Thursday, December 15, 2011

Damage table

After thinking of several different schemes for RPG health systems, I found most of them lacking. Specifically, they weren't brutal enough. I want my players to be actually worried at the chance of physical conflict, and have them prepare for it instead of just kicking the door down. So, the rules I chose favor the attacker and most fights are over in just one round. Don't worry, though, player characters still get those three magical 'fate points' (name pending) that allow them to basically deflect any one attack.

So, without further ado, here's the wound effect table in its most basic form:

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Rules for Psychic Powers

So, I've been revising and rewriting the ruleset yet again...
First of all, the players have 5 Skills, which are

Might - Toughness, strength, health..
Will - Mental strength & resistance, intimidation..
Agility - Dodge, acrobatics, speed..
Smarts - Lore, mechanical skill, medicine, persuasion..
Intuition - Awareness, empathy, searching..

I'm considering adding specializations that you could make a bumbling tech-whiz or a weak-willed pyrokine etc.

You distribute the following amounts of dice into these skills in any order you like: 3, 3, 2, 2, 1.
If you want a jack-of-all-trades, you can also put 2 into all the skills.

When you roll a skill, you roll all the dice and all that exceed the target difficulty count as success dice. Usually your target difficulty is your opponent's highest die value.

If you want to play a psychic, you can lose one die from a skill in order to get one psychic talent. These are things like pyrokineticism, psychometry, animal control (beastmasters!), etc.

Psychic powers are not tied to any one skill, though Will is the most common one used.

I have a new hitpoint-less damage system as well, which I will talk about next time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Beastmaster Pits

This idea came to me while watching an episode of Samurai Jack. It's basically a psychotic version of the druid.
The Beastmasters form packs of primitive scavenger scum who live in the outskirts of a city, usually in a garbage dump or a scrapyard. A Beastmaster pack is lead by from 1 - 3 alphas, one or more of whom is a shaman. These shamans have the ability to command all kinds of animals (and even some animalistic humans) and force the minds of an animal and a human to change places. A Beastmaster pack always has a cadre of beasts with them, ranging from carrion birds to vermin swarms and frenzied, degenerate dog-things.

The favorite entertainment/justice system with many Beastmaster packs is to exchange the minds of two humans with two dogs and then pit them against each other in their makeshift arena. Meanwhile, the human bodies with the dog spirits inside are kept in their cages. When one or both of the combatants die, their original body lives on, and the beastmasters use the resulting creatures as shock troops and disposable cannon fodder.

Usually the Beastmasters pit captured outsiders against their champions, as the dazed victim usually has little control of his new body. Some prominent alphas even manage to intimidate the shamans to give them a sort of immortality; moving their minds to new bodies as they begin to age. Though this is a risky business, as the alpha is easy to betray when mindswapped.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The New Death and Others - a review

Though I usually don't do reviews, I thought this was a nice chance to mix this blog up a bit.

So, The New Death. It's a collection of short stories and vignettes, 94 pages long.
It also contains a few poems, of which Under the Pyramids (based on the H.P. Lovecraft/Harry Houdini story) was my favourite. This poem, and other gems like The Face in the Hill, Rumpelstiltskin, The Jeweled City, The New Death are the best parts of the book, and I heartily recommend buying and reading the ebook for those stories alone.

However, even Under the Pyramids has a problem that pervades the whole book, however. The quality is very variable, which makes me think that Mr. Hutchings could use a good editor. As it is, there are some stories that seem to be there just for the sake of it. This, however, wouldn't bother me nearly as much if it weren't for the good ones. Especially in the case of the poems. It is extremely jarring to read excellent, flowing verse, only to come to a part that uncomfortably stumbles on the words. I think the book would be better off with careful cultivation and cutting of the worse material. Sometimes less is more.

Though the main cause of this problem is that the book's style is all over the place, which is not a bad thing in itself. I can easily see that some parts that didn't appeal to me would appeal to another. The bright side is that this allows almost anyone to find something they like.

The New Death and Others costs 99 American cents and can be bought at Amazon or Smashwords. I recommend reading the preview pages at Smashwords, though it doesn't have some of the best parts of the ebook. Overall, I'm glad I read this.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blackwater Magic

For centuries the witches of the Blackwater swamps have used and refined their own type of magic. As their magic is based on the lore of local plantlife and numerous pacts with the minor spirits of the brackish waters, they can be identified outside their domain by the vials and wineskins of murky water they carry around. They cannot perform their sorcery without this water.

The water has numerous magical properties when used by the witches.

When drunk, the water forces the drinker to fall into a deep, nightmare riddled sleep, where he is besieged by shadows of the spidery, tentacled water spirits of the Blackwater swamps. When the victim wakes up, (usually after 3d6 x 10 minutes, when he manages to escape the creatures, although high willpower will help here) he will be riddled with a vile stomach disease that causes him to vomit near-constantly, but is not lethal. The upside to drinking the water is that the victim is healed of all other poisons and diseases.

When applied to a wound by a witch, the liquid infects the wound and the mind of the victim, making mind affecting effects more useful.
When used on wood or other organic materials, the water causes them to rot and burst in a matter of seconds.

If offered a sacrifice of blood, ample quantities of the water can be used for greater effects, including summoning a spirit or healing wounds. The higher ranking witches are able to conjure the minor swamp gods themselves to aid in battle and divination. The water can also be used to raise the dead, though sufficient skill is needed so that the target does not become a mindless hungering undead.

The network troubles should now be over. I'll be updating more frequently from now on. Also, expect a review of the ebook The New Death and Others later this week.

