Thursday, May 23, 2019

TwK: America's Got Guts

There is a TV show that plays on small, local networks at an odd time.  It has short, brief seasons.  Few know of its existence, and even fewer have seen it.  Those who have describe it as a reality show, but a most odd one.

The contestants are always scared, concerned, confused, or openly salivating at the thought of the next challenge.  Sometimes they are a combination of all of them.  The challenges are always strange, and usually violent, sometimes even gory.  Witnesses have reported seeing contestants receive horrific injuries on this show, and some have even seen people die, or so they say.  The show is never pulled down, despite any other television programming that would display this would likely be off the air faster then you can say 'FCC regulations'.

Witnesses say they've seen people mangled, injured or even die, but they also claim to have seen stranger things.  Things that should be impossible without tons of special effects.  Witnesses report strange, alien creatures, contestants performing feats no human should be able to do, and things that are quite clearly not human.

The show's name seems to change every so often, as well as the premise.  But among certain isolated groups of perverts, psychopaths and Those who Know, the show is called America's Got Guts.

                                                       from Running Man

What is the premise this season?

1d6

1- Survivor Knock-off: Every week contestants have to complete a  new challenge based on some vague theme.  Ex: The contestants are on an island and must complete challenges based around survival such as- finding food, starting fires, etc;  Or half the contestants are superheroes and the other half are supervillains.  At the end of each episode, if no one died during the challenges, one person is voted off the Island (note: may not actually be on a island).

2- X's Apprentice: The contestants work in teams at the behest of some master craftsman- though unlike the Apprentice, none of these careers are safe.  Examples from previous seasons include Thief, Prostitute, bounty hunter, Repo Man, Lawyer or serial killer.  Each week the contests are given certain challenges each week.  Then, at the end, whoever X is, they pick a winning team and a losing team.  Then at the end of each episode, one member of the losing team is fired.  Depending on the show, being fired can either mean being sent home, being mutilated and stranded, or disappearing in the middle of the night and never being seen or heard from again.

3- Office Assassination: All the contestants are in a concealed location.  They have a supervisor.  The goal of the whole show is simple.  Whoever kills the supervisor first wins.  However, the Supervisor is not only protected by certain rules, but is also quite powerful himself, and would be quite difficult to kill.  Those who try and fail in their attempts enough times are fired by the Supervisor (if they're lucky).  If they're really lucky, he kills them in the middle of their first attempt. 

4- Single's Mixer: A rip off of the Bachelor/Bachelorette.  The twist is that the person everyone is trying to impress is inhuman, evil or insane (sometimes all three).  At the end of each episode, the 1 contestant the person finds most unappealing is sent home.  This may seem like the most safe option, but in reality, it's full of back-stabbing (literal and metaphorical), betrayal and intrigue.

5- Running Man.  Contestants are let loose into a fenced-off area and must make it to the Safe Zone hidden somewhere in the area.  If they make it there, they will be safe.  However, there are studio hired killers called Stalkers also prowling the course, with permission to kill anyone they encounter.

6- Survival Game.  It's a battle royale.  Everyone is dropped into a confined area, weapons are randomly distributed across the area, and only one person can be the winner.  The last one standing wins. 

                                            from Total Drama Island

So you want to be famous

But why merely investigate this show, when you could play as the contestants?  This is the perfect start for a Those who Know Campaign.  Imagine the pitch to the players, "You're contestants on a reality show, but it's run by Satan."  Essentially, it's the Hunger Games but with less melodrama and more people being forced to cannibalize each other to please the studio audience.  
 
Now, as for the contestants themselves.  They are elected through means unknown to even them, eager recipients of mysterious talent calls or those lazy or disinterested enough to sign the contract before they knew what they were agreeing to.  Most of the contestants then, once they got on the show, were spoken to by the Producers, who encouraged them to act in a specific way.  Essentially, all of the Contestants are role-playing as a stereotype.

Remember though, this is an act.  All the Contestants are much more nuanced than their stereotypes, but when they are being observed, or think they are, they will maintain character.

Contestants
1d20

1- The mean girl.  She's pretty, but bitchy.  Says something like "I'm not here to make friends."  Cut-throat, but basically useless in a fight. 
2- The dumb, but nice bimbo.  She tries, bless her heart.  She's also a total knockout, and really nice.  Basically useless in most circumstances, but no one really holds it against her (except for the girls).
3- The ethnic stereotype.  He/she's black, or Puerto Rico, or something else like that, and he/she's going to let you know at every opportunity.
4- The effete, sophisticated, but asshole European.  This contestant will constantly dress nice, act sophisticated, and pretend to be knowledgable on all things cultured- from ballet to classic music to fine wine and etc.
5- The charming psychopath.  Seems like a nice person, but is actually intensely manipulative.  Plays everyone around them. Likely to be nice and helpful in the early game, and vicious in the late game.
6- The psycho girlfriend.  She's very clearly in love with one member of the crew or another contestant.  She stalks that person and makes him or her creepy gifts.  This may not actually be an act.
7- The chubby, awkward guy.  Neckbeard personified.  A little portly, dresses terribly, probably likes anime, MLP, or something else cringy and weird.
8- The nerd.  He's a an 80s nerd stereotype.  Awkward, likes video games, bad with girls, glasses, kind of smart, etc. 
9- The hippy.  Can be a guy or girl.  The Hippy constantly talks like he or she is high, is always super chill, wears flowers in his or her hair, etc.  What people in their 60s think potheads are like. 
10- The nice guy.  He's just nice.  A gentleman to all the ladies and a good friend to all the guys.  Incorrigibly optimistic.  Doesn't realize how screwed he is. 
11- The girl next door.  A nice, pretty girl.  Someone you feel comfortable around.  She realizes how dangerous the situation is.
12- The rural hick.  Speaks with an exaggerated southern drawl or midwestern accent.  Acts unsophisticated and marvels over modern conveniences.  Constantly tells ridiculous, funny stories of what it was like back home.
13- The bad boy.  Spiky hair, leather jacket, piercings or earrings.  Obeys rules only grudgingly, and constantly postures.
14- The goth girl.  Pretends to be sad or depressed all the time.  Writes poetry.  Never wears anything but black.
15- The manic pixie dream girl.  High energy, super positive, endlessly sunny.  Not in touch with reality.   
16- The LGBT.  This person is the show's LGBT representation.  They can belong to any identity group that is not common; regardless of what it is, it doesn't matter.  The most important thing is that they bring up their identity constantly, and it seems to be their primary character trait. 
17- The Hipster.  As goth girl, but more pretentious.  Thinks he's better than you, though won't say it.
18- The artist.  Creative, romantic, possibly insane.  Likely has wild mood swings and behaves irrationally.
19- The political radical.  He or she has some "taboo" political opinion.  Perhaps he doesn't believe the State of Israel is legitimate, or she really hates people who engage in "degenerate" activities.
20- The Stepford Smiler.  Seems normal, overly normal, but is actually quite damaged.  Hide behind a mask of false cheer.

Of course, all the Contestants are real people, and their characters are just that.  So to reveal what dark secret the Contestants have, roll on the table below.

