Thursday, February 27, 2020

SOS: Making Meatier Demons

                                                   source unknown

I recently read The Light is the Darkness by Laird Barron and it really inspired me.  I won't say anything more about it, just go read it.  Barron is a great author who is massively underrated.  If you like Lovecraft, Cosmic Horror or anything approaching that general junction, he's your man. 

Specifically though, the book made me reconsider my approach to Outsiders.  For a while now, I feel my approach to Outsiders has been too "video-gamey".  Thanks to the harsh distinction between body and mind, they feel artificial, clean.  And while this is okay for Nukaria, I want something different for Sea of Stars.  I want them to be a bit more, meaty.

Not Quite Human:

When you make a new Empty-Man (Outsider/Angel/Demon/Spirit in Sea of Stars) roll on the table below.  

Roll on these tables to determine what an Empty-Man/Principality for Sea of Stars looks/acts like.

Why is this creature so wrong?

1- Was not a Human: This creature is not human but mimics them, but it is imperfect at this.  It doesn't quite understand something fundamental about humanity, this is why people are scared of it, because they know, on some level, that it is a monster wearing a human mask.  The creature's mimicry is 1d4 [1= Terrible, hollow pretense, unmistakeably belonging to an infiltrator or a wicked, vile prankster; 2-3= Distressing for some reason, but can be written off as a strange, or disturbed individual, subtly creepy; 4= Almost, but not quite, something about the person just doesn't feel right.]  Additionally, for this creature, roll on the Multiple Forms table.

2- Is not a Human anymore: This creature was human at some point in the past, but it no longer is.  It has been twisted into something monstrous, but there are still glimpses visible of the person it once was, in its words and mannerisms, cruel japes that seem to taunt the viewer.  For this creature, roll here for a distressing appearance here, then combine it with a normal human appearance.  

3- Is not a Human anymore and maybe never was: This creature can mimic humanity, at least for a time, almost perfectly.  The problem is that this disguise is difficult to keep up.  The creature has to struggle to maintain it and eventually, the mask will come off.  In that moment, you will realize your error.  This creature's disguise is very good, but it 1d3 [1= Starts to unravel under certain conditions, such as when the creature is wounded or is under specific stars; 2= The disguise degenerates naturally, over a period of hours, days or weeks; 3= The Disguise is perfect, but some people will be able to see through it.  They won't necessarily see that this creature is a monster, but they will know something is wrong.]

This Empty-Man has...


1- One form.  It is bound to the original form that the human form it originally owned/consumed/possessed.
2- One changeable form.  Has the "Shape-Changer" ability.
3- Two forms and the Empty-Man can change between them, at will.  Has the "Shape-Changer" ability.
4- Two forms, but one of the forms can be changed, at will.  Has the "Shape-Changer" ability.

Shape-changer: This Empty-Man has X forms, (his/her) human form and (his/her) true form. 
(He/She) can change between these forms as a free action.
(He/She) may or may not be able to alter (his/her) human form's appearance.

Base Empty-Man Statblock:

AC Varies
Atk Varies
Mor 10 
Saves (7+X) or less is a success

Damage Threshold X: All Empty-Men have a Damage Threshold.  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 it did no damage.  To determine the Empty-Man's Damage Threshold, consult the table labeled "How strong is it" below.

SHP: Stands for "Super Hit Points".  All Empty-Men have a number of Super Hit Points equal to their Damage Threshold.  Each time the Damage Threshold is equaled or exceeded, they lose 1 SHP.  When they lose them all, they die.

Preternatural Physique: All Empty-Men have enhanced bodies.  They are stronger, faster and tougher than a normal human.  As such, when they roll checks based on their STR, DEX or CON, they add double their normal modifier.  For example, if an Empty-Man has a STR of 15(+1), he adds a +2 bonus to all STR checks and saving throws.   

- Be sneaky, scare people for fun and profit
- Avoid attacking large groups
- Be somewhat conceited, don't take individual mortals seriously

For the rest of an Empty-Man's abilities, consult the tables on the Outsider Megapost, but refluff the abilities to make them less ostentatious.  Sea of Stars is not the type of setting where Wizards cast spells with flashing lights and magic words, so neither should the Demons.  The magic is more like Star Wars (pre-Sequel trilogy) than Harry Potter.

