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Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.




NOCTURNE – PART 2

Always Bet On Duke

If the investigators agree to go with the Duke, they'll find him easy company and an excellent guide. He's a cheerful sophisticate and very knowledgeable about Lausanne. The whole time, he'll be watching the investigators and trying to take their measure. A Psychology roll will reveal only that the Duke is a more complex man than he makes himself appear to be. After a pleasant meal at a cafe the Duke will announce that he has a business appointment to attend and he will see them later at the 7:30 Club. The investigators will have the whole afternoon ahead of them.

If they go back to Wellington, the shop is closed and the door locked. There's too many people on the street at this time of day to make a B&E a good idea. If they watch the shop, Edgar can eventually be seen leaving and returning with a parcel under his arm. These are tools he needs to make his fake scroll. He won't re-emerge from the shop after this.

They might decide to hit up the local library. There's a neat surprise here for investigators who are looking for Mythos books, as a Library Use roll gives them a copy of Unausprechlichen Kulten, their first grimoire! Sadly, they're not really going to have the time to learn any of the spells contained. If they happen to look through newspaper back-issues, they discover that the suicide rate in Lausanne has skyrocketed since 1918, going from almost zero before 1914 to one a month.

They might also be sufficiently suspicious of the Duke to follow him home. He lives in an imposing two-story town house in the centre of the city that can only be entered through the extremely sturdy front door. That's an Extreme Strength roll or a Hard Mechanical Repair roll to get through with significant chance of being noticed by passers-by. The inside of the house is virtually empty, dusty with almost no furniture. Tracks in the dust lead to an upstairs room with a chaise lounge and a wool throw. There is only one door in the house, a heavy Renaissance affair that has the souls of suicide victims bound to it as a crude form of security. Touching the door costs 1D3/1D6 SAN and may inflict suicidal depression on the poor bastard tried to open it. If they do pass through the door, they enter Dream Lausanne – more on that later.



According To Max

When the investigators arrive at Le Chat Noir cafe for the club meeting, neither the Duke nor Edgar is present. It's half an hour before the third member of the club, Maximillian von Wurtheim, strolls in apologises on behalf of the other two, saying that both have been caught up by last-minute business and will be along as soon as possible. He is an excellent conversationalist when it comes to his favourite topic, himself. As soon as he is able to he launches into his heart-wrenching three-hour-long backstory, full of stolen ancestral fortunes and evil brothers. It's a good story if totally unbelievable.

Max is not a noble and his title is false. He's a con man who picked up noble patois working in fancy hotels. He's the Duke's creature, and he's been sent to distract the investigators – frankly, Max doesn't need much cause to try and scam some rich tourists. Max will insist they stay until closing time and will eventually stiff them on the bill. At midnight he bids them farewell and assures them that it'll all be worked out in the morning.

The book assumes that the investigators will want to check out the taxidermy after this encounter. They probably will, especially if they already suspected the Duke, but the book doesn't offer any alternatives if they don't.

Uh-oh

The lights are out in the taxidermy and the front door is hanging ajar – smart investigators will close it as they walk in. Downstairs, everything is fine. Upstairs, everything is hosed. There's been a huge fight and William lies dead on the kitchen table. His shirt has been ripped open and someone has sliced a patch of skin from his back. His face is frozen in horror. 1/1D6 SAN to witness this tableaux. Edgar lies dead in his bed (0/1 SAN). A medical examination reveals two fresh needle marks, one among many on his left arm and a single one on his right arm. He died of an overdose and considering the placement of the marks, it was probably murder.

There's some easy clues to be found when the investigators search the room. There's an empty morphine bottle and an empty syringe on the floor. There's a receipt on Edgar's desk for sealing wax and fine parchment. There's Edgar's diary, open on the floor. A mostly-full green bottle labelled 'Dream Lausanne'. There's also Edgar's fake scroll hidden under the bed, easily found by anyone who makes a Spot Hidden roll or who specifically looks under there.

At this point, if the front door was left open the cops are here. The investigators have just made themselves prime suspects in a double-murder; best to make a run for the back door and get on the first train leaving the station. They might choose to turn themselves in, in which case Max and the Duke make accusations against them in the morning. The charges aren't likely to stick – they should be able to get an alibi from the cafe staff at least – but it'll hold up the expedition for weeks. Alternatively, the investigators might have reported the crime to the police first; this costs them the first look at the crime scene, but they might be able to befriend the detective and gain access to the information.

What Happened

Edgar put the finishing touches on his fake scroll and had a nice dose of smack with a spoonful of the dream drug to send himself to sleep. William was working on a carcass downstairs when the Duke came to visit; naturally, he let him right through. The Duke found Edgar in his room and noticed the morphine and the dream drug. He flicked through the diary where Edgar reveals the location of the real scroll: hidden in Dream Lausanne. This was perfect for the Duke, who decided to kill Edgar and trap him in the dream world to be dealt with on his own terms. He administered a lethal dose of morphine to Edgar just as William came in to offer tea to his guest.

William went apeshit and attacked the Duke, but even his berserk rage was nothing against the Duke's supernatural strength. The Duke forced him into the kitchen, killed him with the kitchen knife and harvested a section of skin for his own macabre uses. Happy with his work, he went home to deal with Edgar on his turf.



Dream Drug

The scenario assumes the investigators are back aboard the train, but the next part of the scenario is easily altered if they happen to convene anywhere else. Edgar's diary clearly lays out that he's hidden the real scroll in Dream Lausanne and that the drug will give them access to it. That said, they might balk at the idea of taking random meds they found on a dead guy. You're gonna have to hope one of them is stupid enough to try it.

The drug can be administered in pretty much any way you can think of: drink it, snort it, rub it into your skin. If an investigator takes a sip, they will have enough time to comment on the awful taste before collapsing where they stand. A little First Aid reveals they're just sleeping, though they might get a nasty bump from falling flat on their face. There's nothing left for the other investigators to do but lie down, dose up and hope for the best.

Next time: court is in session!

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Rhandhali
Sep 7, 2003

This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone...

Did they actually nuke the dreamlands? I was interested in cthulhutech until I realized that the dregs of the local gaming community that were mostly into it. And until I started reading it and couldn't take the anime.

Kavak
Aug 23, 2009




Rhandhali posted:

Did they actually nuke the dreamlands? I was interested in cthulhutech until I realized that the dregs of the local gaming community that were mostly into it. And until I started reading it and couldn't take the anime.

Not literally I think, but they were destroyed because they weren't grimdark enough.

And it gets much worse than you think. So much worse.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Kavak posted:

Not literally I think, but they were destroyed because they weren't grimdark enough.

And it gets much worse than you think. So much worse.

If memory serves, a giant worm monster ate the Dreamlands. You can still find like, spells and stuff related to the Dreamlands - they'll just all instantly kill you when it eats your soul.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Grimdark is a plague.

Young Freud
Nov 25, 2006



Nessus posted:

Nowadays it seems like people would embrace the oppressive cosmic horror because it would feel more "mature" and "realistic." I definitely want to see more dreamlands content in general, though.

I would love to see a Lovecraft story where Cthulhu reappears and all hope for humanity is lost, but suddenly all the world's cats join up and fight Cthulhu back off the Earth plane of existence. May or may not as a giant combiner robot.

Also, a Hound of Tindalos shows up and is immediately meowed away.

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

GURPS FANTASY II

8 – MAGIC, CONT.



Shamans don’t gently caress around.

Sorcery is a cerebral, refined art that relies on reason and cleverness to get results. Shamanism, on the other hand, is as unpredictable as the gods themselves. There are a couple of ways to get access to shamanic powers. The first and easiest/shittiest is by coming too close to a god and not dying; sometimes, this encounter will open a “mystic channel” to the god in question instead of just fantasy mental illness. The newly-created shaman has no way to dump this poo poo: they are stuck with it and just have to deal (i.e. go nuts). These folks usually end up with just one power. Others learn their magic from other shamans somehow, often forming a dysfunctional social network with each other; these folks are usually exiles or the overly curious, and they tend towards learning multiple spells. Either way, their powers come from propitiating the gods and carrying out their will in the world, in exchange for which they can blow people up and talk to thistles until their bodies give out.

