Wednesday, 22 December 2010

[To Coin a World] Port Katerinettaburg

Port Katerinettaburg
Gateway to Zwuyala

The life of cities tends to follow a natural cycle, over the course of centuries: first, a golden era of glory and greatness, followed by decadence, vice, and corruption, which leads the city into an age of ruin and destruction. Port Katerinettaburg, on the other hand, is a city ambitiously pursuing all three phases simultaneously - glory, decadence, and ruin. From its position at the head of the Tugrezi River, it commands trade between the Dark Continent and the ravenous markets of Spindlewick across the Vriendelike Zee. Brave explorers set forth from the city in grand expeditions to discover the secrets of Zwuyala, from the lost canyons of the Rim Valleys to the hidden cities of the Rau Jungle. And yet, despite its youth and wealth, its stone walls are crumbling, its taverns are dens of corruption and vice, and it shudders with death and horrid tropical diseases beneath the shadow of Grootklipsnoep Mountain.

Theme and Mood

Theme: Civilisation and Barbarity

The Empress Katerinetta, for whom the city is named, was famed for her courteous manners, her outrageous beauty, and her fondness for the Soleillaise style of wearing leather boots made from human skin. Port Katerinettaburg considers itself to be an outpost of civilisation on a dark continent filled with savagery and barbarians, but within its walls people as cruel as any orc can be found. Is the 'civilisation' they claim to bring truly an improvement?

Mood: Gateway to Adventure

Stationed as it is on the edge of the Dark Continent, there is a sense in Porkatzburg of being on the verge of something amazing; the way the plant life springs up in every nook and cranny, the glint of a pterodactyl soaring in the breeze, the constant tension between the city and the surrounding countryside. The local newsheet, the Items of Note, is often filled with vivid imagery and reports brought back by expeditions into the heart of Zwuyala. Rumours are constantly flying about lost cities of gold, forgotten gods, and glorious opportunities to find fame and fortune.

The Sights


The wealth of a continent flows through the docks of Port Katerinettaburg, but you wouldn't know it from a quick glance. Dark and crowded, the port district of Porkatburg is the heart of its economy, and of its corruption. Where the murky waters of the Tugrezi flow into the Friendly Sea, native dockworkers scurry to and fro loading fast clippers and enormous galleons with coffee, gold, spices, and other treasures, and drunken sailors stumble from tavern to brothel to sewer, only occasionally pausing to vomit between stops.

The Poisonous Frog

Every city has one. It's the tavern where mysterious strangers in dark cloaks go to seek assistance from unstable mercenaries in unusual quests for gold and experience. In Port Katerinettaburg, that tavern was the Poisonous Frog, up until the point at which it was acquired by Jasmyne Spellman, a young woman with an entirely different idea of what a tavern should be. Murky dank corners have been replaced by al fresco dining under brightly coloured parasols, tankards of ale have been replaced by frilly drinks with pieces of fruit on the side, and the regular clientele have become entirely confused.

Katerinetta University

Founded thirteen years ago by an alcoholic wizard and his imaginary friend, Katerinetta University has since bloomed into a formidable learning institution, in the same way a fungal growth grows into a formidable festering cyst. The University, which currently has a faculty of two and a student body mainly consisting of voodoo dolls, would barely merit a mention were it not for its extremely large and useful library, available to members of the public who are willing to brave a campus that serves mainly as a battlefield between the two archchancellors.

PrinzAlbert Marktplatz

It is said that anything in Zwuyala can be bought at PrinzAlbert, for the right price. An enormous market sprawls across the platz, selling everything from rare spices and exotic perfumes to bizarre curses and oppressed slaves. Colorful tents, exotic scents, and herds of slaves and beass are the dominant sensations within the market. The Governor turns a blind eye to the activities at the PrinzAlbert; as long as it brings wealth to the city he cares little for the sordid details.

Grootklipsnoep Mountain

Though it lies beyond the city walls, th mighty Grootklipsnoep dominates the city. It rises above the city like a god above the Coin, casting it in shadow when the season is right and shining like a brilliant emerald thumb with the evening light. Buried within the mountain lie enormous deposits of rock treacle and stalag toffee, mined by goblin slave labour and shipped off to the confectioneers of Spindlewick.

Johannz Haus

Nestled at the foot of Grootklipsnoep is Johannz Haus, the governor's mansion. Decorated in the Classical Revival style, its majestic white columns and balustrades glisten in the morning sun. From here, the Imperial Governor, Sir Frederick Willhelm de Botha oversees His Imperial Majesty's domain; at least, he does in theory. In practice, he tends to throw the sort of decadent parties that would make old Reman emperors frown, and leaves the practical administration of the colony to merchants and crime lords.

Personages of Note

Sir Frederick Wilhelm de Botha II

A forgotten cousin of the previous Emperor, packaged off to Zwuyala to avoid causing trouble in more important lands, Governor de Botha is a large, fat man with a broad smile and a fondness for exotic women. Despite his fondness for depravity, he makes an effort to present himself a kind and just man to visitors and Imperial agents. If confronted with an uncomfortable situation, he will sincerely promise to do something about it, palm it off to one of the clerks, and then forget about it at the next opportunity.

Colonel D. Jonne Mosterd, 3rd Neuhumbrien Foot

When D. Jonne Mosterd surveys Port Katerinettaburg from his vantage point in Fort Voetreut, he sees a thriving city carving out civilisation from savage wilderness, peaceful and content. His lieutenant, Meester Bodie, strives to maintain this delusion, as he and the rest of the garrison profit quite nicely on the bribes of bandits, criminals, and pirates. Occasionally, they mount a minor punitive expedition against one of the local tribes to given Colonel Mosterd an excuse to "show Johnny Savage the taste of Imperial steel", or simply to distract him from some more serious events in the city.

Xi - The Savage

The city's most powerful crime boss was once a tribesman in the deep Yalahadu Desert, living in the simplest conditions imaginable... but he was happy. That was before the gods saw fit to crash an ornithopter into his village. Within the ornithopter was a magic flask - an alchemist's flask, filled with a potion of invulnerability. The tribe's shaman deemed that the potion was the work of demons, and bid Xi to carry the flask to the edge of the world and hurl it into the void.

He never made it to the edge of the world. Instead, he fell victim to a deeply peculiar institution of civilisation: slavery. Captured by raiders from another tribe, he was sold in Port Katerinettaburg as a sewer cleaner. After several months of abuse, he succumbed to temptation and drank from the flask. When they found the overseer's body, it was not a pleasant sight.

The potion changed Xi. Though its physical effects faded quickly, Xi had tasted power and cruelty, and he couldn't give it up. He became an enforcer for a dockyard gang, and swiftly climbed the ranks of the criminal underground.

Today, Xi rules the city's lowlife with an iron hand. He enjoys the comforts of civilisation, and maintains a beautiful townhouse in the city's wealthy quarter, but enjoys torture and cruelty even more. To cross him is to be marked for a fate worse than death.