                                                          source unknown

More than Man:

Not all Empty-Men were human, but those that were are proof that one can abandon mortality to become more than human.  The ways of reaching this posthuman level varies from method to method, but it can generally be done in two ways.  Firstly, the simplest way is to be initiated through a ritual that links you directly to one of the Powers of the Emptiness, one of their Principalities or an Empty-Man.  This option is easier, in some ways, but it is also much more dangerous.  Depending on the power and cruelty of the source, you may have to undergo some intense suffering to achieve immortality.  Additionally, not all who undergo such a process are known to actually survive.  Some cannot bear the strain, do not possess the right lineage or for some other esoteric reason, are simply unworthy.  As such, they are devoured by the process.

The second way is to track down various secret methods, created by Diabolic Scholars, Empty-Men or Principalities over the eons.  These methods are concealed in occult tomes, encrypted in otherwise mundane looking conversation, stored on the computers of defunct space stations orbiting dead worlds or dying stars, or carried in the scriptures, minds or carved into the flesh of cultists.  These methods are generally safer than hurling yourself at the feet of some hungry demon and begging for its assistance.  However, they are very well guarded, concealed or hidden: usually some combination of the three. 

Here are some methods of Ascension:


1- Receive a dangerous series of injections that kill 1-in-9 and render 1-in-5 mad, while learning the various secret trigger words.  After each injection, you will need to know what the word is or have someone say it to you.  The trigger word will activate the effects of the serum you were injected with and begin the process of apotheosis.

2- Ritualistically murder a number of people each fitting a specific criteria: a Priest, a Virgin, a Sinner, etc.  Drain their blood and bind their mana to their fluids.  Keep the blood preserved.  Then, under specific astrological conditions, under the stars, recite the words, bathe yourself in their blood and have someone drown you in it.  If done properly, you will rise, reborn.  If not, well, you're smart, you'll figure it out. 

3- Find a functional data crystal with a link to the Chatroom.  Then, decipher the mysterious strings of numbers and letters you keep receiving in your inbox.  They're a code that will lead you to perform a series of bizarre actions that do not seem relevant or connected.  Performing a task properly will lead to being given a small piece of information.  If you keep completing tasks, you will realize that they are giving you instructions on how to build a machine.  Each time, the required task will increase in difficulty, from basic to herculean.  Those who complete all the tasks will receive all the instructions for how to complete the Machine.  They will then activate the machine and climb inside it.  Those who succeed will be transformed.  Those who fail at this point die.  Those who fail earlier in the process by being unable to complete a task usually fail because they suffer a psychotic break. 

4- Sculpt your body to the point of physical perfection through diet, exercise, surgery and other medicines.  Then, take a much of dangerous, psychotropic and hallucinogenic drugs, have yourself tied to a cross and get a group of semi-sane degenerates to anoint you with the 4 humors, along with some other bodily fluids.  Then have a mystic, shaman, prophet or priest lead the group through the rest of the ceremony.  Then the leader of the ritual should anoint you with the substance. If it works, you will be transformed and the degenerates will come forward to worship you.  If it doesn't work, at best you will have merely wasted time and resources, while at worst you will be torn to shreds by the mob.    

5- Retreat to a specific "holy" site on a certain planet and meet with the ancient brotherhood that has dwelled there, protecting the site for untold centuries.  Train with them and learn their secrets, until you unlock their final mystery, what they are guarding.  Master that final teaching and you will emerge as something more than man. 

6- Sever your ties to humanity and begin a one-man war against goodness, decency, your fellow man, life, truth, beauty, meaning and God.  When you kill someone, make sure to consecrate the murder to yourself.  Keep going until your mind is so warped the only thing you now understand is power and violence, then arrange circumstances so you die* in the midst of a violent clash or a maelstrom of destruction.  When you "die", if you are strong enough, your body will be healed and you will find yourself buried in rubble, riding in an ambulance, or awaking in the morgue, potentially naked on an operating table.   

*Bodily death may or may not be required           

Also, one last note:

Player characters should be allowed to reject their humanity, but this is not like becoming a Daemon Prince, which is a level meant for high-level characters who are seeking immortality.  Only use that option if the character is already high/near level. 

