vrijdag 28 juni 2019

Solitaire Microscope - The rise of Man

This is a solitaire game of Microscope, where I use simulated players to inform the rough direction each turn is gonna go, but the actual contents are sparked by the Tangent Zero dice: http://tangent-zero.com/zero_dice/zero_dice.htm

The Simulated Players
Anthony [A], interested in exploring new lands and regions, creating covenants between different factions and building kingdoms from warring tribes. His interest lies mostly in politics, and he will work towards unique systems of governance. He often dissolves conflicts.

Brian [B], interested in the creation of unique creatures, cultures and places. He is interested in dragon biology, orc culture and the waterfalls made from mother nature's tears. His interest lies mostly in the unique and exotic, and he will work towards adding things to otherwise mundane things. He will often add things to other people's work to make it more bizzare or exotic.

Claire [C], interested in epic conflicts and confrontations. She is interested in the betrayal of the elves by the necromancer, the war of the hammers and the confrontation between the mad archwizard and his sorrowful apprentices. Her interested lies mostly in the dramatic, and she will work towards breaking a status quo for the sake of drama. She will often add shadowy plots, wars and other such things.

The Seed
Primitives leave their caves and found the first cities.

Palette

Add
  • Fast travel by flight. Huge birds, flying carpets or something left up to the game. [A]
  • Magic items, including weaponry. Things that spark with force and cause havoc. [B]
  • Animist deities, a balance between the gods and nature with the lines blurred. [C]
  • Monsters, magical creatures that are hostile to humanity. [B]
  • People being turned into monsters through curses and the like e.g. vampirism [C]

Bann
  • High-tech gadgets, those should just be magical in nature. [A]
  • Potions and other forms of alchemy [A]
  • The undead, all terrors in this world come from the living or the divine [B]
  • Spiritual powers, or gifts from the gods. The gods in this world are uninterested at best, outright hostile most of the time. [C]



Meta

First Lens: Anthony
  • The focus: the tribes of Lem
  • Legacy: The Milorn-Lem war

Review: this is a world of monsters, where magic forms an integral part of culture, politics and people's worldview. Magic is shamanistic in nature.

Second Lens: Brian
  • The focus: monstrous plants / the flora of the world
  • Legacy: The leviathan Sydah

Review: this world has plants who are almost sentient and can move on their own accord, some people can command plants, and there are even the Ledurai who have become partially plant-like themselves. Plants are strongly tied to magic.

Third Lens: Claire
  • The focus: The Milorni Empire
  • Legacy: The experimentations performed on the Naderi.

Review: the Milorni are beast-men made this way through experimentation. They tried to capture Sydah for their own (nefarious?) purposes, but this plan backfired on them. Instead of accepting their own failures, they blamed the Lem and sought to exterminate the jungle-people. The leviathan Sydah has lesser monsters in its service, who seem to be intelligent and also know magic.

Fourth Lens: Anthony
  • The focus: The great beasts of the world
  • Legacy: The destruction of Pevet.

Review: The Milorni instigated great hunts against the great beasts for the sole purpose of imperial dominance. However, when they can ally themselves with one such beast they prefer that course of action. Their hunt for the beasts has had grave consequences for both the Milorn as well as their neighbouring realms. The beasts themselves are dangerous even in death. Likewise, they are the first teachers of magic in the realms.

Fifth Lens: Brian
  • The focus: the descendants of the Naderi
  • Legacy: The tribe of the wyvern

Review: There were more tribes than previously mentioned, chief among them the Tandir who founded Pevet. Moon-magic is highly ritualistic and requires someone to take on the façade of the moon. The Netan Isles, once home to humanity, fell to violence and the experimentation of dark forces.

Sixth Lens: Claire
  • The focus: The city of Jali
  • Legacy: The enslavement of Sydah by the Elders

Review: The city of Jali was ruled by a council of magically-gifted Elders who protected the city with their sorcery and enslaved the leviathan Sydah. Somehow, the protection of the Elders failed and the city was finally conquered by the Milorni.

The History

(Start) The rise of Man (L). The deity Kiaras creates the first Men: the Naderi. They spend their days hunting across the Netan Isles. Life is not easy, but there is enough for everyone and people live well.


