Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The DAME Method - How to Design Dynamic Combats

I came up with a method of how to construct better encounters.  Consider this post inspired by this one, written by the erudite Arnold K.

                                                   from Matrix Reloaded

I sometimes have a problem with improvising in games.  I find I work best when I have a solid foundation to start building off of.  I prefer to conduct the creative process within a pre-existing system, one that permits freedom but has certain limits already set up.  As such, if I don't have at least some pre-planning, I often feel like my performance suffers.  So I decided to create a system that would enable me to pre-plan my encounters a bit more. 

Combine this with the feeling that sometimes combat encounters run too long and start to get stale, I decided to come up with this system.  It's totally untested and highly dangerous, but maybe you'll find some use for it.  I call it the DAME Method.   

To illustrate this method, I've also taken the liberty of including some examples.  These are lifted below: two encounters, one easy and one difficult.

First, a troupe of bandits step out in front of the party in the woods and demand money.

Second, a Lich is confronted by the party in one of its' laboratories.

D is for Dynamism:

How dynamic is the encounter?  How much do things change from round to round?

The best way to determine how Dynamic an encounter should be is right in the middle of it.  If your players are getting bored or if the combat is turning into I attack, you attack, I attack that's your cue to inject a little more Dynamism into a situation.  I recommend coming up with a small list of changes that could occur each round and if the players start to fall asleep mid-encounter, throw a curveball at them.  

Example 1:

Bandit Curveballs-

1- The Bandits have reinforcements hiding in the trees.  If things are going bad, these reinforcements will rain arrows down on the party.
2- The Bandits have reinforcements up ahead.  If things are going bad, the Bandits will run up the path and (hopefully) lead the party into an ambush.
3- The Bandits will throw themselves at the feet of the party and beg for mercy.
4- As per "3", but it's actually a trap, as the Bandits have reinforcements sneaking in behind the party, ready to launch a sneak attack with poisoned arrows

Example 2:

Lich Curveballs-

1- The Lich uses a magical attack that destroys part of the room the fight is currently taking place in, opening up a hole in the floor, smashing down a wall, ripping the ceiling off, etc
2- The Lich engages a magical effect that changes the nature of the battlefield.  Here are a few examples.  The Lich could, fill the air with fog that that induces hallucinations or makes it hard to see; it could plunge the area into magical darkness; it could activate an aura that cumulatively damages the players or inflicts some negative effect on them.  You get bonus points on that last one if it is something the players could manipulate and not just one of the Lich's overpowered abilities.
3- The Lich decides to move the battle onto more favorable ground and leaves this room
4- The Lich decides that it needs more help and summons more minions: maybe its elite soldiers were down in the gatehouse, waiting for a frontal attack that never came?  Anyway, they're here now.

And try not to be super dynamic the whole time.  The whole point is variety- if every encounter is a rolling escapade across three continents and seven times zones, it doesn't feel as special, now does it?

A good rule to follow would be that the more important an enemy is to an adventure, arc or campaign, the more dynamic the encounter should be.  You don't need to be super dynamic if the players get mugged by a band of thieves disguised as a chain gang and their overseer, but if they're fighting The Jade General, Oppressor of the Nine Realms and the main villain of the entire game, you should pull out all the stops.      

A is for Aggression:

How aggressive are these enemies?  How quick are they to resort to violence?

This one is simple enough.  What will it take these enemies start trying to stab you?

Example 1:

The Bandits don't want to fight anyone, if they can avoid it.  They'd prefer you just turn over your valuables.  If you do, they will let you go by.

Example 2:

The Lich likely has some grand, master plan that is broken down into about a million different smaller plans.  You are temporarily inconveniencing the Lich by slowing down the completion of one of its current plans.  The Lich may kill you if it it decides that would be easier, or if you seem to pose any threat to its grand designs or to the Lich itself.  But if you're too powerful to be wiped off the face of the Earth but too uninteresting to worry about, the Lich may just order you to leave.  If you refuse to obey its orders, it probably won't be sure of how to proceed.  Maybe it will bribe you with something shiny and dangerous, such as an prototype magical bomb; or perhaps it will simple threaten you with curses and terrible consequences until you take a hint and leave.     

M is for Motivation:

What do the enemies want?  What is their goal?

Again, this one is particularly self-explanatory. 

Example 1:

The Bandits want money, warm boots, nice clothes and horses.

Example 2:

The Lich wants to study the Kraken and possibly attempt to breed another one, this one under the Lich's control. 

Currently, it is building a submarine. 

The Lich's current problem is that Gillmen keep raiding the shipyard for supplies and keep kidnapping its workers.  Productivity is down an unacceptable 53%.

E is for Exit:

Do the enemies think they have a good chance of winning?  If they start losing, will they retreat?  Where will they go?

One thing you have to keep in mind as a Referee is that your NPCs aren't the stars of the show and often, are going to die.  This goes especially for the monsters, enemies and antagonists you drop into the player's paths.  However, Hostile NPCs don't know that. 

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from a Referee was to "be the monster".  Role-play as the Monster as it would behave in that situation.  If the encounter is "You got between a Mama Grizzly bear and her cub" how would Mama Grizzly act in that situation?  Play that Mama Grizzly bear.  That's your baby that these two-legged pink burritos are threatening.

This is a piece of advice I've treasured.  So let us go back to the problem of the retreat, the exit strategy.  What will the Hostile NPCs do if things start going south? 

This won't be an option for all creatures.  Undead will generally not retreat unless ordered to, so unbound Undead will usually fight to the death.  They will only flee righteous Angels or sunlight.  In other cases, if a Motivation is a strong enough, it may forbid retreat as an option.  Mama Grizzly bear isn't retreating if she thinks her cubs are in danger.  The same goes if the enemy is trapped.  In such cases, they may feel they have no other option but to engage in a last stand.

But generally, enemies will either have some idea of how they could escape, should things go wrong.  Even if they don't start thinking about it until half their friends get cut down by the dude with the flaming claymore, you as the Referee should have a few ideas already.

Example 1:

The Bandits will scatter in different directions, running back into the woods to hide.  They have a secret base camp that they will all meet up at later.

Example 2:

The Lich may allow itself to be killed, if that wouldn't endanger its plans.  Its minions will surely have been informed of what to do should such a situation occur. 

Alternatively, the Lich may summon its mount, an enormous skeletal Drake, and climb onto its back to fly off, swearing revenge on those meddling fools!                      

      from Marvel's Daredevil, but this really doesn't do him justice.  See the full scene here.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

OSR: Kua Toa

                                                         by Dungeons and Doodling

I love Kua Toa.  They're such an interesting monster, but they have real problems.  Yet even despite that, I was honestly thinking of titling this post "I cannot improve the Kuo Toa" but then I realized that while the sublime concept of these retarded god-maker fishmen is often marred by a stupid execution.  So I am here to fix that, once and for all.

Change number 1.  I am calling them Kua Toa, instead of Kuo-Toa.  I got this idea from Demonac, as well as for much of my vast appreciation for these monsters.

Now, for change number 2...

The Shadow over Innsmouth (and how we misunderstood it)

Perhaps that is inaccurate, but I feel that people misunderstand much of Lovecraft's work.  For example, there is some kind of ridiculous conception in some Call of Cthulhu players that there is no hope of ever defeating the horrors that lurk beyond our limited perspective and if you encounter them, you will die.  Yet if you look at the original Lovecraft stories, this is often not true.  Many of the stories by Lovecraft involve humans using violence against the horrors from beyond the furthest stars and sometimes even winning, even if it is a pyrrhic victory.  Hell, the Shadow over Innsmouth ends with the police raiding the eponomyous town and killing quite a few of the Deep Ones.

That being said, the other misconception is how the Deep Ones look and what the true terror of that story is.

Firstly, in my opinion, I believe the Kua Toa's appearance comes from someone who heard about the Shadow over Innsmouth, but never actually read it.  They heard "fishpeople" and that's what they drew.  But Kua Toa don't look scary really- they look like fish versions of Frog and Toad.  You can almost imagine a pair of Kua Toa wearing dapper suits and going to the opera or preparing a surprise party for a mutual friend.  So that's problem number one.

Problem number 2 is a bit more esoteric.  You see, at the end of every good scary story, there is a twist, as I'm sure you're aware.  This twist is a reversal, similar to the punchline of a joke.  However, instead of eliciting surprise and inducing laughter, the twist in horror is supposed to chill and make the audience look over their shoulder.  The twist in the Shadow over Innsmouth is that in the end, the narrator reveals that his family is related to Innsmouth through one resident of the town who left it generations ago and he inherited her Deep One DNA.  As such, he is slowly turning into a Deep One himself. This is the twist of the story and the true horror.  The Deep Ones by themselves are scary, but the sublime terror comes not from them, but from the secret fear that there might be something wrong with you, something lurking in the shadow of your family tree that could at any moment, spring out and devour you.  Or worse, to transform you into a monster, to rob you of your humanity, to make you exactly like that horror.

But as I pointed out earlier, this is something that most people inspired by the Shadow over Innsmouth forget and its not something you can really create with creatures as dorky looking as the Kua Toa.  So what do you do?

                                                             by Zoltan Boros
                                 "Look how they massacred my boy."
The Poor Man's Deep Ones (and how I fixed it)

So with Kua Toa, we can't really play up the same unknowingly born into corruption angle, but we don't necessarily need to either.  For the Kua Toa have unknowingly provided us with the solution.  You see, the Kua Toa are especially aligned with cults and strange religions, things that Lovecraft was also fond of including in his stories.  So that's how we make the Kua Toa scary.  We make them persuasive.

All senior Kua or Kua Toa belonging to the leadership caste get the following ability:

"Proclaim: Anyone who listens to a sermon or speech by this Kua Toa takes 1d6 WIS damage, no save.  Covering your ears as an action or making noises to drown out the sound as an action prevents this WIS damage.  If the WIS damage taken this way ever equals or exceeds a creature's WIS score, the creature has his WIS returned to normal and gains a Conviction based on the speech he just heard."

