Friday, May 22, 2015

Dapimancy (New-Wave Videomancy)

People watched television the same way for over half a century, but newer generations are more accustomed to watching their television shows on-demand, and frequently in a single sitting.

Within the last ten years or so, a shift has occurred, with a couple of would-be Videomancers showing behaviors less influenced by the old-school of being beholden to the television schedule, and closer to the custom of binge-watching.

Those who have encountered the occult underground call their new school "Dapimancy" — after the Latin word "daps, dapis" referring to sacrificial banquets — although some occultists derisively call them Truphemancers (after the Greek word for effeminate luxury).

So far, Dapimancy is just a minor school — nobody has quite figured out how to get significant charges for it, but just give it time.

aka Binge-Watchers, Bingers

The Videomancers are rubes, Marx's opiate-drunk cultists suckling at the teat of organized entertainment.  You're a monk, a hermit, who goes into seclusion and returns enlightened.  Your living room is the poustinia, your couch is your sajjada, your Netflix account is your gospel.  You retreat into the wilds so that you may bring wisdom back to the world with you.

Dapimancy forms a middle ground between Infomancy and Videomancy — you take the same inputs as Videomancers, but you remix them like an Infomancer.  You accept the truth of television at your own pace, not based on the dictates of some production staff with no knowledge of your personal truth.  If Videomancy is the Catholic Church, you're Martin Luther nailing your theses to the wall.  You're Thomas Jefferson, taking his favorite pieces of the Bible and making the good book his own.  (Of course, Elvis did the same thing, too.)  The gauntlet has been thrown, and the networks and cable companies — those long-standing monoliths holding television hostage — are running scared.  You're bringing television to the people, one marathon at a time.

The central paradox of Dapimancy is still caught up in the tension between the isolation of television watching and the commonality of the experience, but it turns it on its head by letting you make your own truth.  We're all watching the same shows, but we watch them according to our own schedule on our own terms.  You're free to indulge whenever you want, but when you start, you cannot stop.

Dapimancy Blast Style
Like Videomancers, Dapimancers have no blast.  However, there are persistent rumors that some Dapimancers have determined how to inflict fatigue and health problems on their victims — just like they've been sitting too long, letting their arteries clog and their muscles atrophy.

Like Videomancers, Dapimancers charge up by watching television.  Unlike Videomancers, they can watch whatever they want, as long as they carve out chunks for it.  You don't have to catch every episode of Game of Thrones as it premiers on HBO, but once you start watching it, you'd better have cleared your schedule, because you're in for the long haul.

Also, once Dapimancers are on a kick, they're on it until it's done.  Once you start watching Game of Thrones, you can't intercut episodes of Dexter.  It garbles the nuances of both shows.

Generate a Minor Charge: Spend six hours watching your current program du jour.  You can take small breaks between episodes for food and the bathroom, but you'd better plan carefully.  (A truly knowledgeable lord of the occult underground might notice similarities between this and Charismatics from Thin Black Line, page 17-19, but it's doubtful anybody has that much on the ball.  With the probable exception of the First and Last Man.)

Generate a Significant Charge: Currently unknown.  Maybe a specific pattern is required, or maybe it's just a time thing — binge-watch for a week straight, or something.

Generate a Major Charge: Currently unknown, although dukes in the know suspect that starring in a program might do the trick, just like regular old Videomancers.

Taboo: Once you start, you can't stop.  Interrupting a marathon robs you of all your charges.  As with Videomancers, this means that power outages can royally screw you over, and anybody who knows you're charging can schedule a home invasion and rob you of your charges.

Random Magick Domain: Like Videomancers, you understand people and events through observation, as well as adapting oneself to expectations.  It's perfect for spies and voyeurs.

Starting Charges: Dapimancers start with 5 minor charges, just like Videomancers.

Dapimancers have the same minor formula spells as Videomancers, as seen in Unknown Armies (second edition), pages 160-161.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Early Modern Unknown Armies Masterpost

Since I've been planning to reboot my modern Unknown Armies game (hopefully we're having the first session tonight), and so I've been thinking about the early modern one a little bit more.  (There's now even an early modern Unknown Armies tag on this very blog.)  I didn't devise a ton of content for it, but I did make enough that sometimes I look at it and wonder.