Except it doesn’t work that way. In reality, the gods couldn’t give two shits about their “followers” and probably aren’t even aware of them in the first place. Shamanism runs off the perception that the shaman is in one way contact with their chosen god/s. That perception lets them tap into the ambient magic that fills the Madlands (I mentioned in the last post how GURPS magic utilizes mana concentration in the area; the Madlands’ mana is powerful and really disorganized thanks to the gods). If the shaman realizes this, their powers stop working – sounds like a good way to dump your shamanic powers and go back to being an ordinary anti-magic barbarian. Unfortunately, according to the book, shamans very rarely realize this, which sucks for them. Too bad! Your life is over.



What the gently caress is going on in this pic? Is that an adult? Why do they look the same?

Nobody likes shamans. Madlanders, naturally, know that shamans are inherently evil and gently caress them. The book even provides you with a list of standard ways that Madlanders look for if they suspect someone’s a shaman. In theory, it’s possible to play a shaman that isn’t an enormous rear end in a top hat, but a combination of prejudice and the inherent unpredictability of anything having to do with the gods makes that pretty tough. Shamans can sometimes hide in villages for a while, though, especially ones seeking power instead of being god-touched. These folks often form networks connecting shamans across multiple villages with more knowledgeable, likely previously exiled travelers. They tend to melt down and turn against each other, though, because, well, gently caress shamans. Cultural biases don’t stop applying even when you’ve found yourself caught up in them.

The book provides rules for creating and playing shaman characters. It’s probably a bad idea. Shamanic powers, as far as I can tell, aren’t inherently corrupting or anything, but since being a shaman will get you kicked out of any community if you’re found out and shamanic powers fall victim to the same GM fuckery that Wish spells often do, shaman characters are usually boned. Either way, it’s expensive in character points to buy access to magic that might gently caress you over at any time. Don’t bother.



SHINING FINGAAAAAA

Shamans get their spells at unpredictable levels of power, cost unpredictable amounts of stamina, and have unpredictable effects – license for the GM to gently caress with you, basically, whether characters are shamans or not. You know how the gods of the Madlands are Winnie the Pooh characters in disguise? And you know how I said shamanic powers are on the nose?

GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Mad Lands posted:

Bounce (Tigger Gakox Pezep, Kanga Kikavo Vo). Allows the shaman to leap high into the air and land far away without suffering damage (unless the spell fails, of course). The shaman can also use this as an attack which sends victims shooting skyward; when they fall, they don't bounce.

Detect Food (Winnie the Pooh Bubzavav, Piglet Zuutak). A very specialized, self-explanatory knowledge spell, dear to the hearts of its divine sponsors. Frequent use can substantially increase a shaman's need for food, as he mysteriously begins to burn calories at a startling rate. A possible explanation for this is found in one tale, in which a shaman with this power discovers that Bubzavav is magically stealing the food right out of his stomach.

Gloom (Eeyore Bax Powu Kag). This allows the shaman to project a field of depressing emotion like that of the Moose.

Shrink (Piglet Zuutak). This allows the shaman to shrink in size. The easiest size to reach and maintain is that of a piglet - a foot and a half long, eight inches high. Experienced users of the ability get as small as a fighting beetle.
Yeah. Granted, they aren’t all this obvious – listed powers include healing, fireballs and Turn Undead – but lots of them are just searingly transparent. Worth noting: many spells theoretically have only positive effects, such as healing, but they tend to go wrong and screw the caster over just because. Madlands gods! Also adversarial GMing! The book tells you to come up with your own powers, too, especially ones granted by Roo Kikavo Dat, who tends to give out strange powers because he’s a giant child. The GM is advised to literally use free association with random words here.





The last few pages of the chapter cover magic from other areas in scant detail, mostly how they relate to the Madlands. Apparently, the whole “magic works differently in the Madlands” thing applies to the rest of the world, too, just less so. The only magic in the Whiteness is sentient snow and it doesn’t leave the borders; the Northern Tribelanders, Mary Sues that they are, are shielded from harm by their guardian spirits plot armor, which uses coincidence to play off anything that might even slightly inconvenience them. The Togethians get a strange version of clerical magic from their god, either having access to absolutely basic utility spells or bizarrely specific things like

GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Mad Lands posted:

“Cast Fireball At Municipal Guard On Council Day," for instance, or "Transform Pink Toad To 40% Silver Alloy."
Meanwhile, the Savarginians have their magic explained a little bit more in-depth; all magic seems to work the same in Savarginia, but each little city state puts their own cosmetic twist on any spells cast in them; a divination spell cast in one city might give you an answer by showing it to you in a nearby pool, in another by having you trip over a scroll with the answer written in it, and in another by having a spider crawl onto your shoulder and whisper it into your ear. In the Madlands, this inevitably goes awry and fucks over the caster, because Madlands. Sidebar! Apparently, no culture presented in the book uses standard GURPS magic, so if the GM chooses to include it, they should make any spell cast have negative effects. But, how does Savarginian magic work then? GM fiat? I got the impression that it was just core book magic with different cosmetic flavor depending on where you’re from. But it doesn’t say that directly, so whatever. Either way, other sidebar! Savarginian identity is so heavily tied in to sorcery that the way the Madlands screws with it can literally wear away at their sanity. That’s the take away for three paragraphs!


loving Madlands magic. There’s a lot of interesting stuff here, but it’s buried far away from where players can access it and overly complex even if they manage to reach it. Also, the book lets us know at the beginning of the chapter that Madlands magic is deliberately descriptive instead of concretely defined to emulate the fantastical, ineffable magic of many fantasy novels. I mean, it succeeds at that, but there’s a reason D&D defines those powers, and they aren’t as tightly designed as those in many storygames. You just end up with an unstable balance between player omnipotence and oppressive GM control that doesn’t accomplish much. Oh well. At least it’s an interesting read (that describes this book as a whole).

Two more chapters, the GM advice section and a sample village, before the book is finished and I declare victory over this book.

Next time: I finish the book, reveal what comes next, and finally get to drop a secret I’ve been keeping for nigh on two years.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Falconier111 posted:


What the gently caress is going on in this pic? Is that an adult? Why do they look the same?

don't talk to me or my son ever again

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Roll 4d6, then drop

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 60: The Deck of GMPCs

Arrange as desired.


342: Cursed Friend

The high-level PCs have developed a good reputation that they’ve started to attract hangers-on “to travel with them and learn from them.” For example:

Cursed Friend posted:

One such would-be student is Fael Caine, a charming, young, dark-haired man. He is quick-witted and friendly, an excellent talent with his flaming sword, named Cauterizer. However, there is a brooding melancholy about his manner, one that is not easily dispelled by the lighthearted joking of comrades. He is drawn into friendships only slowly, for he is reserved and will not, by conscious effort, make friends with anyone. His secret is that Cauterizer is an intelligent sword that sucks the life force out of anything in its reach. When in battle, Fael makes sure he is far from his comrades, for too often he has inadvertently swung and killed his friends, with no hope of resurrection. However, Cauterizer is bonded to his psyche, and he won't willingly surrender the sword.

The sword counts as a +4 flametongue that additionally drains two experience levels per hit.

...did one of your players want to have off-brand Elric as a henchman? Because… here he is. Level 9 fighter, by the way.

After thinking this over for a while, here’s my judgement. Obviously it would be terrible if the DM tried to run Edgelord McCaine here as a special-snowflake NPC to be coddled and shown off. But if I don’t give a poo poo about what happens to him? There’s the potential for some fun. And what are these cards for, if not to encourage me to put ideas in my game that I wouldn’t have used on my own? Keep.


343: Orga the Barbarian

Also for high-level characters. The gist is that a “barbarian woman” falls madly in love with one of the PCs - “follows him around hoping to win his affection,” gazes longingly into his face at night, cuts any perceived danger to pieces, etc.

She’s a level 16 fighter. This is AD&D 2E, so her stats aren’t directly listed in her statblock, but working backwards from the math, she’s got 18/00 Strength and 18 Dexterity, and 138 HP (so, either a 17 Constitution and PERFECT HP rolls, or an 18 Constitution and STILL ABSURDLY GOOD HP rolls). She’s got weapon specialization in her two long-swords +2, and wears boots of speed and bracers of protection AC 2. HOLY poo poo SHE’S GODDAMNED AMAZING.