Lady Rozelda Rozenheim

One of the most famous adventuresses of the age, Lady Rozelda Rozenheim, the Delving Duchess, makes her permanent home in the fashionable end (i.e., the part without black people) of Port Katerinettaburg. Despite her reputation for adventure, while in town between expeditions, she appears every part the perfect socialite, with the kind of refined beauty that takes a team of trained professionals hours to achieve. The Annual Adventurers' Widows and Children Ball is the event of the social season in Port Katerinettaburg.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

[To Coin A World] The Republic of Orzovia

Vampires on The Coin used to be an endangered metaspecies. Plagued with bursts of anger and bloodrage, multiple weaknesses, and great powers which can be leveled against mortal and vampire alike, the vampires of old nearly wiped each other out. For when two vampires fight, the explosive mix of powers and weaknesses nigh-invariably favours the vampire who initiates the attack, whether simply in sneaking up on the other vampire, or seeking out knowledge and plotting an attack for years in advance. The result of this is that 99.9% of vampires encountered in the wilderness will the twitchy, paranoid, insane murderous bastards.

But not all vampires are loners.

The Republic of Orzorvia was founded by a clan of vampires in the unique position of rulership over a populace of humans, whom they planned to subjugate and feed on in a month-long orgy of blood. Yet when they were attacked by a rival gang of vampires that coveted their prize, the humans rose up to defend their masters, preferring a bloodsucking fiend they knew to one they didn't, and exploited common vampire weaknesses to destroy the newcomers.
The clan of vampires was both grateful and cunning, and realised that by ruling fairly over the populace and establishing a relationship based on trust with their subjects they would have a defence against the predations of other vampires and a constant source of blood, providing they took care not to overfeed.
To ensure the trust of their mortal citizens, they founded the first democracy, laying down a fair constitution which protected the rights of citizens of all kinds (but with preference to vampires), and in a masterstroke of political genius, installed a system in which every 13 years, when vampire Parliament runs its elections, one citizen, rewarded by other citizens for his/her bravery and service to the city-state would, through a complex voting process, ascend to vampirehood and be inducted into the heady world of Vampire Parliament.

There is a three stage process to Ascension:
Firstly, a petitioner must secure enough votes through a frenzy of campaigning from the mortal voting body to be one of the 13 Candidates for Ascension.
Secondly, a petitioner must be voted into ascension by the Vampire Parliament, and must campaign to the 13 different vampire clans for such an honour.
Thirdly, the 13 vampires clans must now each, in turn, plead their case to the petitioner, who will eventually choose one to be inducted into. This choice is important, as different clans have different weaknesses, and different levels of control over their new spawn...

Like many numbered groups throughout The Coin, the 13 Vampire Clans of Orzorvia comprise much more than 13 individual sub-metaspecies and voting bodies of vampire, as vampires are as commonly divided by bloodline characteristics as they are by seemingly inconsequential political factional allegiances. The 13 clans are really just 13 more-or-less united coalitions of fractious vampire clans.

Every vampire has a vote, and every vote counts, thus every vampire has the title of Count, even the lady vampires. The lower house of Vampire Parliament is known as the Hung Parliament, as every meeting is conducted with the vampires hanging upside-down from the rafters, in an homage to the bats from which most vampires are descended. The downside to this system is that it does make note-taking rather difficult, providing employment to a host of scribe-shadows which flit about the room and transcribe the proceedings.

Due to the diverse nature of vampire weaknesses, all holy symbols, garlic cloves, and silver items must be kept within the Metics Quarter of the City-State of Orzorvia, and are strictly regulated even therein.

Given the presence of such a utopian system of government in a mostly brutal and uncivilised area of The Coin, it is a wonder that the Orzorvians do not have problems with immigration. The answer lies in both the superstitions and fears of many inhabitants of The Coin concerning the undead, and also the Blightlands, an untamed strip of ghoul-infesting necromantically-blasted sunless badlands which surrounds Orzorvia proper. The various towers dotted around the Blightlands are nominally supposed to offer succour to hapless travellers, but in truth most of the vampires delegated to tower-duty are so bored that watching an occasional wanderer flee from ghouls is too entertaining to intervene in.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

[Rogue Trader] An Unwarranted Warrant, or, The Blancheviperre Goes Forth: Part the First

The archaic vidcaster rattles to life, illuminating the room with its unearthly light.

On the monochromatic screen, a distinguished figure sits enthroned upon the bridge of a mighty ship. Daltian Timoth, renowned on a thousand worlds as the face of Janus Roark, Secret Inquisitor, is dressed in the gaudy heraldry of a successful Rogue Trader. He turns to the camera.

"Ave, citizen," he intones, in a voice poured like molten silver. "and glory to the God-Emperor. I invite you to sit, and give praise, for tonight I welcome you to the first volume of the videographic chronicle of the life and times of one of the Imperium's greatest heroes: Lord-Captain Wilberforce Macharius veBarro."

The image of Daltian on the bridge fades as his voice continues, adopting the measured lilt of a Calixian noble.

"To receive a Warrant of Trade is the greatest honour any servant of the Emperor can provide. It was on the trade-moon of Quaddeus Minor that I was first awarded the warrant, having spent the previous six months in glorious battle against the Pirates of Barasphine-"


Utter bollocks.

That's about all you can say about the authorised videography of Lord-Captain Wilberforce Macharius veBarro. Barasphine doesn't even have pirates, and it's nowhere near Quaddeus Minor.

Wilberforce certainly did not spend his youth battling pirates and orks in the Quaddean Main. He was born a minor scion of the veBarro trade dynasty, fully nineteen steps from the dynasty's mantle. His father, Cornelius Demarii veBarro, died a regrettable death from an embarrassing plague before the boy turned one, and his mother Anophelia was a distant socialite who cared more for hive-spire soirees than for her children. As a result, he was turned out to the best and furthest-away scholariums money could buy.

On the playing fields and in the doctrinaries of Groxford, Wilbeforce mastered the art of being passable at everything and excelling at nothing. Unmemorable, unambitious, and utterly unconcerned with anything besides the maintenance of a comfortable existence, he was packed off upon graduation to Quaddeus Minor. As a minor dynastic factor, he enjoyed an untaxing life overseeing the tea plantations that covered most of the agro-world.

And he would have stayed there, if it wasn't for the improbable rediscovery of the Blancheviperre*, the long-lost frigate of the veBarro dynasty, which tumbled out of the warp near Port Wander sometime in the late August of M41.957. The rediscovery of the Blancheviperre put the veBarro dynasty in somewhat of a dilemma: while they could not afford to let such a valuable relic of the dynasty be commanded by someone not of its blood, nor did any of the prominent candidates particularly want the honour of commanding the ship. The current Warrant-Holder, Lord-Captain Jonarion Dracobane veBarro, had no direct heirs; his brothers and sisters served in profitable positions aboard the Patriach of Tanis†or its attendant fleet, and the remaining members of the family were either too old, too mad, or engaged in vital activities on the other side of the galaxy.

It was the family's aging matriarch, Lady Jezmerelda diCaprio Sandlock veBarro, who first raised the possibility of appointing Wilberforce as Captain of the Blancheviperre. Given that the women held an intense hatred for Wilberforce and his parents, it's my belief that she thought the position would be the death of him.

And so, on an reasonably warm afternoon in late spring, Lady Jezmerelda descended upon Wilberforce, who was dozing in a comfortable chair. It was at this point - not in the governor's mansion, surrounded by the skulls of his enemies, but half asleep, borne down upon by his immensely fat aunt, and surrounded by seas of entirely harmless tea trees - that Wilberforce Macharius veBarro was awarded the position of Lord-Captain and received his (delegated) Warrant of Trade.