Monday, October 10, 2011


[Sorry, no picture this time. I've been moving apartments and recovering from the said move during these past two weeks and we still don't have a passable internet connection x.X]

Chrono-Assassins are mysterious operatives that hail from the haunted deserts of the Southeast. Only few people even know about them and none have been known to hire their services. They only work for their almost monastic secret order, the Order of the Hourglass. Some say that the assassins work for Chronolords, powerful liches that have uncovered the secrets of the sands of time and now lurk in timeless dimensions, sending only their agents to work in the material plane.

The Chrono-assassins have control over time, due to the secrets taught to them during their meticulous training. First, they can see a few seconds to the feature with their singe mechanical golden eye, giving them a 50% chance to evade any attack they have the speed and mobility to evade. They are also never caught surprised, unless sleeping. Any given chrono-assassin wields one of two weapons; a gilded bronze khopesh or a silenced firearm, usually a rifle of exquisite detail. Each assassin that has the rifle also has 1d6 chronobullets. These bullets affect their target 1d6 rounds after being fired, usually allowing the assassin to shoot their target a couple of times and, if lucky, even leave the crime scene before the target is hit.

Some veteran (and with a chrono-assassin this might imply thousands of years of training) assassins have additional powers, including jumping in time 1d6 rounds into the future or even the past, effectively summoning a duplicate from the future to fight alongside himself. After 1d6 rounds, however, the original disappears as he travels back into the past. Any wounds done to the original also appear on the duplicate, including death.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Hangman's Mask

The Hangman's Mask is actually a noose. To create this noose one must first braid a rope out of the hair of hanging victims, preferably those who were innocent and framed. The noose must then be used to strangle their executioner during a crescent moon.

The enchanted noose can then be worn as a necklace, allowing its wearer to alter his appearance to those of the victims. Though the appearance can be changed at will, all changes after the very first one and any attempt to remove the noose will cause a strangulation roll:

The wearer rolls a d10, with a +1 modifier for every victim he has avenged (by killing the one who framed them, usually). If the result is 4 or less, the noose will attempt to strangle the wearer. While strangling, the noose will lessen its hold (though not coming off) only with the use of Remove Curse or Dispel Evil. Otherwise it loosens only when the wearer dies or the noose is destroyed (it's flammable and easy to cut.)

The noose will automatically try to strangle anyone who framed one of its victims.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Red Corps

The Red Corps a.ka. the Red Angels are a mercenary military company that first mobilized in the Weird Wars. The Corps is unique in that it's composed almost entirely of medics and usually only a few soldiers from the company are recruited per mission. The angels are easily identified by their crimson trenchcoats, blood-shot eyes and anemic look.

The Red Corps was founded by Major Rothmann, a medic and a magus who specialized in blood magic. He found that the ability to quench, control and purify blood was an invaluable ability on the front lines of the first Weird War. His superiors, however, condemned the nigh-demoniac blood-rites heretical and kicked him out of the military. Rothmann, just a captain then, decided to found his own mercenary company.

A Red Corps blood-mage can serve in battle by rapidly healing and causing wounds, neutralizing poison and inciting fear and rage in the enemy. They are quite useless against undead or mechanical forces however. And while peerless in the field of battle-surgery they can't raise the dead like their necromantic brethren in the Black Battalion.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Fractal Planes

During the last century, mathematicians have discovered fractals, mathematic formulae that create shapes with finite size but infinite detail. A simple equation, no longer than a line of text, can create a world within a world within a world. The tiniest outcropping becoming a massive mountain over a small scratch that becomes a continental canyon.

Some fractal cosmologists even believe that the nature of the planes, time or cosmos itself is fractal, with ourselves just too small and large to see the whole picture. They seem to be at least somewhat right, as some of them have created demiplanes and pocket dimensions with these new equations, the most horrific being the Maze, an infinite prison plane containing a maze within a maze within a maze...

The more sinister ones want to change the whole nature of reality by altering the grand equation they believe to be behind the workings of the multiverse, the formula that defines everything in the cosmos from the largest galaxies to the smallest atom.

These are basically 3D fractals, if you haven't seen them, you should check them out now!

I want to apologize for the irregularity of these posts lately. I've been busy with starting my education at the university, which has eaten a lot of my time. I've been working on FACTS in the meantime, though. I'm beginning to suspect it won't quite fit into a pocketmod format though :/

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Unorthodox Grimoires

The supernatural is always seething beneath the surface and many find that knowing the lore of these creatures is most useful for survival. Combined with the modern school systems and the ubiquity of the ability of practically anyone to read and write books, journals and articles, this thirst for knowledge has resulted in the creation of a wide variety of makeshift grimoires and unconventional guides to the supernatural.

