miss.  One hits.  All six sticks detonate, leaving a smoking crater and an impressive dust cloud.
  • After being stabbed several times by demon-babies, Father Seward isn't feeling very well.  Just then, he feels arms lift him underneath his armpits.  Seward manages to grab the silver bowl as he leaves the ground.  John Michael Patrick hoists him into the air, takes him to the riverboat (managing to dodge the Dustmen fireballs during the process), and deposits him near the Doomsday Clock.  They determine that his guns cannot kill John.  Father Seward takes shelter in the belly of the ship and starts blessing his gun.
  • A Dustman fireball hits the boat.  The blaze starts.
  • John is fast.  He manages to fly from the boat, to Rufina to get the sword, and back to the boat in about ten seconds or so.
  • David has rejoined the others.  Ruby prays.
  • During this time, Jeb has been looking for a sniper position.  He finds a place atop a roof, takes aim at a Dustman, squeezes the trigger, and...
  • Rufina charges down the street to go hand-to-hand with the Dustmen.  As she reaches them, one gets shot in the torso and falls.  She charges another one and tackles him into the water as the remaining two Dustmen pelt her in the back with fireballs and she goes under.
  • Father Seward completes the ritual — he forgives and slays John, starts chanting, gathers his blood in the silver bowl, and pours the blood on the Doomsday Clock.
  • The fire consumes the boat.
As the blood touches the Doomsday Clock, the sky opens.  A deluge pours from the heavens, washing all the corruption away.


At current tally, Father Seward, Jake, and Rufina are all dead.  Small price to pay to save the world, though.

There are some other thoughts about this game on the internet: Arashi (who plays Jake) at The Felling Blade and Nicole (who plays Ruby) at A Really Well-Made Buttonhole both discussed their thoughts on this session.

Also, I was really excited when cholera showed up.  Although this is hardly surprising, as I've previously discussed my love of microbiology.  Cholera in particular is pretty neat; it was the plague of the Victorian era, also known as the infamous "blue death" (because the extreme dehydration turns you blue-grey, don't you know?), and John Snow's work with cholera in London was instrumental in developing modern epidemiology (and he did it before the modern germ theory of disease!).

As for my next character, I've told Nicole about a couple of concepts, but nothing has gelled.  If the Random Number God is with me, I have a gravedigger in mind.  (Why do stats matter for unskilled labor?  Wouldn't you like to know?)  If my character creation card draws are lower, I'm contemplating a con man.

And I'll leave you with what I determined to be Seward's theme song, "The Pantheon" from the Bastion soundtrack:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Werk: Crudiv

In this week's Wednesday Werk, we'll look at the Crudiv.

The Crudiv is a fungal stalker possessed of extrasensory perception.  The creatures are typically drawn into conflict because their spores only germinate in dead tissue, and because attacking is the best way to infect a creature with their spores.

The Baron Lee van Hook has attempted to study the creatures, but thus far, has only encountered the dead remains of sporelings.  Evidently, mature specimens are canny enough to flee combat.  He has made precious little headway from dead sporeling remains other than determining that they are likely further examples of his "carnophytes."

If Crudiv suspect the presence of nearby creatures, they will attempt to hide and attack from ambush.  They always open with Tendril Lash and then typically use a found weapon for the rest of combat; this specimen fights with a Scavenged Battleaxe.  Crudiv will attempt to make effective use of cover and flanking, as well as attacking from hidden positions if possible.  If pressed or otherwise boxed in, they will attempt to use Sporic Rebuke to attack and escape.  Crudiv only fight to the death if escape is impossible; otherwise, they attempt to flee if one of their number is bloodied or killed, or if combat takes more than a couple of rounds.

Any creature that is exposed to Crudiv spores must make a saving throw at the end of the encounter.  Failure indicates the target contracts Crudiv Spores at stage 1.