                                            from Kaiji: Ultimate Gambler

The Contestant's Secrets
1d20

1- He or she actually signed up for this, as wasn't kidnapped or coerced into participating.
2- He or she is actually a monster wearing human skin.
3- He or she has an evil split personality.
4- He or she is a hitman looking for one of the other competitors on a mission to kill them.
5- He or she is on some kind of drugs to keep themselves normal (mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, etc).
6- He or she is addicted to some illegal drug
7- He or she is actually a serial killer, and are planning on killing someone here, though probably someone that won't be missed.
8- He or she knows a secret about someone important on the show.
9- He or she are not actually the real contestant, but someone who looks like them.  The real contestant will show up soon, and reveal the mix-up.
10- He or she is immortal.  For some reason, he or she cannot die.  He or she will try and conceal this fact at first, and will destroy anyone who threatens to reveal him or her.
11- He or she are secretly favored to win, and multiple producers are protecting them in subtle ways.
12- He or she found a secret route to the prize, and are going to try and steal it.  There is a 25% that the Producers know about this "secret" route, and it is actually a trap, unbeknowest to the contestant.
13- He or she are cursed to meet some ironic end.  He or she will die soon, probably in some kind of freak accident.  When he or she does, don't be near them, or you might be swept up in the maelstrom.  
14- He or she are actually an Understudy and have strange powers.  He or she isn't a mere Human.
15- He or she is actually related to an important NPC the Players know or have heard of.
16- He or she is actually a genius, and are playing along, and probably pretending to be dumb.  In truth, however, he or she is actually brilliant.
17- He or she is a slave of a Mage-Master and have armed backup on speed dial.  The Mage-Master wants to claim the Reward, but their master is not stupid enough to risk themselves in the contest.
18- He or she is a con artist.  He or she will pretend to be a good person and agree with all your opinions.  He or she want to use you to get through the challenges and exploit you.  But in the end, he or she does plan on double-crossing you.
19- He or she are actually a great person, morally speaking.  He seems too nice for it to be true, but it's no act.  She is a human after God's own heart.  A modern day Saint. 
20- Destiny is on his or her side.  When it comes down to luck, he always make it out okay.  Only significant intervention by an outside party can cause her to end up suffering misfortune.  If the players or producers never act against them, he or she end up charming the audience and winning the whole thing. 

                                                  by savedchicken.tumblr.com

Other characters to be aware of...

The Personal Assistants (PAs)

The PAs spend most of his or her time running around, assisting Contestants, staff and Producers by fetching coffee, dry-cleaning clothes and doing any number of other errands.  There is only one PA at a time, but who the PA is will shift almost daily, as the job has an immensely high fatality and turnover rate.  PAs are often killed, either accidentally or on purpose. This is an occurence so common the Producers barely notice it, and the staff pretend not to, as they don't want to face the ugly reality.   

The Producers

The Producers are a band of psychopaths, competing for prizes beyond comprehension, serving the showrunner.  Contestants at first will usually be divided up into teams based on some theme and one Producer will be assigned to each one.  These Producers will then compete against each other, plotting to see one of their Contestants be the last one standing.  They will use any means to do this, but they will usually not defy the Will of the Executive Producer, who is the highest Producer and last winner, and they will never defy the Showrunner.

The Showrunner

While defying the Executive Producer is possible, if you keep your crime secret, nothing escapes the eyes of the Showrunner.  No one knows what he or she or It looks like, but they always speak in glowing tones about the Showrunner and always assure each other that the Showrunner is doing a great job.  Those who speak ill of the Showrunner or defy the orders it gives either lose the competition or vanish and are never seen again, except in pieces.

                                            by Li Van Saathoff

The Reward

This is what everyone is competing over, the prize of prizes, the boon to surpass all others.  Everyone will usually be informed of this on day 1, to bait them into staying.  Tell me, what is it?

1d6

1- Conditional Immortality.  The winner of the Show will be granted immortality and will cease to age, as well as healing from any injury, as long as a specific condition is not fulfilled.  Example conditions include such things as having your head chopped off or being killed by a man who has lost everything but his life.
2- Daemonhood.  The winner of the Show will be made an Outsider through a blasphemous ritual.  The winner will gain the powers of an Outsider, though the downsides will be included as well.   
3- Dominion.  The winner of the Show will be given the throne of a major nation in the world.  Even if this nation has an elected or pre-existing government, the winner of the show will be able to override them.
4- 1 magical Wish.  The winner of the Show will be granted a magical Wish.  Anything within the Showrunner's power will be granted to him.  And while the Showrunner cannot overwrite physics or resurrect the dead, there are few limits to what he or she or It cannot do.
5- 1 Hour.  The winner of the Show may be granted 1 hour's conversation with any person they wish to speak to, whether that person is living, dead, missing or otherwise. 
6- Rethreading Fate.  One event from the past the winner wishes changed will be altered.  If you wish someone who is alive to be dead or vice versa, it will be done.  If your preferred candidate did not win the last election, it will be done.  The changes will occur for everyone, but will always choose the simplest route.  If the easiest way for someone to not be alive is to teleport you into their bathroom with a gun, that is what will occur.  If the simplest way your preferred candidate to win the last election is through massive voter fraud, that is what will be done.  

                                                    by Steve Ferris  

Sunday, May 19, 2019

OSR: Constructs

I decided to do a post on Constructs, because why not.  This will be a post for referring to all my Constructs on this blog, but it does not cover any sapient artificial creatures, such as Warforged, Brass Men, Terracotta Men, or etc.  Those are a different animal and will be covered via separate rules.

That being said, let's talk about Constructs.

                                                         by Irvast

1.  Constructs don't have souls, minds, or free will.

A Construct doesn't choose to do anything.  Even if it speaks or talks and seems to be a free-willed moral agent, it is not. Constructs aren't bothered by this however.  In fact, nothing bothers a Construct because there is no one to bother.

This also has some benefits.  For example, Constructs cannot have their minds read, as they have no minds to read.  They are also totally immune to magically induced fear, charm or any spell or ability that would seek to influence someone's mind.  They are also immune to normal emotional or logical appeals or any form of persuasion, actually.

2.  Constructs follow pre-programmed orders or are manually controlled.

Autonomous constructs can seem intelligent, but they always are just following lists of orders. 
Constructs cannot be bought, seduced or reasoned with.  They will follow orders until they stop functioning.

Alternatively, if a Construct has not been pre-programmed, it is manually controlled.  The method through which Constructs are usually controlled is through a Control Egg, a small sphere of metal or stone inlaid with magical circuitry.  Generally, whoever holds the Control Egg controls the Construct.  Almost all Constructs have Control Eggs.  Some do not, but this is rare, as without one, it is very difficult to reuse a Construct. 

3.  Constructs cannot be killed, but they can be broken. 

You can't kill what was never alive.  You can break it, however.  Additionally as long as a Construct's frame is still intact, it can be repaired.

4.  Repairing a Construct is much easier than building a new one.


Building new Constructs is basically impossible.  The necessary knowledge of how to do so was lost in the The Deluge.  All Constructs are hold overs from pre-Diluvian times.

This is just for my Nukaria setting.  For Those who Know, I would refluff the Constructs here to be a blasphemous fusion of electronics and sorcery and simply make it really hard to create one.   

With that, let's get started.

Base Construct Statblock
HD X  AC Y  Atk Varies
Mor 12  Saves Varies

Construct: Constructs do not need to eat, drink, sleep or breathe.  They do not possess minds to read or influence with magic, so they ignore all charm, fear or other spells that affect the mind.  They do not get scared or tired.   

Programmed: Constructs are programmed to do specific things.  Some of them have sophisticated programming, others very simple programming.  They will follow these pre-programmed instructions no matter what.  If observed, the pattern should be obvious.

Control Egg: Constructs have a special magical device tied to them.  This device enables whoever holds it to control the Construct.  This is called the Control Egg.  The holder of a Control Egg usually controls the Construct, unless there are special circumstances, such as the Control Egg only responding to certain people or types of people.  

Tactics:
- Follow orders
- Be predictable
- Have no concept of fear or self preservation

Some Constructs:

                                            by Kate Clark
Mockeries

Mockeries are strange creatures, the lowest form of Construct.  Mockeries are false men or animals, created out of cloth and stuffed with sticks or straw, with charms added to the mix.  Then magic is breathed into their false lungs and they leap about, capering and doing as they are told.  Mockeries look like stuffed version of whatever they originally were, usually with masks stitched onto their faces to make them more approachable.  Mockeries are generally cheerful and pliable, eager to please.  They also tend to be dull, with little intelligence outside their usual field of expertise.

The exception to these rules are the Bare-faced Mockeries, which are universally disturbing and disturbed.  Bare faced Mockeries are known to systematically patrol empty complexes, killing any person they find and feasting on their corpses, their false stomaches full of rotting meat, the scent of blood and corruption proceeding ahead of them.

