Wednesday, November 22, 2023

OSR: The 99 Names of God

This post is a companion piece to this one.  When selecting which one of the Secret Names of God to give to a Prophet or which one the players find in some sort of random location, roll on the table below.  

At the beginning of time the Authority created the world and everything in it (according to the Church).  It is this feat, among others, that prove to us that the Authority is the one true God, the God of Gods, the One who Upholds the Universe.  

Then, in His infinite wisdom and grace, the Authority created lesser beings known as the Gods, and allowed them to contribute to the Authority's creation.  These beings then proceeded to make changes to the Authority's creation, filling it with all sorts of things, both beautiful and terrible.  This is why the world is broken, for the Authority permitted the creation of things good and ill to demonstrate the truth to His children, both divine and mortal.  

To aid them in their creative process, the Authority also gave his divine children the Words of Authority, or as the Church knows them, the Secret Names of God.  Each one of these Names, when spoken aloud has the power to alter reality in accordance with the will of the speaker.

According to the Canon of the Church, there are 99 of these Names.  Each one is sacred and if discovered, should be returned to the Church for everlasting spiritual (and potentially earthly) rewards.  Not all the Names are in the possession of the Church or Gods aligned with the Church's Protector, Zulin, High King of Heaven.  According to the bureaucracy of Heaven, the Church possesses 35 of the Names.

The Shattered God Heresy:

It is common knowledge that the Authority rules through other Gods and other mortals.  Church doctrine teaches this is because of free will.  But in 670 AR (After Rebirth- the date when the Prophetess Hesaya was first reincarnated by her husband, Zulin), a Bishop of the Church named Oria put forward a novel and wild hypothesis.  This new teaching was that the Authority had utilized all of His power to create the universe and thus could not act to influence the world.  The Lost Words of Authority, the Secret Names of God, he said, were part of the Authority's soul and when he created the universe, his soul was fractured into all things.  

This teaching, known as the teaching of the Shattered God, the Shattered God Heresy or simply Orianism, gradually blossomed into a variety of competing teachings.  Oria taught that the Authority need not be acknowledged as much as He was, and it was more important to pray to Zulin and Hesaya.  He also taught that Hesayans should look to the teachings of other religions for advice on what to do and adopted many of these practices himself.  

Some of his disciples went further and claimed that the Authority is dead and the Heavens empty, or if they were not that extreme, they simply argued that the Authority was a powerless shade who could do nothing and was not worthy of worship.  

It was at this point than a Conclave of Bishops was called to discuss the issue.  Luckily, this Conclave was called when the Prophetess was among us, so she was able to lend her authority to it.  After many days of prayer and fasting and furious debate, the Bishops declared that Orianism was a heresy and that any who refused to recant would be excommunicated.  

Despite this threat, many heretics refused to recant and Oria himself fled the city, just ahead of the secular authorities who sought to arrest him for his many other crimes that he could now be prosecuted from, as he was no longer under the aegis of the Church.  And though that was many, many years ago, it is said that there are still small communities of Orianists out in the wilderness, practicing their own, wildly divergent version of Hesayanism.

But how do they work?

The Secret Names of God are a piece of knowledge that cannot be shared.  If told to someone, you will forget and only they will know it.  Words cannot be stolen or taken by force, only given and received.  The most common way for a mortal to receive a Word is when a Prophet is loaned a Word by their God in order to accomplish a great feat or pursue a holy mission.  The only other ways are if a mortal tricks a God out of a Word or finds one that was lost, though these cases are much less common than folk-lore would have you believe.      

When one possesses one of the Words of Authority, one can speak and alter reality based on what that Word is.  

Consider the Word "Speak".  A Prophet with this Word can order anything he wishes to 'Speak'.  When he does so, the Referee should assign a DC to the action based on how in accordance with what the Word is and how likely it is to work, how easy the task is, how likely his God is to grant his request, etc.  

For example, if the Prophet comes across a book written in a language he does not speak, he can command the book to "Speak in his language."  If he succeeds, the book will either translate itself or it may speak aloud in the language the Prophet used and explain itself to him.  Or if interrogating a prisoner who refuses to talk, the Prophet could try to order the prisoner to "Speak the truth" and force the prisoner to talk and tell the truth.  

Note that certain requests may be impossible, either because of the Word or because the God who gave the Prophet the Word he is using would not want it used for that purpose.  For example, a Prophet could not use the Word 'Speak' to light up a dark room or if someone was keeping a secret that the Prophet's God didn't want getting out, the Word could not make the person reveal that secret.          

The 99 Words of Authority:

1- Speak
2- Seal/Close
3- Mend
4- Open
5- Release
6- Pass
7- Cut
8- Destroy/Kill
9- Burn
10- Purify
11- Corrupt/Degrade
12- Illuminate
13- Dismiss
14- Call/Bring [Forth]
15- Send
16- Solidify/Harden
17- Raise
18- Lower
19- Crush
20- Silence
21- Enrage/Rage
22- Calm
23- Purchase/Redeem
24- Steal/Take
25- See
26- Blind
27- Quicken
28- Slow
29- Stop
30- Make
31- Invigorate
32- Weaken
33- Connect
34- Bind
35- Consume
36- Conceal/Hide
37- Chill
38- Guard/Protect
39- Reveal
40- Restore
41- Distort
42- Alter
43- Progress
44- Move
45- Change
46- Return
47- Forget
48- Remember
49- Grow
50- Wrath
51- Sorrow
52- Truth
53- Peace
54- Command
55- Suffer
56- Wither
57- Vanish
58- Submit
59- Fight
60- Love
61- Repent
62- Pardon/Forgive
63- Storm
64- Expel
65- Freedom
66- Hate
67- Fill
68- Clear
69- Fear/Frighten
70- Dream
71- Wake
72- Save
73- Hold
74- Speed
75- Think
76- Seed
77- Build
78- Disassemble
79- Duplicate
80- Hear
81- Empty
82- Dissolve
83- Fuse/Combine
84- Fear
85- Charm/Seduce
86- Convert
87- Appoint
88- Delegate
89- Promote
90- Record
91- Dictate
92- Hold
93- Shrink
94- Remove/Remand
95- Teach
96- Appeal/Petition
97- Accuse
98- Bury
99- Breathe 

by fangogogo

Saturday, November 11, 2023

OSR: Runesmiths and their Arts

This post is a companion post to this post.

by Zezhou Chen

Rune-Smithing is one of those pseudo-magical arts that is looked down upon by Wizards despite it's many, many uses.  People are all for practicality, but nothing gets in the way of snobbery.

