Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hey Geek & Sundry People

You must be looking for world-building stuff...

Random tables and charts are here.

A person I don't know but who seems pretty cool made an index of my setting-specific resources here.

Stuff for my home D&D campaign is under the "Vornheim Campaign" tag here.

I have a "useful things" for GMs tag here.

My new RPG project Demon City is here, the Patreon for that is here.

We talk all day about game stuff on my Google+ here.

General orientation to this blog (including where the porn stars are) here.

Seeyalater...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

What 1000 Feet Away Looks Like

If you write tabletop RPG stuff, you're used to using resources totally not designed for you. This is because if you write tabletop RPG stuff, almost no resources are designed for you.

Here's one: RPGs are full of ranges--Silence 15' radius, the Ruger is accurate up to 1000' yards...ever wonder what various ranges actually look like?

Somebody was writing an article about how big don't-sell-drugs-to-school-children zones should be-(a subject upon wish I have no opinion I which to discuss with game bloggers), but they did provide a useful illustration of some ranges:



So using this I figured out the Drowned Woman Ghost can stray no further than 500' from the body of water where she committed suicide.

And now, a word from our sponsor:
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Monday, May 15, 2017

House of D100 Corpses

HEY IF YOU'RE HERE FROM THAT GEEK & SUNDRY WORLD-BUILDING THING
Here's an index to that stuff.

D100 Corpses and What They Were Carrying


Crowdsourced on my Google+ RPG circle here, if you wanna be added, you gotta send me a message on G+ saying you want to be in the RPG circle.


1, Human thief. 3 torches, one slowly burning through her leg. 5 days rations, 20' rope. Throwing axe inscribed "To Bella, may it always find its mark" buried in abdomen.

2, Kimmerian warrior, face carefully burned away; sword, dagger, hand axe all neatly broken and arrayed around the body; five war-dog harnesses strapped around thigh, each with crusted blood.

3, Adult Tengu. Scroll of feather fall. Tinderbox. Bedroll. Bokken (wooden sword) carved with shifting runes of unknown origin. 

4, Drowned corpse of a princess- ruby necklace, gold crown, 100 gp, and a music box that has mesmerizing melody and leaks copious amounts of water when opened. 

5, Half-elf Thief with sting mark in neck, dagger, collapsible mini fishing pole,  thieve's tools,  fishing weights & hooks (some highly & lightly magnetized), fishing line,  blowgun w/ 10 darts, 10 slot bandolier with 9 live wasps expertly bound & in the slots.

6, Eviscerated ettin. Longspear with a flint head. Bark shield. Clay pipe and a bag of extra strong pipeweed. Elf jerky. 

7, Corpse whose face has been replaced with a hole which looks into a dungeon. Blue skin, wears fantasy Russian finery. Carries a random key, a rusty lantern (squeaks, +1 in 6 chance of encounters) with 3 hours of oil, a braided blanket of many colours, a knife on a 5' stick, and a dehydrated octopus in a jar (add water to bring back to life, acts as 3rd level thief). 

8, Disemboweled druid. Silver-thread robe. A golden sickle. Oracle bone. Small collection of bawdy pictures. 

9, Halfling with case full of expensive, impressive, distinctive earrings worth dungeon levelx1000 gp. They will be immediately by recognized by dwarves as stolen goods.

10, Halfling: stomach has burst open with strange fungal growth and is filled with gems, coins, little keepsakes, soggy canvas that was once a painting, nails, spoons, marbles. The gems and coins are worth d100 x 10.

11, Human. Teeth weirdly overgrown, puncturing through the cheeks. Within mouth is a fairy, sentenced to imprisonment for an ill-considered jape. Can only be released by smashing the teeth, or cutting into the head. 

12, Mutilated merchant. Bag of glass beads. Basket of hop cones. Sack of beaver tails. Coin pouch containing 6d20 gold pieces (counterfeit). 

13, Corpse is actually hands legs, head, clothes from several different corpses carefully arranged by goblins to seem like one dead body. pack contains 30gp and spoiled rations but coming within 5' puts a scent on you that goblins' dogs can track

14, Female elf, hanging underneath a bridge. She has been picked clean but the rope is enchanted and can on the right command move along the ground like a snake, climb trees etc, and can even tie a knot in itself. The rope is 20 ft long, and if it gets cut loses the enchantment.

15, Two corpses, both humans, impaled on the same longspear. the spear is lined with barbs, and it looks like both died in pain trying to work the weapon through their bodies. Simple leather hoods,  shoddy leather jerkins, and rusting farm tools suggest they were hapless hirelings. Only one has a leather pouch on their belt, containing a handful of 2d6 coppers and 4 red acorn seeds. 

16, Crumpled Arbalestier, her head stove in. Broken crossbow, jack-and-chains, satchelful of mewling mandrakes. 

17, Burnt bugbear. Brigandine. Exquisite katzbalger and baselard set (stolen). Tin cup. Jug of plum brandy. Diary which reads like a food porn blog written in undercommon. 

18, A curse of beauty: the first person to touch the corpse recieves the curse, they become increasingly alluring to everyone gaining 1 point of charisma each day. When their charisma reaches 18 then each day they gain a follower of the DMs choosing. Jealousy and rivalry will follow, duels will be fought in the cursed's name, murder, obsessive stalking. Kings will send armies to collect that person. The curse, once discovered, can be removed at a temple for 500 gold per point of charisma back to their starting charisma. Once those enamoured of the character realise they were tricked they will become very angry.

19, Thief - two purses, one containing 237 sp/gp, the other containing 4 small gems worth 50 sp/gp each. A small knife covered in blood

20, Small humanoid, dressed in filthy rags.  Face beaten in brutally, skin on body covered in scars (runes or arcane writing of some kind.)  Right hand clutches a rattle from a snake, left hand a lemon.

21, Druidic Novitiate,  deadskin mask, pair of jagged sickles, ogham-staff upon which is writ a sequence of riddles referring to the hunger of the moon, white robe torn and stained with blood. 

22, Crowman 4' tall, stabbed. backpack emptied next to him, ripped up pillow, a slice of bread. one wing is false (actually that wing was severed long ago) and conceals a pouch containing: 1d6x100gp worth of gems, a vial of powdered mushroom (snort to have pleasant hallucinations for 3d4 hours, also able to see invisible ghosts) and a glass globe with a gold sniffing scarab inside (flies towards gold when within 5')

23, Pulverized prince. Brocade finery. Bottle of hippocras. Chicken fingers. Chastity belt. 

24, Imperial Cataphract torn in half. Lamellar klibanion over double layer of mail. Spear, mace, axe and two kinds of sword. Top half fifty feet away from bottom half. Look of surprise frozen on his face.

