Thursday, December 31, 2020

a retrospective of my entire blog

I'm looking at my history of posts this last year and I am not surprised at my great lack of output. There was a great silence between April and December. A gulf of nothingness that might as well signal the death knell of this blog's longevity. Yet I also have 58 draft posts that just linger, unfinished and unedited, that I never look at. I am still writing, I just having nothing I feel like sharing.

I'm not sure if this is the best place to share my ideas. I long to post all of my ideas, whenever I have them, but I dither and waver and either don't write my idea down or when I do have inspiration to form my thoughts into words I simply hold onto the writing like a note, never glancing at it again.

This year has been shit!

I haven't been locked inside like 1/3rd of my countrymen, I've still been working every week, hoping for an errant day off where I can just lie in bed, rest, or play video games. 

My energy is at an all-time low. Despite this, I ran a few games this year. Freebooters on the Frontier, Mork Borg, and an Apocalypse World one-shot.

Nothing stuck.

I haven't played anything since October. Correction: I haven't GMed anything since October. I want to play something! I'm sick of being a GM, and I think I need to play a game, even if I don't think the GM is doing a good job, just to stoke the fire of my tabletop creativity. 

Being stuck with voice channels on Discord might also be a factor for my malaise, but with any luck, and an expeditious vaccination regimen, that might all change. Soon. In a few months.

 Happy new year! I hope it is.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

the Fungal Creeps


Spore by Stuntkid

Humanoids with radiant fungus growing out of their skin. The fungus doesn't take a single appearance, it can form as a mossy fur, tiny mushroom caps protruding through hair and from ears, slime molds dripping from mouths and fingernails, polypores lining the chest and legs. Those infected eventually turn violent and insane, if they haven't already been subsumed by the fungus.

They will eat anything, and when they encounter living creatures attack fearlessly until their prey is dead. While fungal creeps usually don't attack with weapons, their limbs have become terribly strong and capable of tearing living beings apart. In fact, letting a fungal creep tear off an arm to snack on it might be an effective strategy to distracting one.

Fungal creeps don't attack one another, and if a fungal creep infects someone (see below) while fighting them it will stop to find a new target.

Fungal creeps act alone, but occasionally can be found resting in groups (1d6).

Armor: as Chain, fungal creeps that were wearing armor don't use it effectively but are still difficult to hurt

Attack: two 1d8 clubbing attacks, if both attacks hit the same opponent they will grab (no save, STR check to escape) their victim and start biting (1d6 automatic hit every round until freed) and the victim must save against the infection (at disadvantage, rolling twice and taking the worst result)

Special: fungal creeps regenerate 8 hit points every round, fire damage won't regenerate back

Defense: every attack that is scored against a fungal creep causes the attacker to roll a saving throw against the fungal infection (vs Breath or CON)

Infection: infected characters don't feel different right away but within one day start growing fungus of some kind on their skin or from their orifices, after one day of infection the character can regenerate 1 hit point / round, after two days the character starts regenerating 2 hp/round, and so on. Once the character is regenerating a number of hit points equal to their hit dice, their brain has "died" to the fungus and they become a Fungal Creep. The infection is neither a disease or a curse and nothing short of a Restoration of the body will remove the fungus. However, a simple Blessing will prevent the fungus from growing stronger for one day.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Scribus vs InDesign

I had the idea that since I'm looked up in my house now is probably the best time to sign up for InDesign and see if I can convert some of my Apocalypse World playbooks into InDesign. I gotta say, InDesign feels like a very slick and user-friendly interface for somebody who wants to work quickly and easily, but the obscurity of their terminology is absolutely frustrating. Every time I want to do something I have to google it, literally. The interface is so unintuitive that I spend several minutes scrolling through every option and still can't ever find what I'm looking for.

I just started building the second page of this pdf, and only just discovered (on accident) how to create wider margins for the columns. When I try to go back to the first page and adjust, it changes nothing. Which means I can do one of two things:
1) google several tutorials on how to adjust text, images, and preserving the layout since adjusting the margins doesn't automatically do all of that
2) just rebuild the first page with wider margins

2 sounds easier, but both are ridiculous options. Scribus, at least, just moves things around when you change the spacing of objects.

Everything about Adobe's monopoly on these sorts of tools is stupid, and I hate it. And now I'm part of the problem too. Cheers!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Completely re-writing D&D combat; or, Blocking, Dodging, Hit Points, and You

Eva M Brown wrote "Instead of hit points use your hit die. When you're hit you can roll any number of hit die. If you roll higher than the damage, you keep your hit die. If you roll lower, you lose all that you bet.
Alternatively, you can just sacrifice hit die acting that they are maxed value. So, if you're a 4th level barbarian, and take 24 points of damage you could just take 2 HD worth of damage and call it good or roll any number of your HD hoping to roll higher than 24.
" and thinking about how this would change combat to being much more active is how I started on this idea.

