Friday, August 29, 2014

Castle Psychedelic Panic Dracula

There are two Draculas.

One is the proper Dracula. Proper gothic:
Cobwebs, corridors, decay. Darkness relieved only by torchlight.

There is (barring the occasional wolf or wife) only one real monster. This is classic horror--there's tension and the fear of anticipation. Suspense. Depression. Mood. Eerie quiet.

This Dracula is fine for a book or a movie or a short story. Or a night of Call of Cthulhu. And a very good GM can manage to make one work in D&D.

But more often in serial fiction, when you have to stretch it and do it again and again and provide variety and detach the character from the tale they were designed to live in, this Dracula starts to go cheesy: Ravenloft and Hammer Horror films and Marvel's Tomb of Dracula comics all spin Dracula out with as much extra gothic as they could stuff in--werewolves and zombies and revenants and chains and floating armor and set-pieces and…

…and it loses something. Because one is the Gothest number. The Count loses his loneliness--and his story isn't about him any more--it's about the next thing you put in the frame with him. It can be fun, but its a series of moments that work or don't, and make you forget yourself or don't, rather than the long terrible dream of the true unified gothic.

But there's another Dracula who is quite at home with the genre addict's voracious need for novelty, with video games' need for 500 foes, with the gore movies' need for endless weird new deaths, with the comic book that just keeps going and going until it gets cancelled and the RPGs' need to fill weird places with even weirder places.

And that Dracula is Psychedelic Panic Dracula.

In Castle Regular Dracula you might find, like, an eyeball in a teacup. But it'll be in black and white and won't do anything and you'll look away right away and go back to being scared. In Castle Psychedelic Panic Dracula there's like a whole eyeball-in-teacups-wing and each one induces a different kind of fever.

The House of Psychedelic Panic Dracula is lurid: vivid, harsh, lacking utterly in taste and above all artificial. This is a Dracula detached from the mottled soil. Folklore can just fuck right off: there is no organic connection between the gnarled trees and superstitious peasants and the tenor of the horrors within. Count Dracula is just sort of a signifier floating over and classing up a funhouse, lending it some kind of evil legitimacy and a flexible layer of content.

The horrors surrounding Regular Gothic Dracula are intimations that He is coming--foreshadowings of him, a clue that his personal drama and wickedness is coming, whereas every fucked magical thing in the House of Psychedelic Panic Dracula is just evidence of how much madness Dracula is lord of. He's a figurehead and they are his only real content.

Castlevania is very Psychedelic Panic Dracula, as is Barovania, this guy is definitely a Psychedelic Panic Dracula, Psychedelic Panic Dracula's interiors have fewer obvious antiques than Proper Dracula's--he shops less--couches and pointed arches comfort him less, the key is a kind of timeless abstraction. Less wolves, less woods, less of the earth, more of the mind.

There's no suspense in Psychedelic Panic Dracula's House. It's just freaking out all the time. When you get to Regular Dracula's tomb he's asleep or else smug as a fuck, drinking from his stupid chalice. When you finally meet Psychedelic Panic Dracula he's not drinking wine, he's just laughing at how emotionally drained you are after knowing all the things you believed in were eaten by nested recursing nth-dimensional echoes of themselves while you watched and drowned in insect milk.

In Red & Pleasant Land, there's a little of the creepy-literary and a little of the total abstract freak out. Like Lewis Carroll.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

D100 Witch Traits

If you're playing a witch or warlock, you can roll on this table instead of taking the usual level-up extra. Spells known, spell slots, saves, proficiency and combat advance as usual.

To make a witch/warlock out of an old system that doesn't have one, make a cleric, druid or magic-user and just give up one 1st-level spell each level for a witch trait.

I only wrote the first one--the rest was crowdsourced here . I erased 50-odd entries to pare it down to a clean 100, leaving out ones that seemed least likely to be useful in play. However, some of them were fun, so it you're in my Google+ circles, you might want to take a look.

I've made a few suggestions in parenthesis to make some more gameable. If you think of anything to make one more concrete, put it in the comments.