Naturally, all this stuff relies on knowledge of Unknown Armies and the sourcebook The Ascension of the Magdalene.

So, without further ado, have some stuff that I'm unlikely to use again:

Early Modern GMCs: These include historical figures such as Gaspar Graziani and Jan Mydlář, as well as the wholly fictional Divus Giovanni Vabalathus Sarotosia Nibelung (based on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the infant bastard son of Don Juan de Austria).  I was going to provide a writeup for Laurentius Dhur, but the game folded before I got that far.

Encounter Tables: An encounter table suitable for early modern adventuring.  I never made a Special Encounter subtable, so you can put your own weird events there.

Factions: A series of early modern factions written in the style of the faction lists in Unknown Armies (second edition), pages 84-85 and 204-206.

Also, Previously on the Blog:

1610 UA Money Conversion Chart

UA Conversion Notes for Willibald Schwartz from Better Than Any Man

UA Conversion Notes for Dittmar from Better Than Any Man

Durandal, sword of Roland

Shakespeare's The Tempest (rough draft)

Lamentations of the Unknown Armies

And this probably would be incomplete without the Random Shakespearean Insult Generator

Friday, May 15, 2015

Lamentations of the Unknown Armies

So a while back, I ran an early modern Unknown Armies game, which you can read all about in the early modern Unknown Armies tag.  All the early modern Unknown Armies rules are cribbed from The Ascension of the Magdalene, an adventure set in 1610 Prague and part of Atlas Games' Coriolis imprint, wherein they dual-stat adventures for their house rules and d20.

The main problem I found is that Unknown Armies' sleek and fast ruleset bogs quickly when archaic weapons get involved.  Simply put: their archaic armor rules suck, because they require way more bookkeeping than anything else in the game.  And they slow down combat significantly, because hits now do way less damage.  (As I write this, I wonder if archaic armor ought to just impose a flat negative shift on enemy attacks.  Or, even better, it works thus: When taking damage from a melee attack, a wearer with light armor ignores the lower die, and a wearer with heavy armor ignores the higher one.  So, if some dude punches you and roll an 18, somebody in light armor takes 8 damage, and somebody in heavy armor takes 1 damage.  Armor can still knock off weapon bonus damage if you want, but I'd keep it as a flat -3 and -6 rather than tracking what damage type it is.  Less bookkeeping is superior to more in Unknown Armies.)

So, instead of adapting D&D to Unknown Armies, I've been thinking about going the other way and adapting Unknown Armies to D&D.  Specifically, the other early modern variant — Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  It already has fast combat resolution and early modern flair, including guns and early modern armor.

Rules Tweaks:

For Lamentations of the Unknown Armies, there are only three classes — Fighter, Magic-User, and Specialist.  Magic-users can use both cleric and magic-user spells.  To offset rarer healing, and keep with UA's typical action economy, maybe there's a First Aid or Heal skill for Specialists — using it just after a battle lets you heal a hit die roll's worth of hit points, and the rest gets healed by natural healing.

If you want to port the Madness Meters over, everything works just the way as it does in UA2, Chapter Five: Madness, pg. 64-71.  Stress checks are Wisdom checks — roll a d20 against Wisdom.  If you get lower than the stat (or equal to it), you gain a Hardened notch.  If you get higher than the stat, you gain a failed notch, and panic, paralysis, or frenzy as normal.  (There probably aren't many therapists about, but if you can find a sin-eater of some sort around, the Referee can give them a score between 1-20 to act as a psychotherapist.)

Avatars bear special noting: an Avatar path is a new ability score, from 0-20.  Most people start with 0; your Referee might allow you to start with a couple of points in it if you want.  (Maybe you can sink Specialist points into the Avatar ability?)  If you seek the Avatar path in-game, it takes nine in-game weeks to gain the first point, and another five in-game weeks to gain the second point.  Once you hit two points, you gain another point each time you level up.  If you break your taboo, you make a taboo check.  Roll 1d20 — if you roll equal to your Avatar score or below it, you lose a point in your Avatar ability.  If you roll above your Avatar ability, nothing happens.