*On the subject of the Blancheviperre, I quote from the Annals of the Astronavis Vigilum Congregatio, Callixus Chapter, Volume XXVI:

"The Blancheviperre was comissioned late in the 38th millenium by the legendary Rogue Trader, Lord-Captain Macharius Semolina veBarro. It was conceived as a deep-void exploration vessel, an adjunct to the dynasty's main vessel, the Patriarch of Tanis that could scout far and wide for trading opportunities in the Calyx Expanse. After several profitable missions into the expanse under the direct command of Lord-Captain Macharius, the Blancheviperre was placed under the command of his daughter and to-be heir, Sarina Calvacade veBarro.

Its first voyage under the command of its new captain, however, was interrupted by the declaration of the Angevin Crusade by the Praetor Golgenna Angevin. With the sector thrown into chaos and the call to war sanctioned by the High Lords of Terra themselves, Lady-Captain Sarina saw fit to attach her vessel to the war-fleet of the young general Drusus - one day to be known as St. Drusus of the Calixis Sector.

The Blancheviperre accompanied the Saint on many of his most famous campaigns across the sector, scourging and liberating dozens of worlds. It is said that the Saint himself consulted with Lady Sarina on many a campaign, often spending several nights aboard the Blancheviperre in her personal quarters to plan the extensive campaigns of conquest across the sector.

In the closing years of the Crusade, the Saint received the assistance of the Rage Thirsters space marines chapter. The main battle-barge of the Rage Thirsters was destroyed by enemy fire at the Battle of Warlax, leaving the chapter without a monastery and without the records of its own gene-seed. It was deteremined that the chapter would be declared Nullius Anxietas and the remainder of the Rage Thirsters would be charged with throwing themselves against an implaccable foe to end their chapter's history in glorious battle.

Without a vessel of their own, the Rage Thirsters asked for the assistance of Lady-Captain Sarina to deliver them to the Halo Stars, where they could end their chapter's story in battle with the foulest of xenos who lurked amongst the stars. Despite the misgivings of Saint Drusus and the express command of her father, Lady-Captain Sarina accepted the chapter's request.

The Blancheviperre charted a course through the roiling warp-storms of the Halo Stars and vanished into the void - never to be seen again."

† The Patriarch of Tanis was the main vessel of the veBarro dynasty, an immense Ramses-pattern star freighter with an attendant fleet of dozens of smaller ships.

‡ Text repeated in full:

This document (hereby known as the DELEGATED WARRANT of TRADE), by dint of dynastic pedigree, grants the bearer (hereby known as the LORD-CAPTAIN) the right and responsibility to travel beyond the borders of the GLORIOUS IMPERIUM OF MAN, to spread the LIGHT OF THE HOLY GOD-EMPEROR, to trade with XENOS MOST FOUL and to acquire profit in the SERVICE OF THE IMPERIUM.

The bearer is further enjoined to maintain and venerate a shrine to the SAINT DRUSUS aboard the vessel BLANCHEVIPERRE, to chronicle and honor all records and artifacts of the RAGE THIRSTERS (Nullus Anxietas) Astartes chapter, and to grant all possible succor and aid to the agents of HIS EXCELLENCY'S MOST HOLY INQUISTION in the defense of the Imperium.

It is to be made hereby known that in this 957th year of the 41st millenium of Man, that the Lord-Captain WILBERFORCE MACHARIUS VEBARRO is to be granted all the rights and priveleges of a ROGUE TRADER.

-P Squiggle, Esq.-

Sunday, 7 November 2010

[AW-style move]Recall a Cure

Recall a Cure (d20+Knowledge+Mind)
Roll when a party member is afflicted by some horrible condition (such as a curse, disease, or whatnot), and you need to remember how to cure it.

14-: the GM picks one option from the following list.
15-19: as above, but the player picks instead.
20+: the players gets to pick three.

  • The cure is nearby, and won't take a long journey to reach.
  • Acquiring the cure will not require spending much money.
  • The process of getting the cure will not be overly dangerous.
  • The party won't owe anybody any favors in exchange for the cure.
  • The process of getting the cure will give the party some other benefit in addition to its restorative properties.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

[The Coin] Ornithopters

Some travel aloft on sky-ships, held aloft by arcane sigils and enchanted luftwood. Others prefer the more portable broomstick, or the well-crafted magic carpet. Other even transform themselves into birds, or entice wyverns into their service. On the Coin, means of subverting the ancient divine edict against mortal flight are as many and varied as the peoples who practice them. For the discerning traveler, however, one flying vehicle stands above them all - the Mynacean ornithopter.

Drawing on the mechanical ingenuity of Mynacean philosophers, the ornithopter lifts itself aloft on wooden wings. While some draw on arcane power or bottled lightning to power their wings, others simply rely on slaves or conscripts to provide their motive energy, commanded by the beat of a drum. It is this reliance on mortal drive, rather than mystical energies, that makes the ornithopter a truly remarkable aether-craft.

A well-built and fully crewed ornithopter can achieve speeds of up to 20 leagues an hour, making distances between the city-states vanish. However, they cannot fly for long before their crews tire, meaning over-ocean trips are strictly limited. Capacity for cargo is relatively limited, but they still carry messages and small cargoes of valuable or perishable goods between city-states.

The expense of ornithopter construction means few city-states can maintain large standing fleets, but the three great cities each have their own air-militias. The Liberans arm theirs with polished mirrors that reflect and focus the rays of the sun upon their enemies, while the Vulcanites prefer enchanted flame-gouts. The Maraphonians reject these weapons, and instead arm their ornithopters with enormous claws and jagged beaks, hoping to tear enemies apart from close quarters. (The Thanatoi do not use ornithopters, instead relying on undead wyverns and flying ghosts)

A small ornithopter capable of carrying five humans (at least two must have a Str of 14 or more) will set you back about fifty thousand gold drachma, while anything much larger will need to be commissioned from an ornithos at enormous expense.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

[The Coin] Mynacea


Famed for its philosophers, its galleys, and its theatres, Mynacea is a rugged and mountainous realm of squabbling city-states. The region was long oppressed by the grip of the dark Taurian Empire, whose enormous, labyrinthine ruins speckle the land, but now the Mynaceans rule themselves, bowing to no kings and no emperors. Since the overthrow of the minotaur king, they have built great cities like Vulcanopolis, Liberos, and Maraphon, wonderous temples and oracles, and spread colonies across half a continent.

For mercenaries and adventurers alike, Mynacea is an land of opportunity. Little love is lost between the city-states, who compete in nearly every respect, from trade to colonies to sorcery. There is a constant threat of piracy, raiding, or even petty but brutal wars. And with the monsterous remnants of the Taurian Empire lurking in dark labyrinths, or the craggy badlands of the Korhos, it is a fertile land for monster hunters.

Yet it is also a land of great wealth and achievement. Philosophers and inventors thrive on the patronage of the city-states. Thanks to a relative lack of taxation and tariffs, merchants thrive on the Mynacean trade routes, bringing amphoras of olive oil and wine to distant markets, returning with hulls laden down by gold and grain.

Friday, 29 October 2010

AW style movies - Roguish Edition

Pick a Pocket (d20+Subterfuge+Dex)
14-: major failure, pick two results (see below)
15-19: minor failure, pick one result (see below)
20+: success!