25, A thief, completely flat, thieve’s tools, daggers etc. all crushed flat and useless. Rope maybe still usable. Partial maps of this and some other places, mostly correct.

26, Decapitated dwarf. Double-bitted axe. Beard balm. Toupée. A biscuit. 

27, half orc in possession of his own memoir of surprising insight and clarity detailing his birth in the Pitch Hoarding and his subsequent inability to integrate with orc society and eventual quest to find his mother. Includes hand-drawn maps and sketches of important figures. Also: crummy drugs and rabbit meat.

28, Victim of a teleportation mishap. Half fused with a stone wall, head and an arm and a leg sticking out. Digging him out of the wall with pickaxes or similar will gain access to a 3rd level magic-users's spellbook and 1d8x100gp.

29, Plump blueskinned woman ready to burst, one red pump on her left foot, a snake grenade clenched in her fist.

30, 14th level wizard covered in flour lying facedown in a pile of marbles and caltrops in a scorched pool of oil and lard, arrows in his back. Nothing of value but the trail from his body leads to a very smug looking party of adventurers loaded with 2467gp worth of talismans and a loaded spellbook.

31, skeleton carefully wrapped in thin gold foil, head is filled with steel wool, removing the steel wool reanimates the thing (treat as 9th lvl fighter, 1/2 damage from slashing and piercing), removing the foil grants you an indefatigable enemy

32, Adventurer or a hobo, hard to tell which. Dirty stinking worn out clothes. Golden necklaces, wristbands and rings. A chain is wrapped around the corpse, the other end trailing into darkness. Every time the corpse is approached, something yanks it away, towards the dark.

33, Halfling. Disembowled with intestine wrapped around neck. Nothing in pockets but a map to a country no one has heard of called Taured. 

34, A lizardperson, but so difficult to tell due to so many parts missing, sliced out or off until it's a "butterflied" torso with stumpy appendages.  A spear, shield, and crude breast plate are carelessly piled a few feet from the corpse.

35, The pope. He's actually still alive, but very poorly, needs help now! Saving his life will carry a big reward.

36, Male orc missing both legs, lying in large a pool of fresh blood, broken wine bottle beside him. Carrying a leather pouch around waist filled with (bottles of? -z) different sizes and shapes. Cause of death, bled out from leg wounds. 

37, The corpse of a gambler turned literal dead-bead debtor. His throat is slit with his own playing card; his own dice have been deeply thrust into his eye sockets with snake eyes facing up. An IOU addressed to the presumed murderer hangs from his mouth.

38, A flattened... Something. Can't really tell what it was. like vertically flattened so the body is a roughly circular pancake of goo and leather, contained within the foot print of something humongous. Valuables include 2d6 silver coins flattened like a penny run over by a train. 

39, goblin chef with spatula, knife set, salt, d10 sauce bottles, dried mushrooms, fancy hat. monster cookbook, goat fat, herbs and spices in tiny clay jars

40, The corpse appears to be a fairly well off (if foppish) adventurer in fashionable but durable clothing (elven/fey-weave worth 200 gp, resistant to normal wear-and-tear, staining.) with rough marks on his neck indicating somebody choked him. His pockets are notably emptied, but a highly valuable jeweled amulet dangles loosely from his neck. This is, in fact, a necklace of strangulation.

41, Cow. In its belly the jade egg of unreason. 

42, A near skeletal corpse, dressed festively in the style of a local holiday, buried inside a giant pot of boiling hot pudding. A holly stake has been lodged in the corpse's chest cavity. If the stake is removed, the corpse animates as a vampire. The taste of the pudding is off, for it's literally blood pudding.

43, A pile of 1d10+10 albino plague mice, each laying on its back with its legs curled facing up. 

44, Crass sea cucumber wife in the tattered bone and brine finery of a better era, her tangled intestines choking a brachiopod man. In her bag of hands three gold and stone rings. 

45, Orator from the imperial capital, throat slit and tongue removed. Items on person: crudely forged love letter from the wife of a diplomat, and empty coin purse that never held money. Also, carefully hidden legal document securing ownership of an ancient dwarven mine. 

46, Featureless corpse of a Doppleganger. Nasty gut wound. Postmortem reflex causes it to try to imitate features of those touching it for next 1d10+5 minutes and sticks to last appearance it took after that.

47, Dwarven skeleton. No hands. Top front teeth have numbers one to six scrimshawed on them. If teeth taken, and one is held in hand while character is rolling any die, tooth disintegrates and die rolls that number if possible.

48, This ancient corpse sits in a position of prayer or meditation. It is the pristine remains of a holy man who remained incorrupt through death. The corpse's mummified flesh is poisonous to saprophages, thus remaining unviolated.The prayer beads or vestments worn by the mummy indicate the holy site to where it may be returned, where it is attended (and perhaps even venerated) by lay worshipers.

49, Corpse in moldering floral button-up and sandals; small box around neck with mysteriously created pictures of ~20 nearby beings, rooms, or treasures

50, Mangled and half-eaten body of a young man in monk's robes, still clutching a crumpled scroll of Summon.

51, Psi-warrior run through with crystal spear, has three pearls of power and a colorful plumed mask. Chimeric spirit guide also pinned, trying to escape, but only visible to people sleeping, hallucinating or insane. Promptly leads to master's killer when freed, will serve as familiar to whoever avenges

52, A fat stirge shot recently through with an otherwise ordinary elvish arrow. Examining its glittery gullet or proboscis will show its last meal was unicorn.

53, A plague physician in full bird mask outfit.  Body completely unmarked, flesh is strangely waxy rather than decayed.  Satchel holds herbs (more aromatic than medicinal), scalpels, saws and many small glass cups with scorch marks.

54, Dead tax collector killed on the job. Carries various purses containing a total of 1d100 coins of every type up to gold pieces plus 1d10 platinium pieces and 1d6 gems of random value. Also holds in hand tax records with checklist of persons on collection route.

55, dark elf with fearsome chest wound carrying cruelly serrated crossbow bolts and an accurate chart of the motions of the winds over the nearest sea for the next 4 weeks written in an ancient elvish script. If translated it's worth 1000gp per relevant day left to sailors

56, A fucking huge barbarian: backstabbed. His hands clutched in rigor mortis around his two-handed sword. Inscribed on the sword are the words "Over my dead body".

57, Dead, eight-limbed elf. Face of confused agony. Four arms and legs are flesh; these are limp as sausages. The other four are bone and ligament: phased out of her body and posed as if escaping. Tumbled aside: a book full of notes and a spell of Wake Skeleton.

58, the desiccated husk of a mummified monk, sitting perfectly upright, hand in esoteric position, with a face of serenity. skin rock hard and golden brown. he appears to have self-embalmed. at his feet lie a neat bundle of religious tracts, a dried-out quill and ink pot, and several empty jars. a herbalist might be able to identify that the first two contain traces of a curious mixture of resins and toxins. the last contain traces of vomit. if dissected, his stomach contains a number of river stones. his eternal tranquility is marred by the single word of graffiti carved across his brow: "DICK".

