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Jan 7, 2015

Mors Rattus posted:

I wouldn't say so. L5R can technically do horror but no more easily than D&D could, really.

And I pick D&D because a team of samurai does at least have decent odds of beating most monsters that aren't completely, horrifically overpowered. (Like some oni.)

Especially if they have some Crabs around. As you almost certainly would in a horror game because monsters are kind of the Crab specialty.

*Weird ghost girl with long hair crawls out of wall painting*

Ghost Girl: *death rattle*
Crab Samurai: *Swings Tetsubo like a baseball bat, hitting ghost girl in the face*


Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.

Simian_Prime posted:

Weird random question: would L5R be a good system for J-Horror?

Because I've been watching an LP of Siren and thought it might be interesting to trap a bunch of samurai into a feudal version of Hanuda Village...

The greatest nightmare of a Crab: Stuff that absolutely will not die no matter what you do to it.

Aug 23, 2009

Link the recruitment thread no matter the system you choose.

Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.

Siren is really goddamn awesome.

Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?

I think that there's really no such thing as a good "horror" system, because all of the stuff that's core to horror experiences. Crumbling sanity, mounting terror, etc. lose something, rather than gain something, if there are systems for them. They really only work if the players are into roleplaying them, and know how to do it. So really all the system needs to be able to do is provide PC's that are fragile enough that they have a reason to be afraid if something spooky is gunning for them. You'd probably also want a system where the players have little to no access to supernatural abilities of their own, because if they can throw fireballs or consult angels about what's really going on, they can just toast whatever's after them or solve all the problems with divine guidance.

Jan 20, 2004

Trout Clan Daimyo

One word: Dread.

Mr. Maltose
Feb 16, 2011

The Guffless Girlverine

MollyMetroid posted:

One word: Dread.

Exactly. Nothing will ratchet up tension and despair like a Jenga Tower, let me tell you.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

Put an alarm on top of the jenga tower so when it collapses the siren goes off.

Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!

1: “One Eyeball and Severed Hand to Rule Them All” doesn’t roll off the tongue, admittedly.

The Book of Artifacts is one of the first RPG supplements I ever picked up. It came out in 1993 with David “Zeb” Cook as the primary author. Like many 2nd Edition books, it’s about poo poo that an average group is never going to be involved with. Wee.

We open with Zeb answering what I assume are a bunch of complaints about including artifacts in campaigns. What I don’t know is where these complaints are coming from. Is this from conventions or newsletters? Was someone at TSR checking usenet groups? Some of these complaints come off as strawmen, but that may be because I am writing this review in TYOOL 2016. Maybe “A DM doesn’t have to include an artifact in his campaign if he doesn’t want to” was a major insight in those days. Tellingly, one issue left unaddressed in this section is that whatever player has the artifact is likely to hog all the screen time.

Although artifacts are the main attraction, the book also includes rules for how players create and recharge magical items. Part of the reason why I believe this book was appropriate for F&F is because I think these rules more than anything highlight the difference between 2nd and 3rd edition in how D&D treated spell-casters. To summarize, the rules are such that no player would ever want to waste his or her time with making their own magic item.

We start off with an explanation of what an artifact is in D&D. Mechanically, an artifact is a unique and very old magical item that does not follow the rules of normal magical items and cannot be replicated by the PCs. From a narrative perspective, an artifact is an object around which an entire campaign should be centered. It fills the same role that Stormbringer or The One Ring take in their respective stories. And like The One Ring, D&D artifacts tend to require very specific methods to destroy. Of course, there is a shortcut, the 9th level wizard spell Mordenkainen’s disjunction, but it only works 20% of the time and will attract the attention of whatever big shot made the artifact. Still, given some of the means of destruction suggested, it doesn’t seem like that bad a gamble.

A few artifacts are also known as relics. This just means that the artifact has religious significance to a religion. Otherwise the two terms are interchangeable.

There are guidelines for DMs to design their own artifacts. Given the variety in this book alone, there aren’t any specific steps or charts. The guidelines are that artifacts cheat, that they can’t be created by PCs or any contemporary NPC, that artifacts have a tale attached to them, and that there is a price to using an artifact. We’ll get more into that last point later.

There are some general powers that all artifacts have. Artifacts only radiate dim power to a detect magic spell, and that spell never reveals the type of magic involved. Artifacts are immune to detect evil, identify, know alignment, or locate object. Legend lore and contact other plane will not reveal the location of an artifact, but can be used to learn more about the artifacts power “but the answers are often highly mysterious” . Artifacts are immune to physical or magical harm except by the specific means listed in their entries. Finally, the effects of artifacts, particularly curses, are permanent unless otherwise noted.

Let’s talk about those artifact curses, shall we? These range from irritating to “make a new campaign, DM.” The reason artifacts have curses, according to the book, is centered on late eighties adversarial bullshit. In this instance, though, I feel that curses make sense based on what artifacts are trying to emulate. Later editions, even our beloved 4th edition, would stick with even the most beneficial artifacts having catches to using them. Anyway, there are two curses that pop up in several entries: artifact possession and artifact transformation. Artifact possession is the artifact imposing its will and goals on whoever possesses it. An artifact with this drawback has its goals detailed in the curse’s description. The rules for Possession check work like those for intelligent magical items-a check is required when there is a conflict of goals between the user and artifact, plus a mandatory check made every week the object is carried. Artifacts have a Personality Score of 40+1d10. Each time the artifact prevails in these check, it asserts more control over the player. The DM keeps track of how many times the artifacts succeeds. When that number equals the PCs Wisdom score, then that PC is permanently and forever possessed. The book says that players partially possessed have a harder time resisting the artifact or shaking off the effects, but it’s unclear what the mechanical changes are. (“Use the ratio of possessions to total Wisdom as a percentage guide,” the book says. What’s it used for? ). The book advises the DM to adjust the rate of Possession checks to fit with the pace of the campaign.

I have no idea what this picture is meant to represent

Artifact transformation changes the physical form of the artifact’s ‘owner’, although apparently it also changes their personality, which seems like it overlaps with artifact possession. Each week, the artifact’s bearer has to make a Save vs. Polymorph at -4, “do not explain to players the purpose of this roll”. If the check fails, then during the week the player shifts closer to the form the artifact desires. Unlike artifact possession, there’s no guideline for how many saves a player needs to fail before the transformation is complete. If the final form is a monster, then the character becomes an NPC. The book tries to emphasis that this curse is never meant to be beneficial, but the example provided does a poor job of selling this. “Oh no, my warrior is becoming ogre-like! I’m so ugly and clumsy, I’m going to cry into my inate 20 strength!

The intro chapter ends with an explanation of how each artifact entry is laid out. The first part is a physical description of the artifact. Next comes the artifact’s history, then how the DM might use the artifact in his or her campaign. After that comes the artifact’s powers, which includes the Curse. Artifact powers fall into two categories: Constant and Invoked. If an artifact is part of a set, then the powers of the combined artifacts are listed as Resonating. Finally, a lot of artifacts have randomly determined powers. In fact, some artifacts are nothing but random powers. There are 24 tables at the back of the book. Two of these tables don’t get referred to by any of artifacts in this book. This is apparently a holdover from AD&D 1st edition, but given all the talk about how artifacts are the centerpiece for a campaign, to even let some of them have random powers is just antithetical. Finally each entry ends with some suggested means of destroying the artifact permanently.

SirPhoebos fucked around with this message at 23:19 on Sep 21, 2016

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013

The picture is supposed to represent artifact transformation turning someone into an ogre.

Terrible Opinions fucked around with this message at 00:04 on Sep 22, 2016

Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!

Terrible Opinions posted:

I picture is supposed to represent artifact transformation turning someone into an ogre.

Well I know that, but for all the world it just looks like some dumpy guy on a bench.

May 7, 2007

Open Legend is available for free on It contains art, tips, links to adventures, a blog, the full rules of course, and other details that this review won’t touch, so please visit the page if you’ve any interest.

I’m now out of art, so please enjoy these 100% unrelated doodles from Minutae.

Running the Game:

We now reach the final chapter/webpage of Open Legend which is a grab bag of tips, design notes, general GM information, and the other snouts and tails needed to make a roleplaying session sausage. Keeping in the Heartbreaker tradition, this section is intended to be only read by the GM, but it contains shorthand charts and reference material and no concrete campaign details or enemy encounters so I can’t imagine why anyone should not read this section even if they never intend to GM.

We kick off with really good advice for what it means to be a GM and how to be a good GM. The game lays out and defines GM traits as the following. Telling a good story, not railroading players, knowing the rules and wanting to teach them to players as needed, not letting the rules get in the way of a good story or slow down the game, making sure the players are having fun, and designing the adventure to work for everyone. It gives suggestions for each, notes that the GM should always be building with players not against or inspite of them, and that the goal is to have fun for everyone. None of this is world-shattering stuff but it is great to have it written out*.

Open Legend then segues into how it suggest to go about building adventures. It recommends you have an idea of the Danger, the Motivation, and room for a Twist for any adventure. Danger is defined as what happens if the players do nothing, motivation is why they’re involved incase the Danger isn’t enough, and the Twist is either an escalation or enhancement of the adventure, not necessarily a “No, I am your father” moment. The game suggests not getting too worked into the fine details, and filling in bits only when players end up interacting with them.

We then jump to designing our hypothetical adventure to be either a Sequential or a Sandbox Adventure. Sequential adventures are single plots with a linear path through while Sandbox is multiple objectives where completing one is intended to impact the adventure that will transpire at the others. It then provides very brief sample adventures in both of these styles, pointing out the sort of groundwork you should have ready is just the highlights, when to take notes of player interest/actions, and how to avoid overwhelming yourself.

turns out copyright works across dimensions – Artwork by: Minutae

Campaign settings come next, and the game suggests that a campaign is really just a string of adventures that have some common bond, and there need not be some grand narrative tieing everything together if that’s not what the players at your table are after. For players who do want an overarching narrative to their adventures, the game recommends taking all the tools you used when building your Adventures and add another element, the Secret. This is suggested to be a detail of your setting that becomes an eventual hook for a full, world-shaking campaign. The game then gives a genuinely good sampling of ideas from the very basic “The questgiver is actually a Dragon” to the rather neat: “A world tree is the source of the planet’s life. When it dies, the world will not die, but instead be reborn in a new form. Every intelligent being is tied to an invisible spirit. A very few sinister mages, known as the Warlocks, have discovered how to see and bargain with these spirits in order to manipulate the world to their advantage.”