Crudiv Spores, Level 2 Disease
Fungal filaments grow inside your body.
Stage 0: The target recovers from the disease.
Stage 1: The target loses a healing surge.  If the target is reduced to 0 hit points, place four Crudiv Sporelings in unoccupied squares adjacent to the target, and the target moves to stage 0.
Stage 2: If the target is reduced to 0 hit points, place four Crudiv Sporelings in unoccupied squares adjacent to the target, and the target moves to stage 0.
Stage 3: If the target is reduced to 0 hit points, place four Crudiv Sporelings in unoccupied squares adjacent to the target, and the target moves to stage 0.
9 or lower: The stage of the disease increases by one.
10-12: No change.
13 or higher: The stage of the disease decreases by one.

Astute observers might note the insidiousness of this disease; once at stage 2 or 3, the target no longer realizes that he or she is still infected.  Devious GMs might make the Endurance/Heal check for the target in secret, so that the player never truly knows whether the infection is gone or not.

And now, Crudiv Sporelings:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Return of the Son of the West That Never Was

Man, now that I've written about The West that Never Was (and its addendum), I seem to be suffering from frequency illusion or Baader-Meinhof, because now I'm seeing this everywhere.

First, Rushputin brought "Knights of Cydonia" to my attention:

And then I found a +1 Revolver:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Random Shakespearean Insult Generator

So, there are several, but here's a Shakespearean insult generator.  It combines canonical Shakespearean insults with a list from this Shakespeare Insult Kit.

What's that?  You don't have your computer handy?

Good thing you printed it as a d50 table.  (Also available in Google Docs if you want a spreadsheet format.)

Roll 3d50 (or 3d100 if you prefer) and arrange as "Thou [column 1 result] [column 2 result] [column 3 result]!"

d50d100Column 1Column 2Column 3

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Werk: Crannit

In this week's Wednesday Werk, we'll look at the Crannit.

The Crannit is an extraplanar creature that typically spans across multiple planes and searches for occult wisdom.  Due to their multiplanar perspective, Crannits can see the invisible and (so the stories say) even the future.

These creatures scour the planes for lore, and will willingly deal with anyone who has something to trade or offer.  Conversely, however, the creatures will viciously attack anyone who attempts to deny them knowledge.  If a Crannit learns of a spell or magic item that another creature is attempting to keep to itself, that creature can expect the Crannits to soon come calling.

As with many creatures that span across planes, it is unclear whether a Crannit dies when slain, or whether it merely dispels that version of the creature.  Scholars certainly do not know enough about them to have a definitive answer.

In combat, the creatures will typically try to target multiple foes with Flameball or Astral Ribbons before picking them apart with Eldritch Arrow.  If engaged in melee, the creatures will use Phase Shift to reposition and avoid opportunity attacks.  If provoked to attack a target to gain arcane lore, Crannits will frequently fight to the death.  If attacked, the creatures will frequently attempt to flee.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The West That Never Was: Addendum

Food for thought regarding The West That Never Was.

Some Stuff You Should Know

Things are busy again, so it's time for some random stuff that might interest you.

Tori Bergquist at Realms of Chirak really hit the nail on the head the other day regarding AD&D vs. 4E.  I have certain RPG preferences, but I ultimately don't care what I run or play as long as I'm excited about it; there are reasons why D&D 4e is cool and there are reasons why AD&D 1e is also cool.  I play D&D for different reasons than WoD or UA, for example.

Tremendous Torr brought The Lovecraft Engine to my attention.  This site remixes Lovecraftian nouns and adjectives to craft a random Lovecraftian description, offering such gems as "a quavering fluid" and "that incongruous, blasphemous, necromantic phantasy."