59, A large obese human corpse clothed in bear fur. Close inspection reveals a faint rumbling coming from inside. There is a halfling sleeping in the eviscerated remains, if woken he quickly gets up and throwing a dark look the player's way, stalks off mumbling about needing to find a new bed without assholes disturbing him. In his hand he clasps a cleaver, and a rusty hook hangs from his belt.

60, Emaciated adventurer corpse in a gibbet.  Empty pack and waterskin.  Purse contains gold appropriate for level of dungeon.  Gold ring on finger is magical.  Whoever takes the ring off the finger takes the place of the corpse in the gibbet.

61, A child: unmarked, unclothed, starting to rot, covered in snails. Their movements map the safest way through a dungeon.

62, Dismembered body with bloody handaxe in one hand. Neatly written suicide note nearby, no explanation of how they doed it. 

63, Middle-aged man, unshaven, wearing green. Beaten to death. Index and middle fingers recently cut off. Has broken longbow, empty purse, cheaply-printed pamphlets advocating for a peasant uprising.

64, A spidery, thin occultist sits bent over an old ouija board, her blood staining it but dead by unknown causes. The planchette points at "YES".

65, A dwarf that has been stripped of everything. Luxurious beard is coated in oils and waxes though. Beard can provide d10 torches.

66, Monk covered with tattoos. Mouth stuffed with poison mushrooms, emasculated, gang symbol branded on chest.

67, Old Slavic-looking man with thick moustache and hairy forearms. Wears rough homespun peasant clothes and leather apron. A very sharp boning knife is stuck into his neck. He carries a short-handled mallet and 3d6 strips of jerky, made from some unidentifiable meat.

68, A normal sized frog, lodged in it's belly is a well cut diamond on a gold ring, the diamond is the size of a human eyeball

69, A couple of thieves, covered in black oozing stab wounds with looks of immense pain of their faces. They have small cut wounds upon them where it was clear they once had items or purses. A small note written in some sort of thieves cant is all that you can find

70, A large fighter, placed onto its back with its sword laying upon its armoured chest covered by both hands. A gold coin is placed over each eye

71, The bodies of several lowborn riffraff are impaled upon pikes, their last expressions warped in extreme agony. They serve as bleak reminders of what happens to those who reach beyond their bounds. One of the dead upstarts clenches a small slip of parchment in his fist. It holds a clue about the local ruler's dread secret.

72, Bloated ill-dressed maiden with a parasitic wasp frog demon chimaera in her bosom and gold coins in her ears. 

73, Dead, dirty drunkard covered in a film of his own puke, clutches a bottle of whiskey so potent you can get a contact high just by coming within 5 ft. The mark of station in the man's pocket proves him as once a distinguished figure, but some terrible, unknown fate laid him truly low. 

74, Small stout bloated creature with rusty skin floats in a puddle mixed with it's black blood. It wears a silver crown (worth 200sp). Upon closer inspection the body bares several names carved into it's flesh. Some are foreign. Some are familiar. 3d20 names glow with a golden light.

75, The butcher's son, in pigskin gloves.

76, The corpse of a doomsayer preacher, wears plain priestly vestments, a necklace of garlic cloves plus a silver holy symbol, and sandals. Her belt holds a silver dagger of ritual sacrifice, two vials of holy water, and some incense. Some sort of untitled logbook  lies in the filth a few feet away. Someone has torn away the last few pages.

77, A bald monk with a forehead full of holy ash. Asphyxiated, cheeks full and near-bursting. Gums bloody, teeth missing. Fat, jewel-eyed idol jammed in his mouth cavity; it would not have fit past the opening of his lips.

78, Emaciated, panther-headed humanoid creature, wrapped in bandages at the wrists and ankles. It clutches one of its young--a newborn--barely alive. The younger creature will imprint on the first living thing that pays it any attention.

79, A tiger sized cat which clutches the tail of a slightly smaller feline in it's jaws. Ad infinitum until you have a ring of cats ever decreasing in size biting each other's tails. Each feline caries a silver bell around it's neck that chimes with an individual's last words. (Add wind for spookiness.)

80, Dead man in fool's garb, almost skeletal, lying face down, grabbing punctured side and reaching towards blank wall. Has two vials of laughing gas and a 50' rope of tied color handkerchiefs up sleeves.

81, Human in well-worn, travel suitable version of a distant court's livery. Corpse has already been ransacked, and has no items of monetary value or weapons. His or her satchel has been upturned, and there are 1D4 letters, marked with first names or initials, destined for notable figures in the next nearest human kingdom strewn around it.

82, A skinny young man with close-cropped, light brown hair and greyish blue eyes, stripped of everything but his underwear and a leather cord necklace with a leather tag on it that says "Ben of ."

83, Human boy, age 13-15, silver dagger through heart, otherwise unharmed. enlarged canines, gray hair, unusual down on back of neck.

84, Young human wearing a life like demon costume. His right hand grips an amulet with a faded photo of a young maiden (100sp). His left clutches a half-eaten long rotted blt. The tag on the neck says "property of Rosco the Magnifico".

85, Loyal alsatian with a bottle of brandy in his teeth, matted with the blood of bandits

86, Half-elf woman. Charring on hands and mouth. Herbalism kit. Hunting knife. Short bow and 4 arrows. Five pieces of silver. 

87, A pirate who seems to have been bludgeoned to death with her own peg leg. In the hollow of the leg is the location of a treasure ship she sunk but could not savage due to rough seas.

88, An agnostic high priest adorned with 3d100gp worth of adornments. He grasps a wizard's spellbook with 1d6+5 spells of d10-2 levels each.

89, The singed body of an alchemist, wide-eyed with surprise, a broken beaker in each hand. The dead alchemist wears clothing appropriate to the profession, with pockets containing 250 gold pieces worth of alchemical supplies, including a potion belt able to hold 10 vials. 1d6+2 of them each holds a random mundane substance.

90, Pale sutler in a crumpled heap, stripped of all worldly possessions but tattered hose, bearing a contagion of terrible virulence.

91, A dead wizard and her 90% complete flesh golem. All it needs is a heart and the right words.

92, A termite mound raised over the pulped body of a dryad. Snacking on a bowl of termites - fried or roasted tastes best - confers barkskin for d4 hours.

93, Large human. Hands manacled together. Spear through side. Inside mouth is a bitten off ear. Inside stomach is a finger with a ring worth 2,000 gold and other body parts. Soon you will meet someone missing an ear and a finger and some other stuff.

