Sunday, October 3, 2021

GLoGtober Day 3: Portals Aren't Real(ly Viable)

 In my game, magic is certainly bountiful and alive, in a bunch of different ways. Some folks will supernatural things into conformity. Others stitch and purl the omnipresent Veil into a shape more fitting. Rarely, one finds themselves to be subject to more eldritch forces. But no-one, as of yet, as figured out a way to maintain a stable portal. "It's too dangerous" some scholars scoff. "I prefer my soul stay in my body, thank you." others posit. There have certainly been attempts at creating portals. Most end in catastrophe, spawning horrible Denizens as they tear across the fabric of reality into the material world. Best as anyone can tell, the closest one can come is teleportation. It is fast, and difficult, and admittedly limited, but it has the benefit of not allowing souls and other entities from Beyond to enter the realm of the living. Certain sects of the Cult of the Weaver claim to have opened them long enough to allow a horse-drawn cart through, and it is true. What they neglect to say, is cart is the only thing to make out the other side the same way it entered. It seems that in these limited experiments, some entity took the souls of those that crossed in the cart as a sort of toll, if the horse can be believed. The Natural-Industrialist faction of Port City claims that such research is ultimately pointless, and they may have a point if the rumors of a lantern-based messaging system can be believed. Allegedly, in the next three years, ships will be able to communicate remotely at distances greater than two nautical miles.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

GLoGtober Day 2: Monsters!

I have decided to hop on the GLoGtober train, and jump feet first into the Monster category for day 2. I rolled my d6 and now I have to figure out something "strange and utterly unique" which fortunately fits really well with Denizens from my homebrew game Beyond the Veil. Now the challenge is coming up with something suitably monstrous. I don't have stats for it currently, but I will probably edit them in later.

Skeleton Knights

While resurrection from the dead is impossible, fragments of souls can be forcibly ripped back across the Veil and bound to bodies. More rarely, souls that feel a particularly strong sense of duty in death don't fully cross over and partially occupy their former body. They have no sense of their former selves, only the overpowering urge to defend a location against any and all intruders. This includes the people they formerly defended. Painless, unstoppable, animated by an intangible force, and utterly ruthless, the only hope to defeat a Skeleton Knight is to utterly destroy what it is protecting. Should a single stone remain in place, a single member of a family line still surviving, the Knight will rise at the next sunset to resume its duties. 

Skeleton Knight, Determination +3
Condition: If part of the original object, place, or lineage of protection still exists when the Skeleton Knight is killed, it will rise again at the next sunset, completely unharmed. 
Cause: Protectors dying with an overwhelming sense of duty to protect and serve preventing the spirit from fully traversing beyond the Veil.
Attacks: Longsword (2yd), Shortbow (2H, 40yds)
Armor: Broken Plate-mail (TAL, AV 2)
Active Turn(s): K, J
Abilities:
  • Lack of Vitals - This creature is completely immune to all poisons, diseases and mind-altering abilities and effects.
  • Lifeless Devotion - The Skeleton Knight always knows the absolute direction of the location of the person, place, or thing it was connected to in life.
  • March, Unceasing - If the Skeleton Knight becomes Critical, instead a limb falls off. It may take an action to reattach that limb and become Healthy. It may do this Aspect number of times.
  • Cleave the Veil - Once a day, a Skeleton Knight can make an Aspect check while focusing on a corpse. If it succeeds, a spirit is forced to manifest under its command, puppetting the corpse. The power of this ability melts the flesh, leaving only burnt bones.
  • Denizen - This creature knows nothing of remorse or fear and is obviously supernatural. It will not flee nor surrender and is immune to Scared.
Skeleton Knight Footman, Determination +0
Condition: Destroy the skull, it houses the spirit. Cannot be created from a headless corpse. The corpse must be human.
Cause: Forced into existence through the sheer willpower of a Skeleton Knight, they exist only to serve their master.
Attack: Thrash (1yd, Rapid*)
Armor: As the body used.
Active Turn: 5
Abilities:
  • Lack of Vitals - This creature is completely immune to all poisons, diseases and mind-altering abilities and effects.
  • Denizen - This creature knows nothing of remorse or fear and is obviously supernatural. It will not flee nor surrender and is immune to Scared.

