Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Moon Castle Part 2: Skeleton Castle and Counterfeit Castle

See part 1 here.

3. The Skeleton Castle

The city of Gafferdy had a huge necropolis.  Within its crypts, generations of dead were revered, respected, and consulted.  When Gafferdy was destroyed by the Siege Castle, the city's honored dead strove to protect it.

The dead roused too slowly to save the living.  However, the necropolis succeeded in driving off the invaders and building the Skeleton Fence.  The powerful undead raised new ranks from the fallen and then fortified the city against further invasion.  They walled themselves off from the outside world, creating a city where the dead were the only citizens.

Now, the innermost parts of the ruined city are walled off, with the bone-white walls of the Skeleton Castle clearly visible from afar.

The Obstacle of the Skeleton Castle is getting past the Skeleton Fence.  Any living thing that passes over the Skeleton Fence dies.  Only the dead may pass freely.  The Skeleton Fence is very difficult to destroy.

The Breadcrumbs of the Skeleton Castle are:
 - Near the Cemetery Fence, there are several things (graffiti, undead parrot) that mention how Modest Madroff the Smuggler can smuggle you into the Skeleton Castle.
 - It's easy to track down Modest Madroff.  He died five years ago, and was buried in the cemetery back at the City of the Moon.
 - You'll probably need to beat up the Cemetery Kids to get access to the cemetery in the City of the Moon.  They have a large bell that they stole from Madroff's grave.
 - The grave is a small dungeon.  If you bring any light source into it, zombies will attack you.  If you make a wrong turn, zombies will attack you.  If you ring Madroff's bell, you'll hear Madroff ringing his corresponding bell to guide you through the dungeon.  (Any bell will work, not just the bell you recovered from the Cemetery Kids.)  Inscriptions at the beginning of the grave will inform you to (a) bring no light, and (b) ring a bell.
 - Meet up with the now-undead Modest Madroff, now captaining his sunken ship, the Modest Maiden through the rivers of the underworld.  Pay him the fee (1000g or his other bell) and he'll transport you.  It'll be exciting and spooky and eventually you'll arrive at the Skeleton Castle.

Alternatively, just find someone who will turn you into undead.  Then you can cross the Skeleton Fence without dying.

Alternatively, just find a way to get invited into the Skeleton Castle.  There's a skeleton princess somewhere that is looking for a suitor.  Do I hear wedding bells?

The Skeleton Castle is a massively overbuilt mausoleum, fortified against armies.  Lots of intelligent skeletons, honorable skeletaur knights, necrophidiuses, etc.  They'll probably assume that the characters are simply unrotted ghouls, since there are never any living creatures in the Skeleton Castle.  "Hey new guy!" they shout.  "Come eat some of this dead fisherman that someone threw over the fence!  He's nice and bloaty!"

Other fun skeletons: elephant skeletons, giant skeletons, self-assembling skeletons, skeletons who liberate their brothers from the flesh prisons of their enemies, hungry coffins, a graveyard nymph.  Didn't Scrap write a list of fun skeletons?

If the dungeon has a gimmick its going to be converting half the party to undead to solve certain puzzles, but honestly undead dungeons are so much fun they don't really need a gimmick.

The Skeleton King is basically a meta-lich, formed by all the heads of former ruling families fused into one big skeletal lump.  He probably looks like Gravelord Nito.  Powerful spellcaster, but prone to bickering and infighting.  Obsessed with spies.  Terrified of the Siege Castle.

The Local Allies are probably some hilariously somber pilgrims, struggling to pay a visit to their departed loved ones.  A little old lady, a tearful lumberjack, etc, all straight from a funeral.  Expect quests that involve treating the undead respectfully.

Also expect some horrific shit, because the undead are good at being both Halloween-spooky and inhumanly cruel.

by manbearpagan
I've decided not to write up the castles in order.  Partially because it's a loose order (the player's can mostly do them in any order they want, with the following exception).

7. The Counterfeit Castle

So the Moon King is basically withdrawn from his day-to-day ruling.  It's up to his lieutenants to run his evil kingdom.

One of his lieutenants is the Puppetmaster, who takes notice of the party and conspires to eliminate them.  His plan is to invite all enemies of the castle to a party where they will all be killed.  This nefarious plot unfolds as castles are cleared.

The party cannot access the Counterfeit Castle until at least four castles have been defeated and four of the swords reclaimed.

There aren't really any Breadcrumbs or Obstacles for the Counterfeit Castle.  It just shows up.

One very important thing about the Counterfeit Castle: it's a shoddy imitation of the actual Moon Castle.  The map is almost identical, which will greatly assist clever players.  For example, a obvious treasure in the Counterfeit Castle might correspond to a well-hidden treasure in the same place within the Moon Castle.  You'd never find it unless you knew which part of the wall to smash.

After 1 Castle Cleared

The evil city announces plans for the Festival of Dreams.  Fireworks, candy, a dance contest, etc.  Most notably: the doors of the Moon Castle will be opened on that night, and everyone will be allowed to enter and petition the Moon King.

The Puppetmaster hopes that this will draw out enemies of the Moon King, and he hopes to assassinate them all in one fell swoop.

After 2 Castles Cleared

The Festival preparations begin.  Lots of construction.  Wood, sawdust, plaster.  Huge armies of cotters are brought up from dusty basements.

After 3 Castles Cleared

The Festival preparations are in full swing.  Lots of errands (quests) that need to be performed.  Lots of happy people, for once.  Optimism.  The party is encouraged to build a float, to be entered into the parade.  The prize is a mask.

After 4 Castles Cleared

The real Moon Castle is removed to the Shuddering Mountain, far away.  This happens in the dead of the night.

A fake Moon Castle is built in its place, and a brilliant rainbow bridge constructed over the chasm.  Banners are hung.  This is what the cotters have been building these last few weeks, but it looks cheap and hasty (because it is).  This is the Counterfeit Castle.

If the party decides to enter the Counterfeit Castle, they will be surprised at how shitty the castle looks from up close (gaping plaster, sagging woodwork).  Once inside, they will be subject to a brutal assassination attempt.  Probably puppet ninjas, portcullis traps, and cloudkill.

If the party burns it down, it will be rebuilt by the next day.

After 5 Castles Cleared

The Counterfeit King becomes impatient and arrogant.  Mooncalves begin to venture out from the Counterfeit Castle's towers at night.  The evil city becomes a more horrible place until the party clears the Counterfeit Castle.

If the party continues to avoid the Counterfeit Castle, eventually it becomes an open secret with the Puppetmaster sending murder puppets after them, screaming "COME TO MY BIRTHDAY PARTY WE MADE A CAKE FOR YOU!" in increasingly deadly + deranged combinations.

The Miniboss is the Counterfeit Dragon, of course.

The Boss is the Youthful Moon King, a knight.  He is actually a puppet controlled by. . .

The Real Boss is the Counterfeit King, a wizened wizard atop the throne.  He is actually a puppet controlled by. . .

The Actual Boss is the Puppetmaster, hiding the rafters.  He is actually a puppet controlled by. . .

The For-Real Actual Boss is the Real Puppetmaster, hiding in a flying theater above the castle, poorly disguised as a cloud.

Your Local Allies are the unfortunate cotters.  Most of them just lie down in the gutters and watch the clouds pass overhead, but a few still have ambition and drive.  Expect some proletariat quests, as well as some heartbreaking ones "please take care of my family--they think that I am dead".


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Moon Castle: a Zelda-Inspired Dungeon Campaign

I've been trying to play through all of the Zelda games.  It's been a journey.

Anyway, there's something about the simplicity of it all that resonates.  Go to all of the dungeons, collect all of the items, defeat the evil boss in the center of the map.

Of course, I still want it to be OSR, so it has to be a sandbox.  And nothing should be a mandatory gate--players should be allowed to wander, exploit, and invent.  Bread crumbs will be placed (extensively, since I want all roads to lead to Rome) but fences will not.

The only things that I write seem to be the things that I'm actually running.  I just through some fresh level 1s onto the map last Wednesday (starting a new IRL campaign) so I'm undeservedly optimistic that this little zygote will come to term.

by zikwaga

The Moon Castle

Once a meteor fell onto the land of Gafferdy, and killed a great many people.

It wasn't a meteor, it was a piece of the moon, and no one was killed.  At least, the people that were killed weren't really killed; they got back up and were alive again.  They were different, though.

It wasn't a piece of the moon, it was a castle, and inside of it was a throne as white and as luminous as the moon.  The castle seemed to flow out from it like frozen milk.  Whoever sat on the throne inherited countless realms, all dreams, all imaginary.

The Moon Castle was claimed, eventually, and consolidated.  A city grew around it.  Rivals were destroyed; neighboring cities were razed.  Eventually the castle was the power center on the whole peninsula.  Even the dragon Beyoc was tamed.

And one king refused to yield his throne, as his predecessors had.  He was old and bitter and cruel, and he died seated in it.  And then something crept in his skull that had lingered in the throne, or perhaps some hidden corruption was finally revealed when the curtain of life was pulled back.  But then everything changed.

That was a generation ago.

Now the city is an evil place.  People starve, and the most desperate sell their bodies to the castle.  Their souls are moved into shells called cotters, the cheapest form of animate soul-vessel.  It's nothing more than a clay shell filled with dirt and ashes.  They no longer hunger or tire, but no longer do they feel the joys of the flesh.  Eventually the body crumbles, and the soul moves on to whatever afterlife it is due.  Or, more commonly, the soul despairs and loosens its hold on the clay construct, and the body is then reclaimed and rented to another.

Cotters are charged rent on their bodies, due on the first of each month.  Rent is usually required to be paid in a day of service, rather than coin.

They cannot speak.  They barely have faces.  They are almost blind.

The vacated bodies are then leased to lesser demons called poes.  Poes have skin and warmth, but their interiors are mostly filled with a strange mixture of smoke, blood, and light.  Young poes (incorporeal demons who have only just arrived from the underworld) usually behave like madmen for the first couple of weeks.  Having a body is a heady experience.

It is dangerous to kill a poe.  Unless you capture the escaping spirit, it will certainly report you to the authorities for the destruction of its skin.

Demons have been invited into the city.  Moneylender demons with golden skin and enormous horns.  Landowner demons who house dozens of servitor birds in their wooden bodies.  Guard demons that crawl over the roofs, enforcing strange laws that change almost daily.

The final castle is the Moon Castle.  It squats in the middle of the map, and its spires are rarely out of sight.