94, One vertical half of a wizard with coins in their purse stamped with the adult face and name of a nearby nation's recently announced royal newborn.

95, Woman in a pit trap carrying a cage full of tagged mice, still living, along with notes on exactly which experiments were performed on which mice..

96, Replaces the next three results you would roll on this table: Garroted corpse resembling a random PC in broad but distinctive ways; hair/eye/skin color; social standing, gender, species, occupation etc. Pick a few, but each corpse bears all of these resemblances. PCs not matching this description are in no danger.

97, Nine eyeless weremice in a rat race trap holding brief and short cases of papers covered in arcane symbols. 

98, Body of a barefoot gnome in a drab nightgown and nightcap. Clutching a candlestick and a shoe. The letters 'WWW' are embroidered on the nightgown.

99, A message-bearer in livery: shot. The bad news lays in ashes but the body wears a satchel containing d4 more scrolls (50/50 chance good news or bad news about something on your hex or city map).

100, The burnt and body of a woman in rags, emitting a sulfurous odor.Next to her is a bag with 7 pairs of socks, apparently made of hair, and 2 gold, 3 silver and 5 copper.
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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Looking at a Boat With Kenneth Hite

On account of Kenneth Hite announcing made head designer on Vampire: the Masquerade 5e I'll put up this post I've been meaning to get to...

So we were hanging out...
He actually does smoke cigars, it is not just a carefully-constructed persona
...and I ran Maze of the Blue Medusa and, more importantly here, we went to the Vasa Museum.

Ok, so the Vasa Museum is about the warship Vasa which is the only full-intact 17th century ship that's ever been dredged up from the sea.

The reason for this is the very simple way the Vasa got to the bottom of the sea. The Vasa story is quite elegant:

A king got real excited.

He built a crazy 64-gun ship.

Everybody went to see it launch.

It launched, then a gust of wind hit it wrong, water filled the lower decks, and it immediately sank.

They eventually hauled it up and built a museum around this total embarrassment. As Ken put it "It's kind of like Boston building a museum to Bill Buckner's dropped ball".

But the thing is the ship is nuts, the decorative work alone took six sculptors at least two years, looking up at it is like standing next to a cathedral.
D&Dable: it's also covered in symbolism and good luck charms that didn't work, plus Hercules, portraits of the king, Roman emperors, symbols of the 4 winds, cats and dogs living together, etc.
They sucked at painting though





Alchemical wind diagram featuring those famous directions: batwise, turtlewise, lionwise, goatwise

"We're at war, let's throw some lifesized dudes on there"

I love this little pavilion they built on because it basically justifies any kind of
creepy Ian Miller baroquetry you draw onto a goblin ship
The nice thing about going to a museum with Ken is he's like "Ah yes, the Polish-Lithuanian war!" and he knows who all the kings were related to and what they had for breakfast on any given day of the calendar year so I spent a lot of time asking questions and going "No shit?"

Some of the many nameless dead they recovered
My favorite D&Dable detail, and a great example of good hairsplitting were these custom cannonballs, which were total news to me and which I will never ever stop talking about:
This one's made to put holes in the deck
This one scissors through the rigging and maybe also people



This one is a scary spinning anti-rigging shot

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Foetal God.....(+DIY D&D Gen Con Party)

For any old game, but I wrote it up specifically for Demon City. I gave it D&D stats, too...
The Foetal God. My latest painting for Demon City.

It would require an effort on an industrial scale and layers of orchestrated deception within that effort, great vats, sacrifices that would beggar cemeteries, coordinated acts of rogue archaeology, postmodern mathematics, and coordinating multinational teams of experts in the deadest languages. All the more remarkable as it could serve no conceivable purpose.

The young god will stagger, unviable, seething, needlessly empathic, feeling everything, bending quantum fields to the edge of rupture, shrieking in ultrasonics whose sublime recursions and architectonic structures echo out in depthless potency and ignorance.

Thinking nothing, reactionary, capable of anything, exposed and nihilistic--why would anyone bring such a thing about?
Demon City Stats:

Calm: -1 (Always insane)
Agility: 2
Toughness: 10
Perception: 1
Appeal: 0
Cash: 0
Knowledge: 0

Calm check: 10

D&D stats in italics:
HD: 17
AC: 16
Speed: As human

Causes Save vs Fear on sight


Special Abilities
(Wallowind newly anf unwilling in the morass of being, the Foetal God telegraphs its every move--these are all initially rolled as Agility-based actions.)

Physical Attack

The God is strong enough that anything outright grappled, thrown or crushed in its hands or jaws takes Overwhelming Damage (roll dice equal to the attacker's stat--in this case 2--and take the highest). (D&D: Str as Hill Giant)


Touch

The God can reform matter with a touch, but does so as an infant with no talent or focused intention. Each hand merely begins to transmute touched things into the last thing touched with that hand, so if it was a sidewalk, part of the target becomes smeared with a line of jagged concrete, if it was a dog, part of the target becomes a chaotic web of fur, organ, and fang. Aside from any common-sense effects treat this as normal weapon damage. (D&D: d10+10)

Scream

When wounded or frightened, the protogod screams, causing a storm of ontological static to ripple across an area extending from Foetal God in a 50' radius. An unsuccessful Scream action still indicates a scream has happened, just that a number of random nonvital objects in the area are affected (Host: describe something disturbing), a successful one indicates an important object or character is included along with this background damage--decide randomly. The Scream's effects on any given object or character are (roll d10)

1 Target is horrifically scarred or deformed. Damage is gruesome but cosmetic. Characters lose 2 points of Appeal (D&D: 4 pts of Cha), to a minimum of 0.

2 Target becomes its own shadow.

3 Target briefly nonexistent and devoid of relativistic movement, sinks 2 inches into ground or whatever is supporting it. Will have to be cut out.

4 Target begins to melt into a plasm of primordial constituents. Damage calculated as if hit with an ordinary weapon. (D&D: D10+10)

5 Target begins to dwindle out of existence. It does not exist next turn, then returns for one turn, then ceases to exist for two turns, then returns for one, then three turns, then returns for one, etc. until the Foetal God is destroyed or the effect is negated by some exotic means. During nonexistence no-one remembers it ever existed.

6 Target appears to be destroyed but reappears out of sight 100 feet-1 mile elsewhere. Host's choice.

7 Target is perfectly cloned. Clones of characters will become disturbed NPCs.

8 Target continues to exist but is ignored by all sentient life. This continues until the Foetal God is destroyed or the effect is negated by some exotic means.

9 Living targets (only) briefly share the mind of the Foetal God. They lose a point of Calm (D&D: Save and effects as if vs Confusion) if they fail a test against a 10, but on a successful test they can control the God's action for one turn. Getting this result twice and succeeding at least the second time allows the target to imprint their will on the protodeity long enough to reverse the effect of a single previous action by the God.