Let's say Hit Points are supposed to reflect stamina instead of health, and Hit Dice are the real deal for determining whether a character is healthy. Low-level characters? Still easy to kill. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Ignore the magic system of D&D for a moment and let's just focus on combat. Hit points are a measure of stamina, and when they run out you're exhausted, can barely move, are incapable of taking action, and can only barely defend yourself from being attacked.

Hit points are still there, but when you attempt to block an attack your armor (and shield and weapon altogether) provide a defense dice pool against the damage you take. You roll the dice of your armor and if the damage exceeds it, you take the difference against your Hit Points. You can add Hit Dice to this defense, but if the damage exceeds what you roll you lose the Hit Dice instead of the Hit Points.

Shields add 1d4, 1d6, or 1d8 depending.
Armor ranges from 1d4 to 1d12.
Weapons add small bonuses, anywhere from +1 to +5.

Meaning, a low-level enemy like an orc is at a disadvantage against a well-armored opponent, but the breath weapon of a dragon is going to damage its victim regardless of how well-armored they are.

If your Hit Points are reduced to zero, you can only wager Hit Dice and one piece of armor/weapon to avoid damage.
If your Hit Dice are reduced to zero, you are unconscious or soon to be dead.

Every character has a dodge modifier that starts at +10 and is only decreased by what sort of armor they are using and the weapon they are carrying.
Most weapons are -1, but a few are -2 or -3. All polearms are -4.
Armor ranges from -1 to -5.
Shields are -1 or -2.
Meaning, yeah, you could have a -1 Dodge if you're wearing full plate and carrying a heavy shield with a halberd.
You roll a d10 and add the modifier to your roll, if it exceeds the attack roll then you successfully dodge. You can't dodge forever though because it costs Hit Points every time you use it.

She failed a dodge roll.

What about attacking?
It changes a lot. Though I think this sort of modification would work better with Lamentations ruleset, to fit it in other systems you'd need to get rid of class-based attack bonuses. Weapons would have to add modifiers to attack rolls, or you could have weapons give a variable bonus similar to the way Dungeon Crawl Classics gives warriors an attack bonus with a dice roll.

I'm not sure what the best way to modify it would be, but having an active defense is certainly more appealing to me.

I have never seen a ttrpg create an elegant way of using parrying effectively. I'm all ears if you have an idea how to apply it in this system. For now, I expect making an attack roll against the attacker's roll is the only way to do it. Leaves a lot down to luck instead of skill, which I don't like.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

re-introducing the Haunted

Everything we have is robbed from graves, from corpses entombed in their own homes, from the dead cities buried under dirt and water, from the past and its memories. Do you think they see you, with their crowpicked eye-holes? Can you hear them speak, with their black and bloated mouths? Yeah, go ahead, son. Brush it off. But there’s more things under these shattered heavens than you think. The dead far outnumber the living now. And I have to wonder: is there still room enough in hell?

I realize that it's been a whole fucking year since I worked on these playbooks, and I'm sorry. All of the work was done, all of the artwork was finished, but one day I was just lazy about sitting down and formatting the pdf, and then I kinda forgot that I had this project to finish. One day turned into a week which turned into a month, and all of a sudden people online are asking if more of these playbooks have been converted to second edition and I think "Oh shit! I never finished those playbooks!"

Long story short, once upon a time Johnstone Metzger granted me permission to convert his Heralds of Hell playbooks into a legal-size format, and I asked him again for permission to revise those same playbooks to the second edition rules for Apocalypse World, which he granted.

Here is the Haunted, with new artwork provided by Marie Ann Mallah.

letter size
legal size

(only one Herald left!)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

River Banshee

When newborn daughters are thrown into rivers, the grim necessity of a desperate family to rid of itself of another mouth to feed, they sometimes rise again as the whispering undead. These creatures become one with the waters of the river, seeing and hearing everything along the ripples of water. They will whisper sweetly along the riverbanks, hoping to draw the curious out to them. Legend says that any who draw near a river banshee are stricken with deep sadness, and their voices will become paler and softer until they can only whisper out their words. In truth, a river banshee collects secrets and often places slivers of these secrets into a victim's head, literally. Someone who has succumbed to a river banshee's whispering will have a razor thin line of flesh that is scored or scarred. Anyone living with a river banshee's secrets in their head will slowly start to die, their sadness will slowly overtake everything they do until they collapse and refuse to move, or simply never rise out of bed in the morning. Only magical intercession can remove the secrets in one's head, for the secrets must be drawn out of the victim's head through placation and inducement.

