Tuesday, August 22, 2017

mini-review: Doomslakers! OSR Character sheets

I've been a fan of James V. West since encountering his indie generic system The Pool back in '01 or '02.  Only later did I find out he was also a kickass artist, doing cartoony, sexy sword & sorcery stuff in the vein of Phil Foglio or Vaughn Bode.  Doomslakers! OSR Character Sheets is one of several nifty things you can get from his Random Order Creations page at Drivethru.

So I want basically three things from my character sheets: they function as a way to organize character data, they are black & white for cheap printing, and they induce some sort of aesthetic response evocative of the game being played.  Mr. West's product offers six different styles of charsheet that tick off the last two boxes nicely.  I can imagine that the reordering of charsheet elements to fit the design ethos of each individual sheet might reduce their functionality initially, but repeated use would no doubt bring familiarity.  I don't consider that a major issue, given that with this product I can offer my players their choice of 6 options for organizing their PCs.

The bigger issue determining whether or not this product is right for you is that it uses five old school saving throw categories and descending Base 9 AC to-hit charts.  That's perfect for BX D&D, but maybe not for your system of choice.  But if you want some cool ass charsheets to use at your table, then I recommend Doomslakers! OSR Character Sheets.  The set of six is pay-what-you-want, with a suggest price of only one dollar U.S.

Monday, August 21, 2017

It's here: Random Advancement Bard

Minstrelsy is a contagion that strikes as many as 1 in 12 adventurers.  To play a Random Advancement Bard, you must begin as a member of any of the more respectable classes, such as Toad Licker, Sewer Urchin, or Pustule Piercer.  Just grab a ukulele and begin hey-nonny-nonnying your way across the countryside.

The Bard

A member of any class who possesses a Charisma of at least 12, a stringed instrument (30gp new) and a lowered sense of self-worth may elect to become a Bard at any time.  You continue to follow all the normal rules for well-adjusted members of your original class, but each time your character advances a level you substitute one or two rolls (your choice) on your normal advancement chart for rolls on the one below.

Note 1:  You cannot use any of the song-based powers below unless both your voice and your instrument are in working order.
Note 2: Nothing on the chart below functions when wearing any armor heavier than chainmail. Even stuff that should. On the other hand, stuff below that shouldn't work in chainmail totally does.