Period The discovery of magic (L) [A]
  • Event The bat-goddess Iduk teaches the Nader Ler the first magic: the sorcery of the moon. (L) [A]
    • Scene How does moon magic work? [B]Answer: The user must bask in moonlight and don the façade of a creature associated with the moon, whether that is the moth, the bat or the serpent. However, overdose of moonlight for the sake of magic can cause damage like bleeding from the eyes.


Period The Naderi Secession (D) [A]
  • Event The shaman Lem leads several clans to the Sanove Peninsula where they become known as the tribes of Lem (L) [A]
    • Scene Why was the tribe of the wyvern banished from the Peninsula by Lem? (D) [C] Answer: They were cruel and sought to overthrow Lem and use the gift of magic against others for their own gain.
  • Event Some head to the large island of Ledura, where they grow symbiotic with the local plantlife and become the Ledurai, alien plant-people in tune with nature magic. (L) [B]
  • Event Travelling only by moonlight, the city of Milorn was founded by wolf-headed people. (L) [C]
    • Scene: Why did the Milorni leave the Netan Isles? (D) [C]Answer: They were the target of hideous experimentations there and had to leave for their own safety – hence the wolf-heads.
  • Event The Tandir followed the turtle-island Rako to the mainland where they founded the city of Pevet by the light of the moon. (L) [B]
    • Scene: Why did they follow Rako to the mainland? (L) [B]Answer: They were fleeing the violence that had become the norm on the Netan Isles, for the remaining tribes all waged war upon one-another. The turtle promised peace.


Period The supremacy of Jali (D) [C]
  • Event The Elders of Jali magically enslave the great beast Sydah to protect their city from roving tribes of raiders. (D) [C]


Period The founding of the Milorn Empire (L) [B]
  • Event The general Arhorn invites the tribal leaders of Milorn for a gathering, and has them executed. He declares himself emperor. (D) [C]
    • Scene Why did the tribal leaders not suspect anything was up until it was too late?Answer: They held his son hostage, who would be executed if anything happened to them. Arhorn did not care.
  • Event The conquest of Jali (D) [B]
    • Scene Why was the surrender of the Elders of Jali such an important moment for the Milorn Empire? (D) [A]Answer: Because the Elders, being practicioners of ancient magic, had sent the city away on several occassions and consistently thwarted the Milorn's ambitions. Without Jali, they lost their greatest rival.


Period The unification of the tribes of Lem (L) [B]
  • Event The great hydra Adum destroys several villages in Lem territory (D) [B]
    • Scene Why did the hydra start rampaging? (D) [B]Answer: It was summoned by the Elders of Jali to fight the Milorn, but after the surrender the beast could no longer follow the command, causing it to go mad through the magical obligations.
  • Event The first Lemmian dream journey to elect a leader – through the ingestion of poisons –  is undertaken, and the new leader of Lem is chosen: Rova the Youthful. (L) [B]


Period The beast-hunts of Milorn (L) [B]
  • Event The covenant between The Seraph League of Milorn and the great crab Num (D) [A]
    • Scene What did the Seraph League get out of an alliance with Num? [A]Answer: It would grant them dominance over the seas and supremacy over their enemies.
  • Event The taking of the heart of the great bird, Lire (D) [A]
    • Scene What horrid thing was unleashed when they took Lire's heart?Answer: Poison-coated maggots covered in teeth crawled out of its arteries and began attacking those who killed Lire, with great casualties the maggots were slain.
  • Event The great spider Kosh, driven away by the Milorn, heads into the mountainous region of Nemere and destroys the city of Pevet. (D) [C]


Period The destruction of Tamas (D) [A]
  • Event The leviathan Sydah sends a tidal wave crashing into the city. (D) [C]
    • Scene: Why did Sydah attack the Milorni port-city? (D) [A]Answer: The Tamasi had tried to trap Sydah with chains of iron in their harbor to harness the power of the beast, but it broke free and destroyed them instead.


