Wednesday, December 25, 2019

OSR the Secret Santicorn Compilation


I am building a compilation of all the Santicorn posts (a game design gift exchange on the OSR Discord) .  A *lot* of very creative things were posted and this should be a great resource to mine for gaming ideas.  If I have missed anyone's contribution, I apologize and please let me know, I'll add you too!

Cryptologist class (and nine cryptids)
So you killed Santa... what's in his sack?
Adventuring economy  (ooh looking forward to reading this one)
Oberon and Titania Warlock class
Evolving Dungeons
Words for Monster
The ShellCraze (the latest fashion!)
Skyscraper mimics and other structural horrors
2 GLOG glasses: Aviator and Jazz-bard
Andylenox had a *great* adventure but it's on a google drive, so I'm not sure if I should be posting it here... edit:  It's now HERE :)
Tide-flooded caverns
The Twelve Birds of Christmas (my humble entry)
The succubus as a class
All Aboard the Terrible Dogfish (pirate ship) 
Three Funhouse dungeon rooms
Psychonauts: healers or thieves? 
Creatures amidst the ash
field alchemy  (oooh another one I'm looking forward to!)
Something Punk (a dungeon)
The Lounge Temple of Asavraki (fallen gods, goblins, drugs... pretty punk too IMO!)
The Trackless Peaks (Nordic/Tibetan mix)
Post Apocalypse groups and Post-apocalyptic Backgrounds
Troika! Space combat and ships  (this was made for me! So excited!)
d66 Utility spells  (some *really* nice spells in there)
A Ruined Ship 
Flowery Orcs
Minidungeon Generator (pre-adamite)
Sci-Fi Dungeon Fill
Body warping spells and items
Post Roman, Pre-saxon Hex generator and tables
Space Breaking Monster - the moon-crab
Drow Economy  (another one I want to read!)
The Slipsoul
Reinforcing themes through mechanics
The Last City
Fairytale classes
OSR Gothic
Ents and how to prune your human
Tarot Dungeon
Duke Nukem 2 (… I must admit I don't get the name, it's a hexmap around the Tomb of the Serpent King)

I think this was a success!

Edit:  if you want a more detailed breakdown, go see DIY & Dragon's post :)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The 12 Birds of Christmas

We had a very special gift exchange on the OSR Discord:  The Secret Santicorn.  As a sort of "secret santa" thing, participants designed something for someone else that they had requested.

I had no idea what I was going to get, but my request (from Ryan at Kobolds in the Sewers , I think that their entry will be their opening blog entry) was something that I thought I could achieve: Birds (monsters, treasures etc) for an avian-themed dungeon. Did I deliver? I don't know, but Happy Holidays anyway!

A long time ago, the great wizard Enftebtemang, founder of the Yellow City, decided to start collecting birds. He hid them in a secret dungeon and created a race of guardians to watch over his collection. He placed subtle enhancements to preserve the collection, and even though he now has moved on to another form of existence, his guardians carry on.

The Golden Goose:
This is the classical goose that lays golden eggs - or at least, gold-shelled eggs (each worth about a gp, the egg itself is an ordinary goose egg). The goose is seemingly very valuable, but it is in fact a big pain. It has to eat gold to lay gold, so the net gains are non-existent. Furthermore, it's kind of a jerk, and dangerous if provoked. There are 3d6 eggs in the room (Although over the centuries there should be a literal hoard of these, the goose has been eating them to regain the gold it needs to lay more eggs).

The Delicious Duck.
An average sized but impressive looking duck. If prepared properly, this will be incredibly succulent - the best meal of the character's lifetime. Restores all HP, cures illnesses and poisons, and the characters will be useless for 2d6 hours as they revel in the bliss, post feed torpor, and regrets at the certain knowledge that no food will ever so good again. Feeds half a dozen people or so. If cooking check fails, the duck will be rubbery and mediocre tasting, food fit to stave off starvation and not much more. If the cooking check failed by more than a margin of 5 (or similar for a non d20 system), the duck tastes a bit disappointing but not terrible, and will then inflict terrible bowel pains for 1d4 days afterwards (save vs poison with significant penalty). The delicious duck could be sold for a few sp - or several hundred gp, depending on the buyer. It is a meal fit for a king, after all.

The Mechanical Bird of Terror.
This brass mechanical bird is decorated with small bits of topaz and can be sold for 50 gp for its artistic value alone. A silver key is attached to its back. If wound up, it will intone, in a flat yet threatening voice, predictions of the future, dire secrets or other types of dangerous information. All of its prophesies and revelations are harmful and will inflict harm via people reacting negatively to them, self-fulfilling etc etc. "The rogue will betray you" would be a mild example. A rumor that causes an empire to collapse is definitely in the realm of possibility. If smashed up, worth 1d4 gp.

The guardians of the dungeon. Despite their creator being long gone, they still carry on their mission fatefully to this day. Bipedal, feathered, muscular, large anime eyes and short beaked faces. Armed with broad-bladed spears and bronze scale mail (armor as chain). Use bugbear stats but without stealth/ambush ability. They give the Lead Parrot a wide berth. They eat dungeon pigeons. They will not give up the collection, but some arrangement might be reached?

Dungeon Pigeons
Plump birds, poor flyers, that eat bugs and rock dust. Easily caught, hardy, breeds rapidly, only poops in suitable places, nice tasting. Their feathers can be use for insolation. The *real* treasure in the dungeon, they are everywhere, roaming freely.

The Lead Parrot
An 8 foot tall golem made of lead, made to look like a parrot. Stats: as stone golem but without special defences: it does not take magical weapons to injure, but each time it is injured, the golem releases a cloud of lead dust in a 10 foot radius. Save vs poison or lose 1 point of intelligence permanently (Unless cured for poisoning within 1 day). Multiple exposures can remove multiple points of intelligence, but one cure will work on several exposures. Clobbers with its wings. AC as chain mail. Has no other magical abilities, but heals 1 hp per hour. The Lead Parrot is not fast (maybe 20 feet a round?) but will take cover from missile fire (there are few long straight corridors in the dungeon) and chase the party around for a few minutes while squawking "THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION" repeatedly.

The golem's instructions are written on the back of its head, although they are hard to see. If someone was to wrestle with it and scratch off the words (not *too* hard), it will stop fighting. Reprograming the golem may be achievable. The Lead Parrot will not attack avian beings.

Chicken Warrior
A human warrior, Captain Sonders, who foolishly discarded a protective amulet and bought a magic sword instead. Has been trying to make its way through the world since. He and a few allies tried to rob this dungeon a few years ago but the rest of the party was slain. The owlbugbears took him in, but he wants out, and will try to get the PCs to help him out.  Stats as a 3rd level fighter with some experience in command.

Sinister Owl
Speaks with an erudite accent and will ask the PCs to get it out of this horrid place. It was once the familiar of a powerful wizard (a rival of Enftebtemang), and it knows many arcane secrets and can give good advice. It will try to corrupt a PC into summoning a greater demon that will kill the PCs and free the Sinister Owl from its task - it failed to get his previous owner to hell but really, any sucker will do.

