Friday, August 9, 2019

Blood Moth!



You can get a PDF of my dungeon-zine, the Temple of the Blood Moth, here  at DriveThruRPG, and if you want a physical copy of the zine, hand-printed with a risograph and hand-stamped with a stamp, email me at jake butcher 2 at gmail dot com. (no spaces or anything).

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Bankers are Vampires and Vice Versa



It's like that but with vampires.

In every town there is a bank. You can put your gold there and no one can steal it. If you try to steal gold from the bank, good luck! They'll have insurance and they'll also try to get it back from you. They have everything money can buy.

Something you can learn about the bank that is a secret and not known by most: all banks employ at least one vampire. One of every bank's largest customers is always the area's vampire or vampire population.

This post was inspired by a thread on reddit i think where someone said "Bats are vampire hunters. Vampires are mosquitoes." It's a cool analogy/ecology model. If we take it to be true, Vampires become surprisingly numerous, but unlike IRL mosquitoes (most of the time) vampires are completely deadly on their own as well. If it wants to, a Vampire can move into town and bite the first three people he meets, and the ensuing bloodbath will consume the village. It happens more often than anyone realizes.

Every bank is a blood bank on the side at night. Invested gold is used to buy blood (stabler than gold, ethics don't apply to banks,) which is sold to the vampire community to turn a profit. No muss. No fuss. Humans are gathered by guards and highwaymen alike, through different channels. Vampires have a hand in every powerful organization in every town. Bandits, assassins, non-bloodborne plagues, and doctors are also often contributors to vampires whether they know it or not. Anyone who dies whose body isn't claimed will likely eventually get tossed to the vampire banks or the moth cult (same thing) for draining. After Draining the Vampires or the Cultists can toss it to Necromancers or whoever else can offer the highest price. Teeth make great fairies, you know.

Next time my players go to a village, there's going to be a bank and it will probably scare them.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Wounds & Healing (inspired by Die Trying)

I made new rules for critical hits, wounds, healing, and dying! The Death & Dismemberment table is like 75% stolen from Die Trying (which everyone should check out and throw their money at in whatever way they are able).

I also took a lotta inspiration from Cavegirl's horrible wounds post!

It's part of a work-in-progress patchwork/collaged zine of rules for my players. The zine currently includes rules for buying stuff in town, a lot of spells, random potion effects and some now-outdated character creation rules.

Here they are!

Goin' for a type of horrible ultra-violence somewhere between Scanners and Itchy and Scratchy.

Probably going to tweak these pages as I go. This zine might eventually be available online.

Image result for scanners head explosion art

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Titancorpse

This post will be an ongoing attempt to flesh out my campaign world. I'm going to edit it for a while until I have figured out what every named thing on this map is.



The part of the world pictures on this map the Titancorpse's back, (allegedly) and other parts of the planet are shrouded in mystery. This is the "known world". Some people debate these theories and argue that the earth is flat or a hollow sphere, or that the planet isn't dead. They are generally treated as wackos.

Failure Tolerated posted a thing about using this map for a campaign world and provided a very useful list of all locations, but I sorta messed with the territories/color coding. Red areas aren't Hothior outposts, they're just dungeons.

Territory Color Code:
Red=Hothior/Immer, the Dragon Kingdoms
Grey=Lered/Lor more commonly called the Eastern and Western Wizard Kingdoms.
Pale Pink=Mivior
Hot Pink=Rombune
Yellow=Meutar
Blue=Pon
Gold=Shucassam
Brown/Tan=Wild Lands/Lawless Druid Territory. These areas are populated sparsely by barbarians, druids, and beast people.