Period The empire of Milorn declares war on the Lem tribes after accusations of human
sacrifice and summoning Sydah (D) [C]
  • Event The Lem-leader Tetri the Tiny is killed by Milorni raiders while warding the Lemmian coast from Sydah. (D) [C]
    • Scene Why did Tetri not resist? (L) [B]Answer: She could not escape without the ritual failing, saving her people from Sydah was more important than saving her own life.
    • Scene How did the ritual fail? (D) [B]Answer: Insect monsters in the service of Sydah dug up the protective runestones that Tetri spread across the beaches, breaking the seal and thereby removing the separation between ocean and land.
  • Event Lemmian refugees take to the seas, creating boat-cities and becoming the Xinur sea- traders and pirates. (D) [A]
  • Event The Lemmian shamans ally themselves with nature and hide their villages in the jungles of the Sanove peninsula to protect themselves from the Milorni soldiers. (L) [A]
  • Event Ryz, half-Lem half-Ledura son of Tetri, defeats a legion of Milorni soldiers in a guerilla attack by turning the jungle against his enemies (D) [C]


(End) Ryz the Wild crowns themselves the ruler of the city-state of Jali (D) A cruel ruler takes hold of the most important city-state by force. The peoples of the world hold their breath as to what happens next...

  • Event the previous ruler of Jali, Doro the Mute, dies of fangspider poison administered from his pet kavan plant that he snacks on. (D) [B]
  • Event Ryz the Wild uses his shamanistic powers to command the ropers of the palace gardens to capture the royal family and has them either killed or imprisoned. (D) [B]



woensdag 10 april 2019

Harry Clarke Project - The Lady Candlemaker



Armour class: As unarmoured

Hit dice: 3

Move: As a human (swiming)

Attacks: Swipe (1d4) or Essence Drain (see below)

No. Appearing: 1, unique Morale: 5

Treasure: A chalice with a minor wish spell. The heart of an unborn god. Candle containing a virtue of her last victim, can be gained if the wax is drunk.

Alignment: Chaotic

Not all gods exist in times before time, some gods are born. How this happens is not know, but from one moment to the next a new deity just is. The Lady Candlemaker is one such deity on her way to godhood, a parasite latching onto the faith and virtue of those that come in her path and draining them of their qualities and humanity so that she can ascend.

The Lady Candlemaker appears as a beautiful woman, bare chested and partially submerged in water. Behind her is a strange branch, covered in slime and mucus, which seems to move against the current of the wind. The Lady Candlemaker always holds a candle in her hands, from which she lets the wax drip into a chalice. She claims that drinking from the chalice will make anyone's desires come true. If someone comes close enough to drink she will grab them, use Essence Drain and carry them off underwater away from anyone seeking to interfere.

Essence Drain: The Lady Candlemaker grabs their victim with the branch and impales them in the shoulder near the heart. It will deal d8 damage every round it manages to hold onto its victim. Once someone has been completely drained, the branch vomits out a candle containing their strongest virtues which the Lady Candlemaker then uses to feed her chalice of godhood.

When someone is completely drained, they lack all essence that made them human. They are now a husk (as zombie), going to a place significant to their previous self and waiting to starve or rot. The husks will only attack if provoked.

Where The Lady Candlemaker goes, husks follow.

This post was made as part of the Harry Clarke Project.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

dinsdag 9 april 2019

The Road to Riches: Zones

Note: If you are a player in my campaign, don't read this as it contains spoilers.

This is an outline for the various zones in a West Marches inspired game I'm going to be GMing soon. The game is set alongside the fantasy world's equivalent of the Silk Road, a stretch of wilderness filled with trading outposts that connect two stretches of civilization.

The players are explorers and adventurers who seek to uncover the mysteries and – most important of all- the treasures of lost kingdoms. Their safe haven is the town of Sarkoos, an oasis town hugging the slopes of the Yellow Mountains to the south.

I have divided the region into zones, which I intend to prepare one by one, frontloading the prep a bit but only really prepping the regions I need first.

LAYERS OF HISTORY
The region wasn't always wilderness, it has at various points been the center of civilisations now long gone.

The layers are the following, from most recent to most ancient:
  • Beasts that walk like men roam the land in packs, settling in the swamps and the canyons. This was not a problem, until they started raiding merchant caravans. Sarkoos seeks to respond. (Present)
  • The kingdom of flies fed on the living corpses that covered the region. Giant beasts migrated into the region and claimed it as their own. Human hunters caused their population to dwindle, until eventually the desert took over.
  • The lich-kings of Shazza-Dur built a necropolis from the bones of those that came before them. They summoned their mad god and impaled him on The Scarlet Rise. Having become lesser gods themselves, the lich-kings left the world to mortal hands and ascended.
  • In a time before time, Man created great machines so they could be more like the gods that roamed the earth. They turned the wasteland into a factory, until faulty products and vengeful waste killed their empire.