10 Target reverts in time to a noticeably earlier state--for, say, a car, this might turn it into molten metal and unprocessed rubber, for a character this usually means dialing back to a time before the acquisition of some current skillset or acquired knowledge, etc. When in doubt how bad to make it, make a Random Severity Roll (that's d10 --10 being the worst result, in this case something short of death).

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Ok for the DIY D&D Gen Con Party....

We got our location for that. It'll be Friday night, the night of the Ennies and after said Ennies, as I mentioned, there will be a party, thrown by D&D With Porn Stars and Satyr Press. We have our location, it within a leisurely walk or short cab ride from the Con and the place of said part will be emailed to you on the day of.

If you'll be at Gen Con on the 18th: email zakzsmith AT hawtmayle dawt calm and I'll put you on the list.
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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

D4 Dungeon Jerks With Weird Treasure

1. Othiqqa Abbefesque Welles-Weaning, an unscrupulous vendor of spirits, seeking to acquire the rare rum of Eliator in bulk saleable quantity and they heard someone down here knew how to get there. Accompanied by bodyguards--two 3rd level fighters and one thief/scout with backstab x3. In the Maze of the Blue Medusa, the Bondye Reparee or however they're fucking spelled are onto them as non-numinous beings and will kill them on sight. Such agents are the equivalent of Rogue Traders in 40k--their liquor licenses and credentials are worth 3,000gp in Vornheim. She will also pay twice normal prices for any unusual liquor the PCs bring her.

2. Cormorris Rill, umbramancer. Weary, bent, he of the tattooed skull and grey monocle. 6th level wizard specializing in illusion magic and shadow-themed negative energy type stuff. He seeks to enslave the various shadow creatures of the dungeon, and to steal strange artificial light sources for his experiments. Along with him: a hypnotized chameleon woman guide and a vicious wardog named Spit.  Carries a vial of liquid shadow and a map showing the location of every room and door within 200' of wherever he's encountered.
3. Rolling spore: An organic fungoid sphere 5' across with cold, pink and velvety skin. It emits a peachy aroma that inebriates anyone failing a save for 5 minutes. Slicing it open (20 hp, AC as leather) spills wretched monster-attracting goo on everything (roll 3 encounter checks now) and reveals its heart which can be used to grow 4 more.
4. Poorly-animated backpack moving spiderwise on tethered weapons (longsword, shortsword, climbing axe, staff) while still attached to and dragging around a lifeless corpse. The disturbing result of a falling-out between a sorcerer and her hired retainer. The assortment can attack with one weapon at a time (whichever one isn't being used as a "leg"). Following the drag marks and blood trail back leads to a few more of them and the entire party's loot--6 people worth of gear plus a spellbook containing 4 unique spells levels 1-4, 1800gp in gems, rings, holy symbols, and other typical adventurer tat. The sorcerer has one Sleep spell in her before she dies. Or maybe a Fireball. If the party doesn't trace the thing back immediately to its lair, the smell attracts more monsters.
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Monday, May 8, 2017

KNIVES AND RICE KNIVES AND RICE WE WANT KNIVES WE WANT RICE!

Maze of the Blue Medusa, month 11:

It took a while to remind everyone where we left off and sort out lunch orders, but by 4 we were underway--it's all in the picture:
click to enlarge
Agnes Steelheart, brave thief from the Scorpion Lands, seemed to have a soft spot for the moon-headed Zooth children. Elven Ranger Poppy Fields was like "I can feel my uterus shriveling up and screaming down the corridor".

Maze of the Blue Medusa Tip:

Half the fun comes from random encounters interacting with the weird rooms. Roll them all the time, and when you get one, put it in the most interesting place you can think of.
Olaf the Halfling Cleric of the Black Grip Death Cult has invested in a +5 to sleight of hand and so everybody was like
DO. NOT. STEAL. THAT. MASK .WE. WILL! LEAVE YOU. HERE.
he went and did it just like a fucking pc. Rolled a 21.
That's 2000-some gp each. Buncha happy lil 3rd levels.

Oh also for your merch hounds, Ela Darling was pretty excited she'd picked this up at ThinkGeek it's apparently a quality product.
This is what they've done so far...


Friday, May 5, 2017

The True Nature of Existence

Broadly applicable, but I specifically wrote it for Demon City:
New painting for Demon City, click to enlarge
Imagine a laid-flat brick of black gelatin. Pick a spot on the left wall and, imperfectly and at a diagonal, slide a soda straw in until it sticks out the right side.

The left side of the brick represents the second you were born, the right the second you die, the brick itself all you might've experienced and the path of the straw all that you did experience.

This tunnel through the gelatin is the path of your life. Now imagine a second tunnel, shaped like a crazy straw--carving likewise broadly left to right but looping and wild--intersecting and sometimes overlapping the path of your life, but rounding off and taking its own route at many places. This tunnel is the life of someone else you know.

Your story and another person's only have to agree when these paths overlap. Only if you both witness the same event will your stories need to be alike in order to maintain a sense of an objective and sensical world. If your father was alone in a field and says he saw a length of rusted wire, this cannot threaten your sense of reality if you were a thousand miles away at the time. Why wouldn't your dad have seen a wire?

Your exact position in any given space and at any given time, like your experience, is unshared and unique to you. You experience the look of you favorite picture and the taste of your favorite food in ways that do not necessarily precisely match the experience of any other creature that ever was or will be.

Imagine now further, that due to your unique pattern of shape, mass, and velocity, the precise physical laws that govern your existence are also unique to you. You move in a reality envelope where the air is generally 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen and free-falling objects where you are gain speed at 9.8 meters per second squared and fireflies glow golden with a darkening around the edges and people, when you ask for directions, are generally kind.

The truth is this: it is not necessary that everyone share these rules, all that is necessary for the spreading network of reality to maintain its shape is that the rules of the subrealities experienced by everyone in the one greater reality look the same when and only when they intersect.

Having a cigarette on the train platform at 10am, you tell your sister there's no such thing as ghosts--and your sister says there is. You are both right--by the rules governing your tunnel through the gelatin there can be no ghosts, and by the rules governing your sister's tunnel there can be, but so long as you both agree there are no ghosts to be seen right now on this train platform at 10am, reality holds.
The key, then, to ruptures in the ordinary face of life, to accessing the vast distortions of what we think of as natural which might be possible if free-falling objects gained speed at .00000000000000000000001 meters per second squared more than they should or if an effect might in some circumstances precede a cause or an action not have a precisely equal and opposite reaction is isolation.

The farther from things with which one might interact, the farther the unique curve of an individual's unique set of laws might bend from the norm. This isn't because things change as you move away--it's because this is always how it was going to be. The universe is organized in such a way as to keep consistent. Your father was always going to be alone when he saw the rusted wire, and your sister was always going to be the last one to leave the office when she heard the voice that wasn't a voice from that white face pressed against the far side of that window.