Individual Hex Color/Icon Code:Red=Dungeon
Green=Natural Wonders/Druid Monuments
White=Capital City
Skulls=Cemetery/Graveyard or Former Battlefield

Numbered Locations are Fortresses/Cities. Their number corresponds to their military power, net wealth, size/population,

Nations

Elfland

  1. Spires of the Eternal : 
  2. Ider Bolis (5) [CAPITAL] : 
  3. Mires of the Sinking Kind : 
  4. Melting Star (Lake)
  5. The Great Forest : Homeland of the Fey Princes
  6. Neuth (Forest Region)
  7. Aws Noir (4) [Elfland Outpost) : Elven Holy City, said to contain a direct pathway to the Moon.
  8. The Gathering (Blasted Heath outpost)
  9. The Shunned Vale (Waste of Vah-Ka-Ka outpost)
  10. The Crag (Zorn outpost)

Zorn

  1. The Pits of Thessalon (4) [CAPITAL]
  2. The Cursed Forest
  3. Shrieker’s Scrub
  4. Nithmere Mountains : Scary shit and weird dreams.
  5. Leeks : Vegetable forest, halflings live in the woods and are very welcoming and also very weird 
  6. The Mouth Pass (x2)

Pon : It rains all the time. 

  1. Border Forest
  2. Crow’s Nest (4) : The Crow-Demon Malphas roosts in the Crow's Nest with his order of Warlock-Knights. The Crow-Knights guard the Border Forest against threats in exchange for the tolerance of the _, the rulers of Pon.
  3. Split Rock Pass (x2)
  4. Fortress Marzarbo (4 [CAPITAL] : 
  5. The Scab :
  6. Heap in the Hills (2) : 
  7. Mountains of Ice : A couple of Ice Giants live here! Most of the rest of them live far in the north in the Polar Wastes, but a few maintain secret hidden outposts in the Mountains of Ice.

The Western Wizard Kingdom : Wizard Cops

  1. The Invisible School of Thaumaturgy (5) : Literally invisible to outside eyes, costs a lot of gold to 
  2. Well of Lered : Magical inland sea, full of monsters.
  3. High Marches

The Eastern Wizard Kingdom (Shards of Lor) : 

  1. Tower of Zards (6) : The Wizard of Zards is a senile but kind old man who has a keyring with a key to every door on the planet and most doors in the galaxy. There is a secret tunnel hidden in the mountains where a Giant Wizard has created an inverted mirror world of the circle of hexes around the Tower of Zards. This Giant hates all other Wizards and wants to destroy the Tower.
  2. Blown Over : Windy frigid moors, fallen trees and many boulders. Exiled failed wizards warped and mutated by spells gone awry live in the caves here.

Muetar : The Muetarran Empire is a powerful theocracy which worships a dead god of light.

  1. Pennol on the Lake (4) [CAPITAL] : A witch-prison sits a few miles off of the city on the lake. The Corpse Pope is here.
  2. Lake Carth : Where the Sunken King was drowned and dismembered.
  3. Plibba on the Plain (2) :
  4. Yando Rivermen : Heretic followers of the Sunken King dredge the rivers of the land for their god's dismembered body parts.
  5. Wind Swept Downs :
  6. Beolon on the Downs (1) :
  7. Groat (3) : City run by a Goblin who got really lucked and ended up becoming a Pope mostly by accident. Ironically, a better and less evil King than any other ruler in Meutar.
  8. The Wanderer (River) : 
  9. Tangle Root (Forest) : 
  10. Basimar (3) : 
Special Rules/Notes: All non-cleric magic and especially witchcraft is outlawed in Muetar. Any signs of magical corruption (horns, curses, etc.) are cause for you to be arrested and potentially executed on sight. You can't wear Wizard robes out in the open.

Hothior : The Southern Dragon Kingdom. Horrible medieval wasteland ruled by 3-headed Iron Dragon, King Anathemnon (imagine medieval Mecha Ghidorah).

  1. Por Lork (3) [CAPITAL] The Iron Palace of King Anathemnon, an impregnable fortress and a stockpile of the Dragon-King's collection of the most powerful weapons in the world.
  2. Tadafat on the River (2) : Ruled by the last surviving Dragon Eel, a very angry and very powerful dark sorcerer, and a sworn enemy of all Troll-kind.
  3. Bad Axe (Forest) Forest littered with rusted discarded weapons, rust monsters. Post-apocalyptic mad-max style machinations built from broken metal.
  4. The Ebbing (River) : River spirits dying from the poison of the forges.
  5. Flood Water (River) : 
  6. Castle Lapspell (3) : Forge Salamander rules here.
  7. Farnot Seafolk : Dragon-slayer wannabe pirates hide out in this town.
Special Rules/Notes: All non-dragons are second class citizens in the Dragon Kingdoms. In the Capital the non-slum areas of the city require non-dragons to be accompanied by an escort at all times. Every City in the Dragon Kingdoms is ruled by a lesser dragon or lizard beast.