Types of Mockeries
1d6
1- Mock-Soldiers.  Dressed in ancient, patched military uniforms and carrying barely functional weapons, these soldiers endlessly fight against each other in pointless battles, then retrieve the "Dead" to be repaired, so they can do it all over again.  Alternatively, they may be guarding an abandoned fort, waiting for an enemy that is never going to counter-attack or endlessly fortifying a stronghold against an assault they are sure is to happen any day now.  Instructions: To follow orders, attack the enemy, defend allies.   
2- Mock-Workers.  These Mockeries were straw hats and coveralls, usually along with gloves over their burlap fingers.  Mock-Workers work whatever task they are assigned.  They harvest wheat and stack the sheaves in warehouses, unconcerned with the fact that it rots and no one ever comes to retrieve it.  Or maybe they mine coal and bring it down to the harbor, always surprised that the person they are supposed to be selling it too is never on time.  Instructions: To work their task, to listen to bosses, to never complain.       
3- Mock-Managers.  Dressed in tacky suits and hats, these Mockeries often look more like Orzane (pigmen) with tusks and perpetually smoking (but never burning) cigars, incense-like smoke curling over their rotund bellies full to bursting with straw and small coins.  Mock-Managers exist to manage lesser Mockeries and keep them on task.  They are rarer, as designing a supervisor that needs supervision itself is not actually that good an idea.  Instructions: To keep the workers on task, to collect small coins, to constantly gripe about being behind schedule. 
4- Mock-Constables or Mockstables.  Mockstables are the peace keepers you remember from childhood, big and bold authority figures who seemed so smart and intelligent, uniform always pressed, buttons shining in the sun.  They are also the peace keepers you remember from your adolescence, slow and plodding, but endlessly patient and impossibly perceptive.  Lastly, they are the peace keepers you remember from adulthood, never on time and tragically limited.  Instructions: To enforce the law, detain law-breakers, keep the peace.
5- Mock-Lion.  These Mockeries resemble giant stuffed lions with silly hats and for the male lions, mustaches.  These giants are used for a variety of reasons, but mostly they are used as substitutes for real lions in wildlife displays, to watch children or to promote reading among the same.  Instruction: Pretend to be a lion unless talked to, then speak and act like a decent creature.         
6- Mock-Dragon.  These Mockeries resemble Dragons as depicted in happy stories told to children.  They have chubby bellies and pastel scales and breath clouds of colorful smoke or bubbles.  Mock-Dragons are mostly used as a status symbol, as oversized toys, or as actors in any play that needs a dragon and doesn't just want to build one out of sticks and cloth.  Instructions: To hoard useless artifacts, to huff and puff, to be nice to children.

Statblock Changes:

HD: 1 (2 if Bare-faced)

AC: 11

Attacks: (+0) Weapon 1d6 (1d6/1d6)

Saves: 7 (9) or less is a success

Abilities:

Flammable: Mockeries take +1 damage from fire per damage die, as they are made almost exclusively of flammable materials.  All Mockeries are programmed to fear and avoid fire for this reason.

                                           by Cryptcrawler 
Oozes

The difference between an inert substance, such as Green Slime and an Ooze is quite obvious.  Green slime, after all, will only dissolve you into goo if you step into it, or it falls on you, or etc.  It does not move, except in rare cases.  An Ooze is obviously different.  Oozes pursue creatures and seek to dissolve them.  Despite these differences, however, there seems to be a connection between the two of them, yet few know what that connection is.  This connection is actually simple.  Oozes are actually Constructs.

Oozes are created in labs.  First, the acidic base that composes the Ooze is created.  This acidic base is like that of green slime, though it varies in color.  The reason for the difference in color is based on the chemicals initially used to create the base.  Now, the base is immobile, with no ability to move or do anything.  Then, an Ooze Control Egg, alternatively called an Ooze Egg, is used on it.  Ooze Eggs come in two types.  The first type is the Partitioned type.  This type of Ooze Egg comes in two parts.  One part you hold, the second you submerge in the acidic base.  This second part sends magical signals throughout the Ooze, allowing you to command it.  This Ooze Egg is the more common type, as it allows control over larger Oozes and is simply easier to repair.  The second type of Ooze Egg is called the Broadcast type and has no piece you insert into the base, instead simply broadcasting a signal to all the acidic base within an area, then permitting control of that amount of base.  These are must harder to sabotage the Partitioned type, as there is no second piece to destroy.  That being said, Broadcast type Ooze Eggs consume large amounts of energy, so unless the user has access to a large power source, this permanently limits the size of the Ooze the user can control.  It also means that if the Ooze moves outside of the range of the Ooze Egg, it will automatically become immobile once more.   

Types of Oozes:
1d6
1- Gelatinous Cube.  Very hard to notice, as it is almost clear.  Beware of an ancient structure with no debris in the halls and suspiciously cleaned floors.  These Oozes patrol specific areas, gobbling up anything in their path.
2- Rainbow Ooze or Prism Ooze.  These Oozes transfer magical energy through them, refracting it and directing it against a random target within range.  This only applies to spells with one target.  If it an area-of-effect spell, it just affects everyone within range, with the exception of the Ooze. 
3- Fafernacky Pudding or Caramel Ooze.  These small Oozes are magically delicious!  If you smell one, save or try to eat it. This is bad, as despite the delicious smell, eating one of these Oozes will still result in a hideous death.   
4- Flying Fusion Ooze.  IT'S ALIVE!  ALIVE!  Some madman thought this would be a good idea, and it was.  For him and precisely no one else.  This Ooze has no acid, but instead fuses any two creatures trapped inside it into one hideous abomination.  It also flies, because of course it does.   
5- Black Pudding.  Take a normal Ooze, then dissolve enough material into it to render the usual brightly colored base colored black, as well as expanding it so there are several tons of the stuff.  That's what a Black Pudding is.  They usually fill whole rooms or levels of dungeons.  Be afraid.  Be very afraid.  
6- Velvet Ooze.  Primarily used as a sex aid and barely dangerous at all.  A Velvet Ooze has no acid and is used by salacious nobles and those who can afford it for forbidden pleasure.  You can feed it sugar to make it grow larger, but they're most convenient when you can keep one in a snuff box.

Statblock Changes:

HD: 1d6+1

AC: 8

Attacks: (+2) Pseudopod 1d8 acid + Engulf

Saves: (7+HD) or less is a success

Abilities:

Ooze Egg: Oozes have a 50% of having half an Ooze Egg in their bodies.  If so, if this Ooze Egg is removed, the Ooze collapses and returns to being a pool of acidic base.  This pool will still dissolve you, but only if you touch it.  If this is not the case, the Ooze is being animated by a Beacon type Ooze Egg, which is projecting a sphere of magical energy.  If the Ooze moves beyond this sphere, it automatically deanimates.  The Ooze will not move beyond this sphere unless forced to.

Hard to hurt: Oozes take no blunt, electrical or acid damage.  They take half damage from fire, ice and sharp damage.  Anything that dehydrates can hurt them severely, however, and salt damages them as well.    

Gelatinous Body: Oozes can fit through incredibly narrow spaces, such as under doors, through cracks, pipes and etc.

Engulf: If a creature is struck by an Ooze's pseudopod he or she is grappled.  That creature must then contest the Ooze in a contest of STR.  The Ooze has a STR score equal to 10+HD.  If the creature wins, nothing happens, and on his turn, he can take an action to try and free himself with a STR check.  If the Ooze wins the contest, the creature is sucked inside it.  Creatures inside an Ooze take 1d6 acid damage a round and can still attack the Ooze, though any damage done by non-Quick weapons will receive a -4 penalty.  If an Ooze is killed, they can rescued.

Acid: Oozes and the acidic base that they are created from can dissolve organic material, metal and most other substances.  However, it cannot dissolve plastic, glass, porcelain or anything enchanted or super-hardened.   