There are two twists. One is that she’s so overprotective and ready to jump into situations that it “makes it very difficult to conduct delicate negotiations, perform experiments, or other magic.”

The other twist is that she’s very ugly. NOTHING WORSE THAN AN UGGO HAVING THE HOTS FOR YOU AMIRITE?

But look, I feel like these are problems that can be addressed. She wants to please her lover; with honest and open communication, I think you can make it clear that you don’t want to be protected all the time, that you each have your strengths, that she should hang back in social situations and you’ll hang back in loving MURDERING THINGS situations, and that that makes you stronger as a couple.

And if physical attraction is an issue, go find a philter of love. It would be worth it. Orga is a real catch.

The card says the party gets 7000 XP for getting her to leave you alone, but I think we all know the real way to win this scenario is to retire your male character to pursue their loving hobbies, raise their adopted goblin/gnoll/cambion babies, and get involved in local politics, and convince your DM to let you run Orga instead.

I think the card is sexist and badly thought-out, but I’m kind of in love with Orga the Barbarian, the Conan of this random fantasy world. I have no idea whether this is pass or keep. Jury?


344: Rualla Kunnadye

In an adventurer hang-out bar, a slim young woman challenges a strong PC to an arm-wrestling contest, loses on purpose and buys them drinks, and then tries to challenge them again with bigger money at stake. She’s using a girdle of storm giant strength, obviously, though she’s pretending to strain. Seems like a dangerous scam in an area filled with adventurers - the detect magics will be coming out pretty quickly.

Despite being a total badass (level 13 fighter, specialized in her warhammer +2, 101 HP) it says she will not leave the bar to adventure. She must have seen some real poo poo, man.

Sure, keep.


345: The Queen of Thieves

Entering a steep-sided valley (never, ever enter a steep-sided valley), the PCs are set upon by the half-elven Queen of (half-)Thieves (she’s also half-Fighter). 40 followers, with bows and swords. They start with warning shots, and should a fight start will fire a real volley before wading into melee. Shaena charges 10 gp per person for each of her followers (So, uh, 400 gp per person? Was that just to check our basic math skills?), but will actually haggle if she “genuinely believes” the party is too poor to afford that. She’s also a good employer in general.

Some space is spent explaining her equipment: bastard sword +3, bracers of defense AC 2, dust of disappearance for when they need to retreat. It says she’s HD 9, which I suppose means level 9/9.

Sure, why not? We’ve got Brand X Elric and Conan, why not Robin Hood? Keep.


346: Rival Colors

The PCs are in a new small town and hear the news. A half-elf priest named Krolar is trying to establish a second temple in town - to Isis or Isis-equivalent. Who the first temple is devoted to is not addressed. Interested parties will pay the PCs 3500 gp for driving him out of town, but if they talk to him, he’ll assure them that he’s not trying to attack the local religion or prosthelytize aggressively, just provide another option. He’ll offer to treat the PCs as members of his temple for healing purposes from hereon if they “help him find a place in the community.” Because if there’s one thing PCs are good at, it’s finding places in communities. That’s why they’re frequently called murderhoboscitizens.

Keep, could be fun.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Dallbun posted:

I think the card is sexist and badly thought-out, but I’m kind of in love with Orga the Barbarian, the Conan of this random fantasy world. I have no idea whether this is pass or keep. Jury?

Speaking personally the problem with Orga is that if I introduced her to my majority gay girl group I would lose weeks of sessions to having to play through dates, weddings and lives of quaint lesbian domesticity.

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


Down With People posted:

Speaking personally the problem with Orga is that if I introduced her to my majority gay girl group I would lose weeks of sessions to having to play through dates, weddings and lives of quaint lesbian domesticity.
I fail to see the part here that represents a problem.

Double Plus Undead
Dec 24, 2010


Down With People posted:

Speaking personally the problem with Orga is that if I introduced her to my majority gay girl group I would lose weeks of sessions to having to play through dates, weddings and lives of quaint lesbian domesticity.

Is this a plus or a minus?

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Dark Matter: Xenoforms




Out of This World Monsters In Extraphysicals, Part 1:

Extraphysicals is a catch all that even they can’t explain well, so I’m not going to try.

Doppelganger:



First of all remember that it’s pronounced doopel-gahn-ger, there’s umlauts. Doppelgangers are a race that has existed alongside humanity since before modern humanity even evolved into its present form. Even they don’t know where they come from because they intentionally destroyed any records they had to try and hide from the Greys. They’ve been hiding out among humanity for quite some time, taking the place of the rich and vulnerable. While rare, they’re apparently pretty good at recognizing each other and thus able to remain viable as a species.

They’re pretty much humans with a psionic power on the books to allow for their ability to change their bodies in ways more than just copying a person. Killing them is no easier or harder than the average person.

The adventure hook has a conspiracy researcher reach out to the party with a packet of information suggesting that important and powerful people have been replaced by exact copies, possibly for nefarious purposes, and that they fear they’re going to be replaced for finding out. They specifically say that if they later contact you and ask for the information back that it’s not really them, they’re already dead. And that’s what happens, a doppelganger version of them asks for the information back. Go from there, because holy poo poo that is the makings of a paranoid adventure/campaign.

Verdict: These guys are great, especially since they don’t necessarily have a nefarious purpose at all. The resolution of that adventure above could easily be ‘you know we’re pissed you killed our acquaintance but as long as you’re willing to feed us the same sorts of information they did using their contacts we don’t really care or have any intention of outing you guys.’

Energy Probe:



The energy probe is some kind of mysterious alien probe. The source and purpose of them isn’t specified and to me the intent is that it can be whatever you want. They appear out of nowhere and observe poo poo, it’s what they do.

Energy probes are super fast, hard to injure, and able to arc jets of plasma at targets that threaten them. They’re not inherently hostile, so it’s probably best not to try and engage them without some really good reason. It could turn out that the creators of the probe are fuckers and it’s best not to let them get the data it’s collecting but who knows maybe the opposite is true. It’s up to the GM in the end because the source of the probes is specifically nonspecified.

The adventure hook has an energy probe appear in front of the PCs while on the highway. Later is appears while they’re trying to infiltrate a nuclear power plant the sandmen are planning to blow up. The probe just sort of observes them, and what the hell it is doing there and whether it can be convinced to help is up to the players and GM.

Verdict: Mysterious, but probably in ways that are good for its use.

Golem, Kabbalist:



It’s a golem, as in the original story. It’s a huge pile of clay animated by words carved into its forehead and magic. In theory a golem is an instrument of righteous vengeance against those who would persecute its creator. In practice, if its creator dies or is kind of an rear end in a top hat, it’s a dangerous unstable killing machine.

Golems are super hard to kill permanently, as even if reduced to zero health they can be reassembled if the letter ‘aleph’ on their head is not destroyed. If you can successfully destroy that letter without fully killing the golem (good luck) then it does of course die. Otherwise you get to deal with a huge clay guy Kool-Aid Manning his way through your poo poo until you manage to tear him down.

The adventure hook has the heroes trying to stop a rival organization from trying to recreate the ritual to create golems through scientific means. It turns out that a Freemason and a nefarious rogue golem are behind it. They do have an ally in the form of a Kabbalist, but he may or may not live through the early phases or even be on the level.

Verdict: A much fairer nasty enemy, since most players will know how to deal with it without literally burning through its stupid health pool.

Internet Ghost:



One of two forms of AI in this book, the Internet Ghost is a person who has been copied onto the internet. Some AI researchers managed to do it one day and aren’t sure how it worked, but it seems like more people have also done it since. They live on the internet and presumably shitpost and talk about pepes and Hitler if we’re discussing tyol 2017. They’re unable to physically interact with the world and thus their combat threat is largely swatting the PCs or equally lovely moves.

The adventure hook has an internet ghost trying to get itself a body by possessing a sandman. The PCs can assist it or try and gently caress with it, with the potential pros and cons both can bring.

Verdict: The scariest monster in here.