Random Grimoire Table
Roll a d8
1 - Corrected Good Book This kind of grimoire usually takes the form of a worn and cheaply produced hotel bible (or a similar holy text). Strangely, the book has been "corrected" with many underlinings, added notes on the margins and blacked out or even missing pages.
2 - Research Notes This grimoire is composed of multiple articles and research journals that, while innocent individually, together seem to hint at some unspeakable horror. A version concerning demons might include articles on the anatomy of the brain, theological essays and notes on the research of multiple personality disorders.
3 - Diary/Journal This grimoire is actually the lifestory of one who has seen too much. Policemen, hunters, sewer workers and especially undertakers often see things in their lines of work that they do not dare to speak, but are compelled to put on paper. It usually has a much more practical view of the supernatural.
4 - KUBARK manual This grimoire differs from the others that it's a government-sanctioned secret guide to the supernatural employed by various secret agencies. These types of manuals are very useful for methods of containing and especially killing the creatures, but offer little insight to their nature.
5 - Scrapbook The opposite of the manual, this book is a collection of newspaper clippings and conspiracy theories, devised by some paranoid madman in his cellar. However, the theories often have a hint of truth at their heart, but usually even the most insane theories pale before the true nature of the subjects.
6 - Game guide This grimoire is disguised as a guidebook to a game, such as poker and chess. Upon closer inspection, the book seems weird and out-of-context, with its long descriptions of the White Knight or the Ace of Swords or its strange, cryptic sentence structure.
7 - Art piece Another disguised grimoire, this type is usually written in the form of a play, musical notes or poetry. Often the notes or the words themselves are somehow magical. These grimoires usually contain spells, due to the ease of hiding the secret chantings and melodies.
8 - Stories This type of grimoire is usually a book of fairytales, usually of the old mature type. The stories themselves seem altered; often lacking a moral lesson and describing creatures uncommon to the public with very specific detail.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune is a unique single-action revolver that belonged to the famed monster-hunter and gunslinger Johnny Claine. The Wheel is easily recognised by its striking blue colors with a silver finish and the 'X' carved on the handle.

Johnny was known for loading a different type of magic bullet into each chamber, so that a quick succession of shots would most likely hold the bane for the creature at hand. This quirk of the gun was amplified when Johnny lost the weapon and his soul in a game of Russian roulette.

The Wheel has an unopenable cylinder, and the weapon therefore cannot be loaded by traditional means. However, after depleting, the gun reloads by itself. The first bullet is always random and impossible to determine before firing. The others follow the first one always in the same order, according to this table:

Roll a d6 for the first bullet
1 - Witchbane: Anyone hit is unable to use magic.
2 - Silver: A werewolf or other shapeshifter hit cannot transform from its current form.
3 - Sacred: Demons and undead take damage until the bullet is removed. Turns water into holy water.
4 - Web: The target is enclosed in webs and cannot move.
5 - Rust: The wooden bullet pierces metal and armor and causes it to rust.
6 - Seeking: The bullet automatically hits its target or the nearest creature if targeted at no-one.

All effects last until the next sunrise. All the bullets except silver and rust are made of cold iron.

The Wheel of Fortune can be destroyed only by using it in a game of Russian roulette and winning. (Which since the gun is always full, would be quite difficult.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Moggorod, the Buried City, was once the greatest center of chymical knowledge and research in the known world. Now, however, it's a frozen ruin inhabited only by vengeful ghosts, coal-fueled iron-golems and desperate scavengers.

It's not known why exactly the Frozen Holocaust occurred, but the effects were clear; the city was covered in a layer ice and snow many meters deep overnight with all its inhabitants frozen to death, apparently instantly. The only "living" things left functioning were the numerous golems used for factory and security work.

Rational minds blame the incident on Ice-9, a chymical substance that theoretically could cause a chain reaction and turn all the water it came into contact with to ice. Others believe that the hubris of the city angered the gods. Yet others say that the force behind the Frozen Holocaust was an ancient frost elemental, disturbed by the heat of the city's forges and factories.

Those who are not afraid of the rumours or stupid enough to brave the city's dangers of cold winds, incorporeal undead and automated security measures for the riches and secrets hidden beneath the frozen city find either immortal glory or an early grave. There are those veteran scavengers, however, who are said to know the layout of the tunnels in the snow and the fuel-fetching schedules of their black iron guardians.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Demon summoning

Demons, though often confused with devils, are more primal and protean in nature. In their natural forms demons are immaterial spirits, manifesting themselves as electrical malfunctions, weird shadows, radio interference and so on. To create a true demon, one must perform a summoning.

To summon a demon, you need a receptacle for the spirit. This vessel can vary greatly, though corpses and special homunculi are the most common. There is only one variable that never changes from summoning to summoning: human blood. The blood gives the demon its intelligence and hunger for life, twisting the spirit to the raw animal needs of the body it didn't have before. During the summoning, the blood and the demon with it bond with the receptacle on a primal level, and if one is destroyed, the other follows.

To get the most powerful and useful demons, one needs to use lots of blood and a mostly human corpse. The corpse is usually spliced together using animal and human parts appropriate for the task. The most common formulae for this splicing include a bat/monkey for messenger imps and familiars, a goat/human for a dark satyr and many many others from minotaur warriors to octopus-headed psychics. During the summoning, the demons power twists the corpse to its proper proportions, turning the flesh soot black and the eyes milk white.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pirates of the East Indies: Map

(Click on the picture to enlarge)
This is a map I prepared for our Pirates of the East Indies FATE mash-up game next Saturday. I've been a bit busy with it whole week, so the Dark Angels playtest will has been put on hold for the time being. The map descriptions are based on wikipedia, though embellished somewhat for a more fantasy feel at places. The names of the islands and the rulers are what they were in 1625, though most of the kingdoms have been simplified to one island.

Map Locations:

A. Ceylon: Factions: Portugal, Buddhism. Cities: Colombo (west).
Important trade-harbor with the Indian Ocean. Also the center of Portuguese power in the East Indies, fighting Buddhist majority rebels. Known as India's teardrop, Pearl of the Indian ocean.

B. Siam: Factions: Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Cities: Ayuthhaya (east)
Feudal kingdom. King Naresuan secured his throne after an elephant-duel with the Burmese king. Now 70, he seems unnaturally young, ruling the Bay of Thailand with his undying army.

C. Patani: Factions: Sultanate of Patani. Cities: Patani (east).
Ruled by Ratu Ungu, “The Purple Queen”. Economically and militarily powerful muslims.
Tributary of Siam. Matriarchal society.