The players can choose to challenge the Moon Castle at any time.  Who knows how far a clever, lucky level 1 character can get?  

The Moon Castle has no gate and no key, but there are two large obstacles.  First, there is a chasm that surrounds the castle.  Second, the dragon Beyoc roosts amid its spires, watching for uninvited guests, and there are never any invited guests anymore.

Beyoc doesn't sleep because Beyoc is always sleeping.  His eyes are closed and his breathing is slow.  The Moon King steers him through dreams.  Who knows what he would do if he were woken?  Or what it would take to wake him?

The interior of the castle is unknown.  It is believed to be full of lunar organisms, demons, and dreams.  

The Moon King's power waxes and wanes with the moon.  The poes are only active during the night, and behave like extremely sleepy/drunk people during the day.

The Moon King rules through dreams, and all citizens must report their dreams to him.  (Dream audits are conducted to apprehend those that shirk this vital duty.)  People must sleep for 10 hours every day.

It is unknown why he does with all this collected information.  (But you can bet its something nefarious.)

The Eight Dungeons

Each dungeon is going to have multiple trails of breadcrumbs that converge on its door.  Some will be hard-locked and will require certain conditions to access.  Others will be soft-locked, and can be accessed as soon as you find out where it is.

Each one has a boss. Each boss has a connection to the Moon Castle, and a piece of the story that it tells.

Will there be a magical sword that you need to power up?  Maybe.  

Will there be a magical weapon in each dungeon?  I like that idea more.

The first two dungeons are common knowledge.

1. The Forest Castle

When the Moon Castle began attacking the forests (for lumber, but also to kill everyone who wouldn't immigrate to his new city), the druids fought back.

The druids lost, and all their people perished, but their counterstroke was deadly.  All of the survivors were turned into carnivorous plants--both defenders and attackers both.  None of the invading army survived (except for the Siege Castle, which limped away).  Now the place is full of carnivorous flora, preying on intruders but also on each other.

The Obstacle of the Forest Castle is simply fighting through the hungry forest, or finding a way to convince the plants not to attack you.  (Remember that they used to be soldiers.)

The Forest Castle is the remains of a natural cave system that the druids once dwelt in.

The Boss of the Forest Castle is King Golma, an earth spirit that the druids once served.

Your Local Ally is the Plague House, which is inhabited by four friendly plague demons.  Each demon wears a mask to keep the disease in--they've decided that they like humans too much to want to kill them.  They try to invite guests, and to be gracious hosts, but guests invariably succumb to the diseases eventually, so they try to survive on afternoon visitors and written correspondence.  Their names are Cholera, Typhoid, Cancer, and Plague.  

2. The Siege Castle

A thousand siege engines, heaped together, held together by a spine of twisted spears.  It plods along on armored feet, each made from a thousand iron boots.  It's head is a nest of ballistas and trebuchets.  

It was the Moon King's greatest weapon.  Now that the peninsula is pacified (and his attentions have turned elsewhere), the Siege Castle is retiring on the battlefield where it legs were first broken.

The Siege Castle wants war.  It wants to feel spears clash against its skin.  It wants to burn battalions under its lava spigots.  It wants to scoop up knights in its jaws and crush them inside their armor until the pulp runs down its chin.

But it can't move.  It's rusting apart, dying a slow death.  Rain has accomplished what armies could not.  It dies like a wolf; Fenris after Ragnarok.

It is still hungry.  It is still capable of assimilating metal and weapons into itself.  It is still capable of growing.  (That's how it got so big--it returned from the war bigger than when it set out.)

It has servants, too, but they are clumsy things, meant to kill, not to repair.  The knowledge and the tools needed to mend it are in the city.

At night, you can hear it groaning out on the battlefield.  You can see the forge-fires still smoldering behind its ribs.  Every once in a while, it makes an attempt to move.  You can hear the anguished metal tearing from a mile away. 

And yet it does move, slowly and painfully.  Every month it drags itself a few feet closer to the Moon Castle.  Does it still wish to curl up at the feet like a loyal dog?  Or does it wish revenge for its abandonment?

The Obstacle of the Siege Castle is just approaching it.  It fires at anyone that it sees approaching.  Expect trebuchets.  There's a whole battlefield surrounding it, probably with some trenches still intact.  It has also fortified itself against entry, but the metal is rotting apart.

The Siege Castle is the inner workings, the parts that were meant for human occupation.  The barracks, the command center.

The Boss is the Siege King, who is basically the rancor handler (Malakili) in Return of the Jedi, except he shepherds the Siege Castle instead of a rancor.

Your Local Allies are the Red Ring Army, a bunch of punks and pit-fighters that have befriended the Siege Castle by hosting gladitorial combats where the Siege Castle can watch.  They treat the Siege Castle like a Roman emperor when deciding when to kill an surrendering opponent.  

If the Siege Castle nods, they live.  If it roars, they die.  It doesn't nod very often.

Expect lots of gladitorial matches.

Other Castles

3. The Origami Castle - the same small dungeon repeated again and again and again with different themes, navigation is accomplished by non-Euclidean fuckery.

4. The Queen's Castle - the queen shrank her castle and her family, keeping them safe inside her own body.  This is the flesh dungeon.

5. The Skeleton Castle - a city that became a graveyard, EVERYTHING IS SKELETONS, SKELETON KING

6. The Slime Castle - the water dungeon, creating when the Moon King destroyed a merfolk city, degenerate merfolk

7. The Mirage Castle - they tried to escape the Moon King by hiding their utopia inside a desert mirage.  It didn't work; the Moon King found them in their dreams, where they are now imprisoned.

8. The Counterfeit Castle - a cheap mockery of the city and the actual castle, useful as a preview of what the actual castle holds.  Expect puppets and paper mache.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Impact

So, you're playing D&D and you're fighting some orcs.  All the orcs are armed with feather dusters, so they actually incapable of harming anyone.  And your DM doesn't give XP for combat, so they'll  yield 0 xp upon death.

This combat is a waste of time.  You're just rolling dice until the orcs die.

The encounter is shit because the encounter has no impact.

Impact: the ability to permanently change the game.  The opposite of impact is fluff.

Impact correlates with how your players care.  If no one's invested in the outcome of this encounter, it's hard to have fun.  I think a lot of DMs make the mistake of crafting low-impact encounters.

I'll start by talking about combat encounters, but a lot of this applies to non-combat encounters as well.

by Jakub Rozalski
How To Increase Impact

Deplete Resources

Yes, depleting their spells/HP/potions is a form of impact.  It's low impact, almost by definition.  We can do better.

In a lot of published adventures, the fights are strongly stacked in favor of the PCs, who usually don't have to spend many resources to win.  The only reason to run a combat like this is to make the players feel cool/powerful (not something I recommend designing for--it happens on its own, when it's deserved) or to teach them the rules (and there are better ways to do this than wasting everyone's time with a fluff encounter).

Killing Characters

For most players, this is the most impactful thing that can happen.  It's also shitty when it happens.  We can have a talk about how much lethality is desirable on another post, but the point I want to make is. . .

High risks make people pay attention.  For this reason, difficult combats are necessarily high-impact.

Dear non-OSR readers: this is one reason why OSR folks are always advocating for potentially lethal combat.  Not because we enjoy rolling new characters, but because the combats are more significant.  It's the same reason why lots of sandbox DMs are okay with players deposing kings, burning down cities, and basically just making a mess of things.

I'm not gonna argue that you should make all of you combats brutally difficult.  Easy combats have their place.  But if you are going to make an easy combat, it needs to be impactful in a different way (see also: the rest of this post).

It's entirely possible for a high-lethality combat have everyone attentive, stressed, and bored.  Being trapped in a room with a wight, and no way to hurt it, rolling dice for 20 turns while all of your characters die inevitably.  (This is no different from the feather duster orcs, really.)

If you find yourself in a low-impact combat, hand-wave it.  Last time I played D&D, my players ambushed three old (non-magical, level 0) priests.  Combat took 30 seconds because I just let the player's narrate how they won.

Mutating Your Character Sheet

When I say "attack all parts of the character sheet", this is what I'm talking about.

This is a pretty broad category.  Yes, it includes actual mutations.  This is me telling you that giving the orcish raiders an Axe of Mutation is a great idea.

You can destroy items (rust monster), drain levels (wight), etc.  (PSA: big negative effects like that should be telegraphed and players given a chance to avoid the combat.  Don't ambush players with wights.)

You can also mutate items, mutate spells, turn gold coins into copper coins, turn copper coins into silver coins, permanently blind a PC, permanently give a PC the ability to see in the dark, mess with stats, mess with skills, steal an item out of their inventory, burn all the scrolls in their inventory with dragonfire, change their sex, give them curses.

And remember, all of these effects should be telegraphed before you smack the party with them.  The idea is to get the party invested in the outcome by raising the stakes, so it doesn't work if the players don't know the stakes.

Angels who can forcibly convert your character to their religion.  Since it takes a few "hits" before the PC converts, they have time to run away (which is the point of HP, really).

Nymphs who convince the party to live with her for a two years can also have a pretty big impact on the game.  Players should know the risk before they seek out a nymph.

And everyone knows to avoid gurgans.  Ew.

"I Search The Body"

Yeah, bread and butter.  I know.

PROTIP: Increase player investment by having enemies wield the cool item in combat; don't just leave it in their pocket for them to discover afterwards.

It doesn't even have to be magical.  Like, give one of the orcs a whip with an eagle claw on the end of it, and an eagle skull on the handle.  Fucking awesome.

Or they have crazy potions.  Permanently lose a point of Con to enter a super-rage.  Make sure at least one orc drinks the potion during combat, with more vials visible inside his vest, so the players know what they get if they win.

Or like, the next time the players crit on the orc, the orcs coin purse rips open and coins spill out all over the floor (in addition to the regular effects of the crit).  Show players what the stakes are.

Gaining XP

Yes, this is a thing that exists.

When I used quest XP in my Pathfinder games, I used to give the players a handout with all the available quests on it, and the associated rewards.  I kind of roll my eyes at that sort of thing now, but it accomplished the goal of showing what the stakes were.

Relates to Other Parts of the Map

This is what I mean when I say "random encounter doesn't mean unconnected encounter".

Maybe the really well-dressed orc is the chieftain's son, and asks to be ransomed back when he surrenders.  (Random encounters need to be connected to things outside of themselves.)

Maybe they're saving the king's life.  If they lose this combat, the king will be assassinated.