With our campaign and secret in hand, Open Legend suggests that you plan some rough elements of the world and some possible adventures, possibly tiering them into arcs so you know when to dispense more clues and information. In both examples, the game suggests the party should always feel like they are making progress and that you shouldn’t define too many of the details as partys are often want to wander off and miss all the things you planned so hard for. You’re then encouraged to get to like your setting by tooling around with what makes you like a setting, be it drawing maps, statting up monsters, or whatever it is that you like to do so that you also like the setting. Remember though, again, the party wanders off so be ready to re-purpose your work in this step.

Once the players are actually playing, you need to know how to reward them properly. The game re-iterates that it is wholly on the GM when they level, what they find, etc. so try to keep the rewards coming at a good pace and that fit narratively. Don’t keep your players poor and week forever, and as you expand the scope of the threat so should their strength. It then provides a rough sketch of character level as appropriate for what they’re fighting in a campaign with some examples. Alternately, Open Legend suggests you agree with players how many sessions equals a level up and go from there.

The wealth table then crops up again, copied verbatim, as examples of the sorts of rewards you can give players at different levels in the campaign even if their character isn’t necessarily that wealth level. In a rather pointed note, Open Legend reminds you that there is no point in picking every pocket, looting every corpse, and tracking every bauble. If players do want to find things, the game encourages you roleplaying small bits and bobs to add to their growing wealth score, and if players are gunning for specific things or need certain items to give them to them as appropriate amongst the otherwise meaningless treasure. Awkwardly shoved into this are mechanics for bribing people which follow the exact same rules for buying things so I’m not sure why this is here and not in the earlier wealth section.

there are only banes for skipping leg day – Artwork by: Minutae

Now it is time to make some combat NPCs, which Open Legend bundles into Henchmen, Villains, and Allies. Henchmen are basically mooks, and the game encourages you not to sweat their motivation or stats too much as they are intended to be narratively expendable. Villains on the other hand, should be showpiece enemies who have motives, schemes, and one flaw so that players can understand what they’re up to and get a grasp of them as an opponent. Lastly, allies are npcs that provide support to the heroes. The game then bolds the following quote which is the first time it has used this formatting trick: ”Allies should empower the heroes, not outshine them.” It goes on to re-iterate that Allies should only in the most rare and extreme and probably never should anyway circumstances sweep in and save the day, deal the most damage in a fight, or create “but thou must” plot situations. If you do want to use NPCs in a battle, the game encourages you to make them support roles and reliant fully on the party to save the day.

In order to stat up our enemies, and Allies too I guess since the game doesn't mention doing this for them, Open Legend provides two methods for building these npcs. The first is the complex build, where you use the full character rules to build them and Open Legend actively recommends not doing this except for only the most important of NPC foes and to even then think twice. The second is the simple build, which is as easy as looking at a chart provided in the section which outlines the recommended HP, defenses, and attribute scores for a monster of that level or, on a separate chart, for boss monsters. Once these stats are copied over, the GM is given a list of unique, enemy-only abilities to tag the NPC with but no rules on how many to choose which rapidly becomes an issue.

Open Legend then tries to break down how to measure encounter difficulty. Functionally, your monsters may have a total number of levels equal to the total number of levels as your party. So for example, 4 players of 5th level characters should be fighting 20 levels of monster from the previous charts, and Open Legend values a boss as being worth 4 times their level when calculating monster levels. There is no level rating or modifier for the enemy abilities introduced earlier, and these abilities are not even remotely equivalent to each other. If your GM is a jerk, or hasn’t fully grasped the mechanical interactions of some of the abilities, this system is rife with wild swings between very lethal encounters or patheticly easy fare.

With our foes now constructed and hopefully that right level of deadly, Open Legend encourages the GM to make every encounter interesting. Since the point of combat isn’t just because the combat engine is fun, but also should move the story forward Open Legend recommends that battles shouldn’t all occur in a plain, featureless spaces. Introduce hazards, verticality, enemy interactions with the environment, traps and other elements to spice it up. Open Legend then provides some mechanical examples and a few thought starters on how to build modifiers to your encounters. Open Legend pushes hard the idea that players should never feel like they've done an encounter before even if the enemies are the same.

To close out the entire manual, Open Legend ends with consequences for combat. It suggests letting the story continue regardless of the outcome of the fight, and giving the GM story suggestions for all sorts of end states of a battle. Open Legend then closes by saying that you shouldn’t strive to be balanced in an encounter but you should always be fair. Never surprise your players, but if things go south they go south and its up to you as the GM to resolve that in a way that the players are happy with and pushes the story forward. And with that bit of confusing advice, Open Legend unceremoniously ends.

*For John Wick to presumably ignore.
Up Next Never: John Wick is Designing the First Campaign Setting, No I’m Not Buying It.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

The Book of Artifacts was the first RPG book I owned. I bought it the year it came out (I was 9 or 10) foolishly thinking that it would be useful to me as someone whose sort-of-introduction to roleplaying games was playing the Gold Box AD&D video games.

It pretty much convinced me to give D&D a pass. I realized I made a mistake, but based on the references in the book, I couldn't imagine that anyone would want to play this game full of tables, spells with silly names, and dozens of bizarrely idiosyncratic, discrete stats. (Like Bend Bars/Lift Gates and multiple saves vs. specific things.)

Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case

Return to the TOMB OF HORRORS part 14: It's The Red Ball!

When we last left our heroes, they had defeated the might Faericles, passed his trials, and earned the right to die in a really bullshit way when a bridge collapsed. Of course, let's assume they got past that, because it's kind of embarrassing to make it this far and then fall to your death.

Moil again:

So. We're approaching Area 15. As a reminder, the PCs stole a key from a brine dragon, solved a riddle box in a wraithspider lair, defeated a darkweaver and pulled the lever in its lair, and are now seeking out the last switch/lever/whatever. Area 15 is the Dreaming Tower.

The Moilians were very big on dreams. They believed that dreams allowed them to see the past and future and across great distances, all kinds of great powers. They developed powerful drugs to promote lucid dreaming for their experiments. Of course, Orcus's curse delivered an ironic twist to their dream preoccupation; what he probably didn't foresee was that their work would have consequences that persisted after their deaths. You see, as the Moilians twisted in their cursed sleep, their dream consciousness melded and mutated, creating something terrible from their pain and fear and confusion. One by one they died and one by one their anguish fed this growing evil: the Vestige, that haunts the deserted towers of Moil to this day. The PCs have probably already met it once or twice, and wisely fled from it, but this is its very lair and any disturbance is sure to bring it with a quickness.

Let's talk a bit about the Vestige. To start with, it is basically mindless. It does not eat or sleep or collect treasure. It is extremely maneuverable, and can fly, though it is not particularly fast. Its AC is an unimpressive 10, though it has 20 HD with an impressive 100 HP. Its Thac0 is 3, which is pretty great; it'll rarely miss. The problem with fighting it is twofold.

First, it is immune to drat near everything: it takes a +4 or better weapon to hit, and this being 2e, weapons lose pluses the farther they are from the plane where they were forged, so the chance your PCs have a weapon that can hit this thing is close to nil. Even if they do they only inflict damage equal to their bonus. It is completely immune to charm, hold, sleep, cold, poison and death magic. Magic it is not immune to, it has 90% magic resistance against. Lightning and fire deal only half damage. Protection from evil and similar spells keep it at bay... for 2d6 rounds, then it breaks through. Of course it cannot be turned.

Second, it can make 1d12 attacks each round, each one doing 2d6 damage (and dissolving a portion of your flesh!) Anyone engulfed in its misty body must take an Int check each round or lose 1d4 int temporarily (get one back every 12 hours). Going to 0 kills you and absorbs your consciousness into the Vestige's, where only a carefully worded wish can restore you.

It can sense sentience within 1000 feet and pursues it exclusively. Only an airtight seal can keep it out. It likes to sneak up on you along rooftops or the undersides of bridges. As it approaches, you feel a rising sense of dread; within 100 feet, you can hear the whispers, moans and laments of the Vestige's composite souls, even through a silence spell. Everyone who hears this must save vs. spells at -4 or suffer a -4 to all actions while in range due to immense fear. Fail by more than 4 and you flee in terror.

Do NOT fight the Vestige. You will NOT win. No reasonably-leveled party of PCs can hope to take it on. Even a higher-level party would struggle. Your best chance is to flee; if you can get more than 1000 feet away, it loses you, and it's not particularly fast. The Dreaming Tower, however, is the one place where conflict is unavoidable. The Vestige "lives" here and, while it doesn't think, it won't ignore intruders in its "home."

Area 15.1 is the entrance, the lintel of which is inscribed with a silver moon and a sprinkling of gemstone stars. They possess no special qualities, and inside the tower is dark and silent. Cross the threshold, and the vestige immediately becomes aware of it and beelines for the tower.

15.2 is the "lethargatorium." It has rows of beds and closed metal cupboards. This is where citizens would come for "dream therapy" with the "dream mystics." The cupboards contained materials for inducing a state of dreamy sleep. Each cabinet is locked but contains various soporifics, 10 per cabinet, in a variety of jars, bowls, vials etc. Using them on you induces unwakeable sleep for 1d10+1 hours. Each container has 4 doses, and taking more than 1 at once causes a saving through vs. poison at a cumulative -1 for additional doses. Failing the throw deals 2d10 per additional dose, passing deals 1d10 per additional dose. Don't OD on sleep drugs, kids. Needless to say they also put you out for much longer. One citizen died here and remains as a Moilian zombie.

15.3 is the store of "Lucidaphen," a special drug developed to induce lucid dreaming. The wooden door is still very well locked, apparently. Inside the room, cabinets are all toppled and smashed up. There are 30, of which 10 are smashed open and their contents destroyed. PCs can search the others and will eventually find one last unbroken vial of Lucidaphen. This stuff was highly addictive, and was considered a "fashionable addiction" in Moil. It contains 10 doses, marked by lines on the vial.