You can assign the players who heard the sermon and had their WIS scores reduced to zero any related Conviction, or you can roll on the table below.

Seeds of Conversion
1d6+X [Where X is the number of Previous Convictions you have gained from Kua Toa]
1- I am fascinated with the strange, disgusting and macabre.
2- I am very interested in niche religions.
3- While strange on the outside, I find myself becoming rather fond of these strange, fishy creatures.
4- I always try to understand people, even if they are my enemies.
5- I think these piscine folk make some good points.  Their methods could use some work though.
6+- I agree with some of what this Kua Toa is saying, though I still have my doubts.    

Anyone who listens to one sermon or speech will find themselves becoming more amicable to the Kua Toa.  Anyone who listens to more sermons or spends a lot of time studying literature produced by the Kua Toa will eventually gain so many Convictions relating the Kua Toa that they become an ally of the Kua Toa.

Among the Saved:

                                              by unknown

Kua Cultist

Kua Cultists are non-Kua Toa who are converted to the Religion this band of Kua Toa are currently preaching.  They retain all their previous stats from before their conversion, but also gain an incredibly strange worldview based on whatever Religion the Kua who came here preached to them.  The statblock below belongs to a 1 HD commoner who was converted to the cause.

Statblock:

Kua Cultist
HD 1  Ac 10  Atk Club (+0, 1d6) or Thrown Rock (+1, 1d4)
Mor 6/11     Saves 7 or less is a success

Faith is my shield: A Kua Cultist has a morale of 11 if he is with his brother cultists or if there is a Kua Toa nearby to encourage him to be brave.  If neither of these are true, use the lower option for Morale.

My Life for Thee: A Kua Cultist has sworn his life and soul to his Godlet.  When he dies, his life force will immediately be transferred to his Godlet.

Tactics:
- Attack in a swarm
- Mob the least dangerous person
- Flee if things look dangerous, unless dissuaded otherwise

To see how a particular group of Kua Cultist acts, roll on the Piscine Faith table below to see what they were taught.

Piscine Faith
1d4
1- "All mortals are part of one organism and that one organism is the only true Man.  The things you call Men or Persons are just tiny components, millions of times smaller than a single hair."  These Kua Cultists have non-Kua Toa leaders as well, who function as Kua Toa Priests, but without the Kua specific abilities.  These Kua Cultists also practice cannibalism and have a habit of being excessively self-sacrificial.
2- "We are all pawns of the Gods and are not actually in control of our actions, we merely think we are."  These Kua Cultists  carry barbed and hooked weapons that rip open huge, gaping wounds that do persistent damage until healed.  They are also excessively brutal and sacrifice people in a very specific, ritualistic way.  Finally, these Kua Cultists tend to be cowardly and flee from battle.  If threatened with capture, they will also try to kill themselves.
3- "We are among the true Enlightened and if we prove ourselve virtuous, the Watery One will bring us down to her sunken palace, where we will party and feast for all eternity."  These Kua Cultists, if reduced to zero HP by an attack that wouldn't totally destroy them, have a 50% of being able to continue fighting due to a combination of zeal and pain-numbing drugs.  These Kua Cultists are fond of indulging in tons of drugs before and during battle.  These are their primary advantage, as well as their weakness.  They are also excessively courageous, always trying to save their comrades, even if it looks dangerous.
4- "The End of the Age draws near.  Soon cataclysms will ravage the land and terrors will overrun the world.  But if we manage to purify ourselves of sin and complete the great ritual, we will endure the the disasters and rise as Kings over the New World."  These Kua Cultists wear special charms that give them a 2-in-6 chance of reflecting any magical ability or spell used against them against another target.  If it strikes another person with a charm like this, the spell keeps reflecting until it finds a target.  These Kua Cultists burn Magic-Users, cats and people who seem to well educated at the stake.  They are plagued by anti-intellectualism and try to never think too hard, as intelligence is something their cult spurns.

                                                           by Frank Frazetta

Kua Fanatic  

Some of those converted by the Kua Toa come out a little different.  They take their faith to its most logical, and usually violent, end.  They become sanctuary guards and bodyguards for the Cult's leadership and when the Cult clashes with local religions or civil authorities, the Kua Fanatics are always on the front line.  They have almost no sense of self-preservation and a thirst for blood that can never be sated.  They were a really bad person, they realize and they have a lot of catching up to do.

Many Kua Fanatics were criminals or soldiers before they were converted, but some were also adventurers.  If a group of Adventurers was sent to investigate a Cult and that Cult turned out to be run by Kua Toa, those adventurers usually end up as Fanatics for the Cult, if they aren't killed before they are captured. 

For the latter type of Fanatic, each one should have 1d4 HD and class levels.  For the Former type of Fanatic, I have included a statblock below. 

Statblock:

Kua Fanatic
HD 2  AC 12  Atk Great Weapon (+2, 1d8/1d8)
Mor 11       Saves 9 or less is a success

Zeal: If a Kua Fanatic is reduced to zero HP, as long as his body isn't destroyed beyond use, such as from being disintegrated, melted by acid or frozen solid, he has a 50% of being able to continue fighting for another round, though he can only make one attack.

My Life for Thee: A Kua Fanatic has sworn his life and soul to his Godlet.  When he dies, his life force will immediately be transferred to his Godlet.

Tactics:
- Stay back and identify the most dangerous person
- Rush them
- Have no fear

                                                           by ART STUFFINGZ

Kua Toa Warrior

The Kua Toa warriors are the remnant of an ancient fighting force, the degenerate heirs of world-conquerors.  Once their people stood astride the whole world.  The only reason you aren't aware of their fearsome reputation is because it happened in the oceans and you weren't there.  It was also just under two millennia ago, so that also helps.  Yet even despite the vast distance and the incomprehensible amount of knowledge that was lost in the Shattering, these Kua Toa have managed to cling to a few scraps of ancient martial wisdom. 

The Kua Toa warriors are all trained and disciplined.  They fight with the feverish devotion of one facing annihilation, yet they do not give into despair.  Their eyes are cold but not dead- behind those wet lenses a deep-rooted love, nay an obsession, with victory can be found.  Kua Toa Warriors do not regard themselves as worthless, they have the same sense of self-preservation as you.  But they will gladly sacrifice themselves to allow their fellows to triumph.  Their ancestors made greater sacrifices then these.  They gave unspeakable amounts, made horrible, black bargains to allow the Kua Toa to persist at all.  Compared to that, one life is nothing.  A mere drop of water crashing upon a stone.  

Statblock:

Kua Toa Warrior
HD 1  AC 14 [scale vest, shield]  Atk Billhooks or Spears (+1, 1d6+1)
Mor 8      Saves 8 or less is a success

Water Breather: Kua Toa can breathe water as well as air.  They suffer no penalties from breathing air.

Strong Swimmer: Kua Toa are powerful swimmers, easily faster in the water than any non-aquatic creature.  In water, they are just slightly slower than a horse's canter.

God Seed: If this creatures dies and its soul was not sworn to a pre-existing Godlet, God or other entity, then its loose life energy has a chance equal to its (HD)-in-10 of summoning/creating a new Godlet.  Treat this Godlet as per a Godlet with an empty Pool of Power in diffused form.  To see what it can do and what it appears as, roll on the tables below.

Martial Training: Kua Toa always receive at least a modicum of martial training.  They know how to work together and always have a strategy.  To see what strategy this group of Kua Toa knows how to use, roll on the Kua Toa Tactics table below.

My Life for Thee: A Kua Toa Warrior has a 50% of having has sworn his life and soul to his Godlet.  If he has made this oath then when he dies, his life force will immediately be transferred to his Godlet.

Tactics:
- Stick to the plan
- Exploit weaknesses in the enemy
- Let tougher or expendable units take the brunt of the damage
- Retreat if things look dangerous

Kua Toa Tactics
1d6
1- Armored Barrage.  Half of the Kua Toa will use spears and form a shield wall to protect the ranged units.  Anyone who gets close to the shield wall gets stabbed.  The other half stay behind the shield wall and throw javelins or darts at the attacking enemies.  Continue until the enemy are all dead or the shield wall is broken.  If the latter, retreat.
2- Snatch and Grab.  A minority of the Kua Toa will carry some nets with them.  They will throw nets over some of the enemies, then those with bills will snag those captured in nets and drag them off.  The rest will stay behind to try and capture more or to prevent the captured enemy from being rescued.
3- Catch these Hands.  The Kua Toa will coat their shields in sticky adhesive then form a shield wall.  When attacked, they will stick their enemies to the shields and use this to break the enemy formation by sticking enemies to it and taking them away.
4- Unsure Footing.  If the Kua Toa are in a fixed position, they will form a shield wall, but dump grease on the ground in front of them.  That way, anyone who gets too close will have trouble keeping their footing and fall.  Those that fall will be mercilessly skewered or beaten till they fall unconscious, then dragged into Kua Toa lines.
5- Fire Trap.  The Kua Toa are no strangers to fire.  When they can, they will use fire to herd their enemies into chokepoints or trap them above water while they make their escape.  A common example is to lure their enemies down a tunnel that has only one exit that's not underwater and once the enemy is inside, cover the water entrance with flammable oil and ignite it.  Then surround the other exit.  The enemies can either try to escape through the unblocked exit and run right into an ambush, a foolish idea, try to fight the Kua Toa underwater, an insane idea, or simply die of smoke inhalation. 
6- False Retreat.  Attack, then retreat after suffering a few losses.  When they follow you, lead them into an ambush.  Sometimes you can't beat the classics.        