*Rapid: Two attacks per turn with this attack. Gotta remember to add this to the master list!

Credit to ikametreveli on Deviant Art




Monday, September 27, 2021

Beyond the Veil Draft Classes Pt. III - Ratlings and the Accounter

 see the previous post in this series

Ratlings

Image via happymag.tv


The Humans took a long time to realize they were not alone in their own cities. They never had been. From the moment they began hoarding grain, Humanity had rent-free tenants in the storehouses. They were often caught and killed, of course, but the smartest, the fastest and the most well fed among the survivors survived and bred. Those rats' children in turn were culled and the survivors concentrated. Over countless generations, some rats began expressing supermurine abilities. rudimentary speech, opposable thumbs, and the ability to walk on their hindlegs came first. Generations later, these first Ratlings stepped out into the common rooms of inns, farmsteads, and royal halls, announcing themselves as equals. Surprisingly, some took them seriously. Now, hundreds of generations hence, Ratlings are an expected sight in most major cities and not uncommon in rural areas. They take up work where they can, often serving as lens cutters, jewelers, scouts, explorers and many walks of life in between. Not everyone appreciates their presence, but most Humans regard Ratlings as one does a particularly smart dog. The Ratlings are more than happy to allow them this delusion.

Ratling Traits

Inhuman Perspective - You are decidedly inhuman in your manner of thought. Where humans might see refuse, you see sustenance. Where Humans find hate or revenge, you recognize a stronger foe and give due respect. You come from mundane rats, generations removed, and your behavior is impacted by that. The collective is more important than the individual.
Diminutive: You are between 8 inches and 18 inches tall, and bipedal. If your hands are free, you can scurry and climb without penalty. You can fit through gaps as small as 2 inches in diameter. All your equipment must be special made, costing twice as much as a human-size piece of the same equipment. Human sized daggers and knives count as longswords. You may carry up to 1 size of objects.
Voracious: You have to eat constantly, requiring just as much food as a human. However, you are capable of eating any non-toxic plant matter, including straw and cotton.
Short Lived: The most venerable of your kind live to be ten years old. You reach maturity at six months. As a result, Ratlings are highly specialized. Choose a single Camp action: This is the only one you can take while Camping.
Resilient: You have a 1 card bonus when resisting any form of disease or poison, are immune to damage from falling if your hands are free and you are unarmored, and you may elect to ignore the first instance of damage received on an adventure provided you are free to move.


Accounter

"On four counts of erroneous existence, I hereby condemn the affixed to nullification and forced mundanity. The affixed stands accused of possessing  the following aberrant traits:
1. Willful disregard of the sanctity of death.
2. Forcible egress through physical barriers.
3. Over-loud shouting resulting in loss of sanity.
4. Inability to have notice of mundane interdiction affixed without extreme effort due to incorporeality."
-The condemnation of the specter of Hill Manor by Accounter Jules Vermin.

Aspect: Sense
Stock: Human or Ratling
Requirements: Sense >2, Determination >2
Starting Gear:
  • Sheaf of paper
  • Charcoal Pencil
  • Rubber Stamp and Ink Pad
  • Box of Nails
  • Small Hammer

Class Ability Tract

Level 0: Audit
You were born with a seventh whisker, no pupils, or another physical manifestation of power. This marks you as different than your kin, be they Human or Ratling. You can sense the presence of the Veil without any effort, enabling you to detect the location of supernatural forces or Denizens within a number of feet equal to ten times your level, minimun 10 feet. Decide how this sense manifests to your character, such as a pressure, strange wind, or other phenomena. 

Level 1: Reject Unreality
By focusing your mind upon a supernatural presence or Denizen as an action, you can dampen a number of random effects or abilities equal to your level by passing an Aspect Check. Doing so disables those abilities until you stop using an action each round to focus on them.