Golems

There are two views of the Ancients, those who lived before the Great Deluge.  One is that they were great, as the relics and ancient ruins that survived the disaster that destroyed them demonstrate a sophistication and level of development that we have only recently returned to under the Orzane and the merciful reign of His Imperium, the Emperor of Joyous Exultation, Lord Unquaro's prayers be upon him.  Others, however, say that the Ancients were fools, morally corrupt, arrogant or perhaps all three or some combination thereof, as they either brought the disaster upon themselves or they failed to evade it, despite all their power and wisdom.  In these arguments, many things are discussed or brought up, but one of the primary pieces of evidence for the first camp is the Golems.

Golems are widely cited as evidence for the Intelligent Ancients argument as Golems are the height of wisdom.  No artificer, living or dead, has replicated the amazing work of any of the surviving Golems discovered.  Golems are supreme in their craftsmanship, power and durability.  One of the most famous Imperial Artificers, Ser Barent of Tyzos earned his initial fame for repairing a damaged Golem and restoring it to partial functionality, a feat not yet matched by any known scholar.           

Common Types of Golem
1d6
1- Stone.  Resembles a statue, until it begins moving.  Widely believed to be the most ancient form of Golem.  There primary purpose seemed to be as guardians, but of what, no one can say.
2- Metal.  Metal Golems are terrifying, surging masses of blades and barbs.  No one doubts what their purpose was.  Metal Golems were clearly weapons of war.   
3- Flesh.  Flesh Golems were initially thought of either as some primitive form of necromancy or some failed attempt at immortality.  However, there is no soul in these bodies, only the surging elemental forces of magic.
4- Wood.  Wood Golems are one of the rarest kind, as they are the most fragile.  Some speculate that the Wood Golems were crafted by some ancient equivalent of the Handsome Men, but this hypothesis tends to fall out of favor and then be reintroduced every so often, generally around the time the Empire is at war with the Handsome Men.
5- Armor.  Armor Golems or Golem Armor is a Metal Golem that is not solid, but has a hollow interior.  It is believed that it is intended for the controller to climb inside the Golem and ride around in it, to use it as an enhancement of their own capabilities.  
6- Crystal.  Crystal Golems are actually the most ancient Golem, according to some scholars, as crystals are known for their ability to conduct magic very well, much better than stone.  Crystal Golems also tend to reflect magic back at those who cast it on them, so maybe it is not the most ancient type.  No one knows what Crystal Golems were used for, but most speculate that it had something to do with magic. 

Statblock Changes:

SHP: 1d4+3

AC: 10

Attacks: (+3) Slam 1d8/1d8

Saves: 12 or less is a success

Abilities:

Damage Threshold X: All Golems have a Damage Threshold equal to the number of SHP (Super Hitpoints) they have.  They only take damage from sources if the amount of damage equals or exceeds their Damage Threshold.  If a source of damage cannot equal or exceed the Threshold, instead ignore it, as if that source did no damage.

                                           by Charles E Downman
 Artificial Eyes

Artificial Eyes are a relatively unknown type of Construct, as for the longest time, they were assumed to be some form of jewelry or something like that.  Even when their Control Eggs were discovered, it was difficult to determine what these Constructs were meant to do.  Eventually, it was discovered, however, and the information was then suppressed.  The secret is that these small, metallic orbs can fly through the air and observe things.  What they see through their artificial eyes can be seen by the Control Egg's holder.  As such, the Imperial Cult of Silence has been aggressively purchasing as many of the Artificial Eyes as they can, along with concealing the truth of their existence and function. 

Being caught with an Artificial Eye is not enough to get you in trouble, unless you know what it is and how it works.  If you are ignorant, the Imperial Cult of Silence will be more than willing to take it off your hands, they will even pay you a tidy sum for the privilege.  However, if you do know what an Artificial Eye does and how to work it, you will be in serious trouble.

Statblock Changes:

HD: 1

AC: 16

Attacks: Electrified Body 1d4 lightning

Saves: 8 or less is a success

Abilities:

Flier: Artificial Eyes can fly and hover.  They get +4 to any initiative checks.

Video Feed: Artificial Eyes transmit video information to the holder of their control egg, usually in the form of a holographic display, but it could also be in the form of a display on a video monitor or something else.


Hostile Isolators

Hostile Isolators are an unknown type of Construct, found exclusively in abandoned techno-dungeons.  The reason there is so little information about them is because of their function- they are intended to isolate and contain intruders in a functioning techno-dungeon and prevent them from proceeding any further.  They are highly effective at this task, trapping intruders and would be grave-robbers inside, waiting until the intruders either die of natural causes or the Hunter-Killers catch up to them.

Statblock Changes:

HD: 5

AC: 13

Attacks: (+3) Restraining Pins 1d6 DEX

Saves: 9 or less is a success

Abilities:

Swarm: Hostile Isolators are individually tiny, but travel in large clouds.  These swarms resemble a school of steel fish swimming through the air or a swarm of glass locusts covered in blinking lights flying toward you.  Treat the swarm as one creature.  Any attack that could only target 1 creature does 1 damage and area-of-effect spells deal full damage automatically.  Torches or open flames swung through the swarm do 1d4 damage.

Restraining Pins: If someone is surrounded by Hostile Isolators, they will be fired upon by the Restraining Pins.  These are tiny needles that do 1d6 DEX damage to someone and paralyze their nerves.  If the DEX damage taken ever equals or exceeds someone's DEX score, they fall down and cannot move.  The points of loss DEX can be restored by pain-stakingly removing the needles shot into someone, with each one requiring a successful DEX check or 10 minutes, concentration and a steady hand.

                                                      from Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Hunter-Killer Drones

Hunter-Killers are a minor form of Construct that is known about, though hard evidence is hard to come by.  This is because of their terrifying appearance and tendency to slaughter anyone they can get their blades on.  Often times Hunter-Killers are mis-identified by people who don't know any better, described by panicked witnesses as "Steel-skinned demons who spit fire and death" or "Undead abominations with the flames of the netherworld in their bellies".  Hunter-Killers deserve their dangerous reputation, but thankfully are quite rare, as Hunter-Killers tend to either break down from the constant wear and tear or attack everyone in a group until they are destroyed.  That being said, if you encounter a Hunter-Killer, say a prayer and fight like your life depends on it, because it does.

Statblock Changes:

HD: 3

AC: 14

Attacks: Wrist Blades 1d8/1d8 or Shoulder Cannon 2d6

Saves: 10 or less is a success


Silicon Surgeons

These terrifying constructs are wind mills of blades, lasers and other dangerous looking implements.  Most would assume they are engines of war or instruments of torture, yet nothing could be further from the truth.  The Silicon Surgeons are Constructs designed to heal people.  Anyone who is taken below one will be diagnosed and treated to the best of the Surgeon's ability.  Many of these Medical Constructs are damaged or lacking in vital supplies and thus, barely function, but even these damaged models can prove to be life savers for the critically injured.  A Silicon Surgeon is worth its weight in gold and possibly even more.      

Statblock Changes:

HD: 1

AC: 10

Attacks: (+6) Vivisection 3d6 sharp

Saves: 7 or less is a success

Abilities:

Medical Instrument: Anyone who goes under a functional Silicon Surgeons has any Horrible Wounds removed and is automatically brought back above 0 HP.  Any lasting damage, such as an amputated limb or lost appendage, as long as it is recent, will be repaired as well. 

Limited ability to harm: Silicon Surgeons can only harm someone directly in front of or under them.  All others are beyond the reach of their artificial limbs.