This is also a chance for your players to show their values.  Let them have the ability to change the game map, and make sure they know it.

Information

Maybe the fact that one of the orcs are in the castle at all means that someone probably smuggled them in. . . but why?

Maybe one of the orcs has an incomplete map of the nearby dungeon.

Maybe the orcs promise to give you the password to the Wyvern's Tower if you let them escape.

They can also convey setting information, or useful information about the dungeon.

The orcs have their hands tattooed black, indicating that they've trained in Ungra, specialize in killing mages, and were hired at a steep cost.

One of the orcs is carrying lockpicks and is covered in recent acid burns.  (Nearby lock is trapped with acid hoses.)

Fluff is Okay

There's nothing wrong with a fun combat.  Fluff has its place.

Respite: Easy combats can be a nice respite after a recent meat-grinder.

Power Trip: Maybe you're playing with ten-year-olds and the birthday boy needs a magic sword.

Ambiance: A corpse being eaten by hungry ghosts can really set the mood.  (No useful information was learned, no real interaction except observation).

Personal Goals: There's no benefit to it, but maybe one of the PCs swore an oath to humiliate every bard they came across.  Whatever.  It's important to their character concept.

Comedy: Fighting drunk goblins in the middle of a pig stampede.

Just remember that you can raise the impact without raising the difficulty.  Maybe give one the goblins a red-hot branding iron.  Same damage, but now the character has a QQ permanently seared into their rump.

-Doesn't change the game.
-Can still be interesting (e.g. you meet peacock-man being devoured by hungry ghosts; he has nothing interesting to say or give).
-Can be good for an ego trip.

Using Impact Wrong

Impact is not the same thing as fun.  Use it in ways that your players react to.  Maybe they're scared of dying and despise lethal combat.  Maybe they want to be heroes and respond really well to civic heroics, such as king saving.

Just be mindful of impact the next time you throw a random group of 3d6 goblins at your party.  Don't let it be just fluff.

Monday, October 2, 2017

WURMS: A continued DECLARATION against SCRAP PRINCESS, who knows NO DECENCY nor FORMAL DANCES

There is a voice crying out in the wilderness, babbling nonsense with locust-stained lips, scratching chaos into the dirt beneath her.  This is SCRAP PRINCESS, who is shunned by the WISE and feared by the BRAVE.  Her writings consist of nothing but NONSENSE and THE EGGS OF GAWPING SERPENTS.  Wise men shun both, lest they be afflicted by POLYPS and SNAKEBITE.

//////

The opposite of a dragon is a wurm.  Like dragons, they are also hoarders and destroyers, but they tend to seek the metaphysical, rather than base metals.

Wurms are brothers to whales.  They are most closely related to certain breeds of malformed horses native to the Londeep Swamp, which feed on algae and bird's eggs.

They are hairy, limbless things, like pink-skinned slugs or shaggy worms.  They do not fly, but instead burrow.  Their features vary, but in most cases their faces tend towards the mammalian, and sometimes even the simian.  They have flattish faces, with forward facing eyes, and their teeth are often blunted.  The smallest of them is a furlong in length.

They lay fertile eggs, but compulsively devour their young.

HD 12+  AC plate  Bite 2d8 + swallow
Move human  Burrow 1/2 human  Int 10    Mor 7

*Slurp (30' cone, save or be pulled into mouth)
*Aura  (100', unique to each wurm, see below)
*Attendants (2d6, unique to each wurm, see below)

THE LAUGHING WURM

Its skin is bright gold, and it weighs 484,000 lbs.  Its expression has been described as fatuous.  It enjoys eating elephants, and this is how it does it.  First, it breaks the elephant's legs.  Then it sucks on the elephant for about 18 hours, like a gobstopper, until the elephant's skin comes off.

It lives in the Tau Solen, where it churns the rivers into pinkish foam.

The Laughing Wurm consumes joy.  That is why it is so happy.  All creatures in its aura must make a Charisma check each turn.  On a failure, they lose 1d6 Wisdom.  If their Wisdom reaches 0, the PC stops and sits down, overcome by regret, nostalgia, and nihilism.  Wisdom lost in this way is recovered as soon as they leave the aura.  They regain 1d6 Wisdom if an ally dies or is swallowed (first time only) or if something motivating occurs (first time only).  Creatures in the aura are unable to benefit from it.

The Laughing Wurm is surrounded by 2d6 despondent ibises (1 HD each).  Initially inert, they will attack once they wurm is bloodied.

When the Laughing Wurm is killed all creatures in 1000' must save or celebrate together for the next 1d20 hours.  Expect to spend the time dancing with wolves and kissing ibises.

The Heart of the Laughing Wurm is a tiny, shriveled grey thing the size of a fist.  It can be used to make a make any sentient creature suicidal.  (50' range, creature saves, failture means that they will attempt to kill themselves in the next 24 hours.  The heart is not used up by a successful save.)

picture unrelated
by Marco Nelor
THE VERDANT WURM

The Verdant Wurm is bright, grassy green, except for its teeth (which are white) and its gums (which are red).  Its expression has been described as incredulous.  It enjoys impersonating a grassy hill, something that it is very bad at, since all the adjacent hills will be dead.  It weighs 660,000 lbs.

The Verdant Wurm consumes life.  That is why it is so vibrant.  All creatures in the aura lose 1d6 HP per turn (half on a successful save).  For each HP lost in this way, a butterfly is born from the Verdant Wurm's back.  They attack as a swarm.

The Verdant Wurm begins surrounded by 2d6 butterflies.  They are not true insects, and lack mouthparts or reproductive organs.  They have only a single leg, like a razor blade.

When the Verdant Wurm is killed, its stomach spills open and a forest grows explosively.  All creatures in 1000' must save or take 1d20 damage from being speared, tossed, or crushed.

The Heart of the Verdant Wurm can be used to restore a creature to life.  Creatures restored to life in this way will return larger (+1 Str), dumber (-1 Int), and with shaggy green hair.

Other Wurms

Slow, Conquerer, and Heartstring.  TBA.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Inextricable Grace of Elves

I've written about elven psychology, linguistics, origin, military, weapons, half-elves, and their infinitely looping kingdoms at the end of time.

But one thing I haven't written about is what it's like for the PCs to actually encounter true elves, face to face.

Should I do a recap first?  I feel like I should.

Boring Elven Lore Shit

Originally, you had baseline humans.  When transhumanism resulted in True Elves, they basically started running the show.  They made slave-races for different tasks: spacers (halflings), soldiers (orcs), laborers (dwarves), while the baseline humans went extinct, only leaving various races of subhumans (bred to be fulfill different types of magical sacrifices).

Eventually, the technology slipped away and the True Elves lost the ability to create more of themselves.  Their degenerate offspring are the High Elves (who are the Low Elves) and they are the most beautiful creatures on Centerra (save nymphs and such).  The True Elves have either left the planet or jumped ahead to one of the temporal estates at time's end.

Elves have the best civilization and the best historical records because many of them were spared the Time of Fire and Madness; they were safely living on Eladras when it happened, a tree that grew downwards from the moon.

(I thought I wrote a post about Eladras, but I didn't.  It's roots are still in the moon, pieces of its trunk form some of the orbital biomes, its branches fell in the Dustwind, and its seeds were used to make grow Aglabendis.)

So the High Elves live forever, magical and powerful, isolating in the beautiful places they have claimed for themselves (often forests).  Each High Elf city is ringed by Wood Elves, the outcasts that society has deemed too ugly or too offensive to dwell among them.  (They're still extremely beautiful by pseudo-medieval standards.)  Elves claim all beautiful things, not just beautiful forests (which sometimes resemble parks) and so sometimes the wood elves are more like beach elves or mountain elves but you get the point.  They're the dirt-elves that range away from the parties plazas.

And then percolating through all elven society are their slave-races, except they'd never call them that.  They are their little brothers and little sisters, and they are enslaved by love.  They love their older siblings, and revere them even though they aren't allowed to sit at the same table as them, or even speak to them directly.  These are the half-elves (elf-men and elf-women) who are sterilized adult humans who have been created via semi-elfification of stolen infants, the alchemical orcs who have been restored to some of their original prowess as super-soldiers, the ashakka who are wooden golems powered by elven ancestors, and all manner of magical bullshit that they are capable of conjuring.

Most people think that half-elves are the true elves, since those are the ones that sometimes engage in trade.  Most scholars know of the furtive Wood Elves, and believe them to be the true elves.  And a vanishing few mortals have been to the elven cities and met the High Elves (who are the Low Elves) and believe them to be the true elves.  And everyone is wrong once again.

How Elves Talk

The thing to realize is this: unless you've been living in elven society for a few hundred years, you're going to offend someone terribly within a few seconds of walking in the door.

Remember that all of elven society is predicated on beauty and positivity.  Unpleasant things are corrected, removed, or ignored.

A smelly adventurer with blood in his mouth and shit on his boots represents an extremely significant challenge to etiquette, best avoided altogether.  An adventurer will find it nearly impossible to access an elven city, because they really don't want you in there.

But even within the elven city, all discussion of unpleasantness is avoided.  This means that they avoid discussing pretty much all of the outside world.  Talking about unpleasantness is an offense that entails punishment: shunning, resocialization classes, and in the most extreme cases, banishment to the wood elves.

If you could sum up the elven civic philosophy, it would be this: don't inconvenience others.

More specific advice on how to talk to an elf.
  • Don't talk about unpleasant things, you may make someone uncomfortable.
  • Don't make too much eye contact, you may seem intimidating.
  • Do not ask questions about absent friends, something bad might have happened to them.
  • Hell, don't ask questions at all.  That puts a burden on the other person to ask.
  • Compliments are basically mandatory.  A lack of compliments is basically an insult.
  • Don't talk about things that the other person might not know about.  If you don't know if the other person knows something or not, it is best to approach the topic obliquely.
Conversation is best limited to safe topics.  Pretty things like the clothing that the other elf is wearing.  Local music.  Delicious food.  Art.  Culture.  Weather.  Reminiscing about other happy times.  Inside jokes.  

You might think this sounds boring, but elves are brilliant and clever and pretty.  They're always alluding to other things, connecting different areas.  They're hilarious.  If they were talking to a human they liked, they'd be careful to only refer to areas of culture and history that the human was likely to know about, in order to avoid making them self-conscious of their ignorance.  Humans love hanging out with elves; they're like humans who have learned how to avoid offending people.