THE ZONES
The Wilstone Chasms
This is the home of many tribes of hyenafolk (or “Gah-Nowls” as they call themselves) who wage war with each other and move around opportunistically to find the best target to turn into a meal. There are many, many caves here which hide dark secrets in their depths.

The Scarlet Rise
Mountains stained red with the guts of a dead god. They say that the lords of the undead used to live here in hollowed out mountains decorated with statues in their honor. Now, only their servants remain and the carrion eating Roc that hunts them.

The Whispering Barrens
You can still hear the whirring and turning of the gears of ancient golems. A mechanistic people once lived here, but now their history is buried deep beneath the sand. Their machines still work, and they are equal parts treasure, equal parts death traps.

Black Bowels Swamp
The black-bellied frogfolk feed their divine arachnid matron the dog-sized flies they keep as cattle and tribute. The many webbed homes and temples she provides them keep them safe as they do her bidding. The Black Bowels Swamp is also where human outcasts are banished and sent to die. It is the home of lepers and jackalweres, which are often the same thing.


The Deadroot Swamp
A swamp twisted by the necrotic energies from The Scarlet Rise. The trees here are twisted, and the spirits inside have become animated, thirsty for blood. Lights rise from the restless spirits of those that died here, but unfortunately travelers can't tell if the lights seek to aid people, or if they seek companions in their eternal undeath...

I'm going to start out by developing the Wilstone Chasms, but this list should provide me with enough ideas for if the PCs get lost or for when I'll have to start prepping the other zones.

maandag 18 maart 2019

4 Races

Seeing the 5 minute creative challenge, I decided to try and write down as many ideas as possible in ten minutes as an exercise in creativity. I mashed the ideas I liked best together to produce the races below.


The format is based on Lexi's from Blasted, Cratered Land.


Rock Minotaur

Reroll: Strength.

Special: Petrify self at will. Can unpetrify themselves after 3 rounds. Save vs Petrification if scared.


Large bullfolk with patchy gray fur, born from the earth itself. Often act as druids and guardians of sacred sites in the mountains.


Juice Squid

Reroll: Intelligence

Special: Once per day, you can milk your suction cups to extract 1 drink's worth of stupefaction potion, (if drunk 1 hour of stupefaction, Save vs Stupefaction for half that time).


Highly inventive squids that use tools and mechanisms to adapt to living on land. They tend to walk on metallic claws attached to their tentacles like a spider. They naturally produce a stupefaction potion they use to fend off predators. In the age of civilization, they sell their potion in shady alleys to people looking for a quick fix.


Undeceived

Reroll: Strength.

Special: You have an innate bond with a giant moth (HD2, Morale 8) which serves as your animal companion.


The Undeceived are yak-folk with a symbiotic relationship to giant moths. They are unwavering atheists, and see all gods as impostors who do not deserve the powers they wield. Their coming of age ritual consists of riding the giant moths out above the ocean and fly as close to the sun as possible. The survivors are recognized as adults, and form a bond with their moth. The Undeceived that reaches the greatest height becomes war-councilors, and gets to participate in planning and leading raids against temples.


Soul Collectors

Reroll: Wisdom

Special: When confronted with the body of a sinner, you can extract its soul and spend one short rest grinding it into souldust, which is a spell component for divining as well as a hallucinatory drug.


The Soul Collectors are anthropomorphic rhinoceroses with a special silver horn they can use to grind up the souls of sinners. They tend to travel in large caravans accompanied by priests and clerics.

vrijdag 15 maart 2019

Cultural Backgrounds pt1

These are a collection of culture backgrounds for the Fantasy Heartbreaker I'm working on.
Skills are as in Stars Without Number (2d6 with small bonusses depending on how good you are at the skill).

I want players to have more of a say in the worldbuilding, so this basically allows them to have their own cultures and to have a big say in what the peoples of the world are. This list is just a start, based on whatever I had inspiration for. I hope to make more soon if I get some good ideas.

Naval
Your culture was practically born at sea, for the ocean is as much a part of you as is the earth. Your army is an armada, your traders a fleet. The naval skills and maritime superiority of your people unquestioned.