                                                from a misleading Surrogates movie poster
Life Model Duplicate

For the Artificers who fall into "the Ancients were morally corrupt" school of thought, no piece of evidence is more damning than the so-called Copulation Statues, strange devices found in many ancient techno-dungeons.  The statues seem strange but ultimately harmless at first, resembling vague humanoid shapes with no features or appearance, just constructed out of some kind of clear, gel substance with an internal skeleton made of metal or some other substance.  Almost no one knows what these Constructs actually do, so theorizing about their intended purpose is rampant.  However, one thing is known.  If a drop of blood is spilled on one of these "Copulation Statues" the statue will change shape, shapeshifting to look exactly like whoever's blood was spilled on them.  The scholars I mentioned above claim that this power was developed so women did not have to please their husbands by performing the marital duty of copulation, or possibly so that degenerate acts could be undertaken without scrutiny.  This is plausible, at least to some, though some scholars take it too far, claiming that the only reason there are no Ancients left today is because even if some of them managed to survive the Great Deluge, they were too busy using their statues to actually rebuild their civilization.

However, this is not what these Constructs are meant to do.  Anyone who has this Construct's Control Egg can tell you this. These Constructs are only controlled manually, and allow the controller to look and see and experience things through the Construct's artificial body, even from a great distance away.  There are only a small handful of individuals who know this and they are all keeping this information to themselves, for obvious reasons.       

Statblock Changes:

HD: 2

AC: 10

Attacks: as Controller

Saves: 7 or less is a success, unless it is a mental save, then use the Controller's saves

Abilities:

Shape-shift: If a Life Model Duplicate is not currently being controlled or if the Controller wishes it so, the Life Model Duplicate, if it touches a drop of blood, can alter its appearance to perfectly resemble the creature, as long as that creature is humanoid and possesses no strange features, such as a levitating crown of fire, large wings or etc.

Friday, May 17, 2019

OSR: The Aboleth



There is only One

It begins with dreams.  Some normal people will begin having strange, surreal nightmares that they can't quite remember.  The dream is unsettlingly real, but also fades with the dawn.  You can get up and tell yourself it was just a dream.  For magically inclined or talented folk, this is cold comfort.  Each night for weeks, they will have the same, surreal nightmare.  Each night it progresses further, growing more and more vivid.

What do you dream of?
1d6

1- You stand on a beach.  The waves lap up around your ankles, the water warm and salty.  Then the water begins rising.  It floods the beach, engulfing you and drowning the coast.  Suddenly you are underwater, drowning.  In the churning darkness below you, you see a dozen eyes shining out of the gloom, and long, suction-cup covered arms reaching out toward you.  You awake before they grab you.
2- You are fishing next to a rocky shore.  A man in a fur coat with his face hidden approaches you and advises you to cast your line in another direction.  You take his advice.  However, before you can cast out your line, you feel a sharp pain in your arm.  You look down and see a massive fishhook buried in your arm, the line running out to sea, into the water.  The man with the fur coat begins smoking a pipe as you are dragged off your feet and into the sea, being reeled in by some unseen fishermen.
3- You are at a dinner.  Your host is someone familiar to you.  Everything seems normal and then the first course is served.  You realize it is an entire city, full of tiny, living people.  Everyone there begins eating, cutting the city apart, street by street, eating the buildings like the clay and stone are sponge cake and the people scrambling all over it are sprinkles.
4- You are sitting in your home, reading a scroll.  Unfortunately, all the scrolls says is "I have already won" repeated ad infinitum.  All your scrolls say that.  There are only those four words.
5- You are sitting at a table.  At your right hand sits a monstrous thing, concealed by shadow.  You can see its tentacles twitching just outside the cone of darkness, and smell the brine.  At your left hand sits the deity most familiar to you.  The monstrous thing offers you lavish prize, the deity offers you a crummy deal.
6- You are locked in a cell, surrounded by a bunch of dim-witted monkeys wearing silly hats and wielding toy swords.  You speak to them, offering them candies and prizes if they open the doors.  The monkeys begin to argue and fight over whether this is a good idea.  You don't care who wins, you just know that if they open the door, you're going to kill them all, then eat their brains.     

Then the weather begins to shift.  It begins to rain and rain, first a slow drizzle, then a light sprinkle, then a good shower.  Days and days of rain come, until you forget the sun.  Then it begins to deluge.  That is when you know it is close. The rain causes flooding.  Streams burst their banks and wash away whole towns.  This is followed by mudslides, strong waves, an increase in shipwrecks.  The destruction is unprecedented- yet undirected.  The conductor is not here, so the orchestra plays in a disorganized manner, their music tangling itself together into a great ball of noise and chaos.  Yet still It waits, for the stars to be right.  It waits, poised at the threshold.

Then, when the stars are finally right, when the celestial bodies are in their proper places, a massive summoning ritual must be done.  Dreams will have been sent ahead by It to certain eager souls, who will receive it eagerly.  They will be promised riches and glory and kingdoms in the New World.  Or maybe they were promised life everlasting or safety when the changes come.  Maybe they were promised nothing but eternal torment if they did not obey.  Regardless, they will.  It commands causality, weaving a web around its slaves.  They were selected because they would not, nay, could not refuse It.

The ritual requires...
1d20

1- Six virgins to be sacrificed, their blood spilled in specific ways each time
2- A priest, a madman and a child to renounce their belief in God, Logic and Goodness, in that order.  This must be a sincere statement from all three.
3- A vast orgy, involving participants from at least 6 races, three species of animals and at least 1 magical beast.
4- A vast amount of valuables to be destroyed
5- A priceless relic to be used for some ludicrously mundane task
6- Someone must successfully recreate a piece of famous art in some other antithetical medium, such as recreating the Mona Lisa in fish guts and dried semen.
7- A game of chance to be played for the fate of the universe.  The game must be fair, with no cheating and all must respect the outcome.  The Aboleth's side must also win, though if there is no cheating, it always will.
8- A child must be born on the ritual site.  If the time is right, the child will be born a hideous, alien freak with eyes that know too much.
9- A clown must be crowned King and proceed to rule for 5 days, with all respecting its wishes.  Then, on the sixth day, it must be killed. 
10- A highly intelligent creature, such as a Dragon or a Cloud Giant, must be beaten in a contest of intellect by a mere mortal.
11- A Church or Temple must be desecrated
12- An innocent person must be found and prosecuted for a crime he or she did not commit
13- A prisoner who is guilty must be set free
14- A very important person, such as a King or Priest, must strip off their clothes and dance where many people can see him or her.
15- A stone must cry out
16- A dog must devour a human infant
17- A holy man, priest or Prophet must commit some act of profound wickedness 
18- A Minion of the Dark Powers must recant and confess to their crimes publically
19- A Druid must willingly bathe, wear clothing and attend a formal banquet
20- A creature possessing any form of Immortality must reject their immortality and become mortal once more.

Then, if the ritual is properly performed, the veil will be torn asunder; and through the dark, It will come.

                                                  by Mathew Stewart

The Door is Opened

The changes will become immediately obvious.  Mages, Psychics and the spiritually attuned with feel the after-shocks of its entrance as all Creation shakes.  Earthquakes and tidal waves will occur in many lands, radiating out from the point of intrusion.  This will be accompanied by plagues of madness and mutation that pass out from the point where the Barrier was torn, spreading with the people who will flee, so concerned will they be that some grave event is about to occur.

There will be a period of chaos and instability as one of the nations near the point of intrusion is suddenly assaulted by armies of deformed freaks, terrible piscine monsters and alien minions, serving some unseen force.  The mortal slaves of It will also still be present.  They will have prepared this nation and its leadership, either by weakening them so that they might be overthrown, or so that they would accept It as their Dominus.  Either way, the coup will proceed as planned.  The King will be overthrown or enslaved and the Priests bound or butchered.  If this Nation has a God, it will be either forced to bend the knee or be devoured.  It will kill the Deity as many times as it takes for it to stay dead. 

There will be loose ends, of course.  A God or a Royal Family might escape.  However, the deck is stacked and the Dealer is cheating.  The House doesn't always win, but the odds are definitely in their favor.  Plus, there will always be time.  It is settling in for the long haul.

From there, things will begin settling down.  A new government will come to power or the old one will restore order.  The freaks and mutants will suddenly disappear or retreat and the survivors will likely attribute their valor or divine intervention to their victory.  The battle will be over and things will return to normal.