Level 2: Suppress Aberration
You may write out a list of claims, stamping the notice and nailing the paper to a supernatural force or Denizen to attempt to make it mundane. Writing out a list in combat takes one turn per claim. Make a Red/Black check with +1 Card for every valid claim listed on the document, up to 5 Cards  (ex. "Willful ignorance of physical barriers" or "Unreasonable toxin expulsion"). If the Denizen is capable of resisting, you must succeed on an Attack with your hammer in order to take this action. If you are successful, you affix the notice to the target and any supernatural effects it is capable of are suppressed, rendering it mundane until the notice is removed with an Aspect Check from a different entity. You may retry this check on subsequent turns if it fails.

Level 3: Unravel Gossamer
Pierces in the Veil no longer affect you unless you allow them to do so, or the source is outside of your Audit range.

Level 4: Proof of Contradiction
You can write a blistering thesis against unreality and post your admonishment for all to see. You may spend one week to write a single page of thesis, and an additional week for each page thereafter. When posted in a public space, each page negates supernatural effects within a radius of ten feet per page of thesis until removed by a mundane creature. You may prepare theses in advance, and 5 theses are a size 1X object.

Level 5: Banish
By focusing your mind upon a Denizen as an action, you can make a Red/Black check. If you succeed, the Denizen is banished beyond the Veil. If you fail, you ignore all of its abilities, permanently, allowing you to damage it as if it were mundane.

Censorship

If a card in your Baize matches the suit or value of a card drawn on a check for a supernatural effect or Denizen ability, you may spend it to nullify that card.

Bonus Table! 

Rubber Rejection Stamps

DISMISSED W/O APPEAL

VOID

NO

INDECENT CONTENT


CLAIM DENIED


IGNORE THIS ENTITY

 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

1D12 Items You Found In That Abandoned Fort

There are lots of reasons for forts to become ruins. Perhaps they were abandoned after a war, or overrun by brigands. Why exactly it happened might not matter, but adventurers definitely like exploring them. Whether for loot, a land claim, or because someone or something else is there that disagrees with their sensibilities. Here are some system agnostic items (but still aimed in the flavor direction of Beyond the Veil) you can include if you are so inclined.


1D12 Items in a Fort or Ruin


1. Captain's Mace - This flange mace is masterfully made (+1) and also functions as a parchment carrier. The handle can be opened to store a map or a handful of letters. The pommel doubles as a wax seal. It comes with a worn brass belt ring. It probably has something stored in it.

2. Weatherproof Fuse - Caught in a light drizzle and unable to use their rifle, a musketeer's effectiveness is reduced significantly. Someone apparently figured out a fix to this vexing issue. This fuse can be affixed to a matchlock rifle, pistol, or used on its own. Once lit, it functions for 2 hours per foot, regardless of wind or rain. It is extinguished if completely smothered or submerged. The coil is 2d2 feet long and has a leather carry pouch stamped with "Property of N. Daviess."

3. Watchman's Horn - A short, carved, ivory horn with holes drilled into it in much the same manner as an ocarina. The mouthpiece is made of copper. It can be heard clearly up to a mile away over an open field. Someone has carved symbols next to the holes with distinct meaning. Fingerings perhaps?

4. Liar's Dice - These dice always roll slightly higher than normal when the owner tells an obvious lie when the roll is tossed. Add 1 to the final result of a check if a lie is told while using them. The dice are not obviously enchanted.

5. An Incomplete Ledger - Mostly boring bureaucratic and logistical scribblings. The last page is incomplete and smeared with ink. After investigating it more closely (an easy but mind-numbing task), it is discovered that there is a hidden storeroom in the complex with a level-appropriate amount of cold, hard coin, expensive liquor, and a non-magical but heirloom quality sword of the now deceased commander.

6. A Trusty Cloak - This cloak is made of canvas and lined with soft hare fur. Lead is sewn into the hem and as such it does not flap in even strong winds. It weighs three times as much as a normal cloak made of the same materials (minus the lead).

7. Rope Retractor - An ingenious makeshift device that when affixed to a rope, the user can turn a crank to tightly coil any type of cordage up to 100 feet long and up to the thickness of ship's rope. This process takes 1 minute, after which the rope coil can be removed from the device.

8. Ration Crate - Open, but suspiciously untouched. Six rations wrapped in tattered cloth. Each ration is hard as a brick, smells strongly of vinegar and salt, and seemingly inedible. Not even maggots dare touch them. If soaked in water for a half-day, they become technically chewable and each one can sustain an adult human for three days, or someone smaller for six. No one will enjoy it and a difficult test of one's willpower is required to force it down their gullet.