The meat of this post has to do with another blog plug for a good friend.  About ten months ago while plugging Role-Player Hater (and he seriously needs to start posting again when he's not making metal or making metal), I mentioned my good friend and hetero life mate Nicole — I've known her so long that I remember roughly when she entered my Monkeysphere, but I don't actually remember ever meeting her.  Well, she just started a blog.  As it's just started (and only has one post at the time of this writing), I don't quite know what the focus will be, but I can speak to the quality of her writing and can vouch that it will likely be worth your time.  Presently, all signs point to a little bit of everything nerd-related with a focus on crafting — sewing, costuming, and suchlike.  (You're probably better off just reading the first post and seeing if it interests you.)  If any of that stuff strikes your fancy, go ahead a take a look at A Really Well-Made Buttonhole.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Deadlands, Part XXII

When last we left our heroes, hounds murdered all the babies in Boston, David Hood secured a method to raise the Peerless and obtain the Doomsday Clock, Bashiel convinced a crowd to lynch the rabbis, and Father Seward and Jake were going off to face Bashiel.

David and Jake both note a figure atop a nearby building.  He is dressed in formal wear and shuffling a deck of cards.  Jake recognizes a huckster when he sees one, but David recognizes the ghostly Gentleman.

Jake calls the huckster to Father Seward's attention.  Father Seward looks at him and hollers, "Hey!  When'd you get out of Limbo?"  The man responds by leaping off the building and landing behind Father Seward.

Jake and Seward both notice that he makes no sound as he lands.  Seward replies with a mildly disappointed, "Oh."

The Gentleman indicates that Seward's strategy is poor, and he bids him to follow.  The group assembles in a nearby warehouse — during the process, they learn that the riverboat captain cannot see the Gentleman — and the Gentleman proceeds to explain the situation.  Bashiel is just an enforcer, a servitor of the greater demon Goleb.  The Doomsday Clock opens a gate to Hell; the where is unimportant.  Moving the gate won't help; it must be closed.  Bashiel is canny enough to prevent this, but Father Seward is apparently the wildcard he overlooked.  This is to their advantage.  At Father Seward's questioning, the Gentleman further indicates that he is not corporeal, but that his current employer is seeing to it in return for his help (presumably on this errand).  The group asks if he can read Hebrew, and he replies that he can.  Father Seward presents the rabbis' note, and he translates it as, "Words for words."  Before he leaves, he asks David Hood how his family is doing.  He disappears.

The group decides to return to the Hood house to investigate the rabbis' corpses.  They arrive, and Seward looks in the mouth of the impaled rabbi.  It's stuck shut, but Father Seward pries it open.  There is a mound of cheesecloth stuffed in the rabbi's mouth.  Unwrapping it, it contains a paper detailing the ritual.

The ritual apparently requires a holy man to forgive a person who has performed an unforgivable sin (in this case, interpreted as betrayal or suicide).  This person must then be executed (limited the crime to betrayal, then), and their blood transferred to a silver bowl.  The blood must be poured upon the gears of the Doomsday Clock, and the clock will stop.  Some Hebrew chanting is required, but it is written out phonetically for the ease of a non-speaker.  In recounting the ritual to the others, Father Seward omits the fact that the penitent can be executed by anyone; he implies that he has to perform the deed.

With that settled, David wishes to follow the Gentleman's cryptic remark and return to his family's house a short distance away.  The group relocates.

The house is relatively untouched by the violence that has gripped the city.  Once upon the porch, it is obvious that a light burns from deep within the house.  A couple of people hear movement coming from underneath the floor; they decide to examine the narrow basement windows.  Seeing nothing, Rufina breaks the glass with her sword and shines a light inside.

A form moves at the lantern's approach, leaving only the horrific sight remaining.  Various body parts hang from hooked chains — two torsos, two sets of arms, two sets of legs, no head.  It appears to be one Caucasian female and one African-American female, although it is presently not clear if all the parts come from the same two bodies without closer examination.

With everyone back on the porch, David Hood sneaks a peek and vomits at the sight.

After testing the door and trying to break it open, Jeb blasts open the door with a shotgun.  The group filters inside.