Except, things won't be totally normal.  The new government will quickly grow vicious and unrelenting.  They will crack down on their foes and pass strange new laws.  Enemies of the new government might protest, but their leaders will start tending to defect or suddenly going mad.  Wars of conquest and new alliances will be begun and formed by the new government.  The world, slowly, over a period of years, begins to visibly worsen.  Central authority breaks down as some new power works behind the scenes to weaken and dismantle any organization or group that seeks to prevent the changes.

The new government will slowly grow into a New Empire, spreading across the world.  The New Empire's enemies will melt away before them, undone by causality itself, it will seem.  Kings will have heart attacks on the battlefield, Priests will receive false omens that convince them to try to terrible ideas.  The forces of this world will gather, but too slowly, too ineptly.  They do not understand the nature of the foe they face.  In time, they will, when the awful truth is revealed and the second veil is torn down.

Then they will not fight mortal proxies and the willing servants of It from this world, but armies from other worlds, from Its' world.  These new armies will be full of undying grotesqueries and abominations against God and Heaven.  By that point though, it is already too late.  Even if It were destroyed that day, the world is still destroyed.  The invaders from beyond the Stars will not drop dead or simply give up.  They will continue to fight.  The other Changes will continue as well, albeit more slowly.  The forces of this world, of our world, might be able to stop or even reverse them, but this is a great work that will not be completed for generations.   

Yet destroying It would be a task worthy of the Gods themselves.  For mortals, it would be all but impossible.


The Changes

As long as It exists in our world, the Changes will occur.  They begin with its arrival but will continue regardless of what It does, unless the hole in the veil is somehow sealed up.  As for the changes themselves, at first, they will be small.  Relatively minor and easy to ignore.  However, as months and decades pass, it will become obvious to all involved that there is something going on. 

Immediately after the veil is torn, strange sea life will become visible in the oceans.  Great fish with bone blades instead of teeth and huge, alien monsters that no living mortal has ever seen will become common sights. 

The seas will begin rising as well, flooding coastal regions.  Torrential downpours will become common.  Flooding inland will become common as well.  Strange, invasive plants will begin appearing in fields and forests, choking out native life.

The mutated freaks that were originally seen when the Barrier was broken, they will begin breeding, and they will breed new species, ones that have never been seen before.  These species will be perfectly adapted to the world that ours is being transformed into.

These monstrous species will begin collaborating, destroying, seizing or infiltrating existing institutions, subverting or removing the existing power structures that could prevent them from taking control. 

Some people, especially those in positions of power, will sell their souls to It, believing its promises that they will be given thrones in the new world.  Yet, just like the original cultists who rent the veil for It, these too will be cast aside in time, once their purpose has been realized.

The Changes will continue until our world is unrecognizable as the one we grew up in.  It will be full of strange animals, stranger peoples, and eventually it will become impossible for our people, or any of the inhabitants of the old world, to survive there.  Some will inevitably do so, hiding in sealed, enchanted shelters or escaping to distant places where the climate and biosphere cannot be altered so easily.  These hidden enclaves might be found in time and crushed by the New People who rule our former homelands, or they might not.  Even if they live, though, the survivors of the Changes will be left with one final, nigh-impossible task; resigning themselves to living in a world that does not belong to them.

                                                by Ursca

Fighting It

There is only one Aboleth.  There are other creatures like it, nameless wanderers from the Darkness beyond the Stars with incredible power and intellect, but they are not Aboleths.  It is the Aboleth.

The Aboleth
SHP 11  AC 14  Atk (+6) Tentacles 2d8 + save vs disease or 1d6 WIL + grapple & (+4) Psychic Blast 1d20
Mor 10    Saves 18 or less is a success

Damage Threshold 11: The Aboleth has a Damage Threshold.  It only take damage from sources if the amount of damage equals or exceeds Its Damage Threshold.  If a source of damage cannot equal or exceed the Threshold, instead ignore it, as if that source did no damage.

Aquatic: The Aboleth is perfectly suited to life underwater, able to breath and swim with ease.  It cannot breathe air, but It can hold Its breath for a week.

Damage Options: When the Aboleth strikes a creature with its tentacles, it can choose to do either conventional damage and possibly infect them with the disease It carries, or It can grapple and assault their minds.  Note that the Aboleth can also make two tentacle attacks and choose damage for each one independently.

Diseased Touch: When the Aboleth damages a creatures with its tentacles, that creature must save.  On a failed save, that creature is infected with a disease that cause them to lose 1d4 points of WIS a day.  Additionally, while this disease is affecting someone, they gain the ability to breathe water and lose the ability to breathe air.  This disease is cured by succeeding two saves against this disease.  You may make a new save every day.  Environmental conditions may affect the save, for example, staying near the Aboleth, adventuring or doing anything strenuous can give penalties to the save, while rest, medical attention and magic can give bonuses to the save.  Once cured, the lost points of WIS return at a rate of 1 point per day.

Voice from the Dark: If the Aboleth does not wish to damage a creature with its tentacles, it can instead grapple them and do 1d6 WIL damage to them.  If the amount of WIL damage taken ever equals or exceeds a creature's WIL score (or Morale + class levels for NPCs), that creature is scarred by the Aboleth and gains the Conviction, "I have gazed into the abyss and it has gazed back; I will avoid It in the future, along with all signs, omens or otherwise associated with it."  The affected creature's lost WIL returns at a rate of 1 per day.  Additionally, any creature that has this Conviction is permanently connected to the Aboleth, which can send it dreams or psychic messages from anywhere in this universe. 

Doorway to the Inner Sea: If the Aboleth has done at least 1 point of WIL damage to someone, if it then touches them, it can access the creature's mind and slip inside either the creature's mind or go deeper, down into the Collective Unconscious, the Floating Realm, the Spirit World, the World of Being, etc.  It can also emerge out of a such a creature, slipping out of their eyes or mouths in a hideous, physics-rending display.  Either is immensely uncomfortable and painful for the creature being used as the Doorway, but it is not do damage.

Conditional Immortality: The Aboleth is immortal.  If slain, it will return to life 1d20-11 days (min 1) unless it is killed by a mortal who has slain a Dragon, wrestled the cyclone, seduced the Queen of Air and Darkness, tasted everlasting life and died, only to be born again.

Tactics:
- Damage someone's mind to creature an escape route, keep them close to you
- Pick off the most dangerous creature, the one who keeps passing his or her saves
- Move down in order of danger
- Be crafty, be cunning
- Never fight a battle you cannot win

Sunday, May 12, 2019

OSR: Adventuring in the Lands of the Handsome Men (part 1)

This is another post about the Handsome Men.  I wrote about their culture more generally here and their families more specifically here.  I also recommend reading everything Arnold K. ever wrote on the subject of the Handsome Men, as they are a large source of inspiration for the Handsome Men.  Now, let's talk about what it would actually be like for you to guide a bunch of well-traveled rootless murder-hobos through their territory.

                                                   from National Geographic

Go North.  Pass across the breadth of the Empire and up to the Northern frontier.  Then, once you reach the Wildfire Plains, cross as quick as you can.  Once the yellow grass begins to turn green and the air grows humid and you leave behind the patches of burned grass and charred trees, you have reached their lands.

The Lands of the Handsome Men are known for their beauty.  In the Northernmost regions you will find great forests with hundred foot tall trees choking with life, overflowing with a million varieties of brightly-colored birds, jaguars, apes, monkeys and everything in between.  In the East you will find the Plains continue, though without the eternal blaze or the Fire Ghosts, until it reaches the Sea of Sand.  In the West, on the other hand, you will find well irrigated plains, fens, bogs and mist-shrouded forests.

And of course, you will find people.


Common Races in the Lands of the Handsome Men

In the West, besides the Handsome Men themselves, you will find mostly Elfmen, Frogfolk, Lizarians, Crocolings and Jelly-Eyes (Salamander-folk).