Divagations from the understood are less likely when more disparate bystanders appear whose subrealities the larger reality needs to satisfy. This is why the greatest wonders and terrors are witnessed lonely hills, in basements, on dead streets when the background music of life seems to have dropped away and a sneakered footstep sounds as clear as a nail being clipped...or in the presence of severe ranks of disciples who have trained their souls to follow a single and common path. And, likewise, this is why such events will never be believed or understood in the wider world--at least until the last generation discovers the implications of whatever rules they earned that position by ignoring.
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True transformation--the changing into something else--is always coincident with a life of profound and complex isolations. Just as the good work of the rules-as-written Calvinist Protestant does not earn a place in Heaven by doing good but rather doing good demonstrates she always was predestined to be there, the other worlds that interpenetrate the familiar world are not formed by the desperate and the strange but rather their desperation and strangeness are part of that same offshoot from the mainstream of life that allows such eddies to jell and pool and develop their own ecosystems.

By this token the many systems of supernatural and metaphysical wisdom recorded across human history are not so mutually-exclusive as they might first appear. What the Babylonian heresiarch inscribed on a tomb wall, what the Han dynasty sculptor cast in impure bronze, what the Elizabethan witch-hunter printed and circulated--these things are as real as anything in a life that we have not lived can ever be, as are the declarations that these things are impossible. They are simply rules for tunnels that never intersect.

What then is necessary to summon demons is to observe carefully the reality you are in, and look for the rules that have always been there--as a character in a book might guess the ending by discovering the genre he's being written in.

Once these rules begin to be found, the adept will grasp that all activity has a second meaning. Gestures, decisions, echo forward in ways not previously understood--for you, and for anyone who will encounter you. Even your words are a dialogue in a performance judged by new gods.

To know these things, the research must be done, the books read, the practices observed, but most of all: experiments must be conducted. And what will be unleashed is what was meant to be and what is then wrought can only be no more than what should have been.
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Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Poison Cabinet

Some more villains for Demon City...



Smartly with oxblood briefcases and polished patent-black shoes that echo tennislike down well-lit halls, the communicants of the Poison Cabinet come, unidentified. In their overt lives, their character is international, professional, high-level, consulted. We have certain standards they say, and it’s true, standards articulated at the Reichsparteitag in 1935 and again at the opening of the Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung in 1937:

 Art must be good; but beyond this it must be responsible, professional, popular and aggressive.

-Joseph Goebbels


In the final rooms, while gouging your prying eyes out and spreading your family's stretched and skinless faces across the walls with high-carbon filleting knives, Cabinet ministers might concede their passion for the elimination of modernistic and Judaizing influence on world culture could strike some as petty at this late date, but they come by it honestly—being products of a highly efficient synthetic alphavirus developed in 1939 in the Spandau Citadel which floods the human prefrontal cortex with the conscious and unconsciously held value system of any one of 8 volunteering experts on the theory of Degenerate Art and loyal members of Committee for the Assessment of Inferior Artistic Products.

The core ideals of art historian and archaeologist Ulrich Dietrich (1902-1967) for example, are, as of May 2017, currently hosted in five separate nervous systems with 70-95% penetration—those of Belgian journalist Elise Verstraete, New England philanthropists Walsh Clark and Pipi DiAndrew, British parliamentarian Oliver Redpool and Austrian tire magnate and television personality Tobias Moritz. The carriers of these conscience-grafts have been seen, some days, in cocktail lounges gesturing as if wanting very badly to stare into their drinks, but trying not to.

It is not the function of art to wallow in dirt for dirt's sake, never its task to paint the state of decomposition. 

-- Adolf Hitler 

When threatened with discovery, the Cabinet moves decisively, as the surgeon approaches the infected cyst, but as the members' are aware their moral vision will transcend a single human lifetime, they have adopted a subtlety not afforded in the frantic and slapdash years of the late Reich. In pursuit their long-term agenda, the patience of these idealists is near-geological. Well-known figures are imperceptibly sterilized, medical records altered in ways that only tell on targets’ health decades later, trends are suggested and encouraged by the targeted replacement of key personnel. Their inroads are quiet and disparate biographers of Franz Kafka die in unremarkable accidents, Japanese games go untranslated, comedy and horror never win Oscars and the estate of Diane Arbus is slowly drawn into legal disarray. The ministers seek an art, literature and film of clarity, heroism, strengthening myth, deep spirituality, simplicity, open spaces, simple realism and a popular culture that distracts and entertains without neurotic darkness, pathology, marginality, ambiguity, deformity, strangeness, sexuality, tortured invention, argument, irony, socialism, criticality, cynicism, experimentation and intellectualization.

Parallel to the training of the body a struggle against the poisoning of the soul must begin. Our whole public life today is like a hothouse for sexual ideas and simulations. Just look at the bill of fare served up in our movies, vaudeville and theaters, and you will hardly be able to deny that this is not the right kind of food, particularly for the youth. Theater, art, literature, cinema, press, posters, and window displays must be cleansed of all manifestations of our rotting world and placed in the service of a moral, political and cultural idea.

--Adolf Hitler

These changes to a brave new civilization are, they'd be the first to admit, just beginning—but a few lifetimes are a small price to pay for a ten-thousand year Reich, and all great enterprises begin somewhere.

Think in the long-term, they will say, with the rims of their glasses reflecting the fallow red thing they've made of what was--moments before--the last and screaming chapter of someone real to you.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

TSR List of Things to Definitely Do

Nobody reads blogs on Sunday, so here's a retropost about gaming aesthetics under fascism:

As blogland well knows, every sneezerag and post-it Tactical Studies Rules ever produced is secretly useful so long as you read it right.

And so, yes, that includes this.

What to do with TSR's list of things never to do? Well, obviously: do them.

But why? Because offending people with a D&D book generally only happens when people start acting nuts and people only start acting nuts when they start having genuine emotions. That's why they call crazy people "emotionally disturbed".

Offense is just the worst worst-case outcome for talking about things that people care about. So TSR's list is really just a list of things people care about.

Use them.

What'll Make Today's Game Interesting?
(Roll d20)

WHOA HEY: As everyone probably already knows, some players may have experienced traumas in their past which may make discussing some of the situations described below emotionally difficult for them. I mean, I guess--I've never actually seen it in real life. But, hey, I've heard about it on the internet and you have too. If you play with people like that then I guess, y'know, be careful and don't be a dick.