1, By concentrating, you can cause any sleeping creature you have observed before to open its eyes and look around for 3 rounds, during which you can see through its eyes.

2, You may talk any domestic (Or ordinary--including wolves, bears, etc) animal into suicide (in a number of rounds=its hd).

3, You always spoil milk around you. You can't choose. 

4, You can smell emotions. It's 70% accurate.

5, Your spit burns the holy. (d4 per holy class level?)

6, If you prepare a corpse, crows will come and tell you news.

7, Domestic animals hate you (can't think why).

8, healing spells still work on you but replace portions of your flesh with tattooed holy scriptures/tracts, which the cleric's god hopes you will read and thereby learn the error of your ways;

9, If you eat something, you can cause someone else to vomit it up. This could be used in odd ways e.g. sending an ally in prison a key. Or you could just make paladins disgorge huge quantities of blood and spiders etc. etc. 

10, Your fingernails grow long and hard, and are excellently suited to digging in unconsecrated ground. (Claw attack.)

11, When you laugh (or cackle, really), your true nature is exposed through any disguise or illusion. The upside: this also causes Fear (act at -4 or run away) in living creatures that hear it and fail a saving throw.

12, You ate your twin. It gives you advice sometimes, in dark places.

13, If you bring a statue an acceptable gift it will tell you about something it has seen.

14, one of your hands is a chickens claw. If you let it scratch idly in the dirt it writes down the secrets of those close to you. But sometimes it writes down your secrets and you never know which secret belongs to who.

15, You know a secret demonic process to turn the fat of children into a skin cream, rubbed on furniture, it can bring the furniture to life (although the ambling desk or wardrobe is no smarter than a child).

16, By talking to anyone for about five minutes, you somehow come to know their deepest childhood fear.

17, Can cause miscarriages or deformed stillbirths by staring at people and blinking in certain patterns. 

18, You can spontaneously cause really innocuous mishaps. If you pin them on someone else the mishaps suddenly become a much bigger deal.

19, Teeth will not stay in your mouth for longer than a day; everyday you must implant teeth other than you already wore in your mouth. The teeth may tell you secrets or give you a bite attack.

20, They tried to execute you once, but somehow it didn't work. Roll 1d6 to determine the method of your almost-demise : 1 Burning  2 Drowning 3 Hanging 4 Pressing with stones 5 Beheading 6 Poking with brands You still bear the marks/scars of your execution. Depending on how you survived, this may be minor or may be e.g. you are literally carrying your own head around. 

21, Trigger local epidemics of infectious disease by humming lullabies in the garden of someone who's offended you. At night of course.

22, Guilt makes people weak to your magic. If someone commits a crime or a sin, they have a saving throw penalty against you; if you can trick a good person into doing something awful, you can rewrite their destiny. 

23, Your tongue splits like a snake's. You gain bonuses to telling lies and casting suggestion spells, but when you tell the truth people might not believe you. 

24, If you make a man cry you can discover what he truly fears. 

25, You become diabolically attractive - probably in a very lush, sensual way. Unfortunately, someone powerful becomes stalkerishly obsessed with you. You might be able to influence them, but then again they might try to have you judicially murdered for rejecting their advances. 

26, Cats spy for you.

27, Your bodily fluids can bring shadows to life as your servants. 

28, Insects will guard you while you sleep.

29, Birds will steal small items for you.

30, Demons cannot resist dancing with you.

31, Uncanny ability to quickly learn foreign languages, written or spoken, lip read, sign languages, codes.

32, Can mimic precisely infants crying or the sounds small animals make. 

33, Cold skin, slow heartbeat - excellent at feigning death.

34, Occasionally sucking on boiled bones will turn you invisible.

35, Propensity to break into saccharine and uplifting musical numbers. Ability to present self as the real victim in all circumstances, regardless of actual state of affairs. 

36, Your appetite becomes enormous and almost insatiable. Fortunately, you can now dislocate your jaw and distend your throat, which will help when you try to swallow that cow. 

37, Can only step through a threshold when walking backwards.

38, You have a single, detachable eye.