What are Runes?

Runes are symbols that, while not magical in and of themselves, when mana is channeled through them, produce magical effects.  This makes them highly useful for a wide variety of purposes, from defense to weapon development to medicine and countless other purposes.  

How does it work?

First, decide what runes you want to inscribe onto an object.  Runes form a crude alphabet of sorts, so in theory you can do anything with them, but in practice the more complicated an effect, the more likely a Runesmith will get a weakened effect or it will simply not work at all.  So general theory is to limit the number of Runes as much as possible to maximize the effect the Runesmith desires.

Then, inscribe the runes onto whatever object you are working with.  Runes can take almost any form- they can be pounded into metal or chiseled out of stone, embroidered into cloth, carved out of wax or even written on paper.  

Finally, charge the runed item with energy.  For small items, the mana of the user is often enough.  For larger items, it is much more common to use a Mana Crystal or Mana stone.  Mana crystals are small stones that are charged with mana and used by Runesmiths to power their creation.  In traditional Rune-Smithing, Mana Crystals are almost always real crystals or gemstones.  White quartz and diamonds are the most prized, but many other types of crystals and all gemstones will work too.  

In more recent times, some Rune-Smiths have started working with specially prepared glass spheres or cubes which they claim work as well (almost) as well as natural gemstones.  Some Rune-Smiths have also found success with 'Mana Stones' made of platinum, gold, silver or other exotic materials.  Usually these are designed like jewelry and often take the form of bracelets, bracers, necklaces or torcs.  Since they almost always take circular shapes, these are sometimes called 'Mana Circlets' or 'Vita Circuits'.  

Wow, that sounds amazing?  Why doesn't everyone use Runed items?

Well for one, Runesmiths rarely share their knowledge.  Just like the Wizards they envy and the other Sages they scorn, Runesmiths rarely share their secrets.  Learning the language of Runes is a product of years of hard labor and is very rarely given away for anything but money and power.  

Secondly, Rune-Smithing is very powerful and those with power want to keep it, so most Rune-Smiths serve either powerful organizations, ruling families or the State.  Their knowledge is restricted and those caught illegally teaching it can and will be punished for their indiscretions.  

Thirdly, Mana Crystals tend to be...reactive.  A sharp impact, a sudden burst of magical energy ("I cast Fireball!") or excessive background magic can prematurely trigger either runes or Mana Crystals, causing wild and unpredictable effects.  Sometimes this is as minor as some destroyed clothes and a close shave, while in other cases, it ends in the kind of hideous injuries that make industrial accidents look tame.  

by KoTnoneKoT
Common Types of Runes:

Warding: Wards that are designed to keep certain things out.  

Protection: Wards that are designed to protect the wearer/user from something, such as from a type of elemental damage or possession.  

Enhancement: Wards that improve the item they are on. 

Destruction: Wards that channel mana to create a destructive effect.  

Concealment: Wards designed to hide something.

Mana Crystals:

Gemstones: Can store up to X Mana Dice, or MD, where X is the number you multiply 100 by to get the value of the stone in silver pieces.  For example: A 400 silver piece stone can store 4 MD.

Natural Crystals: Can store up to 10 MD.  To determine how much any random Crystal can store, roll 1d10 upon acquisition.  Note that the clearer a crystal, the more it can store.  Opaque crystals cannot store mana.  Examples: White Quartz stores 7-10 MD, depending on quality; Moonstone stores 5-8, depending on quality; Lapis Lazuli stores 4-7, depending on quality; Pink (Himalayan) Salt stores 2-4, depending on quality. 

Worked Glass: Depending on craftsmanship, stores 1-4 MD.  These, while generally more fragile, can be easily purchased from other Runesmiths, Alchemists or glass-makers.  

Worked Gold, Silver or Platinum: Depending on craftsmanship, can store 3-8 MD.  These are only made by other Runesmiths but can be purchased, but only for high costs.  Price of materials is not included.  

How does this actually work?

If your player is playing a Runesmith, he will have a number of Runic items and a number of Mana Crystals to power them.  For example, our Runesmith is named Gin.  Gin has a Razorsoul Sword and a Suit of Firebane Armor.  He also carries three Mana Crystals, which we will assume are charged with power.  Think of the amount of Mana he has stored as charges.  If he has 3 Mana Crystals that can store 3, 5 and 7 MD each, he has 15 MD available.  Each time he wishes to activate one of his Runic items, he must spend at least one of these MD.  Once spent, these charges are gone and the Mana Crystals must be recharged in order for him to use his items again.

How do I charge Mana Crystals?

Firstly, you can donate your own Mana.  If you have at least 1 level in Wizard, Sage or any other class that gives you access to your Mana, you can infuse a Mana Crystal with your Mana.  Unless listed otherwise, you have MD equal to your COG+CON modifier.  You can also get other Magi, Sages or friends to donate their Mana to you.  

Secondly, you can build Mana by wearing a Mana Crystal while doing something that requires effort.  This can be anything you find difficult, from sewing to exercise to struggling through advanced mathematics.  1 hour of effort = 1 MD.