                                                         by Vincent Coveillo

Kua Toa Priest

Every Religion needs a Sworn Brotherhood and the many Cults of the Kua Toa are no exception.  These are the creatures who get the ball rolling, the ones who convert and prosleytize in the name of their religion.  This is a task that is much more difficult than what it at first seems, because the Kua Toa exist in a state of perpetual holy war.  Every since the Shattering, the vast majority of their species were cut off from their original pantheon and left to wander the world.  Many of these Kua Toa died without the protection of their institutions or their Gods, surrounded by enemies within and without.  Without their Gods, without their Religion, the Kua Toa found themselves no longer a united people, but a fractured mess of tribes.  Some clung to the old ways, but for those that didn't, it looked like it might be doom for them.

Some of the Kua Toa refused this fate though.  These inspired souls, they would not go quietly into that good night.  For they had an idea.  They had been rejected by the old Watery Gods, so they would find new Divine Protectors.  Each of these inspired Kua Toa took to the streets, preaching and prosleytizing their own religion.  They drew other Kua to themselves, forming communities around these nascent religions.  Within a few years, hundreds of small cults had grown up in the ruin of the old Empire.  Within a decade, thousands had formed.  And now, so many, many years later, the number is countless.  Every Kua Toa who is not among the remnant that clung fast to the old ways is now part of some minor cult.  These cults are locked in a struggle with each other and with outsiders, each one struggling to assert themselves over the others.

And the Kua Toa Priests are the ones on the tip of that metaphysical spear.  While they do not fight on the front lines, they do often act as the leaders, usually holding powers both secular and spiritual.  They are the ones who convert others and lead their cult, directing its movements.  All the other members of a Kua Cult can die, but if the Priest survives, the Cult can be rebuilt.  It will take years, but it can be done.  But if the Priest is dead, regardless of a Cult's power, it usually withers and dies, usually being consumed by a rival Kua Cult.  Priests know this and that is why they fight with such terrible ferocity, for they know they are balanced on the knife-edge of oblivion.  There is no middle way for them.  They will win or they will die. 

Statblock:

Kua Toa Priest
HD 3  AC 13   Atk Trident [Throwable] (+3, 1d6/1d6)
Mor 7      Saves 9 or less is a success

Water Breather: Kua Toa can breathe water as well as air.  They suffer no penalties from breathing air.

Strong Swimmer: Kua Toa are powerful swimmers, easily faster in the water than any non-aquatic creature.  In water, they are just slightly slower than a horse's canter.

God Seed: If this creatures dies and its soul was not sworn to a pre-existing Godlet, God or other entity, then its loose life energy has a chance equal to its (HD)-in-10 of summoning/creating a new Godlet.  Treat this Godlet as per a Godlet with an empty Pool of Power in diffused form.  To see what it can do and what it appears as, roll on the tables below.

Proclaim: Anyone who listens to a sermon or speech by this Kua Toa takes 1d6 WIS damage, no save.  Covering your ears as an action or making noises to drown out the sound as an action prevents this WIS damage.  If the WIS damage taken this way ever equals or exceeds a creature's WIS score, the creature has his WIS returned to normal and gains a Conviction based on the speech he just heard.

Spellcaster: Kua Toa Priests have innate spellcasting abilities.  They know 3 spells and can cast them with no chance of triggering Chaos.  The Priests must still power their spells with life energy though, having three spellcasting dice that burn out on a 5 or 6. 

Tactics:
- Never fight fair
- Target weaknesses ruthlessly
- Surviving is the ultimate objective, your followers are mostly expendable   

                                                       source unknown

Kua Toa Monitor

The Kua Toa are ruled by their Priests, but their Cults could not survive without the protection of the Monitors.  Kua Toa Monitors are among the most mortal powerful warriors from the Blue World.  They possess unparalleled physical abilities and martial techniques that shame all but the most skilled of land-dwellers.  They are Fist Art users, heirs of an ancient tradition going back thousands of years.  Along with their techniques, Monitors also possess incredible Chi that enhances the speed of their movements, reactions and actions.  The weakest of Monitors is merely an expert combatant, but the greatest of their kind rival the great Magical Beasts. 

Monitors are trained in Fist Arts, but they are closer to Paladins than Fighting Men or Monks.  They draw power from outside of themselves, but they are still plenty strong by themselves.

Statblock:

Kua Toa Monitor
HD 1d4+2  AC 16  Atk Unarmed Strike (+4, 1d8/1d8)
Mor 9     Saves (5+HD) or less is a success

Water Breather: Kua Toa can breathe water as well as air.  They suffer no penalties from breathing air.

Astounding Swimmer: Kua Toa Monitors are amazing swimmers, easily faster in the water than any non-aquatic creature.  They can even keep up with fast moving boats and chase down marlins. 

God Seed: If this creatures dies and its soul was not sworn to a pre-existing Godlet, God or other entity, then its loose life energy has a chance equal to its (HD)-in-10 of summoning/creating a new Godlet.  Treat this Godlet as per a Godlet with an empty Pool of Power in diffused form.  To see what it can do and what it appears as, roll on the tables below.

Proclaim: Anyone who listens to a sermon or speech by this Kua Toa takes 1d6 WIS damage, no save.  Covering your ears as an action or making noises to drown out the sound as an action prevents this WIS damage.  If the WIS damage taken this way ever equals or exceeds a creature's WIS score, the creature has his WIS returned to normal and gains a Conviction based on the speech he just heard.

Quick on their Feet: Kua Toa Monitors are able to run and change directions incredibly quickly.  For purposes of changing directions, dodging out of the way of things and performing other acrobatic stunts, Monitors have a DEX of 17(+2).  Add this bonus to any initiative contests the Monitor is in.  Finally, Monitors are powerful jumpers and are able to easily leap up to 20 feet into the air, or up to ten feet into the air if they leap out of water.

Counter: Kua Toa may reduce the damage of two attacks per round by 1d8.  They may do this against ranged attacks as well, but only against things that something that could be conceivably be caught by someone, such as an arrow.  They could not catch a bullet unless they had additional magical items or protection.  Additionally, if a Kua Toa reduces someone's melee attack to zero damage, the Monitor may force that creature to save.  On a failed save, the Monitor may disarm the creature, temporarily disable that limb or appendage, or throw that creature.  On a successful save, the creature merely takes the difference in rolls as damage, but is otherwise unaffected.

Special Training: All Kua Toa Monitors have special techniques that make them unique among their kind.  To see which technique this Monitor has, roll on the Soldier of the Sea table below.

Tactics:
- Target the weakest
- Attack then retreat
- Never sacrifice yourself

Soldier of the Sea
1d6
1- This Kua Toa Monitor can blast waves of water from its fists when it makes unarmed strikes.  These can be used to do normal damage against creatures within 30', or the Monitor can choose that these blasts of water do no damage but instead freeze upon impact, trapping the creature(s) hit in ice.  A creature hit with one blast is half-frozen in ice and has half their body trapped, while a creature hit by two is totally trapped in ice.
2- This Kua Toa Monitor can create blades of ice on his fists, allowing him to deal sharp instead of blunt damage.  Also, every 1d4 rounds he can create a cloud of ice shurikens that do 3d6 damage against everyone in a 30' cone, save for half.
3- This Kua Toa Monitor can, as an action, create whirlpools in water and vortexes in air.  These vortexes or whirlpools suck in everything within 30' and slam it into the other things it has sucked in, doing 4d6 damage, divided evenly among the creatures dragged into the whirlpool or vortex.  You avoid being sucked in by succeeding a STR Saving throw.  Also, if it is a whirlpool, unless you can breathe water there is a good chance of drowning. 
4- This Kua Toa Monitor can control the natural electrical currents flowing through his body and upon hitting someone, can deal an extra 1d6 electrical damage and force that creature to save.  On a failed save, that creature is paralyzed as long as the Monitor can maintain physical contact with it.  The Monitor may also choose to do a free 1d6 electrical damage to the creature on its turn, as long as it sacrifices one unarmed strike and maintains physical contact.
5- This Kua Toa Monitor can, as an action, heat the water around his fists, feet, elbows or knees causing the area to be surrounded by steam.  It takes an action to heat the water around his appendages with his chi and the obvious danger posed by such blows causes him to make them with a +2 bonus, with the bonus damage not contributing to his damage roll.  However, on a hit, the target takes an additional +2d6 fire damage as the steam sears its flesh.
6- This Kua Toa Monitor is a master of the Vacuum Punch, the Master Technique for Kua Toa Karate.

                                                by Fallonart

Godlet

The Kua Toa are a cursed people.  Because of their sins, no God will touch them and even most Outsiders find them distasteful.  Spiritually, the Kua Toa are homeless.  But they have not taken this fact sitting down.  The Kua Toa have attempted to remedy this situation through their cults and priests and of course, through their "Gods".  For you see, whenever there are a group of people in a desperate situation, they will always attract opportunists.  The Shattering of the Kua Toa nation was no exception.

The Priests of these new Cults were generally not the instigators of trying to form these new religions, these came from the small spirits that infected the Priests.  These small spirits were weaker than Outsiders, little stronger than spells.  They would be the spiritual equivalent of buzzards or carrion eaters, lowly creatures who can only feed off the ruin and suffering of others.  And in the Kua Toa, they have found a feast.

These creatures, which I will henceforth be calling Godlets, have grown fat and mighty thanks to their fishy subjects.  The only problem is the obvious one- they need more.  Not just because of ambition or greed, but because of the Godlet's very nature.  They were originally small, frail spirits who have grown in size and majesty in proportion to the number of souls they have feasted on.  But they were only ever able to achieve that size because of the amount of life energy they consumed. That energy is the only thing keeping them as they are, were they to be cut off, the Godlets would shrink back down to become tiny, insignificant spirits.  This is a fate they are desperate to avoid, having finally tasted glory.  As such, the Godlets pursue more souls with a feverish intensity.  They also guard the souls they do possess for the same reasons.