  • You fail to pick the target's pocket
  • Somebody (50% chance it's the target, otherwise somebody nearby) notices you. If this result is picked twice, everybody nearby is aware of what you did.
Pick a Lock Under Pressure (d20+Subterfuge+Mind)
Performing this move requires a set of thieves' tools.
14-: pick one
15-19: pick two
20+: pick three

  • You open the lock
  • You don't break any of your tools
  • You aren't noisy in the process
  • You don't take very long
Sneak Past Some Guards (d20+Subterfuge+Dex or Mind)
In some cases, the GM may require a distraction before you have a chance to use this move.
14-: pick one
15-19: pick two
20+: pick three
  • You get where you want to go.
  • You don't spend much timing waiting for an opportunity/to realize it's not going to work.
  • The guards don't notice you.
Trade on the Black Market (d20+Subterfuge+Mind)
14-: pick three
15-19: pick two
20+: pick one
  • The price involved is unreasonable (and not in your favor).
  • Getting the deal done takes a heap more time than you intended.
  • You get mixed up in trouble in the local underworld.
  • The suspicions of the local law enforcement are aroused.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Microlite20/Troubles and Treasures House Rules

I was recently lamenting the fact that, due to all the changes I and my group have made to MicroLite20, I can't just point to a single document and say that that's our rulebook. So, I decided to list the main rules changes we've made as succinctly as possible. Unless otherwise stated, everybody conforms to the original m20 rules available here, or here, by Greywulf.

In addition to Humans, Elves, Dwarves and Halflings (Gnomes), there are also Half-Orcs (+1 Str, +1 Phys and Sub), Planetouched (+1 Mind, +1 Know and Com), and Constructs (+5 on saves against poison, disease and suffocation/drowning).

every odd numbered level opens up a feat slot. What feats you can take are determined by race and class, but you don't get a feat automatically. Sometimes a feat needs to be learned from a teacher, sometimes you pick it up to replicate, long-term, something the GM let you do on a special occasion. A compilation of feats will be forthcoming at some point. Until then, this is an optional rule.

sneak attacks deal an additional 3+level damage (this is not connected to the Rogue's Subterfuge bonus).

no change.

Wizards can use books, wands and staffs as focuses for magical energy, working like ranged weapons (light crossbow, shortbow and longbow, respectively). They get no favoured/signature spells (but spells are cheaper, and they have more hp, see below).

Performers (Bards):
Get 2 + level + Mind bonus uses of their music per day. By default they can use music to charm individuals, hypnotize crowds, and counter other sound-based effects, and can do other things with the right feats. They can wear light armour, and get +2 Subterfuge, Knowledge, and Communication.

Invokers (Clerics):
Get no spells or turn undead uses, but get to pray without any penalties, and with an optional re-roll. They can also tend to another character, allowing them to make a new save against an on-going non-permanent effect, or to spend a healing surge with a re-roll.

Combat Actions:
Use the normal D&D 3.5 system of 1 move action, 1 standard action, or 2 move actions, or one full-round action.

PC Hit Points:
Are rolled using a d8. Every character gets 4 healing surges plus their Strength bonus, per day. They may spend a healing surge as a standard action to heal 1d8 lost hp. Any healing effect will require the usage of a healing surge.

NPC Hit Points:
Are either 5 per level for "mooks", or 10 per level for "boss" monsters/characters encountered on their own. NPCs have healing surges, but most can't use them unless they have some outside effect working on them (such as a cleric). The GM will say when an NPC gets down to half it's hit points (is "bloodied").

Skills are equal to the character's racial and/or class bonuses, plus half their level, rounded up.

Attacks and Damage:
Attacks are divided into Strength attack (non-light melee weapons), Dexterity attack (light melee and thrown weapons), and Mind attack (bows, crossbows, firearms and spells). Each is the relevant ability modifier plus the character's level. There are no iterative attacks, although dual-wielding works as in the M20 books. Additionally, characters add half their level (rounded down) to their damage rolls.

Adventuring wizards know all the spells in the Adventurer's Spellbook, and can learn/create more, although the highest level of spells that is possible is level 7. Spells cost 2 hp per spell level, minimum of 1 hp. This damage is normal damage, and can be healed by anything that normally restores lost hp. If a spells is experimental, or of a spell level too high for the wizard (greater than character level+1, halved), there is a 50% chance the spell will backfire and do something weird and random. Otherwise that only happens when the wizard rolls a natural 1. Spells cast through prayer work the same way.

Carrying Capacity:
Objects are weighed in Stone (14 pounds, or 6 kilograms), rounding off, with 1000 coins weighing a stone. A character can carry half their Strength score in stone, rounding up, without any trouble. More than that can only be carried for short periods.

XP and levelling:
XP is handed out for fights, carousing, and eXPloration. Characters have to achieve something to go up a level (defeat a worthy foe in a new way, commit a new crime, learn a new spell, spread fandom/religion to new people, or something along those lines).

New Cleric Mechanic/AW-Style Move

Balance issues are yet to be tested...

Pray (1d20+Communication+Mind-10)
A character may only try to do this once per day.

14-: nothing happens
15-19: receive one miracle
20+: receive three miracles

Clerics ignore the penalty, and may re-roll the check, although they must take the second result, even if it’s worse.

  • 1d6 damage, + 1d6 per two character levels, damage to all unholy creatures in 30 ft. (save for half). Said unholy creatures may halve the damage they take, but if so they must flee from the praying individual.
  • Cast a level 2+ spell as if you were a wizard. (GM may veto spell if it doesn’t seem to match your god of choice, or alternately say that some other power supplied the spell...).
  • Ignore the fact you're wearing armour for spellcasting purposes.
  • All allies within 30ft. may spend a healing surge as a free action, and may re-roll the result.
  • All allies within 30ft. may roll a new save against any negative ongoing non-permanent effect they’re experiencing.
  • Be given another chance to pray for a miracle today.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Colony Five

Inspired by this post on RPGnet, but taken as an excuse to approach scifi with the sort of trope-filling gonzo-ness I like in my fantasy worlds.

The Elevator Pitch:
"Stargate Atlantis meets Farscape meets Red Dwarf meets Firefly. With just a hint of Star Wars and Indiana Jones"

The Full Details:
In the last years of the 21st century, Earth took its first steps into the galaxy, by sending out several sleeper ships to set up new colonies on habitable exoplanets. Some were sent by national governments, some were privately funded by eccentric trillionairs. The fifth ship was a cooperative effort by several nations working in tandem. Sadly, Sleeper Five ceased sending back telemetry a few years after it departed, and was presumed lost. History moved on.

Over the centuries that followed, humanity discovered faster than light travel, and the galaxy ws fully unlocked. The sleeper ships were actually overtaken by FTL vessels, although Sleeper Five was never found. Earth's nations explored the stars, exporting their hostilities to a grander scale, and roping in the technologically primitive aliens they found. Wars between opposing empires caused untold damage, but in the wake of these atrocities, in the new peace that followed, humanity found the utopia they'd sought for so long.

The Earth Empire, the first truly unified nation encompassing all humanity (and, to a lesser extent, the aliens) was set up, aided by the Great AI, a computer intelligence that encompassed the Empire's communication network, and was a part of every device in the Empire. A golden age flowered, with humanity wanting for less and less as the Great AI took over more and more responsibilities. Eventually, humanity as a whole was sitting in the lap of luxury, the Great AI tending to their every whim, responsible for all production and innovation, creating technological marvels that seem almost magical by today's standards.