Prophet Flock
This rooms is filled with several dozen small song birds of various species, who frequently sing, filling the large room with a somewhat pleasing cacophony. In the middle of the room, a large clay bowl is placed, within it short strips of parchment, each with a single word. Should someone take the strips and fling them into the air, the entire colorful flock takes fight, putting the strips back in the world. Should a question be asked, one of the bird will present the paper-tosser with a single strip with a single word that best answer their question (the GM should make an honest effort to pick the best word, although in some cases this may not be particularly helpful). The strips only have common words, no proper nouns (so "wizard" could be an answer, but "Gandalf" would not).

Should someone ask more than one question to the birds per day, the flock grows angry at their greed and will attack the questioner (others will be ignored), inflicting 1d6 points of damage per round. They will not pursue someone outside the room.

Goblins with Clipboards
This pair of goblins, armed with clipboards and pencils, one wearing spectacles and the other a fancy hat, follow the party around and seem to take notes on their activities but do not otherwise interfere. The avian inhabitants ignore the goblins. The goblins will have little to say, but will make approving/disapproving sounds when the PCs do something particularly well/poorly. If attacked, they flee, leaving their clipboards behind. Examining the clipboards will reveal scribbles, fragmentary and poorly spelled notes, and mostly crude doodles. The goblins may be bribed in revealing more about the dungeon with a piece of well-cooked Delicious Duck. Otherwise, they eat dungeon pigeons without any preparations whatsoever, with satisfied crunching sounds.

Final Ravens
These ravens are never clearly seen. From the corner of your eye... did that shadow have a raven form? Hard to say. They only come out when someone is dying, preferably in the midst of combat. At the fight rages on, they step out of the shadows and peck at the grievously wounded, hastening their passage to the next life. (mechanically, inflicting "coup de grace" attacks on characters with 0 hp or less but not dead yet). Are these attacks acts of mercy? A sinister attempt to steal the soul of the dying? A hunger for tasty, tasty eyeballs? No one knows.

The Guano Room
A crude cavern, located somewhat far from the rest of the dungeon. Although Enftebtemang spell of preservation have kept the collection in good shape far beyond the birds' natural life span, they still need to poop. Over the centuries, a great mass of guano has accumulated here. Each cart load could be sold for a few coppers to peasants (who are always keen to get more fertilizer). This may not seem like much, but there are several tons here. Alternatively, a skilled alchemist could extract several hundred pounds of good quality saltpetre from the load. Saltpetre, being the chief ingredient of gunpowder, is quite valuable.

A partridge in a pear tree
The partridge is a nice looking, tame and pleasant bird, suitable both as a pet or as a meal, but not otherwise exceptional.

The pears (3d6) have healing properties, curing 2d4+2 hp, and will stay fresh for 1d3 weeks after picking. It could be possible to preserve these pears (jam?) so they last longer. If the party attempts to transplant the tree, it will animate as a treeant and lay waste to them.

Planting a seed from the pear is possible. The soil must be watered with the tears of a dying person for the new tree's fruits to aslo have healing properties.

P.S. So what did I get? An *excellent* list of Troika! spacecraft! Very pleased, truly an honor to get something from Thrones of Salt :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Chicken Warrior (a Troika! background)

Today, a Troika background!

Drawn by one of my players.  Character sheet by Dyson Logos

But I didn't come up with it. Olgaf did. All I'm doing it stating it out.

You should have bought the protective amulet, but no, you had to get the magic sword. Dismissed from your post, you now make your way through the world.

Sword 2
Shield fighting 1
Etiquette 1
Command 2
Beak Fighting 1
disguise 1
Alertness 1
Fly 1

Special 1: You can fly for 1 round. Do a skill test every following round
Special 2: Your feathers offer some protection. You are lightly armored with no encumbrance

A magic sword: +1 to skill and damage rolls or something equally nice but not over strong.
Fake Mustache
Sharp beak: does damage as small creature.

This, technically, also would fit in Yoon-Suin . One of my players is currently having fun with this.  Part of the reason I'm posting this is an illustration of the ease of making a Troika! background.  While I can't claim to have anywhere near Daniel Sell's creativity or writing skills, a decent background takes a good idea and not too much work.  Using Troika! as a system to run a non-Troika! setting game is eminently feasible.

(This background is an independent production by me and is not
affiliated with the Melsonian Arts Council.)

Friday, December 6, 2019

The Goblin Conspiracy

So, let's talk about the GLOG.

To most people who've tried a number of D&D systems, it's abundantly clear that the GLOG system is for low powered characters.   The 3.X, pathfinder and 5e (4e?) characters are clearly more powerful than GLOG characters.  I think the same could be said of B/x PCs, although the difference is less and only becomes great at higher level.

So I had an idea.  What if these characters are all in the same world?  What are we simulating with our games then?   The 3/5e folks are like the super heroes of the setting, especially at higher levels.   Like Ironman, Wonder Woman etc. but fantasy-ish and less comic-book ish.  The B/x adventurers are the local, lower-powered heroes - like Jessica Jones.  Much stronger than a normal person but nowhere near as capable as say Thor.  (btw, in this line of thinking, Captain America would be a super high level b/X characters handing out with the 5e types... but I digress).

So now you, my dear reader, are thinking "aha, and the GLOG adventurers are ordinary people trust in a life of adventure, living by their wits?".  No.  This is a *lie*, that you have been tricked into *telling yourself*.  But it's not your fault.

There is a conspiracy.

One hidden in plain sight.  But a bit like the first rule of fight club, we don't talk about the Goblin Conspiracy.

We who play the GLOG.  We aren't playing adventuring ordinary people, although we may not know it.

We are playing goblins.  Goblins trying to be adventurers.

It's called the GOBLIN LAWS of gaming.

What is the #1 Goblin Law of gaming?  You are not a goblin.  The only way for a goblin to be a hero is to not be a goblin.  Every GLOG hero in the morning mentally chants "I am not a goblin, I am not a goblin", subconsciously fooling themselves into thinking they are not goblins.

But the second Goblin Law of gaming is that "even though you are a goblin deluding yourself into not-goblinhood to attain hero-dom, you are still a goblin, and you are weak as F and you better act in consequence".   This is why the GLOG heroes always try to avoid combat, avoid rolling, and instead try to be cunning, start with almost nothing and are always scrambling for cash.

It is reflected in the rules!  It's why a GLOG fighter only gains a few HP per level.  Why the strongest fireball a GLOG wizard can shoot is 4d6, and said wizard might blow herself up due to casting a 3rd level spell.  Why the elf PC is the same as every one else, except he has +1 to smelling flowers or something and is pretentious as heck (despite lore depicting elves as more than mortals).  It's why the summoner summons talking ducks and cafeteria cooks instead of demons and elementals.  It's why some parties end in disastrous and hilarious TPK.  It's because they are freaking goblins.  Goblins are malleable and adaptable, but ultimately this is the best they can do.  But to accomplish this, they have to pretend they aren't goblins.

And how do you get your players to roleplay pretending not to be goblins?  How do even get them to agree to play this game? By not telling them they are goblins.   And by making them use rules where they are weak like goblin heroes.  See if anyone will notice.  It's been what, close to 4 years now?

Clearly the chief architect of this conspiracy is Arnold K.