Statblock:

Base Godlet
HD X    AC 10    Atk (+1, 1dX, 1dX) or Power
Mor 7   Saves X or less is a success (or 7, if X<7)

Variable HP: Godlets have variable HP.  To determine how much HD a Godlet currently has, roll on the Cult Size/Cult Fatality Table below.

Variable Strength: Godlets do a varying amount of damage based on the amount of life energy they have consumed.  Roll on the Cult Size/Cult Fatality Table below.

Materialization: Godlets are small spirits that can exist in a diffused state or a materialized state.  While in a diffused State they are immaterial and cannot affect the physical world, but they only be seen with someone who is using Sight Beyond Sight.  Additionally, in their diffused state, they can immediately tell if one of their subjects has died, as long as that subject has sworn his soul to the Godlet.  In contrast, in their materialized form, a Godlet can interact with physical objects and use their Power to affect the world or creatures that are not pure spirit.  Godlets can materialize as a full action but de-materialize and return to their diffused state as a free action.  If a Godlet is killed in its materialized form, it dies permanently.

Pool of Power: Godlets have pools of power that they use to keep themselves functioning.  These pools consist of d8s that the Godlet has gotten from their followers dying or from those who were sacrificed to the Godlet, with 1 HD giving the Godlet 1 d8.  These d8s are used up whenever the Godlet uses them for anything.  The Godlet must also use some of their d8s to remain in this world.  For each round of combat they participate in or each hour they are physically present in the world, they must sacrifice one d8.  Additionally, if the Godlet runs out of d8s and their pool is empty, the Godlet cannot use their power anymore.  They also have a choice.  If they remain in their materialized form, they will be trapped in a 1 HD body with no powers or abilities and 8 HP.  Each hour they remain in this body, they lose 1 HP as their body begins falling apart.  They die when they hit zero HP.  You can also kill them.  They can leave the body as a free action.

If they leave their powerless vessel and return to the Plane of Spirit, they will immediately be brought to the location of the nearest surviving group of people whose souls have been sworn to them.  If there are no such people though, all having perished or renounced their religion and Godlet, the Godlet is immediately banished from this plane of existence and returns to the Spirit World.   

Power: All Godlets have a special Power.  Roll on the Pseudo-Divine Power Table to see what it is. 

Proclaim: Anyone who listens to a sermon or speech by this Godlet takes 1d6 WIS damage, no save.  Covering your ears as an action or making noises to drown out the sound as an action prevents this WIS damage.  If the WIS damage taken this way ever equals or exceeds a creature's WIS score, the creature has his WIS returned to normal and gains a Conviction based on the speech he just heard.

Tactics:
- Always pretend to be stronger than you are
- Try to convert people
- Fight lazily, with the least amount of effort possible

To create your own Godlet, roll on the tables belows.

Cult Size/Cult Fatality Table
1d4
1- Tiny.  The Cult is likely composed of only a few households, their kinsmen and their neighbors.  You'd likely never even notice this Cult, unless you live right next door.  If in the wilderness, inhabits a tiny, remote village.  If in an urbanized area, is sheltered within an otherwise unremarkable organization.  The Godlet has 3 HD, an attack bonus of +0, its attacks do 1d6 damage and it has 2d8 in its Pool of Power.  It has the Power to spend 1d8  from its Pool to regenerate 1 HD and 1 additional Power. Roll once on the Pseudo-Divine Power Table.  
2- Small.  This Cult is small, easily managable.  It is composed of a few dozen families or the majority of a small town.  The Cult is too large to easily hide, but as long as the local authorities don't get involved, the Cult dominates everything within its immediate vicinity.  The Godlet has 5 HD, an attack bonus of +1, its attacks do 1d8 damage and it has 4d8 in its Pool of Power.  It has the Power to spend 1d8 from its Pool to regenerate 1 HD and 2 additional Powers. Roll once on the Pseudo-Divine Power Table.  
3- Worrisome.  This Cult is large enough that the local authorities are definitely aware and if they aren't completely inept , corrupt or in on it, they know.  However, they don't want to move aggressively against the Cult, as the potential damage the Cult could do would be quite high.  A group of roguish outsiders with no ties suddenly intruding into delicate situation could easily be a disaster, or they could save the day.  Regardless, the situation is a tinderbox.  The Godlet has 7 HD, an attack bonus of +2, its attacks do 1d10 damage and it has 6d8 in its Pool of Power.  It has the Power to spend 1d8 from its Pool to regenerate 1 HD and 1d4 additional Powers. Roll once on the Pseudo-Divine Power Table.     
4- Big.  This Cult has hundreds of members or more and dominates every reasonably large institution in the area.  It may be a secret, open or otherwise, but even if its not widely known, people realize that they are under new management.  This Cult is easily large enough to dominate a small geographic region, an island or a city-state.  The local institutions that could have stopped the Cult are either in the hands of Cult members or the magistrates are being black-mailed or threatened into standinb by.  The Godlet has 9 HD, an attack bonus of +3, its attacks do 1d12 damage and it has 8d8 in its Pool of Power.  It has the Power to spend 1d8 from its Pool to regenerate 1 HD and 1d6 additional Powers. Roll once on the Pseudo-Divine Power Table.

Pseudo-Divine Power Table
1d20
1- Heat Vision.  The Godlet can fire lasers from its eyes.  It can make up to 2 attacks with its laser vision, each one costing 1d8 and doing an equivalent amount of fire damage.  The Godlet can target one creature with both attacks or two adjacent creatures, but both lasers require a separate attack roll.
2- Animating the Dead.  The Godlet can spend any number of d8s it wants to animate a corpse and raise it as a X HD Undead, where X is the amount of d8s the Godlet spent.  This Undead does not have any particular loyalty to the Godlet and is not under its control.
3- Healing.  The Godlet can spend any number of d8s it wants to heal a creature up to Xd8.
4- Sight Beyond Sight.  The Godlet can spend 1d8 to give itself Sight Beyond Sight for 1 minute.
5- Awaken Animals.  The Godlet can Awaken a plant or animal for 1d8, as per the Awaken spell.
6- Animate Objects.  The Godlet can animate objects as per the Soul of Things spell.
7- Fists of Lightning.  The Godlet can, upon a hit or when touching someone, spend 1d8 to deal 1d8 electrical damage to that creature. 
8- Create Ice.  The Godlet can create a structure of ice by spending an equivalent amount of d8.  Creating a square foot requires 1d8, a wall requires 2d8, a cage or large pillar 3d8 and anything larger is up to the Referee's discretion. 
9- Create Illusions.  The Godlet can spend 1d8 to create an illusion up to the size of a horse that lasts for 1 minute.  This illusion is merely visual, but for an additional 1d8 per extra effect, the Godlet can add an additional sense the illusion affects, such as giving it a smell, letting it make sound, or extending the time limit by 1 minute.
10- Telekinesis.  The Godlet can, by spending 1d8, move an object no heavier than an apple as if it was being manipulated by the Godlet's hand.  The Godlet can only throw it as hard as the Godlet itself could.  The Godlet can spend an additional 1d8 to increase the size of an object from an apple to a person (2d8), a horse (3d8) or something larger (Referee's discretion).
11- Fly.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can fly for 1 minute.
12- Control Fire.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can either blast a bolt of fire at a creature or create a wall of fire.  If the former, the Godlet must make an attack roll.  On a hit, the target takes 1d8 fire damage.  If the latter, the wall of fire deals 1d8 damage to anyone within 5' and anyone who touches it takes the same amount of damage, plus the damage from being that close to the wall of fire.  The wall of fire can be kept up as long as the Godlet desires, but requires 1d8 a round to remain where it is. 
13- Control Water.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can either blast a wave of water at someone or create a bubble of water around a creature.  If the former, the Godlet must succeed on an attack roll and the creature takes 1d8 damage and must succeed a STR saving throw or be knocked prone.  If the latter, the Godlet must spend 1d8 a round to keep the bubble of water around someone in existence and the person takes no damage, but immediately begins suffering all the difficulties of being underwater.   
14- Control Earth.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can erect a small structure of earth or move up 1 cubic feet of earth as an action.  By spending additional dice, the Godlet can create larger structures or move more earth.  Consult the Create Ice Power for numbers on how much would be needed.
15- Control Air.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can blast a wave of air at one creature within 50' or all creatures within 10'. Any creature hit by this ability must succeed a STR saving throw or be knocked prone.
16- Control Metal.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can control 1 piece or object made of metal for 1 minute.  It can steal your swords or make your armor try to pull you into a body of water, or it could make your buttons fly off and try to blind you.
17- Harden Flesh.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can make its flesh hard as steel and unable to affected by anything that could not harm a metal statue for 1 minute.  Note that the Godlet is not literally made of metal when this effect is active though, but they are slower and heavier, with a -1d8 penalty to DEX checks, DEX saving throws and attack rolls.  The Godlet can also end this effect at any time. 
18- Enhance Strength.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can gain a +1d8 bonus to a damage roll or a check or saving throw based on STR.
19- Enhance Speed.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can move up 1d8 slots in the initiative order or gain a +1d8 bonus to any check or saving throw based on DEX.
20- Turn Immaterial.  By spending 1d8, the Godlet can turn its body immaterial for 1 minute.  It may pass through solid objects and cannot be affected by non-magical damage for the duration.  It also cannot affect anything non-magical during this time.
      
What does the Godlet look like?

All Godlets look like bestial or distorted versions of the last thing the Kua Toa saw, plus...

1d8
1- 1d8 Tentacles
2- 1d10 Eyes
3- Gills
4- It constantly drips blood!
5- It is wounded.  This wound is obvious and never heals.  This wound has a 50% chance of being decorative and an equal chance of being a weakspot.
6- It is pereptually surrounded by a glowing aura.
7- It is covered in quills or spines.
8- If it has eyes, they glow!  If it doesn't, light emerges from whatever orifices or openings a normal version of that person or object would have had.