Thirdly, you can tap a source of natural Mana.  Sources of natural Mana include the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, Storms, the Ocean, the Stars, dimensional rifts and other locations where wild Magic is common.  This energy is very volatile and extremely difficult to work with, but it can be harnessed using advanced equipment.  This source is most commonly used to power large projects, such as an entire castle covered in Wards, as it's generally not worth the effort for anything smaller.  Additionally, if any of the equipment you are using to tap a source of natural Mana breaks down, you can very easily cause the magical equivalent of a nuclear disaster.

Runesmith organizations usually conceal the knowledge of how to build such devices from their members and outsiders, but will be willing to allow members to utilize them to charge Mana Crystals.  Outsiders may also be allowed to use such devices, for an appropriate fee.

Fourthly, and though this is (usually) forbidden and hilariously illegal, you can use blood sacrifice.  Kill creatures and steal their life-force.  This works on all living things, from beetles to people and everything in between.  However, doing this tends to attract a lot of attention, especially from the local Witch-Finders and others charged with policing the use of Magic.  Additionally, the Runesmith orders have no tolerance for such behavior and when they become aware of it, they will begin working to destroy the "Bloodsmith" or "Soulsmith".  Your death will be long and painful if they catch you.        

A Note on Safety:

Runes, when not charged with Mana, are just markings on whatever surface that you marked.  They can be erased, scratched out or destroyed.  Beware of this- if your Runic equipment suffers damage to it's Runic structure, that will quickly lead to problems.  At best, this means that the item in question will cease working and will need to be fixed.  At worst, it means that charging said item could trigger a new and unexpected magical effect.  Hopefully, this is one of those cases where your Runic sword just glows and fizzles, instead of one where it suddenly explodes and takes your hand with it.  

Similarly, Runic items are made of normal materials.  Unless covered in Runes of Protection and Charged with Mana, your Runic items are no harder than whatever you made them out of.  Unlike a Magic Item, which is harder than normal and resists it's own destruction, Runic items are just tools that can do novel things.

artist unknown
Common Runic Items:

Wands and Staves
Rarity: Common
Crafting DC: 10
Wands or Staves are common weapons used by Sages, Alchemists, Artificers and Runesmiths.  Each one produces elemental damage of a specific type.  Requires a chunk of that element or something charged with that element's energy in order to work.  Damage rules can be found here.      

Anti-Scrying Charm
Rarity: Common
Crafting DC: 5+X (X equals the penalty you wish to impose)
A charm, usually a necklace of some kind that when active, makes the user harder to detect via divination magic or through the use of a Scrying Glass or similar device.  Depending on quality, grants a +X penalty to anyone attempting to find you with magic, a Scry glass or similar device.  Ex: If your Charm grants a +4 penalty to any such attempt, the DC to find you with divination magic increases by +4.    

Simple Charms: X = +4 to any DC.  Require no special materials.  
Advanced Charms: X = +6 to any DC.  Require flawless jet or black pearls to craft.
Expert Charms: X = +8 to any DC.  Hide the user from precognition or any visions of the future.  Requires a body part from an anti-memetic creature or a creature that cannot be detected by Seers to craft.
Master Charms: X = +10 to any DC.  Hides the user and anything near them from precognition or any visions of the future.  Requires Voidstone to craft.

Trueshot Charms
Rarity: Uncommon
Crafting DC: Varies
Single-use charms, usually drawn on pieces of paper and attached to projectiles.  They boost the accuracy of said projectiles by a degree, depending on the level of complexity.  

Simple: +2 to Ranged Attack- Crafting DC 5
Advanced: +4 to Ranged Attack- Crafting DC 10
Expert: +6 to Ranged Attack- Crafting DC 13

by Todge69
Healing Charms
Rarity: Uncommon to Very Rare
Crafting DC: Varies
The most prized of all the Runesmith's art, Healing Charms are prized by rulers and the powerful as a means of easing convalensence, guaranteeing health and preventing assassination.  Depending on their effectiveness, they can either speed a length hospice stay, drive off diseases or make the wearer all-but immortal.  

Anti-Possession Charms
Rarity: Common
Crafting DC: 8+X (X is effectiveness)
Charms that are designed to make the wearer harder, if not impossible, to possess by ghosts, outsiders or other spiritual entities.  Can be made of paper, sewn into fabric, pressed into metal or in the most serious cases, tattooed onto the skin.  

Common - Resistance to Possession - +2 to Crafting DC.  Requires a white feather to craft.  
Uncommon - Immunity to Possession - +4 to Crafting DC.  Requires either a set of honest merchant's scales, a judge's badge of office or a lady's hankerchief to craft.

Razorsoul Blades
Rarity: Uncommon
Crafting DC: 10
Blades that are enhanced with Runes that when Charged with Mana, they become sharper and harder.  Depending on the quality of the blade used, the blade can tolerate only up to a certain amount of MD being used to charge it.  Using more MD than the quality of the blade will tolerate causes a chance of a catastrophic failure.  

Common Blades - 1 MD - +1d6 damage 
Fine Blades - 2 MD - +2d6 damage
Superfine Blades - 3 MD - +3d6 damage
Masterwork Blades - 1d4+2 - +Yd6 damage, where Y is the maximum the blade can tolerate

Furious Heart Charms
Rarity: Common
Crafting DC: 8
Disposable, single-use bombs that when empowered with mana produce explosions.  Can be made of ceramic, metal, paper, fabric or any other type of material.  Furious Heart Charms can also be modified to do damage depending on what type of Runes they were inscribed with: the most common types are fire, cold, lightning, thunder, radiant or necrotic, but there are other less common types.      

Furious Heart Charms - Xd6 damage, where X is the number of MD spent to Charge the Runes.

Enhancement Jewelry
Rarity: Uncommon
Crafting DC: Varies
Enhancement Jewelery or just Enhancement Jewels are pieces of Jewelry engraved with runes that enhance the physical abilities or properties of the creature that wears it when the device is Charged.  There are various types- Physical Attribute, Attack and Vitality.  