An elf who was interrogating you might stand at the other end of the room, look out the window, and wonder aloud "I wonder where my kinkajou is?  It's almost time for his massage."

That's remarkably direct, for an elf.  That's bad news.  You're about to be slowly lowered into a vat of acid over a 36 hour period.  You better tell her where her kinkajou is, dude.

You might think the inability to ask questions is a bit limiting.  You'd be correct.

Books are the exception.  When an elf is alone with a book, the pretense is dropped.  After all, there is still a need to learn about the actual world.  And if an elf wishes to learn about unpleasant things in the privacy of their own home, they are certainly allowed to do so, as long as they don't inconvenience others.

Written and spoken words have very different purposes in elven society.

Another workaround is the use of intermediates.  A servant hears a politely coded message, conveys it to a subservant in a less polite form, and then the subservant will meet with another elf's subservant, and the two of them will have a plainly spoken discussion.  Then the resolution will make its way back up to the elf, who is then informed of what he has decided.

Sometimes the elf is her own subservant, in a different guise and identity.  This is actually pretty common in elven society--compartmentalizing their identity into polite and impolite forms.  While wood elves might use masks to accomplish the same thing, high elves use glamours and actual transformations.

This is an advantage in fighting a high elf.  If you surprise them with combat, they'll usually refuse to fight until they can assume their "war face" (combat identity).  They're very good at running away, but try to make that first combat count.

Pretense is as important as air.

Unpleasant things are usually disguised as something else.  Combat is often referred to as dancing, but even that euphemism is becoming worn and distasteful.  Combat is now often referred to as "music appreciation" or "physical listening" or something similar.

The distaste is now even rubbing off onto actual dancing, which was beginning to have a more negative connotation due to its association with combat.  So dancing is now referred to as "joyful warfare" or "imitating the wind".

How Elves Live

Usually alone or in romantic pairs/trios/quartets.  Except not alone alone.  Each elf has a large estate consisting of their "family" of non-elves (half-elves, alchemical orcs, human sycophants), servants, playthings, protectors, and fashion statements.

Like if an elven household was a dungeon, it might be a redwood with a pavilion at the top and a branching complex in the roots.  It would have a romantic pair of elves as the "bosses".  One room might have 3d6 "little brothers" (alchemical orcs armed with crush gauntlets and jump jets) and a ziggurat made of hot tubs.  Another room might have Sir Hembriss the Curator, a charmed rakshasa who does hair and makeup.

Elven households are very diverse, because fashion.  No elf wants to show up to the gala with the same color rakshasa as their rival.

I've painted a pretty negative picture of elves, but there are plenty that take good care of their adopted families.  Many of them are effective mentors, and a few are even friends with members of their household.

Children aren't common because (a) some elven cultures practice population control, and (b) raising an elven child is risky and unpleasant.  Too much messy biology, too much disappointment and death.  It's also incredibly expensive: the same magical manipulation that improved human stock into elves also made them dependent on magical technology that is absent, faulty, and/or poorly understood.

For example, the elven fetus was never meant to be grown to parturition inside a uterus.  They were designed to be grown in a vat.  And since those vats no longer exist, the elves have had to invent some pretty drastic workarounds.  Expensive, unpleasant, and especially risky.

This is true for all stages of an elf's development, not just pregnancy.  Elven procreation requires a lot of infrastructure and technology.  It's not an exaggeration to say that an elven hospital is the third parent, since mom, dad, and magic all make tremendous and necessary contributions to the final product.

This restriction means that you'll hardly ever see elves living in the slums.  An elf will have wealthy parents, or they'll never make it past the first trimester.

How Elves Fight

Some cultures of elves will just run away, in order to don their war identity.

Other cultures of elves will fight you directly, but under the pretense of "dancing with you".  This requires having a bard nearby, who will strike up music during the combat.  If the bard stops playing, the pretense drops, and the elf will be forced to fight you directly.  (This makes the combat worse, not easier.)

How do you shoot an arrow at someone indirectly?  You shoot it very high, so that it takes a high, arcing path.  That makes it easier to pretend that you were shot by accident, so as not to upset the elf.

Couldn't you just hold your shield over your head and be safe from elven arrows?  Well, no, because high elven arrows don't fly in a straight line.  They're curved so that they fly in spirals.  Elves do other tricks with the fletching, such as ablative rachides and clockwork oscillators, that make the arrows fly in even more complex patterns.

Then they spend a few decades mastering it.

This means that elvish arrows are essentially useless in human hands.  (The inverse is not true.)

<sidebar>Elves really hate to see anyone else using their toys.  There are various ways to accomplish this, such as covering them in diseases that only affect humans to remaining inert unless surrounded by elven DNA (which is easily bypassed by anyone wearing elfskin gloves).</sidebar>

Elves are capable of producing pretty much every entry in the monster manual, but they prefer bodyguards who don't leave a mess.  Stranglers (such as a lesser wind) and devourers (such as an ooze) are ideal.  Elves really hate it when their bespoke stuff gets broke.

They also aren't above simply paying you to go away.  Giving an adventuring party a large ruby works fine: they have plenty more gems.  Besides, a large ruby in the hands of mercenaries is likely to bring nothing but turmoil to human lands, without making the humans any wiser, more numerous, or more powerful (all things that elves seek to prevent).

The elves would find it hilarious if it wasn't already so eye-rollingly banal at this point.

How Elves Die

The pretense persists until their dying breaths.  It is an inextricable part of their souls.

Consider the words of Milasham vin Valtir, an elf who was stabbed in the aorta by adventurers while attempting to recover her stolen kinkajou.

"Look," she said, reaching into her breast pocket and pulling out a bloody hand.  "I have found rubies."

Sunday, September 17, 2017

There's No Such Thing As Foxes

There's no such thing as foxes.

They're mythical beasts, existing only in heraldry, rumor, and fraud.  (There are many ways to dye a coyote.)

They are believed to bring good luck, confidence, glibness, and then ill fortune (in that order).  Potions made from fox's tongues are said to exist, but there is no agreement as to what (if anything) they actually do.

Common wisdom maintains that foxes have never existed.  They are simply something that stepped out of myth, an inversion of a wolf.  Where their progenitors are large and direct, the brightly colored foxes are small and clever.

Even their coloration is inverted: where a wolf is a drab brown or grey, foxes are depicted in brilliant oranges, red, and sometimes with exotic patterns (such as paisley).

And while most believe foxes have never existed, there are a few who believe that they were once real animals that succeeded in making themselves imaginary.

According to them, foxes exist all around us, stealing our food and warming themselves in our beds.  Their magic makes them impossible to notice, remember, or record.  All trains of causality that might lead to their discovery are brushed away with a whisk of a fox's tail.


The Foxenstone

They say that the foxes once enacted some powerful magic to make themselves disappear from all observation, memory, and thought.  At the center of this powerful magic was a stone called the Foxenstone, an monolith that towered over the trees, its surface was covered with spirals of foxes running towards its apex.

It was made from gold, or amber, or perhaps a reddish salt that was poisonous to cats.

And while many things about the Foxenstone are debated, its location is not: it is located in the Foxenfort, above the Foxenport, in Foxentown, on the western wendings of the Bearded Ocean, not too far from Trystero, where men have learned to become giants.

There is only one catch.

A visitor touring the Foxenfort will be entirely unable to catch sight of the Foxenstone, which by most accounts is forty feet tall and standing in the center of the fort's courtyard.  The locals will wink and tell you that it's there all right, it's just very well hidden.  Do you see any foxes?  Of course not.  If you saw either, then the foxes would not have done a very good job, would they?

In Foxenport, you can buy a fragment of the Foxenstone to take home.  To the untrained eye, these appear to be empty sacks.

The 6119 foxes carved on the side of the Foxenstone are well-described, and ownership of the foxes is a well-regulated business.  They are even traded among the nobles as a form of currency.  Since the transactions are all immaculately recorded by the Foxentown Bank, there is never any discrepancy.  You can buy a fox near the bottom for as little as 500g, while the foxes near the top command much higher prices.

Carved foxes on the sides of an imaginary stone are not an accepted currency anywhere else in the world, but in Foxentown, they are as good as gold.  Better, actually, since it shows a certain willingness to engage with the imaginary economy.

Lastly, those who doubt the existence of the Foxenstone would be wise to direct their attention to a single, extremely convincing fact: Foxentown is impossible to locate except by those who have already been there.

Bear in mind, that Foxentown is a bustling port filled with merchants speaking a half-dozen different languages, and exchanging the flotsam from a hundred different cities.  Because of this, it is not hard to get to Foxentown.  You have only to venture into any seedy harborside flophouse and ask if anyone is interesting in "chasing the little foxes" and some congested whaler will speak up.  He's been a dozen times; he loves the way the morning sun reflects off the beautiful Foxenstone.

He'll guide you there for a pittance (if he doesn't die from fever first), and you will invariably be disappointed.  Despite the legends, Foxentown appears to be just another warm-water shantytown, filled with robbers, whores, and mosquitoes.

Tales exist of other Foxentowns, and other Foxenstones, that no one can find because no one has ever returned.  Perhaps you'd have better luck asking a real fox.

That was a joke.  Foxes don't exist.

The God of No Foxes

It is said that the cost of making a real thing unreal was to make an unreal thing real.  This unreal-thing-that-became-real is the God of No Foxes.

Other names: the False God, the No God At All, Nobody.

His followers are clowns, fools, babarukhs (the mischief people), and especially madmen, who are said to be the only ones capable of understanding the False God at all.  He fav

He is a god without any (apparent) agenda except to sit and watch things fall apart.  He delights in deception, without any concern for the consequences.  His followers have sometimes been credited with good deeds, but they are much better known for their nefarious ones.  Deeds of deception, disruption, and despoilment.

If there is any virtue that is held in high regard, it is unpredictability.  His followers are fond of saying that the greatest chess player might be the greatest chess player, but if she always plays the same way, she will lose to someone who has studied him.  Therefore, a degree of sub-optimum play is optimum.  Therefore, a dash of foolishness is required to become a genius.

Quite a few of them end up in finance, being already comfortable handling imaginary values.

They worship in the open, by adopting a series of codewords, such as "Lovely day, isn't it?" and "Yes, quite." which might mean "Hail the False God, who is the True God!" or perhaps "May he reign forever in today!" or perhaps "May the wheat grow straight and the babies moulder in their cribs."

This is why you must be very careful whenever a stranger turns to you and says "Lovely day, isn't it?"  You may be praising the God of No Foxes by mistake (and this is why clerics are often so impolite).

