Wednesday, February 28, 2018

GvM: John Doe


Some people, when confronted with a shambling horror or eldritch monster, find it within themselves to stand up and fight.  They have the courage to rise up, and fight against impossible odds, even when death is the only likely outcome.

You are not one of those people.  When people tell you that those caves are full of cursed treasure and ghosts, you stay away.  When someone warns you that the Demon is invincible, you took them at their word, and booked an immediate ticket for as far away as you could afford.  I hear France is lovely this time of year.

That's not to say you're not capable of being brave.  You're not necessarily a coward, though you might well be.  But for whatever reason, you have too much sense, too strong a sense of self-preservation, or too little courage to stand up and fight.


This is the John Doe class.  It's very threadbare, and based heavily off this one.  This class is for a very specific type of player, the type that likes role-playing above all, and wants to play someone halfway sensible trapped in this nightmare universe.  For that reason, the John Doe class is terrible at fighting but has some other abilities that still allow you to help out.

Additionally, this class has a secondary purpose.  If their is a cursed book in the library, a monster prowling around attacking people randomly, or anything else especially random, have it happen to the John Doe.  They're weirdness magnets; the character who is constantly tripping over elder gods on the way to the convenience store, or getting kidnapped or brutalized every time an enemy needs to make a point.  However, don't lean on this aspect of them too hard.

As they level up, John Does might become more cynical, they've seen it all before.  Or they might crumble into piles of mental disorders and excessive amounts of drugs, depending on the game/character.

And this class isn't gendered, by the way.  Just as Male Alices are called Allisters, Female John Does are called Jane Doe.

John Doe
Starting HP: 1/3 Con  
Fighting Spirit: none
Starting Equipment: Street clothes, cellphone with a dying battery, not enough cash for bus fare, impractical shoes, the will to live


Abilities:

1:

Non-combat: Your noncombatant status is obvious to everyone, and enemies won't treat you as a threat unless you give them reason to view you as one. For as long as you are cowering, hiding, running away, etc, all enemies will always ignore you until all your more threatening comrades are dealt with, and will not use lethal force against you unless they have a strong reason to leave no survivors. Once they see you inflict real damage on someone, this no longer applies.  Additionally, any time you surrender to your enemies, they will always tie you up and take you prisoner unless they have a very strong reason for doing otherwise.

Negotiator: As long as no blood has been spilled, you get +1 to all checks related to negotiation. 

2:

Dodge: A number of times per day equal to your level, you can declare an attack automatically misses you. 

3:

Sneaking Savant: Add +5 to any roll made to sneak, and if their is an condition that requires you to save or suffer a penalty to sneaking, or prevents it entirely, you get a save to see if you can still attempt to sneak.   

4:

Trusty Rock: You are fantastic at knocking out unwary enemies by whacking them on the head with blunt objects. Any time you are able to sneak up behind someone, either because they don't know you're there or because they're ignoring you, you can try to whack them on the head with a table leg, rock, vase, etc. Make a to-hit roll (with your +4 bonus, if appropriate): if it hits, your victim must make a FORT save or be knocked out cold for 1d6 rounds. (Enemies in helmets get a +4 bonus to this save, and enemies without heads or brains are, of course, immune.) Once enemies have seen you do this, they will start to take you seriously as a threat, so this ability will usually only be usable once per combat.

5:

NOOOOOO!: Any time a ranged attack would take you to 0 HP or below, any other nearby PC may elect to take the hit instead by yelling 'NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!' and jumping in the way of the bullet / arrow / whatever.  This can only occur once per encounter. If a PCs opts to take the hit for you, then the attack must contest their AC.  If it is lower, then it bounces off the PC without hurting them.  If it does still beat their AC, they take -4 damage.   

6:

Vital Contribution: Once per day per level, while another PC is fighting someone, you can make some kind of vital contribution which lets them get in a telling blow. Maybe you trip the enemy, or distract them; maybe you clumsily stumble through the melee at just the right moment to knock them off balance. Whatever happens, the PC in question gets a free attack, with a +2 bonus to their to-hit and damage rolls; but while, in the fiction, their character is the one who makes the attack, you roll the attack and damage dice for it.

7:

Low Effort Defense: Because they don't take you seriously as a threat, enemies won't bother to defend themselves properly against you unless you give them reason to do so. If you attack an enemy who is currently ignoring you, or who is fighting you but has not yet been given any reason to view you as a real threat, you get +4 to-hit and inflict bonus damage equal to half your level, rounded up. For as long as these attacks keep missing, enemies will continue to not take you seriously (although they will try to stop you attacking them, in a low-priority sort of way), but once one of your attacks actually hits and does damage then this bonus no longer applies.

8:

You need my permission to die: If a PC falls in battle and you are nearby, you can grab them and scream how they can't die, how you still need them, etc.  If you do so, they recover 1d6+1 HP, and immediately stand back up, ready to finish the fight. 

9:

Faithful: Whenever you are within 50' and someone spends any Luck Points, have them roll 1d6.  If the number rolled is less than or equal to the number of Luck Points expended, then those Luck Points are not expended. 


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

GvM: Lesser Magicks

You will never be a Wizard.  If you were a Wizard, you'd know when your first crush developed leprosy a week after she broke up with you, or your toys came to life, or your imaginary friend turned out to be very real, as the kid who tried to steal your lunch-money could tell you.

Additionally, you will probably never develop a Semblance, the poor man's magic.  A Semblance can only be gained by enduring a particular trial of strength, or developed naturally if you're a rare breed of genius.

But that does not mean you have to go without magic entirely.  For while a normal human will never be able to conjure the flames of the netherworld or cast their mind's eye into the distant reaches of the material plane, natural talent is not the only way of obtaining magic.  If you know where to look, you will find that magic is disturbingly common, and with the right materials and mindset, even a common plebeian can do something impressive with magic.

Voodoo Dolls



This is an easy one, and doesn't require a lot of explanation.  Voodoo dolls are based on the principle of sympathetic magic, the art of making connections between two similar objects.  First, you need to get a doll of some sort.  Then you need to establish the connection between the person and the doll.  The easiest way to do this is through stealing a piece of hair and tying it to the doll, but you can use other body parts as well.

Another way, though one less successful, is getting someone to write their full name on a piece of paper and sticking it inside the doll.

Then you need to cement the link.  The method for doing this varies, so I won't bother detailing them all.  But once you're done, the Voodoo Doll and the person should be linked.  A good way to test this is to stroke the Doll with a feather.  If the person starts giggling like a fool, then you have succeeded.  

Now, why would you bother creating a Voodoo Doll?  Well, there are many uses.  For instance, anything done to the Doll will affect the person it represents.  And while this has many malicious uses, it can also provide beneficial ones.  For instance, if you whisper something into a Voodoo Doll's ears, the person it is linked to will hear it, no matter how far away they are.  If someone is injured, and you fix the injury on the Voodoo Doll, their wound will be healed as well.  I could go on, but you're a smart cookie.  I'm certain you'll think of something I never could.

Finally, a Voodoo Dolls are usually sculpted in the likeness of their owner, but the best of them not only resemble them, but capture the essence of the owner.  A disturbing doll tends to lead to a disturbing person.  

Tulpas


A Tulpa is a parallel consciousness, a piece of ancient, rare magic that has somehow persisted to the modern day.  But like all ancient relics, it is either ignored or in the case of Tulpamancy, hilariously misused.  For example, most Tulpas are created by people who are desperately lonely, just to have someone to talk to.  In other cases, Tulpas are created for "personal use".

Tulpas are like ghosts.  Most people can't see them, but they are real.  You can spawn one through a magical process, though even someone with only the most meagre scrap if talent can create one.  For most people, a Tulpa they create us like an imaginary friend, but they act independently of the person who originally called them into being.

A Tulpa is like a ghost, but spawned from a living soul.  The weakest ones are like sentient hallucinations.  They can speak and appear to you, but they barely exist.  Slightly stronger ones can touch and affect objects that have immaterial presence, such as Humans.  These Tulpas can harm you, they can slap or punch you.  But while they feel real, when all is said and done, your physical body has not been actually harmed.