Which was brilliant, up till the day the AI just... stopped. Nobody knows why. But little of the Empire's technology would run without it, and almost nobody remained who knew how to repair or operate anything. Within a year, 90% of humanity was dead, primarily from starvation.

Five hundred years later, the galaxy is just starting to rebuild, in places. The New Earth Empire, founded by a few worlds that were not hit as hard in the great crash, aims to bring back the glory days, although their methods are far from peaceful, and their technology, while on average better than that of most worlds, is nowhere near the heights of the Old Empire. The Fringe Worlds, sandwiched between the N.E.E. and an assortment of other stellar nations of varying viciousness, and the Wastelands that used to be the core of the Old Empire, are potentially in for a rough time.

And then Sleeper Five comes back, appearing out of an inexplicable aurora of light and peculiar sensor readings above a backwater fringe world. The inhabitants, a simple farming community, a couple of rogue archaeologists, and the independent trading ship that occasionally drops in to buy vegetables, are quite surprised, but not half as surprised as the crew of Sleeper Five.

The campaign revolves around the adventures of the Sleeper Five colonists, their farming friends, and the random interstellar hangers-on who've twigged that these people are the Next Big Thing, as they set up their colony, explore the ruins of the Old Empire, salvage bits of malfunctioning post-singularity technology, and fend off the depredations of various unpleasant people, aliens, robots, and other, stranger things.

Monday, 30 August 2010

[Lady Blackbird] For Noobs

I ran Lady Blackbird at my college tonight, on a whim. The players were four absolute newcomers to role-playing, none of whom I knew particularly well nor had played anything like it.

It went
brilliantly. I've run and played Lady Blackbird half a dozen times before, but never with an entire group of complete newbies... and they took to it like ducks to water. Steph, who played the titular Lady Blackbird, particularly got into her character. The only issue was that some of the players were not native speakers of English, and thus description did not flow quickly or naturally for them... but they still enjoyed the game thoroughly. Music was vital.

They brutally slaughtered the brig guards bypassed the ship's corridors by simply blowing a hole in the deck straight through to the Owl's hangar, and quickly escaped off into the wild blue yonder in under an hour. Along the way, there was a flashback to Lady Blackbird's meeting with a young Captain Cyrus Vance, where we established a long-standing attraction between the two, and Kale got
herself into some pretty severe strife. In fact, she ended the session with the "Dead?" condition tagged after some failed ministration from Naomi.

John Harper, you are an amazing man.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Apocalypse Dungeon Style Moves (part II)

Fly (1d20+Knowledge+Dex - Stone carried):
Roll if you want to do anything other than cruise around at more than half speed and/or turn gently.

Miss (14-): lose control and drop 1d4x10 ft.
Hit (15+): pick 1
Good hit (20+): pick 3

  • Move less than half speed
  • Hover (need to be moving less than half speed)
  • Tight turn
  • Fly Straight up
  • Regain control (after you lose control, you'll need to do this before you try anything else)

Leap (1d20+Physical+Str or Dex - Stone carried):
Roll when actively leaping across a chasm or down from a ledge.

Miss (14-): pick 1, take 1d6 damage
Hit (15+): pick 2
Good Hit (20+): pick 3

  • Reduce damage by 1 dice
  • Move 5 ft. laterally (counts as 2 picks if you didn’t have a run-up)
  • Move 10ft. laterally and take 1d6 damage (counts as 2 picks if you didn’t have a run-up). You may only take this option once.

Carouse (1d20+Physical+Str)
Get 1d6 xp, spend 100 times that in gp. Double in a major city.

Miss (14-): GM picks Mishap.
Hit (15+): Player picks Mishap.
Good Hit (20+): No Mishap.

(optionally, the player can decide that any result under 20 will result in a random mishap)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Ultimate Game

Mormon cowboys granted unquestionable power by the Unconquered Sun enter a twisted netherworld of dreams resembling Soviet-occupied Miami in the mid-to-late '80s.

Monday, 9 August 2010

[transExalted] Ways to Actually Play Exalted

  • Radiant by Shreyas Sampat; a very lite implementation of Exalted with a focus on glory in a world of faded ruins.
  • Unconquered by Jonathon Walton. Very very Narrativist Exalted ruleset. Will strain some people's understanding of roleplaying games. Was also known as Anathema.
  • Wuxalted Redux, by various. A crunchier, settingful hack of Wushu that preserves the basic mechanic of Wushu but adds quite a bit more Exalted crust. Unfortunately, also shares the same flaws of Wushu (detail overload / description fatigue).
  • Exalted Quickstart. The original ruleset released by White Wolf as a preview of their upcoming game back in 2001. Light and fast for a trad game, and very Exalted in flavour.
  • Make up your own rules.

[Exalted] Municipal Charms

A range of Charms for the discerning Alchemical city-being, some collected from around the internet and some created by myself.

Avatar-Launching Silo
Contained within great steel and brass tubes, the Avatar-Launching Silos prepare and spin out facsimiles of the metropolis' ancient human-scale body. The avatars hold much of the power of the metropolis, but they are not drone-like creations nor mere limbs of the great metropolis. Each avatar has its own personality, its own identity, forged from a shard of the metropolis' expansive consciousness.

Champion Heart Efficiency Matrix: These submodules refine and expand the starmetal essence reservoirs within each avatar.
Titan Shard Reservoir: This submodule adds an enormous jade sarcophagus, stored in the depths of the Avatar-Launching Silo. Within this immense submodule rests a colossus-sized avatar of the metropolis.
Rapid Drone Operations System: Each avatar's sacrophagi is retrofitted with a jade-alloy casing, filled with safety webbing and Essence-injecting conduits. The silo itself is retrofitted with steam catapults and moonsilver rails that allow the launching of sarcophagi at distant locales at short notice. On impact, the sarcophagi shatters open to reveal the avatar within, showering all those surrounding with jade shrapnel.
Apogee-Shattering Hammer Deployment: This submodule replicates the effect of Rapid Drone Operations System for the Titan Shard Reservoir, allowing the immense colossi to be launched through the air and impact onto hostile positions.

Integrated Observation Network
With this charm, the patropolis is outfitted with sensor-posts linked by a network of glistening silver cables, extending throughout the city. At a moment's notice, any sensor-post can be reflexively activated by the patropolis' governing Alchemical, extending their awareness and allowing them to perceive all that transpires in the area. The system does not grant the patropolis omniscience, as the number of sensor-posts that can be activated is strictly limited by the Alchemical's ability to focus, and individual nodes are still vulnerable to attack and destruction.

Motile Surveillance Platforms: With this submodule installed, the individual sensor-posts become flittering mobile platforms the size of a small bird. They still cannot move beyond the city limits.
Visual Remembrance Matrix: Crystalline memory devices are installed into each sensor-post, allowing the visual memory of any post in the city to be downloaded into the Alchemical's memory. Auditory records cannot be stored within the crystals, and thus sound is absent from these recordings.
Discreet Vigilance Design: The sensor-posts are integrated into the patropolis' architecture in a way that makes them invisible to the casual observer, even while in use.
Sapient Scrutiny Spirit: A simple artificial spirit is downloaded into the observation network. It can be pre-programmed to alert the Alchemical guiding mind of any particular suspicious activity, bringing their awareness to that particular node.