01-03  You get nothing.  No one said show business was easy.
04-09  You get generally better at fighting: +1 to-hit
10-25  You get +1 saves
26-27  +d4 hit points
28-35  If you are already a spell caster, gain a spell slot as normal.  If not, pick your new side gig of Wizard, Druid, or Illusionist and gain the abilities of a first level caster.  Every time you roll here you after that, advance by one level in spellcasting ability.  New amateur wizards and illusionists should generate a starting spellbook using the normal rules.  How you happened across such a thing is up to you and the DM to decide, but you probably stole it.
36-43  If you are already a thief otherwise get Thief Abilities (like monks and assassins do), then advance one level in your thiefly skills.  Otherwise, gain the skills of a 1st level thief and advance one level every time you roll this result again.
44-50  Work the crowd: By playing and singing for an hour or two you can gain d4gp worth of coins in a village, d6gp in a town, or d8gp in a city.  You must roll a Cha check to get the loot but if you get a 20 the crowd goes all angry mob on you.  Every time you roll this result you can increase the dice sizes, until it maxes out at d10/d12/d20.  Reroll this result after that.
51  Gain +1 Dex.  If you already have max Dex, gain +1 saves vs. anything that could possibly be dodged.
52-53  Cunning Linguist: gain knowledge of a language of your choice
54-55  Item Identification.  Once per session you can identify any magic item with an Int check.  Subsequent rolls grant additional attempts per session.
56-57 Countersong:  Once per session you can negate sonic effects and attacks with your own music.  You can do this for a number of rounds equal to your level plus your Con bonus (minimum 1).  Reroll if you get this result again.
58-59 Fencing prowess:  Gain proficiency with swords, scimitars, and shortswords if you did not already possess it.  Otherwise you are +1 AC when wielding such a sword and not surprised, flat-footed, or otherwise subject to sneak attack.  Gain +1 more AC for each reroll of this result.
60 Dancing fool: When affected by Otto’s Irresistible Dance, the poison of the tarentella spider, the music of korreds, etc., you will dance upon a missed save just like everyone else but you may act normally while doing so.
61-62  Sorcerous secret:  Gain a random standard first level MU spell as a daily power.  Unless you already cast MU spells, in which case roll from a list in some more obscure book of MU spells.  If you get this result again gain a 2nd level spell, then a third, etc.
63-64 “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”  Once per session you may give a rousing but nonsensical speech prior to the start of a combat.  All allies who can hear your oration gains +1 to-hit for the ensuing battle and NPCs gain +1 morale.  Reroll this result if it occurs again.
65-66  Impress the ladies/lads.  Once per session you can play a love song and make a Cha check to seduce a member of any sentient species, provided their orientation includes your gender.
67-68  Hard drinker.  Once per session you may down a skin/bottle of ale or wine in one turn to replenish d6 hit points.  If this is already a rule in your game, then increase to d12 hit points.  Each time this is rerolled you may down an additional skin/bottle, but the DM is allowed to invoke inebriation rules after the first such occurrence.
69-70  Druid secret: Gain a random standard first level Druid spell as a daily power.  Unless you already cast Druid spells, in which case roll from a list in some more obscure book of Druid spells.  If you get this result again gain a 2nd level spell, then a third, etc.
71  Pied piper: Once per session you can use your music to charm any group of identical monsters of less than one hit die, up to a number equal to your level plus Charisma bonus.  The monsters stay charmed for no more than three session or until you charm monsters of another species.
A bard if I ever saw one.
72-73   Illusionist Trickery: Gain a random standard first level Illusionist spell as a daily power.  Unless you already cast Illusionist spells, in which case roll from a list in some more obscure book of Illusionist spells.  If you get this result again gain a 2nd level spell, then a third, etc.
74-75  Gain +1 Charisma.  If you already have max Cha then gain a 1st level henchperson of a random class.
76-77  Magic instrument prowess.  When using a magic instrument not specifically for Bards it is generally 50% more effective in your hands.  Reroll if you get this result again.
78  The skin of your teeth.  The next time you die you mysteriously reappear somewhere safe d6 days later, bereft of all equipment and treasure save for one item of your choice.  Note that your undergarments count as an item.  You may do this exactly once.
79-80 Music soothes the savage beasts.  Before combat is joined you can spend a round to play a little ditty to placate any creature of animal or less intelligence.  If it fails a save versus spells it will not attack and insteads sits idly for d6 turns or withdraws (50/50 chances).  This effect is negated by attacking the monster, stealing its treasure, yelling at it, etc.  You may do this once per session.  Reroll if you get this result again.
81 Repairer of Reputations: Pick a person that you have been talking up in your original compositions.  They’re a little famous now.  Everyone in the local region is now +1 reactions with that person.  Yes, you can use this for yourself.
82-83 Place lore:  Once per session you can know something useful about a place relevant to the current adventure.  Reroll if you get this result again.
84-85 Dual wield:  You can make an extra melee attack with no penalty by wielding a dagger in your left hand.  (You gain dagger proficiency if you don’t already have it.)  However, you are a bit of a danger to your friends.  If you roll a natural 1 with the dagger attack you automatically stab the nearest friendly.  If no ally is within stabbing range, then you must throw the dagger at the nearest adventure buddy.  If they are out of range they’re safe, otherwise roll to-hit.  Reroll if you get this result again.
86-87 Noble lore: You know all the ins and outs of heraldry, family trees, royal gossip, etc.  Once per session and upon request the DM must supply you with a juicy tidbit that can help you in your present situation.  Reroll if you get this result again.
88  You may declare any magic item you find to be an Ancient Bardish Artifact.  This has no effects on the item or your ability to use it, but everyone else in the party must honor your claim to it unless they are willing to resort to violence.  You may do this exactly once.
89  You gain a random mutation.  Because fuck you that’s why.
90 El Kabong!  Once per session you may use your precious lute or whatever as a bludgeon.  This is so surprising that you get +2 to-hit, doing d6 damage and the foe must save versus paralyzation or be knocked out cold.  However, if you successfully hit then your instrument is shattered.
91-92 Riddle or fiddle:  The next time you are confronted by a monster but a fight hasn’t started yet, you can challenge them to either a song or riddle contest.  Negotiate the stakes and both sides roll d20, higher roll winning.  You have no mechanical advantage to the roll but the monster will automatically accept the challenge and abide by its results.  You may do this exactly once.
93  Ruiner of Reputations:  Pick someone you dislike.  Your latest original compositions have all contained digs at them.  They are now -1 reactions for everyone in the region, but there is a 1 in 6 chance they find out it is your fault.
94  Silver-tongued devil.  Once per session you may tell of lie of nearly any magnitude and a number of creatures equal to your level will believe it.  Reroll if you get this result again.
95  Use any item.  You can use any magic item for any class with a successful Int roll per usage. If you roll a 20 you experience some sort of mishap determined by the DM.
96  Lucky bastard: Once per session you can reroll any roll after you know the result.  The second roll applies whether it is a better result or not.
97  Admirer.  Gain a creepily devoted 0-level loser as a henchweenie.
98-99  Gambler: When resolving gambling attempts you always get the better of two rolls or the draw of an extra card or whatever.  You can take the best of a third draw/roll/whatever but there’s a 1 in 6 chance your cheating is detected.
100  Song of Making:  Bards know that the world was called into existence by means of a Great Song.  You know just enough of this primordial music to call into existence any nonliving object on your ruleset’s price lists, including things like a ship or a tower.  You can do this exactly once.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Insano-Libs Random Cleric Advancement

