Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Underworld Lore #4

Get it here:

Featuring three obscure deities undergoing near-death experiences, written by myself.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Wizardzine #1: Table of Contents

The contents of Wizardzine #1 are now coalescing a bit. I still have writing to do in some sections, but the overall structure is pretty much fixed now.

Everything in this issue focuses around the topic of aquatic and oceanic magic.

Wizards of Renown
Each discussed with details of their research, marks of magic, domains, and servants.
  • Ephenedrine the Sirene
  • Naxamh, Master of Spirits
  • Master Harlwn of the Luminous Docks
Tomes of Magic
  • 12 tomes containing a set of spells, with details of the construction, author, and history
Magic Items
  • 20 new magic items
  • 10 new monsters
  • 30 new spells
  • Aquatic Monster Summoning Tables
  • Sea Wizard Spell List
  • Aquatic Familiars
  • Tables for Random Selection

(ps. regarding From the Vats, I plan to compile and read the entries to the monster contest today. An announcement of the winner should be coming soon!)

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Wizardzine #1: Tomes

Further to the list of spells contained in the first issue of my forthcoming zine, just for fun, here are the names of the tomes which are described in its pages:
  1. A Treatise on the Aspects, Phases, States, and Conjuncts of the Fluid Element
  2. Communions and Conjurations
  3. Gbahal
  4. Leviathan
  5. Phalaine’s Tome of the Seas
  6. Rituals of the Vasandian Shipwrights
  7. Songs of Sea, Wind, and Wave
  8. Summons to the Sea-Drowned
  9. The Archipelagist’s Notes
  10. The Wrath of the Sea Gods
  11. Transmutations
  12. Untitled (being the notes of the adventuress Martha Wainlord)
These volumes of lore, in addition to containing spells of worth, are accompanied by physical descriptions, tidbits of history, and potential adventure hooks. They'll make nice treasure items for referees to plant!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Monster Deisgn Contest: Last Week

If anyone has any freaky biologically warped monstrous creations, send 'em my way for publication!

You may win stuff! See here for the details.

Deadline this Sunday (August 3rd).

Advanced Spell Research

I love the idea of spell research in D&D. It happens, in my experience, with unfortunate rarity, but I still love it. In my opinion, research is what wizards should be all about. Those pesky adventure things may provide some interesting opportunities to uncover secrets about lost magicks, enchanted items, mystical creatures, planar anomalies, and so on, but a wizard's true work is in his lair.

For some time now, I've been contemplating  ways in which one could make the spell research process more appealing to players and more interesting. This post is about the latter.

The traditional spell research rules are pretty vague and boring: Spend some amount of money (possibly involving the procurement of rare tomes or ingredients -- which is cool). Spend some time. Maybe make some kind of die roll, depending on the system. It either works or it doesn't. If it fails maybe you try again. Logan recently posted some interesting stuff developing some variance on the success side of the equation. (The DCC mercurial magic system is another similar approach.)

I'm also interested in the failure side of things, as well as what happens during the process. I don't imagine spell research as a long process of noodling followed by a eureka! resulting in a fully functional spell. I like the idea that the magic-user works his or her way through a whole sequence of baby spells, developing an idea which eventually, all going well, bears fruit in the perfection of the envisioned spell. Maybe all does not go well, though, or maybe the research is interrupted or abandoned, leaving a semi-functional spell. A reckless wizard might choose to still cast this imperfect dweomer... Perhaps it's still useful in some way, despite it not living up to what its creator intended.

I've done this kind of thing informally a couple of times in play, when a PC wizard has attempted and failed a process of spell research (I had the player simply make an INT check to see if the research worked first time off). We had a transparency spell (see The Complete Vivimancer) which only affected the skin of the target and a cannibalize spell (see Theorems & Thaumaturgy) which permanently added 1 pound of warped flesh to the caster's body with each casting. In both cases, I gave the player the option of continuing the research (entailing more time and money) in order to try and perfect the incantation, or to stay with what he had. (He chose to keep the cannibalize variant but put in the extra time to perfect transparency.)

I'd like to come up with something a little bit more systematized for this kind of thing. A couple of things I have in mind:
  • A slightly more detailed spell research system with various stages, leading up to the fruition of the final spell.
  • Tables of minor and major complications which mutate a spell's functioning. These would be applied to partially developed spells, either during the research procedure or after a failed research procedure.
  • Tables of drawbacks: detrimental side-effects which accompany the casting of an imperfect spell.
I'll develop these things and any other ideas on the topic which come along in future posts. Feel free to feed me with any ideas you have on the subject!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

DCC: Alchemical Tonic

Having bought the Dungeon Crawl Classics book recently, I've been thinking about running some games. Naturally (naturally!) I would expunge the cleric class from existence. I am renowned for my grudge against clerics of all creeds and am not about to tarnish this reputation now.

Clerics in DCC seem pretty healy. The death toll of the game seems pretty high. Put those two facts together and, without clerical healing, you get a blood bath, I would imagine. So, with maximum mercy, I propose the following substance:

Alchemical Tonic
A class of rejuvenating fluid produced by many alchemists, each having his or her own secret formula. A vial costs 40gp. Imbibing it has the effect of restoring one Hit Die. Other damage effects (like critical hit gruesomeness, diseases, paralysis, whatever) are not affected.