Does this Godlet have any Rivals?

1d3
1- No, this current Cult is dedicated to it alone.
2- Yes.  There are two Godlets in this area.  These Godlets have a 50% of being allies and being worshiped together or an equivalent chance of being locked in a dualistic struggle.  If the latter, the Cult is actually two Cults fighting a shadow war against each other, the two Godlets trying to overpower each other through proxies.  They are avoiding direct conflict for now, but they will fight personally if the conflict grows desperate or they believe total victory is within their grasp.
3- Yes.  There are 1d4 Godlets in this area.  Each of the Godlets has a 50% of despising any of the other Godlets and an equal chance of loving them.  Gods that are fond of each other will be allies, Gods that hate each other will be enemies.  If a God finds that they hate a God who loves them but they also have other Gods they hate, they will usually allow the one that loves them to continue existing. 

                                                           from the Dungeons and Dragons wiki

Friday, October 18, 2019

OSR: Fighting Man Secret Techniques 2: Fist Art Edition

So I came up with some more Secret Techniques for my Fighting Men.  And to save myself the formatting and editing needed for one of my longer posts, I decided to split the post into sections, with the Fist Arts in this one and the the Weapon Arts in the other.  I also decided to do this because coming up with Weapon Arts is harder than coming up with cool new types of magical kung fu, in my opinion.

                                                   from Grappler Baki

Heracles Handbook

The Heracles Handbook is only a school in the technical sense.  It has no hierarchy, no central organization, nor even a dedicated community of people.  It tends to only be practiced by violent loners or social misfits.  Most don't know of its existence, but the effects of it are seen by all who encounter one of its adherents.  It all starts with a book.  The book details a series of mental exercises, a dietary plan and a training regiment.  The exercises are difficult, the dietary plan is strict and expensive to follow and the training regiment is absolutely brutal.  Most, upon seeing one of these things, set the book down and disregard it.  But if you follow the instructions within and do them properly, you will begin undergoing changes.  You will find yourself putting on incredible amounts of muscles, your senses improving and your ability to endure pain increasing.  You will be transformed into a paragon of strength, an astounding physical specimen.  This insane strength is how the readers of the Handbook fight- unless they were warriors before, which most aren't, they fight savagely but somewhat ineptly.  They are strong and fast and tough, so in most cases, they win.  When you can break a man's hand by crushing your fist and throw him through a wall, skill doesn't usually matter.
  
Novice: "There are two types of Strength- that of the mind and that of the body."  Your STR is boosted to 15, unless it is already higher.  Your unarmed Strikes do 1d6+STR damage.

Journeyman:  "If you see an opportunity, seize it and do not let it go."  Your STR goes up by 1 point.  If you grapple someone, you can do 1d6 damage to them per round, as long as you use your action to keep grappling with them.

Expert:  "The giants pay no attention to the smallfolk."  Your STR goes up by 1 point.  You can grapple up to 2 creatures at once, as long as neither has a higher STR score than you.

Master:  "In all ages, the strong have ruled.  For you, the decision is simple.  What side are you on?"  Your STR goes up by 1 point.  If you have grappled someone, you can throw them if they cannot defeat you in a contest of STR.  When someone is thrown by you, they fly a number of feet equal to your STR modifier*10, unless theh hit something.  If they hit something they take 1d6 damage per 10' thrown.  If they hit someone, they take half damage and the other person takes the other half.


Serpent's Style


The Serpent's Style has a million different names and a dozen regional variations, but it has always remained at its heart, the Serpent's Style.  The true origins of this school have been lost to history, but most adherents believe that the original style was created by the half-mythic Prince of Killers, the first ruler of the Assassin Nation.  The Prince supposedly got the idea from a combination of watching Priests ritually purifying themselves to speak to the Gods and how snakes hunted.  These studies eventually led to the Prince inventing a martial style based around using stealth, sensing an opponent's chi and detecting their weaknesses, then striking with overwhelming force.  And even if that story isn't true, the Serpent's Style is undoubtably real and highly effective, so much so that it spread to many lands, with hired killers all across the world practicing this Fist Art. 

Novice:  "Even in the darkness, the serpent is not fooled."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6 damage.  You also gain the ability to sense the chi of others.  You gain a bonus equal to the levels of technique you have in the Serpent's Style to detecting people who are observing you, following you or nearby.  You also have an X-in-6 chance of detecting unseen opponents and being able to avoid a surprise round.  For example, if you are a Journeyman in the Serpent's Style and are about to enter a seemingly empty room, but unbeknowest to you, there are two Kobolds with acid flasks hiding under the couch, you have a 2-in-6 chance of detecting the Kobolds' presences before you enter.

Journeyman:  "The serpent is not hardy, so it makes its strikes count."  If you hit someone who is surprised by you with an unarmed strike, you do an additional +1d6 damage.

Expert:  "There is a reason why men do not tread confidently in the dark."  As an action, you can hide your chi.  This gives you a +X bonus to stealth rolls, where X is equal to the levels of technique you have in the Serpent's Style.

Master:  "If you can only make one attack, make it count."  As an action, you can study a creature for a certain amount of time.  Once this time has elapsed, that creature is forced to make a saving throw.  On a failed save, the creature's weakness is revealed to you.  Referees should give the creature being observed certain penalties, based on how obvious the weakspot is or how long the creature is observed.  For example, it would only take a minute or two to find out that the old war veteran who uses a cane has a weak hip, but it might take days to learn that the Dragon has a magical dagger stuck into its armpit that irritates it.  If you find this weakpoint and you successfully strike it, the target creature suffers a penalty equal to their weakspot.  To return to the previous example, the war veteran could fall down and lose a turn, while the Dragon could take a large amount of damage as you rip the magic dagger out of its flesh, reopening that wound.  If your Referee cannot decide, they can roll on the table below.

What happened?
1d4

1- The creature must immediately save or die.  If this option doesn't make any sense, reroll.
2- The creature is knocked prone and any attacks against it by non-prone attackers get a +4 bonus to attack.
3- The creature takes double damage as if it was surprised.  This damage stacks with the usual surprise damage.
4- The creatures must save or lose its next action due to being stunned, immense pain or some other reason. 


Way of the Mountain

The Sisters of Sri Hu Peak are among the hardiest people in all the world.  This all-female order of holy women dedicated themselves to taking spoiled daughters, bastard girls and infertile women and turning them into respectable, pious ladies who could serve the Gods with proper devotion.  However, they began having problems almost immediately.  Since they were a new order and not respected, they were attacked and robbed several times.  To try and combat this, they ordered all the sisters to get rid of anything valuable and give it to the poor, so that no one would attack them.  This did stop the robbers, but it did not prevent the suitors and the kidnappers from attempting to rescue or kidnap sisters from the order's compound.  The order retreated to Sri Hu Peak, but this was only a temporary solution, as some criminals and rough men still came up the mountain- and these ones were far more determined than the ones who attempted to attack the order when it was in the lowlands.  Finally, after one of the order's founding sisters was attacked by a band of unscrupulous adventurers, the order set itself to creating a martial style to suit their order and training their sisters in it.  Eventually, after consulting dozens of experts and experimenting for many months, the rudiments of a style began to form.  The Way of the Mountain is a primarily defensive style, training its adherents how to redirect the force of an enemy's blows and to use an opponent's strength against them. 

Novice:  "The Mountains seem static, but that is only because you are not heavy enough to disturb them."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d8 damage.  You can parry 1 attack per round, reducing its damage by 1d8. 

Journeyman:  "Cling to your opponent like a babe to its mother's breast and he will have difficulty."  If you parry an attack and reduce the damage to zero, you can grapple the person who made it.  This grappling does not require an additional check.

Expert:  "Stones are not dead, but sleeping.  Listen closely and you can hear them humming the music of the Earth."  You can parry 1d10 damage.  If you reduce the damage if an attack to zero, you can force that enemy to save.  On a failed save, you can disable one one of the opponent's limbs, dislocating it.  To put it back into its place requires an action and occasionally, help from another creature.

Master:  "An avalanche is never expected."  When attacked, once per round, you may ignore and opponent's attack roll and roll your parry die.  If your parry die exceeds his damage roll, your opponent takes the damage you rolled on your parry die as you preemptively attack them. 


Monkey's Fist

While traditionalists insist that this style was invented by a traveling naturalist who studied the hunting tactics of monkey-rats, most of the reformed branch of this school believe the Monkey's Fist was a series of techniques developed by brawlers and street level enforcers in the soggy, steaming cities of the North, where smuggling and syndicates are a way of life.  The Monkey's Fist reflects these humble origins, along with a criminal enforcer's contempt for honor or fair play.  Monkey's Fist is a style based around weakening an opponent's counter attack and is best used when you have back-up, as after you weaken an opponent's position, your allies can immediately rush them.  That being said, don't underestimate a lone Monkey's Fist user.

Novice:  "Dancing and fighting have many similarities.  The first?  Mind your footing."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6+STR.  You also learn how to make an attack called a leg sweep, which does no damage on a hit but instead knocks an opponent prone.

Journeyman:  "It is better to win in 10 safe moves than two risky ones."  As an action, you can throw a punch at someone that does half damage and forces the target to save.  On a failed save, the target is rattled and gets -1d6 to their next attack.

Expert:  "In a fight, as in life, never be afraid to let someone else take the lead."  You may take an action to take a defensive stance.  If an opponent attacks you while you have taken this stance, you may grapple the opponent if he successfully hits you, or if he misses, trip him up and knock him prone.  In the case where he hits you, you still take damage as per normal.

Master:  "A fighter is only as strong as his biggest weakness."  As an action, you can throw a punch that if it hits, forces someone to save.  On a failure, this punch paralyzes the creature, forcing it to save of pass out.  Creatures with an AC of 15 or over or natural armor get a +4 bonus to this saving throw.