The passage of time has not been kind to the lucidaphen. Each dose has a 30% chance to do nothing and a 20% chance to make you save vs. poison at -2 or die. If it works, you must fall asleep within an hour of taking it. If you do, you have complete control of your dream, plus a 75% chance of learning the answer to "some difficult puzzle," which will be revealed in a cryptic, symbolic dream. The DM can, if he or she wants, choose to make the drug send you The Nightmare Court from Ravenloft. Whoops!

Each dose also has a 1 in 6 chance to be addictive. If you become addicted, you cannot get restful sleep without lucidaphen. You take a cumulative -1 on everything for each two days without sleep, and unless someone uses remove curse or heal (or similar spell) you'll die after two months.

15.4 is the Vestige's lair. It's a huge room with a giant hole in the stone floor. Through the gap, you can see the tower's support pillar, and a small platform attached to it about 30 feet down. If you get within 5' of the edge of the floor, you have a 50% chance to cause a break, which makes you save vs. breath weapon or topple into the gap and from there into the mists and the Negative Energy Plane. Every round you remain near the edge is a new check.

15.5 is the platform. It has little on it except a 3' tall stone dais bearing an hourglass filled with blue sand. The dais is inscribed with a message: "When the sand runs out, bring the glass about."

You can rotate the glass over, whereupon the sand begins to fall, but it will not turn back. Not for an hour, anyways. After one hour, you can turn it again, which produces a loud click as the last gate is opened. That's all it takes.

The complication is the Vestige's territorial nature. The PCs have to wait for an hour... but the Vestige is comin', and it won't simply leave you alone to turn the hourglass over. Nor can you just turn it and flee to return later; the hourglass must be turned back within 1 turn of its sand running out.

The Vestige arrives 1d4 turns after the hourglass is first flipped. It approaches from the south end of the tower, flowing up in 15.4's open window and then pouring out through the chasm like a waterfall of miserable murder ghost. The best hope at this point is to flee and lead it through the city. If someone enters the tower, the Vestige immediately heads there, breaking off pursuit if necessary; in this way it might be "tricked" long enough for the PCs to accomplish their goal.

Good luck. I really like this "trap," since it's very natural and organic to the setting and requires creative thinking. It's very open-ended. It still won't beat the dispel magic runes in my mind for best trap, but it's nice.

Next up: Blowing this popsicle stand!

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

I'm just going to assume brine dragons live on tenderloin and pickles.

May 7, 2007

My way of getting into DnD was piles of leftover 2nd edition books inherited from a family friend and let me tell you, designing a fun adventure without any of the core rule books but with copies of the Fiend Folio, Book of Artifacts, and modules like Tomb of Horrors produced a very, very confused version of 2nd Edition.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Don't feel bad about producing a very confused version of D&D. Most of the people who were paid to design it did the same.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Hostile V posted:

Put an alarm on top of the jenga tower so when it collapses the siren goes off.

Nah, having run Dread, you really don't need to gild the lily.

It's the best horror system, though. Nothing else really comes close. Really, part of it is that most horror systems don't do much to actually encourage horror in their mechanics. Call of Cthulhu has its own countdown to doom with the sanity mechanic, but it's random and not as effective as jenga. I can't think of many horror systems that have anything other than "maybe you're kinda disempowered and have to roll a die to see if you run away or something".

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder

Well, UA has the madness tracks. Those are pretty great.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

Yeah. UA is odd where it has horror elements but I don't think of it as a straight-up horror game, it doesn't seem like it can be pigeonholed so easily.

Aug 12, 2013

I've been kind of iffy on most of the Tomb of Horrors stuff but drat, the whole deal with the Vestige sounds really cool. I'm imagining the PC's having to backtrack through all the towers of Moil, avoiding the old traps and enemies that they already passed once while doing their best to use what they remember of the whole place to send the Vestige on a wild goose chase to buy just enough time for the last gate to open.

Jun 18, 2014

Conceptually a lot of the Tomb of Horrors stuff sounds really cool, but mechanically it just seems miserable.

Aug 23, 2009

admanb posted:

Conceptually a lot of the Tomb of Horrors stuff sounds really cool, but mechanically it just seems miserable.

Yeah, Moil is a great set piece, but it's riddled with Save-Or-Die bullshit even by the standards of cursed cities suspended in a reality bubble on the Negative Energy Plane.

Jun 18, 2014

Kavak posted:

Yeah, Moil is a great set piece, but it's riddled with Save-Or-Die bullshit even by the standards of cursed cities suspended in a reality bubble on the Negative Energy Plane.

But I'm imagining stuff like the dream drug in a system like Dungeon World where it's a custom move that says if you succeed, something awesome happens in the fiction. If you fail, something else awesome happens in the fiction!

Jul 19, 2012

Chapter 4: Rules
As always, we open up with another chapter in the saga of Ben.


Vampire. I’m hanging out with a vampire. Ben shook his head, still not quite able to believe it. The Halloween street fair moved around the two of them on the bright paths around the lake, a sea of fake monsters surrounding the real ones, a terrible live band thumping out a tune somewhere on the far shore.

Someone waved and it took Ben a moment to realize it was the kid he’d saved from Kyle a few weeks back. Ryan, he’d said his name was Ryan. Ben waved back but was glad when Ryan kept walking. His heart was racing, just a little bit faster because he knew Noelle could hear it. He caught her eye and they grinned at each other, teeth very bright in the dark.

“You really want to do this?” Noelle nodded her head toward the alley. If everything was going right, her “date” would be waiting already. It was so much easier when she hunted in her femme presentation, she’d told him. As Noel it took more effort and sometimes required a supernatural nudge to draw in prey, but as Noelle all it took was a carefully worded Craigslist ad. “It’s OK if you don’t want to.”

“I do,” Ben said, squeezing her hand. She was cold, but she would be warmer soon. His own Hunger was insistent, especially after tangling with those hunters of hers just days ago. Noelle stood on tiptoes to kiss his cheek and headed into the alley, the fringe of her flapper outfit swaying seductively as she went. It was dark, but darkness didn’t bother him like it used to. He could make out the shape out the man at the end of the alley clear as day. Alone, too, which was good. It made everything easier.

“Hello, lover,” Noelle crooned. The guy was so intent on Noelle that he didn’t even notice Ben at first, just went to embrace her with a smile on his face. When he saw Ben coming up behind her, though, his face fell.

“Who’s this?” he asked, irritation plain in his tone. Noelle’s time wasn’t cheap. “If this is some kind of shakedown—”

“Change of plans, love,” Noelle purred, sliding into his arms and twining herself around him. Ben could practically see the lust warring with the annoyance on the man’s face. “We’re doing dinner instead.”

“Private reservation,” Ben agreed. He locked eyes with the man and found the fear he needed. “Just us, alone in the dark.”

The man looked like he was about to speak when Noelle sank her fangs into his throat. For a few minutes the world was slow and red as she drank her fill and Ben’s Horror fed on the thrill of the hunt itself, until they were both near drunk on it.

When it was over and Noelle had told her date his bedtime story and put him to sleep, she took Ben’s hand with her warm one and drew him close for a kiss. “That was nice,” she said, licking the last of the blood from her teeth. “We make a good team,” Ben agreed, dismissing the wall of shadows with a wave of his hand. Together they walked out of the alley and back into the Halloween fair, just two more monsters holding hands in the night.
So he's dating/hunting with a hooker vampire.
He's sixteen.


Tales of the Dark Mother: Mia
Mia sat in the middle of the room and watched it fill with water.

The room was a basement storage room belonging to a corporation that did terrible things. Most corporations did terrible things, yes, but this one took pieces out of her family and stuffed them into people. They took the fangs from her undead brothers, the flesh from her shape-changing sisters, and even the strange, silvery liquid from her not-quite-human cousin. They were butchers and killers and they had no place in the world. They were not Family.

So Mia sat in the middle of the room and called up the ocean. She and her Horror had fed deeply the night before, and she was prepared to drown the whole place out, bring it crashing down upon itself.

Are they not family?

The voice was a beautiful song, played backwards and atonally. It was a clash of metal on teeth. Mia’s Horror heard it, lurking in the dark corners of the world, and cringed.
Are they not family? The voice was insistent now. Mia stood. The water was shin deep around her. They weren’t family. They killed family. They were butchers and hunters.

And what are you? What are we?

We are the Begotten. The Children. We—

We kill. We cause pain. It is no shame to do as we do.

Are they family, then? Should they be spared?

Here is the secret, my beautiful daughter.

Mia steeled herself. She reached out and staunched the water’s flow. If she had to flee, she would, but she needed to hear what her Mother had to say.

They are family, yes. Being family carries my love, my respect, and my power.

Mia smiled, and understood. “But not Your mercy.”

No .

Mia flung her arms wide, fingers splayed out, and laughed joyously. Water rushed in, and she heard the building’s supports groan. Maybe soon she could meet her new family. She hoped they would understand.
So Hunters are supernatural and worthy of respect but Beasts are the ultimate adjudicators of who gets to live and die, fantastic.

This is basically the rules chapter from the Chronicles of Darkness with a few sidebars saying "Beasts don't have integrity but if for some reason you want to have a human in your game go ahead I guess." "Here are the rules for ghosts, spirits, and posession even though those are somewhat tonally inconsistent with our game." and "Soul's aren't the seat of conciousness so you can remove someone's soul without them becoming a zombie also vampires have souls and why the hell did we make a soul removing power?" Okay maybe I added that last sentence.

also there are pictures, not many, but some.

This is pretty goddamn Dresden Files.

What is going on here.. he's either defending that woman or horribly abusing her.

But beyond that this chapter isn't anything new, and since I'm already a few months behind I'm not going to spend 2 weeks reinventing the wheel.

Up Next: Heroes

Jul 19, 2012

So yeah, I probably should stop even trying to do 300+ page books. Thankfully we're over the hump, so to speak, there's The antagonists chapter, the worldbuilding chapter, the storyteller chapter where they wax poetic about Rashoman for a while, and a sample adventure that I haven't even looked at yet to preserve my native reactions. I'm gonna try to wrap this up as soon as I can, definitely before Halloween (Which seems apt).