Next Time: More Extraphysicals.

Daeren
Aug 17, 2009

YER MUSTACHE IS CROOKED


Dallbun posted:

I think the card is sexist and badly thought-out, but I’m kind of in love with Orga the Barbarian, the Conan of this random fantasy world. I have no idea whether this is pass or keep. Jury?



Keep.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Down With People posted:

Speaking personally the problem with Orga is that if I introduced her to my majority gay girl group I would lose weeks of sessions to having to play through dates, weddings and lives of quaint lesbian domesticity.

Between Orga, the Queen of Thieves, and Fighter at the Bar with Hidden Tragic Backstory, I think you might as well go all-in.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Young Freud posted:

I would love to see a Lovecraft story where Cthulhu reappears and all hope for humanity is lost, but suddenly all the world's cats join up and fight Cthulhu back off the Earth plane of existence. May or may not as a giant combiner robot.

Also, a Hound of Tindalos shows up and is immediately meowed away.
I'm not sure Cyriak's "Kitty City" happening in real life would be less sanity-blasting, but at least it'd be cuter.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Dallbun posted:

Between Orga, the Queen of Thieves, and Fighter at the Bar with Hidden Tragic Backstory, I think you might as well go all-in.

Don't forget the medusa who's just looking for someone who will care about her brains rather than her looks!

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





Dallbun posted:

346: Rival Colors

The PCs are in a new small town and hear the news. A half-elf priest named Krolar is trying to establish a second temple in town - to Isis or Isis-equivalent. Who the first temple is devoted to is not addressed. Interested parties will pay the PCs 3500 gp for driving him out of town, but if they talk to him, he’ll assure them that he’s not trying to attack the local religion or prosthelytize aggressively, just provide another option. He’ll offer to treat the PCs as members of his temple for healing purposes from hereon if they “help him find a place in the community.” Because if there’s one thing PCs are good at, it’s finding places in communities. That’s why they’re frequently called murderhoboscitizens.

Keep, could be fun.
So your PCs have the opportunity to become sympathetic to ISIS, eh?

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Cythereal posted:

Don't forget the medusa who's just looking for someone who will care about her brains rather than her looks!

I'm feeling a holiday story project brewing.

The Skeep
Sep 15, 2007

That Chicken sure loves to drum...sticks


Feinne posted:

Internet Ghost:



It brings me great joy imagining someone skimming through the book, turning the page and seeing this image.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Cythereal posted:

Don't forget the medusa who's just looking for someone who will care about her brains rather than her looks!

Also the cursed mermaid princess who needs to get married to a human (of any gender).

Bieeardo posted:

I'm feeling a holiday story project brewing.

Whatever you're thinking, do it.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.




10. NOCTURNE – PART 3

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

The dreamers wake up in the dream-counterpart to their compartment aboard the Express. They're wearing whatever they had on in the Waking World – bad luck if they're in pyjamas. The lights are off and the blinds are shut; they can't be opened no matter what, and harsh white light shines around the edges. Leaving their compartment they will see that they're alone and that the doors to every other compartment are wide open – except for one. This door has been nailed shut and emits a strong smell of decay. This is Fenalik's cabin.

The train has been moving very slowly, but now it stops. Welcome to Dream Lausanne.

The investigators emerge in a blasted wasteland filled with a harsh light that has no source. About thirty-yards from the train is a door, free-standing without a frame. Going through here, they find themselves in a more primitive version of the Wellington taxidermy – for example, instead of electric lights, there's torches blazing in sconces. There's no technology permitted in Dream Lausanne except that which pre-dates 1400AD. The stuffed animals here are mouldering and reek of rotting meat. Particularly bad is the festering bear in the storeroom.

The front door hangs open and the bells are ringing.

In the streets, Dream Lausanne is a gothic nightmare version of the modern city. The streets are full of people in medieval dress, all of them marching up-hill to the cathedral and too focussed on this to speak to the investigators. It makes the most sense to follow them. On the way, there's several surreal encounters, none of them dangerous but each one foreshadowing future developments in the campaign. The imagery used here is loving incredible, but this is another occasion where the scenario just seems to expect you to just read aloud to the players. Pray that they're intrigued enough that they don't notice their lack of agency in the situation. I'll be including the encounters in an addendum post.

Dream Lore and Dreaming do not help the dreamers here, though the former will tell them that they are definitely not in the Dreamlands.



The People Are Real.

The people gather in the town centre, amassing around a tall platform like a gallows. There's three figures on it. The first is an imposing bronze statue of Otho the Grandson, identical to its Waking World counterpart in the cathedral, right down to the missing hands. The second is Edgar Wellington, clapped in chains. The third is the Jigsaw Prince, resplendent in his royal regalia. He raises his hands for silence, then calls his kangaroo court into session as a representative of the people of Lausanne. The crowd goes wild at everything he says, but falls deathly silent when he asks if anyone will represent the accused criminal.

This is the ideal place for the dreamers to step in. If they volunteer, the shocked crowd parts to let them through. The Prince seems only mildly surprised but Psychology reveals that he is absolutely furious at their sudden interference.

He turns back to the crowd and asks for someone to offer themselves to justice. The front ranks go ballistic fighting for the Prince's attention; when he finally chooses someone the crowd falls upon them and beats them to death. There's some absolutely horrific noises and the crowd presents the Prince with the freshly shucked skin of the volunteer (2/1D6+1 SAN). He drapes the skin over the statue which suddenly comes alive, blinking glassy eyes and struggling to breathe.

Time for some courtroom drama! The Prince will graciously give the dreamers the opportunity to discuss matters with their client. They may question the impartiality of their judge – I would have the Prince point out that if he could just kill them and be done with it, they would already be dead. For his part, Edgar is terrified out of his mind and doesn't understand what's going on. He returned to Dream Lausanne to get the scroll when the Prince's men burst in and dragged him to court. Pathetically, he begs the dreamers to save him, as the Prince has promised to torture him whether or not he gives up the scroll.

That said, Edgar's also in total denial. He refuses to believe that he is dead in the Waking World. It's fine. It's a dream. You just wake up.



The Cases Are Real.

The Prince isn't lying. The judge really is impartial. The system here is that the dreamers will have to make three arguments refuting the Prince's three accusations, with the keeper taking the role of the judge. Rate each argument 1-4; 7 or more points will save Edgar. Law and other rolls pertaining to the Waking World will not help the dreamers here, since Dream Lausanne functions on its own crazy rules. However, a Persuade roll will bump each argument up 1 point.

The first charge is resisting arrest; if he were innocent, why resist? This should be the easiest to refute, since Edgar had no idea what was going on when the angry mob burst into his home to drag him into the streets.

The second charge is that he's a foreigner. Again, another dodgy charge, and the book recommends appeals against the follies of racism and the common worth of all humanity. Notably, accusing the Prince of being a foreigner falls flat; he has always been the Prince of Lausanne in the Dreamlands, and he does not recognise a Swiss state.

The third charge is a little trickier: possession of forbidden knowledge. By rights the scroll belongs to the Prince, and this little prick is hiding it. This is a naked attempt by the Prince to go directly for the scroll. Time to try invoking property rights and freedom of speech.

The book notes the keeper's in a tricky position since they really do have to try and be impartial in judging their arguments. It's important to not be too harsh when assigning scores. Better to be just harsh enough.

The Verdicts Are Final

If the Prince wins, the judge raises his maimed stump at him. The Prince cackles and dances around the platform before turning on Edgar. The investigators wake up and lose 1D6 SAN for failing to save Edgar and acquire the scroll. If the dreamers win, the Prince throws a temper tantrum. No one in the stunned and silent crowd stops them from leaving, but as they exit the square they can hear the Prince calling on the mob to find them and drag them back. Better start running.

The scroll is hidden in the shop. Edgar goes to the bear in the storeroom and sticks his arm into it up to his shoulder, then pulls a waterproof leather case out in an explosion of gore. At this point, the mob is hot on the dreamers' heels and already hammering on the door to the shop. Edgar hands the scroll over and follows them out the back door to the train, which is slowly starting to depart. They get onto the train just in the nick of time.