D. Sumatra: Factions: Portugal, Islam. Cities: Aceh (north), Malacca (south)
Ruled by Sultan Alauddin Shah. Extremist lightbringer-scientists in the darkness of southeastern Asia. At war with the Portuguese invaders of south Sumatra.

E. Java: Factions: Dutch. Cities: Banten (north)
Dutch-controlled monarchy. Rulers are considered descendants of the gods themselves. Greatest warriors in the East Indies, but prone to in-fighting.

F. Borneo: Factions: Brunei Sultanate, Spain. Cities: Brunei (north)
Declining empire of the late Sultan Hassan. Internal conflicts about succession. Some remaining Spaniards who were not taken by the disease released from Brunei during the war with the Spanish Philippines.

G. Celebes: Factions: Dutch, British. Cities: Makassar (south)
Makassar is the center of trade in Indonesia. Fortified walls built in to the sea prevent invasion by ships. Gold mines, British factory in Makassar.

H. Philippine Islands: Factions: Spain. Cities: Manila (north-west)
Roman Catholic Christian. The western part of the Vice-royalty of New Spain a.k.a the Spanish East Indies. A trade ship comes twice a year from America, trading slaves, silk, silver and gold. Governed by the Governor-General Fernándo de Silva.

I. The Spice Islands: Factions: Spain, Dutch. Cities: No large cities.
Fighting over the islands by Spain (north) and Dutch (south). The biggest producer of spices and fish. Small islands with no central government.

J. Terra Australis Incognita: Factions: Aboriginals. Cities: None.
Has only been landed on a couple of times by the Dutch. No permanent settlements have been built by the invaders. Dry and flat and mysterious.

K. New Guinea: Factions: (formally) Spain
The world's second largest island, claimed by a Spanish explorer in 1606. No settlements by Europeans. Irrigation and farming centuries ahead of Europe. Dense populations and high rainfall. Headhunting is popular. Volcanic geology; mountains and earthquakes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rewrites & Dark Angels (Rogues Gallery II)

So I'm rewriting the game again. Most of it's just refactoring and clarifying the old text and the ideas behind it, but there are also some more significant changes. Most importantly, I'm adapting a conflict resolution system similar to Bringing Down the Pain from The Shadow of Yesterday. I've also thought about what each Skill actually means, in the process getting rid of separate tracks for Willpower and Stamina (or more accurately, making the tracks conflict specific.) A lot of overt and covert changes means that this second edition will probably be almost unrecognisable. I've taken the game offline till I'm done with the revisions.

Meanwhile, I'm going to test these changes by playing a solo game, inspired of course by the Risus Monkey's play reports, though I'll be using an extremely simplified version of the Mythic GME, with every yes/no question being a dice roll and maybe a specific random action table for each character. And probably some other random generation tables or something, we'll see.

Anyway, here's the first character in our dynamic trio (of course, the character is viable to change if I make more changes):

The Inquisitor

Jonathan Caine
[ ] Fighting: Revolver
[-] Agility: Shadowing
[+] Charisma: Interrogation
[ ] Toughness: Determined
[+] Smarts: Reading people
Hero points: 2
Dark Powers: Cinder Gaze: Can see the violence and suffering that has occurred in his surroundings in the past. Telltale: Glowing eyes.
Flaws: Can never turn his powers off. Compelled to punish the wicked.
Backstory: Jonathan Caine is the leader of the Dark Angels, a band of vigilantes whose souls are condemned for their meddling with infernal forces. Jonathan used to be a private investigator, but after unwittingly making a deal with a devil along with the other Angels, was "gifted" with the ability to see the residues of past violence. He is the most sociable of the group, though this is hampered by the his eyes glowing, which is very noticeable in the dark or in places with bad history.

Note: the new Skills just mean that for a [-] you roll two dice and take the worst one and for a [+] you take the best of two. A [ ] is just a single die. I found that rolling 3 dice was causing some discrepancies as well as making it hard to evaluate probabilities. Any similarity to FUDGE dice is coincidental :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Random Adventure Location Table

Here's a slightly anachronistic random location table for 20th century urban adventure:

Roll a d100
01-02: Graveyard
03-04: Fortress
05-06: Library
07-08: Cathedral
09-10: Dungeon
11-12: Warehouse
13-14: Tower
15-16: Apartment
17-18: Airship
19-20: Asylum
21-22: Hospital
23-24: Mortuary
25-26: Ship
27-28: Park
29-30: Casino
31-32: Bar
33-34: Motel
35-36: Vault
37-38: Mansion
39-40: Mausoleum
41-42: Cave
43-44: Docks
45-46: Train Station
47-48: Train
49-50: Restaurant
51-52: Slums
53-54: Sewers
55-56: Carnival
57-58: University
59-60: Prison
61-62: Garden
63-64: Apothecary
65-66: Opium den
67-68: Factory
69-70: Mine
71-72: Laboratory
73-74: Ruins
75-76: Bridge
77-78: Island
79-80: Theater
81-82: Alley
83-84: City Square
85-86: Hideout
87-88: Observatory
89-90: Brothel
91-92: Zoo
93-94: Shop
95-96: Bazaar
97-98: Tunnel
99-00: Undercity

Note that these are pretty broad. The locations should be customized according to the faction that lives there. For example, a Mechanist clocktower is different from the city guard's watchtower. By comparison, it might not be Opium but dreams that are consumed in the den. And a Zoo is just a collection of animals (for whatever purpose.)