Thunderhead

The Thunderhead Fist Art is a killing school.  It teaches its adherents how to focus their chi and then release it in explosive bursts, letting them move with frightening speed, darting across the battlefield to crush their enemies beneath rapier-swift, blindingly precise blows.  It is a scary and spectacular sight, watching so many thinking, breathing creatures be reduced to broken shells in between breaths.  This is the ugly truth of the school, but the adherents of Thunderhead are taught not to think about it that way.  Their masters make sure to inform all the students that there is no difference between wielding a sword and training the body, except that you can be deprived of a sword, but only death can deprive you of your body.  They also emphasize that the Thunderhead school can be used to protect people as well and that all the students are free agents, who do not sacrifice their moral agency when they agreed to come here.  Sometimes, the students can even believe it.  The Thunderhead school flourishes in regions wracked by conflict, war or disorder.  It tends to stagnate or even wither in peaceful lands.   

Novice:  "There is no such thing as distance."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6 damage.  You also gain a resource called a Lighting Point: you start with 1.  You may spend this lightning point at the beginning of any combat to act before any other creature, unless a creature there has preternatural speed.  You recover Lightning Points by killing a creature of at least 1 HD with your bare hands.

Journeyman:  "Your flesh will try to limit you, do not permit this intrusion."  You gain 1 additional Lightning Point.  If you spend 1 Lightning Point, you can reroll the damage you rolled on any successful attack.

Expert:  "The fish's scales protect him from others of his kind, but do nothing against the eagle's talons."  You gain 1 additional Lightning Point.  If you spend 1 Lightning Point, you may subtract your damage roll from an opponent's attack or defense roll, to enable you to hit them better or avoid being hit.

Master:  "The Mamba can bite an enemy up to seven times, even though once can be fatal."  You gain 1 additional Lightning Point.  If you spend 1 Lightning Point, you may make an additional attack this turn.


Drunken Boxing

This discipline is another with unclear origins.  It is usually taught by lone, wandering masters who have no fixed addresses.  And most of these masters credit their master with teaching them, but few know who taught their masters and none know who their master's master was.  True origins aside, Drunken Boxing is a perfectly respectable school, though its adherents do their best to conceal this fact.  Drunken Boxing is the concealed dagger of the Fist Arts, its adherents counting on being underestimated as common fools or drunkards.  This can mean that if you are aware of Drunken Boxing, you can deprive them of that crucial edge.  However, don't underestimate them, Drunken Boxing is still capable of working if both fighter and opponent are stone cold sober.

Novice:  "Never pretend to be stronger than you are."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6+STR damage.  You can also, as an action, assume a rolling, stumbling gait that gives you a +X bonus to AC, where X is your level of knowledge in Drunken Boxing.  This AC bonus lasts until your next action. 

Journeyman:  "You can only defend against an approach you see coming."  As an action, you can dodge past or under someone, as long as it is physically possible.

Expert:  "Steel is harder than clay, yet when fired, steel melts and clay becomes stronger."  Once per round, you can blunt damage by rolling with a punch or a blow, reducing it by 1d6+CON damage.  You can only do this against a blow that does sharp, bludgeoning or some other type of damage that could be reduced by allowing it to wash over you.  Referee's discretion applies. 

Master:  "The fool assumes nothing can hurt him, the wise that all can."  As an action, you can make a special unarmed strike that does 2d6+STR damage, but has a -1d6 penalty to attack.


Kua Toa Karate

The Kua Toa are a race of mad priests and sane cultists from the depths of the Blue World.  They are also one of the few species of intelligent, aquatic creatures who can also live on land.  As such, in ages past they ruled over many island nations and river deltas.  This was long ago and many of the cultural artifacts left behind have been so assimilated into those previously conquered cultures that the true origin of these customs has been forgotten.  The one exception is that is their martial arts.  Kua Toa Karate is a pale shadow of the Kua Toa's true Fist Art.  Yet even despite that, it is still a fearsome Art.  Kua Toa Karate is an art that has been heavily modified for use above water and as such, it has necessarily changed.  It is now an Art focused on defense and counter attacks.  This is a task that it does very well, though its lack of strong offensive techniques and foreign origin is often a source of embarrassment for its adherents.

Novice:  "Fight on your own terms and you will never be outmaneuvered."  Your unarmed strikes do 1d8 damage.  You also take no penalty for using your unarmed strikes underwater.

Journeyman:  "If Heaven chose to give you eyes, you might as well use them."  If you take an action to watch an opponent, you get a +X bonus to AC to avoid that opponent's next attack.  If you are underwater, this bonus doubles.

Expert:  "The predator watches twice as hard as his prey."  When you use the Journeyman ability to watch an opponent, if je misses when he makes an attack against you, you may immediately make an attack against that creature.

Master:  "Choose the ground upon which you fight and your victory will never be in question."  You can throw a punch that releases a wave of chi that blows away all fluids with 1d8*10'.  Underwater this creates a pocket of air that lasts for 1d6 rounds and above water this creates a vacuum that lasts for the same amount of time.  This wave of chi also blows away Oozes, as well as Water and Air Elementals.  You may only use this ability once per day.


Way of the Hermit

The Way of the Hermit is an ancient Art, originally created to combat the enemies of life.  It is an Art that works by teachings its adherents how to store the power of the Sun in their bodies and then, in a single, dazzling rush to unleash it. This power is known to its practitioners as the Ripple, or Hamon.  Against the living, Hamon will melt flesh like tallow and induce terrible pain, but against the Undead, the true power of Hamon is revealed.  Hamon utterly destroys the Undead, burning their bodies to dust with a mere touch.  For this reason, some of the most capable Witch-Hunters in the world are not Wizards, but Hamon Masters- who are capable of reducing even the most powerful of corpse-warriors to dust with a single punch.

Novice:  "My heart resonates, heat enough to burn, my blood's beat is razor sharp!"  Your unarmed strikes do 1d6 damage.  You start with 1 Hamon Dice.  You may spend 1 Hamon Die to do +1d6 sunlight damage to any creature you hit.  Against Undead or creatures vulnerable to sunlight, this does an additional +1d6 damage, so the bonus damage is +2d6.  You recover Hamon Dice by being in sunlight for up to 1 hour.

Journeyman:  "The last thing I need right now is listening to trash like you, let alone being touched by you. But if you want to embrace me, feel free to try… as long as you don’t mind a painful demise."  You get 1 additional Hamon Dice.  You can send Hamon Ripples through an object or creature without harming that creature or object.

Expert:  "True I knocked the air from his lungs, but he'll thank me for it later."  You get 1 additional Hamon Die.  You can heal a creature up to 2d6 FS or 1d6 HP by spending an equivalent number of Hamon Dice.

Master:  "Impossible? We did a lot of impossible things on this journey. I’m tired of hearing that things are impossible or useless. Those words mean nothing to us."  You get 1 additional Hamon Die.  You may jellify up to 1 square foot of water for 1 minute or until you release it.  This temporarily changes the water to a consistency similar to rubber.  You may use this to walk on water, stop water from flowing, or anything else your Referee agrees to.  If you jellify the water in someone's blood stream this causes them to save or die because of the heart attack this can cause.

                                        from The Strange Talent of Luthor Strode


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

OSR: Durama

The Handsome Men are a democratic society.  They have no central leadership, but instead are split into competing confederations of where all within pursue their own goals and desires.  The only time these confederations fully band together is when they are faced with an outside threat, otherwise the Handsome Men act in their own self-interest, within their confederations and without.

The Handsome Men claim to have created a society without rulers, but this is not true.  The Handsome Society has elites, it's just that those elites do not exercise the traditional duties of elites.  They do not shepherd their people but instead feign equality with them.  Power in the Handsome Society is hidden, yet still makes its presence known.  The Handsome Society is held together through an iron-clad group consensus and strict group-think.  There are very clear borders of what is acceptable thought and what is not.

The Handsome Men are to always conduct themselves with grace and civility and are to never acknowledge anything evil, ugly or unsavory.  The lower parts of society must follow these standards when the Handsome Men are nearby, but when they are gone, they can be gross and unpleasant as they like.  They have fewer rights, but this is one of the few prerogatives they are permitted.  The Handsome Men do not share this privilege.  They are prohibited from every relaxing their guard, except on the rarest of occasions.  They must continually be Handsome. 

Perhaps the reason why so many Handsome Men are a little mad is because even they cannot withstand that much social pressure
forever.  Their peculiarities, obsessions, bizarre fixations even their temper tantrums and dark appetite for violence are all coping mechanisms to help them endure atop the hierarchical prison they have locked themselves inside.

But in every system, there will be those who reject that system to go their own way.  These are the Durama.

                                                         by astri-lohne

The Durama are those Handsome Men who reject their society's norms and strike out on their own to make their own lives.  These Durama usually have to travel a long way to find a safe haven, as they must escape the Handsome Men, they cannot join another existing society which will almost certainly not approve of their lifestyle and they cannot just head into the wilderness, as the Folk will not tolerate any intrusion into the wilderness, especially if it is by a Handsome Man, even one that has rejected some of their society's presuppositions and beliefs.  Perhaps it is no surprise that many of the Durama end up in the Veins of the Earth.  These aren't the only place they end up, but it is the most common.

So why did this particular Durama end up where they are?