It is said that most of the False God's worshippers do not know they worship him, which they do through confusion, making mistakes, and wasting time (such as reading a blog post when they have more important things to do).

These are the claims that his followers make, at least.  They may or may not be true (whatever that means).

The False God dwells in Mautertium, the No Castle, which is a cave, which in all likelyhood doesn't even exist at all.

At its heart are the Parade Grounds, where frolic the revelers--men and women covered in masks and paint and little else.

One must be careful in the No Castle, because sometimes the body is the lie, while the mask is the truth.

It is said that Nobody one captured a great number of powerful beasts: trolls, manticores, medusa, and even a purple worm and a dragon.  These monsters were turned into humans, and given masks that depicted their original disposition.  They were then allowed to roam Mautertium to their heart's content as celebrants of the False God.  [DM's note: appearance as naked human wearing a mask, stats as troll/manticore/meduse/purple worm/dragon, including modes of movement.  Other celebrants wear identical masks.]

You'll also see a lot of stuff like this:


Nowhere in Mautertium will you ever find a fox.  However, you will find a great many people in fox masks.  (Perhaps this is where the fox's went?)

You may hear the celebrants repeat the Prayer of the False God:

Nobody loves me.
Nobody cares.
And when I'm all alone,
Nobody is there.

But they don't repeat it very often.  That would be predictable, wouldn't it?

The False God appears as four men inside a monstrous costume (a bit like a Chinese Street Dragon).  You can see leg hairs sticking out of the tights.  You can smell beer on the costume.  You can hear four men inside the thing whispering to each other.  They are talking about you and they are laughing.

They are about to start the parade, and everyone is in their proper place, except for you.  Everyone belongs here except for you.  Everything here makes sense except for you, you nonsense-thing.

The corner of the costume lifts up a little and you think you can see a hand wiping wine away from the corner of a mouth.  They are talking about you and they are laughing, because who would ever imagine you?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Door Wizard

Back when the True Elves ran things, the world was both bigger and closer together.

They had grabbed Space, bundled it up, and bound it into knots.  Everything was near everything else, and distance was as meaningless as maps.  They rarely bothered to learn where something was, since everything was just on the other side of the Door.

The Door was everywhere.  They called it the Gem of All-Facing.  They compared it to a box with infinite sides, and no interior.  It connected the distant corners.  It made everything adjacent.  Its doors were everywhere, with forms as varied as their destinations.

They called it the Door, but the doors were just its skin.  It's body was a lamellar labyrinth of hypertoroidal tissues, a universal linkage.  It's handlers could whistle and it would arrive, inserting itself as a local door.

It is rumored that they originally grew it from a blink dog.

When the Time of Fire and Madness came, the Door was fractured.  The knots were pulled, tightened, and torn.  Trillions of gallons of unseen blood boiled off into the Nowhere.  Skeins of odochrysm froze like ice on the surface of dead highways.

You can still see artifacts of that trauma all around the world, if you know where to look.

The doors in Old Clavenhorn all slightly shifted, torsioned within their frames, some bearing more sever scarring, such as midline offset (evidence of pandemic truncation of the Door's n-forks).

The road between Asria and Trystero is thirty miles longer in the northward direction than it is in the southward.  (And dogs always shiver when they walk south along it.)

And near Meltheria, there is the Enigma, the most enduring blasphemy against natural law.  Mages speculate that it was not the Door's heart, but perhaps it was where it first started to die.

A few fragments still remain intact, such as the nineteen windows in the palace of the Cerulean Slave-Kings.  Each one looks out on a different sea, and each one incurs a different type of insanity in anyone who passes through it.

Many other doors, we destroyed because of the danger they posed.  The spaces between the doors had grown strange.  Without the care and support of the True Elves, parts of the Door became carnivorous, and then cancerous.  They survived by feeding on themselves.  (Because while the outer world burned, what else was there to eat?)  Nested hallways, digesting themselves.  Negative space eroding and reconstituting through stolen architecture.  A war of cancers, empty places eating each other to death.

Parts of the Door are predatory, escaping the confines of their metastatic dimension and hunting through ours.  But always the old blood reasserts itself, always the schema of the hound.

If they have a point of origin, it is rumored to be a place called Tindalos.

from Full Metal Alchemist
Wizards of the Door

It is wrong to treat the Door as if it is a monolith.  It is a system perverted against itself, exactly like a human who is suffering from cancer.

Parts have gone rogue, and they have bitten at the heart of the superstructure.  But the superstructure remains--it must--and it remembers its duties.

These are the parts of the Door that the Wizards serve.

To become a Door Wizard, go mess around with portals and extradimensional spaces.  Alternatively, seek the elves (the only remaining practitioners of the teleport spell).

The Rules

Remember back when I was writing up wizard subtypes for the GLOG?  This is another one of those.

Restrictions
  • You must never imprison a living creature, or allow one to be imprisoned.
  • You must never harm a door, or allow one to be harmed.
Boons
  • You begin the game with a skeleton key.  It unlocks the keyhole on your chest.  If unlocked, your chest can be safely opened and your heart removed.  This doesn't harm you, but you must obey any creature that holds your heart.
  • You can cast a version of the knock spell that involves pushing your skeleton key into a creatures sternum (requires a successful attack roll).  The creature takes [sum] damage on a successful save, and dies on a failed save (as most creatures die when you messily open their rib cage).  (This requires you to cast the knock spell normally, by memorizing it from your spellbook.)
  • The room created by your secret room spell becomes enlargable and decorateable.  Each dungeon key you feed it creates a new 400 sq. ft. room shaped however you wish that holds up to two pieces of furniture and/or decoration.  The created room, furniture, and decorations all match the style of the dungeon that generated the key.  (Only keys found in dungeons have this ability.)  At the DM's discretion, very important keys may generate NPCs within the secret room.
GLOG Wizard Rules: Players begin with two spells from this list generated by rolling d6. When they research a new spell, they roll a d12.  Spells #13 and #14 are rare spells, and are as rare as magic weapons in your game.
  1. Knock
  2. Lock
  3. Map
  4. Secret Room
  5. Speak With Lock
  6. Emergency Exit
  7. Command Door
  8. Summon Door Hound
  9. Wall of Doors
  10. Secret Chest
  11. Transpose
  12. All Things Adjacent
Rare Spells

13. Portal
14. Teleport


Spells

All Things Adjacent
R: 0
T: self
D: 1 turn

You are adjacent to all things within your line of sight.  You can punch anything you could see.  You can pick up any object and put it in your pocket as if it were beside you.  However, you are affected as if you were in every location at once.  (To put it in grid-based combat terms, you are affected by all effects effecting every observable square.)  You do not suffer multiple effects from the same hazard (even though you are standing in all parts of a wall of fire, you only take its damage once).  Obviously, casting this spell within sight of the sun is instantly fatal.

Command Door
R: 50'
T: door
D: until midnight
splittable
Object is opened. Doors are flung wide, locks are broken, shackles are bent open, belts come undone. TA door becomes your loyal servant until midnight.  This spell only affects doors that have been tamed (unlocked, detrapped, opened, and passed through).  Larger doors may require more casting dice (2 dice = double doors, stone doors, 3 dice = metal doors, enormous doors, 4 dice = magic doors).  The door will obey your verbal commands to open/close, lock/unlock, disarm/arm, and even attack.  An average wooden door deals 1d8 damage and attacks as a HD 4 creature.

If you control multiple doors within the same dungeon, you can cast this spell while investing 3 dice to link them together for 10 minutes.  Whatever enters one door exits the other.  You can decide which side of which door leads to which side of which door.

Emergency Exit
R: touch
T: [sum] objects
D: 0

Up to [sum] touched objects and/or creatures are teleported out of the dungeon.  They arrive safely, but are all scattered within 1 mile of the dungeon's primary entrance.  Each carried item has an independent 5% chance to be similarly scattered.

If used in a building, it will eject all objects and/or creatures from random entrances (each rolled separately).

If used in a city's streets, it will eject all objects and/or creatures from random entrances (each rolled separately).

Knock
R: 50'
T: object
D: 0
splittable
Object is opened. Doors are flung wide, locks are broken, shackles are bent open, belts come undone. Treat this as a Strength check made with a Strength of 10 + ([dice] * 4). Worn armor falls off if the wearer fails a save. Creatures must save or vomit (a free action).

Lock
R: 50'
T: object
D: 10 minutes
splittable
Non-living object closes and becomes locked. If the object is a door, chest, or similar object, it will slam shut, dealing [sum] damage to any creature passing through it and then trapping them. This spell works on things that aren't technically portals (for example, a sword could be locked in its scabbard). When resisting being opened, the object has an effective Strength of 10 + ([dice] * 4).

Alternatively, this spell can be cast on a creature's orifice, or paired orifices; the creature gets a save to resist, and another save at the end of each of its turns.  (This works on eyes, mouths, nameless sphincters, etc.)

Map
R: 0
T: self
D: 0

You get a brief vision of the surrounding rooms in the dungeon.  Not the contents--just the topology.  The DM reveals [sum] random, adjacent, non-secret rooms that are so far undiscovered.  Just draw it on the players' map.  If used in a city, it gives an accurate map of the city, with more dice resulting in a higher level of detail.

Portal
R: 20' x [dice]
T: 2 surfaces
D: [dice] rounds

You create a pair of linked portals, each attached to a flat, immobile surface (such as a wall or a floor).  Anything that passes through one portal passes out the other, with momentum being conserved.  You can create a door beneath a creature, but they get a Dex check to avoid falling into it.

Secret Chest
R: 0
T: self
D: 10 minutes

You can access [dice] extradimensional chests, each one having 3 inventory slots.  The chests are ordinal, i.e. you can only access the third chest by investing three casting dice.  (You cannot switch chests around).

Secret Room
R: touch
T: wall
D: varies

A touched wall grows an extradimensional room.  This takes 30 minutes.  Behind the door is an empty 20' x 20' room of matching architecture.   The room lasts for 2 hours, doubling in duration for each invested die.  At the end of the duration, all objects inside the room are ejected.

Speak with Lock
R: 50'
T: lock
D: [dice] minute

You can talk with locks.  Locks tend to be practical and no-nonsense.  Trapped locks are liars.  Locks remember everyone who ever locked or unlocked them, but their descriptions might not be useful (since they mostly center on descriptions of their hands and personalities-as-expressed-by-turning-a-key).  Picking a lock is a terrible sin to them, but it is the only sin.  Many believe the form determines function determines morality.