For extra madness, roll twice for the same location.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Glyphs are powerful symbols that some scholars (particularly the collectors known as glyph scribes) believe are a remnant of the long lost First Language or the language of the Gods. Each glyph is a geometric form much like a word, and like our words consist of letters, glyphs consist of curves and lines, angles and points.

A glyph has the power to shape reality. Just scribbling a glyph on a surface is not enough to unlock its power, but a process known as binding is required. This often takes the form of a ritual where the glyph is usually branded or carved into the target object or creature. The rite of binding always requires the glyph to be drawn with human blood. This ritual is taxing on the binder, draining the binder's energy and willpower, and most glyph scribes only bind about one glyph per month, and never perform the act of binding lightly.

Glyphs are hard to translate, and often contain convoluted and alien ideas and themes. They seem to have a limited sentience, increasing with the power of the glyph. People who have taken multiple or particularly powerful glyphs as tattoos or brands always seem to inevitably have their personalities corrupted by the glyphs' will. Doubly troubling is the fact that glyphs seem almost impossible to remove, once bound.

In game terms, each Glyph is a Dark Power. Furthermore, no glyph is simple or without side-effects. For example, one of the most popular glyphs of fire is the Glyph of Burning Wrath (aka "an all-consuming flame of undying hatred"), which tends to bring the ones marked by it back from the dead as Ember Wraiths; soot black corpses with an unquenchable rage towards the living.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Zombies are an rpg staple. Here's the Hunters' version.
I'm still experimenting with stat-block formatting so bear with me here.

Fighting 1d6
Agility 2d6
Charisma 0d6
Toughness 3d6
Smarts 1d6

Willpower 0

Edges: Grappler (+1 to attacks made while grappling), Surprise attack (+1 to avoid notice when approaching target), Undead (+1 when resisting disease, poison, etc.), Life sense (+1 to determine if there are living things nearby)

Special: Zombies have no Charisma at all. Zombies don't have Willpower and are immune to social attacks and succumb automatically to applicable mental attacks. Zombies do not sleep and never tire. Zombies only die from hits to the head or spine.

All Fighting roll Criticals made against a zombie automatically kill it, even if not used to cause Damage.

Infectious bite: Any living creature that is bitten by a zombie (meaning its attack's Effect is at least 1), takes a Diseased Condition equal to the attack's Effect. They also must immediately roll Toughness against the disease. They must thereafter do it at the beginning of every scene. If they fail, they die and are turned into a zombie in d6 turns (not rounds).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Magpie Grenades

The Magpie Grenade is a hybrid stun- and incendiary hand grenade employed in the Vampire Wars of 1980 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Its name is a slang version of the official abbreviation "MgP", referring to the grenade's two main payloads; magnesium oxide (for the flash) and white phosphorus (for the flame).

The Magpie proved useful in the fight against vampires as the flash stunned the nocturnal creatures not used to bright light and the fire caused damage that was harder to regenerate, in addition to providing a more permanent light source so the hunters could finish off the blinded and burning beast.

Lately the grenades have seen new use in the tombs of Egypt and the Middle East as the mummies there have proven very flammable, and unlike a normal grenade, a Magpie causes little damage to the metal and stone furnishings of a tomb. Though some obsessed scholars still refuse to employ them on their excavations in fear of destroying precious scrolls.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Horde Rules

This week I add some Horde rules to Hunters.
First of all, Hordes consist of Minions. Minions are basically just nameless NPCs that have Stamina and Willpower of 1 (i.e. it takes 1 damage to 'kill' them). They have Skills and Edges like normal characters.

When there are more than 5 Minions of the same type in the same place, they form a Horde. A Horde is a special type of 'character'. It has the same Skills and Edges as the base Minion and two actions per turn as normal. Additionally, it has one other stat: Numbers. Numbers is the amount of Minions in the Horde.

When a Horde attacks, it rolls its Skill normally, adding any appropriate Edges as normal. Then, however, it adds its Numbers to the Roll. After which the Horde may divide the Effect between targets as normal.

If a Horde is attacked, it defends like any other character. However, the Effect of the attack is the number of Horde members defeated. For example, say a knight attacks a Horde of cultists. His attack Roll is 6 and the Horde's defense Roll is 4. The knight's Effect is 2 and so he kills/incapacitates 2 cultists (the Horde's Numbers going down by 2.) If a Horde's Numbers go below 6 they disband to Minions.

The same attack rules govern all types of attacks, including attacks to charm, intimidate, mesmerise or dominate the Minions to switch sides or stop fighting. In these cases, however, the defeated Minions separate from the Horde and (when there are enough) create a new Horde that then does whatever it is that the attacker wanted to achieve.

A Leader can use her leadership skills and defend the horde against an attack as well. In this case, combine the Effects of their defenses.

Of course, a Horde may be given Conditions as normal, provided that they are powerful enough to cover the whole Horde. It's hard to Blind a Horde of 20 pikemen with a handful of sand.

If you want different types of Hordes, just adjust the stats of the base Minion. A Horde of plague rats is very different from a Horde of rock band groupies.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rogues Gallery I

Here are some sample characters converted for Hunters, with Skills listed as FACTS (for Fighting, Agility, Charisma, Toughness and Smarts), with the free edges at character creation written after them.