1d6
1- Liberal.  He thought that the system of racial hierarchy was unjust and should be reformed.  He likely tried to change the system from within at first and after the tensions ramped up sufficiently, likely had to avoid at least one assassination attempt.  In the end, he had to flee for his life.
2- Deviant.  She thought that the Handsome Society's mores on some particular issue were unjust or immoral and rebelled against them.  She was summarily encouraged to stop and when she refused, she would have chastised repeatedly, until eventually she either left of her own accord or was expelled.  But nowhere could she find safe refuge but here. 
3- Expatriate.  He was a Handsome Man who willingly left.  Maybe he just found the Handsome Society stifling, or maybe he saw opportunities elsewhere.  Regardless, one night he packed up and left, never to be seen again.
4- Exile.  She was thrown out of Handsome Society.  She committed some crime that exile to the countryside or the frontier would not be a sufficient punishment.  She was instead banned from the the lands of the Handsome Men forever and ordered never to return, upon penalty of death.  It was a threat that she was right to take seriously.
5- Traitor.  Maybe he disliked something about his Society so he sought to change it through any means necessary, or maybe he decided that his society was evil and wanted to destroy it.  Regardless, he definitely left of his own accord, probably out of fear for his life.
6- Dangerous.  She was a screwball, a degenerate, a deceiver or something worse.  Something just wasn't quite right with her. Even with the broad latitude granted to the Handsome Men and the large amount of eccentricity from them that will be tolerated, she still overstepped the bounds.  She likely left willingly, either because she didn't want to face the consequences of her action or because she wanted to be able to continue her dangerous behavior in a new environment. 

What are they like?

The Durama generally think of themselves as righteous, rebelling against a system that is equal parts stupid and immoral.  Yet the Handsome Men, and the Durama, for all their glory, are still shaped by the culture they once inhabited.  So most Durama do not actually end up living that differently than Handsome Men, instead they practice a type of anticonformity, following the inverse, or perceived inverse of what the Handsome Men were.  Instead of constantly keeping themselves slick, genteel and beautiful they revel in gross, "icky" or disgusting things.  They were purposely ugly clothes and use their natural magicks to modify their bodies to give themselves deformities, scars or strange appendages.  And while they think of themselves as righteous, they take on the iconography of villains from the myths and stories of the Handsome Men to scare and frighten.  And in those stories, the villain is always less attractive, their physical imperfection outward evidence of their internal faults. 

Also, in general, the Durama do reject most of the folkways of the Handsome Men.  They speak plainly and do not bury the meaning of their speech in euphemisms and endlessly courtesy, they are okay with not always appearing beautiful and while they still use the Handsome Man combat technique of changing into their War Face, ie transforming their bodies into monstrous forms with magic, they don't conceal this fact from others, but do it right in front of people.  The reason why the Handsome Men hide while doing this is because its quite terrible to look at, being both terrifying and disgusting.  It is also extremely painful- for you. 

                                                      by Z-GrimV

What do they look like?

Roll on the table below to see what a particular Durama looks like.

1d20
1- He is covered in glossy fur, though he still has hair on top of his head.  He walks around mostly naked, except for a loincloth.
2- She has curling ram horns.
3- He is covered in fine scales that are flesh-colored and almost indistinguishable from flesh at a distance.
4- She has a tail.  It is 1d4 [1= Long and furry, can be used to grab things; 2= Made of corded muscle, whips people who come up behind her; 3= Thick and covered in overlapping scales, hits like a mace; 4= Thin, lightning quick and tipped with a stinger.]
5- He has 1d4 extra arms.
6- She has razor sharp claws emerging from the tips of her fingertips and from her toes.
7- He has 1d6 extra eyes scattered across his body.
8- She has long, floppy ears.
9- He has potruding teeth that stick out of his mouth.
10- She has bioluminescent skin that can glow various colors, like a comb jellyfish.  She can also switch her luminscence on and off at will.
11- He has a long, barbed tongue.  His throat bulges like a frog's, but when he wishes he can project his tongue out with a force of a stone flung from a sling.  Try not to get hit by it, or he'll put your eye out.
12- She is very alluring at first, but if you look under her skirt, you will see that she has a man's "equipment" as well.  And yes, her's is longer than yours. 
13- He has a large pair of breasts.  If you want to apply this option to a woman instead, she has 1d4 additional breasts besides her first pair.
14- He is totally hairless and utterly pale, white as a blind cave fish.
15- She is very muscular, but her muscles seem to twist and writhe underneath her skin like they're snakes.
16- He has bone blades potruding from various points on his body, namely his wrists, knees, elbows and on the back of his ankles.
17- She has sections of her body where her bones are exposed to the air.
18- His skin is partially translucent.  If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of what is inside him- though it doesn't resemble the innards of any corpse you've ever seen.
19- She has froglike feet and hands.  Can she stick to walls.  Yes, definitely.
20- His skin bubbles and flows like dripping wax or soda from a recently opened can.  Whenever he gets agitated it bubbles more rapidly, bits of him occasionally even breaking off and floating around the room as bubbles. 

What does this Durama transform into to fight?  What is his War Face?

1d6
1- A great, glistening white snake's lower half, with a humanoid upper body.  The humanoid torso has no head though, just a gaping maw in its place.
2- A dark shape, a flash of eye-shine, then it pounces.  The height of a great ape but skinnier, narrower, its fur a blue so dark it is almost black, its face covered in a dozen dark-piercing eyes.
3- A centipedal mass, with dozens of legs emerging from all sides of its torso.  Around its mouth it has a cone of antlers growing from its neck.
4- An enormous insect looking thing, with a hard shell, metallic claws on the end of its legs and the ability to fire blistering rays from its eyes.
5- A skeleton surrounded by glowing, transparent flesh.
6- A giant with rubbery, translucent green flesh.  The giant can transform from a solid to a liquid and back again.

And no, I'm not coming up with 20 of these things.  Use those creative faculties of yours if you need more- and if your players end up irritating more than six Durama, you'll definitely need it.

                                           by miniatureowl from tumblr.com


Who does this Durama rule over?

The Heinous:

These are the Durama equivalent of Elfmen.  Instead of mortals, perfected to be made into little copies of the Handsome Men, each one is hideous and monstrous, a unique work of macabre art, mutilated and altered until they were wonderful in their masters eyes.  Insane and broken, worshiping their masters and trembling with fear once they have gone.  When portraying them, remember that the Heinous should be as pathetic as they are monstrous.

1d6
1- Lily the Cat.  She's a Heinous with cat ears, a slit-mouth smile and dozens of needle teeth crowding her mouth.  Thin, delicate vines wrapped in thorns wind tight around her arms, thighs and torso, constantly piercing her flesh.  She stinks of blood and roses.  Her eyes blaze like gems in torch-light.  She is giggly and constantly upbeat, though she ruthlessly mocks anyone who she suspects or sees acting in a cowardly manner.  She is a masochist.  She is also secretly a coward, though she does not fear the blade or the rod.  She fears the fact that maybe she isn't the perfect little slave she portrays herself as- that maybe there is some hope for her yet.  The idea of someone caring about her, even loving her, it would send her into a rage or into the deepest despair.
2- Mary O'nette.  She's a Heinous with strings tied to her wrists, ankles and head.  The last one is tight, making ehr voice wheezing and her breathing labored.  She has stitches in her flesh, connecting her clothes to her body and her jaw flaps open and closed in a grotesque parody of speech.  She doesn't seem to speak in the normal way, her tongue never moves and her lips never move from the rictus grin she has when her mouth is closed.  The strings attached to her are always vertical, as if she is suspended from wires and being manipulated by an unseen puppeteer, hiding just out of sight.
3- Hunda.  She prefers to be called Bitch, but only when her Master is not around.  She has her lower body removed and replaced with the body of a dog, minus the head.  She has a dog's ears and her face has been stretched out to resemble something like a dog's muzzle.  She constantly whines at the pain, but doesn't dare touch her waist or face.  She's afraid if she scratches them, the stitches might come out. 
4- Li'l Beak.  This Heinous conceals his face behind a plague doctor's mask, staring out through narrow eye-slits.  He has vestigal wings stapled to his back, though he definitely cannot fly with them.  His bones are delicate and his flesh is stretched over his wings so he is oh, so careful, constantly wincing as if he is walking across hot sand in bare feet.
5- Jothu.  This Heinous has a permanent smile and a jolly crown, little bells tinkling to announce his presence.  He makes no sound but for his bells and a soft, pained laughter.  If you turn your light upon him, you will see his small, disfigured eyes and the melted metal of his crown, bonded to him when it was molten and now can never be removed.  You will see where it burned him, where his flesh seared like meat on a spit.  You might feel sorry for him at that point.  You should not. 
6- Rong.  Rong wasn't originally a Heinous.  He was once an Elfman, but the methods the Handsome Men use, while they make you beautiful, they leave you riddled with cancers and a greviously shortened lifespan.  Rong was desperate- he didn't want to die.  When he happened upon a Durama, he begged for help, said he'd do anything.  He did exactly that and the Durama agreed to help him.  These days, Rong is more cancer than man, a disfigured, deformed creature.  He'd like nothing more than to be able to die, but if he does that, it will mean all his sins were for nothing.  He hates that thought almost as much as himself.  So he lives- a shell of his former self.  He will weep when he attacks you and beg your forgiveness as he tries to kill you.