 Immer : The Northern Dragon Kingdom. Horrible medieval wasteland ruled by 3-headed Golden Dragon, King Ghidorah (imagine King Ghidorah). Post-Arthurian hellhole. 

    1. Wild Wood : Druids
    2. Gorpin Woodsmen : Villages hidden from the Dragon-king's gaze are guarded by the Gorpin Woodsmen, who train their most talented young to become dragon-slayers (this is really just an elaborate human sacrifice ritual, no one has ever come close to killing the Dragon King or any of his guards.)
    3. Lone Wirzor (2) : Ghidorah's son rules/is imprisoned here. He is a gold-scaled snakeman with 6 heads and he hates his father.
    4. Frosted Downs : Fields of snow-like ash from all the dead burned by the Dragon Kings.
    5. Caslte Altarr (3) [CAPITAL] : Golden palace of King Ghidorah. Golden Dragonborn are the noble caste, everyone else is a desperate peasant. Most of everyone lives underground, the entire hex is the palace, which is made of huge rooms big enough to fit the 1000 foot long Dragon.
    6. The Gap Castle (2 x2) : Wyvern Lady lives here and wishes to be Queen.
    7. Muscaster (3) : Basilisk Lord rules here and wishes to be King.
    8. Lowlands : Peasant territory.
    9. Dungeons: Lone Wirzor, Temple of Kings
    Special Rules/Notes: All non-dragons are second class citizens in the Dragon Kingdoms. In the Capital the non-slum areas of the city require non-dragons to be accompanied by an escort at all times. Every City in the Dragon Kingdoms is ruled by a lesser dragon or lizard beast.

    Mivior : Storm Giants rule here! Those who get struck by lightning and survive become heroes and leaders. Lots of sea monsters.

    1. Colist (4) [CAPITAL] : Ruled by Queen 
    2. The Shining Isle of Boliske (3) :
    3. Shaker Mountains
    4. Boran on the Moor (1) : 
    5. Addat At Surf’s End (2) : 
    6. The River Sullen

    Rombune: Full of weird shit from space. 

    1. The Golkus (3) [CAPITAL]
    2. Thores on the Rock (5) : The strongest of Rombunes three fortresses.
    3. Faces to the Sea
    4. The Sunken City of Parros (2) : The Holy City of Ogdru Zog, the Squid God, and is supposedly a gateway into the furthest depths of the ocean and the depths of space. Ravaged long ago by a War between the followers of the Punishing Star and the followers of Ogdru Zog, the city has never been fully restored to its former glory. It is also where the Sunken King, god of the sea and the underworld, perished.
    5. Crater of the Punishing Star : A long time ago, a star crashed into the planet containing a being who would eventually come to be known as a hero to some, a messiah to others, and a despicable warlord to many more. This man is called the Punishing Star and he came to this planet to wage an inquisition, cleanse the planet of sin, and eventually established the Empire of the Sun, Muetar.

    The Fallen Troll Kingdom : Most of the Trolls died in the Eelwar. All bridges have a Troll.

    1. Trollwood
    2. The Stone Face (1) [CAPITAL]
    3. High Marches
    4. Serpent Bay : Where all of the Dragon Eels were killed by the Troll King.

    Shucassam : Desert Kingdom of the Pyromancers. Sorcerer Kings duel for power and Warrior Poets compose odes about the ruins.

    1. Zefnar on the Sea (3) : Zefnarian Pyromancers manipulate steam and fly.
    2. Kuzdul (4) : Kuzdul Pyromancers run forges in volcanoes and manipulate magma.
    3. Dry Mountains
    4. Jipolis (2) : The Pyromancers of Jipolis still worship the sun and the stars. The most powerful Fireball spell in existence is guarded here.
    5. Walled City of Adeese (3) [CAPITAL] : Adeesean Pyromancers have armies armed with gun-like combustion wands and manipulate ash and smoke.
    6. Sea of Zett
    Every City in Shucassam has its own Pyromancy School.