39, You have two "sisters" - not necessarily female. Perhaps you were both reborn at the same initiation ritual. Whatever the reason, you know everything they are doing, feel a sympathetic twinge if they suffer pain, death or love, and can cast more powerful spells if you work together with them. Unfortunately, they are ghastly people, of a sort you would never otherwise want to know. 

40, Extraordinary sense of smell.

41, Deeply narcissistic, will watch yourself speaking if a mirror or reflective surface is within sight rather than looking at whoever you are speaking to.

42, You can shape shift into an appropriate animal. In the absence of other cultural contexts, choose one of the following: hare, fox, deer, cat or owl. 

43, Eyes in the back of your head. They work.

44, If you can get a sexual partner to submit to you, you can transform them into a useful animal under your control - a horse, for example, or a guard dog. They are aware, but in a kind of dreamlike state. They do not age. When they are killed, when you are killed or when they are touched by a holy symbol, they will revert to their original form. 

45, Extra fingers, they smell like exotic spices and the fumes can intoxicate people who's faces you stroke. 

46, Perhaps you could repel water, like magnetic repulsion. You could never touch water again (or drink it). It would roll away from you. Maybe you would be thirsty a lot. You would need to take sand baths. You could not pick up things in puddles or pools. Sailors might try to capture you, put you in a cage and use you to create a bubble or bathysphere for deep sea exploration. 

47, While you sleep, your hands autonomously scratch writing onto your belly.  The writing has a 40% chance to be blasphemy, 40% chance to be mere insults (against you), and 20% chance to be a warning about something you are likely to encounter tomorrow.  When possible, combine these categories.

48, You can't cross running water, or enter sanctified grounds

49, Clerical turning works against you as if you were undead

50, You can only enter religious establishments or sacred ground with the intent to fornicate within. 

51, If you incubate an egg over two weeks, it will hatch into an intelligent, mean-spirited rooster that will nevertheless be completely loyal to you as long as it in the same room as you.  However, if you are ever dropped to 0 HP, the rooster will rush over to you, suck all of your blood out of your eyes (killing you) and turn into a 6' anthropoid cockatrice hybrid-thing with no allegiance except its own.

52, You are not beautiful. Yet. Every so often, you will become obsessed with a particular feature of some stranger. Perhaps they have an aquiline nose or a striking eyes. They may not be conventionally attractive at all. You will stalk them, incapacitate them, cut off that feature using a special knife, then cut off the corresponding piece of your own face and, with careful motions, stitch your new acquisition into place. (It will work--you'll appear to be them.) For some reason, the brief period of elated self-contemplation that follows deliquesces, inevitably, into dissatisfaction, envy and further crimes. 

53, But if someone paints an eye on it, so that it stares back at you, your powers will not work on it until the eye is defaced. You know when you have entered the country of witches by the omnipresence of eyes. 

54, You are linked to the last person who drank some amount of your saliva (or other bodily fluids).  At will, you can cause the linked person to vomit leaves and dead crows, but this terminates the link.

55, You can transform harpy eggs into "disaster eggs".

56, There is a small creature living in your stomach.  (Rat/octopus/unborn twin/beetle, rolled randomly).  You must feed it a live mouse (or equivalent) every day or it will begin to gnaw on your liver, but in exchange, any poison you would normally suffer is delayed for 1d6 hours.

57, You radiate an aura of spiteful informational decay. That is: stories in books start to change to have unhappy endings; actors performances become clumsy or clownish in tragedies, inexplicably heartbreaking in comedies; messages in letters twist subtly to warp the intended meaning and sew division. Everything around you is in a perpetual state of Chinese whispers, with the worst possible outcomes. 

58, Babies spontaneously cry around you.  However, if you make a Charisma check, you can subtly influence the babies to speak whatever words you want (even if the baby hasn't learned to talk yet).

59, You are two people (physically, not just mentally, like a were-human human).  They have the same stats/race/class but are opposite genders.  They have separate names, and you switch between them whenever you sleep.  They hate each other, and will often try to inconvenience/embarrass the other via traps or subtlety.