Physical Attribute Jewels enhance the wearer's physical ability scores, such as STR, DEX or CON.  Attack Jewels boost the wearer's Attack power and grant bonuses to Attack and Defense rolls.  Vitality Jewels increase the wearer's total HP.

Rarity: Varies
Crafting DC: Varies
Runic Armor is the prize and the obsession of Runesmiths the world over.  For generations, the various Runesmith orders have competed to see who can create the ultimate fighting system.  This obsession has led to an incredible variety of terrifying suits of armor, one for every occasion, based on a thousand different philosophies.  The most common types are Spellbane, for fighting Magi and spell-casters; Elemental Endurance, for resisting powerful elemental effects; Manhunter, for stealth; and Iron Soldier, for the professional warrior.


Runesmiths vs. Artificers:

The difference between Runesmiths and Artificers is small, thin and largely a matter of perspective.  An uneducated person would insist there is none and they would be somewhat correct.  The difference is that while Artificers generally investigate the use and building of Mana-based equipment and machinery, Runesmiths seek to study the full implementation of the language of Runes.  So while Artificers must have working knowledge of the Runic tongue, they do not delve into it with the same level of depth.  They are technicians, while Runesmiths all aspire, if not achieve scholarship.  

The other main difference is that while Artificers tend to spend their days plundering ancient tombs and rooting through piles of old scrap looking for useful things, Runesmiths tend to look toward the future.  They build new things and unlike their cousins, who are often lone tinkerers or dwell in small collectives of scholars, Runesmiths tend to come from large organizations that either work directly for the State or work in close partnership with it.  

And while all Artificers can expect to get their hands dirty, not all Runesmiths do.  While many must dirty themselves with the nitty-gritty of maintaining Runic equipment and supporting their patrons, the privileged few get to spend their lives in the ivory tower of academia, studying and learning Without any unpleasant intrusions from the real world and it's unpleasant realities.

Types of Runesmith:

Academic Runesmith- The elevated royals of the Runesmiths, these lucky few spend their time in comfortable halls, studying ancient books and new treatises, studying the implementation of the Runic language, learning grammar and syntax, studying and experimenting to create new Runic technologies.  They are the few, mocked by their envious cousins among the lesser branches of the field.  Despite this, many of the great ideas of modern and ancient Rune-Smithing first emerged here and gradually trickled down to other types of Smith.    

Artisan Runesmith- The most common type, these are Runesmiths who serve in the large guilds or Runesmith organizations.  They are most common in places and societies with more Runic technology.  It is their job to facilitate, maintain and repair such technology.  And while the organizations they serve are often powerful and influential, most of them are little better paid than craftsmen of any other type.  

War-Smith- A sub-set of above, these are Runesmiths who are permanently attached to the military or form their own special regiments.  These Smiths aid the army through the building of war-machines and other devices that enable soldiers to fight better, harder and more easily.  A War-Smith might be tasked to help build an enormous war machine, or to improvise a method of allowing an army to pass over a raging river after the enemy has destroyed the bridges.  Unlike many other Runesmiths, War-Smiths are used to working with limited resources, improvising and taking wild gambles in the hope of success.  If a Runesmith has abandoned conventional methods of advancement and gone off to become an Adventurer, odds are they got the idea from some time serving with the army.    

Artificer- Though most of them wouldn't consider themselves Runesmiths, nor would other Runesmiths, Artificers usually possess a working knowledge of Runes.  Most of the ancient technology they study worked on Runic principles, which have remained relatively consistent over the centuries, due to the largely static nature of the Runes.  Despite this fact, most Artificers lack any deep knowledge of Runes as a language, thinking of them largely in terms of inputs and outputs.  

Rune-Knight- Rune-Knights are elite soldiers who utilize specialized equipment to be terrors on the battle-field.  Depending on what their War-Smiths can manufacture and maintain, a Rune-Knight can be anything from a powerful foe to a demigod of blood and iron.  Most Rune-Knights are attached to larger forces, acting as Shock Troops or Rapid Attack forces, but in other cases a Rune-Knight might be a noble soldier, fighting alongside his house guard and retainers, maintaining his weapons through his personal wealth.  

Wandslinger- The lowest and most common branch, these are soldiers who have a basic knowledge of Runes and use them to effectively utilize Wands, Staves and other basic Runic technologies.  While most of these types are drop-outs of more prestigious institutions or self-taught mavericks, some organizations or groups train small groups of elite soldiers to utilize Runic technology and Wizard Weapons to act as commandoes and special forces.  And while other Runesmiths might scoff at them, Wandslingers can still be terrible enemies to face, especially when their limited technology is paired with elite soldiers and rigorous training.  

by Jillian Venters
Make your Own:

The following are rules for crafting your own Runic creations.  

How big is it?

- Small (Base DC 4)
- Medium (Base DC 6)
- Large (Base DC 8)
- Huge (Base DC 10)

How many sentences would it take to describe what you're trying to do with the Runes?

- One or less (+0)
- Two or Three (+2)
- Three to Five (+4)
- Six or more (+5)

How many effects will it cause?

- 1 (+1)
- 2 (+2)
- 3 (+4)
- 4 (+6)

How complex are the effects?

- Simple (+0)
- Slightly complex (+2)
- Complicated (+3) 
- Complex (+4)
- Intricate (+5)

How powerful is the effect(s) you are trying to create?    

- Weak (+0)
- Not Very (+2)
- Strong (+3)
- Very Strong (+4)
- World-Changing (+6)

A few Examples:

Robert Nimblehands wants to Ward a house against Undead.  The house is a small family home (Large- Base DC 8); he only wants to cause one effect, to Ward off Undead (+1); the effect is simple (+0) but the effect has to be strong enough to protect the whole house and all it's entrances (+2).  On top of all that, the Runic effect is easily described in one sentence (+0).  So the total DC is 11.  