The rarest type of Tulpa, the one spawned by someone with some magical talent, have a physical presence and can affect the material world.  These Tulpas can actually hurt your body, and not just bruise your ego.

If the person who originally created the Tulpa dies, the Tulpa dies as well.  Their are persistent rumors in some circles of stories of Tulpas that killed their owners because their existence was complete agony, or stories of how Tulpas stole their creator's bodies and took over their lives, sometimes with their Creator still alive, but trapped and unable to do anything.  Finally, darkest of all, their are tales of Tulpas that killed their Creators, and somehow managed to live on, despite their tenuous connection to reality.

I have found no truth to any of these stories, or have been unable to locate the original source of most of them.  However, after all my research, I had no desire to learn anymore.



And for reference, this is what Fighting a Tulpa looks like to someone who is not in the Know.  And even if you do Know, they can still be hard to see, as they are less real than you or I.

Rituals


A Ritual is like a spell, but it isn't.  Namely, Rituals can accomplish the type of Magick that it usually takes a full fledged Wizard to do, but with no Magus necessary.  This is because they draw their power from some other source.

Now, when using a Ritual, it is very important to follow the instructions.  Do not mess any of the steps up.  If you have an incomplete Ritual or you're missing a step, do not use it.  If you are doing a Ritual and you realize you messed up a step or forgot something, do not continue.  And remember to read the instructions.  For when you use a Ritual, you are tapping into a power far older and far more powerful than you.  So do not mess around with it, or you will regret your decision for the rest of your life.  Though if its the wrong ritual, then that won't be for very long.

And while I wouldn't ordinarily do this, I like you guys, so I'll write down a Ritual or two here.  But let me warn you now, do not abuse or misuse them.  It might just be the last mistake you make.

Ward Building
Description: Ensure a building cannot be entered by spirits, ghosts, or incorporeal entities. 
Steps:
1) Find a piece of string, yarn, or thread. 
2) String it across the entrances of all non-essential doors.  Make paper signs that say "No admittance" and hang them on the string.
3) Do not use these doors. 
4) If there are any windows, make a line of salt across each window sill.  
5) Set a Guard on each of the doors leading to the outside that you do use.  When people enter, have the guard ask their names.  Once they have been received, have the Guard loudly announce that they are to be welcomed inside.  All others, are of course, barred from entering unless they are invited. 
6) If you have any fireplaces, keep the fires within constantly burning.  If you cannot afford this, string yarn across the fireplaces, close the flues, and hang paper signs from the yarn, saying "No admittance." 

If it worked, you will receive no unwanted magical visitors.  But be sure to check your wards.  If a paper sign is burned, a string snapped, or an area of salt discoloured, sweep it away and repair it.  That means that something has breached your Wards. 

Ways it can go wrong:
- If you do not maintain the wards, they will swiftly be reduced to so much window dressing
- Something must succeed a Saving throw to break through your Wards.  But it must also make a Saving throw to leave, if the hole it made when it broke through has been repaired.  So the haunting might be coming from inside this house. 

Consult the Three Kings
Description: A way to divine esoteric knowledge.
Steps:
1) Locate a room with steps leading up to an upper floor, and one door to enter that floor.
2) Place four chairs in this room.  This is the sitting room.
#) Find another room on the same floor with one entrance and set up four chairs in it.  This is the Question room.
3) Wait until the Witching Hour.  (3-4 am). 
4) Sit upon the chair you have selected for yourself.
5) Summon The Three Kings.  Say, "Nuhzrain, King of Night, come to me.  Salpon, Prince of Eve, come to me.  Articon, Lord of Morning, come to me."
6) Call them one by one into the Question room.  You can only call one King at a time from one room to the other. 
&) Be careful, as some of the Kings will be violent if you leave them alone with the others. 
7) Dismiss them.  Dismissing one King sends them all away. 
8) Go up the stairs
9) Do not enter the room until sunrise.   

Articon can only answer questions about the past.  If asked a question about the present or future, he will not answer. 
Salpon can only answer questions about the present.  If asked questions about the past or future, he will not answer.
Nuhzrain can only truthfully answer questions about the future.  If asked a question about the past or present, he will lie.

Additionally, if they are with their opposite, they will try and attack them.  Nuhzrain hates Salpon, and will try to kill him if the two of them are in the same place.  Similarly, Salpon will attack Articon if left alone.  Articon is a peaceful sort, and would never hurt anyone. 

<Referee note>
The Way to do it without fighting: Call Salpon into the Question Room.  Ask him your question.  Then go get Nuhzrain and bring him into the Question Room.  Move Salpon back to the sitting room, then bring Articon into the Question Room.  Ask Nuhzrain and Articon your questions.  Go back outside into the sitting room, then dismiss Salpon.  The Three Kings will then leave.          
</Referee note>

Incomplete Ritual Casting/Magical Procedure Error Table
1d6
1: The ritual fails in the worst possible way.
2-5: The Ritual fails to work at all.  Nothing happens. 
6: The ritual works, but only with 1/10th to 1/100th of its normal strength. 

Let these bits of esoteric knowledge ease your passage and help you along the way.  And if you ever feel scared, or that you've bitten off more than you can chew, just keep calm and remember: Babylon Prevails.

- Gary
  

Thursday, February 22, 2018

GvM: The Alice


The term white knight is totally more associated with gutless male losers on the Internet who tirelessly defend their favorite e-girl to the death, but in more civilized times, it was used to refer to a heroic warrior and leader who appeared out of nowhere in times of strife to shepherd a group through the chaos and lead them to victory.  Tragically, men like this are rare, even in times where there are plenty of warriors and leaders running around. 

So you should thank your lucky stars you found one.

Alices are known for one thing, their raw, physical competence.  Few people are as naturally skilled as they are.  They have the kind of physical talent for mayhem that is likely to draw attention from anyone who sees it in action.  But rather then use this power for their own selfish ends, Alices use their amazing gifts for perhaps the noblest of causes, to protect people. 


Alices are strong, with the most Fighting Spirit of any class, but this great power is tempered by the fact that almost all of an Alices' abilities are used to protect others.  In terms of use, Alices are meant to function as a party's last redoubt, a citadel that will never be taken, a final bulwark against chaos.  If you've done things right, when everyone else is down to their last pool of HP, the Alice will still standing, quipping at the foe before them.         

Alice
Starting HP: 1/3 Con
FS: +4 FS per Alice level
Starting Equipment: improvised melee weapon (1d6), army surplus jacket, cool scar, and enough cash for the bus fare home




1:

Parry: As a full action, you can prepare to defend yourself.  Then, if you are successfully attacked before your next turn, you can reduce the damage taken by your damage dice, by rolling the damage dice and subtracting it from the damage done.

2:

Bodyguard: As a full action, you may choose a PC or retainer at the beginning of each combat.  Whenever someone makes an attack against them, you may make a save to intercept that attack.  On a successful save, you intercept the attack, making it hit you instead.  However, if the roll does not beat your AC, the attack deflects.  If it still does, then you take the damage. 

3:

Bite Me: As a full action, you can take an action to make yourself look intimidating, weak, or anything else you desire.  When you do, one target enemy must save.  On a failure, they will now exclusively attack you, unless seriously threatened with death or a major setback.  This is not a magical compulsion.

4:

Hold the Line: Every time an opponent fails to hit you in combat or you pass a save relating to an effect they caused, they get -1 to hit you and do -1 damage in combat for the rest of the fight.  If you use your Parry ability to reduce an attack's damage to zero, then it counts as a miss.

5:

Gravity: Whenever an enemy attacks you, they cannot attack anyone else, or you get a free attack against them (if they are within range).  If they try and leave your range, you also get a free attack against them.  Though you can only make one attack per target who is within your range.   

6:  

Aegis: When you use your Parry ability, you can increase the die size by one, or if your weapon uses more than 1 damage die, you can add one more.   