He started all of this.  And he is clearly a goblin.  I mean look at this:

He admits it!  And look at that face.  Such a complex expression.  And the reason it's so multi layered is because there is GUILT in that look.  He knows he's about to fool many.  But it must be done.

Who else is involve?  Skerples has to be.  All those rules sets and classes he's written, for different settings, different circumstances.  Trying to expand the limits of what a goblin can be.

The others (and there are many of us)...  I don't know.  I think we were caught by the current, fell under the goblins' spells, spread their gospel unwittingly.  I know I did.  I'm certainly not a goblin... I think.  I wasn't at first at least.

Why do all this?  What is their purpose?  What is Arnold K trying to do?!?

It's simple.  Goblinism is a thing you can catch.  

P.S.  And no, the goban class doesn't prove that the other heroes aren't goblins.  It just shows that some goblins can't be anything but goblins.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Mandalorian, 7 samurai, and gaming as pizza

I've been watching The Mandalorian and it's very, very good. The season hasn't ended yet (and they might ruin it with a bad ending), but I'm quite hopeful that it will continue to be so engaging.

(This will contain vague spoilers for episode 4 - nothing specific, but you'll learn the "general shape" of the episode).

Episode 4 has the same basic scenario as the Seven Samurai: farmers plagued by bandits ask wandering mercenaries to help. This basic scenario *really* works well - it's been redone in the Magnificent Seven (twice!), the Mandalorian and many others, in various eras and settings. It also works perfectly for an adventure. It works so well, and has been done so frequently, that it's almost like pizza. Pizza is great, but it's not original. It's also easy to do, but if you don't put any effort into it, it can be a pretty boring meal. So to avoid this being a ho-hum peperoni and cheese frozen pizza of a game, let's look at our toppings shall we?

The farmers/villagers/peasants/people who need help:
Getting these people right is important. They can't be abject cowards. They aren't resisting now because they *know* it's a hopeless battle. But hiring the PCs is changing the odds - there is hope now, and they will be willing to fight. They have to be sympathetic, and they also need a reason why they simply haven't fled their area. Maybe it's good farming land, they have a lot of infrastructure built (building huts and fences is a lot of work!). Maybe their ancestral burial grounds are nearby. Whatever it is, they have to stay. The villagers should have a bit of money buried somewhere to pay the PCs. Not a fortune, but for penniless sell-swords, enough to try. Lastly, making them interesting in some way certainly is recommended - they could be farming something unusual, have strange customs, even have wondrous or useful abilities (clearly, not battle abilities). Basic relations, petty rivalries etc. can also be fun. Every village has an idiot, after all.

The bandits/raiders.
This faction has to be dangerous, but not so dangerous it's ludicrous (if they are so bad-ass, why are they wasting their time picking on a small village?). They are actually *farming* the village: raiding periodically to steal food/valuable, but not doing so much damage to destroy it. They want to be back - in fact they probably have to, they need to eat! This indicates a certain level of intelligence and discipline... but they also aren't that smart - if they were, they would set themselves up as feudal lords and tax the peasants instead of raiding them. They need to be powerful enough that a 1vs1 fight with a peasant will result in the brigand winning, but a 1vs1 vs a PC should be a fight that the PC will win... however there are a lot of them, too much for the PCs to defeat by themselves. The peasants will have to help - but they are willing to do so if they are given hope.

The special weapon.
Things can be made a lot more interesting if the bandits have some kind of "special weapon". Maybe it's an ogre. A small cannon or a catapult. A spellcaster. A troll or some other big monster. A small tank. Simply their leader, or some unusual tactic. Whatever this is, it is what is giving them such a big edge over the villagers and is making them bold and confident enough to be raiding entire villages instead of travelers or isolated farms.

The party will have to deal with this special weapon to achieve victory. In the Mandalorian, Mando had spare blasters to equip the villagers with, but he didn't have some kind of "anti X gun" to simply eliminate the raider's special weapon. They needed a plan, effort and a bit of daring. Likewise, the party will have to be clever and courageous to neutralize the special weapon. If they do, and kill a few of the bandits, the rest of the villagers should be able to win relatively easily, if they are properly prepared that is.

The party
The party needs to be powerful enough to make a difference, but not so powerful they can just crush the brigands while the villagers cheer and applaud. The timing of this adventure as part of your campaign matters. The party need the villager's help to win, or at the very least they need a good plan and good fortifications. I think level 2-4 would be ideal. Level 5 there is a bit of a power jump (in 5e at least) but it could still work, since in 5e low level creatures have better "to hit" numbers (a 2nd ed goblin has a thaco of 20. a 5e goblin has +4 to hit, ie the equivalent of thaco 16).

In the Mandalorian the "party" is higher level (I would describe Mando as level 5-7?) but fewer in numbers. An aspect that made the show interesting was that the party was "new" (the Mando and his ally didn't know each other at fist), but I think it would be preferable if the party, in a D&D game, have worked together for a few adventures at least. It *could* be a good starter adventure to unite the party, but this will be a bit more challenging to run. Even for an established group, this could mark the turning point in how the party sees itself - not just a rag tag of tomb robbers - but heroes too.

In the Mandalorian, Mando also had a special objective (defend Baby Yoda) but this isn't necessary for the scenario to work well. However, having some kind of vulnerable (but maybe useful?) NPC they have to protect on top of the general mission could be interesting?

The preparations and terrain.
The terrain should be interesting and varied - there should be opportunities for the villagers and party to put down crude fortification (barricades, a ditch etc.) and traps, funnel the enemy in subtle ways, hide a flanking team, whatever. The proper set up should give them a good edge over the bandits, or at least even the odds.

Hopefully, the PCs should be able to arm the villagers somewhat (missile weapons would be best) and train said villagers, so that their massed fire gives the edge to the party/villager alliance. Even improvised spears could help, as some of the bandits will try to close in and rush the barricades. Besides basic weapon training, the villagers should also learn what their part in the battle plan is. The kids shouldn't fight directly, but maybe they can be used to put out fires, activate traps and otherwise help. Almost everyone can pitch in, but the villagers won't accept some of them being used as cannon fodder.

It is possible that the village also has a "special weapon" of its own, but clearly it's not usable at the moment - something has to be done to assemble it, activate it, repair it, recruit it, create it, whatever. Perhaps they are beekeepers and some of the bees could be weaponized? If the party comes up with a clever idea, let them! It's important that this be a winnable fight, but it doesn't have to be the way you thought of as a GM, just a way that is plausible and fun.

The battle.
For the love of god, don't roll for every single peasant and bandit! It will take forever and not be fun. The battle should be narrated in the background, and the PCs should turn the tide by reinforcing areas that are buckling, and by taking out the "special weapon". Once the special weapon is out and a number of bandits have been killed, the rest run away, not to return - they know this village is too tough for them now. They aren't fanatics, they just wanted to steal their food or valuables.

The aftermath.
The party gets their reward and moves on! Will some of them decide to stay behind and become farmers? Why not? It could be a good point for someone who doesn't want to keep their current character to retire said PC and start anew.

Another alternative of course is that this village becomes a base of operation. Maybe there are other adventures to be had in the area?

If you get most of these ingredients right, you can have a few very good sessions with this scenario.  It won't be the most original, but everyone loves pizza.