Alicia Silverwit wants to build a suit of powered armor to help her fight.  It only needs to fit her (Medium- Base DC 6); she wants it to protect her from spells, enhance her strength and protect her (+4); the effects are complex (+4); and the suit has to be strong enough to actually accomplish her goals (+2).  That being said, the Runic effects are extensive and not easily explained (+4).  So the total DC is 20.

artist unknown

Damaged Rune Charging Table:

Roll on this table if you're attempting to Charge and/or use a Damaged Runic construct.  

1- The item destroys itself violently, self-destructing.  The item explodes, doing Xd6 damage, save for half, where X is the number of MD it was Charged with.
2- The item destroys itself, blasting mana everywhere.  All Runic items within X*10' are triggered, where X is the number of MD it was Charged with.
3- The item breaks, destroying the Rune-net and rendering itself as scrap.  
4- The item emits a stimulus, such as a cloud of smoke, a shower of sparks, a grating sound, but produces no other effect.  
5- The item works at 50% effectiveness.  
6- The item works as intended.

Mana Crystal Fracture Table: 

Roll on this table if a creature is carrying a bunch of Mana Crystals and one or multiple of them suffer a blow that may cause them to crack or break.

1- 1d6 Crystals immediately shatter.  This causes an explosion that does Xd6 damage in an X*10' radius sphere, save for half.  If you pass a CHA save, you have one round to throw the shattered Crystals before they explode.  
2- 1d4 Crystals immediately begin venting mana.  For X rounds, where X is the amount of MD contained in each Crystal, you create an aura of mana around you that automatically Charges and activates all Runic constructs within X*10' of the Crystals.  Magi can also tap into this loose mana if they are within the affected area.    
3- 1d3 Crystals crack.  These Crystals, next time they are tapped for mana, force the user to save.  On a failed save, they dump all of their mana at once.  This may or may not benefit your Runic constructs, and it could damage them.      
4- 1d3 Crystals begin overheating.  Overheated Crystals are unstable and if you attempt to put more Mana into them or use them to Charge a Runic construct, they could explode or damage the Runic construct.  Roll 1d6 to determine what happens: 1d6 (1-2: The Crystals explode (as "1"); 3-4: The Crystals damage the Runic construct, roll on the above table; 5-6: Nothing happens, the Crystals work, for now).
5- One Crystal begins venting Mana as 1dX [1= Light, the Crystal glows for X rounds; 2= Sound, the Crystal makes an irritating sound for X rounds; 3= Stench, the Crystal fills the air around itself with the stench of discharged Mana for X rounds; 4= Heat, the Crystal does Xd6 fire damage, save for half, to anything it touches.]  X is the number of MD in a Crystal.
6- Nothing happens.  You escape by the skin of your teeth.

from here

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

OSR: Oni

by ChunLo
Often called Phantom Ogres, though they are not related to those gluttonous, childlike monsters.  

Evil is a metaphysical force, just as Goodness and Virtue have weight.  This is a common teaching of the Priests- it is only the uncommon religion that teaches that evil is not real, or that it is simply the absence of goodness.  Some even argue that the final judgement in the afterlife is not a judgement, but a simple assessment of the soul.  It is the Weight of sin that drags the wicked down into the pits of punishment, where the palaces of pain await them.  Good souls, meanwhile, are free to ascend the Eternal Mountain atop the Rock of Eternity. 

As such, when an especially wicked person dies, that Evil must go somewhere.  It does not simply die with them.  Just as a good deed affects not only the person who does it but the person who experiences it, which further influences how he acts towards others, so too does evil remain.  And in some cases, in a method similar to the creation of Ghosts, this evil will live on in the form of the Oni.  

As discussed in other places, Ghosts are what happens when a person dies and leaves behind enough of their essence to 'stain' the world around them.  This stain then persists in the form of a pseudo-consciousness.  Most Ghosts possess only limited sentience, some are not aware at all.  For example, the ghost of a suicide might take the form of a figure seen leaping off a tall building.  But when the place where he should have landed is inspected, there will be no body, nor any sign of a figure that matches the jumper's appearance entering the building and making their way to the roof.

Oni are different in several ways.  For one, all Onis are sentient.  They are fully aware of themselves and possess free will, but as creatures born of wickedness, they tend to have very little in the way of impulse control and are consumed by their desires, but more on that later.  They are also corporeal, despite how sneaky they are.  And finally, unlike Ghosts, an Oni can plan and take different actions.  They aren't stuck repeating the same behaviors over and over again or caught in a perpetual loop.

Number Appearing: 1 (or 2, rarely)
Alignment: Any Evil
Languages: The Lingua Franca plus any languages their parent knew
Treasure: Varies, depending on the Oni and type

HD 1d8+2
AR 1d3 [Natural Armor]
Atk Varies, see below
Mor 5+(1/2*HD)
Saves (7+HD) or less

Born of Evil: Onis are created from especially evil creatures, usually upon the death of that creature.  This creature is called an Oni's 'parent'.  Onis have an X-in-10 chance of knowing any random piece of knowledge their parent knew.  

Shapeshifter: Onis are normally Large humanoids, but they can as an action, shapeshift into any Large of Medium humanoid.  Their appearance can be anything they can imagine or can mimic a creature they have seen.  Their stats remain the same in either form.  

Terrifying Strength: Oni are enormously strong, easily able to overpower creatures of the same size or smaller than themselves.  Oni have advantage on all strength checks and on any grapple check made against another creature without supernatural strength.  Additionally, for each size category an Oni is larger than a creature, the Oni adds +2 to any STR check made against that creature.

Feast of Blood: If an Oni feeds on an intelligent humanoid, the Oni heals for a number of HD equal to that creature's HD.  This meal takes at least 10 minutes.  

- Varies depending on the type of Oni

by Kyveri
To customize an Oni, roll on the tables below:

How strong is it?