Skills: Knowledge (Nature: Seas), Swim
Preferred Class: Fighter, Thief
Questions (pick one):
  • What beast do sailors whisper of when they think no-one can hear? What creature of the ocean depths instills fear even in the most hardened captains?
  • Sailors are a superstitious lot – what sacred tradition must not be broken when at sea? What happens to those who do not heed the warnings?
  • You know of a place most men have never been – a mythical continent lost to the known world. What great riches are to be found there? What myths warn of its dangers?

Imperial
Your culture is a proud one, a long history of conquest and subjugation, building an empire to last the ages. From a young age you have been taught of the glory of your people, and the necessity of their imperious ways.

Skills: Knowledge (History), Knowledge (Politics or Arcana)
Preferred Class: Fighter, Magic-user
Questions (pick one):
  • Your glorious empire has a state religion – what gods are worshipped above all others? How do magic-users take a special place in the faith?
  • The Imperial College of the Arcane Arts is shrouded in mystery to the outside world, but you know its secret: what is it? Why is nobody ever seen there? Why are magic-users shunned?
  • What advantage did your people have over their neighbours that allowed you to conquer them? How has this affected your culture?

Civil War
Your culture is at war with itself, blood spilled for land or faith. All you've ever known was The War, and you've learned to survive in a land turned hostile.

Skills: Survival, Knowledge (Politics or Religion)
Preferred Class: Fighter, Thief
Questions (pick one):
  • Is the New Faith one from foreign lands, or was it the teachings of a native prophet? How does it differ radically from the Old Faith?
  • Whose greed caused the war? What treasure, land or person did they covet? Who betrayed their allies to help them?
  • What sacred tradition was dishonorably broken during the war? How did this make the land and people even more treacherous?

Beastriders
The desperate struggle for survival in the wastes that you call home have led to a symbiosis between man and beast. Giant beasts serve as mounts and companions.

Skills: Animal Handling, Knowledge (Nature)
Preferred Class: Barbarian
Questions (pick one):
  • What creature do your people have a special bond with? Why do other people fear them? (Otherwise roll 1d6 for the creature:
          1 drake, 2 wolve, 3 tiger, 4 giant caterpillar, 5 rhinoceros, 6 dinosaur, GM's choice )
  • How does your tribe elect their leader? Why is this process so dangerous?
  • Your people know of an ancient site of great power. What ruins lie in your land? What is said to lurk there?

Ascendant Nihilists
Your people very quickly learned the true nature of life. It is meaningless suffering yet best lived passionately; a candleflame flickering brightly before being extinguished on a whim.

Skills: Disguise, Alchemy
Preferred Class: Thief, Magic-user
Questions:
  • What strange and dark faith has revealed its truth to your people? Who is the prophet you most revere and why?
  • What is the true meaning of life & death that your people have claimed to discover? Why do the religions of the world take this to be heresy?
  • What invention of your culture shook the world? Why do other people decry it as heinous?

vrijdag 1 maart 2019

The Jungle of Bones - A One-Page Setting

Another one-page setting!

This one is a jungle inhabited by giant insects, gluttonous toad-people that vomit flammable acid, telepathic ants seeking domination and greedy merchants. It's connected by trade to the Peninsula of Songs, my previous one-page setting.

Preview

You can download the Jungle of Bones one-page setting here.

zondag 24 februari 2019

Songs of the Humming Dragon - A One-Page Setting

This is inspired by The Savage Tundra of the Winter King by Dungeons and Possums, who got the idea from DanF.

The Peninsula of Songs is a blasted wasteland where the entire ecology revolves around a Yrthak, a horned pterodactyl-like creature with a horn that emits sonic blasts. It has claimed these lands as its hunting grounds, and it tears open the land with its hums.

I've tried to follow  Dungeons and Possums' format as closely as possible, but I ditched the random encounters table, because (1) I didn't have enough space, and (2) the Peninsula of Songs had several sub-regions that didn't mesh together well on a single encounter table.

Instead, I've decided to use that space to write a mechanic/procedure of play detailing the Yrthak hunting, hopefully keeping the sandbox space dynamic and the threat of the humming dragon real.

I'm excited to see what other people come up with using this format, the constraints on how much you can write have really helped me in keeping the design focused.

Preview

You can download the Songs of the Humming Dragon one page setting here. 

Solitaire Microscope - The rise of Man

This is a solitaire game of Microscope, where I use simulated players to inform the rough direction each turn is gonna go, but the actual c...