Special thanks to Words for Yellow for discussion and feedback on this topic!

Monday, November 11, 2019

The strange spells of the Yellow City

(These spells were created for my 5e Yoon Suin campaign.  The details aren't 100% there but you can figure it out.  These are based on the hilarious list of spells created by an A.I.  For some reason I thought I already had published this!  So here you go)  

Fomend’s Beating Sphere, level 2
An alternate form of flaming sphere, that does low damage (1d4) but also pushes people down (shoving at strength 16). The sphere has a reaction action that it uses to slam people trying to move away from it. When the spell works "well" it will shove down the victim and them bounce up and down on said victim until death ensures.  The spell is a giant leathery ball that bounces around with a satisfying "boing!".

Cow of Auraly, level 2
A spying spell that works via a cow. Once enchanted, the caster hears everything the cow hears for the next 24 hours. Involves big yellow runes painted on the flank of the cow.

Finger of Enftebtemang, level 1
An attack spell by the infamous mage Enftebtemang (who did everything in the most complicated way possible), this spells switches the caster and target into an alternate, accelerated time stream. Over the course of several days, while the rest of the world appears frozen in time, one of the fingernails of the caster grows tremendously and stabs the victim (who is frozen but aware of the proceedings) in the face. This inflicts 1d12 damage, and the victim has disadvantage on its next attack, save or ability check due to disorientation. The user of the spell is recommended to bring food and water and perhaps a good book.

Conjure Velemert, level 3
Casting time, 10 minute. Material component: goat yoon curry on rice (consumed)
A risky spell that conjures the arch-mage Velemert, who has no head and a face of the palm of his hands. Velemert is annoyed at being summoned but will answer a single question (knowledge +10 arcana, history, +5 to other checks) if placated (Persuasion 15). If insulted (failure by 10), attacked, intimidated or simply annoyed by a caster who's too slow to ask a question or doesn't understand what's going on, Velemert grows angry and casts magic missile at the summoner (or someone else who insulted him), sneer, and vanish. If the magic missile is countered somehow, Velemert will laugh and vanish (but next time he's annoyed, he'll use another attack spell, possibly fire bolt). If Velemert's inclined to answer the question, he will answer with confidence and authority, no matter if he actually knows the answer or not (ie, he will rather lie that admit not knowing something). Once Velemert has answered the question OR blasted the summoner, he disappears in a puff of purple smoke.

Conjure Velemert can only be used once per day (and if someone else used it first, too bad for you!) and as a result the spell is a closely guarded secret.  Velemert resides in Baitadili.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Golems of the Yellow City

Slugmen are know for their magical skill, scholarship and mercantile acumen (along with many other, less flattering descriptors).  But with a few notable exceptions, they put little value on martial skill, preferring to hire various guards and mercenaries to do their fighting for them.  This can be problematic - highly skilled sell-swords are not cheap, and the average guard's fighting skills tends to be fair at best, due to the long hours of, well, guarding with few chances to get actual experience.

To remedy this, the noble houses started building golems.  Golems are highly resilient to magic and are easily able to defeat the average guard.  This led to somewhat of an arms race, as no House wanted to be bullied by another because they didn't have their own Golems.

Gem golem by

The initial golems were crude and imperfect, made of flesh or clay, and had a tendency to go berserk if injured in combat. This led them to be delegated to labor and guard duty.  As the slugmen's mastery grew, golems of stone, then metal, were made, and they proved much more potent and reliable in combat.  Massive sum were invested by the richer houses and the smaller ones struggled to keep up.

The arms race - and open warfare - were curtailed by the apparition of experimental golems made with unusual materials.  These often have combat properties poorly understood by the rival houses.  The house of Brass has a sea water golem.  How powerful is it?  They aren't saying.  As it became difficult for a house to know if their gollems were stronger than a rival's golems, it became too risky to deploy them.

The latest golemology trend  in the Yellow city is the use of clockwork golems, pioneered by the archmage Kwalish.  The lesser ones are useful servants and laborers, although too expensive and finnicky to ever fully replace humans and crabmen servants, and too fragile to be truly useful in combat.  The greater ones, powered by a captive soul, are known to be just as sturdy as stone golems, if not more.  Some say that some clockwork golems have escaped their masters and become independent...

The end result of all this is that the Yellow City can field over well over a hundred greater golems if required, which is a potent deterrent to any would-be conqueror.  These golem forces are challenging to deploy away from the Yellow City, but no one is willing to risk their wrath.

Slugmen golemologists are still active doing research, looking for exotic ingredients and new applications. Lesser clockwork golems are becoming more and more common.  Rumors has it that the House of the Sea wants to test a galley powered by wood golem rowers for example.  Given the slugmen's thirst for knowledge and novelty, it is all but guaranteed that new innovations in the field of golemology are on their way.

To use in play.

To be a golemist:  In the GLOG, there at least two classes that I know of, here and here.  I haven't made one myself, but those two are excellent starting points.  There are no good rules in Troika! that I know of, but surely they could be made quite easily.  In 5e that's a bit difficult, I think the most recent published Artificer class would do best (specifically the battle smith), although that's a bit war-like for the average slugman.

To BE a golem:  Troika!'s thinking engine rules would do well.  In the GLOG, I've made this class which I think would do too.  In 5e, interestingly, the battle smith I listed above really works as an advanced arcane golem with a detachable sub golem, with just a bit of re-skin!  That would be a fun character indeed.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Leaf Ghost

Since Halloween is coming, a spoopy post!

Sometimes, when someone dies a violent death in the forest, their soul gets trapped amongst all the dying leaves.  They become a leaf ghost, a peculiar form of spirit.  Their power to affect the world is limited - no possessions, no objects flung, no icy claws.  All they can do is move a small pile of leaves on the floor.  They seem like nothing more than a moving disturbance on the leafy ground, as if blown by a peculiar gust of wind, or perhaps an unseen small animal lifting leaves as it darts on the forest floor.  They are good at hiding, but are easily slain, a single blow is sufficient to dissipate them for good.

Leaf ghosts, unlike most spirits, do not last long, and will fade away in a few weeks or months.  To avoid this fate, they must be near dying living beings and leach energy from their death - sentient beings preferably.  They learn to lead predators, who follow the ripples in the leaves, to travelers the lost, so that they can feast upon the resulting violent deaths.  These deaths often result into more leaf ghosts, until an entire forest can become haunted and widely feared.

With each death, leaf ghosts become more potent and darker, eventually transforming into shadows, specters or the like.  They continue to prey on the unwary of course...

Scholars speculate that leaf ghosts are but a one type of an entire family of weak spirits all trying to lead folks to their doom.  Currents pulling people towards the deep.  Dusts ghosts spreading illness between houses, nothing more than dust bunnies.  Floating ghost lights, leading travelers deep into bogs.  Spark ghosts, floating embers on the wind, who can only exist outside flames for a few minutes, dreaming of killing fires...

A leaf ghost has a choice, of course.  It could not cause the death of others, and after a few week, dissipate, letting the soul to move on to whatever afterlife it deserves.  Or it could take the darker path...

Leaf Ghost
Speed 30 (as normal human)
Size small
HP 1   AC as leather
Advantage to stealth checks.