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

So wait Hunters do count as supernatural for the sake of familial stuff?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder



Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.


Jul 19, 2012

Slashers tick as supernatural enough for Beasts to do things with them, as do Psychics and Mediums. I imagine any Hunter Compact that does something similar would also do so. Unless they're purely 100% tech only.

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 22:25 on Sep 22, 2016

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Some hunters are supernatural, but just getting on the Vigil doesn't tick you over to having a template.

Dec 22, 2003

I still can't believe they cast Spock as me. Spock! Can you imagine?

Of course, he was missing a few things.

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Nah, having run Dread, you really don't need to gild the lily.

It's the best horror system, though. Nothing else really comes close. Really, part of it is that most horror systems don't do much to actually encourage horror in their mechanics. Call of Cthulhu has its own countdown to doom with the sanity mechanic, but it's random and not as effective as jenga. I can't think of many horror systems that have anything other than "maybe you're kinda disempowered and have to roll a die to see if you run away or something".
I have lovely fine motor control so a Jenga tower system just tells me I'm hosed to the point where it's not really worth trying. Like I love horror, but there isn't a "risk" here, it's more like "pretty much near certainty I'm going to be eliminated." Whenever I've been in a Dread module or whatever, I feel like my role (due to this lovely fine motor control) is "take the hit to reset the tower when it gets too precarious for everyone else."

So it kind of impairs the mood.

Jul 19, 2012

Rand Brittain posted:

Some hunters are supernatural, but just getting on the Vigil doesn't tick you over to having a template.

Per the book, anyone with a Bloodline endowment counts as supernatural, as do Slashers. Anyone else needs to undergo some kind of horrific dream quest to allow a kinship bond.

Also: I can't wait till we get to the idiocy that is the antagonists entry for Hunters.

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Way of the Phoenix: If you need to escape

Toturi's waifu, at last!

Important NPCs! We start with Isawa Kaede. She is the Acolyte of Void, meaning she is in line to replace the Master of Void later on. She's a little over five feet tall but somehow seems taller. Her hair and eyes are black, and her skin a darker brown than most people in her family. As a child, her younger brothers called her "little shadow" until her father made them stop. Her mother, Doji Ninube, died in childbirth and as such she and her father have always been close. She demonstrated great affinity for Void magic since early childhood and there's never been any real doubt that she will become the next Master of Void after her father. She's also dedicated and diligent, and while she finds joy in the life that she can feel through Void she also understands the need of control over her ability. During an accident with her still untrained powers as a child, she ended up killing her pet rabbit while trying to make it feel a nearby brook to cool it off, and on her fourteenth birthday she was attacked by a maddened bear and only survived by infusing the beast with Void awareness. Much of her learning was finished that day. She's engaged to marry Akodo Toturi, daimyo of the Lion, though she has met him only briefly. Isawa Ishi 4, Chosen by the Oracle of Void and with the Great Destiny (Oracle of Void) so you know. Void! She also knows some Dragon Kagaku, apparently. And she knows all Void spells in this book "and a few more", aside from any corebook spell determined by the GM, focused on healing and nature. But she has the DARK SECRET of her birth!

Dig the feather accessory. It's magic! Literally.

Isawa Uona is the youngest daughter of a rather mediocre shugenja in a minor Isawa family. When she was seven, she was sent to the Kakita Academy by her parents, hoping she did well enough to score a courtier position with the Crane. She showed true talent with the haiku, and the Crane were suitably impressed, but her career was cut short when she met the aged Asahina Tomo. The old master recognized the power dormant within the girl and had her brought to a ritual to awaken an Air kami within a fetish, but during the ritual the air spirits surrounded her and took her high above the ritual ground, whispering secrets to her. They released her gently and went to the north to inform the dying Master of Air, Isawa Eju, that his successor had been found. Reluctantly, Tomo and the Academy teachers released Uona and she returned to Phoenix lands for proper instruction. She has served for the last six years as Eju's assistant and apprentice, but his health has severely deteriorated and he can no longer move - rumors say he won't live for another season. Doubts arise in the council at Uona succeeding him with her youth an inexperience, and she is a little self conscious about her position but proud of her duties and fully believing she is the best person for the title. Isawa Tensai (Air) 3, very Wealthy and with Benten's Blessing, but also a Meddler suffering of Vanity and Overconfidence. She's got all Air spells and any spell the GM deems fit, focused on beauty and investigation.

I wonder if he remembers our man Ginawa now.

Isawa Tadaka has seen more evil and danger than most Elemental Masters ever dream, and the source of more destruction against the Shadowlands than most Kuni even know. His hatred of the foul beasts is legendary and his family whispers of dark pacts and evil prophecies around him, the Master of Earth. Long centuries ago, his ancestor, Isawa Akuma, summoned and was destroyed by the most fearsome Oni ever known, who took his name and destroyed the Elemental Council. Tadaka has not forgotten this blasphemy and still seeks revenge for the slaughter of his ancestor, and his quest has led him into the darkest parts of the Shadowlands. His passion to discover new foul rituals and ways to fight Fu Leng's minions rivals the most fanatic Kuni, and has risked his life, mind and soul in his attempts. He was a quiet boy, overshadowed by his elder sister Kaede, though there were no hard feelings or jealousy between the two. In fact, they were both rather close, and regretted their parting when Tadaka went to study for a year in Crab lands, where he realized his calling when his ancestor came to him, gagged and silent but begging for his aid. He stayed with the Kuni for more time than expected until the Master of Earth himself, Isawa Rujo, went to pick him up foricbly, at which Tadaka challenged him to a magical duel where the loser would become ronin. Tadaka won, Rujo was banished for his arrogance, and the Elemental Council invited the young shugenja in. Some say the new Master of Earth is too 'close to his work' and that the mask he wears covers the first signs of Taint in his body. Isawa Tensai (Earth) 5, with an Earth of 7 (about as tough as Hida Yakamo) and all Earth spells plus any GM-set spells focused on jade and corruption. Also, Shadowlands Taint 0.2 , Fascinated with Oni no Akuma and Driven to free his ancestor's soul.

Baldy seems to be having fun.

Isawa Tomo just knew he had to walk the path of Water. He was always fascinated by the nearby Seikihi River, and for him the sea was the most awesome thing in the world - a body of water so great, no one could tell him what was on the other side! When they were children, Tomo and his older brother, Tadaka, decided to run off into the Shadowlands so their parents would never find them, as boys were wont to do They gave the slip to their older sister Kaede and evaded their father's patrols and spellcraft for two months. They had many adventures that summer, but ended up running afoul of bandits in Scorpion lands, and only escaped with the help of a boy named Shidachi. He traveled with them until they made it to the Scorpion heartland, where he turned them in to the Yogo who promptly sent them back to their parents. To regain favor with his father, Tomo declared his choice of Water years before such a choice was necessary. He still is filled with the joy of doing what he loves, and his childhood mischief has not dimmed with his madurity. All the same, he is very still in meditation and has a keen mind and natural ability with the Water kami. When the previous Master stepped down, she knew Tomo was ready for the post. And now, Yogo Shidachi, his old friend is coming to study at Kyuden Isawa, and Tomo is more than glad to pay the debt to the Scorpion that saved his life. Isawa Tensai (Air) 5, some ten-odd ranks short of Insight, with all Water spells and any GM-determined spells focused on deception and stealth, and an obligation to Yogo Shidachi.

Yet to find something that he can't solve with judicious application of magic napalm.

Isawa Tsuke is the second most experienced Master in the Council and possibly the most powerful. He can certainly be considered the 'leader' of the Five. His magics can level buildings, destroy armies and slaughter those he feels 'unworthy', and while some call him malicious or vindictive he sees himself as an honorable tyrant, forced to lead because he is the only capable choice. His scorn for the other Masters is well hidden, and he considers their pacifism to be the simpering of weak minds. Their reluctance to use their powers is to him a sign of disloyalty to the Emperor and his line. He is a loyalist at the core and served in the Imperial Guard for many years before returning to lead the Council, so he has a broad grasp of political and military tactics. The Shiba aren't as confident in his leadership, afraid that he will break the convention of peace with his aggressive moves to patrol the Lion border. He has a reputation with the Clans and is not pretty: he is known for his dueling abilities and his tactic of slaughtering bandits one at a time with his spells while the troops kept them hemmed in. With the Council he deals in an extremely professional level and disputes are mediated with brutal efficiency, and only Isawa Kaede - a mere Acolyte - has ever chosen to question his will. This has not made her a friend of the Master of Fire, but any rivalry is completely one-sided on his part. Isawa Tensai (Fire) 5, with a Fire of 8 which means that he is chopping poo poo up something fierce, though his Water and Air are "only" 3. He's got the Higher Purpose of establishing the Phoenix as a power in the Empire and Tactician, as well as a very high Iaijutsu and Kenjutsu, but he is Brash, has Jealousy and has Blackmail: Akodo Kage at 5--- wait, isn't Blackmail an advantage? As can be assumed he has all Fire spells and any other spells focused on military application and destruction.

"Remember when I was the NPC leash in a terribly railroaded adventure, birdie? Good times."