Avatar scores directly convert from the Unknown Armies book in 5% increments, so you get your first channel from 1-10 points, your second channel from 11-14 points, your third channel from 15-18 points, and your fourth channel from 19-20 points.  You have a chance for godwalker at 20 points, and if you're the godwalker, you choose your godwalker channel at that level.  (You probably want to check out Ascension of the Magdalene for alternate early modern Avatar manifestations.)

Given the humanocentric universe of Unknown Armies, and the general feel of the setting, certain spells, effects, and adventures probably aren't appropriate, although that's up to the individual Referee.  If you want to give characters the option to be a little more versatile, like in regular old Unknown Armies, let them multiclass.  (I'd recommend keeping XP requirements the same, so if you're a level 3 Fighter looking to become a level 4 Magic-User, your next level-up will require +4,500 XP, or 8,500 XP, rather than +4,000 XP.)  If you determine Magic-Users are the adepts of the setting, start them off with 1 Hardened and 1 Failed notch in Unnatural, and make them go through the same rigamarole (you have to go crazy in a Madness Meter) to become Magic-Users.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Slender Man for D&D 5e

The other day, I made a post about D&D 4e stats for the Slender Man, and Trey requested D&D 5e statistics.

Well, here we go.  Note that killing the Slender Man may not kill it, but instead banishes it back to its point of origin.  In such a case, further steps would need to be taken to permanently destroy the creature — there's a long-standing rumor that the Slender Man is some manner of psychic entity from the Astral Plane, and must be confronted on that plane to be permanently slain.

Unsurprisingly, this version of the Slender Man owes a lot of its lineage to Marble Hornets' Operator.  Like the Operator, this Slender Man is probably best used as an antagonist when the (low-level) PCs stumble across its lair or cultists.  It then performs weird, quick, blitz-style attacks, appearing at inopportune and seemingly random times to menace the PCs.  It usually aims to frighten or wound rather than kill, reserving murder for anything that seems truly capable of threatening it.  (Such as high-level PCs that come poking around its lair to put an end to it once and for all.)

The Dungeon Master probably wants to determine its agenda, if any.  It might have a goal that drives it (the fact that it occasionally dominates cultists suggests it seeks worship or validation somehow), or maybe it's just a hyper-intelligent beast that feeds on the fear its presence causes.  (Maybe it's even a psychic entity that requires minds to think of it, lest it winks out of existence.  It would certainly explain why areas and people tainted with its influence count as "associated objects" when it uses its teleport power.)

And at least a couple of cagers have suggested its ability to maze people, its penchant for dismemberment, its complete silence, and its odd locomotion suggest kinship with the Lady of Pain somehow...

The Slender Man
Medium monstrosity (plant), neutral evil
Armor Class 18
Hit Points 187 (25d8+75)
Speed 0 ft., teleport 30 ft.
Str 16 (+3), Dex 22 (+6), Con 16 (+3), Int 22 (+6), Wis 19 (+4), Cha 17 (+3)
Saving Throws Dex +11, Int +11
Skills Insight +9, Intimidation +8, Perception +9, Stealth +11
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Senses blindsight 120 ft., tremorsense 120 ft., passive Perception 19
Languages telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)
Grappler.  The Slender Man has advantage on attack rolls against any creature grabbed by it.
Nonterrene Consumption.  The Slender Man does not require air, food, drink, or sleep.
Shapechanger.  The Slender Man can alter its body proportions at will, extruding appendages or altering its size to Small or Large.
Sigma Radiation.  Any humanoid that starts its turn within 30 feet of the Slender Man must make a DC 19 Constitution saving throw.  On a failed save, the creature is poisoned for 1 minute.  A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if the Slender Man is still in its presence, ending the effect on itself on a success.  If a creature's saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the Slender Man's Sigma Radiation for the next 24 hours.
Teleportation.  Three times per day, the Slender Man can innately teleport as per the spell (PHB, pg. 281), requiring no components.  If the Slender Man is teleporting to its lair or to the location of someone it has encountered and is stalking, it is considered to have an associated object with regard to its destination.  (100% chance of teleporting on-target.)

Multiattack.  The Slender Man makes three tendril attacks.
Tendril.  Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target.  Hit: 14 (2d8+6) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 19).  Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained.

