Monday 20 April 2020

Squamous out now

I finally went and did it. Using the In Darkest Warrens system I've created a Lovecraftian rules lite d6 game called Squamous: cosmic horror roleplaying. Because it's the IDW system you get an entire ruleset and mythos bestiary on a single sheet of paper. Not only that, I've included a mystery (the Squamous way of saying scenario) too: The Dreaming House, where something has gone magically awry on a farm.

Oh, it's pay what you want, too!

Thursday 16 April 2020

The Impossible Pub

Pabst Blue Ribbon Ad

The Impossible Pub is purely patronised by magic users. Anyone who can cast a spell is able to enter the pub via one of the shadow doors that shift around town. Only magicians can see and enter through these doors and they only remain in one place for 7 minutes.

Inside is what can only be described as a visual and aural cacophony. Tankards or Abthug-ar's eyeball mead float from the bar to he table, interdimensional beings of impossible structures rub shoulders with human and dwarf as they place bets on miniature gargoyle races; demons occasionally appear in the ketchup.

Normals (magicians call them 'dulls') aren't admitted. In fact, without a Tristan's Cloak of Brilliant Magnificence any dull would fade out of existence, appearing in a random location back in town.

Nobody knows the proprietor in the flesh, but they call her Mandy because she appears in wizard dreams to de-mandy they play their tabs. Wizards love crappy puns. She appears as literally anything she desires, but usually likes the traditional 1000-eyed Seraphim look (which can land her in bother if she accidentally enters the dream of a dull - that's how religions tend to form).

Every night the beer of the day switches:
1. Gagmore's Ale: hoppy, sweet. Hangover symptom: you hear the confessions of cats within a block.
2. Ribald's Country Pale: crisp, light. Hangover symptom: you can only speak the language of mountains for an hour after waking.
3. Infernal Stout: hearty, strong. Hangover symptom: a devil wrecks your house and attempts to nick your clothes in the morning. It can be banished by throwing the beermat used to rest the stout at it.
4. Venkmoor's Curdled Mead: Sweet, thick. Hangover symptom: you experience your most cringe worthy memories all at once.
5. Bud-wiser: basically brown water. Hangover symptom: you wake up with a clone of yourself, but they're an infuriating know-it-all. They vanish after three hours.
6. Void ale: nothingness with a hint of elderflower. Hangover symptom: you wake up as the mouthpiece for the dread god Maduleth. When you speak it speaks, proclaiming the world of mortals to be doomed. It speaks mad prophecy. This lasts two hours or until exorcised with a hair of the dog (literally).

Penalties for not paying the tab are to appear over a vat of acid in the hollow dimension, become tied to the rotating spit of a blue giant, or be flogged through the streets of Abonen, the city on the edge of hell.

Money has no place here - coins are mundane. Wizards pay with a sacrifice of a tiny fraction of their power. The worst drunkards can do nothing but conjure a penny behind your ear. The magic goes back to powering the pub and helps charge Mandy's powers. Because if this, she's thought to be the most powerful magic user in the multiverse.

The Impossible Pub can occasionally be subject to magical invaders hoping to steal the mystery magic object kept in the cellar. Nobody aside from Mandy knows what this is. Time for a rumour table:

1. It's a pickled monk whose power was said to be unrivalled in life. Drinking his briny blood will offer immortality and true power

2. It's the last remaining Axe of Desolation, a mythical object that can raze entire cities.

3. The cellar is a labyrinth, of which at the centre is a sandtimer that controls the flow of all time.

4. The grimoire of Little Peter is locked down there. The incantations within will resurrect the gods buried in the Triforneon Graveyard under the control of the wizard.

5. The cellar is a doorway to the Last Land - a place 10bn years in the future run by the machine warlock.

6. The last bottle of Grim's Whisky, aged through time travel, is down there. It's worth more than the economic value of major countries.

Monday 13 April 2020

On non-variable weapon damage (and why it's cool)

In the game In Darkest Warrens every weapon does 1 damage, no matter whether you're using a dagger or a goblin skull tomahawk (a weapon a current player is using). In the same way, OD&D has 1d6 weapon damage for all weapons.

So how does a weapon differentiate itself? If you think about it, most weapons are designed to kill or maim, they just have different ways of doing it. Your warrior can't slit a throat with a hammer and can't crush a kobold's head with a dagger. Either way, the weapon is destroying its target in some way.

Even with non variable damage, every weapon is different and there's a different reason for a PC to choose one over another. One is the roleplaying potential. An elf may prefer using an ancestral elven blade than a human-forged sword. A dwarf's axe may be the only thing tying them to their family. Full sized bows may be impractical for halflings so they opt for a sling.

Then there's use in play. A dagger can be more easily secreted away on your person, so getting in to that masked ball just got a whole lot easier. Polearms can reach objects and switches out of reach. Axes can better cut up logs for the campfire or break down wooden doors. That goblin skull tomahawk might shake the morale of goblins you come against. The flat of a sword can slip under a door to slice the feet of whoever's listening on the other side.

So that's it. You don't need variable damage to differentiate weapons. There are some real practical and roleplay situations to consider when choosing a weapon for your character.

Sunday 5 April 2020

Vulpana, People of the Fox

The Vulpana are fox people. They used to be humans but now they can converse with and, occasionally, become foxes.

The Orinian wilds are mainly forested and the only place the Vulpana can be found. Only at adolescence do the children of Vulpana begin the 'scrutting', their eyes becoming more sly and their features more angular. Every Vulpana is born with a fox kit. The kit becomes an ever present companion to the Vulpana, and the Vulpana will defend it with their lives. Fox companion funerals are more elaborate and sad than for humans.

During scrutting, the child gain their foxname. Here are some examples:

- Bristlewish
- Redclaw
- Prickler
- Danceshine
- Dashsnout

Their beforename is based on the plant nearest to their birth.

Vulpana shamans are venerated. They hold the secrets of the fox connection to the Vulpana, but speaking this out loud would force them into exile to the Brashlands (a name for a literal physical hell on earth beyond the mountains). Only one shaman has been exiled for this, as was the person they told. Shamans are the only ones able to fully shapeshift into foxes at will after 3 hours meditation. Others are able to shapeshift at dusk at a new moon.

D6 objects you'd find in the Vulpana village:

1. Wooden icon of Vultis, the foxgod. Ten are made per year before being burned in the winter as an offering.
2. Brushles: while Vulpines have fox features, they do not grow tails. Brushles are imitation bushy tails. It's deeply disrespectful to touch another person's brushle.
3. Skulkstones: Each stone is polished and carved with the name of the owner. They are sacred and if lost the Vulpana compare it to losing their soul.
4. Painted fox skull: bright plant dye covers the fox skulls (like sugar skulls). They are used at funerals and scrutting ceremonies.
5. Pot of insects: Vulpana are omnivores, enjoying an insect meal with vegetables. Visitors are always offered a pot of insects called a skitterbowl the first night they stay.
6. Shrave: a spear tipped with foxbone and covered in poisonous bile.