7:

Noble Prowess: Whenever you are outnumbered, or attacked by more then two attackers in one round, all attackers subtract your level from their attack rolls. 

8:

You say Run: If an ally fails a saving throw in your presence, you can immediately offer to take their burden upon your shoulders.  If you do, they automatically pass their saving throw and you must save.  On a success, you act as if you passed the save normally.  However, if you fail, you suffer the effect of a failed saving throw as if you were the person who orginally failed the roll.

9:

Unbreakable: For every round you take no damage, all enemies must check morale or retreat.



   
         

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Demon of Solitude

Some enemies require more set-up then others.  They require explanation and foreshadowing.  This is not one of them.  The Demon of Solitude is the Hunter of the outcast, the exile.  They are powerless before a concerted effort by a group, but a single person is little more than food to them.

The Demon of Solitude hunts in the Veins, and anywhere Mimes dwell in large numbers.  And while most loners do not have to fear, as they are few in number, the most pious Mimes try to never be alone.

Additionally, while the Demon of Solitude can attack anyone they want, they prefer to hunt those who are alone.  And not just those who are isolated in a temporal and locational sense, but those who are spiritually and socially isolated.  This is why Mimes fear exile more then death, because while death is only a moment of suffering followed by an ocean of peace, exile means looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life, which could either be a very, very long time, or it could only feel like a very long time.


Demons of Solitude are pale-skinned and long fingered, with cutting claws and needle teeth.  Their eyes glow, but only in the presence of one other person.  In the presence of a group, their eyes are dark and hollow.

Demon of Solitude
HD 5  AC 12  Needle Claws and Teeth 1d6/1d6/1d8/1d8
Mor 10     Saves 12+ 

Die Alone: The Demon of Solitude gains power the more isolated you are.  For every ally you have that is not here or not helping, the Demon gains +1 HD.  These HD are lost if the Ally arrives to support you.  For every Ally the Demon has killed, +1 HD.  These HD cannot be lost, unless the Demon is slain.

The Lone Wolf Starves: Any single attack that is made against the Demon of Solitude will miss.  Only two or more people attacking as a unit can hope to actually hurt this creature.  The minimum level of cooperation required is "You go low, I'll go high!"  Or something to that effect. 

Distributed Violence: The Demon of Solitude must attack every target available to it.  If it cannot, it must distribute its attacks to the maximum amount of targets possible.  The Angel of Solitude can make four attacks a round. 

Tactics:
- Attack when you are alone
- Discourage group cooperation
- Flee if faced with collective action



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Caster Differentiation 2: Right This Time

A while ago, I made a post on differentiating the various types of Caster.  This was an exercise in theory, but also an attempt to integrate the 'Magic Words' into my system without disregarding all my lovely spell-lists.   But in the end, I decided not to actually use it, as it was not as good as I liked.  But now I'm doing it again, only this time, I think I've got it right.

Boring, yet necessary refresher on GLOG/FLAILSNAILS/OSR casting


((Skip ahead if you live and breathe this stuff.))

In the GLOG or FLAILSNAILS casting system, magical power is determined by a series of magic dice or spell-casting dice.  In this system magic dice burn out on a five or six, and come back after an eight hour rest.  Additionally, when casting a spell you can choose to allot more or less dice to it, depending on what level of spell you want to cast.  The thresholds for a successful spell vary depending on the level as seen here:

Goblin Punch Numbers        My Tweaked Ones   
    Level 1 spell = 2.              Level 1 = 2 
    Level 2 spell = 8.              Level 2 = 6  
    Level 3 spell = 14.            Level 3 = 10
    Level 4 spell = 20.            Level 4 = 14

Additionally, if you roll under the minimum threshold, nothing happens.  The spell isn't cast, Chaos or Corruption doesn't happen, and no dice are lost.  

Finally, when one rolls doubles or triples on spellcasting dice, they suffer.  This is what the Chaos and Corruption posts were based on.  And while I will be keeping this system for Eldritch Americana, as in that, the Wizards gain their power from the evil Gods- in my other settings I want magic to be wild and untamed, inexplicable, not something inherently destructive.  

So what is the difference? 

Warlock



Warlocks sell their soul for power- or they make some other type of agreement with a spiritual entity.  It need not be a master-slave relationship, and your soul need not be sold, but what kind of pussy are you if you want trade your immortal soul for earthly power.  So I'm going to assume if you're a Warlock, you sold your soul unless you specifically mention otherwise.

Warlocks do not suffer magical mishaps, nor do they need to bother with spell-slots.  A Warlock's relationship to magic is like owning a dog.  Whether the warlock is the dog or the human in this metaphor varies from Warlock to Warlock.

Wizard



Wizards learned how to do magic.  They went to Wizard College or learned from a Master Wizard.  However, Wizards learned how to cast in a specific way.  They get drawbacks because of the dogmas they were taught.  Think of it being taught by someone who didn't have a full understanding of what they were telling you, you have all their bad habits and/or the strange traditions of your order floating around in your head.  This limits you, but it also protects you from the excesses of wild magic.

So Wizards do not suffer Chaos (low-level magical shenanigans from rolling doubles) if they are casting a spell from their tradition/starting Wizard Spell List.  But if they are casting a spell that they stole from someone else or found on the wall of a cave or bought in a specialty store, then it can trigger Chaos as normal.  Additionally, Wizards still get Corruption from all spells, even ones from their Starting List.  Wizards know all this at the start.

However, instead of rolling on the Corruption Table, this just triggers a Doom.  The first time they roll Corruption, this triggers the Doom of Fools, the second time the Doom of Kings, and finally the Ultimate Doom the third Time they roll triples.  Wizards know about Dooms and about how the more powerful a spell is, the more likely it is to go terribly wrong, but not when and how their Dooms are triggered.

Now the potential implications of this are quite expansive- and I'll only touch on them here.  But what does this mean is that unlike the eight types of Wizard in Eldritch Americana, there are actually thousands of types of Wizards.  Arnold K wrote about something like this here, he called them Regional Classes.  And while I'm not quite ready to do that entirely, I will be doing this for Wizards.  And keeping in mind Joseph Manola wrote here, that means that each region will probably have its own unique type of Wizard.  What is illegal in one country/nation may be illegal in others, and what is common in one might provoke stares in the other.  That means that not only can you have Wizards like this and this, but also like this, and this or this or this or all of them.  Just make sure that every nation doesn't have all types of Wizards.  All Wizards are tied to institutions and places, and their spread is usually tied to how far that institution has spread.  That means if your Wizard works for the Church, he is likely to find similar Wizards to him wherever the Church is.  But if he goes into pagan lands, who knows what kind of Wizards he might meet?  Similarly, if your Wizard is a unique variety that lives only on a small atoll out in the ocean, they might never encounter another Wizard exactly like them, unless they are literally walking around their hometown.  

And to continue the example from earlier, a Wizard's relationship to magic is like joining a hunting party and going into the woods.  As long as you stay with the group and listen to the guide, you will most likely be safe, and might even get to shoot something.  But if you go off on your own or are just really, really unlucky, you still might be attacked by a wolf.

Sorcerer



Sorcerers are people with inborn magical talent, that was either latent or expressed.  But for whatever reason, they never got magical training.  Perhaps they didn't know they had any talent until they got kicked in the head by a mule, then woke up three days later with their third eye permanently welded open.  Or maybe their family couldn't afford Wizard college, or distrusted Wizards as vile sinners, or they were a girl, etc.

Regardless, it didn't happen.  You forgot about your talent or suppressed it, and hoped it would go away.  And for a while, it did.  But then, one day, it suddenly returned, a million times stronger then before.  Where before you had a cup of magic, now that cup had overflowed, and you were swimming in power.

A Sorcerer starts with a number of spells equal to the modifier of their casting attribute (CHA for me) from any compatible spell list.  If the player doesn't have any in mind, determine one randomly.