9. The Log of a Former Adventurer - Not only is there a complete map of all the unlocked or accessible rooms of this ruin, but the location of another ruin notated as "Hells below, never seen something like that before! Danger!" next to a poorly drawn basilisk. There is also the amply provisioned skeleton of a long-dead adventurer, killed via an unfortunate accident.

10. Unlabeled Alchemicals - A milkcrate of 1d8+1 crystal and wooden flasks, all the labels long since worn away. Use your favorite potion or poison generation method to populate the crate. One of the potions is always broken. Its flask has a weathered note tied to the remnants of the neck that reads "Caution: Do not ingest! Contains drowning mildew!"

11. Unusual Bedroll - Originally mistaken as a rather thick coin purse, this lightweight bedroll folds down to fit in the palm of your hand, or fit in your pocket. Folding the bedroll takes 10 minutes and unfolding takes 1 minute. It is made of a material you are unfamiliar with and smells faintly of dry blood and ozone.

12. Onyx Monocle  - Ornately decorated with bronze fixtures, there is a necklace locked in this box. It is a silver chain attached to a paper-thin red onyx intaglio. When held up to the left eye, one can see magical energies through the onyx sheet.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Beyond the Bestiary: Dryads

The Protector from the short film "The Birch" (2017)



The Sower wept tears and flooded the world when her lover, dearest Weaver, departed. She tore her hair in agony, casting the first seeds upon the soil. They sprouted soon after, alive but lacking will. Some seeds, however, landed near tears in the fabric of the Veil. Imbued with their mother's sadness and melancholy and the creative will of the Weaver, these trees spawned the first of the world's thinking beings: Treants. The Sower, overcome with joy that her love could still be found in this world, wept once more over her first children. These tears were drank by the Treants, who bore fruit from their bodies. These fruit fell when ripe and from the pit climbed a small, gentle being. The first Dryad in each forest felt horribly alone, and so took to caring for their parent. After another season, the Sower cried once more and nurtured her children and grandchildren. The Treant bore fruit in the same manner and the Dryad was lonely no longer.


Generally peaceful beings, Dryads are caretakers of many of the older natural areas of the world and can be found in any climate. They are vaguely humanoid in shape and often have 6 limbs, but sometimes have more or fewer. They have a typically feminine appearance. They do not trust humans, and will only rarely show themselves to one and only after much reassuring of their good intentions. All Dryads in an area are clones of each other, and share a single mind. Dryads from other areas are called "Sister" should they somehow meet. They do not mind the harvesting of their homes so long as nothing is taken in excess or is wasted. Attempting to fell or otherwise harm the oldest tree in a forest, the sleeping body of their progenitor Treant, will be met with lethal force.


Stat Block


Dryad ❤+1

Armor: Barky Skin (all, AV1)

Attack: Lash (1H, Binding*). Bound targets take 1 damage every round they are bound by this attack if the Dryad chooses to attack again.

Turn: 5

Spoils: Dryad Heartwood (1X), Dryad Sap (1X, must be stored in a container)

Abilities:

Living Wood - If a Dryad is killed, it may instead lose a limb and become Critical. Then, it may move up to its speed in a direction unimpeded. The lost limbs grow back after 1 year. It can only do this for as many limbs it has (Usually 6).

Earthmother's Children - Dryads have complete control over the growth and well being of any plant they are in contact with and may manipulate such plant life as they desire over the course of an hour. Dryads may enter a plant at least their size as part of movement and become completely undetectable unless they attack.


The Spoils


Dryad Heartwood: If consumed, painfully transfigure a barky skin over the course of a week. At the end, make a hard Health save (-3) vs Death. If survived, gain Armor 1 on all body parts and take double damage from fire. You can subsist on sunlight and water. If planted, plant life within 1 mile grows supernaturally well.