So here's an attempt to do random cleric advancement that tries to account for the vagaries of worshiping a variety of weirdo gods.  It's a step above the first random chart I made for clerics, and hopefully less time-consuming than writing a chart for each faith..  All first level clerics are the same as normal (hit dice, weapons, armor, saves, no spell, turn undead).  For each spell slot you would normally gain via leveling up, roll on the chart below.

Basically, you define each god using 20 parameters:
[1st level cleric spell] - You know how 3e clerics can burn spells to power healing? This is like that only you can choose a different spell that's more appropriate. You can ignore the "1st level" or "cleric" designations if you want to, but don't over do it.
[location] - A place where your god has slightly more power/your cleric has slightly stronger faith.
[Lesser Miracle] - Some miscellaneous power, roughly equal to a 1st or 2nd level cleric or MU spell. If it's weak, designate it 3x a day (or at-will if it is really puny), otherwise list it as a daily power.
[Greater Miracle] - These can be as powerful as you want, but if they are really potent set them at once per session or just one use period.
[weapon] - The weapon used by clerics of this faith. If you have no idea, just select mace.
[enemy] - a group, race, or species loathed by the faith
[basic lore] - something many clerics of this faith know. Like many clerics of the god of blacksmiths know how to make stuff out of iron.
[secret lore] - a more advanced knowledge, or something actually secret, maybe even something campaign world important
[ritual activity] - something that clerics can do that would take maybe a single dungeon turn that would look pointless or dumb to non-believers but imbues the cleric with a little extra holy power
[object] - something material that is holy to the faith but not an actual holy symbol (like the chalice used at a Mass)
[ally] - a group that has good relations with the clerics of the god
[class] - a non-cleric class somehow relevant to the god. If you're using the DDG, check what class besides cleric the god has the most levels in. That's probably what you want.
[servitor] - whatever fulfills the role of angels for this god
[color or symbol] - a thing that a cleric could see that would fill them with renewed zeal
[clothing] - some sort of holy garb
[animal] - literally what sort of pet the god could send to a cleric
[element] - the force, energy, or element by which the god can smite enemies
[food] - something the cleric can hand out to allies, like communion wafers or witch's brew
[taboo] - something the cleric can do to cheese off the god
[time] - a part of the day, week, month, or year sacred to your god

Two things to keep in mind when setting this stuff up for your gods: It would be easy to overdo this stuff. Try to keep in mind the relative power level of your deity, especially when setting the two Miracles. Also, try not to be too consistent when developing this profile. Religions often look like nonsense to the outsider. A little inconsistency actually makes a faith more plausible.

I made a Google Form for this process, which dumps the results into a spreadsheet. I already put a handful of gods there to serve as examples of what I have in mind. Please consider using these docs so everyone can have access to a collection of ready-made cleric options. And if anyone knows how to do a mail merge in GDocs, let me know so we can output individual charts for each god.

(BTW, the Great Cosmic Flailsnail is a newly declared god. Zak almost stumbled across Its existence back in 2011, but he didn't realize that the titanic polyhedron he was describing was the shell of a multiversal snail-entity.)

Anyway, here's the chart:

Insano-Libs Specialty Cleric Advancement

Start with a normal undead-turning, no-spell-at-first-level cleric.  All acolytes of all faiths operate exactly the same under this scheme (except for those badguy clerics who can Cause Light Wounds and Recruit Undead).  Advance hit points, to-hits, saves, and turn undead normally.  For each new spell slot you would normally gain, roll on the following chart instead.
01-05  You gain +1 to hit instead.
06-15  You gain +1 on all saves instead.
16-62  You gain a spell slot as normal.
63-64  Your ability to Turn Undead increases by one level.
65-67  You gain the ability to convert one memorized spell per day into [1st level cleric spell].   If you don’t have any spell slots yet then you gain that spell as a daily power.  If you roll this again, you can convert as many spells as you want into [1st level cleric spell] (or you gain 3 per day usages, if you still have no spell slots).  Reroll this result after that.
68  When standing at [location] you feel the power of your god flow through you.  Make a Wis check every time you cast a spell there.  If you succeed, you do not lose the memorized spell.  If you roll a “1” you channel too much divine energy and take 1d6 damage for each level of the spell.  Reroll if you get this result again.
69-71  You gain the ability to [Lesser Miracle].  Roll again if you get this result a second time.
72  You gain the ability to [Greater Miracle].  Roll again if you get this result a second time.
73-74  You get better at wielding a [weapon].  If you are not proficient with this weapon already, you gain proficiency with it.  Otherwise, you gain +1 to hit and +1 damage with that weapon each time you roll this result.
75-77 You can turn [enemy] once per day, using the nearest equivalent hit dice undead on the Turn chart.  If you get this result again, your ability to turn that kind of creature goes up to 3x per day.  On a third roll, you can make as many attempts to turn [enemy] as your level (min 3).  Reroll this result after that.  Note that this ability is always standard Turning Away, even if you are one of those badguy clerics who normally Recruit Undead.
78  Fanatical Followers: Any henchmen or hirelings you obtain who do not already have a strongly documented faith gain +2 morale from your contagious religious fervor.  Reroll if you get this result again.
79-80  You gain the knowledge of [basic lore].  The DM may require an Int roll to take advantage of this.  On a second roll of this result, you gain the knowledge of [secret lore].  Reroll if this comes up a third time.
81  No more than once per session (sometimes it may not be practical) you can perform [ritual activity] and immediately refill your empty spell slots.  Reroll if you get this result again.
82  When holding aloft a [object] dedicated to your god (which you can achieve with a simple bless spell), all attempts at turning are at +1 on the turn and number/hitdice turned rolls.  If you roll this a second time, the hallowed object also functions in your hands as a bludgeon against [enemy], magically +2 to-hit and doing 2d6 damage, but there is a 50% chance at the end of the combat that the object falls to pieces.  Roll again on the third or subsequent occurrence of this result.  
83  Declare a Crusade: Pick a single species of monster or other type of foe that really cheeses you off. You cannot select [ally], [class], or [servitor], though you can declare a crusade against a group that a minority of these might belong to.  All your party members are +1 to hit and damage against your declared foe so long as you are standing with them.  If you choose [enemy], the bonus becomes +2.  This works up to and including massive army scales.  You do not get the bonus.  If you get this again you must declare a new crusade against someone else.  The old bonus no longer applies.
84  The mere sight the mark of your god fills you with hope.  Once per session when you happen across [color or symbol] in the course of play (i.e. you can’t stage it), you can either regain a single used spell slot or heal yourself of 2d6 damage.
85  When wearing [clothing] you are +2 on all saving throws.  A second roll makes you +4 and a third +6.  Reroll after that.
86  You gain a pet [animal].  On a second roll of this result, you gain the ability to communicate with any [animal] as well as any monster similar to it.  On a third such roll you may attempt to charm any [animal] or any monster similar to it once per day.  Reroll after that.
87  Once per day you can channel the power of your god into a burst of pure [element].  It does 2d6 damage to one target, no to-hit roll needed, at a range of up to 60’.  For each memorized spell you burn, you can add 1d6 damage or add another target adjacent to the first.  Only those diametrically and cosmically opposed to your god are allowed a save for half damage.   Among mortals, only enemy cleric and (anti)paladin types normally qualify for a save.
88  Pilgrimage: The thing you seek, the MacGuffin or whatever, is located in the tomb of a saint nor more than 4 play sessions away.   You must have a fair shot at it--like any other treasure, but there's no guarantee you will get it. If you don't get it by the fourth session you can keep trying or let it go and roll again on this table. However if you choose to roll again and then you do get the thing somehow anyway, you lose whatever gimmick you rolled. The DM must think up some clever reason why.
89 Holy Consumables.  You may begin each adventure with [food] imbued with the power of any first level cleric spell of your choice.  Whoever ingests it can use the power of the spell.  You have as many portions as your current level.  If you roll this again you may select a second level spell instead, etc.
90  You get +2 saves versus [element].  A second roll of this grants you the ability to take no damage when a successful save results in half.  A third roll make save-for-half situations into save-for-none/take half damage if the save fails.  Reroll fourth or subsequent occurrences of this result.
91  If you personally witness someone violating your faith’s taboo of [taboo], you are +2 to-hit them in melee and they are -2 to save against any spells you throw at them.  However, if you witness party members or other allies doing the same thing then your cure spells will no longer work on them.    Reroll if you get this result again.
92  Future Saint: The site of your death becomes holy to your faith.  No [enemy] may enter there and fellow adherents who rest here regain spells in half the usual time.  Oddly, this still applies if you are resurrected or raised (don't tell the pilgrims).  Reroll if you get this result again.
93 You gain a spell slot as usual AND a bonus slot of the level below it.  If you were rolling for a first level slot, you gain two first level slots.
94  Timing is everything.  When it is [time], your spells take effect as if you were 2 levels higher or you get +2 on dice (such as Cure Light Wounds).
95-96  You gain an acolyte (1st level cleric) as a free henchweenie.
97  You gain a spell slot one level higher than you were rolling for!  However, if you ever violate your faith’s taboo of [taboo], you lose that spell slot forever.
98 The next time you find a magic [weapon] or [object] of unspecified provenance you can declare it a minor relic of your faith.  Any cleric or adherent of your faith can use it, despite class or other restrictions.  Furthermore, roll once on a random potions chart.  In the hands of a cleric of your faith, it has that potion ability as a daily power.  Work out with your DM how bad potions like poison or delusion work to the benefit of the user.
99 Roll on the chart for the [class] class.  If that chart does not yet exist, roll on something similar (e.g. use the Thief chart if directed to a non-existent Assassin chart) OR roll on the Miscellaneous chart.
100  When you are really in the soup you can call on a [servitor] to help you.  It will perform one service on your behalf, subject to DM interpretation, or join in a single combat.  You can call on the creature but once.  Reroll if you get this result again and have not summoned the servitor.  (I.e. you can't bank more than one divine bail-out.)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Vaults of Vyzor, session 13