When Isawa Ujina was born a pure white wren flew into the birthing chamber and circled three timesa round the bed where his mother laid. One of the midwives said it was a good omen, but her companion replied that the wren had the color of sorrow and that it heralded misfortune. Without a sound, his father cut down the woman with his sword, splashing her blood on the wren, and said that he would not tolerate the words of foolish women wishing harm upon his son. (That was definitely John there - casual abuse and murder of the lower classes is one of his Things.) The corpse was taken away and the matter never brought again. Ujina grew up to be tall and slender, agile and deft with the katana, though no one doubted that the sword would only be a pastime due to his obvious connection with the Void. When he was eight, the Master of Void came to visit his home, and Ujina approached him with the informal affection of a child to a grandfather: through their Void connection they were already familiar with each other, and Ujina's father was highly honored by the Master's request to train him. He returned to his parents' home at the age of nineteen, a quiet but friendly man with little use for formality with the servants when he could hear their blood flow the same as his own. At the age of twenty, he met Doji Ninube, daughter of a nearby Crane lord. Both were engaged to wed each other soon. Two months before the marriage, he sat in his garden while waiting for her to arrive, focusing on the sensations and smells, feeling her approach... and then the world lost its color, and around him time seemed to stand still. He could not even feel his own heart, and then the color itself began to bleed out of things. He felt a voice, both familiar and entirely alien call to him, before the world returned. Ninube did not arrive, and Ujina went out to find what happened, and at her parents' estate he met a Kitsuki investigator called Kaagi. After the events of Way of Shadow, he returned a much different man, his right arm lost and horribly scarred in face and body. Ninube nursed him through the worst of it, and once he was well enough they married in a small, private ceremony. After that, his father grew horribly ill, and though Ninube spent long hours keeping him company he grew worse and worse, and soon Ujina could not bear to see him as he felt the revulsion his father had both for himself and his son, both crippled and weak. The only company he could stand in time was that of Ninube and the Master of Void, who visited regularly but never stayed for long - Ninube always said he never liked her. Ujina just thought she didn't know him, but once he paid attention during a visit and noticed that his Master never let his eyes off Ninube. When questioned, the Master said that he did not know Ninube - he knew all pebbles rolling under the tide, each ant under the foundation of the castle, but not Ujina's wife. Did he? The next day, he left, and two months later Ninube was with child, but the Master would not come to Ujina's side. Five months later, during a mighty storm, she gave birth to her child: the blood-stained wren appeared on the birthing room's window, and as she entered the world Ujina felt something terribly, terribly wrong. He looked at the baby and realized that he did not know her, and neither did he know her mother. He looked at Ninube and saw the face of someone that he knew a long time ago, not one that he had seen every day for the last several years. Sending the baby downstairs, they started talking. Ujina asked her point blank if she killed his father, and Ninube said yes. He asked her if she had killed her bethrothed, and it said yes. Her features started to slip at the edges. Ujina said he would destroy and forget the thing, but it just hissed that he could only destroy what he knew and undestrood. Something flew from her towards him, and barbs bit into Ujina's body, sending poison through his already mutilated right side. But the thing was wrong: he could destroy what he loved and he knew it now. He used his connection with the Void and unmade his wife, making her body fall apart. The wren was now whole and healthy, but standing in a pool of fresh blood. He limped downstairs, held his daughter in his hands and named her Kaede, and with that her eyes cleared and she gurgled a little like babies do. In the morning, his Master went to see him, and said that he was the Master of Void now. Ujina has raised his daughter well since that night: he remarried to one Isawa Ieku, who bore him Tadaka and Tomo. The poison still courses through his body, and he has to use his power to keep it from destroying his spirit, but his body is warped and changed from the effort. Isawa Ishiken 5, pretty much all Void spells ever, with Lost Limb and Lost Love.

No greater love than the love between a man and his snow waifu.

Shiba Tetsu was a sour child, spoiled and unhappy. His parents were wealthy and acquired anything he wanted to assuage his boredom, but he was insufferable. Finally they decided to send him to train as a bushi, but he rebelled and ran into the Isawa woodlands. The experience would change his life forever: for days, he spoke of the 'snow maiden' he found there, and how beautiful she was. She had found him alone and crying under an oak tree and comforted him. With her encouragement, he learned that becoming a bushi was not a punishment, but a high honor and that service to the Clan was the greatest duty. When he returned, he was a changed child, bright and happy, and he excelled at the martial arts and made many friends. He spent his summers in the castle by the Isawa woodlands, seeking for his mysterious companion. He has never found her but he swears that she watches him, and he is confident that one day will find her again. Some say that he will be the next Champion, but Ujimitsu only says that his destiny is somewhere other than being the head of the Clan, which courtiers take as jealousy on the daimyo's part. Tetsu himself doesn't care about the rumors: he just wants to serve his Clan, find the snow maiden, and be the very best bushi like no one ever was. Shiba Bushi 2, with Great Destiny and True Love: Yuki no Onna. He's also Small and Gullible.

Ah, Tadaka-san...

Shiba Tsukune knew all her life what she wanted. She was the second child to a wealthy Shiba landholder, and though many thought she would live in the shadow of her older brother, Norihatsu, nothing of the sort happened: they were like twins separated at birth. As a favor to the Shiba daimyo her father sent her to the Akodo War College, where she was in constant touch with her brother through letter. Her father didn't need a Kitsu to tell him that his children shared a kharmic bond and rejoiced in the glory that they would bring to his house, but unfortunately Norihatsu suffered a riding accident on his way home from the Shiba school and broke his neck. Tsukune, training with Akodo Kage miles away in the War College, felt the loss instantly. The Elemental Masters themselves could do little for the girl, and a Kitsu shugenja told her father that Tsukune had been cut off from half her soul, and would not recover until healed. She spent a summer locked in her room, and decided to stay and train with the Shiba instead of returning to the Akodo. She devoted every waking hour to her bugei skills, making little friends other than her cousin Isawa Uona and a young Kitsu studying with her at the Isawa school. She went to the Mirumoto and came back with "Rhythm and Timing" tattooed across her shoulders, and gained the nickname 'Little Turtle' from her teachers for her cold and stoic demeanor in combat. A day before her gempukku, she was told she would serve as yojimbo to Isawa Tadaka, one of the most promising shugenja in Rokugan. When they were introduced to each other, her heart melted, and she felt things she had not felt in a decade. Three months have passed since then, and she is not able to keep him from her thoughts. She can't say how or why, but she knows she is bound to Tadaka just as she was bound to her brother. However, she remembers how she almost died when her brother died, and fears that one day will feel the same pain and not be able to survive Tadaka's journeys into the Shadowlands. Multiple School Akodo Bushi 2 / Shiba Bushi 3, way low on Insight for her effective Rank 5. She has True Love for Isawa Tadaka but Lost Love for Shiba Norihatsu.

Matsu Hokitare's long lost brother.

Shiba Ujimitsu is the leader of the Shiba family and Clan Champion. On one hand he represents everything that a Phoenix Champion should be - wise, thoughtful, well-versed in bushido and dedicated to the Clan's defense - but on the other he is far more than what his appearance suggests. There was nothing overly remarkable about him when growing up. He listened to what he was told and rarely spoke back to his elders, performing well but never excelled at anything. He had an uneventful gempukku and took his post in the Phoenix borders along with dozens of other Shiba graduates. He was on patrol with his unit along the coastline one morning when the previous Champion died: Ujimitsu fell off his horse into the surf as the souls of his ancestors flowed into him, speaking in strange tongues and begging to 'his mother', the Sun, to forgive him for his failures. The Crane allies along with the patrol thought he had gone mad, but his gunso recognized the signs and as soon as he was well enough Ujimitsu was dispatched to the Shiba family palace to confirm his status. He formally took office soon after. All of it took him by surprise, as he only expected to be a yojimbo for some shugenja instead of leader of the entire Clan. In the next few days he felt he was losing himself in the cacophony of the voices of his head, coming dangerously close to irretrievable madness but Isawa Ujina and the other Masters helped him regain his equilibrium with meditation techniques and instructions. Since then, he has performed above expectations and brought a new sense of honor to his Clan. The Shiba troops are sharper now, and while the Phoenix military is still small it's no longer object of ridicule. He had a family once, but lost it some time ago when his wife committed seppuku over a matter of honor and he was forced to kill his own little daughter when she cursed the souls of the Hantei in front of the very Emperor. Only those present at the time know about it, no one talks about the matter and asking Ujimitsu about his family is tantamount to suicide. There are strange stories about Ujimitsu claiming that he moves with uncanny speed and defies the laws of nature and reality at will, with reliable reports of his presence in places hundreds of miles apart within the same hour on the same day, which Ujimitsu publicly claims to be outlandish stories though those close to him say that he enjoys the mystique and plays them up. Whether there's truth to them or not, only the Champion can say. Shiba Bushi 5, with the unique Soul of the Kami advantage that gives him the skills and knowledge of all of his ancestors, as well as having all the Shiba ancestors as an advantage. He has a Water Ring of 5 but only a Strength of 3, which is deliberate as he was weakened by an incident that is described in Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun.

He's the best! Around!

Asako Togama was a young prodigy of the family. During his apprenticeship his master thought of teaching him humility by giving him as homework the task of translating several archaic pictographs into modern Rokuganese, including one that he had made up on the spot. Togama looked at him, left the room and returned hours later with a two hundred years old tax receipt with a character that matched exactly. He has always been precocious but that hasn't stopped him from being one of the most well-loved people in the Asako family, and he is welcomed at every court in the land for his studies and dry wit. He has traveled as far south as Kyuden Doji and to the wicked Ryoko Owari of the Scorpion in the west. Scorpion, Unicorn, Lion and Crane welcome him with open arms and though the Dragon have made no overtures of friendship Togama is certain that he'll receive an invitation to their libraries one day, and that will be his greatest feat. Recently he has become embroiled in some political trouble, though: on researching some ancient documents found beneath Otosan Uchi and the history of the Imperial line, it became known that he had found the true name of Iuchiban, but the original documents were destroyed before he could bring them to court. He didn't seem to mind the failure much, though when the subject is brought up he only asks why his work was so carefully unwritten, if it was a lie. For now he stays in the Asako palace, traveling among the Isawa and Shiba libraries, and is always willing to spend time discussing his favorite work with those who listen. Asako Henshin 2 (Air, Water), with Fascination with Iuchiban and Forbidden Knowledge (the true name of Iuchiban!)

Man's seen some poo poo.