A river banshee literally opens its victim's skull and whispers the secrets into their brain. Being interrupted in this task can mean the victim will be instantly killed. The safest time to approach a river banshee is while it is trying to lure a victim to the river it resides in.

A river banshee is frail with malleable bones that protrude from skin mottled and thin like lace. If one is near, the whispering sounds like a young girl's voice, eager to share her knowledge with a wily accomplice. If it is tricked into revealing itself it rarely fights and always flees when outnumbered. Lights and loud noises can also prevent a river banshee from appearing.

HD 1
Defense as hide
Attack +4 or DR 13
Ribcage grapple 1d6
Save vs Petrification or Wisdom, to avoid the lull of their whispers
Morale 5

Sunday, March 22, 2020

d20 cryptic things for NPCs to say and then laugh

1. With enough reason we will make slaves of ourselves.
2. I wish I could see those fields of green once more.
3. All your life will be for naught when you find what you seek.
4. Small, simple things are all that is required to change one's soul.
5. Prison is a blessing for those who need it.
6. There are stranger ways to seek one's fortune.
7. Our fates always have surprises waiting for us when we least expect them.
8. The swamp can be a cold place, but I find it very warm.
9. This light suits me, if I need more darkness I can always make more.
10. Who holds the strings of our marionettes?
11. The things we tell ourselves to afford succor.
12. Where will you be when you are relieved of your fears?
13. I knew at once you were not to be trifled with.
14. When men lose their salvation, where will devils hide?
15. Share your spirit with the light, you still have a chance.
16. Falling down a deep dark hole wouldn't be the worst thing to happen to you.
17. My allies have abandoned me. Or did I abandon them?
18. I have always suspected that the gods don't approve of mortals such as you and I.
19. Do not eat. Do not drink. Nourishment is its own reward.
20. Light. Life. Violence. Forsaken.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

goblins are a nematodal disease

Goblins don't fear death because they have a very peculiar form of immortality: As long as a dead goblin is eaten by another goblin, all its memories will be passed on to that goblin - including any memories from previous consumed goblins! And since goblins are voracious cannibals, most goblins remember dozens or even hundreds of lives (and deaths), and see it as little more than an inconvenience. Goblins are not cowardly, they are gleefully suicidal with absolutely no concept of self-preservation or survival instinct.

Goblins throw themselves at opponents in giggling hordes no matter how many get slaughtered, knowing that only a single brethren needs to survive to 'resurrect' their accompanying horde. Goblins have little sense of individuality, believing themselves to be fragments of one mind, cursed to grow and splinter into many selves for all eternity.

Goblins don't reproduce like any other animal. As they age, they grow bulbous sores on their body and eventually their skin molts off and this 'skin' grows like a fungus, clinging to tree trunks or along cavern walls. It thrives in darkness, but this 'skin' will flourish in virtually any environment with moisture. It grows larger and eventually bursts open, shedding one to two dozen baby goblins that are virtually identical to the one who molted them in the first place. Goblins never eat this shed skin.

Goblin bites can get infected very easily. Anyone suffering from a goblin bite is likely to have skin that slowly turns gray or sickly green. After a few weeks, they may begin to forget who they were and start behaving like a goblin. After three months they will have completely transformed into a goblin, with no memories of their previous self, and no memories from the goblin who bit them either. Nothing short of magic can reverse this infection once it has taken hold.

Goblins frequently try to force their own blood and flesh into the mouths of victims because ingesting goblin flesh will turn a humanoid creature into a hobgoblin. This transformation is similar to when a person transforms into a goblin, but it's much quicker taking only a month for a complete transition. A goblin who eats a hobgoblin not only gains the memories of that hobgoblin, but will begin to grow into a hobgoblin with the personality and memories of the hobgoblin; this process also takes about a month. Hobgoblins will always keep some goblins around, despite their obvious contempt for their inferior cousins - when a hobgoblin dies, assuming it's a hobgoblin the others still want around, they'll go grab the nearest goblin and feed the corpse to it.

However, one hobgoblin eating another is a severe taboo, because of the result - a bugbear, a monstrously huge goblin that hunts and eats other goblins and hobgoblins. A humanoid creature that consumes the flesh of a hobgoblin will also turn into a bugbear, this process takes about three months. Bugbears tend to be solitary and avoid each other, even goblins and hobgoblins don't want them around.

A bugbear who eats another bugbear will turn into a troll. Trolls will consume anything and everything, but no further mutations are possible.

- - -
The concept of goblins as nematodes was originally created by Sam Anderson. I just expanded it a little.