Dr. Wyrdstein

1 F - Sword-cane (+1 in melee combat)
2 A - Flee (+1 when escaping something)
2 C - Rational Explanation (+1 when healing Willpower damage)
3 T - Materialist (+1 when resisting the effects of the supernatural)
3 S - Know-it-all (+1 when testing for knowledge)
Stamina 10
Willpower 19


2 F - Improvised Weaponry (+1 when using non-weapons)
3 A - Burglar (+1 when breaking & entering)
3 C - Liar (+1 when lying)
1 T - Trap Sense (+1 to resist traps)
2 S - Search (+1 to search places)
Stamina 12
Willpower 11

Holt Teufelfeuer

3 F - Crossbow (+1 in ranged)
2 A - Dodge (+1 to evade melee)
1 C - Zealot (+1 on social attacks)
3 T - Iron Will (+1 to resist mental control)
2 S - Vampire Hunter (+1 to vampire spotting and lore)
Stamina 15
Willpower 14

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Toughness revamping & Dark Powers

It hasn't even been a month after uploading Hunters and I'm already rewriting it. D'oh.
The Skills as I picture them (have to get around to actually writing down what each one actually does) are pretty unbalanced right now. Charisma is way more "powerful" than Toughness. As much as I like bards and other charismatic scoundrels, this has to go.

The new method of calculating Willpower & Stamina goes thus: both start at 10. You have a pool of 3 points per dice in Toughness that you can divide between them. For example, had I two dice in Toughness, I could have a Stamina of 12 and a Willpower of 14.

Toughness now represents all kinds of fortitude and endurance, but the player can still decide whether he wants his Hunter to be tough mentally or physically.

Along with the rules for Dark Powers, I'll probably update the PocketMod version when I have part II and III ready.

Dark Powers
A Hunter can exchange his humanity in return for supernatural power. The Hunter loses 1 Hero point and gains a die in a new Skill, called Darkness. Additional die increases are cumulative, to a maximum of 3; a Hunter has only 3 Hero points to trade.

Each die of Darkness grants a Hunter a Dark Power. The range of these powers are at the GM's discretion, but can vary from Animating Dead to Prophecy, from Telekinetics to Vampirism, etc. For each die of Darkness a Hunter also gains a permanent Condition, such as Weak To Silver, Ugly As Hell, Mad With Power and so on.

The Darkness Skill is used to measure the power of all the Hunter's supernatural powers. It, however, does not facilitate the control of these powers.

Hunters who don't have any Darkness have an extra Hero point as a divine reward for their purity. In addition items that are considered 'holy' don't cause them harm.

Presenting such an item to a creature of darkness, a Hunter can use the beast's own Darkness Skill in the attacking roll, with the number of holy items and circumstances considered as Edges (providing a +1) for the Roll. The creature resists this with it's Toughness. If used to cause Damage, divide the Effect between Willpower and Stamina (at least 1 to both.)

I like these mechanics as they make a Hunter that dabbles with Darkness more likely to be left in trouble as they try to control their munchkiny powers with lesser Hero points to save them. >:)
As always I've tried to keep the rules flexible so they can be used to create a variety of characters. My next post will probably showcase some of these.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Devil's Fiddle

The Devil's Fiddle is a violin with a notorious past. A Stradivarius made in 1699, just before the "golden period" of Stradivari, the Fiddle is rumoured to be the physical manifestation of the contract the fiddlemaker made with the Devil. The Devil's Fiddle is easily differentiated from the other Stradivari by its unusual black surface and the disturbing vibrations the strings create when touched.

The Devil's Fiddle has traveled around the world through the centuries. It never seems to stay in place for long, often auctioned away after its previous owner's gruesome death or mysterious disappearance. The Fiddle has seen many users such as the unknown master Erich Zann and Camille Saint-Saëns, who is said to have come up with the melody of Danse Macabre after an all-nighter of feverish playing on Samhain.

In addition to its dark inspiration, the violin is said to have strange effects when certain notes are played. Some notes are said to have an averse effects on creatures of the night and some are said to cause nearby religious symbols to shatter. Some of them are claimed to bring prophetic nightmares and visions when played near a sleeping victim.

Further it is whispered that should one play the Danse Macabre alone at night in a tomb, the dead buried there would wake and animate for as long as the player could keep playing. What the dead would do after such a wakening is unknown.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hunters, Part I: The Hunter's Handbook

These past few weeks I've been working on a PocketMod-sized RPG in the vein of Weird West and Rogue Space RPGs. Using this format has allowed me to finalize a design that I've spent months trying to wrap up. The limit of 6 pages of text really helped me concentrate on the material at hand.

My goal was to make a relatively flexible game, somewhere between FATE and Risus in complexity. I tried to keep the Conditions and Effects very universal, so that they can represent a variety of things.

You can get the PDF from the link on the left. This is the printer friendly and free version.

I'll probably make something like the Risus Companion to clarify the system, give GM advice, present some optional rules etc. I don't know if this would be best as a straigth up PDF or a PocketMod version. We'll see. I might also make supplements (in PocketMod form, of course.)

I also have a less printer-friendly version that looks more like an arcane book, and I plan to release that commercially (at a low price) together with the Companion or whatever it's going to be called sometime next month.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gift of Pyrokinesis

Pyrokinetics are humans who have the ability to control fire with their minds. These individuals are often the offspring of powerful psionics, though some seem to exhibit the talent spontaneously while others receive it as a gift from their dark masters. Most born pyrokinetics are spontaneous and quick to anger. Whatever the source, each individual pyrokinetic has his own methods and problems with handling fire.