In the East, besides the Handsome Men, you will find Elfmen, Goatlings, Oxmen, Lizarians and Morcai.

Generally, the client races of the Handsome Men naturally gravitate toward certain roles.

Elfmen play the same role wherever the Handsome Men go; acting as stewards, valets and bodyguards, going where there masters will not and preparing the way for them.  Also, before we continue, a warning: Elfmen are not their own race.  They are created by the Handsome Men by surgically and magically modifying a member of another race, usually a Human or something that looks a lot like one of the Handsome Men.  The Elfmen generally resemble the popular view of Elves; beautiful, somewhat aloof, hippie-dippie types who wear revealing clothes and always have shampooed hair and washboard abs.  However, this beauty comes at a great cost.

Elfmen look quite beautiful on the outside, but are actually riddled with cancers and disease on the inside.  They cling to their Masters, because without the magic of the Handsome Men, they would swiftly degenerate and die.  Yet despite the fact that they are totally reliant on the Handsome Men for survival, Elfmen are generally far more sane than their mercurial masters, who are prone to madness, delusion and irrationality.  As such, the Elfmen do everything in their power to ensure that no one does anything that might bother their masters, as a Handsome Man who is angry is an incredibly dangerous thing.

Frogfolk are generally used as brute labor in more humid climates, as their moist skin helps them to tolerate the sun better than some other races.  They can also tolerate being wet without complaint, so they are ideal fishermen and rice farmers.

Lizarians are a reptilian, with highly cerebral minds and a cold-blooded attitude.  They form the majority of Scholars in Handsome Men society, though even the most intelligent of their kind cannot match the Handsome Men.  They are also known to take up other positions requiring intellectual labor, such as managing finances, acting as an administrator or a bureaucrat where such things are needed.

Crocolings are a free-spirited and independent race, so they are difficult to utilize.  Most of them find employment in positions where they can make their own decisions, so many of them find themselves becoming mercenaries to fight in the many intercine wars of the Handsome Men, or against the Orzanian Empire to the South.  They are generally more expensive than Morcai or Goatling mercernary bands, but they are more sensible than the former and less cowardly than the latter, so they have established a comfortable niche for themselves.

Jelly-Eyes are known for their patience and their loyalty.  As such, they are prized as bodyguards and enforcers.  A Jelly-Eyes who breaks his word is as uncommon as a Goatling who keeps his.  They are inflexible in their principles, generally.  As such, they are often given tasks that allow them to exercise authority apart from the supervision of the Elfmen or the Handsome Men themselves, acting as bounty hunters, slave-merchants, and man-catchers.  Also, for reasons that almost make sense, they make up the majority of the dedicated clerical class.   

Goatlings form the other half of the Middle-Manager class in Handsome Men society.  While Lizarians handle the white-collar work, Goatlings are the ones who leave the realm of pure theory and go into the messy world of the possible.  They are famous for acting as advocates in legal cases, as well as acting as diplomats and representatives.  They are also known for their discretion in combat, if not their valor.  They seem to have an unerring ability to pick the winning side in any conflict.  No sane commander trusts his Goatling troops not to defect or flee if he starts losing, but they all value the advice of a Goatling advisor.  
 
Oxmen are the counterparts of the Frogfolk in the East.  Where the air dries out and the Frogs can no longer effectively work, they will the gap for the Handsome Men.  This is their most common role, though it is not the only one.  They also form large contigents of the mercantile class, as an Oxmen is generally more trusted than Crocoling or a Goatling, as the former is likely going to fleece you for every coin you have while the latter is likely trying to scam you.  That's not to say there aren't ruthless Oxmen, there are, of course; but no one sees it coming from them.

Morcai are a wild, horned race of reptiles from the depths of the Sand Sea.  They are known for their incredible, fanatical courage; their lascivious women; a matriarchal culture and being able to inject venom through their fangs or spray it from the same.  Morcai are relatively uncommon outside of the Sand Sea, and are often mistaken for Lizarians, though no one who met any of the latter would confuse them with the former.  Morcai are generally used for only one purpose in Handsome Men society and that is to fight.  Morcai soldiers are known for their viciousness and their complete unwillingness to surrender, as for them, to die for a worthy cause is honorable and to retreat or be struck in the back is a sign of deep shame.

This reputation is reinforced by the fact that many of the Morcai who are sent into the lands of the Handsome Men are exiles from their own land, seeking either an honorable death in battle or enough martial glory that they might wash away the stains on their family's reputation.

                                                       by Scott Gustafson

Handsome Men society and social structure

There are four classes of people in Handsome Men society.

First, there are the Free.  This a class almost exclusively made up of a Handsome Men.  This is the only class that can own vast tracts of property, Dependent Employees (slaves) and in the case of urban dwellers, hold public office.  They are trusted to be the guardians of society, the gate keepers and wise elders, acting in the interests of those under them.  This class is also not expected to work.  A Handsome Man who actually has to do labor to support themselves will be thought of as low-status compared to one who does not.  In this society, to be idle and to have enough to be able to waste it on luxuries or give lavishly is sign of good breeding and virtue, while to labor or be miserly is considered a sign of poor breeding, low status or vice.

The Second Class is the Sibling Class, the so-called Little Brothers and Sisters.  These are ostensibly free people who are part of a Handsome Man's Household, working for the Handsome Man like the peasants attached to a manor worked for the Lord of that Manor.  In turn they receive protection, which is something that they desperately need, but more on that later.  Some Little Brothers and Sisters live on the Plantation, working alongside other members of the Household along with Dependent Employees, while others live among their own in small villages under the protection of the nearest Handsome Man, who usually only stops in every so often to see how things are doing, if any assistance is needed, and to carry out certain rituals that must be observed.  For example, one of these is that the Handsome Man be given gifts by the children of that village, which will always be treasured.  In reality, these spontaneous displays of generosity and affection are carefully rehearsed by the Elfmen and the Little Brothers in the village to ensure that the Handsome Man is not offended by anything that might be in the village.

For this reason, among the Elfmen, there is a common, if rarely vocalized belief that the personal assistants and valets of the Handsome Men are the true ruling class of their society.

The Third class are the Chainfolk, sometimes called the Enslaved Peoples or the Oppressed Ones.  The Chainfolk are generally those who come from other societies who still hold to such barbarous concepts as taxation, civil government and organized religion.  The Handsome Men are always eager to adopt the Chainfolk and educate them on how much better their society is than whatever one the Chainfolk came from. 

The Fourth class are the Dependent Employees, or slaves.  Not that you will ever hear that label applied to them by a Handsome Man.  Handsome Men abhor anything ugly, evil or unpleasant, so they bury any evils their society produces in euphemisms.  They are still slaves, though.  For laws regarding how these slaves are treated, find an American history textbook, flip to the chapter on it, and rip it out.  There you go.  Go ahead and include stuff like whippings, forced marriages, sold on the auction block, forced to fight to the death for psychopathic masters, and etc, etc, etc.  Just remember that anything evil or unpleasant will be wrapped in euphemisms or ignored or rationalized away; and the actions themselves will usually be carried out behind closed doors.

                                              by Alicechan

On Masks, Civil Society and the Duality of Man

Talking to the Handsome Man has been described as a "chore best left for slaves."  It's basically impossible.  Handsome Men speech is layered in so many layers of euphemism, figures of speech and carefully pruned vocabulary that it is incredibly difficult to speak to them about anything important.  Discussing the weather, tasty foods, pretty things the Handsome Man is wearing, shiny objects or other pedestrian topics is easy, but that's not the issue.  Discussing these things with a Handsome Man is easy.  But unless you're making small-talk, these things usually aren't important.
 
Combine this with the Handsome Men's deliberate refusal to engage with anything evil or ugly is one of their strongest taboos.  To speak about ugly things in front of an unprepared Handsome Man is one of the gravest social errors you can make, and in Handsome Man society, a breach of custom is identical to a breach of law.