Inspired by a walk in a leafy park at night.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Troika, Advanced Fighting Fantasy and Warhammer

So I've been running a few Troika! sessions now and I'm beginning to get a feel for the system.

Troika! is both a setting (very zany!) and a system.   Said system is based on the Advanced Fighting Fantasy system (AFF), which itself is based on the Fighting Fantasy "choose your own adventures" that my friend and I so enjoyed in our early teens.  This was our first RPG system, and we played it for a year before we abandoned it for AD&D 2nd edition.

In very brief, each character has a skill score (how good are you at doing stuff), a stamina score (hp essentially) and luck (saving throw etc).  Skill is pretty static, stamina is regained by eating and rest, and luck is spent (you can run out!) but also recharges daily.  There are also advanced skills you can have, which improve your chances at specific tasks.  You roll under your skill or luck on 2d6, except when you are doing an opposed skill check (battle being a prime example) where  you roll 2d6, add your skill (and advanced skill rank, if applies) and whoever has the highest wins (injures the other).  Spell are skill tests and cost stamina to cast.  

Troika! has retained this basic system, but has done some changes to the details.  Do these details fix the problems?  In many cases, I think it does.

1: Starting skills are lower. If you looked at the pregen heroes, they had like 8-10 skills, with weapon skills in the 10-12 range. They were super good (meaning it often felt like there was no challenge). Troika's heroes are much more modest and that's great. That being staid, your basic skill range is 4-6, and skill 4 is brutal. You can gain advanced skills but you can't increase your base skill score (you used to be able to in AFF) so being stuck with 4 is just awful. Anyone who gets 4 gets bumped up to 5 in my game (my first house rule). 

2: Weapon damage went up, waaaay up. The average sword blow used to be 2 points of damage. When you have 20 stamina, that's not too scary. Now it's 6. Large weapons can do well over 10 and can kill in one blow. So on one hand great, you can now kill a goblin easily in a single swing... but your PC might only be able to take 3-4 hits. I think it's arguable that Troika may have gone too far in this regard, but if you want high risk combat, it delivers.  It bears noting that stamina does not improve in Troika!, only luck.

3: There is no more healing magic. You used to be able to restore stamina with a spell... and casting cost stamina, so you could keep casting forever, at least until you had a serious OOOPS failure (double 6 on the casting roll indicates trouble). Now you can't. This is great for restraining magic, but it also makes combat deadlier because there are no healing spells. You can still heal by eating food (only 3 times a day) or by resting.

3b: You can't restore luck with spells anymore, but you can spend pocket gods (small offerings) to regain some luck.

4: You can't design your own character. You are rolling for the stats, same as the old system, but you aren't picking and chosing advanced skills. Instead, you roll for a random background (a bit like a "class") that has a number of advanced skills and possessions. This is an improvement over AFF as it can avoid some serious problems with min maxing and PCs that are all vaguely similar. However, not choosing your own "class' is a difficult bridge to cross for some people, but it *is* how Warhammer frpg does things too...

4b: It bears to note that the Troika! backgrounds are *exquisitely* flavorful, but that is more of a setting things, not a system thing. By designing the backgrounds available for a campaign, you essentially are designing an important part of the flavor, tone and lore of said campaign. And yes, you could re-write the Warhammer frpg careers into Troika! backgrounds. In fact, one of them is *specifically* a Warhammer homage (the gremlin catcher, inspired by the rat catcher).

5: Armor is much more important in Troika! because of the elevated damage. Despite this, in Troika! the majority of characters are unarmored (while they were lightly armored in AFF - some leather, bits of chain etc.) As armor could transform an incoming hit of 8 to a much more survivable 2, getting armor should be a priority.

6: Magic users are different. It used to be that magic decreased your skill rating, making you ineffective at sword fighting - making the "wizards are bad at fighting" trope work. But it was harsh because it negatively impacted your other skills too. In Troika wizards/priests etc. have the same skill scores as other characters. However, as spells are advanced skills, knowing a lot of spells means you won't know as many other advanced skills. I think this was a good decision overall, but after a bit of adventuring a wizard could become a good swordsman.

7: Troika introduces "special abilities" that some, but not all, backgrounds have.  Many of them involve a luck check, so characters with low luck will rarely be able to benefit from them.  It's not an ideal mechanism, but I like it - not all things should be skills.   Some characters also start with special equipment - magical items, high-tech ones, natural weapons/armor...

So in conclusion, Troika definitely fixed some of the problems with the old AFF system, and would work for generic fantasy if divorced from the wonderful Troika! setting.   However, due to its design, the end result would be much more similar to warhammer than D&D.   Like in Warhammer, magic may backfire spectacularly (or simply not work), combat is an *opposed* affair where the skill of the combatants determine who gets hit, PCs can die after a couple of hits even at higher "levels", and armor reduces damage instead of making you harder to hit.  

Should you run try Warhammer with Troika!?  I think so.  The system is easier, faster and more or less does the same thing.  Sure you'll need a few days to make all the backgrounds, and you may want to bolt on an insanity system and a few other things, but it shouldn't be too hard.  It also fixes a main flaw of Warhammer (very "whiffy" combat at low levels where very few hits are landed) so that's nice too.

(note - I'm using the warhammer frpg 2nd ed as my comparison, as it's the one I'm most familiar with)

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Petit Albert spells: More translated by request spells

Continuing with my translation of Petit Albert spells as requested by the OSR reddit.  This is my second entry of these - sorry for the delay, they take time!

We will start with friendlier spells.

Secret of the staff of the good traveler

You will take, on the day following All Saints' day, a strong branch of elder, from which you will make a staff to your preferences; you will hollow it out by removing the pith inside, and garnish the bottom of the staff with an iron ferrule.  You will take two eyes of a young wolf, the tongue and the heart of a dog, three green lizards, three swallows' hearts, and sprinkle all these with fine saltpetre powder and dry them in the sun between two sheets of paper. This will be put in the bottom of the staff, and on top of this you will put seven leaves of vervain harvested on the eve of the Saint Jean-Baptiste, then a stone of multiple colors that you will find in the nest of a hoopoe.  You will cap the top of the staff with an boxwood cap or any other substance that you want, and you can be assured that this staff will guarantee  you against the inconveniences and perils that too commonly befall travelers; such as brigands, ferocious beasts, rabid dogs and venomous creatures.  It will also obtain you the good will of those with whom you are lodging.  

This was quite challenging to translate, and was originally a single run-on sentence.  Given the precise timing of the collection of some of the ingredients, this staff would take about 6 months to craft.  I suppose in game term this would reduce the chance of certain random encounters occurring, and improve the reaction rolls of innkeepers and other such providers of hospitality.  Treacherous peasants who rent a barn to travelers only to rob them might decide to let the staff wielder go unmolested because they have taken a liking to them, for example. 


I tested in Flanders the effect of a lamp to free us of the importunate croaking of frogs and to subtlely impose on them silence; it was in the castle of Lord Tillemont, whose moats were so filled with these noisy insects that one could hardly get any rest at night.  We made white wax melt in the sun with crocodile grease, which is about the seame as whale oil; and I believe that this oil would have the same effect as crocodile grease, which is quite rare in this country.  We furnished a lamp with this composition with a fairly large wick, and as soon it was lit and put on the edge of the moat, that the frogs ceased their croaking.