Summon Door Hound
R: 50'
T: conjuration
D: concentration

You summon a houndlike creature that obeys your commands.  It has stats as a wolf except that it has HP [sum] and deals +[dice] damage.  It can teleport 50' once for every dice invested beyond the second.


Teleport
R: touch
T: objects
D: 0

Up to [sum] touched objects and/or creatures are teleported to a random room within the dungeon.  If cast within a building, they are teleported to a random room.  If cast within a city, they are teleported to a random building.

It is possible to cast a version of this spell that allows for targeted teleportation, but it requires 10 minutes, a well-known destination, and affects half as many creatures/objects.

Transpose
R: 50'
T: 2 objects
D: 0

Pick two very similar objects.  They switch places.  Attended/worn/held objects are allowed a Save.  DM's discretion as to what counts as 'very similar' but they are encouraged to invent a fail chance for borderline cases.

Wall of Doors
R: 50'
T: conjuration
D: 10 minutes

You create a rectangular wall composed of 10' x 10' panels arranged in a flat plane.  You can conjure a total of [dice] panels.  You can orient it however you want.  It has [sum] HP.  You can control who and what can pass through the wall.  (For example, a wall of doors could be used as a bridge; allies can run across safely while enemies would fall through suddenly open doors.)

Monday, June 19, 2017

SCRAP PRINCESS ENGINEERED THE ST. PIERRE SNAKE INVASION

I'm not saying that she bred all of the snakes personally, but she definitely was in St. Pierre, throwing snakes at children.

ANYWAY

Dinosaur
Psychosaurs

These are hyper-evolved dinosaurs from an alternate timeline.  They're giant flying dinosaur heads with psychic powers.  They refer to humans as "foolish mammals" and like to cut our heads off, then make fun of us when we die.

Wherever there is one psychosaur, there is always another, because they travel through time almost exclusively to create advantages over other psychosaurs, and to foil other psychosaur plots before they become manifest down the timeline.

Displacer Beast
Beast of Singular Intensity

Once you enter its floor of the dungeon, you become instantly aware of it.  It's like you've been using a singular computer monitor your whole life, and then suddenly, a second monitor flares on beside it.
Once you are aware of the Beast of Singular Intensity, you cannot back away from it.  You can approach it, and you can circle it, but you cannot leave until it is dead or placated.  This whole floor of the dungeon is annular, and the concentric rings are full of other creatures who have chosen to circle the Beast rather than face it.

It looks like a cross between a cobra and a cicada.  It rises from a mossy pit.  It has no eyes but it has many Eyes.

Dog
Terrible Tumor

Sort of like an angry baby that is growing out from the base of your neck.  It whines and harasses and if it gets really frustrated it will start throttling you.

You can't remove it without killing yourself, and any damage it takes is mirrored onto you.  For example, if you cut off its arms, you can no longer move your arms.  If you bind it, you can't move either.

What does it want?  Liquor (you get drunk, too, since you share a bloodstream), to dabble in the darkest of magics, to commit unspeakable perversions, and to scare people.

Djinn
Flim

Creatures of fireless smoke, flims are utterly powerless.  They look like they can fly, and yet they can barely crawl.  They are so fragile, a determined Corgi could kill one.  They have terrible eyesight and weak voices and although they can carry small things like papers and gems, they must take breaks.

Neither Good, nor Evil, nor Neutral, they're just sort of there.  They struggle to understand and affect the world around them, and so they tend towards depression and lethargy.  They sigh a lot.  You could do a lot to help one, and it would be grateful, but then what?

Dolphin
Orb Snail

Picture a sphere on the bottom of the harbor.  The sphere is about seven feet in diameter, and it appears to be made from rock or shell.  It has semi-hexagonal scutes, like a turtle's shell.

On the side of the sphere is a crusted gap, big enough to fit your head inside but not your shoulders.  It is from this hole that the orb snail can extrude an organ.  Here is a list of the possible organs that the snail can extrude.

  • A muscular arm, good for grabbing things and drowning them.
  • A muscular foot, good for gripping the ground and creeping along.
  • An turgid eye on an enormous stalk.
  • A sphincter-like mouth, capable of spitting a weak acid.

If Gygax wrote this, it would probably kill adventurers by rolling them over on hills.  And while yes, orb snails can kill you like that, they much prefer to just drown you.

It is actually a species of turtle.  Everyone is wrong.

Dragons

They deserve their own post.

Dragonne
Hog Dragon

Bred by goblins in order to debase and humiliate dragons.  Obese, foul-tempered, slothful, and immensely strong.

Stench -- Can produce a stinking cloud every 1d4 turns.  Within 50', the stench is so strong that materials become soft.  Metal becomes rubbery.  Stone becomes like mud.

It's weaknesses are its temper, its appetite, and its tireless stupidity.

Dragon Turtle
Angeloid

A soft, flying thing, all gossamer and molasses.  Like panes of brown and yellow glass being shuffled.  A face that is eternally flopped to one side or the other, like a dog's.  It wants to take you places, show you things.  It will trade things, but it only deals in intangibles.  It'll identify a magic item if you feed it all of your memories of your father (lose a point of Wis).  It'll carry you anywhere you wish to go if you let it wrap your courage in an eggshell and carry it away (-4 vs Fear).

Dryad
Gurgans

Horrible, shriveled man-things.  They squat, lurk, snivel, sneer, grovel, and beg.  They're horrible and pointless.  They own nothing useful; they never know anything relevant.  Killing them gives you a negative amount of XP.  Their livers are painful and distended and they can curse creatures by spitting on them.  If you kill one, you may turn into one yourself.

They're usually found sleeping in front of a doorway that the party needs to get through.  Or they demand to be carried to a different part of the dungeon.  Or they demand food and compliments.

If these demands are not met: curses.  If you attack them: curses.  If you ignore them and make them feel the suffocating weight of their own crushing loneliness: curses.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Adventuring Gear + Alchemy Items

YOU CAN SKIP OVER THE ADVENTURING GEAR SECTION BECAUSE IT'S BORING BUT HERE ARE THE GOOD PARTS: Salt damages oozes and can be used to preserve meat.  Lots of thing can be animated by necromancer PCs because they're mostly animal products: grease, ink, oil, etc.  High quality mirrors are as rare as minor magic items.  Go read the Alchemical Items section, those are a lot more interesting.

If you're reading this on your phone the tables probably won't render well, but that's fine, just skip to the bottom and read this post backwards, staring with the interesting alchemy bits.

So here is part of that list.  It just includes Adventuring Gear and Alchemical Items.  I'll do the other stuff (Hirelings, Weapons, Armor, Lodging, Investments, Services, Animals) later.

by Viktor Titov
How to Read This

Short Name is the quick, efficient way to refer to an item.

Full Name is the more interesting way to refer to an item.  It's how NPCs in the game will refer to the item, if the DM is really into it and y'all are talking to someone that speaks adventurer.  Some of these might just be adventurer slang, really.  If there are different types, they will all be listed.  (e.g. Woskum and Brusky are both types of liquor.)

Cost is in gold coins, for most systems.  Whatever the unit is that gives 1 xp.

Inventory Slots is how much space they take to carry.  Most people can carry a number of items equal to their Str+5.

Availability is how hard it is to find these items.  If you see 'City', you know you can probably find it in a major city.  'Town' means that you can probably find it in a town.  If you see neither, that means that it's probably not available on any open market.

ADVENTURING GEAR





Short Name
Full Name
Cost
Inventory Slot
Availability






Liquor, flask (3 doses)
Woskum
Brusky
Horlick
Scumbo
Snakey
10
1
City

Blanket
Blanket
5
1
City
Town
Bottle, glass
Bottle, glass
5
1
City

Caltrops, bag
Dragon's teeth, bag
Tribulations, bag
5
1
City
Town
Clothing, common
Scrappers
10
-
City
Town
Clothing, noble
Wagonscrews
100
-
City

Crowbar
Jimmy pig
Iron crow
5
1
City
Town
Chalk
Gypsy stick
1
-
City
Town
Garlic, bulb
Stinking rose
1

City
Town
Grapple + 20' Rope
Grapnel
10
1
City
Town
Grease, sack
Tallow, sack
1
1
City
Town
Holy symbol, wood
Nine eyes, glove
5
1
City
Town
Holy symbol, silver
Nine eyes, glove, silvered
50
1
City

Holy water, vial
Holy water, vial
25
1/3
City

Ink, vial
Atrament, vial
5
1/3
City

Lantern, hooded
Lantern, hooded
10
1
City

Lantern, bullseye
Lantern, bullseye
20
1
City

Lockpick, Set
Rat fingers
10
1
City

Mirror, copper
Mirror, copper
10
1
City

Mirror, glass
Looking-class
200
1
City

Oil, flask
Leviathan oil, flask
20
1
City

Pole, 10'
Dungeon stick
1
1
City
Town
Ration
Salted fish
Offa
Dried Gosca
Jo Bread
Hard tack
Stone cheese
1
1/3
City
Town
Rope, hemp, 50'
Rope, hemp, 50'
10
1
City
Town
Rope, silk, 50'
Rope, silk, 100'
200
1
City

Salt, bag
Salt, bag
10
1
City

Shovel
Dungeon spoon
10
2
City
Town
Soap
Soap
2
1
City

Spellbook, blank
Spellbook, blank
100
1
City

Spike, iron
Spike, iron
1
1/3
City
Town
Stake, wooden
Stake, iron
1
1
City
Town
Flint and Tinder
Tinderbox
5
-
City
Town
Torch
Torch
1
1
City
Town
Waterskin
Waterskin
1
1
City
Town