60, By stripping naked and killing a goat, you can pass through its body into another LIVING goat within 1 mile.  You make a bloody exit from the second goat, killing it.

61, Whenever you and you companions are well and truly lost (i.e. you don't know where you are AND you don't know how to get back to safety/destination), you become hirsute, horned, and incapable of speech.  You get +2 to hit and are incapable of getting un-lost, although your allies can lead you out.

62, Whatever you gift to a corpse cannot be found by others, but the corpse may not want to give it back to you, either.

63, You may suck sickness from the skin of an innocent, but you suffer the effects until you can spit it on a child.

64, Whenever you are enclosed in a coffin and buried at least 6' underground, you can speak with any corpses within 500'.  Treat this as speak with dead except that the dead all speak to you at once, and are very talkative and frequently hostile.  Requires a save to avoid some bad-but-not-lethal mishap.

65, Magpies gossip to you about the petty jealousies of local villagers. If you bring them new gossip, they might consent to stealing something for you.

66, If you stuff a live frog's mouth with hair and throw it into a fire, the owner is rendered mute as long as the frog burns.

67, You can induce seizures in holy people + clergy + paladins by kissing them.  Lasts 1d6 rounds, but if you spend at least a minute making out with their twitching body, they will lie there enervated and frothing for another 1d6 hours.

68, If you smoke someone, you learn their secrets.  This usually requires an enormous hookah, big enough to shove a living person inside, that would normally cost 1000g to construct.

69, If you fill your mouth with virgin tears, you can either spit out a few ounces of acid or a black arrow, as if fired from a bow (treat as a +1 arrow vs angels).

70, Any spell you cast is brought into this world by vomiting blood.

71, As long as you spend 1 night every week hanging from a gibbet by your neck, you cannot be strangled or suffocated.  (Must be a legitimate gallows, where criminals have been hung.)

72, Whenever you are in a marshy or swampy area, toads will flock to you in reverence.  They will lick your body, groom you with their clumsy hands, and eat any skin/hair parasites that you have.  They will also vomit out gifts for you.  These gifts are mostly gross, but there is a 10% chance that they give you a small piece of jewelry or something.

73, Venomous creatures that bite you are also poisoned in return, and suffer the effects of their own venom if they fail a save.

74, You have 6+1d6 molars at the start of the game.  By throwing one of your molars in the fire, it will hatch into a 1 cm tall imp.  The imp cannot fly and moves about a 1'/min, but if it crawls inside someone's ear, it can implant itself in the womb (or large intestine, if male).  The imp-fetus grows quickly and painfully over 6+1d6 hours, hatching forth into a full grown 1d6 HD demon if it is not removed.  Females survive the process, but menfolk must save or die, due to the more traumatic nature of the exit.

75, You cannot tell the truth to a child, but deep down they believe everything you say.

76, Hanging yourself from a tree puts you into a death-like sleep until someone cuts you down or the rope rots away.

77, Cats, royal fools, and children under 5 cannot see you. These last become extremely distressed when confronted with proof of your presence.

78, You have scary-starey Aleister Crowley eyes ( possibly as a result of hours spent practicing your glaring in a mirror. You gain a slight (+/-1) bonus to seduction attempts and spells of charm, domination, fear or suggestion. You suffer a slight (+/-1) penalty to first impressions, attempts to placate or avoid scandal and anything connected with a lawsuit. 

79, Eating a bird's eyes allows you to view everything it saw for the past 24 hours.

80, You can heal the most horrid internal wound if you can make the victim swallow some thread, needles and a razor blade.

81, You cannot enter a door if its threshold has a pentagram painted with salt or blood.

82, You must do 7 evil things each month or the devil will come to get you. Sacrileges, incitement to a deadly sin or murder count but stealing or fornicating with animals do not.

83, You can sleep only on a sack of rancid hay. Everything else feels really uncomfortable and drives you nuts.

84, Once a day, you must redirect the blame for something bad that happened on the day before to yourself. This can be anything, an unfortunate death, spoiled milk, the weather or a poor decisions made by an otherwise reasonable person. Failure to do so means the GM gets to pick, at their leisure.