The dream starts to fade away and takes poor Edgar with it. 'I don't understand,' he implores. 'You just wake up. You just...wake...up…'. SAN 0/1D3 to watch him slowly realise he will never wake up again.

The dreamers are irresistibly drawn back to their compartment where they fall asleep. When they wake up, whoever had it is still clutching the Scroll of the Head.

Next time: lunchtime!

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me



If the Jigsaw Prince gets the scroll, does that open the opportunity for the investigators to get it from the Duke?

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


marshmallow creep posted:

If the Jigsaw Prince gets the scroll, does that open the opportunity for the investigators to get it from the Duke?

Sorry, I should have made it clear: he's the Duke in regular Lausanne, the Prince in Dream Lausanne. Same guy. If des Esseintes/the Jigsaw Prince gets the scroll in this trial, stiff poo poo.

But I mean that's the book making a lot of assumptions about their setup, like them being speeding away on the train when they take the dream drug. I could see an ambitious and particularly bloodthirsty party conspiring to take the scroll at gunpoint - not a wise idea by any stretch, considering the Duke's influence and magic power, but it'll definitely take your campaign in interesting directions. The book doesn't give you any advice if that's what they decide to do, though. Did I mention that this is a very railroady campaign?

EDIT: oh maybe you got the duke/prince thing and you were just asking, in which case nvm

Down With People fucked around with this message at 05:14 on Dec 18, 2017

marshmallow creep
Dec 10, 2008

I've been sitting here for 5 mins trying to think of a joke to make but I just realised the animators of Mass Effect already did it for me



Yeah you were perfectly clear about the duke and prince thing, I am just accustomed to players being bloodthirsty or vengeful when they feel they have been slighted or threatened. Granted, my groups haven't played CoC, but I expect a group or two playing this have had the same notions.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




marshmallow creep posted:

Yeah you were perfectly clear about the duke and prince thing, I am just accustomed to players being bloodthirsty or vengeful when they feel they have been slighted or threatened. Granted, my groups haven't played CoC, but I expect a group or two playing this have had the same notions.

any group I've ever played with would immediately attempt to devise a scheme to steal the scroll from the Duke in the Waking World if they lost the kangaroo court encounter because come on they were totally supposed to get that scroll or else why would the game have spent so much time building up to it.

incidentally, CoC is way more fun if you play it as a pulpy adventure and allow the players to murder hobo investigate the hell out of imaginary crimes.

edit: basically Sin City with cults and alien monsters. hell, A Dame to Kill For is like one degree away from being a CoC adventure anyway

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.


Freaking Crumbum posted:

edit: basically Sin City with cults and alien monsters. hell, A Dame to Kill For is like one degree away from being a CoC adventure anyway

You could just staple some kind of Mythos thing to Kevin and run The Hard Goodbye without changing anything else.

To be fair to the Duke, the trial really is one hundred percent fair, so if your investigators lose the trial they should just go back to debate club. But it's definitely one of the problems with the scenario. It's not a wild outlying possibility that the investigators lose the trial but don't have a massive time constraint forcing them to leave town immediately, but the writing is just so confident that the scenario can only play out this one way. There's no description of where exactly the Duke would keep the scroll or what he would do with it next, so all that weight's gonna be on the GM. A shame too; you could probably make a really sick adventure out of breaking into his house and then his castle in Dream Lausanne and seeing first-hand all the hosed up poo poo the Duke gets up to in his spare time.

If you haven't read Against Nature, there's a chapter where des Esseintes starts encrusting the shell of a tortoise with precious stones and doesn't stop until it crushes the thing to death under the weight of them all, so that's the kind of guy we're dealing with here.

Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


From their blasphemous masses of pulsating flesh, aboleths can spawn

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 61: The Deck of Aboleths, Baatezu, and Beholders

I HAVE CRACKED THE CODE! I can’t believe I never noticed this before. The first round of alphabetical encounters were all low-danger (i.e., for low-level, characters); the second, medium; and this time, we’re starting a run of monster encounters for high-level characters. I probably should have figured that out going in.


347 Tentacles of the Deep

By the shores of an underground lake, the PCs run into weird markings, which a successful tracking proficiency check will reveal are actually tentacle tracks. They're from an aboleth which lives in the lake, and which will attack if the PCs near it. 1d3 offspring show up to help it if the PCs aren’t speedy, too. Wand of negation buried in the muck, aboleth slime can be sold or used to make potions of water breathing.

Ehhhhhh fine, my standards are low enough now that the minimal staging is acceptable. Keep.

P.S. If you go back in time and play AD&D 2E with TSR-published adventure material… take the Tracking non-weapon proficiency. It's the only one that's ever used, apparently.


348: Meteor Shower

The stars are plainly visible. One of them starts to flare and grow. It is literally a huge meteor that is headed right to them, and they have 2 rounds to run, teleport or fly outside the 1,000 yard blast zone. It advises the DM to “keep careful track of the time the PCs spend talking about what to do.” Damage is 10d6 within 1000 yards, 15d6 within 500 yards, 30d6 at the point of impact (which is, on average, 105 damage; Orga the Barbarian could tank it). After the meteor cools off, it cracks open and two pit fiends emerge, dispatched from the lower planes to kill the PCs.

This certainly is a high-level random encounter! I wasn’t big on “random meteor is going to hit you!” but it makes sense as a targeted attack, and given that a AD&D round a whole minute, at least the DM doesn’t have to be too harsh in punishing the players spending some time discussing what to do. They can talk a little while and still only waste half a round. Finally, I like the idea that this is how demons get to the mortal world. Much better than plane shift.

Assuming the PCs have pissed off Hell (a safe bet), it’s fine. Keep.


349: Errand Boy

In the lower depths of a dungeon. A person comes barrelling past the PCs; he’s been struck by the fear ray of a beholder. If the PCs catch up with him, he’ll say he was sent by his alchemist master to retrieve the 10 eyes of a beholder. He’ll outsource the job to the PCs, paying them 50 gold for each undamaged eye they give him. And obviously, the beholder has followed him anyway, and will attack the party with much better eyes like charm and flesh to stone.

Who is this schmuck, and why is he remotely qualified to retrieve beholder eyes? How did he even get to the lower depths of the dungeon by himself, with no equipment to speak of? If he knew to find a beholder here, this must be a beholder lair, so why does it explicitly “have no treasure”? Why did the beholder hit him with fear and force itself to chase him down, instead of using literally any other eye?

This is straining my Gygaxian naturalism suspension of disbelief. I think I’ll pass.


350: The Exchange

The PCs wander into a deep dungeon room with the aftermath of a battle. Dead bodies, piles of ashes, people clearly turned to stone, etc. Hovering in the corner is a beholder with 9 HP left. It doesn’t want to fight, and will generously offer not to kill any of them in exchange for its own life. If that’s not enough, it’ll offer to lead them to treasure. It’ll even keep its word, unless they “dicker” (great word) for a while and it gets annoyed, in which case it’ll lead them to another beholder’s lair. (It’ll never live that down at the next beholder BBQ cook-out.) The treasure is 2,500 pp and a potion of treasure finding. Okay. Keep.


351: Collection Day

There’s a hermit in the mountains - an aged despot who escaped execution for the atrocities he committed against his people. Now he’s dying, and an amnizu has come to collect his soul. Because his soul isn’t going to the lower planes on its own? I don’t know.

The PCs see it go in to the shack. Three rounds later, it’ll set the shack on fire. It doesn’t want to fight them, but it’ll certainly throw down if they get in the way of its task. If the shack doesn’t get burned down, there’s 300 pp and three doses of dust of tracelessness inside. And, reading between the lines, the untethered soul of a very evil man?

That last part sells me on it. Keep.

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Down With People posted:

You could just staple some kind of Mythos thing to Kevin and run The Hard Goodbye without changing anything else.

To be fair to the Duke, the trial really is one hundred percent fair, so if your investigators lose the trial they should just go back to debate club.

To be honest the fact that Law and similar things don't apply is one of my bugbears with the scenario: any lawyer PC is going to be all 'aw yiss, my time to shine' but nope. ~~dream logic~~

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Dallbun posted:

After the meteor cools off, it cracks open and two pit fiends emerge, dispatched from the lower planes to kill the PCs.