Additionally, Sorcerers have a secondary ability.  Sorcerers can remix spells, by breaking them apart into the Magic Words that compose them and recombining them.  This is not something that can be done on the fly, but takes at least 1 day of uninterrupted work, where the Sorcerer is not doing anything else.

Ex: The Sorcerer has the spells 'Anti-Gravity' and 'Sense Electricity'.  They can break those spells down into the magic words 'Anti', 'Gravity', 'Sense' and 'Electricity'.  They can then recombine these spells to make something like 'Anti-Electricity' or 'Sense Gravity' or 'Anti-Sense'.  What do those do?  I dunno, but it certainly sounds interesting. 

As for Mishaps, Sorcerers are powerful, but they are in many ways more vulnerable to the astral winds of magic.  They are constantly suffering low-level magical effects.  Whenever a Sorcerer rolls doubles or triples, they suffer Chaos.  You can roll on any magical side effect table you choose, or you can use mine [Not published yet].

A Sorcerer's relationsip to magic is going into the woods all by yourself with five bullets and a gun, to try and bag some game.  Sure you might get lucky and get a whopper of a buck, but you might also get stuck up a tree with 30 coyotes sitting at the base, waiting for you to come down.



         

Sunday, February 18, 2018

API: Xenos: Inhumans

This post is a continuation of this one, a look into the various Xeno species that inhabit the Earth alongside Humanity.  But while Toxic, Vamps and Wolfhounds can sometimes pass for human, these ones never can.  They are classified as 'Blackout Risks' because their mere presence outside of secure areas can endanger the Masquerade.  After all, some Xenos can pass for human at first glance.  But if you saw any of these ones, you would recognize that you weren't in Kansas anymore.

Harpies

Other names: Settites, Scalybirds, Kissing Cobras

Beautiful, austere, and absolutely ruthless.  The harpies are beautiful, ancient creatures of unknown origin.  They look a bit like humans in that they are humanoid, but they diverge radically from humans from their.  Harpies are covered in tiny scales dyed either in normal human skin tone or brilliant neon colors.  In the case of the former, these scales are indistinguishable from skin at a distance.  Additionally, all Harpies have enormous, multi-colored wings.  Harpies also have small, delicate claws on their fingers.  Their feet are more like that of a bird, three fingers tipped with talons.

Additionally, Harpies are not a sexually dimorphic species.  They seem to not reproduce at all, all possessing androgynous forms.  They do not seem to age. 

The name Harpies was given to them by the Greeks, as that is when the first reports of them began to emerge.  Whether they appreciate this label is unknown, but today it is accepted as common.  Harpies have been around for a long time, and while each individual Harpy is different, there are certain things that hold true for all Harpies.  First, Harpies are usually very solitary creatures, generally existing in small pairs or trios, but usually no more.  They seem to enjoy company, but they never talk about themselves.  All questions about the origins of the Harpies, how they reproduce, and their history are generally ignored. 

Threat Level: 6-5.  Because of their lack of social organization (or society in general) and rarity, Harpies do not pose a significant threat to Humanity, except in small groups.  For while even a young Harpy is is as strong as a bull, can fly and has sixteen razor daggers at their disposal, they are not immortal.  A Harpies' scales are strong enough to reflect most bladed weapons and bludgeoning weapons, but someone with a decently strong Semblance or a lucky shot could pierce their armor.  If you must engage a Harpy in combat, recall that the ones who have survived to the modern day are the strongest and luckiest of their kind.  But also remember that a Harpies' greatest strength comes not from their natural attributes, but from their intelligence.  Even a lowly Harpy is unimaginably cunning, so approach with extreme caution. 

But perhaps because of their long-lifespans, Harpies tend to be well-behaved.  The biggest problem most Harpies cause is that they endanger the Masquerade by flying around and getting spotted, fueling conspiracy theories and paranormal forums.  Many Harpy sightings are explained away as Mass Hallucinations. 

Law for Harpies:
- Do not breed with 'the daughters of men'.  Failure to do so will result in extermination.

 

Lochs

Also know as: Sedrone, Nellies, Gills

No one had heard of the Lochs until 1920, in which a struggling poet by the name of H.P. Lovecraft stumbled upon a small fishing town in the dismal reach of northern Maine.  There he found darkness, madness, and suffering, a paper town where the humans were enslaved to a race of diabolical fish-men.  They apprehended Lovecraft and interrogated him, and when they were convinced of the poet's harmlessness, they decided to kill him.  But Lovecraft managed to escape, and made it back to Providence, Rhode Island.  From there he began talking to everyone he could, trying to convince people about what he had seen.  Most people were skeptical, but word managed to reach the local API Agnet-in-Charge.  The Chasteners visited Lovecraft and told him he had suffered a nervous breakdown, and that their was nothing in Northern Maine.  And while Lovecraft did stop talking about what he had seen, he would spend the rest of his life hunting for more evidence of these fish-men and associating with Those who Knew.  Additionally, while he feared API enough not to publish his findings as fact, he did write fiction that was heavily based off his own experiences, and the experiences of others.  And while some things in the Cthulhu Mythos are certainly the creation of his own twisted imagination, the Deep Ones were definitely inspired by something very real. 

API would then spend the next few years chasing reports of these fish-men, fighting a guerrilla war against a foe they did not understand.  Additionally, it was discovered that these fish-men, who later became known as Lochs, were not only intelligent, but came from a highly advanced civilization.  They did not possess certain human technologies, but they were quick to adapt them.  And this situation would have likely continued had the Second World War not broken out, thus entangling much of API in a magical war that rent the Masquerade and the Peace to shreds.  In the meantime, with the majority of API distracted fighting on various fronts or against the Xenos who decided to use this an opportunity to run rampant and destroy everything in their path, the Lochs were able to raid shipping lanes and coastal settlements at will.

But the War eventually ended, and API was through with half-solutions.  But they could not follow the Lochs into the darkness of the seas.  So, they decided that if they couldn't police them, they would just kill them.  With their allies all over the world, API developed a murderous biological agent that could survive in salt-water and would only adversely affect the Lochs. Then they poisoned the sea and waited.  That was 1947. 

API would not see a single Loch until 1955, when Agents investigating reports that the NVA was working with Xenos stumbled upon a small group of Lochs on a deserted stretch of river.  From there, formal contact was made with the Lochs.  And while their governments were hesitant at first, they eventually did open diplomatic contact with the API.  For while API had experienced almost a decade of peace, the Lochs had endured an apocalypse.  Over 90 percent of the Loch population had died within a year, and their whole society had plunged into anarchy, into a civil war that was only just winding down.  API used threats of another virus to make an agreement with the Lochs, and since then, the only Loch attacks that have occurred have only ever come from Lochs not associated with their governments.  Or at least, no one has ever proved they weren't just private citizens acting of their own accord.

But make no mistake, for despite the diplomacy and the fact that API send observers to the Loch state-houses, know that they loathe us.  So in case you're wondering, this is why all senior agents tell you to avoid the beach.

Threat Level: 6-4.  Lochs are limited only by their numbers.  But disregarding that, they are strong, six-foot humanoids covered in natural humanoids with excellent night vision, natural armor, intelligence to match humanity, and  the will to kill as many of us as possible.  Luckily, no Loch cells have ever obtained any WMDs or artifacts of significant magical power.  At least, not yet.  

Law for Lochs:
- Do engage in piracy
- Do not attack human settlements
- Do not kidnap human women or attempt to breed with them. 
- Failure to do so will result in extermination.  

 

Mucks


Also known as: Oncodians, Slimers, Ews

Mucks have existed for a very long time.  No one exactly knows for how long.  They lived apart from humanity, feeding on natural radiation, pollution, and other things.  Since they lived so far from us, no one really noticed them until recently, when they began colonizing the sewer systems of major cities.  First contact was made in the middle of the 20th Century, and many Mucks were surprised to find that Humans were intelligent. 