Oneirological Monitoring System
Prerequisites: Integrated Observation Network
Unique moonsilver pentagrams are installed in the sleeping quarters of the city. Shadowy shards of the patropolis' consciousness are dispatched into the dreamscapes of the populat allowing them to monitor for dissent and other unhealthy impulses.

Cloud-of-Dreams Cortex
On installing this Charm, the metropolis extends sensitive starmetal antennae throughout her body. When activated, it draws on the unused processing power of the unconscious citizenry, improving the Alchemical's ability to conduct calculations and projections.

Catatonic Calculus Cognitor: When this submodule is installed, themettropolis gains the ability to directly seize control of the conscious minds of the city, temporarily turning them into catatonic outgrowths of her cognition systems. This act vastly increases the computational power of the patropolis, but at a terrible cost.

Shadow Government Dream
Prerequisites: Oneirological Monitoring System, Cloud-of-Dreams Cortex
Using complex metaphysical symbology and oneirological protocols, the central core and governing body of the patropolis are removed bodily from the realm of existence. Instead, it lives in a dream world held within the minds of populace, issuing orders and planning operations from a position of unparalleled security. This charm does not guarantee the compliance of the Populat, but it provides immunity for the government and the patropolis' core from most forms of physical and societal attack.

Subconscious Punishment Methodology: This submodule allows for punishments to be directed at members of the populat during their sleep, inflicting terrible tortures and nightmares on the maladjusted and the criminal.
Nocturnal Propaganda Inception: This submodule allows the patropolis to adjust the dreams of the populat, showing visions of industrial heroism and tales of nationalistic pride. It subtly adjusts mindsets, creating a populat more devoted to the patropolis and more vigorous in their labours.
Dreams-Within-Dreams Architecture: For the truly paranoid patropolis, this submodule constructs a secondary dreamscape within the first to house the Shadow Government Dream, placing it at even further remove from the physical world. This prevents foes with oneirological manipulation powers from easily penetrating the apparatus of the patropolis.

[Microlite20] The Alucard School of Serious Swordplay

Most fencing academies on the Coin focus on pure swordplay - that is, dueling against opponents armed themselves with swords. The École d'Alucard in Languille, in contrast, is a far less traditional school. Recognising the more complex dangers of the modern world, the École d'Alucard arms its students with the techniques and talents necessary to brandish their blades in battle against a wide range of opponents - axe-wielding orkish barbarians, duergar musketeers or even in the more advanced classes, tentacled monstrosities of death.

Fencing Feats for Fighters

Fencer's Fancy Footwork
Prerequisite: Nimble Sworsdman
When wielding a one-handed blade, you may move one square whenever an enemy misses an melee attack against you. (immediate action)

Unconventional Parrying Technique
Prerequisite: Fencer's Footwork
Once per turn, you may choose to parry any melee attack against you. Roll an attack roll. On a 15+, you parry the attack but may not make any attacks in the next turn. On a 21+, you parry the attack and can attack in the next turn.

Alucard's Anti-Archery Adaptation
Prerequisite: Unconventional Parrying Technique
You can use Unconventional Parry Technique against ranged non-magical attacks.

Tentacle Slashing Slayer
Prerequisite: Unconventional Parrying Technique
You can try to remove a creature's arms and tentacles as a standard attack. Roll an attack roll. On a 15+, you only slightly wound the creature, forcing it to recoil somewhat. It cannot use its limb next round. On a 21+, you severe the relevant limb and deal damage as normal.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Stealing from Apocalypse D&D

Apocalypse D&D, by Tony Dowler, is awesome. While I'm not planning on using it myself, there are certain aspects that I full intend to use in my own D&D campaign. Below, mostly for my own use, are two Moves, almost direct quotes from Apocalypse D&D, with a little jiggery-pokery to make it use a MicroLite20 stats and system.

Spout Lore (Knowledge)
Spouting lore means taking some time to examine or observe the thing and demonstrate your great intelligence. To spout lore regarding a device or magical artifact requires that you handle the thing experimentally, like tasting a potion, or pointing a wand.

Roll (1d20+knowledge+Mind)
1-14: you have no clue.
15-19: ask one question.
20+: ask three questions.

Questions about anything:
  • Is it dangerous to me?
  • What’s its name and history?
Questions about a thing:
  • Who is its previous or current owner?
  • How does it work?
  • What does it do?
  • What’s it worth?
  • Is it magical?
Questions about a monster:
  • What type of monster is it?
  • How could I prevent it from attacking me?
  • How effective is (particular plan or method of attack) likely to be?

Hold a Parlay
To Hold a Parley you need to be in a position to spend some time talking and making your wishes known. Do this when you have an opportunity to interact with potentially hostile parties, monsters, or individuals.

Roll (1d20+communication+Mind)
1-14: you don't get much out of it
15-19: Hold 1, spend to ask.
20+: Hold 3, spend to ask.
  • What’s your real name and identity?
  • Is your character telling the truth?
  • What’s your character really thinking?
  • What does your character intend to do?
  • What does your character wish to do?
  • How could I get your character to do __________?

Saturday, 31 July 2010

One-on-One Combats, and getting spectators involved

Today I got to thinking about having battles (in D&D, but the same general principles should apply to other games) between two PCs, or a single PC and a single bad guy, while the rest of the party look on.

Such things are really boring. I've seen a few myself, and they've never really been satisfying. Where a multi-person combat gets all the players involved, and means that teamwork is an important and fun part of the fight, duels tend to be lacking in such elements, and tactics tend to go out on the window in favour of "let's see who can roll higher".

My thoughts on solutions for the lack of tactics/prevalence of "who can roll higher?":

  • Everybody has to move at least one square (or whatever) every round, and the terrain on which the duel takes place should be at the very least, varied in elevation, if not studded with things that can be used for cover. Sword fights in movies are never static
  • Raising the stakes should be used.
And now getting the other players involved:

Each player, at the start of every turn, gets to assign a small bonus to his favoured fighter. If you like an in-game explanation for this, it could represent cheering him on. Pick one of the following:
  • +1 damage on all attacks
  • +2 AC
  • +3 temporary HP
Obviously, this works best if either the non-combatant PCs are divided in their allegiance, or they're all cheering on a single heavily out-matched fighter. If, however, you want a more fair fight, even with all the player spectators backing the one warrior, then have each boost picked for one warrior apply the next boost down the list to the other (eg. giving Sir Applegate +1 damage gives Blargwin the Black +2 AC, while giving Sir Applegate +3 HP gives Blargwin the Black +1 damage).

I suspect the list above could do with expanding, but I think it's a good start.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Campaign Promises

If re-elected to position of DM, in the coming games I promise to...