This is such a nice, friendly spell, with sentences of a reasonable length, alternative ingredients and a modest, laudable goal. And yes, I do know frogs are not insects... clearly taxonomy in the 1700s was a bit... vague.

To have sweet, soft and nice smelling melons.

You will obtain seeds of a good strain of melons, you will infuse them for two days in a syrup composed of raspberries, cinnamon, cardamom, of two grains (is this "two small bits" or grain as in the weight measuring unit?) of musk and of ambergris.  The syrup should not be too thick or lukewarm (it is unclear if the text meant "not luckewarm" or "but lukewarm) when you put the seeds in infusion.  You will need well prepared soil where you will sow the seeds, with a good layer of horse manure, and to be careful no to water them too much and ensure to avoid overabundant rain (no rain repeller spell in the book!).  If you are exact in all these things, you will have melons fit for the palate of a king.

To make the true water of the Queen of Hungary 

You will put in an alembic a pound and a half of fresh rosemary flowers, half a pound of pennyrile flowers (a type of mint), a half pound of marjoram flowers, half a pound of lavender flower, and on top of all of that, 3 pints of good aquae vitae (Eau-de-vie, alcohol); having plugged the alembic well to prevent evaporation, you will put it for 24 hours of digestion in steaming horse manure; then you will distill in a Bain-Marie.  The usage of this water is to take it one or twice a week, in the morning while fasting, about one dram in a liquor or other drink, and of washing the face and any limb where one would feel pain of feebleness.  This remedy renews vigor, clarifies the mind, dispels darkness (depression?), protects the sight from the failing of old age, makes the user seem younger, is beneficial to the chest (breathing? breasts?) and stomach (digestions but *maybe* keep the waist thin?) by rubbing it on: this remedy must not be heated, no matter if used as a potion or by friction (application to the skin).  This recipe is the true one that was given to Isabelle, queen of Hungary. 

Interestingly, this recipe has its own Wikipedia entry!   You will note that beyond the wild health claim this … isn't a spell at all.  It's just perfume.  It illustrate the very fuzzy relationship between magic, craft and science that existed at the time.  I am also very amused by the comparison to GOOP one of the OSR redditors made :D 

Against the inconvenience that one may receive from dogs.

You will stop them from barking at you, if you carry on yourself the dried heart and eyes of a wolf: the great antipathy between dog and wolf causes this effect, which has often been tested and proven.

Very short and simple.  Anyone could do this.

Now, we will move on to the not so nice spells...

A light that is related to the hand of glory, and makes people fall asleep.

Take four ounces of the herb known as little dragon (French: serpentine, as far as I can determine this is tarragon), put it in a closed earthenware pot, then make it digest in the belly of the horse. By this we mean in hot manure for 15 days, the herb will change in little red worms, from which you will pull (extract) an oil as per the principles of the art. From this oil you will supply a lamp, and when this lamp is lit in a room, it will cause sleep, and will make those in the room sleep so soundly that it will not be possible to wake any of them, as long as the lamp remains lit.

This is a very interesting spell, but challenging. How to make it is unclear, parts of the process are deliberately left out. Furthermore, how to *use* the lamp is not as obvious as it seems. You can make people in a room fall asleep yes, but then what? You can't enter the room, you'll fall asleep too! Probably best to take out guards so you can do something in another room. By making allusion to the hand of glory, the author is making clear that the intended use of this spell is for some kind of mischief.

A deadly Miasma

(stink) is naturally contrary to the health of men, and it can sometimes be deadly, as witenessed by the writings of Fioraventus, who says that if you take the dirt (muck) of human blood, once the waters and serums are out of it, and after drying said blood dirt, if we mix it with styrax and we burn this in a room, the miasma that results is lethal.

The author is being very sneaky here. He gives us a death spell, and not very complex either, so that we may be motivated to learn his protection charm against it! Way to sneak in black magic in your mostly innocent book, author! (the original title of the section is "Against the diseases and other accidents that hinder the life of man")

To make a man or woman insensitive to torture, so that one would obtain nothing from their confession.

(this spell is interwoven in a long shaggy dog story about a legal process which I cut out, so it's a bit choppy)

There are those who use certain words, softly pronounced, and others use small notes hidden upon their body. Here are three verse they speak in the times they are applied shame (generic poor treatment):

Imparibus meritis tria pendant corporæ ramis.
Dismas & Gestas in medio est divina potestas,
Dismas damnatur, Gestas as astra levatur.

And here are other words spoken when they are actually being tortured: "As the milk of the blessed and glorious Virgin has been sweet and pleasant to Our Lord Jesus, may this torture and rope be sweet and pleasant to my limbs"

... we found no other thing on him that a small note on which was the figure of the three king, and these words on the other side: "Beautiful star, which freed the mages from the persecution of Herod, free me of all torment". This note was stuffed in his left ear.

The author then gives us a counter spell to the anti torture charms, in the interest of not letting clever criminals get away, clearly stating that he's on the side of the torturers. How... civic... of him...

There were a few other spells in there that are a bit... rape-ish?  Better left in the past.

And that is it for now, I'll probably do one more round :)

Friday, October 18, 2019


The Bear is a very important "monster" in the OSR, because it is a "teaching" monster.  Sure you could fight the bear and perhaps lose a party member or two, but it's much better to avoid it or bribe it with food instead.  Particularly devious parties will even trick the bear into fighting their enemies for them.   Learning how to deal with a bear is an important rite of passage for gamers.

(I'll note that the bear stats can be re-used for a *lot* of monsters, but that's a topic that has already been well covered by other bloggers).

Ok, so now your players know how to deal with a bear.  Can you still use bears as a GM or is it boring?  Of course you can!

The local villagers approach the party because they are having a bear problem.  What is going on?
Roll 1d8:

1.  A single bear has been spotted by villagers in the woods; it is acting erratically and looking "not natural".  The bear is actually a bear-shaped robot piloted by tiny space gremlins who are exploring the local fauna and flora.  They didn't do a good job disguising in their exploration craft.

2. The bear has been eating moths in the mountains to fatten up, as bears do.  It has found a large batch of dream moths.  He is now stalking the dream world and giving the locals nightmares.

3.  An alarming number of bears have been spotted in the woods and people are disappearing.  A virulent case of bearantropy is to blame - merely being in contact with the bear is enough to catch it, with an onset of mere minutes.  The PCs must found the original carrier and cure it to break the curse  so they can return everyone (and possibly themselves) to normal.

4. An alarming number of bears have been spotted in the village. The 14 bears are intelligent and armored.  They are a mercernary band on break between jobs, and they are eating a *lot* of food. The locals are very nervous
5.  A bugbear had a bad encounter with ogres and has lost all its belongings, including its clothes.  It's quite embarrassed by the whole situation.

6.  A wizard has been polymorphed into a bear and is trying to get help to turn back into her original form.

7.  A particularly clever local bear feels it has been born into the wrong body and dreams of being human.  It is trying to fool humans into turning it into an humanoid.