    The United Dwarven Mountainhomes : 

    1. Mines of Rosengg (5) [CAPITAL] : Where the Dwarves mine magical stone of many colors and many different effects.
    2. Alzak (4) : Connected to Mines of Rosengg by extensive and densely populated underground pathways.
    3. Barriorr Mountains
    Haunts of the Lepers (Blasted Heath Outpost)

    The Sea of Drowning Men

    Mermaids "rule" this vast sea. Rule mostly just means that kill and eat anyone who falls in the water. Far to the West, the sea flows into the river Acheron which takes you into the underworld.

    Dungeons

    1. Huts of the Scum (Dungeon) : Subterranean mutant cannibal doppelgangers.
    2. Stubstaff Keep (3) (Banished Lands Outpost)
    3. Isle of Fright (Sea of Drowning Men Outpost)
    4. Lost City of Khos (Pon Dungeon)
    5. Altars of Grey Staff (Blasted Heath Dungeon) : Grey Staff was a Pyromancer who wielded Ash-Bringer, a weapon capable of incredible destruction and renewal. Here, an order of Pyromancer-Knights study his teachings.
    6. Spires to the Sun (Shucassam/The Withering Dungeon) : Holy City of the Pyromancers, now overrun with Solar Angels from Space.
    7. Choked in Snow Pass (Zorn/Immer Dungeon)
    8. The Gap Castle (Zorn/Immer Dungeon)
    9. The Temple of Kings (Zorn/Immer Dungeon)
    10. Winter Rest (Zorn Dungeon)
    11. Ozerg Mountaineers (Zorn Dungeon)

    Mysterious Locations in the Wildlands:

    Wild Reaches
    Sacred Stones
    River Rapid
    The Unknown Army
    Eastern Waste
    The Breaking
    The River Sullen
    Wetlands
    Forest of the Lurking
    Western Waste
    Witches’ Kitchen
    Overgrown
    The Creeping Forest
    The Wasted Dead
    Shadow Wood
    Blasted Heath
    Worn Downs
    Field of the Laughing Dead
    The Withering : Holy Pyromancers made contact with the Solar God at the Spires to the Sun, and realized that he was slowly burning the world like an ant in a magnifying glass. The Withering is a stretch of desert which has begun to burn, blacken, and melt.
    Forbidden Oasis
    Waste of Vah-Ka-Ka
    Field of White Bones
    The Banished Lands
    The Deep
    Waterless Downs
    Thorn Flats

    Monday, June 10, 2019

    Session 1 - Squid, Goats, & Necromancers



    Last summer I ran a sandbox campaign for my buddies using the hexcrawl map from Divine Right. We left off with everyone splitting up after attempting to sabotage the meeting of a powerful crime boss/Lich (named Lord Gorthus) and the demon lord Moloch (leader of the dreaded Marble Knights). Everyone fled, the whole thing ended with a messy street fight. I'm running a new campaign in the same world this summer which I hope will improve upon the successes of the last one, and hopefully fix some of the problems I was having.

    I've been pretty continually dissatisfied with how I've been running cities, but the wilderness/hex exploration part of the game last summer was some of the most fun I've ever had in my short years running games since high school. I also want to use more dungeons.

    List of Things I want to get better at/work on in this campaign:
    - Running Cities
    - I'm writing my own system, so I'm definitely gonna be testing that out.
    - Random Encounter Tables

    I think the part that the players seem most excited about is the world-buildy stuff, they really like learning about the world, so I want to get better at giving them that kind of information and story.

    I was really excited about the new character creation rules, but my players didn't really want to use them? I think I didn't explain them super well and everyone's more used to character-creation as a minigame in 5e while this system is meant to randomize as much as possible while also hopefully creating a sort of rough procedural narrative about the character's backstory:


    and here's the new character sheet:



    It's still a little bit sketchy. There's some dead negative space in the inventory and spells area that I may box out for character portraits. There are a few things that could use a little explanation in the margin space underneath them.