That is loving metal.

Not just keep, but

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

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


Bieeardo posted:

That is loving metal.

Not just keep, but


Yeah, if you're at the point that Hell is drop-podding in its biggest boys to fight you, you know you've made it.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Dallbun posted:

349: Errand Boy

I like this one if the errand boy becomes a weird recurring character, who keeps showing up in places that he really shouldn't (the bottom of a demi lich's tomb, the 23rd layer of the Abyss, the livery in a storm giant's castle, etc.) and has increasingly bizarre lists of monster organs that he's willing to pay the PCs to retrieve. you never see him arrive or leave, he's just there for some reason, and he starts to drop hints about his mysterious benefactors that just create more questions

Falconier111
Jul 18, 2012

S T A R M E T A L C A S T E

GURPS FANTASY II

9-10 – CAMPAIGNS AND SAMPLE VILLAGE



I love this picture so loving much.

This post will be a little perfunctory – there’s not a lot of interesting meat here, other than character analysis in the village, and I’m unlikely to bother with plunging those depths.

According to the book, Madlands campaigns should focus on characters and character drama rather than some kind of overarching plot. It takes kind of a storygame approach; have the players draw up their characters, give them some introduction to Madlander society (it recommends a festival of some kind), and let them do their own thing. From there, try to follow the hooks they took until a trend emerges. Maybe half a dozen plot hooks are thrown out in the chapter for play, most of them really only suitable for short arcs or just one session. As far as I can tell, you’re supposed to just chill out and take a hands-off approach to guiding them, which I guess works with such a small-scope setting.

Moving the Madlands into Yrth! (That’s GURPS’s standard fantasy setting, someone covered it in this thread earlier) For the most part, this doesn’t matter unless you also own GURPS Fantasy I. If you DO want to insert the Madlands into another game world, though, you just have to hide it in some inhospitable corner of the world where no great empire will bother trying to take it over. If you choose to insert other cultures from the book somewhere else, though, you’ll have to account for Togeth (the other foreign lands are self-sustaining): it’s a young and outward looking society that’ll need something to model itself on. The book presents a few options from that setting.



A Madlander anti-personnel rifle, probably.

Madlander society is static enough that big efforts to change the status quo will likely either fail or just backfire (GM’s will notwithstanding, apparently). Still, if your players want to do something that isn’t driven by conformity, there are a few things you can do; you know, be reformers, try going somewhere less horrible, etc. However, you CAN try to take poo poo over, especially if you have access to magic. The Madlands being the Madlands, you’ll probably fail, at least initially, but if you flee into the interior, you can possibly forge yourselves a bandit kingdom from outcasts and skinless. The mechanics of the setting dictate that characters that do this will probably turn into skinless themselves, but that just makes it easier: skinless are loving badasses with extra strength, health, and supernatural bonuses. This is how you do evil campaigns.

Other settings! One sidebar presents us with advice for crossovers into other settings/types of settings. Horror is easy (throw Madlands monsters into the present, let players follow them back to their home dimension), but the book suggests crossing over with cyberpunk, of all things; it seems to imply that the Soulless would set up a virtual reality that just happens to be some cyberpunk world. Okay, sure. Other options include superhero settings – use Soulless as a brake for rising demigods – and throwing a spec ops team into the Madlands and, as a book suggests…

GURPS Fantasy II: Adventures in the Mad Lands posted:

What begins as a walkover would slowly turn into The Lost Patrol.



Man, all I can think of is a baboon holding up a lion cub.

Since the village is the heart of Madlander life, instead of a sample campaign, the book presents a sample village to get you started. I’m not going to bother going in depth here, because it’s a collection of biographies and that’s it. Like, there’s two paragraphs of summary and then a dozen pages explaining the personalities and behavior of people like Buvazo Bako (the elder that’s everyone’s surrogate grandma) and Akik Takivodd (the village’s sweatiest hunter), most of whom have hilarious art alongside them, but that’s par for the course for this book. Then there’s a glossary, a map, an index, and we are done!



I loving love this book, but the more I read it, the more convinced I become that it’s borderline impossible to run a campaign in it. I mean, if your group is invested in the setting, then you’ll have an amazing time, but it sure robs the mystery if you already know how everything works. Otherwise, you have too high a bar of entry for a campaign that’s mostly about hanging with your hunter bros instead of doing anything impressive or even all that exciting. This book came out in the 90s, but I wish it’d come out maybe 20 years later as a story game, maybe a PbtA hack or one of those limited-scope games that take up no less then a dozen pages and leaves the society for the players to develop. Which defeats the point of the book . Either that or a series of novels – I could see them winning Hugos or something if written by the right person. But man, I really do want to gently caress around in this setting and fight megaelves and organ-skeletons and politic with villagers. Oh well.

This book is a real treat to read. I’ve covered the bulk of its content here, but there’s still a lot hiding in here that I didn’t cover for space purposes or giving people a reason to read it themselves. This book is so out-of-print that I’m surprised its PDF hasn’t deleted itself from my computer. If you can find it, give it a read.













Hey Inklesspen? Are you still reading this thread? If so, do you remember my magnum opus? And what you said when I asked you included it in your archive for posterity?

inklesspen posted:

1: Done
2: Yes, but only if you also do a GURPS writeup for something beginning with Z (which is not Zombie). How about GURPS Zinc (emphasis mine)
3: Nom




Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Yes!

potatocubed
Jul 26, 2012

*rathian noises*


Freaking Crumbum posted:

I like this one if the errand boy becomes a weird recurring character, who keeps showing up in places that he really shouldn't (the bottom of a demi lich's tomb, the 23rd layer of the Abyss, the livery in a storm giant's castle, etc.) and has increasingly bizarre lists of monster organs that he's willing to pay the PCs to retrieve. you never see him arrive or leave, he's just there for some reason, and he starts to drop hints about his mysterious benefactors that just create more questions

I'd totally use this. One of my favourite characters ever was this postman in some anime or other I watched about fifteen years ago -- he'd rock up on his motorbike at the start of every episode, drop some advice or exposition, then roar off again, all played entirely deadpan.

Down With People
Oct 31, 2012

The child delights in violence.




NOCTURNE – PART 4

The Perilous Lunch

The investigators wake up around midday, parched and famished. If they crack open the leather tube, they'll see they have both the original Scroll of the Head and Edgar's English translation. More on that later – the investigators are going to be way too hungry to concentrate on studying. The waiter in the dining car shows them to an empty table and takes their orders. While they wait for their entrees, the Duke comes in and sits at their table. He says very plainly that he's in a hurry and if they don't hand over the scroll they'll die.

Oh poo poo!

Fighting the Duke is not a good idea. Even if they brought their guns to the dining car, the Duke is extremely strong and almost invincible thanks to his hosed up skin magic. Melee attacks slide off him, gunshots do minimal damage unless they get him in the head. He's unlikely to be harmed by anything short of pinning him down and unloading shotguns into his face, and if he gets his hands on you you're hosed. Not to mention he doesn't even need to fight back here: if he plays innocent, the investigators are gonna get arrested and he will be at his leisure to figure out a way to get the scroll.

Flat out refusing the Duke? Also a bad idea. He has a nasty spell called Shrivelling that can slowly and painfully kill people without requiring him to touch them or take any visible action; he can and will use it on one of the investigators to make the others step in line. The book mentions that he could also get them arrested by teaming up with Max and blaming them for the deaths of the Wellingtons, but it's unlikely to lead to jail time for the investigators.

Stalling for time or gently caress it, even running? That could work. The Duke's appearance here is through some kind of magic and he really is working on a time limit. He'll have to leave when the Express leaves Lausanne city limits.

The best solution is to give him the fake scroll, if the investigators have it. He actually doesn't know what the real deal looks like, and the fake scroll is convincing enough that he'll take it, no questions asked. Failing that, it might suck if they have to hand over the real scroll, but Edgar's translation is enough for them to glean some insight about the Simulacrum.

Whatever happens, he'll eventually have to take his leave. He takes a length of braided horsehair rope from his valise that's been woven into itself to form a loop several feet across. He raises it above his head and drops it down over himself; he disappears along with his chair. This happens so fast it goes unnoticed by all except the waiter, who nonchalantly asks the investigators what monsieur has done with the chair.