Suspecting that they'll find the Angel of Death/John Michael Patrick, Ruby starts calling out to her brother.  Father Seward also shouts that they'd like to talk about the state of his soul.  There's some movement through the house, and as she ascends the stairs with a lantern-bearing Father Seward, the bat-like form of her brother peers around the corner.

Ruby manages to calm him down, and so he comes fully into view — he is carrying something.  Upon quick examination, this is revealed to be the severed head of a Caucasian woman, mounted on a pole (like a mop handle or something similar) that has been wrapped in a woman's dress.  John Michael Patrick also applied make-up and styled the hair on the head — and all-in-all, it is a crude likeness of Ruby O'Flaherty herself.

Father Seward and Ruby maintain their composure, and so Ruby starts talking to him, explaining that they mean him no harm and that she now realizes that he probably was only trying to do his best with things.  Father Seward and Ruby start to launch into a conversation about his soul — the group discussed the possibility of sacrificing him as the unforgivable sinner — but before any headway is made, the John-thing rambles about some sort of need and dashes off.  Father Seward surmises that it's roughly sundown and that the creature has gone off to feed.

The group then searches the house.  They find two such dolls — the Caucasian one John Michael Patrick was carrying, and an African-American one elsewhere in the house.  When David sees the woman, he recognizes his sister Abigail and needs to be excused.  The group also finds that the two dismembered bodies in the basement represent the two girls.  Additionally, they find that someone has roughly searched through women's clothes and jewelery, presumably to dress the two "dolls."

Finally, the group reconvenes in the hall to determine their next move when they hear whistling coming up the sidewalk.  Jake immediately fears it's his mentor Cobb, but people look outside to see Bashiel walking up the street.  Father Seward curses and tells them to hold him off for a minute.  He runs upstairs to pray.

Bashiel starts asking for Seward to come out, beginning with cajoling, then threats.  Then he opens his coat and the ambulatory babies start swarming out.

As they do, Father Seward stops praying.  He smashes the window out and fires at Bashiel's head.  A blaring blast of white light erupts from the demon's head.  He unleashes some horrific, keening wail and then turns into a greasy, black shadow and swiftly flies off in the direction of City Hall and the docks.

Roughly eighteen babies remain.  Rufina wades into the swarm with her sword, cursing and weeping with every demonic baby she slays.  The others take potshots, but soon, Jeb joins her with his knife, and David arrives with only his fists.  Jake causes a tremor before using his black lightning, and Father Seward and Ruby shoot at the baby-things.

It's a hard slog, but at the end of it, a handful of babies have escaped and most lie dead.  Rufina is greviously injured, and David has sustained a serious wound to his torso.  Father Seward manages to lay on hands and heal Rufina, but fatigue must finally overtake him as he fails to heal David, becoming wracked with coughs as he coughs up blood.


Funny story: while writing this, it occurred to me that the rabbis likely killed their fellow so as to intentionally make a betrayer who could be sacrificed.  It's brutal and self-sacrificing, but efficient and effective.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday Werk: Blatherer

"grim secrets beget eldritch tendrils vile syllables imprinted upon the world — THE SQUAMOUS MADNESS — THE TONGUE OF VECNA — THE WORM THAT BLASPHEMES

"it is an intrusion on life and hope and happiness — THE SOFT WHITE WORM THAT BLATHERS

"the mind recoils in its presence flees the body rather than sit and fall to madness usefullness as a torture tool dubious as victims die rather than waste"

— Zadok the Apostate, The Confessions of Zadok the Apostate

In this week's Wednesday Werk, we'll look at the Blatherer.

The Blatherer is a large, white worm that speaks continuously.  Seriously.

Some scholars have suggested that the Blatherer was an experiment gone wrong, a crossbreed between a Yuan-Ti and a Gibbering Mouther.  Or a demon trapped in mortal form.  Or any one of a million insane theories.