You see, Handsome Men, while being very progressive in some ways, also have strong social taboos against many things.  For example, while in theory you can do any sort of sexual thing you want in Handsome Man society, have sex with people of the opposite sex, the same sex, animals, your Dependent Employees (slaves) or anything else you want to do, if you actually do any of the above, you will be severely shamed.  To the Handsome Men, the only proper sexual activity is between two consenting parties of equal rank and usually of the opposite sex, though opinions do vary somewhat.  There are also similar taboos against defecation, nudity, using drugs, drinking alcohol or eating in public. 

But if you do that where people can see you, you will be severely punished or at least publicly condemned.  Though this condemnation will be wrapped in so many layers of polite verbiage that you might not realize it is a condemnation.  The other more acclimatized people will realize it though. 

You see, Handsome Men are constantly wearing masks, always pretending to be moral, beautiful and perfect.  They will not engage with anything that forces them to take off their mask.  That is, unless they want to.

The prime example is fighting a Handsome Man.  The first thing any Handsome Man will do is run away.  This is not because they are afraid of you, but because they need to change into their War Face.  Once concealed from you, the Handsome Man will use magic to transform their bodies into monstrous forms equipped with tougher bodies and natural weapons.  Then they will return and engage you.  Elfmen do the same thing, but they usually do not have the same magical abilities, so they use masks and costumes.

A Handsome Man's War Face is more than just a form suited for battle, however.  It is a compartmentalization of all the gross, repulsive, diabolical and animalistic aspects of their personalities.  A Handsome Man cannot "act out" expect when they put on their War Face.  So whenever they get the chance to do so, they relish it.  Handsome Men who are attacked often play with their food, so to speak.  This isn't always a metaphor, either.  Handsome Men also change into their War Faces for other reasons than just to fight.

For example, the Night of the Hunter's Moon is an annual festival for the Handsome Men where all the attending Handsome Men transform themselves into their War Faces and engage in ritualistic hunts against specially marked prey, as well as other debauchery, such as wild orgies, drinking until they black out, bathing in public or eating where people who do not know them can see.  The stereotypical example is that of the Handsome Man and Woman who are married but trapped in a seemingly loveless, "sparkless" relationship.  They are polite and chaste with each other for the whole year and you might wonder if they even truly care for each other.  The exception is this one night, where they both transform and go beat a Wyvern to death with their bare hands, then argue and start a fight that destroys half the house, before having wild-monkey sex and going to bed in a heap.  The next morning they wake up, put their masks back on and pretend like everything is that happened last night simply didn't.

This behavior sounds completely odd, but it really isn't.  Above is actually a relatively modest indulgence, far less than what some would do.  Hunting whole menagaries of dangerous magical beast, engaging in ritual combat with condemned prisoners, even chasing down and killing those unlucky enough to be walking around on the Night of the Hunter's Moon are all acceptable practices on this one night.  For these and other reasons the Night of the Hunter's Moon is a festival known for its excess, as well as its danger for the non-Handsome Man.  In cities where this festival is celebrated, this is the night to lock your doors and huddle together till morning, when the Free will put their masks on and go back to being Handsome.

                                                  by Fifthroom

Handsome Man Justice

Earlier, it was mentioned how Handsome Men Society does not have civil government.  However, this is not entirely true.  Rather, it is more accurate to say that Handsome Men Society has no overarching legal framework.  Civil government does exist in certain polities and city-states, but there is no centralization of power.  The Handsome Men do recognize the need to band together and do so in times of great turmoil, such as during disasters or invasions.  However, these temporary alliances never last and are mere stopgap measures to assist all who are involved.

Ordinarily, however, Handsome Men government has a very limited scope.  However, the Handsome Men are not lawless.  Their society is predicated on the doctrine of unwritten law.  That is to say, there is law, even though it is not written down.  Furthermore, when a Handsome Man, acting as a judge reaches a verdict, they do so in accordance with precedent of other Handsome Men's judgements.  For the Handsome Men, cases are not law, but evidence of law.

However, in practice, things don't always work like that.  For the Handsome Men themselves, they usually only fall under their own jurisdiction.  A Handsome Men in their home has absolute control over their surroundings and members of their household.  If there is a dispute between two members of a Household, the highest ranking of the Handsome Men will judge the case.  This also applies if a Chainfolk and a member of a Handsome Men's Household get into a dispute.

However, if two people from two different Households are having a dispute, the ranking Handsome Men from both households will come together and sit in judgement over the case and reach a joint verdict.  At least, in theory.  Sometimes the closer Handsome Man will simply make their judgement without consulting the other Handsome Man.  This can lead to blood feuds, assassinations and intercine warfare, as an attack on a member of a Handsome Man's household is an attack on them.  Most of the wars the Handsome Men fight are against each other, of Household against Household.  Many of these wars can be just as bloody as the warfare of states further south, as the Handsome Men who begin the fight end up dragging their friends, kinsmen and superiors into an escalating spiral of violence and destruction.

This, among other reasons is why all who can enter the Household of a Handsome Men.  By becoming a member of a Handsome Man's household, you earn some degree of protection.  Many a brute or highwayman have been dissuaded from attacking someone because of the seal of the Handsome Man they carried, for those violent men know that the arms of the Handsome Men are long and their vengeance absolute.   

The one exception to the above rule is with the cities of the Handsome Men.  In a Handsome Men city, the law of the city usually trumps the individual Handsome Men, as before you enter the city of a Handsome Men, you must agree to enter the city and behave as a guest would of your own free will.  Thus, once in a city, even the Handsome Men themselves fall under the jurisdiction of the city.  Anyone who breaks a city's law will be taken to the city's justices and there usually won't be any dispute.  Usually.
            
In a City, additionally, things are slightly different than when you are taken before an individual Handsome Man.  For starters, if one of the people being judged is a Handsome Men, a Handsome Man of a superior rank, or a council of Handsome Men will be assigned to judge the case.  You will have to make your case before them. 

However, if no Handsome Men are directly involved in this case, or you are accused to acting against someone who has minimal or non-existent status, such as a stray (a little Brother who was rejected) a Dependent Employee whose master doesn't care enough to intervene, or another Chainfolk, you will be taken before a Subjugulator.

Subjugulators are the Clown-Judges of the Handsome Men, lesser Magistrates elevated above the other little Brothers.  Handsome Men regard them as cute and funny, laughing uproariously at their antics.  Everyone else is terrified of them.  The Subjugulators are known for their excessive and random violence, the irrational and unfair nature of their judgements and the terror they induce in children and adults alike.  A trial with a Subjugulator is always odd and occasionally descends into a full blown circus.  For this reason, the Handsome Men are known to attend these trials and watch from the gallery, politely applauding and laughing along at the Subjugulator's joke.

To see how a Subjugulator-run trial is organized, roll on the table below.

In this trial, the verdict is being decided on...
1d6

1- Who can tell a more interesting version of events.  Truth is irrelevant.
2- Who can tell the funniest joke.
3- Who can flatter the Subjugulator or the gallery the best.
4- Who can beat the other in a game of riddles.  Depending on the case, it might be better to win or lose.  For example, if you are accused of some masterful crime, it might be better to throw the riddle contest.
5- Whether the plantiff/prosecutor can beat the accused in some contest.  The contest could be anything from a cooking competition, a fist fight, a wrestling match or a race to see who can grab the shiny black rock off the desk in the Subjugulator's office and bring it back here first.
6- It is based on the facts and the evidence.  It's all very unorthodox.

But then...
1d4

1- The Subjugulator rules that the Defense may only speak to insult the prosecutor.
2- The Subjugulator declares that they are having a recess for lunch, and whoever can bring him or her the better dish will be granted the right to decide the verdict they want.
3- The Subjugulator announces the verdict and the attached punishment at the start of the case, then says that whoever loses will be forced to endure that punishment
4- The Subjugulator tells everyone that there is another Clown in this building and is thus delaying the trial until the Subjugulator can find that Clown and deal with them.

                                                     by Abigail Larson