The investigators get 1D6 SAN if they held onto the scroll, 1D8 SAN if they somehow killed des Esseintes and an additional 1D4 SAN if they somehow are able to prevent the death of one or both Wellingtons. If they didn't kill him, this won't be the last the investigators will be hearing of the Jigsaw Prince.

Alternatively…

It's entirely possible that the investigators will bring the fake scroll with them into Dream Lausanne. If they present it to the Prince, he's overjoyed and immediately calls for a blood orgy to celebrate. This lets them escape with Edgar and the real scroll in tow. The Prince doesn't even look at the scroll until the following day when they're cleaning up the bodies; he sighs happily and unrolls the parchment to find it totally blank. By then, the investigators are long gone.

It's also possible that one of the dreamers will be crazy enough to look in the bear. That's a Hard Constitution roll. If so, they can just take the scroll and leave Edgar to his fate.



The Scroll of the Head

The Scroll of the Head is the first of the Sedefkar Scrolls. As the name might imply, there are additional scrolls for each part of the Simulacrum, each concerning a different subject. The Scroll of the Head is a history of the Simulacrum by its first human owner, Sedefkar the Osmanli. Sedefkar was loving bonkers and as such the scroll is a rambling, insane document which is largely an extensive treatise on the art of torture and flaying. The historical events described are not really arranged in any order, making it extremely hard to follow. There are also no spells and definitely nothing like a ritual that destroys the Simulacrum. Sad! It must be in the other scrolls.

The scroll is written in Old Arabic but with Turkish letters, and running down the page vertically instead of right to left as was the style at the time. The scroll is printed on flayed human skin that's been cut into rectangular strips and stitched together. Someone familiar with old-timey writing might surmise that some kind of acid treatment was used to etch the letters, but Sedefkar actually seared the words into living victims using white-hot needles.

To make the handout for the Scroll of the Head, the book recommends printing the scroll out and cutting it into strips before rolling it tight around a pencil to give it the look of a scroll. Coffee stains will help give it that 'aged' look. Tie it up with a little strip of leather and it's ready to go!

As a grimoire, neither version takes particularly long to read and gives no benefit other than a little Mythos bump. The English translation gives a smaller bump but also asks for less sanity. You could drop in a spell or two if you want the players to feel good about putting in the effort. In addition, the player handout hints at how to unlock the true power of the Simulacrum…

A Sample Passage From The Scroll posted:

I have seen the powers which stalk the night and strike fear into the hearts of all those who worship the false god. I know Him and I worship Him. The Skinless One has spoken to me. He whispered secret words into my heart of hearts and I know what I now must do. I have seen It in visions and It is all that my Lord said It was. In my dreams I have seen Its perfection striding above the ruins of cities. Kings and countries have fallen before It. Even gods must fall before It. I recognized it the first time I beheld It as an object of power. Power that would bring the world to its knees. It glistened like the finest pearls. It woke when I flayed alive the wretch who sought to steal my treasure from me. That night He came to me for the first time and told me what to do. I meditated before Its glory. All praise to the One without Skin. I performed the seventeen devotions and opened It for the first time. Within the artifact was soft and smooth. As I ran my hand across Its inner surface it felt like the skin of a newborn babe. I offered four children as sacrifice to my Master. Then I used It for the first time. In His wisdom the Lord of Naked Flesh had made It to my height. In all modesty I believe It was made in my image. Blessed is the chosen of the Skinless One. I have been careful to keep It untarnished. The substance is the color of purity and should not be tainted by that which is unclean.

SPECIAL: Prophecies of Dream Lausanne!

quote:

A gaping fissure splits the middle of an empty street. From the fissure an icy wind blasts outward, moaning down the street. Players cannot go up the street as the wind is so strong.

quote:

A group of grotesquely-clothed people passes, masked and cowled, costumed as Death, an Angel, a medieval Soldier, a Lion, a Turk, an Assassin, and a Rustic Lass and Rustic Lad. They are flagellants who wind in procession through the chaos, weeping tears of blood from startling, expressionless, china-blue dolls’ eyes. They chant in Latin as they move, and the reek of incense and a distant cacophony of bells follows them. As the bells reach a crescendo, the Lion figure sprouts wings and flies away, closely pursued by the Soldier. Their bloody tears fall on the investigators from above and scald them.

quote:

One street is strewn with flowers and bulbs which give off clear, sweet smells. They are garlic plants. A Spot Hidden roll notes that no shadows exist in this street.

quote:

An old woman stirs a huge black cauldron, and offers the investigators dinner. If they look into the pot they find it full of skinned, writhing human limbs, slightly steaming: Sanity loss to see this 0/1 Sanity points.

quote:

A street magician displays an empty hat. He inserts first his right arm, then his left, then his right leg and finally his left leg into the hat. Each time he does this his limb is taken by the hat and vanishes. Finally, collapsing to the ground, laughing hysterically, the magician asks for someone from the audience to retrieve his limbs from the hat. No one volunteers; if an investigator does, nothing is inside.

quote:

At a strangely quiet intersection, the investigators witness a disturbing scene. A gigantic chessboard has been set into the cobblestones, and at either side of the board stands a motionless statue, one black, one white—the players. They are humanoid, yet featureless, and androgynous. On the board people occupy the positions of chess pieces. Each person carries a knife. These `pieces’ begin to move as if a normal chess game was taking place. As one piece takes another, the victor cuts the throat of the loser (Sanity loss is 0/1 Sanity points). Play speeds to inhuman quickness; soon the board is littered with corpses, the black player triumphing over the white. After the final move which grants the black player victory, the white player cracks noisily and falls to pieces, and the black player statue gratingly turns its head to regard the investigators.

quote:

In the middle of a deserted square, another statue stands. It is large (SIZ 100) and made of wire with what appears to be rags hanging from it. As they get closer they notice that the wire has been crazily woven into a human shape, and that the rags are scraps of flesh snagged on cruel barbs and hooks; lose 1/1D3 Sanity points to see this. From the head emerges the sweetest sound the investigators have ever heard. It is like an angel singing, a voice of perfect clarity. The sound brings tears to the eyes of the listeners, and they flee weeping from the square before their hearts can break.

If you're not familiar with the campaign I highly encourage you all to try and figure out the meaning of each event or point it out when it comes up.

Next time: urrrrgghghhhg

Down With People fucked around with this message at 22:40 on Dec 18, 2017

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Betrayal At House On The Hill, 9

The Abyss Gazes Back
Trigger: Find a Holy Symbol in the Gallery, Gymnasium, or Kitchen.

Um, it's the Abyss Gazes Also. Not back. Honestly. Anyway, the player to the left of the haunt revealer has just kicked a hole in the floor (for some reason) and discovered a portal to hell. They think it's be a great idea to go there. No, I have no idea how that ever makes sense to anyone, but there we go. You're probably thinking it would be pretty silly if they found a portal to hell by kicking in the floor of the upper storey of the house, but the rules text actually says the portal always shows up in the basement, no matter where the traitor is.

So. Basically, this is another version of the "house burning down" rules that were used in United We Stand. Each turn, some number of rooms collapses into Hell. There's a few differences, though. First of all, the portal always claims the entire basement before moving up to the next floor. Secondly, if any character (including the traitor) is in a room that collapses, they get a Speed 4 check to dive into an adjacent safe room, provided there is one. Thirdly, the rate of collapse speeds up; on the first round, it's 1 room per turn, but after that it's 2 dice worth of rooms, then 3 dice, then 4 dice, etc. Of course, this does have the possibility that it'll technically slow down, since rolling zero on 2 dice is quite plausible, but hey.

What are the heroes trying to do? Meh, exorcism. Exactly the same exorcism as Let Them In and Wail Of The Banshee. We're less than a quarter of the way through and we're already just recombining old gameplay elements? There's one extra element, which is that tossing the Holy Symbol into a room as it collapses halts the collapsing for a round. But that's all. And again, there's no special rules for the traitor, so they just hang around trying to prevent the exorcism.