Asako Oyo was born one hundred and forty-two years ago to a caretaker of the Isawa library in Gisei Toshi. His mother died in childbirth and he was taken in by the small community, and he grew exposed to the stories the Asako read to him every night. His mind was extraordinary and he consumed thousands of words a day from the library's texts, but he never seemed content, always looking out the windows as if knowledge was not enough for him. When he started growing bored of the Asako mind games and puzzles they decided to train him as a henshin, but the Isawa would not let any Asako leave the library before retirement, so they decided to smuggle him out with the monks that delivered food and supplies. The ruse succeeded and he arrived to Shiro Asako alone, proudly announcing his heritage and right to attend. Over the years he exhibited unprecedented acumen with the henshin techniques, and the masters were often shocked by his depth of knowledge that was far beyond that of a student of his level. When he reached the fourth rank of training, the Fushihai analyzed his progress and with fear they realized he was progressing too fat, and they did not know what would happen to someone walking the Path of Man prematurely. They made the decision to stop his studies and assign him to the Michibiku until they were assured he was ready, but they didn't take his genius intellect into account. He put pieces together over the next couple of decades, and only years before he would have joined the Asako monks he put the final piece of the puzzle together and he managed the incredible feat of slipping into the final rank without a sensei. New vistas of comprehension opened in his mind, and he knew the Path that he was traveling... but to where? What was he striving for? What great secret plagued his spirit, and once released, where would it go? This and many other questions plagued him to the point that he recognized that insanity was only a thought away. He returned to Shiro Asako and begged for the Masters' counsel, who realized their horrible mistake - they had given him the tools to continue the Path on his own without guidance. For the next thirty years they tried to correct this mistake with deep metditative trances and intensive spiritual journeys, which were only the beginning of his suffering. They rescued his spirit, but he was no longer the Oyo they knew: he was distraught and pained, one of his eyes had gone stark white, and he spent entire weeks shivering from the things he had seen. Clarity only worsened his state, as in those moments he spoke of the future, a time when the Clans would wage war with each other, when the Dark One would return and when a darkness would sweep the land. For almost one hundred years the Fushihai and their assistants guided Oyo down the path, as his ramblings became more coherent and he spoke less and less of what he had seen, and it was determined that his visions were becoming less distant, as if he were approaching a pivotal moment in time. Two years ago, he escaped, and now he wanders the countryside, alternating between the present and minutes ahead of himself while the henshin search for him. He stumbles across the Empire, warning to anyone that listens not to trust the Asako - they are not ready. Asako Henshin 5 (Water, Fire, Earth, Air, Void) with super low Insight but with superhuman Perception and Awareness, with the Higher Purpose of warning of the henshin dangers, a Missing Eye, Enlightened Madness and Forbidden Knowledge. But wait, doesn't Phoenix Enlightened Madness need spells to trigger from? Henshin aren't shugenja, dangit book you told me this.

Sample PCs!

I hope those aren't anal beads, Isawa-san

When the Isawa Fetish Collector was born, a man in a battered hakama arrived at the house and told his family he just needed a place to sleep for the night. Upon seeing the baby PC and as thanks, he gave his parents a sealed scroll case to be opened at his gempukku and then went away. Fourteen years later the PC opened it, and that night he ignored his other gifts, focused on reading the scroll. He was never the same again, and his parents claimed that he was less caring of others and worried at his wanderlust, thinking he was becoming corrupted by a fascination with objects - particularly tsangusuri and other magic trinkets. Days after he read the scroll, a voice started talking in his head, knowing his heart's longing and promising to fulfill it if he would come to take it away. In visions the voice guided him to a shrine, where he found an old spice shaker, and then a new voice promised that it was a powerful item that would grant him immeasurable magic if he would follow it with another location. With each new item his powers grew, but also something inside his soul. Now he is besieged by a growing hatred, as if something is trying to break free from his body, and every time he follows a voice something terrible happens and something dies. He has learned too much to turn back now: will he accept the great power the voices offer, sacrificing everything and everyone he cares about, or seek a way to silence them and finish this monstruous magic? Isawa Shugenja with an Air focus, has a wakizashi and is not afraid to use it! (Kenjutsu 1 )

He looks like he were making an angry face.

The Amnesiac Ishi doesn't remember his name, where he was born, his parents or friends or what he was doing that ended up with him in a riverbed one week ago covered in moss and steaming blood. All that he knows is that he's a shugenja, a Void mage. He has no sensei but thinks he did before the accident, and he can almost remember a face, someone protecting him and holding him back, guiding him home when he ventured too far into the realm. He remembers a battlefield - no, maybe a battle erupted around him, a tower where everyone was his friend and he could trust them until the locusts came and destroyed everything, taking his master and someone else away. He also remembers more and more the face of a young and sturdy warrior that helped and protected him, but he can't remember where he is or whether he still lives. Somewhere there must be someone that can tell him who he is and what he was doing that caused his tragedy. Trying to find the trail through the aether is too much, too many things to look at, listen and understand. He can almost hear someone calling his name and wishes he could give in and float away, but what would become of him? He could commit seppuku now while he is still in control of what's left of his mind, but what would that accomplish? Void shugenja with a Void-triggered Enlightened Madness, that's bound to go swimmingly in a party.

The mystic art of travel case packing.

The Asako Michibiku was born with the Dragon, spending his youth in their lofty peaks and peaceful monasteries, but one day an Asako Fushihai came to him. He did not understand then, and did not believe the Master when he told him that he had lived to four hundred years old in his previous life and had been nearly immortal before being struck down by a villainous Isawa. He believes now, the Path of Man has been revealed and his soul remembers more and more of it with each day. They say he is destined for 'glorious ascension' and the things that he can accomplish even without training must be proof of the Asako's claims, but he realizes there are flaws in the scheme. How come such an established Asako wasn't reborn in the family? Wouldn't the Path prevent such mistakes? And if it does, what did he do that caused his errant rebirth? Sometimes when walking the Path he senses others nearby, but that is impossible - his Fushihai told him that everyone must walk the Path alone. Is he sure who he is? Asako Michibiku, with the Riddle of Air and all Rings at 2, as well as a load of skills at 1 and 2, including some Dragon-only stuff like Ichi-miru or Nazodo. Also, a Dark Secret of the GM's choice and a Nemesis!

That's a sasumata, a man-catcher.

The Shamed Yojimbo failed his duty. He was tasked to protect one Isawa shugenja, but now he is gone and the yojimbo is shamed for his loss. The shugenja is thought dead, destroyed when his Ishiken was killed during an attack on his stronghold, but the PC knows better - he is alive, though he has no idea where he is. All that he remembers of the last hours he spent with him was that the Ishiken was working on a special session where the "gates of Amaterasu's throneroom would be cast open and the future of the world laid out like a roadmap." He remembers a battlefield, a great battlefield where he was the only defense against the invaders, and a field of locusts descending on the Ishiken's tower, desiring the secrets that the Void Master knew of the next world. The enemies forced him back into the meditation room, where the mages were locked in a deep trance, and as they overwhelmed him and struck down the Ishiken, his charge - his friend vanished in a violent release of energy. Since that day, he has felt him. Not here, not near, but he is alive. A mon recovered from the raiders revealed that they were Moto - but for what purpose would they attack the Phoenix so savagely? Could it have anything to do with the spell that took his friend? The Shiba have called for his seppuku but he can't give up. He must be out there somewhere, and even though some in his own family call him ronin for his disobedience, he can't allow himself to listen. He must be true to his vow. Shiba Bushi, reasonable stats but average Reflexes, trained in kenjutsu and yarijitsu. Also, a Kharmic Tie to the shugenja and Bad Reputation for having lost him.

That's some Kirby poo poo.

For the Corrupted Henshin, she thinks it started with her father but she can't be sure. She doesn't remember much about her parents, having been taken in while very young to study with the Fushihai. She was told that her father had been killed before birth and that her mother had slipped into madness as a result, and was now in the care of a local minor daimyo. Years of preparation with the Asako all but erased the shadows of her past until one year ago she noticed a rash on her hand. Within weeks, her skin became rough and dark. The Asako healers could do nothing against the infection and soon they were rumors of Taint, but neither Kuni nor Kitsuki brought in to study the phenomenon could identify it. Furthermore, she grew stronger, as if the dark patch provided her with new strength. Then, the flashes began: images of things to come, half-remembered scenes of the future, a time when the darkness would spread across all of her and swallow her in its cold embrace. If the Asako were ever to discover what she is becoming, she would be doomed to die, never knowing about her father and what he passed on to her, so she fled. She's since heard that the Asako were hunting her, and on a visit to her mother she could only make out one word: Shosuro. Asako Henshin with the Riddle of Fire, but for some reason Earth is her strongest Ring. She's got Precognition as an Inner Gift and a Major Ally in the daimyo that takes care of her mother, but she is a Black Sheep and she also has the Taint - come on guys, the Shadow and the Taint aren't the same thing.