8.  There is no bear.  The locals are cannibal cultists who wanted to lure the PCs into the wood to hunt them down and eat them.  The forests is filled with traps and ambush points.

edit/PS:  someone said I should do tigers and bears.  Well I can't possibly do tigers better than this.  Brace yourself!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

10 Slugmen encounters

My "best tables of OSR" post has been a huge success, but it made me realize something - I have not written a *single* table of my own for this blog that I can think of. I must remedy this at once!

So I give you 10 slugmen you might encounter.

roll 1d10

1. Huki Eki, House of Quartz, Grain negotiator.
Slender, twitchy, prefers jade ornaments. Followed by two servants and a guard.
Huki Eki has recently purchased the book "Causality: a rebuttal" by Lug the Mad. It is said that whoever reads the book goes completely mad and comes to a tragic end. Huki Uki really wants to read it, but wants to test its safety first. If the party refuses, the slugman will try to hire them to find someone who will.

2. Bagga Vo, independent, alchemist.
In patched red robes and hematite beads. One of their eyestalks is longer than the other, giving them a questioning look. Has a stout human servant armed with a club.
If one of the PCs is a foreigner of an "exotic race" (ie, not a dwarf, human, slugman or crabman), they invite the party to their "palace" (a modest tower) to discuss. They want to extract a bit of blood from the PC in question in exchange for 100 rupees. The PC's arrival in the Yellow City has been noted and some covet their blood. By making it available to purchase, demand is met and violence is averted (this is not a threat!). Proposes weekly sessions.
If no PC are of an exotic race, Bagga Vo has heard rumors of an *elf* (astounding!) having reached the Yellow City and will offer 100 rupee them to find said elf (unharmed and not inconvenienced!).

3. Polaha U, of Ras Bolon, righ hand man of Fo Kulo
Large, confident, armed with a large axe and well armored. Alone
Polaha U is looking for smuggling opportunities in the Yellow City. There are heavy duties on goods coming in and out of the Yellow City, but the nearby river port of Ras Bolon has no such tariffs, only a few bribes to pay... there is money to be made.

4. Kapo Shofi, independent, head auctioneer, Holy woman of Va Qabu, the little dog of dream and sleep.
Old and very tall, presents as female. Wears gold jewelry. Followed by a slugman clerk and 3 armed guards.
She will approach rich/powerful looking PCs and invite them to attend the next auction at the Gold Auction House (an opulent place where magical doo dads and rare artworks are purchased and sold) in the Golden Triangle district. If the PCs look poor (but adventurous), she will let them know that the Old City has much odd but valuable treasures to be found, and that they can make significant amounts of money auctioneering off their finds at her auction house.

5. Kavela, House of the Sea, Golemologist.
Identifies as male, wears several medallions of various metals. Accompanied by his friend Chit Du Ban, a human holywoman of the Crane of Dawn.
Kavela is loudly and excitedly speculating about a new theory of apotheosis and how it could be tested. Chit Du Ban is urging him to keep it down, and that such talk could be considered heresy - best kept for the offices of the Society...

6. Ui Ga, Independent (formerly House of Brass)
Unusually dark colored and wears yellow silks. Alone
Ui Ga is one of the head warlocks of the Topaz Order. They are seeking warlocks of the Kraken, which are quite illegal in the Yellow City. If the party has been using strange magic, the slugman is investigating the party discretely. Alternately, they are looking for mercenaries to take out a suspected cell of Kraken cultists.

7. Uki Le, House of Leaves, rent collector
Sickly looking and with few ornaments. Alone, armed with a kris.
Uki Le is bitter about their lot in life. They have no magic or scholarly talents, went missing for two years without their house noticing (it wasn't voluntarily) and made an oath to an angry warrior to help feed poor children in the Narrows but lack the funds to do so. They are looking for fulfilment, magic and money, in that order.  Perhaps if they somehow got some grain from the Great Granary...

8. Papali, House of the Sea, captain
Stout but quick footed, wears a leather cape, followed by a couple of sailors.
Papali is on the look out for sell-swords willing to bolster his ship's defences as he goes for a *discrete* trade run in unguarded waters. Pays wells. Has no magic but skilled with a cutlass.

9. Wu Yi , House of Quartz, holyman of Boxeos (the north wind) and head Granarian:
Large and well armored, followed by workers from the Great Granary.
Wu Yi overlooks the Great Granary on behalf of the House of Quartz. The house is known for infighting, and they fear that rivals in the house will try to embarrass them by having an incident at the Granary.  They have increased security and are looking to bolster it further. Unbeknown to anyone in the city, squid men are planning an attack.

10. Fihame Yi, House of Brass, mage and mineral trader
Average height, richly dressed, constantly eating dandelions, accompanied by at least 6 guards and a few servants. Identifies as male
Fihame Yi usually keeps an eye on the house of White and Black, but today he is trying out his new Giant Leopard Worm steed. It is *not* going well, and the appearance of the PCs have agitated it further. He will blame the PCs for any damage and demand compensation .

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

GLOG HACK: Trailer Park Boys

So, in honor of a show I love, the Trailer Park Boys (I grew up in the Maritimes, familiar with some poor areas, this speaks to me, and it's deeper than trash humor), a rough glog hack.

Because this is Trailer Park Boys style, this is going to be quick, dirty, and incomplete.  Here we go!

STYLE OF PLAY:   The Trailer Park Boys identify one big goal they want to do this season (go on a cruise is a good example).  They then concoct some big money making scheme to do it (or some other big plan if money is not an object).  There is then a series of obstacles they must overcome, by lying, bulling, scamming, sneaking or plain hard headed driving through.  Failing to overcome an obstacle is a setback, a complication, not a failure.  Only during the last obstacle challenge do things finally succeed (they go on a cruise!) or fail spectacularly (they go to jail).

DM PREP:  Pick the Big Goal and/or the Big Money Scheme - or have the players come up with it in advance (maybe session 0?).  Prepare about half of the series of obstacles based on the Big Goal/Scheme, but keep it loose - the player's actions, schemes and failures will almost certainly generate the other half.  Improvise!

COMBAT.   Heroes have two pools of health point:  Tough Points and Heath points.

When fighting in non lethal ways (fisticuffs, wrestling, throwing rocks, hockey sticks), Tough Points damage is taken.  When this reaches zero, you are "done" - you've been over come, you can't fight on anymore, unless you Realy Mean It.  There are advantages of doing combat this way - it's less dangerous, easier to heal and people are far less likely to call the cops

Fighting with guns, knives (and more exotic dangerous weaponry) can be lethal.  On a critical hit, they inflict health point damage, which are REAL injuries that actually need medical attention.  If you Realy Mean It, (ie you aren't shooting to intimidate, you are shooting to kill), 50% of hits are lethal.  If you Realy Mean It and you are fighting in non lethal ways, you can keep fighting even at zero tough points, but you are now taking lethal damage - you should have stayed down!

Anyone who takes health damage is allowed to collapsed in a heap and curse and wine and be considered defeated (ie not shot at anymore).  The players and GM should remember that no one wants to die, and no one want to go to jail for a decade or more for murder (which would take the character out of the game).