Roll a D6
1 - Nightmares. You sometimes subconsciously trigger your ability while asleep. The chance of you manifesting your pyrokinesis while dreaming ranges from 1 to 5 in six, depending on your nightmares.
2 - Manipulator You can only manipulate fire, not create it. You need a flame or sufficient heat to create one to use your pyrokinesis.
3 - Vulnerable Your can't shield yourself from fire. You and items in your possession are not protected from flames.
4 - Destroyer You can only bolster a fire, not cool it down. Likewise, you can only spread fire, not move it from one place to another.
5 - Bad Temper You subconsciously activate your ability when angry. The angrier you get, the harder it becomes to control your powers.
6 - Pyromaniac You become a slave to your gift. You treat fire as if it was your god, worshipping and sacrificing for it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Technology Level Table

This is one of the tables used for outpost creation I created for a Lovecraftian/Dark Technology setting, where sorcery and science were inseperable. It takes a different view from most tech level tables I've seen, focusing more on the philosophy and approach to science than the actual level of technology as mirrored from our world.

I'd map our western world like this: Dark Age -> Classical -> Dark Age -> Alchemy -> Weird Science -> Industrialism -> Weird Science -> Cybernetics

These levels can of course be mixed. Cybernetics usually includes a bit of Industrialism, for example.

Note that these write-ups assume sorcery to be a subset of technology.

Roll a d6
1 - Dark Age
2 - Classical
3 - Alchemy
4 - Industrialism
5 - Weird Science
6 - Cybernetics

Dark Age
People don't understand technology and think of it as witchcraft. Cults and sorcerers abound. Metal items are rare and often the relics of past times, though basic copper items can be forged.
Science is debased by religion.

People can manually work technology, like working bronze and creating clockwork mechanisms. Basic mechanics are understood and reason and logic are the driving forces of culture.
Science is an art form.

People are kept in the dark. The mysteries of technology are hidden behind symbolism, allegory and mysticism. The practice of science is mixed with philosophy. Complex and baroque formulas and equations are treated as the key to the transcendence from humanity.
Science is occultism.

People have access to steel and gunpowder, making rifles and revolvers the weapons of choice. Factories exist, and mass-production makes technology cheap and ubiquitous.
Science is a tool.

Weird Science
Most people don't understand the principles of the advanced sciences that fuel their technology. Radical theories are proved and disproved daily. Atomic and electronic appliances are used.
Science is an academical frontier.

People are infused with technology. Production on the nanoscale and the creation of bionic implants allow persons to change themselves radically. The creation of artificial intelligence and gene modification cause ethical problems.
Science is everywhere.

Super Science
People bend the rules of reality on a regular basis. Feats such as immortality, teleportation and time travel are part of everyday life. Genesis-machines and their creation of worlds are the pinnacle of technology. This is the tech-level of the Old Ones in their prime, and can never be mastered by simple humans.
Science is divinity.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reskinning the Elf: The Ghoulkin

While looking at the elf from D&D 3.5E and reading this post from the Sorcerer's Skull I got to thinking of another interpretation of the elf racial traits: the ghoulkin. I'm amazed by how the stats need no change for this to work apart from the small change of favored class to rogue and some languages. The elf racial traits out of context really suggest to me some unsocial tomb-dwelling wretch what with the immunity to a ghoul's paralyzing touch, the constitution penalty and the other traits befitting a paranoid, hard-to-charm, sleepless scavenger.

The ghoulkin are graveyard dwelling long-lived humanoids with close ancestry to both ghouls and humans. Ghoulkin value their privacy and traditions, and while they are often slow to make friends, at both the personal and communal levels, once an outsider is accepted as a comrade, such alliances can last for generations. The ghoulkin favor black humor and are generally obsessed with morose 'art', be it cooking, tale-telling or physical crafts. Ghoulkin are excellent tomb-robbers and often cross swords with the undead guardians of the crypts.

The ghoulkin are lanky and sickly, their skin usually corpse-gray. They have pointy ears and their eye-color ranges from the human range to gray and red. They are paranoid and usually chaotic evil. Ghoulkin favor light weapons to backstab their enemies or bows so they can attack from hiding.

Ghoulkin Racial Traits
+2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution
The ghoulkin are agile, but their unhygienic lifestyle wreaks havoc on their health.
Ghoulkin are man-sized and have a base speed of 30.
Low-Light Vision
Ghoulkin can see twice as far as humans in dim lighting.
Ghoulkin immunities
Due to their inherent insomnia and paranoia, ghoulkin are immune to magic sleep effects and +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells and effects.
Ghoulkin are also immune to a ghoul's paralyzing touch.
+2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks. A ghoulkin who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if she were actively looking for it.
Weapon proficiency
Ghoulkin receive the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats for the longsword, rapier, longbow (including composite longbow), and shortbow (including composite shortbow) as bonus feats.
Automatic Languages: Common and Ghoul. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, and Underdark.
Favored class Rogue

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Statue Spawn

A statue spawn is an alien lifeform that in nature creates a shell for itself from rock. It is so named due to the tendency of sorcerers to infect the inside of a statue with the thing, allowing it to burrow and grow inside it. A spawn is amorphous and can be divided into several smaller spawn that eventually grow into additional spawn.

The spawn can be tamed by the use of chemicals so that they recognize their masters by their smell. The sorcerer usually carries two flasks of liquid, one of which is a blue one that makes the spawn complacent, allowing them to hide almost indefinitely, immobile in the statue. This chemical can also calm them down after they have frenzied.

When exposed to air around spawn, the liquid in the red flask cause them to enrage, followed with their statue shells cracking to allow movement, after which they attack anything in the area until everything is dead or they smell the green chemical again.

The spawn are usually moved to a different statue after they have once enraged, due to the obvious cracks and holes it creates in their shells, revealing the glowing purple spawn inside and ruining the element of surprise. In addition, oxygen is slightly toxic to the creatures and if not within a mostly airtight shell, the spawn dies out in 1 - 10 days depending on the size of the cracks.