Ancestors! Isawa Akuma sought to discover the secrets of identity, and in his studies he discovered that his goal would be found away from the Empire. Despite the Crab's warnings he ventured into the Shadowlands never to be seen again. Ironically, the Oni he summoned in his quest for identity stripped him of the thing that he had been seeking all these years. For 3 points, characters gain their Void in Free Raises to combat Oni, but they are also born into the lowest social climates (3-point Social Disadvantage) due to his fall. Which makes no sense with Isawa Tadaka since he's the son of the Master of Void and has Akuma as an ancestor. Naka Kaeteru was the first Grand Master of all the Elements. He was born to a humble family and took it upon himself to see the world, wandering Rokugan and learning from everything. He came upon a monk and asked what he was doing: "Thinking", he said, and Kaeteru joined him in "thinking." He gathered many followers in his meditation, and the Phoenix took him and his teachings into their Clan, calling him their Spiritual Guide. To this day, he is revered both by Shinsei monks and the Asako. For 14 points (!) a shugenja is considered to have a Void two ranks higher than it is and may always add two additional dice for meditating or helping others meditate, but if the PC's Honor is reduced to 1 or less Kaeteru will abandon them forever. Isawa Ijime was born into a large and uncaring family, the youngest daughter among many older boys who bullied her relentlessly. She escpaed into imaginary places to retreat from the world, and at the age of 8 she discovered she could make the images manifest but hid her ability fearing more scorn from her family. Her powers activated unwillingly when a magistrate was visiting, and he took her to the Isawa even though she was well beyond the age of training. The Isawa simply expected her to catch up normally. At the age of 16, finally prepared for her gempukku, she died of a rupture in her head with a snarl of anger and abuse in her face. The Phoenix burned her body with honor, never understanding her magic. A disadvantage ancestor, foe 3 points PCs see all contested rolls having their TN increased in 5, all social rolls having their TN incresed in 10, Void considered 1 lower for purposes of dueling and all meditation attempts done with a TN of 40, but at least they get one die bonus to all skills involving puzzles and investigations. Just three points for all of that? Isawa Takao was an amazing Master of Fire, far exceeding the expectations of his sensei during training and deciding the fate of the Isawa at the age of 21. The other Masters thought his methods rash but his station afforded him some leeway. At the age of 24, he sought to challenge the Oracle of Fire to see who was the strongest. When the time came, a great tower of fire rose from the earth, and Takao watched it dance - then he stepped forward into it and was instantly consumed by the flame. For 2 points characters get one extra die when casting fire spells but are also assumed to have the Brash disadvantage. If they already have it, the TN for all Honor tests is 25. Shiba Toriiko had the Oracle of the Wind as her aunt. As a little girl, she asked her aunt to do a trick, and the Oracle saw her future and her expression soured. To know the future is to deny hope, she said, but Toriiko solemnly replied that there's always hope for peace. She died defending it. For 1 point, characters are always eligible for the Kharma Rule when dying in the name of peace, thus making her the most worthless ancestor that isn't a Disadvantage. Shiba Kaigen stood at a critical moment of history, guarding a mountain pass when a Lion force sought to invade Phoenix lands. He and his men held against the superior Lion forces with unorthodox strategy and the power of the kami while a message was sent to the Isawa. Without his sacrifice, the whole Clan could have fallen. Only bushi may take him as an ancestor: for 2 points, if a shugenja within 10 feet of the character spends a Void point they gain an extra action for the round, that cannot be an attack. Asako is Asako. For 4 points, she gives a 6-point True Friend, but they also inherit her son's anger in the form of the Brash disadvantage, and if the PC is ever betrayed by someone they will be Driven to their downfall. Asako Ingen was a pioneer in the research of the Gift. He was convinced that the Riddles were only the beginning and sought to unravel the puzzle. At the end of his life he finally managed to lay down the groundwork for the modern view of the Path, but old age claimed him before it could be fully realized. His last words were reportedly "I would be as a god!", and in the 800 years since his death many other great Asako thinkers and scholars of the Gift have died with the same words on their lips, on the verge of a great discovery before unexpected death takes them. For 5 points, characters are considered to be 1 School Rank higher for Riddles, which makes Ingen a must for any henshin. Asako Hanasaku discovered much of what now fills the Asako libraries by the expedient and outrageous method of trying pretty much anything on himself. From poisons to fish, plants to inks, he rubbed, scraped, snorted and otherwise consumed all that he could find to understand its properties. He ended up killing himself with the Jin-Hana Saku poison after completing his research on it. For 4 points, the PC is afflicted by unquenchable curiosity (TN 20 Willpower roll to avoid trying out something new) but they get a free rank on all rolls involving Medicine, Poison, Herbalism and any Lore involving strange events and information. Kitsu Taiko was born to an unremarkable peasant family, a strong child that learned to walk before his peers could crawl. When he was very young, his house was assaulted by brigands that killed his family and sought to sell him into slavery, but he somehow called the spirits of long-dead fires to counterattack. The Kitsu that found the boy claimed they had been led to him by the spirit of a fire-like, lion-maned beast. They took him into their school at the age of 4, where he showed great affinity for Fire and grew to prominence as one of the most deadly shugenja in the Empire. Though the Isawa deny it, the Ikoma records are clear: when he retired from the Emperor's service he was invited to the Elemental Council as the Master of Fire. Both Lion and Phoenix shugenja can take Taiko as their ancestor, and for 7 points they choose one element and are considered to be well-loved by the kami of that element (Sense, Commune and Summon spells are met with friendship, the character rolls and keeps one extra die for casting rolls)

Next: meet the Oracles!

Traveller fucked around with this message at 01:21 on Sep 23, 2016

Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!

Neat thing about Ujimitsu in the CCG. All of the Clan Champions had the Unique trait, meaning you could only have one in your deck, except for Shiba Ujumitsu. Rather than correct the obvious mistake, AEG said that it was Ujimitsu's special ability to be at multiple battles at once.

In later editions, future Phoenix Champions tried to formalize this ability into an actually unique Personality. I have no clue how it worked out in reality.

Anyway, update time!

2: Big Papa V’s Chop Shop

The Book of Artifacts has 47 entries, though some of these have multiple items that go together to create a stronger effect. All told, there are 74 objects detailed in this book. I’ll skip over the four that were part of oriongate’s Dark Sun: Psionic Artifacts of Athas write up. I’m going to skip around to and try to post artifacts that are thematically related. For my first group of artifacts I’ll be doing a D&D Artifact Hall of Fame. These artifacts were originally in found in Eldritch Wizardry, one of the oldest supplements for D&D (it was released in 1976), and featured prominently in D&D products over the years.

Before I get started, let’s talk about the Random Power Tables. These tables are located at the back of the book. Some artifacts have no random powers, and some are nothing but random powers. Most have a mixture of set powers and random powers. The book says that in most cases, the DM is “urged” to choose the powers rather than roll because rolling might lead to results that conflict with the artifact’s history. The exception to this recommendation are artifacts that are thematically random. Most of the tables have 20 options, but there are no rules for what a DM should do if they roll the same number twice. Does the DM roll again? Does the ability stack? Is the roll ignored and you get a weaker iteration of an artifact? Whatever the case, when an artifact has random powers, I’ll roll on the table, post my results and when a result comes up for the first time, I’ll include it. I’ll get to any results that didn’t come up at the end of this review.

How random powers are used depends on the item. The guideline is that hand-held items need to touch the target to activate, while worn artifacts are activated either by thought or spoken command. Large immobile artifacts either have immediate effects or charge characters with powers to be released later. In instances where the power duplicates a spell, then the spell should operate as if cast by a 20th wizard or priest. Those last two points probably should have been put in the introduction, since they apply equally to fixed powers. Finally, the book says that DMs that need more random tables should go ahead and borrow ones from other games, like the mutation tables from Gamma World.

First up are the Eye and Hand and Head of Vecna. The Hand looks like a mummified left hand both on and off a person. The eye looks like a blood-red pebble outside of a body, but appears as a golden cat eye when put into an empty eye socket. Both radiate powerful magical auras that cannot be determined. For those new to D&D, Vecna is the Greyhawk god of secrets and forbidden knowledge. Originally he was a capital E Evil wizard that controlled the part of Oerth (Greyhawk’s planet) called Flanaess. Vecna became a Lich because why not, and at some point he tutored Acererak, the dickhead responsible for the TOMB OF HORRORS. Vecna’s first megatour of assholery ended when he was betrayed by Kas, his vampire-lieutenant. During their fight, Vecna loses his left eye and left hand. These two body parts pop up several times in Greyhawk’s history, causing poo poo to get hosed up every time, and a Vecna cult forms dedicated to tracking down the eye and hand. A first edition adventure has the PCs battling this cult after they recover both relics. Eventually, Vecna’s shenanigans are the in-setting explanation for the changes between 2nd and 3rd edition. Given how well wizards came out from those changes, I’d call that a win for Vecna.

The Hand and Eye are not meant to be used by PCs. Instead, the book suggests having the PCs try to find the artifacts before the cultists and then keep it out of their hands while trying to figure out what to do with them. A variation on this is convincing a good NPC to not use these artifacts. Finally, a baddie can have one or both of these artifacts and the PCs need to do their murderhobo routine on him or her.

To use either artifact, they must be put onto a left arm stump or an empty arm socket. Once placed, they graft into place and have normal functionality in addition to their supernatural powers.

The Hand grants its user 19 Strength, immunity to magic missile and can inflict 2d6 damage by touch to plant based creatures. 1/day, the user can do an instant death touch, no save. In addition the hand has 15 random powers; 7 from the Major Spell-Like Powers table and 8 from the Minor Spell-Like Powers] table. Both of these tables, which are for spells that don’t fit well in other categories, have more than 20 entries and use a percentage roll instead of a d20.

Major SLP: 64, 70, 72, 85, 63, 9, 80
  • 8-10: Cast blade barrier 1/day
  • 61-63: Cast prismatic sphere 1/day
  • 63-67 (whoops!): Cast ressurection 1/week
  • 68-70: Cast reverse gravity 1/day
  • 71-73: Cast shades 1/day
  • 77-80: Cast telekinesis 3/day
  • 84-86: Cast veil 1/day
Minor SLP: 50, 44, 12, 54, 65, 13, 75, 99
  • 12-13: Cast chill touch 5/day
  • 44-45: Cast flaming sphere 5/day
  • 49-50: Cast grease 7/day
  • 53-54: Cast hold plant 5/day
  • 65-66: Cast plant growth 5/day
  • 75: Cast shout 3/day
  • 99-100: Cast wizard lock 5/day

The Eye of Vecna gives the user a constant true seeing ability. The user can use eyebite 3/day and domination 1/day. The Eye also grants 3 powers from the Divination table.

Divination: 2, 14, 12
  • 2: Cast augury 3/day
  • 12: Cast foresight 1/week
  • 14: Cast know alignment by touch 3/day
If someone has attached both the Eye and Hand, they get the above powers plus 70% Magic Resistance and 6 more random powers: 2 from Abjurations, 2 from Detection, and 2 from Protections. Detection and Protection powers have a mix of invoked and always-on effects

Abjurations: 2, 15
  • 2: Cast avoidance between creature and user, 1/day
  • 15: Cast remove curse by touch 3/day
Detections: 19, 14
  • 14: Cast extradimensional detection 3/day
  • 19: Cast wizard eye 3/day
Protections: 19, 8
  • 8:Generate a sphere of forbiddance, 15’ radius, centered on artifacts, has a duration of 2d6 hours, can be password locked (1/week)
  • 19: Cast undead ward upon a 100’ x 100’ cube. Undead are turned as if by a 18th level priest. (1/week)

The Eye and Hand have the same curse: Artifact Possession eventually turns the user into a Vecna groupee. Only here it’s called Artifact domination and uses different rules (save vs spell every time a power is used, -6 penalty if both artifacts are possessed) from those at the beginning. Maybe these are supposed to be an exception, except it also tells you to refer to the beginning even as it contradicts it.