85, If a enamoured woman, an orphan or a widow in distress ask for your help in a desperate matter and offer you a single gold coin then you cannot reject them and must act up to three times towards that cause. You can however interpret the problem to your taste...

86, You can enchant a severed tree branch of your height to have it, at night, carry you through the air to the nearest witch or hag coven.

87, To you, hot is cold and cold is hot. You stride naked in the snow but must bundle up ridiculously in heat.

88, You can read anyone's aura. It tells you how gullible they are. You may make a Charisma check to sense their Wisdom penalty, if any.

89, With an overnight ritual, you can weave any spell you know into the flesh of an apple still on the branch. It retains the magic for 24 hours or until eaten.

90, You can peel footprints off the ground and place them wherever you want.

91, You can punch, kick, & grab other people's shadows as if they were their physical bodies.

92, Your are a name thief. You may steal one victim's name at a time. The victim is normal in all respects except that no one will remember their name, even if it is written down. No extraplanar entity or spirit will be able to do business with the victim. Also, any curses or demonic contracts are transferred to you.  To cast a spell, eat a letter from your victim's name. Once all of the letters are consumed, the victim gets a pile of random Scrabble tiles, as many as their name had, to build a new name. Obviously this process can be interrupted, but the name is still missing any letters you ate when you give it back. 

93, You cannot die during an eclipse, but suffer all harm inflicted upon you when it ends

94, When you dance, so do the dead.

95, You are completely invisible to domesticated dogs, house cats think you're three feet to the left of where you really are, and swine always act in your presence as if under the influence of a charm spell.

96, You can ensure that a willing supplicant's unborn child is later born healthy and free of physical flaw. If the fool who promised fails to carry out the favor when called upon, you can call their debt due, resulting in a turn of bad luck that results in the child being maimed in mind or body. (e.g. Paralyzed after the parent attacks them in the night due to mistaking them for a burglar.) If the original supplicant dies before the debt is called due, the debt is inherited by the child.

97, Areas where you have often trod develop a fungal growth under the surface that sometimes erupts in mushrooms at night.  A pig can be used to trace you back to your home, but the pig must wear a muzzle, as consumption of the mushrooms or fungus by any creature may (1 in d4) cause d6 random minor spells to go off, plaguing or injuring the pig and any handlers nearby. The witches who develop this trait would also like to know more about how and why the fungus is sometimes harvested by unknown creatures burrowing up from deep under the earth in small tunnels.

98, The many scabs under your hair may be picked at, releasing thousands of small ant-like insects that seek out and form a trail to drink from the eyes of sleeping children and virgins.

99, By sewing your lips together, none may speak in your presence. 

100, Your footprints are those of the last thing you have killed.

Entries contributed by: Reynaldo Madriñan , Jason K , Logan Knight , Anthony Picaro , Chris H , Matthew Adams , Mandy Morbid , Arnold K. , Reece Carter , Courtney Campbell , Brian Murphy , Daniel Dean , Ryan Silva , Mateo Diaz , Enzo Garabatos , David Sánchez and , Anders Nordberg , Evan Edwards , Joshua Macy , Lucien Reeve , Timothy Franklin , Cole Robotshenanigans , Adam Silkey , Lior Wehrli , Eric Nieudan , Axis Mundi , Bennet Akkerman , David Pretty , Simon Forster , Jack Mack , Marcus Tsong , and Scrap Princess

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rock Stars play D&D. Rock Stars Play Fifth Edition.

In retrospect, it should have been obvious.
Oh dark oracle which type of D&D will rock the most?
Mmmmm….Vrock is close to rock….what else you got?


Pinching dog? That's kinda rocknroll...


…oh there we go.
Zak: So when was the last time you played?

Rockstar: The last time it was like the 90s in Florida. We were playing ironically.

Zak: And Manson was DMing?

Rockstar: Yeah.

Zak: That's hilarious. Alllright--so you gotta pick your race, these're probably familiar like Tolkien: Elf, Dwarf, Half-elf, Gnomes suck, Half-orc,  Human, Halfling and then there's also Tiefling which is like half-demon…

Rockstar: What don't we have?