Player characters who transform should be much less powerful than even a weak Daemon Prince, starting with a Damage Threshold of 6 with SHP to match.  If they survive long enough, they may be able to get stronger.  Potential methods of getting stronger in this form could involve training with other ascended Humans, slaughtering lesser beings and engaging in sumptuous buffets of violence, being strengthened by other Ascended Humans, Empty-Men, Principalities or one of the Powers by making a pact or serving them, or finding lesser Ascended ones and devouring them to gain their strength.

                                                        source unknown

Saturday, February 22, 2020

OSR: Semblance Rules

I keep trying to explain Semblances to an uninitiated audience and ultimately, I keep falling short in clarity.  Trying to explain this concept to anyone who hasn't seen JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is probably a Sisyphean task.  None the less, I will continue to try.

But just in case you need more explanation, watch this video.

                                                          by Devilman27

The Rules:

1.  Any player with the Agent Class has a Semblance, which can best be described as an Imaginary Friend, Tulpa or Ghost projected by the character's own soul.  They gain this ability at level 3.  A Semblance is a manifestation of the character's life force, each one able to be summoned and act in accordance with the character's desires.  The easiest ways to think of a Semblance is as a secondary body or a creature the character can summon or dismiss at will. 

2.  The second rule of Semblances is that they can only be hurt by magical items or objects and by creatures with souls.  To a creature with no soul or life force, a Semblance is invisible, though it can still affect them. 

3.  The third rule of Semblances is that they have their own pools of health.  However, when these pools are expended, the Semblance does not die, but instead damage is transferred directly over to the user of the Semblance.  And if a user dies, so does the Semblance. 

4.  The fourth rule is that each Semblance has its own unique power, but more on that later.  This power may have certain conditions that trigger it.  This power is also tied to the user and, if it is say, activated by touch, the user's or the Semblance's touch can trigger it. 

5.  The fifth rule of Semblances is that they are not always there, but can Manifest as a free action on behalf of the user. This makes a Semblance appear.  While a Semblance is manifested, the user is considered to have no Fighting Spirit, as the energy of their soul is projected outside of their body.

                                                        by DADAIST-Gabriel

To generate your own Semblance, roll on the table below.

How many Acts does it have?

1- 2 Acts
2- 3 Acts
3- 4 Acts

What are it's Stats?

1- +1
2- +2
3- +3
4- +4
5- +5
6- Reroll, with a +1 bonus to your next roll.

Semblances have Six Stats:
Power, Speed, Toughness, Range, Precision and Development Potential.

Roll on the table above for Power, Speed, Toughness and Precision.

For Range and Development Potential, roll on the Tables below.


1- E.  Your Semblance's Range is 30'.
2- D.  Your Semblance's Range is 50'.
3- C.  Your Semblance's Range is 100'.
4- B.  Your Semblance's Range is a city block, with you as the center.
5- A.  Your Semblance's Range is so large you shouldn't even bother accounting for it, unless you're dealing with someone with Flash level speed, teleportation, traveling to alternate universes, etc.
6- Reroll, with a +1 bonus to your next roll.

Development Potential
1d3 + the number of remaining Acts (Total Acts-1)

1- D
2- C
3- B

The Referee should not necessarily tell a player how many Acts their Semblance has left, but they can.  That is up to the individual Referee. 

Referees should help a player roll the initial Stats for his Semblance.

Whenever a player levels up enough to unlock another Act, the Referee should reroll the Semblance's Stats and replace the lower Stats with higher ones. 

For a Semblance's HP, each time the user increases in a level, the Semblance gets +X HP, where X is its current Toughness Stat.  For example, the Semblance of a level 1 Agent with a Toughness stat of +2 has 2 HP.  Though obviously, a level 1 Agent won't be able to manifest their Semblance yet, so this only becomes a relevant factor once they can manifest it.

                                                        source unknown

Semblance Nature:

Your Semblance manifests as...

1- a Creature.  Your Semblance appears as a creature that stands besides you. 
2- Bound to an object.  Your Semblance bonds to an transforms an object near by.  For example, a knife, a car, a deck of cards.  Player's choice.
3- an Organic part of your body.  Your Semblance affects part of your body, transforming it and making it different. 
4- an Object.  Your Semblance appears as an object that you can hold in your hand.
5- a Colony.  Your Semblance appears as group of creatures around you.
6- Reroll

Your Semblance's Nature is...