Whatever the case, Blatherers aren't terribly common, but they can be found anywhere throughout the planes.  It is not clear whether they are sapient or not — they appear to know a lot about a variety of subjects, but they can hardly be described as fighting intelligently.  (In fact, they can hardly be said to fight at all.)  They do not seem aggressive, and rarely bite.

However, Blatherers are extremely offensive.  They talk constantly — they apparently respire through their skin and breathe underwater, meaning that they do not have to pause for breath.  All they speak are banal platitudes, blasphemous curses, insults, and the like.  This forms a psychic barrier of offensive thought that is genuinely injurious to nearby minds — even the deaf cannot escape the Blatherer.

In combat, Blatherers typically appear uninterested and may attempt strange tactics as they fight.  The psychic attacks of a Blatherer all seem incidental and subconscious; they do not seem to actively repel enemies.  In fact, Blatherers typically come across as somewhat curious, wading into foreign parties and coincidentally causing mayhem with their infernal rambling.  A Blatherer will typically open combat with Churlish Insult, only using Mindless Drivel when two or more enemies are within range.  It will use Boring Anecdote each round an enemy is within range.  It uses Blasphemous Whispering whenever it triggers.  Blatherers never retreat, although they may sometimes wander out of a combat situation.  They will, however, continue to "attack" nearby targets until they die.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The West That Never Was

That video about sums it up.

So, the other day, I happened to see a Fistful of Rupees (also see Part 2 and Part 3), and it got me to thinking about the intersection of fantasy and the Western.  The two are pretty similar (most American Westerns are just reskinned samurai movies, anyway), in that they typically follow the exploits of a single person or a small group seeking justice.  Or money.  Or both.  There are small borderland towns amidst a large wilderness.  And particularly in the modern deconstruction of the Western, mystical and mysterious elements are common.

Sounds like D&D to me.

The following is meant for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and assumes a fictional American West keeping in line with Raggi's fictional early modern Europe.  You might keep the same geography as America, or you might make a fake one — personally, I was thinking Dogs in the Vineyard or octaNe with just an endless West that never was.  Or Dark Tower, if you prefer. Whatever the case, here's some stuff.


Assume the standard seven classes.  Fighters and specialists are the same.  Clerics might be from a religious order, or they might be the local padre.  Magic-Users might be weird shamans, or Satan-worshippers, or the old crone who lives on the hill and gives love potions to people who remind her of her dead husband.  Demihuman classes either represent demihumans that came over from Europe, or Injuns native to the Americas.  If you pick the latter option, assume adventuring Injuns are typically either exiles or questers seeking glory and mystical knowledge.  A notable number of adventuring Injuns are either Contraries or Two-Spirits.  Injuns come from three broad clans (or societies, or sects, or whatever):
  • Elves become Fire Shamans, battle shamans who fight as well as study magic.  Depending upon the whims of the Referee, Spirit Warriors may have access to the Cleric spell list in place of or in addition to the regular Magic-User spell list.  They otherwise retain all Elf characteristics.
  • Dwarves become Stone Warriors, fierce warriors who are known for their connection to the earth and their legendary toughness.  A fair number of Stone Warriors are also Contraries.
  • Halflings become Coyote-People, mystical tricksters who fulfill archetypal roles among their tribes.  Rather than great battle training, Coyote-People focus more on getting out of trouble and avoiding danger.