1- 3 or less HD.  The Oni makes 1 Weapon (1d8+1) or 1 Bite Attack that does (1d6+1).  It has 0 Dark Gifts.
2-3- 4-5 HD.  The Oni makes 1 Weapon (1d8+3) or 1 Bite Attack that does (1d6+2).  It has 1 Dark Gift.
4- 6-7 HD.  The Oni makes 2 Weapon (1d8+2) or 1 Bite Attack that does (1d6+3).  It has 2 Dark Gifts.
5- 8-9 HD.  The Oni makes 2 Weapon (1d8+3) or 1 Bite Attack that does (1d8+1).  It has 1d3 Dark Gifts.
6- 10 HD.  The Oni makes 2 Weapon (1d8+4) or 1 Bite Attack that does (1d8+2).  It has 1d4+1 Dark Gifts.  

Does it have a Third Eye?

All Onis with 5 HD or more have a third eye in the center of their foreheads.  These Onis can see into the future.  Any Oni with a third eye gains the following ability:

Future Sight: For purposes of Combat, a Three-Eyed Oni can see X rounds into the future, where X is it's HD.  When entering combat, have everyone roll a number of d20s equal to X and arrange them in order.  Every time the player would take an action that would require a d20 roll, instead merely use the first number on the list.  After that, the number is expended, and the player must roll the d20 again, and add it to the bottom of the list. 

Can it Bless or Curse?

All Onis with 7 HD or more can place a blessing or curse upon their enemies.  Any Oni of 7 HD or more gains the following abilities:

Manipulate Fortune: 1/Day, an Oni can place a blessing upon a creature.  This blessing will grant them good fortune for the immediate future.  The Oni can only affect one creature like this at a time and cannot use this ability again until the affected creature receives a sufficient blessing from Fortuna.  The affected creature can shed this blessing by doing something unlucky, such as spilling salt, breaking a mirror, slapping a baby or anything else considered unlucky.   

Curse: Curse: 1/Day, If an Oni can see a creature or group of creatures and those creatures can understand the Oni, the Oni can curse them.  This curse can be anything the Oni wants.  Additionally, the Oni can only have one curse active at a time.  It cannot curse another creature until that creature dies or the curse is broken.   

Common Oni Blessings:

1- Your next child will be born safely.  The next child that this creature sires will be born safely with no defects or complications during birth.  This is the blessing most commonly given out to women, especially pregnant women.  Onis sometimes give it to single men or women as a cruel jape.    
2- You will have a good harvest.  The next time this creature plants crops, come harvest time, they will find an abundant crop, barring any form of interference from other agents.  If the Dragon burns down your fields, this blessing will not protect your wheat.  This is the blessing most commonly given out to farmers and peasants.    
3- You get 10 Luck Points.  These Luck Points are single-use, once you spend them, they are gone.  This is most commonly given to warriors, adventurers and merchants.   
4- Wealth beyond measure.  Anyone the Oni blesses with this will soon find out about a large cache of treasure that they could potentially claim for themselves.  Not that this treasure might be already in the possession of some powerful creature or faction, hidden or in some sort of location that makes it hard to access, such as being really far away or the environment itself is very dangerous.      
5- You experience a break-through.  Any creature who receives this blessing will suddenly receive an advantage with any problem he is trying to solve.  For example, say the players are trying to complete a quest where they have to kill an army of Undead.  If they receive this blessing, they suddenly encounter a powerful Cleric or hear about an order of paladins or find out the location of a legendary sword of Undead-slaying.     
6- Something good happens to you soon.  A felicitous twist of fate.  Any creature given this will suddenly have a golden opportunity fall into his lap.  For example, he rescues an old man who is being attacked on the road and the old man turns out to be a god in disguise, or after the princes die in a war, he is revealed to be the king's bastard son.  Something of that nature.    

Common Oni Curses:

1- "I curse you with impotence!"  The cursed cannot impregnate anyone or be impregnated.  The cursed also does minimum damage when making attacks.  This curse can be be broken by receiving a blessing from a priest or angel of a fertility God or having sex with a Demon of the opposite sex as you.  
2- "I curse you with truth!"  The cursed cannot lie.  Additionally, if anyone lies around the cursed and the cursed knows the truth, he must save or be compelled to declare what was said was a lie.  This curse can be broken by making a bargain with one the Folk or tricking someone into doing something against his interests.  
3- "I curse you with gold fever!"  The cursed becomes obsessed with gold and wealth.  He will never want to spend money and will constantly seek it.  He will crave it beyond all reason or any other desire.  The more he obtains, the more the cursed will want.  This curse can be broken by the cursed trading something extremely valuable for money, such as a body part or loved one or by making a transaction with a group that uses a currency that the cursed does not recognize as valuable.     
4- "I curse you to feel the shadow of death!"  Whenever there is a chance of someone dying around the cursed, the cursed will be struck with an ominous sensation.  This is the 'shadow of death'.  This will force a Save vs Fear.  If the cursed fails the save, he will be compelled to flee, hide or find some other way to get away from danger.  This curse can be broken by letting a Demon of Wrath possess you or trading away your sense of Fear.   
5- "I curse you with the Simurgh's hate!"  All birds suddenly develop a distaste for the cursed.  Evil birds will always target the cursed if they have no better targets, while neutral or good birds will refuse to help him.  This curse can be broken by doing a favor for a Noble Bird or ripping out an eye and feeding it to a crow.    
6- "I curse you with blindness!"  The cursed goes blind.  This curse can be broken by fighting an invisible enemy or by gazing upon the Anti-Phoenix.       

What type of Oni is it?


Red Onis are formed when one whose primary vice was wrath or lust dies and their evil manifests into an Oni.  Red Oni have skin that ranges from bright red to crimson.  They tend to be muscular and wild-eyed, with explosive tempers and very little impulse control.  Red Onis are the least likely to use clever strategies or think through their actions- they prefer to charge in and just start smashing stuff until things go their way.  