Since then, Mucks have become an accepted part of the Masquerade.  They can hide in plain site, and rarely go near humans, so they are relatively unaffected by the information Blackout.  Mucks don't seem to have any society or overall culture, though they are very social.  Mucks tend to either live in small "family" groups, or socialize with others who pass by them often.   Mucks are very, very difficult to damage, due to their gooey bodies, though magic can kill them.  Muck culture varies extremely by region, but they are all usually quite friendly, hospitable, and willing to submit to the Authority of API.

However, all Agents should still make all effort to be polite and hospitable with Mucks.  For while the vast majority of Mucks are genial and even kind-hearted, some are not.  And those evil Mucks are a terrifying force.  For an evil Muck can turn their natural gooey body to their advantages.  Mucks can selectively harden and stretch their bodies, as well as being able to partially liquify and slip under doors or through tiny spaces that no living creature should be able to fit through.  And if that wasn't bad enough, most weapons simply do not hurt them at all.  Some Agents have even reported that their Semblances were useless against Mucks.        

Threat Level: 6.  Mucks are not a great danger, whether individually or collectively.  But a single rogue Muck can do a great deal of damage, and if they escape, can plague the world for generations.      

Law for Mucks:
- Do not talk to people who do not have permission to know about you.  
- Failure to do so will result in the extermination of those who should not know.   

 

Gary vs Monster Conversion


If you're playing a Gary vs Monsters game, your players won't have access to information API has carefully hoarded over the decades.  So here's what the players can find out without doing huge amounts of research, breaking into top-secret government databases, or interrogating someone who would be in the position to know. 

Harpies:
- They look like Angels, but scaly
- Really smart and strong
- Don't mess with them

Lochs:
- Lovecraft was right
- Keep your women locked up and away from them
- Never, ever go to beach
- And that goes double for taking a boat
- And cruises, don't even get me started; if you Know and you go on a cruise, you're asking to get attacked.  

Mucks:
- They're nice
- Basically indestructible
- If they're near, odds are you are close to a large amount of pollution, radiation, or other nasty stuff.     

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Angel of Preservation

Their are many political compasses out there, all professing to explain the whole metric of beliefs.  But I feel that when you boil things down to their basest forms, the struggle between right and left has nothing to do with socialism vs capitalism, bigger government vs smaller government, or anything else divides these two sides.  The two sides are actually those who want to fight the forces of history, and those who work in favor of these forces, even working to accelerate them.

Now these forces of history are rooted in the cyclical theory of history, which I happen to believe.  Essentially, it works like this:


Societies rise and fall like the tides, falling a natural pattern of growth, stability, overreach and arrogance, before the whole edifice collapses under its own weight, or is opportunistically destroyed by a younger society.  And since I am the one designing this world, the cyclical theory of history is what applies to my worlds, including Eldritch Americana.

But if that is true, then we must look at the theory again.  Societies rise to prominence by building themselves upon a series of laws and traditions.  By following these laws, they are able to achieve great results, and enter a period of stability and safety.  But then, as they grow indulgent, they drift further and further from the laws and traditions that brought them to that point.  And while more reasonable voices can prevent this decay at first, as time goes on, these reasonable voices grow less and less common, and lose what little power they have.  Eventually the rot becomes so bad that nothing can be saved, and thus the whole society is ignited, and left on the ash heap of history.

For an example, let us look at the Mimes.

Early Mime history


The Mimes were created in the darkness of the Veins.  They made stone tools and spent every day in a brutal cage-match for survival.  Whole troupes died on a single mistake, and whole societies died in hours.  It was a hard, pathetic, but mercifully short existence.  But while to us, this may seem enormously inhumane, their was no one to correct the Mimes on anything.  The Mimes did not know about the surface, as they were trapped beneath the Earth.

Then one day, an old Mime heard a voice coming to him from out of the darkness.  A younger Mime might have fled, fearing that this was some trick.  But the old Mime did not fear, he had lived a long life, and soon his troupe was likely to abandon him.  So he walked bravely into the darkness, following the sound of the voice.  The Mime followed the voice until he reached a vast, pitch-black cavern.  As he entered the cavern, the voice called out to him again, addressing him by name.  "Zavi, son of Inkull," it said.  "Extinguish your light.  This is a holy place."  And so, the old Mime, Zavi, was filled with great fear.  He extinguished his light and cowered before the great voice, fearing for his life.  "Why have you brought me here?"  Zavi asked.  The voice laughed.  "I have brought you here to make my words real.  Remember all I am about to say."  Zavi did as he was then instructed, and listened attentively as the voice described a new set of laws and statutes.  These laws governed everything from marriage and sexual relations to warfare and hunting, and even things that Zavi had never heard of, such as 'land rights', 'voting' and 'firearms'.  When Zavi asked what these were, the voice did not explain, merely telling him to record what he heard.  Then the voice said to him, "If you follow these statutes, then your people will prosper.  But fail to, and Time will devour your people."  Zavi did not know what this meant, but he remembered it very clearly.  "But why would they listen to me?  Or these laws?  Under what authority do you speak?"  At this, the voice grew angry.  "Are my promises of the 'Sun' not enough?  Do you wretched creatures not respond to rewards?  Then tell them I am the Rock upon which they stand, the rumbling of the great plates that jostle their caverns, I am the thunderous heartbeat of the Stone Sea.  I sculpted them from flesh and dirt, using spiderwebs to clothe them.  I am your patriarch, your father's father, Cascrymagog!"

And then, the voice was gone, and Zavi was alone.  He returned to his troupe later, to the surprise of everyone.  It was common for the old to walk into the dark, never to be seen again, but they did not return.  So while everyone was gathered together, Zavi told them of the laws that had been granted him by a mysterious voice.  When they heard the laws, all agreed they were sensible and wise.  And after some debate, it was agreed they would follow them.

And then, several generations later, Cascrymagog's promise was fulfilled.  For when a miner accidentally cracked open a Vein in 1906, they encountered a troupe of Mimes that was led by Zavi's grandson, Ichos, son of Melkor.  The Mimes saw the miners and attacked them, butchering them to the last.  Then, after devouring their corpses, they began to explore the mine.  When they found the other miners, they were overjoyed.  They thought they had stumbled upon a new cave-system full of soft primates, rich in calories.  They had no idea what they had truly discovered.

                                         (This is how they look, I just decided)

But let's get back to theory for a second.  In the period after a people reached a stability, they begin to slide into decadence, and thus get too soft to protect themselves.  But if that period of decadence could be prevented, if that drift could be arrested early on and any attempt to moderate the discussion crushed, then in theory, a society's life span could be extended, even prolonged indefinitely.

Thus, the Angel of Preservation.  Cascrymagog sculpted them of unfeeling rock and the words of the law, which Zavi's people and all the Mimes are compelled to follow.  They are their to prevent decadence and ensure the law is being followed.  They are halfway up(?down?) the hierarchy of Cascrymagog's Angels, above the Angels of Community but below the Angels of Obligation.

Angel of Preservation
HD 7  AC 14  Sickle(+3) 1d8+time venom
Mor 9    Saves 12+ 

Homeward Disjunction: At the start of an encounter, mark each PC's position down on a piece of paper.  If the Angel wishes to use this ability, they must wait until their next turn to use it.  The Angel will usually say something like, "You will regret advancing from where you began."  For every 10' a PC is from where they started, they take 1d6 damage.  The Angel will usually try and run away then use this ability.  Be careful.

Time Venom: When struck by this venom, the players must save.  On a failure, they take 1d6 Cha Damage.  When this Cha damage equals or exceeds their Charisma score, the player becomes locked in Time.  A person locked in Time cannot move or act, and is stuck experiencing the same moment over and over again (like Time is stopped, but only for them).  However, they also do not age or take damage in this state, and if their Time is restored, they will jump back into action as if they had just passed their save, regardless of how much time has passed.  Players frozen in time take no damage from any source.      

First Start: The first d20 the players roll, that becomes their number.  For the rest of the fight, instead of rolling a d20, they may automatically achieve that roll.  They may use Luck Points to modify this roll, same as any other d20 roll.  However, every time they choose to roll a new d20, they take 1 damage (no save).