Zak: Well the girls are really into tieflings and elves…

Rockstar: Ok, let's see…

Zak: Oh and there's Dragonborn which is kinda…

Rockstar: It's not so old school.

Zak: Yeah like some people think they're a little cheesy. They breath fire and shit.

Rockstar: I wanna be old school…hmmm… (much debate)…y'know what? I like this dragon guy, it's cool. Is that alright?

Zak: Hey I'm not here to get in the way of your dreams.

Rockstar: Alright I'm this guy…

Zak: Ok, so then you pick your class…they're probably fairly familiar but there's some new ones…

Rockstar: Assume I remember nothing.

Zak: Well y'know a fighter fights, it's not rocket science…Ok, from the bottom: WizardWitch slash Warlock

Rockstar: Can I be a witch, like a dragonwitch?

Zak: Well y'know 5th edition doesn't judge. Like in the old one it was like "Dwarf wizard--no way!" but now it's like you do whatever you want. In practice the way it works is you pick something like half-orc druid multiclass thief and then I like judge you for ten minutes and then you play it and you're cool and make it work and then it's fine and I stop judging you because you made it work.

Rockstar: Alright I'm a witch.

Zak: Sold.

Zak: Now you gotta pick a witch patron--this one is kind of like the Morgaine Le Fay Camelot-witch choice, this one is basically Satan, and the Great Old One is pretty much Cthulhu…

Rockstar: Cthulhu.
Zak: Now for stats you can roll 4 six-sided dice and pick the three highest or you can be hardcore and roll just roll three and you get what you get.

Rockstar: Gimme 3.


So the players went crawling through a dungeon from the upcoming Red & Pleasant Land

There were several messages in bottles in the fountain. One said:

To Whom It May Concern,
I have been captured by the Red Bishops! Free me and you will be rewarded!

 Laney's ranger was able to use tracking to figure out the note had been written by a mouse. 

"Oh my god! We have to save the mouse!"

And off they went.

They found the jailer's kitchen (manned by one Meister Heincz, cooking weaselflesh and mustardcake--grateful and confused to be rescued from a life of toil) and fought a few weird Red & Pleasant Land vampires.

Now the thing about these guys is unless you stake them, at 0 hp they just turn into a lizard or something, crawl off, turn into little invulnerable chess pieces and start regenerating until they come back.

Rockstar summoned some fire elementals to burn the kitchen down looking for one of the escaped chess vampires, which worked, but actually bumping one off was kind of a pain and I don't think Rockstar hit anything with his lightning breath all day. After about an hour they had all these invulnerable wooden widgets and no xp to show for it--plus Rockstar got level-drained.

Rockstar: "These fucking things…Can I order the chef to eat the chess pieces?"

Everyone: "No!!!"

Rockstar: "Fuck it, I'm doin' it."

Zak: "Hey you worship Cthulhu--you can tell him whatever you like. Whadda you got for intimidation?"

Rockstar: "+6"

Zak: "Roll it."

Rockstar: "20."

Everyone: "No!!!"

Zak: "He's terrified of this lightning-breathing lizardwitch that talks and just throws them into his mouth."

Mandy: "They're gonna explode out of his stomach and kill him!"

Zak: "Hey maybe."

Rockstar also rolled all his spells randomly and brought donuts and sour-cream-and-cheese-ruffles.

Point is: Rockstar clearly understands how this game is played.


As For The New System….

As for the system:  After a bit of converting, 5e worked like a dream. Combat's fast, the character sheet is comprehensible, you're always rolling high but the numbers are relatively small and the fast-at-math people don't have to do everybody's math for them and there isn't that 3.5 thing where you're like "+6…is +6 good?".

The big test for us was whether Mandy liked it--since:

A) Mandy hates everything
B) Having a 17th level character, she was making the biggest transition.

That went well:
So far so good, though in the interest of having some time to play I short-handed a few spells. I'm gonna try to take a closer look at the magic classes and iron them out. Gotta make sure that Cthulhu-lizard-witch really feels like a Cthulhu lizard witch.