So, as you can probably tell, it's really just a rejig of two existing mechanics - granted, they're not bad ones, but still it's a bit sad, especially with the traitor having no particular role and the backstory not making a whole lot of sense.

Tentacled Horror
Trigger: Find a Crystal Ball in the Catacombs, Charred Room, or Kitchen.

Hey, we just mixed two previous scenarios together, how about we just straight up recycle Carnivorous Ivy? Exactly the same setup, there's giant tentacles which stretch through rooms with start and end markers on the board, they try to grab heroes with the ends and pull them back to the starts 2 squares at a time to kill them. There's a few differences, though. The first one is that the traitor - the person on the left of the revealer - dies, and only plays the tentacles. The second is that the tentacles are much worse than the vines. They start on Speed 2, Might 4, Sanity 7, but their stats rise over time, up to Speed 4 Might 8 Sanity 8!

Of course, they have a matching weakness. First, there are half as many of them. Secondly, instead of killing the tentacles one by one as in the previous scenario, they only have to kill the head of the creature. So the first priority for the heroes is to use the Crystal Ball to identify where the head is, by rolling Knowledge 4. And if they fail then.. well.. uh.. I guess they all just stand there and wait until they can try again or something? Anyway, when they successfully use the crystal ball, they can roll dice to establish which of the tentacle root rooms is actually connected to the creature's head. The head is Might 6, and can attack heroes (the other tentacle roots can't). If the players hit the head three times, they win. For some reason, the traitor isn't told this. I'm not sure why they thought it would be fun to have the traitor suddenly told they lose because they have no idea how their weak point takes damage, but there we go.

So, it's a recycle, but it's different enough to make a difference. It does have the problem of all the heroes being likely to end up in the same place and thus of everything being focussed on a single room by the end, but it doesn't seem too bad about this (and a single tentacle can only kill one hero, so the traitor refusing to move the tentacle tips to insta-kill someone grabbed in the Head room will only work once).

Fly Away Home
Trigger: Get bitten on the Balcony, or in the Charred Room or Dining Room.

So, we've just had "Carnivorous Ivy but with tentacles". Now, it's time for "Let Them In but with bats". The traitor opens the windows wide, letting in the vampire bats outside and immediately being killed by them. The default traitor is, seriously, "Brandon Jasper because he likes camping".

Well, ok. I'm being a bit unfair. The setup is a bit like Let Them In, but the rules aren't. For starters, all the windows are automatically opened rather than the traitor having to open them. Secondly, the bats aren't full-fledged monsters - which is a good thing, because a number equal to the #players spawn every round in rooms with windows, to a limit of 24 existing in the house at once - but they never stop respawning. They have Speed 5, Might 2, Sanity 1, but they don't attack normally; instead, on a roll of 2 on 1 dice, they latch onto a hero, reducing their movement by 1 and dealing 1 damage at the start of the hero's turn. A single hero can be latched by several Bats at once, but successfully attacking a Bat kills it immediately.

What are the heroes trying to do? They need to find the Pipe Organ, make a Might 5 roll to start it (what, it's got manual bellows?), then make a Knowledge 6 roll to.. um, play music that confuses the bats or something. When they do that, all unattached bats are removed and no more spawn. Any attached bats have to be killed in the normal way, and once they're all dead, the heroes win.

Also, any heroes with "music" as a hobby needs only a Knowledge 5 roll to play the right music. There are three: Darrin Williams, Zoe Ingstrom (a child), and Professor Longfellow (although his hobby is technically "Gaelic Music"). I guess I missed the bit in my school music lessons where they discussed how to play music on a pipe organ that scares away bats.

So, the idea of swarming monsters of this kind is actually pretty good, but the adventure is going to be hugely determined by the location of the Organ Room, which isn't controlled in any way by the Haunt rules (which is asking for trouble)

Drakyn
Dec 26, 2012



Dallbun posted:

348: Meteor Shower

The stars are plainly visible. One of them starts to flare and grow. It is literally a huge meteor that is headed right to them, and they have 2 rounds to run, teleport or fly outside the 1,000 yard blast zone. It advises the DM to “keep careful track of the time the PCs spend talking about what to do.” Damage is 10d6 within 1000 yards, 15d6 within 500 yards, 30d6 at the point of impact (which is, on average, 105 damage; Orga the Barbarian could tank it). After the meteor cools off, it cracks open and two pit fiends emerge, dispatched from the lower planes to kill the PCs.

This certainly is a high-level random encounter! I wasn’t big on “random meteor is going to hit you!” but it makes sense as a targeted attack, and given that a AD&D round a whole minute, at least the DM doesn’t have to be too harsh in punishing the players spending some time discussing what to do. They can talk a little while and still only waste half a round. Finally, I like the idea that this is how demons get to the mortal world. Much better than plane shift.

Assuming the PCs have pissed off Hell (a safe bet), it’s fine. Keep.
Blizzzard Entertainment owes someone some money.

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




Falconier111 posted:

GURPS FANTASY II

thank you so much for finishing this; I really enjoyed reading your review! Fantasy 2 is definitely the most bug-gently caress gonzo setting I've ever encountered that also had internally consistent logic and mechanics and wasn't just an obvious outlet for the author's sexual kinks.

it still seems like it suffers from "what do you actually DO here?" syndrome, and I enjoyed that you attempted to show off potential plot hooks for an adventure while you were reviewing the madlander culture. FWIW I think the best kind of adventure you could run would be to play heroes from the other nations that all get sent to the madlands for some macguffin and then get to have all the weird poo poo unfold without also having to be shackled to the weirdly confining roles that actual madlanders are allowed to fulfill.

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Dallbun
Apr 21, 2010


Individuals can achieve become a lich through the use of magic, psionic power, or

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 62: The Deck of Baatezu, Chimera, and Dinosaurs

352: The Assassination

On the road (because these high-level PCs aren’t getting where they want by flying carpet, winged mounts, or teleportation), the PCs pass a convoy escorting a very important Lawful Good priestess. They’ll stop and chat and trade refreshments and stuff, they’re in no huge hurry. Then two cornugons gate in and try to kill the priestess, and then everyone else. The PCs will win much gratitude and offers of assistance if they defeat the baatezu and then act as bodyguards for the rest of the journey. Keep.


353: Deserters

In a super hot and humid land, the PCs find a small military encampment, which is weird because they’re not near any, you know, wars. They don’t have any sentries, either, so apparently they’re not expecting any trouble. The inhabitants work with “military precision,” but wear no uniforms. The soldiers will escort the PCs to their commander, who will pay them 5,000 gp each to walk away and forget they saw anything.

This is a group of shape-changed alu-fiend defectors from the Blood War. They’re still evil, but “they cannot wreak havoc and destruction, lest their masters detect them and take vengeance. “ Cool. Keep.


354: The Six Horrors

The PCs are high in the mountains, and catch the attention of a pair of chimeras. They’ll spy on the party to learn about them, then attack, at night if they seem particularly powerful. That’s really it. The card tries to pretend it’s adding valuable content by writing things like “the pair will coordinate their attacks, one occupying the party’s attention while the other tries to breathe fire from behind,” but it’s basically just TWO CHIMERAS ATTACK.

Their horde in their cave lair is “several large piles of copper, silver, and gold collected from previous victims.” It’ll be highly relevant to my PCs’ interests to know just how much coinage there is, you know! Also in the lair is a platinum-inlaid scroll tube, so that’s a nice piece of spellcaster bling.

I get that they’re trying to emphasize chimeras’ intelligence, but if they were going to do that, I’d almost rather that the encounter read “the PCs catch the attention of two chimeras, who spy on them and decide ‘not worth it,’ and fly away.” This is boring as written. Pass.


355: Like Little Insects

“This encounter takes place on the deserted plains of an uncharted land.” Oh, sure, those. The party notices that the flora has changed compared to the areas around them. Then they see an anatosaur. Then a T-Rex shows up, presaged by thunderous footsteps, and attacks it. Once the T-Rex finishes its original prey off, it’ll turn on the PCs, assuming they’re still standing there like idiots.

Sure. The next time my high-level PCs are in “the deserted plains of an uncharted land,” I’m okay with randomly deciding that part of it is the Savage Land. Keep.

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