Suggested Means of Destruction:
  • Vecna must be completely and irrevocably destroyed
  • It must be cast into the heart of Oerth’s sun
  • Every shade of Vecna’s victims must be sent to a peaceful rest

There’s one more artifact associated with Vecna: The Sword of Kas. The description in the book says the Sword has a six foot long blade and a 2 foot long hilt, even though the picture shows a rapier. There’s no indication what the actual base stats the Sword used. Vecna made the sword for Kas, who was his warlord and assassin before going all Starscream. Apparently the sword itself nudged Kas into committing the betrayal, which casts some doubt on how bright Vecna really was. Kas was destroyed in his battle with Vecna, leaving only his sword.

The Sword of Kas is meant to be matched with the Hand and Eye in a campaign. The Sword is single minded in its desire to destroy Vecna and his artifacts. In theory, the Sword acts an “Enemy of my Enemy,” something that the PCs can use against a specific enemy. Whether this works in practice depends on the group, but I feel that being turned into an NPC would be a major disincentive, especially once you account for the curse.

The Sword of Kas is an intelligent weapon (Int 19, Ego 20) and communicates telepathically, and reveals 2 random powers when first touched. It acts as a +6 Defender that does double damage against planar beings, grants foresight, and defiles holy water within 30’ radius. On command, the Sword can bestow shield 3/day or bestow fire giant strength (+4 att/+10 dmg) for 1 turn, 1/day. For random powers, the Sword of Kas has 3 from Immunities and 2 from Major SLP. Powers from the Immunity table are always active.

Immunities: 6, 12, 8
  • 6: Imbue the user with immunity to charm- and hold-based spells and spell-like effects, except those caused by artifacts.
  • 8: Imbue the user with immunity to all forms of psionics
  • 12: Imbue the user with a magic resistance 20% or grant a 20% bonus to any existing magic resistance.
Major SLP: 87, 68
  • 87-90: Cast wall of force 1/day

When first touched, the Sword inflicts 2d20 damage (does that apply to enemies you hit?). The wielder risks Artifact Possession, which is again called Artifact Domination. The Sword must be quenched in blood 1/day, and will try to force the PC to do so. “If successful, the character is compelled to kill (even another PC)”. Oh, and all the sword’s powers fail when brought within 60 feet of Vecna or his artifacts. The Sword is not aware of this drawback. I guess the V-man knew what he was doing after all.

Suggested Means of Destruction:
  • The death of Vecna
  • Be hammered into a plowshare by the cudgel of St. Cuthbert
  • All memory of Kas must be wiped from Oerth

Moving on from Vecna and Friends, we go to a staple of D&D’s artifact inventory, the Axe of the Dwarven Lords. The Axe is one of Five Great Tools made by Silvervein Moradinson, First King of the Dwarves. The other four tools are The Brutal Pick, the Earthheart Forge, the Anvil of Songs, and the Shaping Hammer. Silvervein used the four other items to craft the Fierce Axe, which is what it was originally called. The Axe was passed from ruler to ruler and became the symbol of the One Clan. This golden age came to an end when the reigning king was killed by his nephew. In the ensuing chaos, the Axe disappears.

Although it’s a potent weapon, the Axe of the Dwarven Lords is more like a weaponized Arkenstone than a world-beater in itself. The Axe serves as a focal point for a “Retake the Mountainhomes” campaign, allowing PCs to be the center of attention, juggle the interests of rival dwarf clans, keep it away from Duergar, all while being a nice toy to use for murderhobo-ing. At least that’s the theory. In practice, one part of the curse makes utilizing the Axe touchy

The Axe of the Dwarven Lords is a +3 weapon (no base stats) and has the abilities of a sword of sharpness and a hammer +3 dwarven thrower. It grants dwarven detection and vision abilities at double the normal chance or range. Once a week, the Axe can summon one 16-HD Earth Elemental. The Axe also gets 3 powers from the Elemental Earth table.

Earth Elemental: 3, 5, 4
  • 3: Cast conjure earth elemental 1/week
  • 4: Imbue the user with the ability to detect depth underground as a dwarf while the artifact is in hand
  • 5: Imbue the user with the ability to detect gems while the artifact is in hand.

Non-dwarf character permanently lose 1 point of Charisma when they first touch the Axe. There is a 20% chance that any magical item possessed by the owner is permanently negated (). And lastly, artifact transformation turns the owner into a dwarf if he’s not one already. The second part is the killer for me. Dwarves in 2nd edition had a drawback where there was a 20% chance a magic item they had wouldn’t work, but they had an exception for class-specific gear (so fighters could use armor and weapons, etc). This not only has no such exception, but outright ruins the magic item forever. The Charisma loss is annoying but not crippling, and it’s unlikely this Axe would be introduced if there wasn’t a dwarf PC to begin with.

Suggested Means of Destruction:
  • The Axe must be melted down within the flames of the Earthheart Forge.
  • It must be freely given to the deities of the orcs.
  • Moradin must be wounded by the Axe.

The Rod of Seven Parts rounds out this post. It is a 5-foot-long, black, unadorned pole broken into 7 parts measuring 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 15 inches. The pieces are re-assembled in order of ascending length. The Rod harkens back to a time before Good and Evil were added to D&D’s alignment system, because it’s history revolves around an ancient conflict between the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, a.k.a. the Guardians of Law, and the Queen of Chaos. This war is locked in a stalemate until the Queen of Chaos recruits the Miska the Wolf-Spider to command her forces. To counter this new threat, the Dukes of Law create the Rod of Law, and together with the Captains of Law, they confront Miska and his armies at the Battle of Pesh. The Captains strike down Miska with the Rod’s power, banishing him to an unknown Plane, but the Rod is shattered in the process. The Wind Dukes scattered the fragments of the Rod across the world from taking them. Ever since the battle, agents of the Queen have sought out the Rod. Presumably, if the Queen of Chaos can assemble the Rod, she’d be able to bring back Miska.

The Rod’s detailed history gives it a natural adventure hook, “stop the Queen of Chaos from getting the rod and bringing back Miska.” But the book says that the DM may decide that the Rod is best used by NPCs because it’ll turn whoever has it ultra-LN. “This renders most characters effectively unplayable, and few players will even want to attempt it.” I think D&D underestimates the ability of players to be complete spergs. Nevertheless the curse is super-harsh-not even Vecna’s stuff is as immediate as what’s described here.

On their own, each segment has its own unique power, but all the parts convey an impression of the direction in which the next larger piece lies. I guess the idea is that the PCs find the smallest piece first and work from there. As the Rod comes together, it gains additional powers. These powers are as follows:
  • 4”: cure light wounds 1/day
  • 5”: slow, 23 rounds, 1/day
  • 6”: haste, 23 rounds, 1/day (owner doesn’t age)
  • 8”: create a 10- by 200-yard gust of wind 5/day
  • 10”: true seeing, 20 rounds, 1/day
  • 12”: hold monster, 20 rounds, 1/day
  • 15”: heal 1/day
  • 2-parts: fly at will
  • 3-parts: add 20% to magic resistance
  • 4-parts: control winds 2/day
  • 5-parts: shape change 2/day
  • 6-parts: wind walk 1/day
  • complete rod: restoration 1/day

In addition, the fully-assembled Rod radiates a specialized 20’-radius fear aura “of fearsome, icy Law.” All enemies “(as defined by the curse)” must make a save vs spell or flee in panic.

Anyone possessing one or more segments of the Rod is immediately turned into an absolute follower of Law and will be compelled to always intervene to uphold Law regardless of consequences. “Anyone, even close friends or even family members, not adhering to the owner’s strict views are perceived as enemies.” Which raises the question of how the Queen of Chaos would be able to get the Rod if anyone taking a piece immediately becomes a Law Drone. Beyond that effect, after acquiring 3 pieces the owner will refuse to part with the segments under any circumstances. Besides alignment nonsense, the biggest problems with the Rod is putting it together, and keeping it from break apart again. Before joining two pieces or a piece to a partially-repaired Rod, extensive wards and glyphs must be placed on each segment. This requires a day of preparation. Otherwise, when two segments are brought within a foot of each other then the newest largest piece will teleport 1d100 miles in a random direction. The direction is determined with a d10, which includes the Cardinal directions plus straight up and straight down. And since it broke once, there’s a 5% chance every time a “major” power is used (no definition of which powers are major) that the rod breaks apart again. If this occurs, then the segments teleport away as above, but twice as far. All the glyphs are ruined if it breaks again.

Suggested Means of Destruction:
  • All seven parts are simultaneously joined in the improper order, resulting in a 7d12x10 explosion (no area given)
  • Turn the Rod over to the Queen of Chaos.
  • Find Miska and force both him and the rod to enter the Plane of Concordant Opposition (i.e. the Outlands)

Aug 23, 2009

Why the Outlands? Shouldn't it go to its polar opposite plane, Limbo? Or do they mean take it super close to the spire so it stops working? Shouldn't that be a possibility for any artifact?

Also wasn't Vecna a big deal in Planescape for some reason?

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Kurieg posted:

Per the book, anyone with a Bloodline endowment counts as supernatural, as do Slashers. Anyone else needs to undergo some kind of horrific dream quest to allow a kinship bond.

Also: I can't wait till we get to the idiocy that is the antagonists entry for Hunters.

Beasts meeting Slashers or Lucifuge should be in for a rude awakening.

Aug 23, 2009

MonsieurChoc posted:

Beasts meeting Slashers or Lucifuge should be in for a rude awakening.

Beasts are stupid enough to rip off a Demon's cover.

Dec 10, 2007

Horned Rat-Sempai Noticed Me!

Kavak posted:

Why the Outlands? Shouldn't it go to its polar opposite plane, Limbo? Or do they mean take it super close to the spire so it stops working? Shouldn't that be a possibility for any artifact?

Also wasn't Vecna a big deal in Planescape for some reason?

As to the first question, who knows? While many times the Artifact destruction conditions make sense, sometimes it's just a random suggestion.

On the second point, while Vecna wasn't talked all that much about in the Planescape line, Sigil features prominently in the final adventure of 2nd Edition, Die, Vecna, Die!, where Vecna manages to get into Sigil as a God.. If you know anything about Planescape, it should be obvious why that's loving impressive.


Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.

Kavak posted:

Beasts are stupid enough to rip off a Demon's cover.

Sounds like that should have been the fiction anthology's theme: Beasts arrogantly meeting other supernaturals and learning painfully the error of their ways.

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