1- Heaven.  Your Semblance requires only your will to activate.
2- Ground.  Your Semblance requires the action of an enemy to activate.  The enemy need not realize this.  For example, if your enemy attacks you, moves away from you, or speaks to you. 
3- General.  Your Semblance requires an additional action on your part.
4- Law.  Your Semblance's ability, once activated, affects everyone nearby who fulfills a specific condition, such as touching the person the user initially affected.
5- Bonds.  Your Semblance requires an action on behalf of another person to activate.  For example, attacking a specific person.
6- Automatic.  Your Semblance acts independently of you, requiring only you to turn it on.  Once activated, it fulfills a specific objective through rudimentary means; for example, killing a person in a specific range by pursuing the hottest nearby source of heat and attacking it.

                                                         source unknown

Semblance Powers:

All Semblances have two basic abilities and one specific ability. 

The basic abilities are:

Semblance: A Semblance can only be hurt by ensouled beings or magic items.  For all other sources of damage, it takes no damage.

Life Transfer: When a Semblance's pool of Health is reduced to zero, it does not die, but instead the remaining damage or any damage past that point is transferred over to the user of the Semblance.  And if the user dies, the Semblance dies as well. 

The specific ability varies.

It is unique to the Semblance.  No Semblance can do exactly what any other can, though they might have similar abilities.  The abilities can be made up by the Referee or collaboratively with the player and the Referee working together. 

Here is an example of a Semblance with a specific ability:

Suppose a player wants a Semblance that makes him more likeable or charming. 

The Referee rolls and determines that this Semblance will have two Acts.  So he comes up with an ability related to the player's request and then creates a slightly more powerful version of this ability.

For example, Act 1 of this Semblance could make whatever a player does seem impressive, entertaining or dignified, even if that thing he does is tripping and falling down a flight of steps in full view of all his party guests.

Act 2 of this Semblance could be to do the same, but to only one person, with a more powerful Charm affect, making that one person be much more amenable to whatever that person asks of them.

Then you should generate an appearance for the Semblance and name it.  This can be left up to the players, unless they ask otherwise.  And while this isn't Gospel truth, I always name Semblances after songs, as homage to the person who first made up the concept. 

So a finished version of the above Semblance would be...

[The Beautiful People] (Colony) (Law)
Power: +5
Speed: +5
Toughness: +5
Range: D
Precision: +5
Development Potential: +5

Appearance: The Semblance appears as 100 tiny men and women about the size of gerbils in fine clothes who stand on the shoulders, sit in the handbags and cling to the coattails of people within range and whisper to them about how great the user is. 

Additionally, while these tiny people can be seen, they are hard to notice, as they surround themselves with an aura of magical charm that soothes the minds of those near them.

Act 1: Anything the user does in front of these people will be seen as "cool", even if what they're doing is ridiculous, unconventional or odd.  The user may reroll any persuasion or intimidation checks when his Semblance is active, as long as the person he is trying to affect is within range (50'). 

Act 2: The tiny people all vanish to be replaced by 10 larger people, about the height and weight of a toddler, but very sneaky.  They surround one person and focus all their energies on persuading this one person.  Anything you do while this one person is watching you will be seen as the embodiment of "cool", and you may add your CHA modifier times 2 (CHA*2)  to any roll made to intimidate or persuade the person affected.   

NPC Semblance Users:


Sanya Grimmson
HD 7 (2 when his Semblance is manifested)
AC 11 (Natural DEX)
Atk Sword (1d6+1)
Mor 14
Saves 10 or less is a success

[The Beautiful People] (Colony) (Law)
Power: +5  (Atk: Fists, handbags, tiny stilleto heels (1d6+5) )
Speed: +5  (AC: 15 when manifested)
Toughness: +5 (HD: 5)
Range: D  (can move up to 50' away from the user)
Precision: +5
Development Potential: +5

Semblance: A Semblance can only be hurt by ensouled beings or magic items.  For all other sources of damage, it takes no damage.