Swords of the Durama
1d8
1- Squidman Swords.  They are pale and white, their pallid bodies smeared with large patches of grey, black or blue.  They wield pairs of shortswords and fight with a dirty, brawling style, stabbing and feinting with terrible speed.  Their fleshy bodies are almost boneless, granting them longer reach and the ability to whip their arms through the air like whips.  Unfortunately, they're also quite fragile.  Tactic: Stab, then retreat.  Avoid being grabbed or trapped in a confined area for any reason.
2- Toad/Frogman Assassins.  If they were taken from the surface, their hides are pale and covered in numerous scrapes and cuts.  They wear almost nothing but for loinclothes and leather harnesses.  They blink at you with liquid eyes, silently begging to be set free, but they dare not say the world.  If they were born below they are absinthe green or brown-black, with ghostly bellies and eyes of cornflower blue or dazzling ruby red.  The latter kind do not beg for release, but croak through their smiles as they advance, daggers clenched in broad, webbed hands.  Tactic: Ambush by sticking to walls or ceiling, drop down or leap up out of the dark.  If there is water nearby, use it.
3- Slugling Spearmen.  Sluglings are adapted surprisingly well to an underground world.  They love the damp and the omnipresent warmth and even if their eyes aren't that good, down here they wouldn't be much use anyway.  Sluglings fight with long spears or hooked bills that can be folded up or extended as an action.  Tactic: Keep the opponent at bay, wait for you to attack, then finish you off with a stab.
4- Spiderling Silkfeet.  The Spiderlings from the surface are distrustful people, but they can be reasoned with.  They have been scorned by many so they keep to themselves, working their looms and tending their fields.  Down here, they are different.  They skitter across the walls and just out of reach of the light, those terrible octets of bottomless eyes watching, studying, waiting.  Then they attack.  Lassos come out of the dark, snare someone and pull them away.  You can pursue, but beware the nets.  Once you are tangled up and restrained, they will come with spears and run you through.  Then they will cocoon you and inject you with venom.  Once your insides are liquified, they will prick open your cocoon and drink you like fine wine.  Tactic: Capture one, use as bait.  Restrain the rest with nets and tripwires of sticky web.  Once everyone is restrained, kill them.
5- Kua-Toa Kill-Team.  The Kua-Toa of the ocean are a powerful and noble people- with an ancient martial culture and a civilization stretching back to the earliest ages.  These are not the heirs of that culture, but the refuse, the detritus left behind by an ancient Imperial retreat.  Despite that, they still remember a fragment of what their ancestors did and it is enough to make them capable warriors.  Tactic: The group will be 50% spearmen with shortened spears and flexible shields.  They will form a wall and prevent you from advancing.  The other half of the group will have atlatls and will pelt you with darts until you are too weak to put up any real resistance.  Then you will die, either because one of the throwers gets lucky or because the spearmen advanced and stabbed you to death.
6- Psychomycosis Megaspores.  The spores are about the size of a disco-ball, translucent green and utterly soundless.  They drift down from the ceiling of a cave, utterly silent.  They cover your face and you begin drowing.  Don't worry though- the acid will kill you long before that.  Once your face and brain has been mostly dissolved, the spore makes the corpse a puppet, lurching toward those nearby, beating them to death with its bare hands, then dragging their body to an isolated corner where it will watch them rot.  Ordinarily, these spores randomly prey on travelers, but this Durama believes it can control the spores using magic.  Maybe it can- like the Handsome Men before them, the Durama have arcane knowledge beyond almost any other creature.  Or perhaps the spores are merely pretending to be controlled.  After all, what does it matter how it acquires bodies, as long as they come?  Tactic: Attack in a mob and club those in the front to death.  The spore controlled corpse-puppets will always have a few unattached spores with them. 
7- Vampire Blood-Thieves.  If sunlight is your greatness weakness, what better place to hide then underground?  These Vampires are mostly new to this, but they still possess some of their vampiric powers.  They serve the Durama out of loyalty, but mostly because of the mixture of blood, psychedelic drugs and fungal wine they are all addicted to.  It is the only thing they desire, besides blood.  They fight with the skill of a junkie and aggression of a fanatic.  Tactic: Grab one person and isolate him, then restrain and suck him dry.  Repeat until there's no one left. 
8- Undead Puppets.  Undead are the perfect servants for the Veins.  They don't need food, the lack of light is no hindrance to them and there is no sun to restrict the use of them.  The only thing you have to watch out for is the Ghouls.  Tactic: Attack then retreat, lure the opponent into a trap.  Never hesitate, but never be stupid, either.

Horror from the Endless Dark*
1d6
1- 1 Calcinated Cancer Bear.  Once they were cave bears, many thousands of years ago.  Then the weather changed and forced them deeper underground.  It twisted them- their barely recognizable as bears anymore.  They're narrower, with canine muzzles and covered in a forest of bone spurs, spines and quills.  These cause it pain overtime and the only thing that cures this is fire.  It will fling itself into the flames and roll across campfires to relieve its pain and prevent its own armor from killing it.  It is mostly fireproof.  The Durama controls these bears through a combination of magical fires and meat.  They aren't quite tame, but they will maul those who enter their 'territory'.
2- 2d4 Zombie Coral.  These aren't controlled, so much as contained by careful slaves with spears and loops of rope or wire on the edge of poles.  The Zombie Coral desires blood and to return to the ocean.  It is prevented from doing the latter by being recaptured and stuffed into its trunks after every battle.  The former it can get as its handlers open the crates and let it loose on whatever enemy the Durama wants dead.  After the battle, a certain number of infected enemies will be inducted into the fold to replace the dead Zombie Coral.  The rest will be sterilized to prevent the out-of-control spread of Zombie Coral.
3- 4d6 Pyroclastic Ghouls.  They are honored guests of the Durama, filling the stone halls of the latter's fortress with ashy footprints.  They are unaware of the fact that the Durama has carefully hidden anything breakable or flammable, to protect it from smearing or accidental combustion at the hands of these charred, igneous nobles. 
4- 4d6 Spotlight Dogs.  They aren't actually dogs, probably, but the way they frolic around the Durama you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.  The Durama has polished the floors of his or her home to a mirror shine and draped themselves in glittering jewels and shiny fabrics, so just for a little while, they can remember what it was like to stand in the light and be looked upon by all as Handsome.  They will deny this, even though it is fairly obvious to anyone who has interacted with the Handsome Men. 
5- 1 Arachnopolis Rex.  A massive, artificial spider-hive made by a colony of spiders.  It can move by thousands of spiders manipulating it from within, lifting and moving its limbs with long threads, internal puppeteers piloting a lethal scare-spider.  Kept under control through frequent feedings and careful negotiation.  This has been a very profitable venture for both parties, but neither the spiders nor the Durama fully trust each other. 
6- 1 Gilgamash.  A mason's Frankenstein's monster.  The insane amalgamation of statues from a dozen different cultures awkwardly mortared together.  Is completely and utterly insane- but not unreasonable.  Insanity springs from reason, after all.  Not really under the control of the Durama, but the Durama is skilled enough in rhetoric to convince the Gilgamash that whatever the Durama wants it to do is actually what it wants to do.

*All these are inferior descriptions of monsters from The Veins of the Earth, which you should definitely buy if you haven't.

                                                 by michael-c-hayes

Durama Magic:

While the Durama generally have access to the normal magicks the Handsome Men, they prefer something that suits their new aesthetic.  Here are a couple of the spells they will cast on you if you irritate them and/or some of the magical treasure you can steal from their manses.

Food to Insects
------------------------------------------------------
R: 30'        T: [dice] servings of food    D: [dice] minutes

[dice] servings of food transform into a swarm of insects under the caster's control.  After the duration is up, these insects recongregate and transform back into the food they once were.

Putrefy
---------------------------------------------------------------------
R: 30'        T: all creatures in a 30' cone        D: one action

All creatures in a 30' cone take [dice] damage as a wave of necrotic energy passes over them.  Creatures at less than full HP instead take [sum] damage as their wounds begin worsening, their flesh beginning to die and rot from the wound outward.  Anyone killed by this has their flesh collapse off them into a slurry of decomposing flesh.

Stunt Mind
-------------------------------------------------------
R: 10'        T: one creature        D: varies

The Durama must speak a word to that creatuee.  It must save.  On a successful save, the creature is stunned for [dice] minutes.  It will snap out of this fugue after that number of minutes, or if someone comes over and slaps it, it may make another save.  On a second successful save, it immediately snaps out of it.

On a failed save, the creature has its cognitive functions reduced for [dice] hours.  For those hours, the creature may not do anything clever, intelligent or wise, unless it is unintentional.  The creature takes 1d6+[dice] damage each time it does.  The level of intelligence the creature is reduced too also is affected by the number of [dice].  At 1 [dice], the creature is reduced to the level of a slow-witted or deeply ignorant man.  At 2 [dice], the level of a child.  At 3 [dice], the level of an imbecile.  At 4 [dice], the creature is left on the rock-bottom of his mind, with only his feral lizard brain, his id and instincts to guide him.  Even at this stage he will be able to recognize his friends and swing a sword based on muscle memory, but any cognitive effort beyond that is impossible.

If this spell was cast on a player, he or she may dispute the damage if he can demonstrate to the Referee that such an action was actually stupid, conventional or so obvious even a simpleton could have thought to do it.   

Phantasmal Assassin
----------------------------------------------------------
R: 30'        T: one creature        D: [dice] days

One creature suddenly sees another creature approaching them.  This is the Phantasmal Assassin.  The Assassin can look like anything to that creature, but it will always act the same.  The Phantasmal Assassin will track down the creature the spell was cast on and try to kill it.  To the creature that the spell was cast on, the Phantasmal Assassin is real.  It can hurt them, eat food, open doors and do anything else a living creature could do.  However, to all other creatures, the Phantasmal Assassin is not only invisible, but doesn't seem to exist at all. 

Someone with Sight Beyond Sight can see the Phantasmal Assassin, but otherwise it does not exist.  However, once you see the Phantasmal Assassin, it suddenly becomes real to you too, though it will still only pursue the original creature and will only target others if they get in the way.

The Phantasmal has [dice] HD and an AC equal to [sum].  It does 1d6+[dice] damage on a hit.  It can only be hurt by magical items or spells.  It will pursue the target until it is destroyed, the duration ends or the target dies.    

Flashbang
----------------------------------------------------------
R: touch    T: object        D: one action

One object the caster touches becomes infused with magic.  When the caster snaps their fingers, the object makes a deafening sound and unleashes a blast of bright light, dazzling anyone nearby whose eyes are adjusted to the light.  If this spell is cast with four or more [dice] the flash of light has the properties of natural sunlight.

                                                  by unknown