    I think there was generally a little bit of reticence on my players' part about using new rules at all, which I understand, I definitely have been in games where the GM was using homebrew and it sort of felt like more of an indulgence than a boon, but at the same time, this is what's fun for me and I'm putting in a substantial amount of effort to make the rules fun for the players too so hopefully they'll recognize that. It's a work in progress, but I think it's off to a good start!

    New houserules include contested combat from Last Gasp and a Divine Magic system like the one used in GLOG i think. You get a Faith Die (either from just being a cleric or a paladin or from praying in a temple if you're just a believer) that you can use to cast a Divine Power given to you by your god. Witches get a similar thing from the Demon they make a pact with.

    I'm gonna write another post compiling the basic rules for this system.

    The Characters:
    Spud, a rogue who operates a mostly cannibalistic butcher shop which is probably in gratuitous violation of every health code imaginable (played by Hannah)
    Kürig Cüp, a grimy, grave-robbing, Goblin rogue (played by Greg)
    Claude, a Witch and the owner of a very dusty and currently mostly empty magic shop (played by Marius)
    Squaml (or Sam), a kindly Paladin of the alien Squid-God Ogdru Zog (played by Tara)

    Setting
    We started in Thessalon, the City of Pits, an anarchic metropolis of towers and crumbling fortresses reclaimed and converted into shanty-towns and patchwork buildings. The city has a high population of both Witches and the Demons with whom they make their pacts. I think I'll describe the city in more detail in a future post, for now, here's the map.


    Truncated Session Report:
    Squaml intervened in a street fight between a group of Ink Fishermen and Goatmen. One of the Goat-Men cut the throat of a goat and a swarm of snakes poured out of the wound to attack the crowd. Tara then investigated the grave of a woman named Sybil Clover. The squid-in-a-jar told the Paladin to find a garden, and he found strange magenta flowers growing from the grave of Sybil. He investigated at the Corpse-Merchant’s office and found out she was a witch who died 75 years ago, and later made a deal to have Stinky dig up her grave.

    Stinky saw a Necromancer in the Grave Gardens and made a plot to kill him to take his stuff which technically eventually worked. This involved hiring an Axeman named Ogden who I am very happy to have around because roleplaying a friendly NPC guy with an Axe feels a lot like just being a player.

    Things I Learned:
    -Using random tables at the table kind of sucks like 40% of the time. It slows things down. Super helpful for names and other stuff. Gotta get better at pre-generating more of the randomness ahead of time.
    -Also Maze Rats might just be the best DMG ever written. I just wish the lists were numbered so it was easier to roll on them as tables.
    -I need to make cities work more like wilderness. When I started using the random encounter table for the city every time people moved around, that was pretty good, but it worked even better when I started figuring out locations. I think that just making a list of taverns, banks, libraries, graveyards, mansions, etc. in the city would really help. Only need a very loose idea to work it into a session.

    Friday, March 29, 2019

    Hellraiser Inspired Demon Mythos

    Watched Hellraiser for the second time tonight. Some of the coolest ideas about demons I've ever seen are in that movie, and the way I want to do demon lore in D&D is definitely very closely based on those ideas whether I intend them to be or not.

    Ideas from Hellraiser to steal:
    1. A portal spell that turns a wall into a fleshy material. If you cut a hole in the wall, and then later in actual flesh, the wall will split open and allow you to travel into the wound.

    2. Entrance into Hell isn't based on morality, it's purely about weird "sexual purity" shit. I don't know what's so fucked up about the monsters running the universe that that's what they care most about, but for some reason, they do. If you're sufficiently fucked up, kinky and sexually deviant, like Frank you're like a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from being a warlock. In other words,

    3. Puzzle box that summons demons. Just have a clearly shady NPC give the party a puzzle box for no discernible reason and if they open it, horrible demons like the Cenobites show up. If they don't open it, maybe some dumbass hireling will.