Tactics:
- Distribute Time Venom to everyone
- Use First Start to slowly wear them down
- Run, then use Homeward Disjunction



 (If you know why this last picture is here, no spoilers, okay?)
       

Monday, February 12, 2018

Eldritch Americana: Roaches (part 1)

Roaches are a xeno species I am borrowing from Arnold K.  This perhaps isn't much of a surprise, since I borrowed his whole setting in Eldritch Americana.  Oh well, too late to go back now.  I'm building off what Arnold already wrote here.


Roaches are short, squat creatures that bare only the faintest resemblance to earth cockroaches.  Yes, they've heard all the jokes.  They might even laugh politely, in the way that adults do when a child attempts their first knock-knock joke.  They are slightly shorter than humans, and slightly hunch over, which does not help.  Though their long antennae easily pass all but the top of the tallest human's head.  Roaches are very polite, very helpful, and very, very self interested.

Roach Philosophy


Roaches seem nice enough at first, and they like for you to think of them like this.  Unless you are very good friends, they will avoid food or politics or religion, and especially philosophy.  They are worried that you will judge them.  But if you learn enough about the Roaches, you will find this is what they believe:
I. All beings need resources
II. Therefore, all beings pursue resources
III. And since we all need the same thing, there is no need for any pretense.

Roaches have constructed their society around rational self-interest.  They that everyone should be up front with what they need, so that others can bring it to them.  Roaches do not haggle*.  If you can't give them what they need for their price, they will find someone who will.  This overly forward nature also helps reduce crime, they say, because if someone has been telling everyone they need money and then someone gets robbed, you have a possible suspect right there.  Those who hide behind pretense in Roach society are viewed as scum, as this is a behavior that criminals and murderers partake in.  'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.'  But at the same time, the Roaches who sit atop the hierarchy know the value of deception.  The higher you climb, the more numerous your friends become, and the more the faker their smiles become.  And when you stand atop the world, people will look you in the eye while stabbing you in the back.     

Roaches believe in hard work, they believe in the pursuit of money, and they believe in knives in the dark.   

So, because they always looking to gain resources and distribute their excess for a profit, all Roaches are consummately polite and always honest.  The best Roaches are the ones who effortlessly embody these virtues, and the worst ones are those who merely wear them as a mask.  Everyday Humans love Roaches, as unlike most other Xeno Species they can actually hold a conversation without asking what wallpaper is.  Additionally, Roaches go to church (though not your Church), start small businesses and pay their taxes.  And sure, they have unusual dining habits, but most Roaches are tactful not to bring that up in public.  If you are a Human who has had to negotiate with any group of Roaches you probably have a different opinion of them, most likely something along the line of 'They're polite as they are cutthroat'.

So a Giant Cockroach is talking to you...

It wants to know what you want.  It will tell you what it wants.  If you happen to have reciprocal needs, it may offer to help, or ask for yours.  Roaches are fair, but they do not abide those who squabble over the little details.  A moral or low-status Roach (but I repeat myself) will be fair when they make offers to you.  They will assume you are a rational actor pursuing resources through whatever means you have on you (just like them, of course).

So a giant Cockroach atop a giant dung ball is talking to you...

If you help a Roach enough and prove useful and or interesting enough, they may decide to introduce you to their family.  Now this is a mistake Humans make all the time.  Roach families are not usually composed of the biological children of the members, though it's not like that doesn't happen.  Roach families are free associations with strict terms for entering, you have to swear a holy oath before God (their God), and fit a whole bunch of criteria.  In short, Roach families are more like communal arrangements, where Roaches support each other and freely share resources among themselves.  In a family, it is a second layer of transparency, another device to strip away the layers of subterfuge and pretense that the Roaches are drowning in.

For reasons that are never very clear to Humans, Roach families tend to be gender-segregated.  Some will admit members from other races, but no members from the opposite gender.  Members of a family call each other Brother or Sister, and the Family head is obviously Father or Mother**.


So, what do they want from you?

1. A group of weirdo humans are praying to our Goddess, and they are being nice to her.  Dissuade them from worshiping her, if you can.  No we won't explain why they can't do it, okay?  She's just ours.  (Translation: Intimidate them into stop worshiping the Roach Goddess) 

2. A Human business is offering lower prices and undercutting us.  Go investigate their premises and make sure there are no accident risks.  We want to beat them fair and square.
(Translation: Go knock a few of their employees off.  Make it look like an accident)

3. Some asshole smugglers stuck some casks of highly illegal alcohol in my shipment of normal goods.  Go give 'em one-four, for me.  (Translation: Go attack the rumrunners and steal their liquor, then bring it to me)

4. Rasmos Sixtwitch is the favorite to win tonight's boxing match.  But I just remembered, Rasmos injured his fist in his last fight.  Tell him to take it easy tonight.  (Translation: Convince Rasmos to throw the fight tonight, or concede out of hand)

5. A close personal friend of mine has procured a curiosity at an estate sale.  But he's terribly old, and in no condition to travel.  But he has managed to arrange a buyer?  Could you transfer the curiosity there, quickly and discreetly?  (Translation: A friend has some stolen, illegal or cargo that otherwise needs to be smuggled out of here.  Can you take it to the buyer without getting caught or noticed?)

6. There is a party tonight.  I'm expecting a lot of guests, and some of them are known for their rowdiness.  Do you boys mind providing a little extra assurance to my guests?  (Translation: I, or someone close to me, is expecting an assassin to arrive at a social function soon.  When they arrive, protect me/them.)

What can they do for you?

1. Money.  Need a quick loan, no questions asked?  Need a place to put your money that your debtors can't find it?  Need some loot quickly converted into cash, but it's of a sensitive nature?  We can take care of that.  For a small fee, of course.

2. Information.  Roaches hoard gold or jewels, but they also collect other things that people might value.  Stocks, treasury and war bonds, and most importantly of all, information.  All Roaches are in a family, and all the Families are part of a Church, and so every Roach is at the epicenter of personal connections.  Through these webs, even idle gossip spreads like wildfire.  Bigger secrets will be confined to certain segregated networks, but usually when something is up, others will hear about it, at least in passing.  'Some of you are alright.  Don't come to school tomorrow.'       

3. Assassination.  They don't advertise this one on the brochures, but almost every Roach business or family that has even the smallest connection to criminal or illicit business has at least one member who was just recruited for their brutality or skill in combat.  Criminal families, on the other hand, have designated Assassins.  And for the right price, or the right target, or the right person, Roaches can make people disappear.  Roach assassins come in all flavors, with varying level of competency.  Some assassins work only for a specific family or church or business, while others work for anyone who will hire them.  The most famous assassins in the world are not human, not anymore.    

4. Smuggling.  Roaches measure status in the form of large balls of dung.  These dungballs are accumulated over a lifetime, gradually built larger and larger until they are the size of small houses (if you're lucky and talented).  But some Roaches who love money more then status have discovered a secondary use for dungballs.  Hollow out a piece of the center and build a false lid.  Then wrap any illicit cargo in plastic and store it within.  Very few customs officers want to investigate the giant ball of dried dung.  And that is basic stuff, Smuggling 101.  The true geniuses of the field have much better secrets, stuff that I'm not going to write here.  But needless to say, they get results.     

5. Miracles.  There are people who claim that after going to a blessing by a Roach priest, they were protected.  Certain death became an opportunity to escape.  It doesn't always work, but the Roaches are among the only people who can actually contact their God and actually get a response, at least, somewhat reliably.  Everyone else usually gets nothing, or just sadistic laughter.    

6. Off world transit.  This is the most fabled thing that the Roaches are rumored to possess.  But who knows, it might just be true.  I mean, they did come from an alien planet.  Maybe they can get you off this rock- if you ask the right one.                 