All skills still start at a 1 in 6 chance, modified by statistics and class options.  At the Referee's option, two new skills may be added:
  • Quick-Draw: If a character rolls under his or her quick-draw skill, he or she may draw a small weapon (such as a knife or pistol) and use it in the same round.  Quick-Draw benefits from the character's Dexterity modifier.
  • Speed-Load: In a round, a character can load two bullets, plus a number of extra bullets equal to his or her Speed-Load skill.  So, most characters can load three bullets in a round.  This skill works the same for revolver bullets, rifle bullets, shotgun shells, and Gatling gun rounds.
Money and Equipment

Money is as found in the Rules book, although coins are less common because newly-minted currency (typically bank notes) is found back East.  Copper, silver, and gold coins are occasionally found among old Indian and Spanish hordes, however.  In settlements, the following denominations become more common:
  • Copper pieces are more commonly copper bits, retaining the same weight and size as other copper coins.
  • Silver pieces are more commonly found as greenbacks, bank notes printed on green-tinted fabric.  Supposedly, each greenback represents a silver piece in the treasury, but who knows if that's true.  Ten copper bits equal one greenback.
  • Gold pieces are relatively unchanged.  Occasionally, some prospector will come into a settlement with gold nuggets, and the government back East will mint gold eagles, but the gold pieces out West are frequently still bits of Spanish treasure.  And even older pieces...
Equipment is mostly unchanged; armor and classic weapons are typically rarer, but some blacksmiths still make it to keep in practice, and some hombres just feel more comfortable out in the West with a heavy leather duster or chainmail (armor is still sometimes found in treasure hordes, too).  There are a couple of new pieces of equipment, as well.

Item Cost, City Cost, Rural Damage Shots Short Medium Long
Revolver 25 sp 25 sp d10 6 50' 300' 600'
Rifle 35 sp 25 sp d12 5 100' 500' 1000'
Shotgun* 45 sp 35 sp 3d6/1d6 2 50' 100'
Gatling Gun** 1500 sp d12 100 1000' 2000' 3000'

*Shotguns decrease a d6 of damage for each range increment. So, it deals 3d6 at 0'-50' and 1d6 at 51'-100'.

**A character using a Gatling Gun can make up to three attacks per round. Gatling Guns can only be fired while mounted; if carried, they are considered oversized equipment.

Guns ignore armor, typically rendering the average opponent at a measly 11-13 AC.  Cover is important.  Bullets are typically 2cp apiece for whatever gun.

In addition, characters might purchase speed-load cylinders.  A speed-load cylinder costs 5sp; characters can pre-load these cylinders with 6 bullets, allowing them to reload a revolver in one round with a loaded speed-load cylinder.

Cattle Punk Tech

Cattle Punk is the fusion of fanciful, steampunk technology and classic cowboy aesthetic.  If the Referee wishes to include this stuff, the Referee may:

  • A) Make a new class; we'll call it the "Artificer" or the "Mad Scientist" or whatever.  We recommend reskinning the Magic-User; keep the level progression, hit points, attacks, and saves, but lose the spells.  Mad Scientists, however, gain a "Science" skill that progresses as demihuman skills (starts at 2 in 6; increases to 3 in 6 at level 4, 4 in 6 at level 7, 5 in 6 at level 10, and 6 in 6 at level 13); this skill encompasses Architecture, Bushcraft, and Tinker.  Mad Scientists can make magical devices (I recommend using the rules for magical research from Labyrinth Lord, although the Referee might decrease development times and costs because the Mad Scientists do this as their schtick).  
  • B) Specialists can make magical items if they have an Intelligence of 13 or higher, and either Architecture, Bushcraft, or Tinker at 6 in 6.  Specialists with Architecture can make giant vehicles and bases — warships, airships, secret volcano lairs, and the like.  Specialists with Bushcraft can modify life through crossbreeding and Frankenstein techniques, making new creatures and monsters in this fashion.  Specialists with Tinker can make traditional armor, gadgets, and weapons.
  • C) Just modify Grease Monkeys and take it from there.
If super-scientists exist, there are probably limited supplies of "magic items" on the market; if you've got the bucks, tinkerers make good stuff.  You probably won't find anything with more than a +1 enhancement bonus, and that will cost thousands of dollars.  (A +1 anything probably runs about $20,000.)

Magic armor might be able to take gunfire, or it might not.  It's all up to that Referee bastard.

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