    4. "Demons to some. Angels to others." This is an idea that has historical meaning! I wrote a paper (for a class I got a C) in about this demon named Abrasax...
    (chicken's head, human torso, snakes for legs, sweet guy)

    Abrasax was invoked in a specific medallion alongside Jesus by super early Christians in Rome. What I learned/extrapolated from this was that apparently there was a time back when normal everyday people believed in demons real hard that they were very morally ambiguous, even simultaneously characterized as very good and very evil. Sometimes they could be convinced to cure certain illnesses (like the Abrasax amulet I wrote about), sometimes they did evil demon shit.
    In Hellraiser it's more likely they're just worshipped by assholes like Frank. I want my demons in D&D to contain both the Hellraiser-type demon-as-angel and the Abrasax-type demon-as-morally-multitudinous-minor-deity.

    5. Last but not least, A FUCKING SHAPE-SHIFTING BONE DRAGON who cons people into buying Demon-Dimension-Portal-Opening-Puzzle-Box, EATS CRICKETS and waits for the aforementioned box to destroy their lives, and then snatches the box from the rubble and finds another mark to repeat this process. Such a sick ending.

    tried to find a good link to the clip this guy is from, but couldn't find a decent video. which doesn't matter because just watch the movie it's so good.

    (Below are stats for the Bone Dragon guy, who apparently is called an Eremite. I thought that using the Dracolich stats would be good, so I tried to find the earliest example of a dracolich (which I was familiar from 5e). Apparently, the Dracolich first appeared in Dragon #110 in an article by Ed Greenwood called "The Cult of the Dragon". Part of the article contains the exact ingredients and process required for becoming a Lich, which is super cool as worldbuilding info.)


    EREMITE
    Reference Dracolich  (see below for 1eAD&D stats) or 0-level commoner

    HD 9
    Armor as Plate + 3 (ascending AC 21, descending AC 0)
    Attacks 2 × claw (+9 to hit, 2d4+2d8 cold damage), 1 × bite (+9 to hit, 6d6+2d8 cold damage and anyone struck by the Eremite/Dracolich must make a Save vs. Paralyze or be paralyzed for 2d6 rounds.) or breath (

    Special
    Fear Aura "They retain the ability to cause fear in opponents (as per the Monster Manual) that they had in life; as a lich, the fear they cause is slightly stronger -- opponents must save vs. spell against the fear aura at -1 (after all other modifiers are taken into account)."

    Paralyzing Gaze "The gaze of their glowing eyes can also paralyze permanent, negates the chilling damage but creatures within 4; creatures of 6th level or above, or 6 hit dice or greater, save at +3. If a creature ever saves against the gaze of a particular dracolich, it is immune to the gaze of that dracolich from then on"

    Shapeshifting Unlike regular dracoliches, the Eremite spends most of its time in the form of a 0-level commoner. In this form, the Eremite has the same stats as a peasant/commoner, but it can transform back into Dracolich form at-will. In peasant-form, the Eremite disguises itself as an outcast in society, likely to be perceived as a homeless person and thus ignored by much of the population.

    The eremite will only interact with people in order to try to give them the puzzle box, which, if properly opened, will open a portal to hell and summon 1d8 demons to drag the puzzle-solver to Hell Planet. This is likely to be a destructive process, and afterwards the Eremite retrieves the puzzle box, and repeats the trick.

    The puzzle box only opens a portal to hell if opened by a human, and it cannot be used by a demon.

    This concludes Part 1 of MONSTER REVIEWS, an idea I had in a previous post in which I talk about a movie or a piece of art, or a weird deck of cards or really anything and use that thing as inspiration for game material, maybe a table, maybe a monster.

    List of Ideas for Future Monster Reviews:
    • Blue Hell and the Pardoner Demon, based on the song Blue Hell by the band Pardoner.
    • The Viscerons, sort of based on the Shit Monsters linked in the last post, but more just also based on human anatomy. 
    • King Ghidora (AKA Monster Zero) from the Godzilla Series, specifically Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (AKA Invasion of Astro-Monster).
    • Rogol Domedonfors, tentacle ooze Wizard, from Dying Earth by Jack Vance.
    • Evil Dead 2-inspired possessed berserker.
    • Horror-Wizard inspired by Suspiria.
    • The Cult of Somnambulon, Sleep Magic, and Dreaming inspired by Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.