  1. Put statues in every dungeon. With sufficient mundane statuary, the players will cease to think about animating or trapped statues... until it's too late.
  2. Relatedly, all traps will either be visible before they're activated, or will give the players time to react before they complete their process, allowing people to actually interact and disarm them without them becoming a boring series of search/disable device/damage rolls.
  3. Use an absolute minimum of magic items that give a passive bonus to something the PCs do. Items will primarily be there to do something that nobody else can (for example - a Frost sword doesn't deal extra damage, but it can freeze water into ice...), and those that DO just give a bonus will have a distinct decision-making process attached (for example, an item that takes a month to recharge, or which will give a boost to your armour but destroy it in the process).
  4. I will say Yes more often (although I'm still saying there are NO cacti on my campaign world, thank you very much).
  5. I will do my utmost to avoid boring combats. If you get ambushed by bandits, they will be interesting bandits (possibly mutant cyborg interesting bandits).

Sunday, 18 July 2010

[Trouble Caster] Agenda, Principles, and Moves

TC Agenda
  • Let the players shine.
  • Breathe life into the world.
  • Watch mayhem ensue.
TC Principles
  • Gush forth gonzo fantasy. It's not just a temple, it's the Jeweled Temple of Jazarduan the Jaguar Goddess. He's not just a pirate captain, he's a half-djinn sky pirate lord. Cultivate the craziness and throw in plenty of fantastic imagery.
  • Showcase the sights. Be the player's eyes and ears. They can't see the world, so you have to sell it to them. Be descriptive and flowery, and give them the clues and cues they need to build the world inside their own heads.
  • Things happen offscreen. Don't freeze the unobserved world. Things keep moving once put in motion.
  • Respect the rights of NPCs. Just because they're not personified by another human being sitting at the table doesn't mean they don't have agency. NPCs have plans, motivations, and agendas too. Push for your NPCs, and make them real threats to the characters.
  • Welcome wanderings. Give the players the power to move off the beaten track, and suddenly fly north instead of east. Don't push one course of action over another. Let them digress and dig themselves into holes.
  • Make maps like crazy. Nothing beats physical artifacts for conveying relationships of space and time. Make maps of dungeons, maps of cities, maps of castles, maps of relationships and maps of time. Show the players where their characters stand.
TC Moves
  • Open a dungeon.
  • Drop wandering monsters.
  • Roll on a random table.
  • Terrify with traps and trouble.
  • Call for the guards.
  • Pray for divine intervention.
  • Set forth a journey.
  • Offer an opportunity, with a cost.
  • Make your monsters act.
  • Demand payment in gold or blood.
  • Surround them.
  • Capture them.
  • Feed them rumours of treasure and trouble.
  • Terrorise the villagers.
  • Bar fight!
  • The Kraken wakes!

Friday, 16 July 2010

New Spell: Old Spice

Old Spice
Level: Wizard 5
Duration: 1 round/level
Range: 10 feet/level

Look at me. Now look at your hand. Now look at the oyster in your hand. Now look at me. Now look at the oyster. The oyster is now diamonds.

[Coin] Peculiar Player-Made Spells

I require that all wizards must learn a new spell before they can advance a level. While they could just buy a scroll of a spell they don't know off somebody, I actively encourage them to make up entire new spells. Here are a few that have appeared in my game.

Summon Angry Psychedelic Cat
Level: Wizard 1
Duration: 1 round/level
Range: 10 feet/level

A strangely-coloured cat appears above the head of a single target within range and immediately attacks it. The cat will continue to maul the target until forcibly removed, at which point it will attack the closest living being. If killed, the cat vanishes in a puff of smoke.

Handful of Bees
Level: Wizard 1
Range: 25 feet + 5 feet/2 levels
Duration: 1 round/level

A small mass of bees flies from the caster's hand to attack one target within range. Each round, the target takes 1d3 damage, and must make a fortitude save or take a -2 penalty on all attacks rolls, skill checks and AC for 1 round. Creatures with damage reduction are immune to the bees.

Summon Slightly Annoyed Baby Crocodile
Level: Wizard 1
Duration: 1 round/level
Range: 10 feet/level

A small crocodile (HD 1d8+2; AC 14; Bite +1 [1d4+1 damage]) appears within range and attacks a target of the caster's choice. Once the target or the crocodile is dead, it vanishes in a puff of smoke.

Summon Angry Normal-Sized Crocodile
Level: Wizard 3
Duration: 1 round/level
Range: 10 feet/level

A crocodile appears within range and attacks a target or targets of the caster's choice. Once the targets or the crocodile is dead, it vanishes in a puff of smoke.

The following spell has been theorized, but not yet developed:

Summon Berserk Giant Crocodile
Level: Wizard 5
Duration: 1 round/level
Range: 10 feet/level

A giant crocodile appears within range and attacks a target or targets of the caster's choice, with a +2 bonus because of how angry it is. Once the targets or the crocodile is dead, it vanishes in a puff of smoke.

Fertile Channels
Level: Wizard 2
Duration: instantaneous

When cast on a nearby pool or stream of water, this spell imbues it a little positive energy and a whole heap of fertilizer, and in an arid environment, will actually call up more water. The water is not drinkable (see aforementioned fertilizer), but is great for growing plants, and affects undead as if it was holy water.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Setting Riffs: The Best of

Transhumanist Kung-Fu: Punch Me With The Future

FTL Y'all: Rednecks in Space

FTL Y'all 2: Jump-Punk Diaspora

Counting to Infinity: Very human transhumans in a future without a future

The Long Stair: Reality, meet Gygaxia

Flamepunk: The *punk's new clothes

Twin Cities of Glass: Fantasy gets weird in a world of glass.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Friday, 2 July 2010

[The Corpse Star] Characters

The Elf, Wandering
She forsakes the tomb her sisters take.
She has the chance to follow still.
And yet she cannot walk away.

The Wizard, Dying
He will not live to see the end.
He has power still, might to spare.
And yet he cannot save himself.

The Sword, Unsheathed
She solves it all with blood and steel.
She fights demons, orcs, and creatures unknown.
And yet her might is no match for the darkness.

The Wheel, Turning
He deals in chance, a difficult dance.
He hopes that he can buy off his final breath.
And yet he has a final fate.

The Dragon, Grieving
She knows the end will come too soon.
She longs for life, for love without strife.
And yet her wings have fallen still.

The Dwarf, Smiling
He happily ignores the sky.
He quests and fights and drinks.
And yet he knows it all is true.

The Seer, Blinded
She once saw light and futures bright.
She now sees nothing, not even shadows.
And yet she knows that there is a chance.

The Baron, Wearied
He has served his people for so long.
He is tired - so tired it's hard to stand.
And yet he cannot rest - not yet.

[To Coin a World] Ecology: The Narheti Plains


Known for its distinctive black-and-white stripes, herds of zebras are one of the most common sights on the Narheti Plains. Highly adaptable grazers with a powerful digestive system, they can subsist on almost any vegetation. As hardly plains dwellers with numerous predators, most zebra breeds are deeply ill-tempered and easily panicked. However, the Darkmane Zebra of the spinmost Narheti is a calmer breed, and is used as a beast of burden and mount by the nomadic people of that region.
A common plains zebra


The scattered scrubs and uplands of the Narheti often are home to family-based tribes of raboons. These dangerous and aggressive omnivores generally subsist on scavenged kills from larger predators, but they will opportunistically take down wounded prey themselves and feast. A number of different species inhabit the plains - most common is the Vulgar Raboon, but the Grand Raboon, Mountain Raboon, Hopping Raboon and tiny Piper Raboons are all found in wide-ranging areas of the Narheti.