Life Transfer: When a Semblance's pool of Health is reduced to zero, it does not die, but instead the remaining damage or any damage past that point is transferred over to the user of the Semblance.  And if the user dies, the Semblance dies as well.

Act 1: Anything the user does in front of these people will be seen as "cool", even if what they're doing is ridiculous, unconventional or odd.  The user may reroll any persuasion or intimidation checks when his Semblance is active, as long as the person he is trying to affect is within range (50'). 

Act 2: The tiny people all vanish to be replaced by 10 larger people, about the height and weight of a toddler, but very sneaky.  They surround one person and focus all their energies on persuading this one person.  Anything you do while this one person is watching you will be seen as the embodiment of "cool", and you may add your CHA modifier times 2 (CHA*2)  to any roll made to intimidate or persuade the person affected. 

- Try to persuade, avoid violence if possible
- Use Act 1 to convince the opposition that fighting you would be suicide
- If that doesn't work, use Act 2 to crush their leader and try to force them to retreat

                                                  source unknown

Monday, February 17, 2020

TwK: The Underground

                                                               by MacKaylion

The Underground is the first level of the Underworld.  It is a buffer zone between the Daylight Realm and the Palaces of Unending Black.  You can find hidden entrances to it in many places, if you know where to look.  The Underground links together all dungeons and Underground spaces.  From secret facilities to subway tunnels, they all have access points in the Underground.  Fortunately, most are hidden.  Unfortunately, this is also because the Underground does not wish to be mapped.

Travel through the Underground is quicker.  If you know how to find your way, you can go anywhere in the surface world.  You can walk to Hong Kong from Washington D.C. in several hours, if you know the way.  But the Underground does not wish to be understood.  It hoards its secrets, only speaking to those who are like it.  Those who are not like the Underground are very likely to get lost.  It is well known that only children, as long as they possess a relatively normal childhood that wasn't horribly traumatizing, been orphaned or abused, had to grow up too fast; fools; and madmen are able to navigate the Underground well. 

If you are in the Underground and you go up, for any length of time, you will end up on the surface once more.  If you don't go through the same exit that you entered through, you will end up in a different place. 

Conversely, if you are in the Underground and you go down, for any length of time, you will enter the Veins of the Earth.  

The door is...

1- Concealed behind paint, a layer of boards or wallpaper.
2- Hidden behind an appliance.
3- In an abandoned house that no one ever enters. 
4- In an underground passageway or tunnel.  The door is unmarked.
5- Placed in the ground, ringed by concrete and sealed with a rusty lock that could be easily smashed open.
6- In the basement, in the far corner, behind the old board games and the boxes of stuff from Dad's house that you could never bear to throw away.

This hallway is...