Dryad Sap: a powerful alchemical reagent as well as an outstanding natural adhesive. When used to join two pieces of plant matter or wood, they grow into each other as if they were never separated There is enough to cover 2 square feet. Lethal if consumed as Poison.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

Dungeons and Dragons has a Human Problem

Credit to Vesko81


Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition has an absolute plethora of player options in the form of classes, subclasses and "races". With the recent publication of "Tasha's Cauldron of Everything", that selection grows even more so with optional rules to change the starting stat bonuses, proficiencies, languages and many other things. It is a creative hotbed for new characters! At least, I would like to say that. 

The class and subclass selection are wide and varied, and for the most part have something that distinguishes them and offers a unique place for that class in the world. Their existence says something about the world of the game. The same cannot be said for nearly all of the character "races" provided.

The issue is, there are only three of them.

Humans, Lizardfolk, and the Kenku.

I have seen and heard arguments that Warforged should be added to this list, but I am honestly om the fence regarding that. I'm inclined to agree but haven't collected my thoughts on them enough to decide for sure.

The reason I keep airquoting "race" here is that I think "species" is a better term, so I will be using that from here forward. The term species has a stronger delineation between the choices. Put another way, there is no meaningful distinction between Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Genasi, Triton, Kalashtar and many others in the printed books. Yes, they have their various lore and innate abilities, different lifespans, but Dungeons and Dragons more or less stops there. Elves and dwarves in particular are so far detached from their fae cousins that once their expanded lifespans are accounted for, they boil down to Nature Humans and Mountain Humans. 

Contrast this with the Lizardfolk. They are described in such a way that makes it clear they lack any sort of human way of thinking. Empathy is alien to them, and a Lizardfolk only carry names given to them by members of other species for convinience. Consuming the dead is not an act of barabarity or cruelty, it is pragmatic and acts to ensure their own survival, which is ultimately their biggest goal. They do not adventure out of a sense of friendship towards party members, but the day to day survival of itself. Religious texts hold no importance aside from their utility as portable kindling, but they may decide to not deface a text since doing so means that several armed and armored individuals would try to kill them over it. There would be no hesitation in using the ashes of a disentegrated party member as camouflage should situation demand it. They are adaptive predators, ultimate utilitarians and sociopaths by human standards.

Kenku are a cursed species that had their creativity and flight stolen or removed from them, potentially forever. They possess no ability to form original thoughts or take creative actions, and as such became masters of mimicry. From the moment of their birth they begin memorizing everything around them. Not doing so would result in a certain death. Some people have trouble have issues coming to terms with this outside the game, suggesting that the Kenku removes all agency from the player because a Kenku PC is unable to adapt to situations. Perhaps if the Kenku is a fresh hatchling this would be true, but by the time they are of adventuring age, they have soent years observing others, learning skills, collecting phrases and slowly building a means to communicate. While unable to concieve of novel solutions and poorly reacting to novel sitautions, something they excel at is rote memorization. If situation X is happening, react in Y way. If X and W are happening, act Z way. Kenku are living computers, unable to act in a way they have not programmed themselves to react. 

Dungeons and Dragons has a problem with humans, and it is the fact so many of the character species choices could just be replaced by them.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Beyond the Veil Draft Pt. VI - Downtime and Camping

Downtime and Camping

Even the most well prepared group needs time to recuperate, sell plunder, train, and tend to their bodies, souls and equipment. Camping is a time-honored tradition, watches and all. Downtime takes place in settlements and cities, costing currency and serving to pass time more quickly in the relative safety they offer. This is true even in games where the bulk of adventure is urban; there should be places suitable to "camping" during such adventures, such as abandoned buildings or a cheap inn.

Most of the same activities can be taken up during Downtime or Camping, though there are some differences. Feel free to add to or edit these lists to suit the game as it unfolds.

Camping

The Camping Phase takes place when outside of civilized lands such as abandoned buildings, rocky overhangs, roadside inns or forest clearings. It is a dangerous affair, and a light in the darkness attracts attention both positive and negative. It also, thankfully, tends to scare off all manner of beasts. While camping, adventurers can take one of several actions from the following list, or from their Class, if relevant. Characters each take turns while camping, and a turn lasts 4 hours. No action may be taken twice by a single character while Camping unless otherwise noted.