ALCHEMICAL ITEMS





Acid, vial
Aqua regia, vial
50
1/3
City

Antidote, greater
Carbuncle
300
1/3


Antidote, lesser
Bezoar
100
1/3
City

Antiplague, vial
Rosewater, vial
50
1/3
City

Black sugar, packet
Black sugar, packet
300
1/3


Bomb
Goblin bomb
100
1


Bomb, stink
Sulfur bomb
300
1
City

Brain jelly
Brain jelly
500
1


Cigarette, pack
Cigarette, pack
10
1/3
City

Cave stench, vial
Cave stench, vial
100
1/3
City

Crystiletto
Charcorran dagger
100
1


Dehydrated water, ampule
Dehydrated water, ampule
300
1/3


Dust of dryness, pouch
Dust of dryness, pouch
300
1/3


Elixir of Youth, vial
Azoth, vial
1000
1/3


Fairy dust, pouch
Fairy dust, pouch
100
1/3


Fireworks
Fireworks
50
1


Gas, blinding
Beggarmaker, powder
300
1


Gas, rage
Fumes of hell, vial
300
1


Gas, sleep
Olobia, powder
500
1


Gas mask
Gas mask
30
1


Green slime, vial
Green slime, vial
300
1/3


Ingested poison, bitter
Nightshade, powder
10
1/3
City

Ingested poison, subtle
Orpiment, gem
100
1/3


Ingested poison, deadly
King of poisons, powder
500
1/3


Insect repellant, vial
Bog myrtle, vial
10
1/3
City

Jeklogen, vial
Jeklogen, vial
300
1/3


Liquid light, ampule
Liquid light, ampule
50
1/3
City

Midnight wind, ampule
Midnight wind, ampule
100
1/3


Mithridatium, vial
Mithridatium, vial
500
1/3


Mondmilch, vial
Mondmilch, vial
100
1/3


Mutagen, vial
Mutagen, vial
100
1/3


Obliviax, packet
Obliviax, packet
300
1/3


Ooze, vial
Ooze, bottled
300
1/3


Philosopher's stone
Philosopher's stone
???
1/3


Philosopher's frost, crystal
Philosopher's frost, crystal
300
1/3


Poisoned arrow, sleep
Olobia paste, arrow
50
1/3
City

Poisoned arrow, slow
Black hellbore, arrow
10
1/3
City

Poisoned arrow, weak
Viper venom, arrow
100
1/3
City

Poison arrow
Red devil frog slime, arrow
200
1/3


Rust powder, pouch
Rust powder, pouch
500
1/3


Shrieker sprout
Shrieker sprout
50
1


Smoke bomb
Smoke bomb
50
1


Sovereign glue, vial
Sovereign glue, vial
500
1/3


Spiders, bag
Spiders, bag
20
1/3


Stim jelly
Talakeshi jelly
100
1
City

Truth serum, vial
Truth serum, vial
100
1/3
City

Alicorn, powder, pouch
Alicorn, powder, pouch
500
1/3


Universal solvent, vial
Alkahest, vial
500
1/3


Unwater, skin
Unwater, skin
50
1



Adventuring Gear

Liquor, Flask

Just a bunch of booze.  Can be thrown like a flask of oil, except for half as long.  Good for rousing people and making friends.  If you drink it, you get drunk.

<sidebar> Rules for getting drunk: your critical failure range increases by 1 for every point of Drunk. </sidebar>

Bottle, Glass

Glass bottles are entirely anachronistic in a psuedomedieval setting!  But they're more interesting than goat bladders, because they break.

<sidebar>Rules for breakage: glass bottles and vials each have a 50% chance of breaking when you take fall damage.  Roll for each item separately.<sidebar>

Caltrops, Bag

If you're distracted (by a chase, for example), you need to succeed on a Wis check to notice caltrops.  You can spend a round walking through them safely or attempt to jump/dodge them with a Movement check.  Running through them unawares will automatically fuck up your feet.  Fucked up feet cause you to move at half speed for the rest of the day.

Crowbar

Turns most doors from a question to "can we open this door?" to "how long will it take us to open this door?"

Grease, Sack

Dex check to avoid slipping, losing grip.  Also can give you a bonus to squeeze through stuff, or escape grapples.  Made from living stuff, so it can be affected by any necromancy that can affect cows (or sheep, in some places).

Holy Symbol (Glove Embossed with The Nine Eyes Against Chaos)

Used by clerics.  A leather glove with nine eyes in the palm, embossed and painted.

Holy Water

2d6 damage to undead.  If drank, has a 2-in-6 chance to cure a curse.  The only fuel that holy fire can use is holy fire.

Ink, vial (Atrament)

Atrament is made from burnt ivory (at least in this setting).  Because it was once part of a living creature, it can be affected by any necromancy that can affect stags (or elephants, in some places).

Lanterns

Hooded: 30' radius.  Bullseye: 60' cone.  If a bullseye lantern is your only light source, combat is difficult (-2 to hit).  If dropped or thrown, they spill.

Lockpicks

Break on a critical failure.  Critical success means you can do all sorts of shit with the lock: extract it, trap it, rekey it, etc.

Mirror, Copper

Good for seeing around corners, and entirely anachronistic.  Don't worry about it.  But if you want to use a mirror to petrify a medusa, you'll need a higher quality mirror than this little dinky shit.

Mirror, Glass

Yes, you can petrify a medusa with this one.  Not available in stores, since the means to its manufacture have been lost.  Ask the king if he has one, or the elves.

Oil, Flask

In a lantern, burns for 2 hours.  As a molotov cocktail, burns for 1d4 damage, 4 rounds, 5' diameter puddle.  Alternatively, a line of fire across a 10' hallway.  Jumping over fire requires a Movement check, and in the case of animals and goblins, a Morale check.

Oil is made from leviathans (sea monsters, basically).  Reduce the price by 50% if you are in a seaside town.

Rations

Try to keep track of what rations are made from--meats are potentially necromantically active.  (And yes, a bunch of reanimated strips of salted fish can make a great distraction.)

Rope, Hemp

Holds 1 person and their gear safely (~200 lbs).  Start making X-in-6 checks if the rope is put under heavier loads, impacts, or shearing (such as sawing it back and forth along a jagged lip).

<sidebar>I've played around with making some items weigh more when wet, such as rope.  I thought of this brilliant idea when I had to carry wet rope for 6 miles.  I don't know how much fun such a rule would be in play, but you know me: I like the idea of keeping simple hazards hazardous.  Water, darkness, climbs.  Water might be significant enough as it is (since it extinguishes most light sources), and may not need any extra rules.</sidebar>

Rope, Silk

Holds 3 people and their gear safely (~600 lbs).  Much stronger than hemp rope.

Salt, bag

2d6 damage if dumped on an ooze.  Can also be used to salt meat, turning it into rations.

<sidebar>Unsalted meat becomes inedible after 1 day.</sidebar>

Soap

Functions like grease except that it can get you cleaner instead of dirtier.  Necromantic potential: cow.

Spellbook

Holds 10 spells.  Built to resist water and fire, thank Heaven.

Torch

Lasts 2 hours.  If you drop them, they continue to burn.

<sidebar>If the party is fighting intelligent foes with darkvision, be sure to have them attack the light sources, especially if there's only one.  Orcs will happily use a combat maneuver to snatch a torch out of your hand and fling it 50' down the hallway.</sidebar>

by Viktor Titov
Alchemical Items

Acid, vial

Can be used to melt a lock, a metal bar, or an 4" hole in the floor, down to the level below.  With 10 vials of acid, you can melt a hole down the next dungeon level large enough to squeeze through.  On a creature, it does 1d6 damage per round for 3 rounds, or until washed off.

Aqua regia is mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acid.  It's orange.  (Note: if you haven't had a chance to play with acids as part of your DM education, I suggest that you do.  Hydrochloric acid is nasty stuff--you can't even hold a small beaker of 12M at arm's length without it fucking with your eyes and respiration.)

Antidote, greater (Carbuncle)

A carbuncle is a smooth, green stone from the forehead of a creature that is also called a carbuncle.  The animal looks a bit like a soft-shelled armadillo famed for its capacity to will itself to die, spoiling its precious carbuncle stone in the process.

If swallowed, a carbuncle instantly cures any poison.

Antidote, lesser (Bezoar)

A rough stone harvested from the stomach of a nine-year-old goat that has been been a special diet its whole life, primarily consisting of shellac, persimmons, and potash.

If swallowed, a bezoar causes intense stomach pains, instantly curing any poison while simultaneously dropping you to 0 HP and disabling you for a round while the two poisons war within your body.

Antiplague, vial (Rosewater)

Diseases are caused by bad smells and miasmas.  The cure, therefore, is a good smell.  Breathing through a rosewater-scented handkerchief gives you +4 to save against contracting diseases.  If drank, it gives you the same bonus against ongoing diseases.

Any perfume will have the same effect; rosewater is just the cheapest one.

Black sugar, packet

If eaten, everything that is said to you for the next 8 hours will be treated as a suggestion.

Bomb (Goblin bombado)

The default bomb deals 3d6 damage in a 10' radius, Dex check for half.  You can cut the fuse to be any length you desire, up to 10 rounds.  A bomb will go off prematurely if it ever takes fire damage directly (100% chance) or if you take fall damage or fire damage while carrying it (2-in-6 chance).  This is just the default bombado--goblins can make a bomb as big as you want.

<sidebar>Like the name implies, bombados can only be purchased from, and manufactured by, goblins.  This is because they are made from large amounts of goblin dung (which are the only true explosives in Centerra, because of reasons).  For many goblins, dung is the only tax they are required to pay, and most goblin towns have a munitions factory located in a position of prominence.</sidebar>

Bomb, stink, vial

Made from volatile sulfur compounds and crushed stink bean.  When broken open, creates a thin cloud 20' in diameter.  Make a Con check each round of exposure.  Failure results in you being unable to do anything except stagger around retching.  Goblins and creatures without noses are immune.  Animals with powerful noses (wolves, etc) automatically fail their Con check.

Brain Jelly

If packed into the skull of a fresh-killed corpse, it will animate and perform simple commands.  Lasts 10 minutes if the body is damaged (default) or a full day if the only thing damaged was the brain (e.g. death via strangulation or head trauma).  The animate creature is not undead.

Cigarettes, pack

If smoked, gives you +4 to save vs fear and makes you much easier to track.  A pack of cigarettes lasts 3 days of dungeoneering (and holds 20 cigarettes).

Cave stench, vial

Smells of rotting meat.  Will attract scavengers and predators after 1d6 exploration turns.  Any tracking creature that passes through cave stench will have its delicate sinuses wrecked, and will be unable to track for the rest of the day.

Crystilletto

From Charcorra.  Single-use daggers that break off in a target, dealing 1d6 additional damage to that creature each time it takes a standard action.  Lasts until the creature spends a standard action extracting it.

Dehydrated water, ampule

Creates 100 gallons of water when broken. It pulls the water in from the air in the dungeon, so you may notice some chapped lips in the minutes after its use.  Works fine in deserts, but is obviously useless in outer space.

Dust of dryness, pouch

Absorbs 100 gallons of water.  If used as a weapon, deals 5d6 damage to a water elemental or 3d6 damage to an ooze.