Legendary Actions
The Slender Man can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below.  Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn.  The Slender Man regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
Missing Time.  A targeted creature must succeed on a DC 19 Wisdom saving throw, or else take 13 (3d8) damage and become removed from time for 1 minute.  While removed from time, a creature disappears and is incapacitated.  A creature can repeat the saving throw, with disadvantage, at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Slender Sickness.  One creature poisoned by the Slender Man must succeed on a DC 19 Constitution saving throw or else take 13 (3d8) damage, fall prone, and become incapacitated for 1 minute.  This effect ends if the creature is no longer poisoned.

The Slender Man's Lair
The Slender Man's lair is usually either an abandoned ruin made by humanoid hands, or a wooded area away from civilization.  (Frequently, however, this wooded area is poorly-traveled, but not so remote as to be unreachable.)  Even in woods, however, it frequently lairs among the detritus of civilization — an abandoned shack, a crumbling tower, a ruined fort.  The Slender Man encountered in its lair has a challenge rating of 15 (13,000 XP).

Lair Actions
When fighting inside its lair, the Slender Man can invoke the ambient magic to take lair actions.  On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the beholder can take one lair action to cause one of the following effects:
  • The Slender Man targets any creatures that can see it within 120 feet of it with a fear effect.  Affected targets must succeed on a DC 19 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened by the Slender Man.  The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.  The Slender Man can't use this lair action again until it has used a different one.
  • The Slender Man targets one creature that can see it within 120 feet of it with a mind-influencing effect.  The target must succeed on a DC 19 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the Slender Man.  The charmed target regards the Slender Man as a potent being capable of granting great enlightenment or power, and is inclined to assist it to further curry its favor.  If the Slender Man attempts to take action against the target, it can repeat the saving throw with advantage.  The charm effect lasts 24 hours, or until the Slender Man is banished, is destroyed, is on a different plane of existence than the target, or takes a bonus action to end the effect.  The Slender Man cannot use this lair action again until the charmed condition is ended on the initial target.
  • The Slender Man casts maze (no components needed; PHB, pg. 258-259) on one target that can see it within 120 feet of it.  While maintaining concentration on this effect, the Slender Man can't take other lair actions.
Regional Effects
The region surrounding the Slender Man's lair is warped by the creature's presence, which creates one or more of the following effects:
  • Trees within 1 mile of the Slender Man's lair become twisted and spindly.
  • Buildings within 1 mile of the Slender Man's lair become increasingly decrepit, and are frequently vandalized.
  • Creatures within 1 mile of the Slender Man's lair make saving throws against the frightened effect at disadvantage.
If the Slender Man dies or is banished, these effects fade over the course of a year.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Slender Man for D&D 4e

About three-and-a-half years ago, I wrote an article on the Slender Man, with a focus on using him in fantasy settings.

Well, guess what?  I used him in a fantasy setting.

The Crux of Eternity group suffered a near-TPK at the hands of some giants, and so I wrested an old, forgotten plot thread — another group was attempting to find a fey noble who was lost while seeking a legendary artifact — and had the remnants of one group run into the aftermath of the other.  They allied to continue their separate quests, but the fey noble was being followed by the Slender Man.

He's a difficult fight all by his lonesome, but he showed up with a couple of corrupt druids and their treant allies.  Anyway, without further ado:

Also: The Slender Man on Obsidian Portal
Also, in related news: we may be updating the Crux group to 5e.  I've enjoyed 4e, but the long, slogging combats are beginning to grate.  We'll stick with 4e for at least the next session, but I think we're going to try the switch in a session or two.

Edit: Interested parties may wish to see the Slender Man for 5e.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Unknown Armies Fan Club

So, to my surprise, myself and some of my associates learned there was not a dedicated Unknown Armies group on Facebook, so some friends of mine made the Unknown Armies Fan Club.  We currently primarily post weird news stories, although I hope that’ll change soon.  Come check us out!

And post rumors in my rumors section.  It needs some love.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Near-Future RPG — Courtesy of XKCD

So I recently came across this XKCD comic wherein a timeline is established according to Google searches.  It strikes me as a potential fake timeline for some future-setting RPG, and so is included here in all its glory:

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