1- Carpeted, lit with electric lights.
2- Carpeted, but it's threadbare from decades or longer of use.  There are electric lights here, but they've long ago burned out or broken.
3- The carpet is patchy and partially dissolved in places.  A powerful alkaline smell lingers.
4- The floor is hardwood, freshly swept and gleaming.  Lit by candles.
5- The floor is hardwood, but the wood is old and certain floorboards creak when stepped on. 
6- The floor is hardwood, but has been dirtied by many years of abuse and use.  50% chance of being stained with fresh blood.
7- The floor is white tile, the walls are covered by the same till about halfway up the wall, then it is painted white.  The hall is lit by fluorescent lights.  In the distance, you can hear groans of pain and electric motors whirring.
8- The floor is dirty tile, with small windows near the ceiling.  If you can manage to peek through one, you will see it shows an area far from where you entered.  The lights don't work.
9- The walls are ancient stone, the floor is the same.  This passageway looks like it was painstakingly mined out by hand.
10- The floor is cobblestone, the walls carved stone.  They display reliefs depicting ancient times, like Greek or Roman art, but depicting inhuman creatures and bizarre rituals.
11- The walls are brick, the ceiling wood, the floor hard-packed dirt.  Above you, you can hear a man and woman arguing.  25% it escalates to throwing things.
12- The walls and floor are poured concrete, occasionally adorned with graffiti and notes signed with names saying things like, "I Daniel Schmidt, made it all the way to the Black Door."  The floor is scattered with used condoms, candy wrappers, beer cans and the occasional hypodermic needle.
13- The floor is covered in an inch or two of dirty water.  Above you, you can see a bit of sunlight peeking out around a metal circle.  It might be a manhole cover, but the bits of speech you can hear on the other side of it don't sound familiar.
14- The walls are wood, the floor is covered in utilitarian carpet.  Occasionally, the walls are decorated with a painting or a mirror.  You occasionally pass doors that are numbered.  This area leads to dozens of other hallways, all decorated the same way as the one you entered.  Sometimes you meet other travelers or maids pushing carts, but none are likely to give you trouble.  If you talk to them, they will tell you to get your refund while you can and to avoid the Night Manager.  Some of them have been here a very long time.
15- It was once a nice hallway, but the wooden walls are scorched and there are burn marks on the concrete floor.  You will pass a door in this hall that is locked from the outside.  Behind it, you can hear screaming and the sizzle of fat in a fire. If you stop, knock or make any sound, there will be cries from inside for you to let them out.  The doorknob is hot enough to burn unprotected flesh when touched. 
16- The floor is concrete, the walls and ceiling metal.  You can smell gunpowder. 
17- The floor is covered in sand, the walls bare, sandy dirt reinforced with wooden planks.  You can hear waves crashing nearby and smell sea salt.  If you look carefully, you can find a small door that will let out underneath a bungalow on a beach.
18- The hallway is half-flooded, with small fish and crayfish swimming around your ankles.  The ceiling is porous, so bits of sunlight flow through the holes.  You can hear someone, or something, splashing around nearby.
19- This hallway is covered in utilitarian, easy to clean brown tiles.  Nearby, you can smell blood and hear the distant cries of animals.  This hallway is lit by electric lights. 
20- The floor is carpeted.  The smell of gingerbread and pine fill the air.  The hallway is illuminated by a string of glowing Christmas lights wrapped around the frame of a large mirror. 

The hallway leads to...

1- A room covered in ancient mosaics, depicting events that seem eerily similar to what the party's current quest is/what they are doing right now.
2- A room with a fountain in the center.  There's water in it, but it's long stagnant, with some glittering coins at the bottom of the pool.
3- What looks like an indoor pool, with concrete walls and a matching ceiling.  The pool is illuminated so it glows a calming blue, but the pool doesn't seem to have a bottom.  The deep end just goes down and down and down, until you can't see anything, just murky black.  There is a "No Diving" sign.
4- A wide arcade of concrete, tall as a semi-trailer and at least fifty feet across.  The floor is asphalt and is covered in tire marks.  You can hear motors growling in the distance and occasionally, someone will drive by in a car or truck.
5- A room lit by strange, green lights.  There are strange plants in vials or glass tubes growing into bizarre or disturbing shapes under these lights. 
6- A metal catwalk bolted to a stone wall that resembles a cliff overlooking the huge expanse of water beneath you.  You cannot see the other end of the water.  If you are lucky, you might see a ship sailing across it. 
7- A large room with one glass wall.  On the other side of the wall, you will see that space is full of water and fish, a massive aquarium.  But some of the fish in there will be like nothing you've ever seen.  There may also be stranger things in there. 
8- A warehouse looking building with a ceiling and walls of bare steel, lit by harsh fluorescents.  The room is massive and stacked with dozens of wooden crates, each one labeled with the seal of a government agency. 
9- An elevator.  It's a very nice one, with granite floors and mirror walls.  It can take you up or down.  Really far down.
10- A communal shower locker room (men or women's, equal chance of each).  May not be for humans.  May be empty, or currently being used.  There are showers nearby though, in case you need water, or to clean yourself.
11- A staircase carved into bare rock, leading down and down into the earth.
12- A darkened room full of row after row of filing cabinets.  The information in here can be mundane or magical, secret or declassified, (equal chance of each).
13- A darkened cellar with wooden shelves loaded with canned goods and pickling barrels.  There is a door and and a short staircase leading up to the surface, presumably. 
14- A survival bunker with a generator, a bunk, a pile of books, mostly political philosophy and survivalism, a stash of guns and medical supplies and more canned goods than a man could eat in one lifetime. 
15- A mostly bare concrete room with two strange devices in the center of the room, connected to a series of thick electrical cables and other devices.  There are a series of security cameras in this room, along with a heavy metal door that is securely locked.
16- A huge concrete room lit by brilliant lights with a huge pool in the center of the room.  The pool is illuminated by dozens of lights and at the bottom, you can see what looks like the corpse of a massive beast lying on a bed of graphite rods.  Staying in this room for too long will lead to groups of armed men with very large guns bursting in and asking lots of personal questions.
17- An underground marketplace that resembles a bazaar, but lit with neon and garage lights.  Many of the sellers appear slightly or totally inhuman and the goods being sold are all magical, odd or unconventional.
18- A medical waiting room with dozens of horribly injured people waiting for treatment.  You see people with knives sticking out of their chests, dozens of bullet wounds, clothes soaked in blood, eyeballs hanging from their skulls, etc.  No one seems in any rush.  Are you finished using that magazine?   
19- A grassy hill illuminated by sunlight.  50% chance someone is here having a picnic, otherwise the room is empty.  Unfortunately for you, the sunlight comes from some arc lights and the grass is artificial.  Still, it looks nice.
20- A large room lit by bright electric lamps and showing a number of displays, depicting "the lost people".  All the items seen are items from the current age, but severely damaged and weathered by time.  The centerpiece of the room is a huge display depicting a pair of monstrously deformed wax statues of what might be humans cavorting through a facsimile of a 21st century house, though everything is incredibly distorted, as if viewed by someone who knew nothing of humanity and had to reconstruct our society by sifting through the wreckage.