Elixir of youth, vial (Azoth, vial)

Ages you 1d6+6 years towards the ideal physical age of 21.  Regrows lost limbs.  Cures mutations.  You permanently gain 1 point of Con.

Azoth is the end goal for most alchemists.  The Philosopher's Stone is only pursued by young alchemists, who have not lived long enough to fear old age.

Fairy dust, pouch

Harvested from fairies.  Allows you to fly (at walking speed) as long as you only think about happy things.  If you want to think about happy things while bad things are happening, you need to make a Charisma check.  It is impossible to think about happy things while taking damage.  Lasts 10 minutes.

Fireworks

Also of goblin manufacture.  Most people have never seen fireworks, and the world is full of misinformation regarding them.  Engravings and drawings of fireworks always depict them as leaping imps and dancing dragons.

Gas, Blinding

20' radius.  Con check vs blindness.  If you fail, you get a second Con check after 10 minutes.  If you fail that one, you remain blind permanently.

Gas, rage (Fumes of hell)

20' radius.  Con check vs rage like a barbarian.  (+2 to attack and damage, must attack each turn, no defensive or subtle actions, must pursue fleeing opponents, can attempt to stop raging prematurely 1/round with a 2-in-6 chance of success.)

Made by bottling the literal fumes of hell, where they emerge from the ground in the Brimstone Waste.

Gas, sleep (Olobia vapors)

20' radius.  Basically just a sleep spell.

Gas mask

Protects against dangerous gases and ambient diseases.  (Does not protect against injury-associated diseases, such as when a dire rat bites your leg and then breathes on the wound.)

Goblin hammer

It's really just a long-handled hammer, a grenade, and a detonated strapped together.  Single use, 3d6 damage.  100% chance of detonating if you take fall damage while carrying it, or if its dropped.  (If its in your hands when you fall, you can throw it in a random direction as a free action.)

Green slime, vial

Literally just a tube full of green slime.

This is the most illegal thing on this list.  Because of the enormous potential for destruction, simply carrying a vial of green slime into a city is sufficient evidence of Attempted Civicide.  You will be tortured for a long, long time before you are allowed to die.

DM's Note: Everything in the last paragraph is common knowledge.  Always inform your players before they bring horrible bioweapons up from the Underworld.

Grenade (Goblin grenado)

Explodes after 1d2 rounds, dealing 2d6 damage in a 10' radius, Dex check for half.  A grenado will go of prematurely if it ever takes fire damage directly (100% chance) or if you take fall damage  or fire damage while carrying it (3-in-6 chance).

<sidebar>Grenados are the best and you should give them to your players whenever possible.</sidebar>

Ingested poison, bitter (Nightshade)

Deals 1d6 damage per round for 1 round (successful Con check) or 3 rounds (failed Con check).  Bitter taste must be disguised with strong food.  Note: human NPCs in the GLOG rarely have more than 3 HD, and so a failed Con check here is basically sufficient to kill any NPC you want.

<sidebar>Just as explosives are the favored tactic of goblins, so are poisons the favored tactic of halflings.  If you want the fancy poisons, they're the ones to talk to.</sidebar>

Ingested poison, subtle (Orpiment)

Orpiment is a type of arsenic sulfide crystal.  It looks like an ugly orange-yellow gemstone.  It functions like Nightshade (above) but is absolutely undetectable by taste.

Ingested poison, deadly (King of Poisons)

No taste.  No save.  Manufactured by filling a large jar with toads, scorpions, snakes, and spiders.  After a day, the jar is opened and the surviving animal christened 'the king of poisons'.  It is fed pieces of the other animals before being dried out and ground up.

Insect repellant (Bog myrtle).

Makes you easier to track.

Jeklogen, vial

Turns you into your anti-self.  Invert all stats (e.g. 13 becomes 7) and invert all of your character's traits.  Boys become girls, black hair becomes white.  They know everything that the previous character knew.  Lasts 2 hours.

The new character is still under control the same player, but has the inverse goals. . . sort of.  They know that they won't exist unless the first character drinks more jeklogen, so they have a very good motive to behave.  (Bottom line: you aren't required to act against your own interests if your character drinks Jeklogen).  Nearly all of them resent this limitation intensely.

Liquid light, ampule

When exposed to air or water, it shines as bright as a torch for 10 minutes.  If splashed on a creature that is damaged by sunlight, deals 2d6 damage to them.  If splashed on a creature with darkvision, they get -4 to hit until they can wipe it off (standard action).

Midnight wind, ampule

Also known as vapors of night.  When broken, all fires within 10' are extinguished.  Fires larger than a campfire may survive (X-in-6 chance, determined by the DM).

Mithridatium, vial

Gives you a permanent +2 vs Poisons.  Stacks.

Mondmilch, vial

If drank, you will believe everything you hear for the next 30 seconds, and you will forget any conflicting memories.  If people tell you conflicting information during these 30 seconds, you will go mad.

DM's Note: get out a stopwatch and make the players do this in real time.

Mutagen, vial

Gain a random mutation.  If fed to a small animal (dog-sized or smaller) it grows into a mutant, humanoid version of that creature with Int 3d4.

Obliviax, packet

If this powder is eaten, total amnesia is the result.  If the powder is blown into someone's face, they forget the last minute.

Ooze, vial

This is just a baby ooze with 1 HP.  If you feed it a cow, you'll have a full size ooze on your hands in about 2 hours.  If you throw it on someone, it will deal 1d4 acid damage each round until it is scraped off.  Available in all the varieties of ooze.

Philosopher's Stone

A nondescript grey stone.  Anything it touches turns into gold.  There is no limit on this, so if you give it to your players, expect to have your whole campaign turned upside down.

If the philosopher's stone is ever broken, a thing like a small purple slug will emerge from the geode-like interior and fly away.  All the gold that it created will revert to its original substance.

Philosopher's Frost

Looks like a chunk of ice.  If it touches water, or a water-containing substance, it will freeze it.  Additionally, any water that comes into contact with materials frozen by the philosopher's frost will also be frozen.  (See also: ice-nine.)  If it ever spreads to the water table, rivers, or oceans, all of the world's water will freeze.

If the original piece of philosopher's frost is ever shattered, all of the alchemically-frozen water will revert to normal.  Creatures killed by it will revive without any ill effect except a phobia of the cold and nightmares of winter.

Poisoned Arrow, Sleep (Olobia Paste)

Con vs sleep.  Multiple arrows in a single turn still result in a single Con check vs sleep, but each arrow beyond the first gives a -1 penalty.

<sidebar>For the price of three arrows, you can poison a melee weapon.</sidebar>

Poisoned Arrow, Slow (Black Hellebore)

Takes 1 minute to take effect.  Con vs poison.  1d6 damage per round for 1 round (on a successful save) or 3 rounds (on a failed save).

Poisoned Arrow, Weak (Viper Venom)

Takes effect immediately.  Con vs poison.  1d4 damage per round for 1 round (on a successful save) or 3 rounds (on a failed save).

Poisoned Arrow, Weak (Red Devil Frog Slime)

Slime harvested from the skin of the red devil frog.  Takes effect immediately.  Con vs poison.  1d6 damage per round for 1 round (on a successful save) or 3 rounds (on a failed save).

Rust powder, pouch (Metal rot, powder)

Functions exactly as the touch of a rust monster.  Enough to turn a suit of armor into so much garbage.  The powder looks like gritty black mold.  Single-use.

Metal rot is actually a disease that rots metal.  It is common in water, which is why water causes rust.  It is killed by exposure to air.

by Brian McLachlan
Shrieker sprout

A cute little shrieker mushroom, about the size of a penis.  Shrieks whenever there is movement near within 10'.  Sold with each of its 'mouths' pre-gagged, so it won't be screaming the whole time you're carrying it in your backpack.

Smoke bomb

Creates a cloud of thick smoke 20' in diameter.  Great for escaping, since pursuers cannot see which way you went, and will choose randomly from the possible directions that they know about.

Sovereign glue, vial

Can join any two objects together.  Can repair broken weapons and armor.  Can attach a severed limb to a stump (fresh stump, old stump, your arm, someone else's arm, doesn't matter).  If poured in a wizard's ear, the wizard can fuse spells.  If two people make out with it in their mouths, they'll fuse.

Sovereign glue is greatly desired by all alchemists.  It's an essential precursor in the production of a philosopher's stone or azoth.

Spiders, bag

Exactly what it says on the tin.  1 point of damage on a direct hit, but will distract anyone nearby who is freaked out by thousands of spiders crawling everywhere.

Stim jelly (Talekeshi jelly)

A shitty health potion used by junkies and atheists.  You regain 1d4 HP and take 1d4 Con damage.  Fairly easy to find in slums.  Administered by rubbing it into the gums.  Chronic usage causes psychosis.  Made from the brains of abused cattle.

Truth Serum

Smells like rubber cement.  You'll have to force it down their throat.  Used for interrogation, but mostly just causes mad babbling.  Lasts 30 minutes, then the person falls unconscious for 12 hours.  Assuming the PCs are using this to interrogate people, roll a d4 every 10 minutes.

1 - mad rantings, useless.
2 - they respond to your questions, but they don't address your questions directly.
3 - they don't respond to your questions, but some things they say are potentially useful.
4 - they babble in response to your questions.  There is useful information hidden among the chaff.

Alicorn powder, pouch

Cures all diseases, poisons, and restores all lost HP.  Thereafter, you suffer the curse of the unicorn, and all critical successes you roll are inverted into critical failures.

Universal solvent, vial (Alkahest, vial)

Able to separate anything into its prime components.  Can purify anything (by separating the poison into an immiscible layer).  Can eject a soul from a body (potentially curing demonic possession).  If you want to get really 4e with it, you can also use it to separate enchantments from items, and move them onto other items.  Can move curses the same way.

In most cases, the element that was separated has now been washed off/vomited/sedimented as a separate material that you can now carry around in the vial, like magical run-off.  For example, if you used alkahest to extract a demon, the demon is now a small crystalline man formed for bile salts and denatured alkahest.  You can carry him in your pocket.  Rehydrating him allows him to escape this form, while eating him allows him to repossess you.

Alkahest is greatly desired by all alchemists.  It's an essential precursor in the production of a philosopher's stone or azoth.

Unwater, skin

Destroys dissolved oxygen in water.  Water-breathing creatures will begin to suffocate immediately.  Harmless if drank.  Can affect a potentially large area, about 500' in diameter.  Invented to repel merfolk attacks.