They are the type of Oni most likely to tolerate other Onis and are occasionally willing to work with others of their kind.  They will also work for other creatures in exchange for booty, though Red Onis are least likely to desire treasure, with the exception being slaves.  Red Onis consumed with wrath will keep slaves to abuse and torment for their pleasure, or perhaps sacrifice them, especially if it would cause the object of their wrath pain.  Red Onis consumed with lust are known to build harems of slaves for self-evident reasons.  They are also the type of Red Oni who will seek treasure, as it will allow them to obtain more slaves and maintain a more luxurious dwelling for their slaves and lovers, though this is more of an exception than the rule.  A Red Oni is perfectly comfortable sleeping in a damp cave as they are in a palace.  Such comforts, though desirable, are less important to them.

A Red Oni's treasure: The one exception to Red Oni's indifference to treasure is magical weapons and armor.  All Red Onis prize such items and will seek them out, even if the other trappings of wealth are little more than dross to them.      

If a Red Oni has Dark Gifts, roll the appropriate number of times on the following table:

1- It is immune to Fire and Fire damage.  
2- It can, as an action, throw a 2d6 fireball, save for half, as an action.  This fireball can hit one creature and anything directly adjacent to it.  On a failed save, you are also set on fire.
3- It's blood is hot as molten metal.  If you injure it in melee combat, you must save or take 1d6 fire damage.
4- It can, as a free action on it's turn, fly into a berserker rage.  While raging it can only attack but gets +2 to Attack and damage.  It can only rage for 1d4+1 rounds.  After that, it has disadvantage on all attacks until it rests for at least 10 minutes or eats someone.  While raging, it is also immune to mental effects or abilities that affect it's mind.  
5- It can, as an action, try to Charm or Frighten a creature as a free action on it's turn.  The targeted creature gets a save to resist.  On a failed save, that creature is Charmed or Frightened of the Oni for 1 hour or the effect is removed by some sort of effect such as 'dispel magic'.
6- It knows 1d3 Martial Manuevers.   

- Fight smartly, probe for weaknesses
- Always bring allies, never fight alone
- Strike fast, strike hard, retreat if in danger of dying


Blue Onis are formed from one whose primary vices were pride or sloth.  They have skin that ranges from electric blue to ultramarine.  They tend to be fastidious about grooming and cloth themselves in the finest clothing, adorning themselves with jewelry and ornaments.  

Blue Onis tend towards laziness.  They love nothing more then doing nothing or spending long hours admiring themselves in mirrors, still ponds or other reflective surfaces.  They tend to be cold and condescending towards others and consider themselves to be the best at well, everything.  Anyone who defeats them in a contest will earn their enmity and the Oni will usually find some sort of excuse to justify how it lost.  For example, if you beat an Oni in a game, it will accuse you of cheating.  This also applies to any of the Oni's falures.  If the Oni tries to play music but the only things it can produce are awful screeching, it will either abandon music and take up a new pursuit, or it will go into denial and declare it's music to secretly be amazing and anyone who fails to grasp the complexity of it is just a fool.

Blue Onis will not work with anyone who is not willing to stroke their own ego, so they usually cannot stand their own kind.  This goes doubly for Blue Onis.  If two Blue Onis meet, they will immediately begin clashing with each other, as both will try to assert their position as the superior one.        

A Blue Oni's treasures: Fine clothes, jewelry, hair brushes, make-up and beauty products.  Works of art depicting the Oni.  Mirrors, made of every possible material and in every size the Oni could carry off.   

If a Blue Oni has Dark Gifts, roll the appropriate number of times on the following table:

1- It is immune to Psychic damage or any mental effect that would affect it's mind such as Charm or Fear effects.  
2- It can play music that when you hear it, causes anyone who hears it to save or be overcome with 1d4 [1= Homicidal rage, you will try to murder the closest living thing; 2= Insane lust, you will attempt to rape the nearest living thing; 3= Fear, you will be struck with terror and will want to flee from the source of the music; 4= Sleepiness, creatures will find themselves struggling to stay awake.]  This music affects all creatures that can hear within 100'  Every round a creature can hear it, that creature must save again.  
3- It can infuse an inanimate object with it's mana to grant that creature a semblance of life.  All animated objects like this have a varying amount of HD depending on their size and are absolutely loyal to the Oni.  They have no fear and will obey any order.  The Oni can also "see" out of any object it has animated, no matter the difference.  
4- It can, as an action on it's turn, petrify creatures with it's gaze.  Any creature that it sees must save.  Creatures that fail their save take 1d6 DEX damage a round as long as the Oni can see them.  If reduced to 0 DEX, that creature turns to stone.  DEX returns at a rate of 1 point per minute, as long as the Oni isn't looking at you.  
5- It can levitate up to 30' off the ground.  
6- It regenerates 1 HD a round.  This regeneration can be prevented by using blessed or holy weapons or by burning it with fire.  If it takes fire damage, it cannot regenerate for 1d3 rounds.    

- Rush in, attack in a rage
- Crush the person who has most angered you
- Flee if in danger

by KGBigelow

Yellow Onis are formed from one whose primary vices were gluttony or greed.  They have skin that ranges from dandelion to gold.  Their eyes are usually bright colors, typically red or blue.  They have a love for finery, but some are so greedy they cannot bear to spend anything on clothing and thus will cloth themselves in clothing that would make a pauper blush.

Yellow Onis are greedy and gluttonous.  They love money and valuables of all kinds.  Gold, silver, platinum and copper, precious stones, valuable pieces of art, trade goods, livestock, slaves, property, they love and value it all.  Yellow Onis are most willing to work with other creatures and will gladly sell their services in exchange for money.  They are happy mercenaries, willing to work for almost anyone if the price is right.  They are gregarious and always willing to talk to someone, especially if there's money to be made.  

That being said, they look upon almost all with suspicion.  Anyone is a potential thief to them and even those of long acquaintance are never fully trusted, as Yellow Onis tend to assume that everyone is as greedy as them.  They will smile politely at you, but they judge every action and every word for signs of treachery.  