And down here, I met...

1- A group of Adventurers on some foolish errand.  Brave men they were, but likely doomed.  Roll for their number and class here.  They are 1d4 [1= Hunting a monster; 2= Trying to retrieve some kind of occult commodity or artifact; 3= Traveling through the Underground, they look like foreigners; 4= Retreating from a fight.]
2- 1d6+1 Vampires in edgy outfits, black leather, spikes, too many skulls.  Self-conscious, theatrical and horny.  They are 1d4 [1= On their way to talk to an ally; 2= Hunting, looking for food; 3= Making a supply run; 4= Transporting something valuable.]
3- 1d4 Humans wearing raincoats and trying not to be let any skin show.  Terrified of anyone who tried to approach them or flashed a weapon/had one visible.  If you look closely, you can see their skin looks waxy.   
4- 1d4+1 Toxic.  They look mostly like normal humans, if you ignore the occasional weeping sore and the worms sliding in and out of their wounds.  They pick them up though, so that was nice.  Toxic are essentially zombies, but with intelligence and occasionally, magical abilities.  These Toxic are 1d4 [1= Z-Patrol, zombie cops, out to police their own kind; 2= Two-Facers, on their way back from reporting on their own kind; 3= Toe-Tags, useless scrubs who are out on some kind of tedious errand; 4= Brunos, very expensive bodyguards, currently protecting an important Toxic.]  
5- A beautiful human woman with some seemingly less than human companions. 
6- A group of teenagers trying to solve a mystery.  Hopelessly out of their depth, not that they realize it.  All stat as 1 HD commoners.  Have no idea where they are.  
7- A group of "humans" who all dressed exactly the same and seemed to act as one.  When one smiles, so do all the others.  Definitely not human and very dangerous.
8- A group of people with shaved heads and runes painted on their faces.  I couldn't exactly tell what runes they were, as looking at them made my eyes swim.  These guys are all either level 1 Wizards or level 1 Sages (equal chance of each).  The Wizards have 1 spell each, the Sages guns with magic bullets.  Lead by an insane level 1d3+1 Wizard.  They're out to prove one of the Wizard's theories, no matter how many of them die.   
9- A pair of pale men with dark circles under their eyes, wearing stylish black suits and carrying spades.  One is fat and jolly, the other skinny and gaunt.   Witty fellows, if you like dry or dark humor.  They smell faintly of rot and wet grass, but it didn't bother me that much.  They are Ghouls, but they won't advertise that fact.   
10- 1d4 Reptilians.  Cold-blooded creatures with muscular frames and entrancing eyes.  They are cordial and clearly intelligent, but you can't tell what they're thinking.  Reptilians are known to eat people, but that's not why they're dangerous.   
11- One of the Iron Fey, heralded by Makeshift Men and Gremlins, the former crudely cute, the latter heard but rarely seen.  The Iron Fey will recognize you as denizens of its world and will greet you cordially (probably).  Of course, being Folk, it's demands are inscrutable.
12- An enormous man with a hideously warped and deformed frame, bulging with muscle, his skin straining to contain his pointed bones.  He is 1d4 [1= An ancient ghoul, fat and jolly, accompanied by a dozen of dangerous, flesh-eating worms that nest in his body cavities; 2= An animated corpse, murderous and vile, accompanied by 1d6 Carrion Crows; 3= An Undead recently freed of it's master, desperate to be free (ie die), alternates between hateful and pitiful, Necromancer is following at a safe distance; 4= A Fleshcarver's bestial creation, 1d4 handlers are trying to recapture it, as it is very valuable.]