Adventurers with a few lucrative jaunts under their belts will, of course, be able to purchase great stocks of this miracle juice. Ingesting alchemical substances of this kind is, however, not without side-effects -- especially when the compounds of multiple doses mix in a character's intestines. Upon imbibing the first tonic of the day, a player must roll 1d6 and consult the following table. For each subsequent dose consumed, the die type increases by one, up to the mighty d30 of almost-certain alchemical doom. Rolls on the table are inversely modified by Luck (bonuses subtract, penalties add).

0 or less: No side-effect.
1: Tingling. A pleasant sensation in the extremities.
2: Chills. Rising up and down the spine.
3: Flush. Cheeks flush hot red.
4: Rush. A sensation of courage and renewed vigour pervades the character's consciousness for 1 hour. Can lead to foolhardy decision making.
5: Tipsy. Has an effect similar to alcohol.
6: Mind-numbing. 1d3 Intelligence damage.
7: Over-stimulation. Character cannot sleep for 48 hours.
8: Rejection. The tonic is vomited back up. Healing factor reduced by 50%.
9: Hyper-sensitivity. A frothing sensation in the belly. The die type used on this table for subsequent doses is increased by two steps.
10: Faint. Wakes up naturally after 1d6 turns. Slapping has no effect but application of another dose of tonic does the job in 1d6 rounds.
11: Fire breath. A chemical reaction causes a gout of flame to burst from the character's lips. A random character or object within 5' takes 1d8 damage and must make a DC 10 Reflex save to avoid catching on fire (p.96).
12: Addictive. The compound has a habit-forming effect. The character must make a DC 15 Will save or do whatever he can to consume a second dose within the next hour, whether he needs the additional hit points or not.
13: Fearless. The compound inspires courage to the point of recklessness, for 1d6 hours. The character is immune to fear effects during this time but cannot take any course of action out of caution.
14: Where am I? Partial amnesia for 1 hour. The character knows who he is and recognizes companions, but has no memory of how he got into the current situation or what he is doing there.
15: Glow. A strange chemical reaction causes the character's skin to glow some psychedelic hue for 1d6 hours. This makes stealth very difficult.
16: Alchemical taint. The character's lips are permanently stained with a garish colour and his breath takes on an acrid odour.
17: Sensory black out. Blinded or deafened for 1d10 minutes.
18: Vision. An odd collusion of chemical elements triggers a psychedelic episode. The character has an out-of-body visionary flash lasting 1d6 rounds (although the vision may, subjectively, appear to last much longer), followed by a 1d6 hour period of sensory distortion and hallucination.
19: Pain insensitivity. Bodily sensations numbed for 24 hours. Judge tracks character's hit point total and gives no clues as to its status.
20: Intolerance. On subsequent days, the character's first dose of tonic starts with a d8 on the side-effects table.
21: Who am I? Complete amnesia for 24 hours.
22: Tonic-head. Highly addictive elements of the tonic get a grip on the character. Henceforth, he must consume a dose every day or lose a point of Strength.
23: Frazzled. The character's nervous system is damaged by continued abuse. Hit point maximum reduced by one, permanently.
24: Knockout gas. Noxious fumes erupt from the character's digestive system. All within 20' (including the one who drank the tonic) must make a DC 13 Fortitude save or fall unconscious for 1d6 turns.
25: Digestive polymorph. Character's digestive system is permanently altered, such that he can only subsist on an unusual, unnatural diet (gold, rocks, shadows, elf-flesh, etc).
26: Allergic reaction. Roll again. Character's system has become extra sensitive to the effects of tonic. Henceforth, every dose incurs two rolls on this table.
27: Brain damage. Mixed compounds take to the character's brain, causing unconsciousness for 1d6 hours and a permanent 1d12 points of Intelligence damage.
28: Rainbow vomit. Colours, chemical formulations, geometric crystals, and chunks of decimated organs spew from the character's mouth. Dies within 1d6 turns unless some miracle intervenes.
29: Stomach disintegration. Like drinking acid. Instadeath.
30 or more: Alchemical explosion. An unfortunate mixture of esoteric compounds triggers a powerful explosion in the character's gut. Instadeath. All within 10' must make a DC 12 Reflex save or suffer 1d6 damage from the blast.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Wizardzine!: Issue #1 Spell List

Now that the OSR Superstar contest is behind me (well, the contest isn't over yet, but I've submitted my entry for the final round), I've moved back to focusing on the writing for issue 1 of Wizardzine. So far I've been concentrating mainly on the new spells which will grace its pages, and this morning I got up to a round 30, which was my goal.

To whet your taste buds, here's the list of spells which will be in this issue:
  1. Aquatic Adaptation (reversible)
  2. Boiling Sphere
  3. Call to the Deeps
  4. Castaway
  5. Conjure Land
  6. Control Buoyancy
  7. Dive
  8. Enslavement of the Drowned
  9. Erosion (reversible)
  10. Ghost Ship
  11. Hallucinatory Island
  12. Ice Sphere
  13. In the Belly of the Whale
  14. Island Hop
  15. Locate Land
  16. Luminescent Swarm
  17. Ocean’s Embrace
  18. Raise Wreck
  19. Ride the Waves
  20. Sea Lust
  21. Seasickness (reversible)
  22. Shockwave
  23. Sink Island
  24. Sirens' Call
  25. Sound the Deeps
  26. Swarm Transformation, Aquatic
  27. Tidings
  28. Transmute Liquid to Crystal (reversible)
  29. Water Walk
  30. Whale Speech

Now onto the monsters, magic items, and a description of the sorceress Ephenedrine and her domain!