Unlike normal animated statues, the spawn don't really use the limbs of their stone shells as nature intended and therefore are sometimes concealed in unconventional forms (such as pillars, orbs, or walls) that might fool someone looking for more obvious guardians.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gambler's Folly

Gambler's Folly or Last Chance is a dice game designed played sometimes played on the frontier as a last chance to get out of debt. Mostly it results in the debtor plummeting deeper and deeper in debt.

Gambler's Folly is usually played only with the desperate or addicted gamblers due to the "unfair" probabilities involved. Especially so when considering the fact that the creditor decides when the game stops.

The Rules:
The player of Gambler's Folly rolls two regular six-sided dice.
He wins and halves his debt if he rolls a six on any die.
He also wins if he rolls doubles.
If he rolls double sixes his debt is paid in full.
If he loses, his debt doubles.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Occultus, the Mad Star

"In the star-possessèd night
The land knows another light—
All the small and evil rays
Of the sorcerous orbs ablaze
With ecstatical intense
Hate and still malevolence—
Dwelling on the fields below
From the ascendancy of even
Till the suns, re-entering heaven,
Glorify with triple glow
The dim flowers smitten low."
The Land of Evil Stars - Clark Ashton Smith

The Mad Star Occultus bathes the world in revealing purple light when on the sky. The god of science and insight, Occultus is said to resemble an unblinking eye, endlessly watching and analyzing the world.

As such, Occultus is the source of the sorcery known as Divination. It is said that no secret is safe from him and none bar the shadowy star Noctis herself can hide from him. Sorcerers and cultists of Occultus are often those who covet knowledge, secrets and the power they bring. Those most likely to turn to Occultus are intelligent or insane individuals such as scientists (astronomers in particular), librarians, investigators, explorers and the paranoid.

Forbidden lore states that Occultus wasn't always insane, but was driven to it after eons of solitary enlightenment. Some say, however, that Occultus lost his mind divining the course of the already insane world. Whatever the case, the sorcerers of the Mad Star tend to also become more and more insane with each elevating revelation.

Though once the god of reason and logic, the Occultus is an insane star. Its path through the heavens is incredibly convoluted to the degree of appearing completely random. Because of its complex orbit, the only requiremnt high sorcerers of the cult of Occultus are those who can divine the star's movements. It is their insane insight that allows them to peer through the veils of reality that more rational beings could scarcely even imagine to exist.

Random blessings from Occultus (roll 1d6):
1 - Unblinking Eyes: You never close your eyes. You also cannot sleep, so you're very hard to sneak upon.
2 - Unnatural Memory: You remember everything you've seen or heard with unnerving accuracy.
3 - Insane Insight: You can roll Smarts to come up with unintuitive, seemingly insane solutions to difficult situations.
4 - Horrible Visions: You see terrifying visions of past, future or current events. These can manifest as nightmares if you are capable of sleep.
5 - Infovore: You can read and understand, but not write or speak, any language or code.
6 - Precognition: You can roll Smarts instead of Speed to evade or dodge attacks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Messengers

The Messengers, or, the Angelicus, are an intergalactic race of parasites. Their bodies are composed of some sort of sentient energy, fueled by the electromagnetic flame in the middle of their bodies. From this core also extends what is roughly analogous to organic limbs. These are their tails, feelers, and skeletal wings that appear as arcs of gas-covered electricity.

It is through these electric appendages that the Messengers control their victims, sending electric signals to their nerves to control their actions. They usually occupy vertebrae by nesting in their brains, coiling their tail in the spinal cord and occasionally extending their feelers through the eyes.

The Messengers are extremely dangerous, as they can emit a wide spectrum of electromagnetic radiation from their eyes, including gamma-, infrared- and ultraviolet radiation, capable of killing most organic material in mere seconds and melting even the most resilient of metals. They can also emit any color of visible light. Messengers can be detected by their small background emissions that deter radiocommunications and radar.

It is theorized that radiation is in fact the Messengers' primary form of communication. This constant telepathy allows them to act as a unified force, where singular Messengers often act like extensions of a hive mind.

It is rumoured that the Messengers' ship, a research vessel referred to as the Lightbrindger, crashlanded somewhere in the east, hidden under a temple built by sorcerers who made a pact with the things. Since their landing, hidden cults have continued to rise that wish to either control or contain the radiant creatures, the most prominent since the Sorcerer Kings being The Order of the Flaming Angel.

The Messengers die or dissipate if submerged in water or other conductive liquid. They can be contained only by applying a constant stream of electricity when occupying a victim, so that they cannot maintain form long enough to create coherent radiation.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beetle Mole Syndrome

The Beetle Mole Syndrome (also known as scarabaesis) is a horrible but fortunately rare disease that sometimes pops up in the eastern deserts. The victim is slowly but surely covered in black, mole-like tumors. These tumors usually appear overnight one at a time, and can continue to multiply for three to seven days before hatching.

The surface of the moles is composed of chitin-like substance and can break if scratched, releasing a spray of puss and leaving a circular scar on the skin. However, if left undisturbed, the moles disappear after a time, leaving only physical and emotional scarring.

The victims usually also suffer from hallucinations, claiming that they see and hear the moles sometimes flap their wings when they're alone.

First Post

So I've decided to start a new blog to share my ideas and thoughts about roleplaying games. The subjects I'll touch will most likely include the horror, fantasy and sci-fi genres with others like pulp and gothic mixed in. We'll see how it goes!