How do Roaches see you:


 - Too tall
- Made of a stretchy, rubbery substance
- Good eye-sight, terrible hearing or sense of smell
- They make a big deal about tiny details
- Don't mention how their God is dead, or how our Goddess helped kill him, it's weird and rude

Humans are like rubber, soft and straining to contain their contents, yet surprisingly tough as well.  Their long appendages flap around in the breeze, and they come in a variety of shades.  They can't smell to save their lives and their hearing is pretty terrible as well, but their vision is astounding.  They only seem to use this incredible vision to notice tiny details in other's physiology and use that as a basis to sort each other into categories.  This doesn't make a lot of sense to the Roaches, for whom the primary basis of discrimination has always been religious sect, and not race.  Additionally, Roaches can't see as well as humans, so while they can tell the difference between an African and a European, sub-categories within those two groups confuse them, so the Roaches dismiss them.

Of course, Roaches will probably never mention this to you.  It would be quite rude.            

*Of course Roaches still negotiate, but they don't make a point of it.  A price is a price, and if you won't give them a lower one, or ask too much from them, they will just pack up and leave, even if they desperately need what resource you have. 

**Yes, Roaches are aware how weird this looks to non-Roaches.  For this reason, family business is rarely undertake in public or even when guests are over. 




Friday, February 9, 2018

Eldritch Americana: Cascrymagog

Swallower of Asia

 

          (I couldn't find any good pictures that approximated Him, so have some Cave stuff)

The world has undergone significant change since 1890.  For starters, Asia is disappearing.  A new continent formed in the Pacific Ocean and began "devouring" (for lack of a better word) smaller islands.  This was concerning, but the situation rapidly changed to horrifying as it consumed the Philippines and Japan.  Then it landed in Korea, and began chewing its way inland.  It is unknown if this nascent continent is actually destroying the land it consumes, or merely assimilating it into itself.  Regardless, it's advance has been unstoppable.  Humanity is trying desperately to stop it, but so far they have only been able to delay it, and they know this is not a state of affairs that can be maintained forever.

The two main fronts where the continent is being held back is in Siberia and in India.  In the former, the young Soviet Russia is fighting a brutal war of attrition against a strange humanoid foe native to the new continent.  This new foe is largely unknown with inscrutable motives and strategies, but they do possess bizarre technology and Wizards, just like their Communist Foes.  Similarly, the British and their colonial allies have built a massive wall along India's border, and are fighting a losing war to hold onto their greatest colonial treasure, as well as prevent the new continent from devouring the sub-continent.

Secondly, where there were none before, now if you tunnel down far enough, you will find another tunnel.  Where there was only stone, now there are winding tunnels and deep caverns full of savages beasts and limitless hunger.  The Veins of the Earth did not exist before 1890, yet here they are.  Miners did not used to have to carry shortswords and trench spikes on their belts, but now they do.  Luckily for everyone involved, these caves are so lacking in biomass that the underworld only seems to be home to tribes of squatting primitives, and not vast cathedrals of howling, inhuman beasts.  Lucky us.

But these changes are all related.  They all relate to the Earth.  And that is because Earth has a new manager.  His name is Cascrymagog.  Cascrymagog is the God of Earth, underground places, solitude, silence, all things beneath the ground, and stagnation.  He is the reason that miners offer prayers in secret shrines so that they may take his gems and ores, and the reason why fake diamonds are no more popular then real ones, as real ones tend to bring bad luck.  He is the reason why it is more popular to lock the corpses of loved ones in mausoleums instead of burying them.

 

Grandfather

 


But Cascrymagog's influence is far more visible then a few changes to wedding gifts and mining practices.  He also created the Mimes, a race of primitive bat-men that emerged from the Veins in 1905.  In America, they tend to live in small tribal bands called Troupes in the uncivilized interior of the country, hunting the resurgent buffalo and other new wildlife with spears and nets.  Those that live in cities tend to work as laborers or guides into the wilderness, and they are more common on the West Coast, though some can be found in the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains.

Cascrymagog's cult organize themselves into hierarchical structures, almost always male-dominated.  These structures are called Troupes, in deliberate reflection of how primitive Mimes lived (and still do, in some places).  In these Troupes, there is usually one always male leader.  His title varies from place to place, but some include Father, Older Brother, Priest, Shaman, Wise Man, Perfect One, etc.  These cults usually live in closed communities near caves, and venture down into the Earth to offer praise to their God, who they affectionately call Grandfather.  And while the teachings of these cults vary from place to place, their are some commonalities that affect them all.

First, Cascrymagog teaches the Troupe-members that they must conform to their community, uphold the traditions and values of their society, and try and halt the forces of history as much as they can.  Change is to be resisted at every turn.  To reject the wisdom of your ancestors is a grievous sin, to reject your past in search of a new future is heresy.  Additionally, to value individuals over a community, or one's rights over the rights of your group is grounds for being cut down or exiled.  Above all, one should be loyal, to one's people, to one's family, and keep their word. 

But that is all that the Troupes agree on.  Some that are composed of primarily humans or other races also say that part of one's religious duty of submitting to the institutions is also loyalty to the nation-state.  Most Mime religious leaders either disagree or don't address the issue.  The concept of a nation-state, much less a nation-state based on something other then a solid ethnic core is a concept alien to them.  The most traditional of these clerics say that the America should be partitioned into regions based on where the various ethnic groups dominate, but this is a belief only common along the most radical fringe.

But while their is some debate among the clerics of Cascrymagog, some things are non-negotiable.  And if a cleric violates some point of orthodoxy one to many time, he can expect to be visited by an Angel, who will demonstrate God's will more fully than he ever could.  This is the primary purpose of Cascrymagog's Angels, to maintain the society and religion he had built.  The three types of Angel Cascrymagog sends are as follows:                         

Angel of Obligation

There are many things a group will ask of its members.  To breed, to work, to fight and die, to support the old.  And while these are not always pleasant, they are necessary.  Thus, Cascrymagog's cult places a heavy emphasis on one's duty to family, tribe and for some, nation.  The Angel of Obligation is the living embodiment of this fact.  These Angels always have names, but is always the name of someone you already knew.  They are Mimes, dressed in robes made of the embryo sacks of all those who never existed so could live.  In their hands they carry books of everyone who ever helped you, and will read off examples if you anger them.  They hate democrats, individualists, and atheists.

Angel of Preservation

Angels of Prerservation exist to keep things from changing.  They are arch-conservatives, refusing to budge on any issue.  They insist that because things are the way they are, they should remain that way.  They work to preserve tradition and prevent change, and strike down those that would worship the false God of progress.  Angels of Stagnation look like giant insects covered in metal or stone plating with liquid time dripping off their claws.  Their venom causes the afflicted to stagnate, slowing their movement and heart rate then finally trapping them in stopped time.

Angel of Community

When more than two people gather together, they become a crowd.  And a crowd has a greater spirit, a greater will then the will of those who compose it.  The Angels of Community work to lead the crowd and the tribes in the direction their fathers would have wanted.  They appear in times of great strife, when order has broken down to restore it, usually by appointing leaders and destroying those who would violate the will of the community.  They are the lowest on the foodchain when it comes to the Angels of Cascrymagog.  

 <DM note>The Angels of Obligation maintain group cohesion, the Angels of Preservation maintain social institutions and traditions, and Angels of Community direct the tribes the way Cascrymagog wants them to go.  </DM note>

Singer of the Song that Ends the World 

 


And the forces arrayed against the Troupes is many.  Cascrymagog must lean on them hard to maintain order and group solidarity, or else they would fall to his many foes, such as:

The Demon of Solitude

Long ago, their was a predator who hunted the Mimes.  Pale and fleshy, with foot-long fingers and glowing lantern eyes, it was a horror that devoured lone Mimes and snatched children from their Mother's pouches.  After years of this, the Troupes called upon their Grandfather, begging him to deliver them.  And so Cascrymagog confronted the pale things, and they cowered before him.  They begged him to allow them to live, for they were only doing what was natural to them.  So Cascrymagog agreed, but on the condition that they no longer prey upon the Troupes, only on those deemed unworthy, on the disowned and the exile.  And in their desperation, they agreed.  The Demon of Solitude is powerless before a group united in genuine fraternity, but they are quite dangerous to the lone wolf, the exile and the outcast, whom they are granted free rein to devour.
It is said that any they kill will be forced to wander the Veins of the Earth for all eternity, never to know fellowship or fraternity ever again.  This is why in any religious community based around Cascrymagog or in a Troupe of Mimes exile is the worst punishment that can be inflicted on someone.