                                              source unknown

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Killing the Sacred Cow: Attribute Scores

                            from a forum that has a wall that prevents me from viewing their posts

Behold the Dread Horse, whose hooves shatter good times!

D&D attribute scores are cool.  As a concept, I like them and think they're neat.  Additionally, the system they provide is sleek and elegant- if you need to do something, consult the most relevant attribute, roll 1d20 and add your modifier.  If you roll well enough, you succeed.  If you don't, you fail.

That being said, there is a problem with these six numbers.  They were never designed to do that.

As smarter people than I have pointed out, the problem with D&D's ability scores are not all-encompassing, even though they are all used that way.  That's why you sometimes get strange things like Perception being under Wisdom, Charisma being treated as a blank check for rascally or mischievous behavior, or Intelligence being a glorified Hint or Lore dump button.

As such, I've been thinking long and hard over, based on what other people have said and changes that others have made. 

For example, the Angry GM removed Intelligence on the basis of it is impossible to role-play as someone more intelligent than yourself without the Referee just giving you the answers or letting you make die rolls to come up with ingenious plans.  That's not interesting or satisfying, nor does it give the players more interesting choices.

And while removing something like Intelligence is a good step, as it neatly side-steps the old "Intelligence or Wisdom" debate that has plagued this system nearly as long as Alignment debates have, it is a bandage on a gaping wound.  So I decided to operate and see if I could come up with a better solution. 

There are now five ability scores: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Cognition and Charisma.

Strength (STR) governs exactly what you think it does.  Climbing, lifting, doing pull-ups and etc.  If your class doesn't give you an automatic damage bonus, add your STR modifier to melee attacks.

Dexterity (DEX) governs agility, precise movements, reaction time, hand-eye coordination and etc.

Constitution (CON) governs pain tolerance, health, resistance to poison and disease, general hardiness and etc.  Determines your total HP as well.

Cognition (COG) governs instinct, perception, memory, bodily and mental awareness, resisting Charm or Fear effects, willpower and etc.  It also determines the number of Memory slots your Character has.

Charisma (CHA) governs how charming or personable you are.  When making a Reaction roll in a social situation, if the Referee determines one is required, he should add the player's CHA modifier to the roll. 

<Referee's Note>

It is my humble opinion that you should not have social skills, such as Diplomacy, Intimidation or etc in your game.  It is boring and uninteresting.  Instead, have the players just role-play their characters while you role-play the NPC.  If they manage to convince you, acting as that NPC, then they pass.  But if you're not sure or if the player(s) is/are not that good at speaking, but you think the NPC could potentially be swayed by that, make a Reaction Roll.

Here's a Reaction table from First Edition, modified by me, in case you don't want to make your own.

NPC Reaction Table
2d6 + CHA modifier

2-3: NPC has a very unfavorable response to what was just said.  He is likely done talking.  Make sure to justify it in context.
4-6: NPC has an unfavorable response to what was just said.  He is unlikely to listen further.
7-9: NPC is on the fence and could easily be swayed to one side or the other, depending on what else is said.
10-11: NPC has a favorable response to what was just said.  He might be willing to help now, but even if not, he will definitely keep talking to you.
12: NPC has an extremely favorable response to what was just said.  Listening further is the least of what he might do for you. 

</Referee's Note>

                                               the cover of Warhammer Quest