The one thing Yellow Onis will gladly spend money on is on rare ingredients, hiring expensive chefs and holding lavish feasts.  Yellow Onis love to eat and the better it tastes, the more eager they are.  When not fighting for coin or counting their vast collections of wealth, Yellow Onis seek out rare recipes, ingredients and skilled chefs to help them prepare fabulous dishes.  And if a Yellow Oni can find nothing of the sort, it will simply substitute a rare, exotic dish for simply, yet tasty fare, especially if it's in large quantities.  To the Yellow Oni, a rare dish made from ingredients that take 100 years to gather is equivalent to an entire table's worth of dishes that only peasants would eat.  

A Yellow Oni's treasure: If it is valuable, a Yellow Oni will try to have it.

If a Yellow Oni has Dark Gifts, roll the appropriate number of times on the following table:

1- It can as an action, teleport up to 50 on it's turn as a free action.  This ability recharges after 1d4 rounds.  
2- It can turn invisible as an action.  It remains invisible for 10 minutes or until it uses another ability or makes an attack.  
3- It can create illusions that produce light and/or sound.  It maintains the illusions via concentration.  If it takes damage it must succeed a save to keep them up or if it uses another ability, the illusion disappears.  A Yellow Oni can only maintain 2 illusions at once.
4- It can, as an action, steal an item from a creature's inventory.  This item is random unless the creature is not expecting it, restrained, unconscious or otherwise unable to resist.  
5- It can reverse the direction of gravity for itself or another creature, so it can easily walk on the ceiling, run up walls like they're the ground or send an enemy plummeting up into the sky.  
6- It can create objects out of hard light.  These items have 3d6 HP and take no damage from non-magical weapons, cold, poison, psychic, radiant or necrotic damage.  They last for 10 minutes.  The Yellow Oni can make an item that is up to 10' long, 10' wide, 10' high and 3' thick.  The Yellow Oni can only make one of these items at a time, but can dismiss it's creations as a free action.  Once an object they create is destroyed or dismissed, it cannot use this ability until after 1d4 rounds.       

- Use hit and run tactics
- Ambush, be sneaky, launch surprise attacks
- Never stand when faced with a superior foe, retreat and live         

by Kipine

Black Onis are formed from the one whose primary vices were hatred or envy.  They tend to have skin that ranges from dark ash to charcoal black.  They also tend to be smaller then other Onis and have the most unpleasant forms, tending towards physical deformities such as hunched backs, deformed faces, extra fingers and other unpleasant blemishes.  Note that these deformities nor their smaller frames do not make them any weaker than other Onis.  Black Onis tend to avoid wearing pretty clothes or fine armor, either wearing clothes that suit their current mission or taking pains to make themselves appear more sinister, such as wearing rags stained with blood and filth, wearing armor set with bones or etc.  

Black Onis are motivated almost entirely by spite.  Someone is the target of their enmity and they will do anything within their power to find and destroy this person.  Every obstacle in their way is a secondary target for revenge and every other need is merely a distraction from the holy work of their revenge.  Black Onis may delay and take time to plot, as circumstances may not be optimal or their enemy might be too strong now, but they will never stop.  They are cruel and patient and are perfectly willing to plot for years to hurt the target of their ire.  They will do anything to cause their target suffering, including going undercover in enemy organizations, befriending their target, working for other creatures or doing things that other Onis would consider beneath their dignity.  

Black Onis will work with anyone who promises to help them with their revenge.  They don't like other Black Onis, they don't like anyone, but they can understand them.  Other Onis are often considered to be too unpredictable to be trusted, with the exception of Yellow Onis, who rarely care for personal slights, only losses of coin or wealth.  Despite the fact that they are willing to cooperate with almost anyone, they are still not very well liked as they are consumed by bitterness.  They are utterly cheerless and constantly brood over the fact that their enemy is still walking around when he should be wounded or humiliated or dead.  

A Black Oni's treasure: Black Onis will hoard anything they believe will help them with their revenge.  Whether this be weapons or poisons or toxic substances or money, they will have enormous quantities of it.  They are likely also to have multiple potential caches of different types of stuff, as almost all Black Onis either have multiple plans or plan for multiple contingencies.  A Black Oni might hoard gold and weapons to recruit mercenaries to storm their target's palace and slay him, or it might have accumulated large amounts of poison with the hopes of finding a way to slip it into it's target's food.

If a Black Oni has Dark Gifts, roll the appropriate number of times on the following table:

1- It can transform into other living creatures other than humanoids using it's 'Shapeshifter' ability.
2- It can eavesdrop through shadows within 1 mile of it's current position, though it must be actively "listening" through a particular shadow to hear what is being said.  Anti-divination countermeasures can prevent this.  
3- It has fangs that secrete venom.  This venom does +1d6 damage a round until it does +3d6 damage or the afflicted creature passes a CON save.  Each time a creature is exposed to this venom, he gets a +1 bonus to his save.
4- It drain life from creatures by touch as a free action.  If contact with a creature, it can cause that creature to take 1d6 necrotic damage and it recovers that much HP.    
5- It can enter the dreams of sleeping creatures as long as they are within 1 mile of it.  
6- If a creatures dies near it, it can force that creature into a COG contest.  If it wins the contest, it can trap the soul inside it's aura.  The Oni can then absorb one of these souls and regain HD as per 'Feast of Blood' or it can shove these souls into corpses and raise them as Undead monsters.  A Black Oni can have up to it's HD worth of souls in it's aura.  For example, a 4 HD Oni can have four 1 HD souls, two 2 HD souls or any other combination that adds up to 4 HD or less.       

- Wear the enemy down
- Ignore those who you do not hate or those who aren't threats
- Play with your food if you hate your foe
- Kill them as quickly as possible if you don't care  

by Teru