Healing Tough Points:
Taking a breather:  1 hour break heals 1d4 tough points
Cigarettes:  1 tough points
Drink:  1d3 tough points
Toke:  1d3 tough points
Full joint: 1d6 tough points
Hot dog: 1d4 tought point
small snack: 1 tough point
Big snack: 1d4 tough point
Cheeseburger: 1d6 tough point

Healing real damage
First aid:  up to 2 points, can be done by a friendly trailer park denisen
Vet:  Up to half (round in your favor) of your total health, he will want a favor
Hospital:  All your health points, but you're out of the scene for a bit, and questions will probably be asked
0 health point left:  You're dying and only an ambulance can save you.  Questions *will* be asked
negative health:  You're done.

EXPERIENCE:   At the end of the season, everyone surviving goes up a level, and is in jail and/or enjoying the fruit of their labor.  The next season begins when the money runs out, the cruise is over or the characters are let out of jail.  (if you are in jail for a long time because of very serious crime, you need a new character)

And that's it.  I'm going to write the characters and guns in another post, but this is the essence of the idea.  They will all have roughly the same combat characteristics, but each will have special powers based on the show.  For example, about once per episode Ricky tells an enormous lie that people believe somehow.  Or Julian *always* has a drink.   This sort of "powers" fit very well in a GLOG class template.

Lastly, I should apologize for the language of this post.  I did not proof read, *at all*, because it's Trailer Park Boys style!   I'm really sorry about that.... no you know what, I'm not sorry at all, so you can fuck off!  ;)

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Yoon Suin: a GLOG clockwork golem player character.

In the Yellow City, the art of Golemology is highly advanced. Clockwork golems are a somewhat recent development. Many are simple, somewhat fragile devices while others are hulking machines of war, powered by a human soul. The second variety are tightly controlled by enchantments and runes so that they do not turn against their masters.

But sometimes golemists working on practice golems make models with advanced cognition but, not being the potent, hulking versions, neglect to install rigorous control mechanisms. Some of these models escape their masters or are simply abandoned, and make their own ways into the world.
Credits: Chrono Trigger design team (akira toryiama I'm told)
For each template (ie level) of Clockwork Golem, your HP goes up by 2. AC starts at 12, goes up 1 per level (max of 15 at level 4). 1 Energy Dice (ED)/level

A: Iron Fist, Clockwork Cannon, Surge of Strenght
B: Eye beams, Rocket Fist
C: Shocking Burst, Overclock
D: Analyze, Energy Beam

Energy Dice:  A clockwork golem can build up stores of excess energy to be used at critical times to performed extraordinary feats.  These regenerate after every long rest, and (like an MD) are retained on a 1-3 and expended on a 4-6 (see exception below).

Iron Fist:  A golem dislikes weapons and prefers to attack enemies with its metal fist (1d6 dmg).

Clockwork Cannon:  Instead of a left hand, a mechanical weapon shooting iron balls at bone breaking speeds.  Range increment 30 feet, dmg 1d6, 6 shots - reloading it is a slow affair, taking about 10 minutes.

Surge of Strenght: With a roar and a billow of smoke, the clockwork golem fires his engines for maximum capacity.  Strenght increases by [sum] for [dice]X2 minutes.

Eye Beams:  Project light from you eyes, range 30 feet, 10 foot wide cone (a mediocre flashlight) for [sum] hours.

Rocket Punch: Launch your fist ahead of you, range 20 feet, to inflict a punch attack doing [sum] damage. The fist is attached to your arm by a strong chain. It can be used as a powerful winch, as a grappling hook, a way to bring an item to you etc.

Shocking Burst: Release a massive discharge from your capacitors. Everyone but you within 15 radius takes [sum] damage, dex save for half.

Overclock: Once per day, you can increase the size of your Energy Dice(s) for one use from 1d6 to 1d8. You only regain the dice on a 1-3, so the chances of getting to re-use the dice(s) are smaller The regained die are normal (1d6) sized. At level 4 the increase is to a d10.

Analyze:  You shed light similarily to the Eye Beams.  This light last [sum] minutes and reveals invisible creatures/object, illusions, etc (essentially True Seeing).

Energy Beam:  Your clockwork cannon becomes the weapon it was meant to be, and burns a single target with a terrible light.  Range 300 feet, damage [sum]+dice (no save).  This spell doesn't impede normal clockwork cannon function.

General notes:  A clockwork golem is not a biological being.  For instance it cannot swim, but it cannot drown either.  Clockwork golems speak in the tongue of their creator, and one random language (the mother tongue of the soul used to create it).

Sleep and encumbrance:  A clockwork golem does not need sleep like a living being does, but it does need about 4 hours of self-diagnostic and repair every day. In that state, the golem is highly distracted and unmoving. A clockwork golem that has not performed self diagnostic for more than 2 days has disadvantage on all rolls. Clockwork golems are immune to magical sleep.  As long as its rest and fuel needs are met, a clockwork golem will not tire.  There are limits to what it can carry, and it has the same number of equipment slots a human of equivalent strenght would have.  Its iron fist and clockwork cannon do not take slots however.

Food and water: A clockwork golem does not eat, but it does consume fuel in its burner. Coal or charcoal is preferred, but wood will do fine, and in a pinch it may use dried hay or straw, paper, clothing... it consumes fuel at the same rate that a human would eat (in "rations") but the bulk of the fuel required depends on its quality. High quality (coal, charcoal, oil) fuel is 3/encumbrance, medium quality (wood) is 1/encumbrance and low quality (bark, dried leaves etc) is 1 load/2 encumbrance. Exotic fuel may have … consequences. A clockwork golem needs about 1 litre of water per day for its boiler. The water intake is equipped with filters so it can "drink" water that a human would find unacceptable. After 3 days without fuel or water, a clockwork golem will fall into a dormant state - it may wake up for a few minutes to take a few steps or say a few sentences, but that's it.

Healing:  Medical skills are useless when it comes to a golem.  However, a golemologist, or even a skilled and clever mechanic, can effectuate repairs.  Natural healing for a golem parallels humans, by resting (running diagnostics) and burning fuel.  Upon reaching zero or negative hp, the golem will shut down, and will remain so until magically healed or repaired.  To do the latter, requires the skills of a proper golemologist, but this will only be possible as long as the negative HP are not greater than double the original max hp.  These repairs are liable to be very expensive (use cost of resurrection magic as a guide), and care must be taken that the golemologist does not repair or install control runes that would overpower the will of the clockwork golem.

Many thanks to Words for Yellow for the design assistance.  This is clearly inspired by Robo from Chrono Trigger, but I removed the healing abilities entirely.   I believe that the result is a tough caster with both utility and combat ability, and *massive* roleplaying potential.   I do note that the overclock ability will have to be carefully monitored for potential OP, this is not play-tested material.  Troika did something similar with the Thinking Engine.  I also note that you could use this class for a modron.

This class was part of an OSR Discord server challenge.  So far participants are
- The Oblidisideryptch, with Aztec inspired, multi sensorial mechs (they are the holder of the "official list" so be sure to check there in case I missed one)
- Words for Yellow, with Magical Mechs - awakened temples, colossal demons, wizard towers on wheels and much more, it's fantastic stuff.
- Nuclear Haruspex with Evangelion-inspired rules.
- Octarine Tinted Glasses with the mantle, a class for an engineer who infuses parts of their soul in a machine - and rules about how this machine feels about its creator.
- Coins and Scrolls with a late but *hilarious* goblin entry