Rose the Trash Elf Burglar (Kiel Chenier)
Pokey the Giant Porcupine (pet)
Bufo the Wizard (Makali'i F)
Magic Meryl (Nick Kuntz)
Arthur the Dungeon Terrier (pet)
Ilse Raagenkampf, LotFP specialist (Perttu Vedenoja)
Chuckles the Crypt Cockerel (pet)

After consulting Perttu Vedenoja's wonderful infographic, the party opted to take a stab at the relatively un-explored vaults below the Rosy Chambers.  The Chambers serve as the private pleasure dome of the Sorcerer of the Blue Mask and many debaucheries were witnessed en route to the dungeon below, including something involving the recreational use of Evard's black tentacles and someone they were convinced is Santa Claus on holiday from the North Pole.

Rose's bit of mapping
This party absolutely wrecked the goblin guards in the first room, as well as the goblins and their bugbear boss in the adjacent barracks.  They actually make friends with Beefo and Bafu, the last two survivors of the group.  The party finds out from them that the goblins in the Vaults are on the verge of extinction, as they were slaughtered and the survivors enslaved when the Orcs of the Red Hand took over several upper levels.  Beefo was later slain in a surprise attack by a pair of wandering silver shag monsters.

In a northern room the party found a corridor that seems to connect the Rosy and Citrine Vaults.  They also found evidence of green slime on the level, in the form of dehydrated trace slime, like it dried out and died for want of some fool to drop down on.  Poor green slime.

Later the party met a friendly mysterious monk wearing a patch indicating his membership in the Red Dragon Fighting Society.  He shared both his rations and many clues about the dungeon:
  • nearby, a manticore guards the stairs down
  • the boss of this level is the Duke of Ghouls and he has a bunch of gold
  • the third level of the Citrine Vaults is home to a Secret Dojo of the Red Dragon Society
How truthful any of this stuff may be has yet to be determined, though Chuckles the Chicken did suggest that some sort of big solitary monster is located where the monk said the manticore is.

Turns out this monk is an evil S.O.B. and his wine was poisoned.  Bufo the Wizard blew his save and succumbed to the poison well after the party ended its delve.

Magic Meryl's map.
I don't have my map in front of me, but I think something doesn't look quite right south of that oblique corridor.

Ongoing Roll of the Dead

Bufo the Wizard (Makali’i F)
Beefo the Gerblin Drinking Buddy (NPC)
Willy Whats-His-Name (0-level Loser)
Poor Brother Rupert (cleric hireling)
unnamed serving boy (0-level hireling)
Gwalin Rustbritches (dwarf hireling)
Jarrod the Magic-User (Ian Reilly)
Jonesy (0-level NPC)
Little Liam Linkboy (0-level NPC)
Limpy the Naileteer (Jeff Call)
Engsal the Enchanter (Alex Joneth)
Elfbraham Lincoln (Jeff Call)
Littlens (0-level NPC)
Biggens (0-level NPC)
Stimpy (0-level NPC)
Ren (0-level NPC)

Bafo the Friendly Gerblin inherited
all of Bufo the Wizard's stuff