Demon of Destruction

They prefer to call themselves 'Angels of Progress' but the faithful aren't fooled.   Demons of Destruction bring radical change wherever they go.  They look like moth-men, with thick fur around their necks that make them look like they're wearing fur shawls over their shoulders, broad, multi-colored wings, and compound eyes.  They are brilliant ideas appearing in the dead of night.  They seek out inventors and activists, those longing to make a change but lacking the will or the intellect to do so.  They can bless their victims with unparalleled brilliance in one specific field, and usually do so just to see what will happen.  Demons of Destruction want things to be different.  Different how?  It doesn't matter.  They can see all possibilities, and while any change is good, they prefer the most catastrophic or spectacular.  Essentially, unless someone rolls a 20 or a 1, they are disappointed.  When threatened, they mutate people, infect people with compulsions and cast spells (The flashier, the better).

Demon of Exemption

You owe a debt to society, they say.  You owe it to your parents, they raised you!  You owe your God everything, they created you.  Ridiculous, the Demon of Exemption says.  No one is owed anything, least of all, them.  Demons of Exemption would not describe themselves as such, but they are Randian and Nietzscheian in thought.  They believe in freedom and someone's right to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  They believe in money and power, and nothing else.  They tend to whisper in the ears of firebrands and revolutionaries.  They helped to precipitate the fall of the Czar in Russia, then turned on the Communists later, when the Reds demanded people work in service of the collective.  They are cheerful opportunists, magnetic and charming.  Do not trust them.  When threatened, Demons of Exemption ignore damage taken, wipe a turn from the record (resetting everyone back to the beginning of the round) and pass their unpaid obligations onto anyone foolish enough to agree to pay them.  You must agree to the later, even if you do not know what you are agreeing too.     

Lord of the Underground and Dark Places

 

                                          (Don't go into the Light)


Along with all that, Cascrymagog also empowers the Cthonomancers and the Necromancers.  All things under the earth belong to him, including those who deal in such coin. He primarily creates Wizards by endowing mortals with some of his godly power to attend to his Tribes and his People, but many Wizards are strong-willed, and selfishly use their gifts for their own benefit, rather then their communities.  Thus, Cascrymagog must chastise them, but even when he pours coals atop their head, he does it out of love.

The Doom of the Cthonomancer

Doom of Fools: For 2d6 hours, you hear the heartbeat of the Earth.  You are desperate to get closer to it, and will usually begin digging straight down with anything you have in you.  If there are caves nearby, you will use those.  If stopped from doing this, you will resist violently.  You will go down as far as you can, until you come to your senses, are stopped by force or die.

Doom of Kings:  As above, but for 2d6 days.

Ultimate Doom: As above, but permanently.  The Wizard will spend the rest of their life wandering the Veins, and going even deeper, looking for the Heart of the Earth.

The Doom of the Necromancer

Doom of Fools.  Become infected with a debilitating disease.  It is non-contagious.  You need to succeed two Con checks to be cured.  You automatically fail your first Con check, as a result of the Doom.  Two successful Con checks to recover.  On a failure, take 1d4 con damage a day.  If your Con hits zero, you die.  Base DC is 15.  Rest, food and sleep can give you bonuses, and adventuring, extra injury, and cold and damp can worsen the check.  Lost Con restores itself a point a day once cured. 

Doom of Kings: As above, but the base DC you need to pass is 18.  The disease is now contagious.  It has also worsened, and does 1d6 Con damage a day.  All other rules still apply. 

Ultimate Doom: As above, but the base DC everyone else needs to pass is 20.  It is now super contagious.  If infected, the disease does 1d8 Con damage for everyone who isn't you.  But you will not need to bother making your check, as you fall desperately ill as soon as you get this disease.  While others can recover, you will die in 1d20+4 hours.  

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Angel of Fate



I'm thinking about making some changes to Eldritch Americana.  To make it more eldritch and hopeless, I'm going to assign every character a destiny at the start.  This is something a player has no choice in, because neither did the characters.  And while this fate will most likely describe what will happen to the character, the thing you'll learn about fate is that it is far less unbreakable than people claim it is.  A character can learn their Fate by consulting a Wizard who knows the right spell or a priest of the New Gods.

Fate comes from the Author of Fate, Yosganeth.  It is either personally composed by him, or he delegates it to his Ghost-Writers.  But because of the free will of Humanity, a right that their creator gave them that the New Gods have found impossible to remove, Fate is not perfect yet.  One day, it will be completely unbreakable, but as of now, it is flawed.  The shackles of fate can be broken, or at least twisted into less favorable positions.  But as the fabric of destiny is already quite frayed, and too much strain on it will cause it to break, and free scores of people, and weaken Fate's hold on many, many others.  This is a problem that must be corrected.  The Angel of Fate is the device used to correct it.


Angels of Fate are beautiful, sanguine creatures.  They are clearly artificial beings, their regal features carved of glass and porcelain, their bodies made of the finest metals, gilded and carefully wrapped around their delicate clockwork interiors.  They are androgynous, and vaguely resemble humans in their features, with the exception of their compound eyes and segmented bodies.  They are always dressed impeccably in elaborate headdresses, long flowing silk robes, and are almost always laden with jewelry.  They almost exclusively fight with rapiers.  And while their swords are not magical, they are of the finest quality metal, each one a work of art.

And while they are beautiful to look upon, they are terrible company.  Angels of Fate can see the future in a limited way, though you wouldn't know this from talking to them.  They are massively condescending and consider you a blind, dumb idiot who needs to be put down for his own good.  They are insufferably smug as well, constantly looking like they have all the answers.  And while Angels of Fate can see the future and tell you your fate, they do not possess the limitless vision they claim.  And they will claim to have perfect knowledge of the future, but they are lying through their teeth.  The Angels of Fate can only see a small section of the immediate future, so while terribly threatening for a short while, they are also quite shortsighted (literally and metaphorically).  They are also massively arrogant and tend toward overconfidence.

Angel of Fate:
HD 6  AC 12  Rapier 1d10 or Unfortunate Incident
Mor 12    Saves 10+

God's Plan: At the start of any combat, have the Angel of Fate roll 4d20s+1 per opponent.  Then the Angel of Fate may arrange these numbers in any order it chooses.  Instead of rolling a d20, it should instead just cross off the next number in line.  When the Angel runs out of Numbers, it must instead roll as normal.  

Limited Precognition: While an Angel of Fate still has its list of Numbers, it can see the future.  While it has Precognition, everyone fighting it gets -4 to AC and -4 to hit it, and the Angel gets +4 to hit you with its melee attacks.  However, once it runs out of Numbers, the Angel of Fate is as blind as you.

Inevitable Theft: An Angel of Fate, upon seeing any d20 roll, as a free action may opt to steal it, and instead the player's d20 roll is replaced with the next number on the Angel's list.  The number they stole becomes the next number on the list, replacing the one they gave the player. 

Unfortunate Incident: The Angel of Fate has carefully researched all the people who are supposed to be in the area when it arrives.  If a player ever rolls a 1d20 and comes up with a number that is one of the numbers on the Angel's list of d20s, the Angel can, as a free action, sacrifice the number on their list to cause an Unfortunate Incident.  This is a freak accident, such as a car smashing through the wall, or a rain of poisonous frogs occurring.  Unfortunate Incidents cause 1d20 damage, save for half. 

Tactics:
- Finish quickly
- Only use Unfortunate Incident if you are fighting a large number of opponents
- Focus on those with the highest attack/damage bonus first