Raboons and their close baboon relatives

Elands and other antelopes

The various breeds of antelope make up the largest family of grazers to be found on the Narheti, from the gracile gazelle to the enormous eland, the intrepid impala and the razor-quick reebok. Common to all species are the impressive horns of both genders, slender yet powerful legs that propel them at high speed when escaping predators, and extremely acute senses that serve them well in the open plains.
The eland - the largest breed of antelope

The enormous size and diversity of the Narheti means that it is home to a vast variety of grazing animals, from antelopes to zebras to rabbucks. There are two main families of rabbucks - the hopping rabbucks, more closely related to their lagomorph ancestors, and the running rabbucks who dominate the open plains. Hopping rabbucks are most often found in the more forested regions of Zwuyala, where their ability to rise up on their haunches opens up a wide variety of food sources.

The beatrix - a common hopping rabbuck breed, found not only in Zwuyala but parts of Spindlwick
The strank - typical of the running rabbucks of the Narheti


One of the more curious inhabitants of the Narheti is the lank - a flightless grazer descended from the pterosaurs that soar above Zwuyala's jungles. With their elongated necks, lanks are able to subsist on both the tallest leaves of trees and the lowest grasses of the Narheti. Their eyes, placed high on the head, are adept at detecting movement from a distance, allowing the flock to flee at a moment's notice when a predator is spotted.

Two lanks grazing - note the vestigal claws on the upper front legs

With thanks to: Dougal Dixon's New Dinosaurs and After Man, Wikipedia

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Other Weapons in the Goblin Arsenal

As you might have noticed from my post here and my follow-up here, I like using goblins. Particularly Warhammer/Magic the Gathering-esque ones that use crazy techniques to attack the PCs. Apparently, some other people like them that way too, as I've found three nifty links to new ways for goblins to be deadly, silly, and annoying all at the same time:

Sunday, 27 June 2010

[TranStellar RPG] Weird moves

Basic Moves

To break the fourth wall, roll + weird. On a 10+, you receive a genre-aware insight about the current situation and take +1 forward. On a 7-9, you receive an insight but expose yourself to writer anger.

Advanced Moves

To scan minds and influence people, roll + weird. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7-9, hold 1. Spend one to ask a question from the read person list or compel one person to follow your instructions. If they're a leading character, they can choose not to follow but they mark experience if they do. If you read another psychic's mind, you experience psychic feedback. You take -1 ongoing and can't roll + weird until you shake it off.

To predict the future, roll + weird. On a 10+, you get a good insight into a future event. On a 7-9, you get an incorrect insight into a future event, but take +1 ongoing until you figure out you're wrong or cause it to become true.

To create haute cuisine, roll + weird. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7-9, choose one.
  • It isn't flammable or explosive.
  • It actually tastes good.
  • It isn't actively poisonous.
  • It doesn't require special ingredients.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Star Trader

Captain's Log, Stardate 42015.31

Our destination is the planet Deneb IV, beyond which lies the great unexplored mass of the galaxy. Our intention is to dock at the Farpoint orbital for one last resupply, while investigating the potential trade opportunities available with the Denebian government. Meanwhile, I'm becoming better acquainted with my new command - this Galaxy-class starship. I'm still in awe of the bargain we managed to secure at the Starfleet auction. As for my crew, I am still short in several key positions, most notably an executive officer, but my contacts tell me that a highly experienced ex-Starfleet officer, William T. Riker, is willing to join our team at Farpoint.

Our five-year mission is to explore the galactic fringe, and to seek out new civilizations and new potential trade routes, to boldly go where no trader has gone before.

I expect this to be a profitable Enterprise.

The Prime Commission

The Confederation of Free Planets has awarded you a Prime Commission - the right to travel beyond the fringes of the Federation, explore the unexplored, spread the light of capitalism and democracy, and seek your fortune in the wider galaxy. Vast fortunes await those willing to boldly go where no-one else will - into the unexplored fringes of the galaxy, beyond Farpoint and the Denebian Gulf. If you can muster the courage, the luck, and the sheer force of will to face death and the deep unknown, you can become a legend. One day, perhaps you will outshine the great Kirk.

Daunting dangers and untold opportunities await you in the fringe. Growing civilizations, bizarre beings, stellar phenomena and Romulan raiders all lurk within the galactic depths. At times, you will have nothing but hope as your weapon against the darkness. At others, you will rely on force of arms, wit and words, or superior technology to win the day. You must be both a capitalist and a missionary, a diplomat and a warrior; an agent of both the Confederation and of your investors...

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Sneaky Sorceror Spells

Whitefire's Unseen Archer
Level: 2
Duration: 10 minutes/level or until discharged
Range: 10 feet/level
Target: one bow or crossbow, and 1 bolt or arrow per level.

This spell allows the caster to use a bow or crossbow from a distance, albeit at a -1 penalty for every 10 feet away the weapon is. The weapon can be moved up to 20 feet per round, and can be fired once per round, until the duration has expired, or the weapon has fired all its enspelled ammunition. Both the weapon and the target of the weapon must be in line of sight of the caster.

Mask Under the Mask
Level: 5
Duration: 1 hour/level

Much like the spell Disguise Self, this changes the caster's visual appearance. However, unlike that spell, if the disguise is pierced (through feeling the target, True Seeing, or Dispel Magic), there is a second disguise underneath, which includes tactile, olfactory, thermal and auditory disguising on the caster, and which cannot be detected by True Seeing unless the caster loses an opposed Magic Attack roll.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Doodle Dungeons

Made during boring moments at work.

I've since been informed by John that I should make them smaller, as he prefers microdungeons. Good thing for him I've got work next week.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


The continent of Spindlewick has seen a lot of wars over the eons. Just about everybody has had a go at everybody else at some point. You almost can't fire a ballista without hitting an old battlefield.

Obviously, at some point, the High Druids decided that all this probably wasn't so good for the bits of landscape playing host to the battles. After some petitioning, and possibly a few battles of their own, involving magically animated trees, they managed to get most of the sides involved to agree to only start wars over "proper" things, like territory, farmland, kidnapped royalty, and suchlike, rather than any time a king felt the national ego could do with a boost.

For times like that, there is now Grudgeball.

Grudgeball is usually played on a large oval or square field. Two teams of of players try to hit the ball (actually a goblin skull alchemically treated to give it bounce) through the opposing team's goal hoop using hefty wooden mallets. A Druid referees, and makes a vain attempt to enforce the "no intentionally hitting other players with your mallet" rule. The ball may be handled with the mallet, or the head or body of a player, but not the feet or hands.

A Grudgeball team is made up of 11 players, 8 of whom may be on the field at any one time. Up to two of these players may be "heavies" (defined as anything that's more than 10 feet tall when it stands up straight, or that weighs more than 25 stone), with the special limitation that if both heavies are deployed on the field at once, if one is incapacitated or sent off, their "slot" must be left open, and not filled with a normal player from the bench.

Arcane magic is usually banned on the field, but divine magic is permitted (on the grounds that nobody is willing to tell a god he's not allowed to get involved), although smiting of players is generally considered bad form. Intentionally enchanted mallets and other items are likewise banned, although some relic mallets that have picked up a sort of ambient enchantment from the belief of the fans do see use (and get stolen a lot by rival teams), and golems and reanimated dead are permitted (on the condition that they can say "I am a player" to the Druid referee).

Games usually last an hour, or until a riot breaks out.