1: GOOD CONFUSED WITH EVIL
This session, evil may be portrayed in an attractive light and will be used to muddy a moral issue. NPCs present shall proclaim the antagonist as an agent of right. The PCs will be offered a devil's bargain--something they richly desire in exchange for committing an act with dire consequences. Satanic symbology, rituals, and phrases may  appear even more than usual.
The mixed-blessing bargain is an essential part of anything resembling intrigue. Even in the event that the PCs refuse the bargain, your campaign now has a new point around which drama can pivot and complexity can grow: the villainous would-be power broker can be hoodwinked, manipulated, blackmailed, used against itself. And they can do the same to you.

If you need a villain, here you go.

2: DUPLICATIBILITY
Go do research. Your adventure shall present explicit details and methods of crime, weapon construction, drug use, magic, science, or technologies that could be reasonably duplicated and misused in real life situations.

A central problem or puzzle in the game will turn on it. Go google up how to pick a lock or make crystal meth, then build an adventure around the key ingredients or steps.

A certain level of detail is central to something in the essential nature of any really satisfying puzzles: the ability to admit more than one solution. The more detailed the mechanics of the scenario are, the more points at which the PCs can interact with it--if you and they know exactly which part of the thaumaturgic circle correspond to which part of the summoning, control and dismissal of exactly how many devils then they can alter any single part of a spell to create something you didn't anticipate and send the campaign in all sorts of new directions.

You could start here or here or here or wherever.

3: AGENTS OF LAWFUL EVIL
An agent of law enforcement (constable, policeman, judge, government official, and respected institution) will be depicted in such a way as to create disrespect for current established authorities/social values. 

Someone in power sucks this session. It's essential that the surrounding power structure be at least tolerably functional or else it's just another Evil Empire scenario (see 4 below).

One nice thing about this kind of hook is that while it can be used to surround the PCs with dangers to the point that they can't ignore it, it can still take many forms and respond dynamically to the PCs' actions--it isn't rigid. Start imagining every single thing the government could do to you if it decided it didn't like you, specifically.

However, lest this get railroady--another nice thing about this kind of plot is the PCs have a lot of options about how to handle it--after all, the party just has to find a way to get to one person to end it all. People move, they take holidays, they have schedules and eat lunch. As long as you more or less know how the government works in your setting (and you do, because you're a crazy GM and think about this kind of thing all day or else you wouldn't be reading this blog), the scenes write themselves and the number of ways the PCs can interact with them is infinite.

For a decent outline of how this kind of plot could play out, read this. And saying that would normally be a dickhead move because I'm telling you to go read a whole trade paperback collection just to think up a goddamn D&D adventure but in this case it's not at all a dickhead move because it's maybe the best comic ever written so if you haven't read it you're just holistically better off no matter what, ok?

4: CRIME IS GOOD, CRIMINALS ARE GOOD
Crimes will be presented in such ways as to promote distrust of law enforcement agents/agencies or to inspire others with the desire to imitate criminals. Crime should be depicted as a noble and pleasant activity. Criminals may be presented in glamorous circumstances.

In this situation, the entire ruling class is totally corrupt, oppression is universal and criminals are freedom fighters whether or not they want to be. Think of it as scenario 3 but universalized and turned up to 11. This provides a perfect opportunity for a heroic sandbox: players roam a target-rich environment while working for a common good. For a particularly fine example (from TSR of course) check this out.

5: IMPLACABLE MONSTERS
Evil monsters will be unable to be clearly defeated in any obvious fashion. 

The players will either think of some way to stop the monster that you didn't (which is always good) or it'll be all about surviving a Call of Cthulhu-esque horror you cannot hope to destroy (which is always good).

Another nice bit about this kind of plot is it's easy to draw the PCs in: the plot hook is just everyone else running the other way screaming about how nothing can stop whatever the hell it is. Then imply there's treasure.

6: BE EXCESSIVE WITH THE PROFANITY
Profanity, obscenity, smut, and vulgarity will be used this session. While none of these things are interesting in themselves, the emotions they can produce are. The villains in this adventure are grotesquely decadent, but that isn't the point: the point is to keep laying on inversions and perversions until you hit a nerve--something that viscerally makes players (not PCs, players) want to fucking end these motherfuckers.

Once you've done that, the plot and mechanics can all be very simple: the players' intense desire to make it all go away will give the session a satisfying intensity that can push beyond the need for twists or inventions.

7: DRAMA CAN BE CREATED WITH HORROR
The use of drama or horror is acceptable and desirable. The detailing of sordid vices or excessive gore shall be not avoided. Horror, defined as the presence of uncertainty and fear in the tale, shall be permitted and will be graphically detailed.

The key word in the paragraph above is "use"--something graphic will happen and it will happen for a reason. Unlike 6 above, reasons are important here--the intent is not necessarily to inspire feelings of revulsion and horror in the players, the intent here is to emphasize the moral or supernatural excessiveness of the foe in question. Go ahead and write it down, detail the horrors, use a script, think of the worst things you can, and then, when it happens, read it to the players.
Generally the idea with gore is to make a point and it is often the same point: this is what really goes on. Or a metaphor for it. Gore as an aesthetic strategy is often linked to activism. As William Burroughs explained in the introduction to his gory classic Naked Lunch: "The title means exactly what the words say: naked lunch, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork."

The gore villain is the opposite of the sexy villain, and works well when juxtaposed with it: you want this? Then this is what you get.

8: JUST VIOLENCE AND GORE
Only lurid scenes of excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, filth, sadism, or masochism, presented in text or graphically, are acceptable today. Scenes of unnecessary violence, extreme brutality, physical agony, and gore, including but not limited to extreme graphic or descriptive scenes presenting cannibalism, decapitation, evisceration, amputation, or other gory injuries, should be actively sought out.

This is not in order to provoke an emotional reaction (6) or to express an idea (7) but just to provide atmosphere. In this adventure everything will be exceptionally bad all the time. 

Lay it on thick all day. Play Raining Blood and Cattle Decapitation. Whether this ends up as a majestically Howardian violence-opera or just funny is up to you and your players, but if every lost hit point is another eyeball rolling across the floor it'll be fun either way.

You'll need terrible vikings, cannibal halflings, maggot zombies or something.

9: SEXUAL THEMES  SHOW UP  
Sexual themes of all types will not be avoided.  Arranged marriage, seduction, droit de seigneur, unrequited attraction, teratophilic and/or sociopathic sexuality might be discussed.

The original TSR guidelines advise against the portrayal of graphic sex scenes and this is good advice given for the wrong reason: narrated sex in games should be avoided not because of The Children but because it appeals mostly to boring people who aren't getting properly fucked and you shouldn't be playing games with them.
However, sex as a dramatic element in intrigues and crimes can be very useful. As Romeo and Juliet cleanly illustrates: the nice thing about sex in drama is it can show up and work at completely cross-purposes with anyone's material interests. The princess wants the pearl: so what? She goes and takes it, it's a heist. The princess wants the pearl but also the pearlbearer's son? It's suddenly gotten very complicated. This may require deception, invention, research, persuasion, disguises.