  • Watch: What is Camping without someone keeping watch for approaching dangers? Watches dissuade most minor nuisances from approaching a travelling group... Usually. If your group is approached, anyone on Watch will notice signs that something is about to happen.
  • Repair: If a party member's Armor is only damaged, a character can spend time repairing a single piece of armor by tamping out dents, patching holes, et cetera and sacrificing an object made of similar material to the damaged armor. You do not have to repair your own Armor and this action may be taken multiple times.
  • Scout: The wilderness is dangerous, dungeons and ruins more so. You may take this action to gather information about a location nearby or the immediate area with a successful Aspect Check. Failure results in whatever inhabitants knowing they are being spied upon and react accordingly, if there are any in the area.
  • Cook: Soak the rations to remove the excess salt and make it palatable, or prepare fresh food if it is available from a hunting trip. If no character takes this action, you go the day without food. This action provides for the entire party so long as there is enough food. If there is not, choose which character goes without tonight.
  • Recovery: Your character may expend a Medical Supplies to reduce the severity of an injury by one step upon success. You may take this turn more than once per Camping Phase so long as the party has Medical Supplies.
  • Relaxation: The journey has been long and harrowing, your spirit is nearly broken. Indulge in a vice, send up a prayer or just write in a journal. Expend an appropriate resource for your Relaxation and become Spirited. If you are already Charmed or Scared, remove those conditions instead.


Downtime

In contract to Camping, the Downtime Phase happens in cities. While safer than the lands outside their walls, cities provide their own unique varieties of complication and danger. In addition to most of the options from Camping being available, there are a few unique options as well. Characters each take turns during Downtime, and a turn lasts 1 day. Don't forget to mark down cost-of-living expenses as well for each day in civilization.

  • Repair: Damaged and broken equipment can be taken to a craftsperson of the appropriate type and fixed for 1 Flake per point of Armor lost. Each point Repaired takes one day. Characters may take another action while having an item Repaired but there are only so many craftspeople in any given city and can only each work on one project at a time unless they have apprentices.
  • Recovery: Whether through medicines or mysticism, healers and doctors make good coin tending to the injured and infirm. Reduce Injured to Healthy for the cost of a Medical Supplies (1X) and one day of time. Reduce Critical to Injured for three-times the cost of Medical Supplies (1X) and one week of time. Characters may not take other actions while recovering from Critical status.
  • Shop: Spend the day looking for a particular object or item, though a given city won't necessarily have what you are looking for, aside from common or mundane items. Make an Aspect Check to determine your character's luck in finding anything peculiar you wish to spend their plunder on. 
  • Training: Spend one week and the appropriate amount of Currency to increase your character's level. Your character may take one year and spend 1 Plate to earn level 0 in a Class they have not taken, meet the qualification for, and can find an instructor to teach them. This may only be done once and the second class cannot advance past level 2.
  • Obligation: By Oath, by court order, or simply by circumstance, your character has some sort of obligation they have to fulfill. If this action is not taken by a character with an obligation during a downtime, they will suffer consequences as justified by the particular Obligation. This action may take a variable amount of time and is suitable for handing out quest hooks.
  • Gather Information: Everyone always has some sort of job they need done, and this is how your character finds out what those jobs are. Useful information is hard to come by, and the person doing the snooping must make an Aspect Check. Success means that a particularly lucrative opportunity has presented itself (such as a recently unearthed ruin) while failure indicates that the information gained may not be all that reliable (such as a recently unearthed ruin actually being occupied by Bandits). Every 10 Flakes spent when taking this action gives your character +1 Card.
  • Treatment: Unlike wounds, Sickness and Poison are more difficult to treat, and often far more debilitating. An appropriate Antidote (0X) must be secured for poisons, and treating a Sickness can be as simple as a few days bed rest or as complicated as needing specific reagents to create a tonic or balm for treatment. Viper Antidote is not suitable to treat a spider bite, so keep that in mind when running this downtime. May be suitable for quest hooks to save a fellow adventurer.

Next Up

Wow. It has been a while since the last one. I have moved in the time between posts, and things are finally settled down enough to where I feel comfortable taking the time to write. I think next for me will be writing a one (does it still count if it is front and back?) page dungeon for use in an introductory session. I have also been reading some interesting books and might share my thoughts on those.