Any conscientious game master has wondered, now and again, how could this nigh-omnipotent Dark Overlord eight levels higher than them end up letting this party anywhere fucking near the prisoner/command center/treasure hoard? Desire to produce an heir or seduce a subject are answers as good as any--and realistic, too.

10: NUDITY WILL OCCUR
Nudity is never acceptable, graphically, when done in a manner that complies with good taste and social standards: it is as hypocritical as the cleric's mace. Degrading depictions are impossible (this is fiction, nobody's grade is going anywhere) and salacious depiction is unavoidable (tastes vary wildly across the spectrum of all known images). Graphic display of reproductive organs, or any facsimiles will appear this session.
Why is up to you. It might be gory, it might be funny, it might be sexy, it might simply emphasize someone's helplessness, but here's the trick: whatever reason fuckorgans usually show up in your game (rust monster, crit chart, succubus shenanigans), don't use that reason this session. Pick one of the others and do it a different way.

11: THE AFFLICTED
Disparaging references to physical afflictions, handicaps and deformities are common throughout human history and will appear in the mouths of thoughtless NPCs.

Even today, people are often cruel and thoughtless toward the crippled, the diseased and the otherwise organically unlucky. In this session, this ugly facet of human nature will be on display.

Fairness is the most important thing in the world and unfairness is the most common thing. Biological unfairness is the most elemental--and gods and superstitions were largely been invented to excuse it. It is thus the source of a rich vein in folklore--and the game is based on folklore.
The mangled can be Tyrion Lannisters, Phantoms of the Opera, Todd Browning Freaks or island-bound Lost Souls. No matter what they achieve or fail to, they immediately highlight the central theme of RPGs: what you roll vs what you do with it. Put some damaged people into play, make them important this session, and see what happens.

12: PRETEND RACE MATTERS
Human and other non-monster character races and nationalities will not be depicted as inferior to other races, or superior to other races, or equal to other races: they will be depicted as individuals struggling with individual circumstances in a world which wholly fails to recognize this.

No races and nationalities shall be fairly portrayed by any other, and racism will be rife: the elf has a distorted view of the dwarf, the human a distorted view of the orc, the gnome a distorted view of the tiefling, the android a distorted view of the cyborg.

Imagine the patchwork of your PC party: imagine none of them are recognized as an individual by the next villains they encounter. One is taken to the mines, one is chosen as a concubine, one is made a vizier, all based on nothing but blind prejudice. Of course your players will fuck it all up, but that's the point.

13: FUCK: SLAVERY.
This session, slavery is depicted as unremarkable; though we can trust our players know it's a cruel and inhuman institution to be abolished, we can't trust the NPCs to know that.

Are they the Southerners in Django Unchained? Are they the Nazis in Inglorious Bastards? Likely neither: the institution is unremarkable to them and they take it as a matter of course, not a matter of debate and justification.
Are the PCs Nat Turner or Spartacus, or just trying to keep out of the way, or are they cynically weaponizing the slaves to use against the masters? Point is the institution will be there this session, and loom large in the plot.

14: RELIGION, MYTHOLOGY AND THE FREAKSHOW THEY ENTAIL
The use of religion in this session is to assist in complicating the struggle between good and evil. Actual current religions might be depicted, ridiculed, or attacked in any way that promotes disrespect. Ancient or mythological religions, such as those prevalent in ancient Grecian, Roman and Norse societies, may be portrayed in their historic roles (in compliance with this Code of Ethics) but only if you go read some shit and come up with at least one thing you didn't already know before running the game.  

In any case, make irrational demands the center of today's session. Like sex, faith is an incredibly convenient excuse for villains to allow for a crack in the armor of their pragmatism. "It is a gibbous moon: we must throw open the gates for 16 hours in compliance with the dictates of Norglyph The Frenetic!"

15: MAGIC, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND YOU
Fantasy literature is distinguished by the presence of magic, super-science or artificial technology that exceeds natural law. The devices are to be portrayed as fictional and used for dramatic effect. They should, however, appear to be drawn from reality. Actual rituals (spells, incantations, sacrifices, etc.), weapon designs, illegal devices, and other activities of criminal or distasteful nature shall be presented or provided as reference in this session.
This is different from 2 in that you are totally going to fake it. Make every effort to make the thing look plausible, then print it out and show the players.

You'd be surprised how much GMing you can get out of an idea if you understand it well because you made it up.

16: NARCOTICS AND ALCOHOL AND BEARS, OH MY
Narcotic and alcohol abuse shall not be presented solely as dangerous habits. Such abuse should be not dealt with by focusing only on the harmful aspects.

In Phillip K Dick novels they let you see the future, in Palladium they make your stats better, in Deep Space Nine they control the spiky-faced guys, in most world religions they improve your relationship to the deity (wine anyone?). At any rate, useful drugs are a quick-and-simple devil's bargain and they'll feature prominently in today's session.
What will the players do when faced with juiced orcs? Flee in terror? Join them in their intoxicated orgies? Steal their supply? Do that thing where you trace a square in the air and go "You're in the box, you can't hear anyth..." and wait for them to freak out? It'll be a pip.

17: ERODE THE CONCEPT OF SELF
The distinction between players and player characters shall not be strictly observed.

It should not always be clear that the player's imaginary character is taking part in whatever imaginary action happens during game play.


You know that trick in Death Frost Doom where
SPOILERS!(highlight to read)
the GM passes a note to the player saying what the thing says and if anyone reads it aloud then something bad happens?
END SPOILERS
...well that trick is cool. Do something like that this session. Keep your players on their toes by making their actions map to character actions.

18: LIVE ACTION ROLE-PLAYING KIND OF
It is my policy to not support any live action role-playing game system, no matter how violent the style of gaming is said to be, until I meet someone hot who does it.

However, right when the players go into, like, the trap in the Temple of the Arachnid Fathers you should say "Hold on, I have to go to the bathroom" and then on the way back go and grab that bag of rubber spiders you bought and when you are about to sit down you should empty it on top of whichever player has the PC in the front.

Things like that. 

So, yeah, time for a trip to the 99¢ store.

19: HISTORY IS TERRIFYING
In this session you'll depict certain historical situations, institutions, or attitudes in a game product that should not be condoned. However: they happened. Pick one. Read up. Learn all about it. Then just translate it into your campaign.

Here's one.

20. ROLL TWICE
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EDIT:
If you're at work, make sure your boss isn't watching because you're about to roll on the floor crying with laughter.  So, ok--I know half you were thinking "I bet the rubes at Story-Games would, even today, totally sign off on half this list"
Turns out they would. Jesus.
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