So yeah, I'm into this.

Project: Hack Marilith is go.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Vorn's Domain Path for 5e Clerics

5e Clerics pick a path based on their god's domain, which gives them bits as they level up. None of them quite fit Vorn--Grim, grey god of iron and rain, so I made this custom path.

Vorn's Domain

1st Level

-Bonus proficiencies w/martial weapons & heavy armor.

-When you get hit with a melee attack from a (non-magic) metal weapon, the attacker must make a Dex check or their weapon rusts beyond use. You can use it once per point of Wisdom mod until you rest.

2nd Level

-You take half damage/effect from storm, lightning or thunder of any kind.

6th Level

-Rain cannot touch you.

8th Level

-Rusting Grasp a number of times per day=Wisdom mod.

14th Level

-You can intensify any rain into a torrential downpour.

17th Level

-You may ignore the damage from a metal weapon a number of times per day = to your Wis mod. Other rust abilities affect magic weapons on a failed item save.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quick 5e Character Generation Reference Thingy

I can't be the only one who wished, during character creation, these were all in one place for reference. So here you go, in the approximate order you need them…

All the 5e Races (p17)
Hill Dwarf
Mountain Dwarf
High Elf
Wood Elf
Lightfoot Halfling
Stout Halfling
Forest gnome
Rock gnome

All the 5e Backgrounds (p125) (it helps to pick background before class because then when you move to class and pick skills you don't pick skills you already have)
(Variants backgrounds in parenthesis)
Folk Hero
Guild Artisan
(Guild Merchant)
(Noble Knight)

All the 5e Classes (p45)

All the 5e skills (p 174)

STRENGTH                WISDOM
Athletics                       Animal Handling
DEXTERITY              Medicine
Acrobatics                    Perception
Sleight of Hand            Survival

Arcana                         Deception
History                         Intimidation
Investigation                 Performance
Nature                          Persuasion

Trinket table: p 159
Starting money: p 143
Armor: p 144
Weapons: p 146
Other gear: p 148
Spells: p 207
XP Table: p15

And here's a Random 5e PC Generator it doesn't roll and crunch the numbers but it does pick race, class, background, etc. The race and class has two versions--one that leaves out bards and gnomes because they suck and one that leaves them in because I am merciful.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Converting To Type V?

I made my first by-the-book (ok, kinda by the the book, I rolled stats 3d6 in order just to see how that'd go) 5th Edition D&D character last night. Trullvenly the Slav, half-orc barbarian, noble background.

Thinking I might convert my current home game (AD&D/3.5 hacked mash-up) to a hacked version of 5e. Things to consider (and I freely admit I may not know what I'm talking about here, but that's why there's a comment box)...

-Conan can be easily charmed by a 1st level wizard
Unless your class specializes in a save, it doesn't improve as you level up.
Because of the nature of the format, this kind of thing actually happens a lot in serial fiction--the epic hero is laid low by a clever low-level loser who gets lucky. Because Thor's been around for 400 issues fighting epic threats and it's nice to have an ironic reversal once in a while.

-Robin Hood and Gandalf are equally likely to hit the bullseye (sorta)
Robin Hood will do more damage and probably get multiple attacks and Gandalf would have to use a light crossbow but if they're the same level all classes have the same chance to hit. Ok but then Robin Hood probably has a feat that makes him even better with bows and has a better dex. But still, it's a little bit of a thing.

-Gandalf should be using a staff, not a sword
…since one of the things left that separates the fighter from the wizard is the fighter's using better weapons, or at least the fighter gets to add a level-based bonus to a sword attack.
An easy hack around this is to just use class-based damage unless a weapon is specialized. Wizards=d4, Rogue/Druid=d6, Cleric=d8, Fighter/Ranger/Paladin=d10, Barbarian=d12

-Hit points aren't old school
That's super easy to hack, though.

-Adam doesn't get Limited Wish
There's no Limited Wish and he was all expecting to get it next level

-I have no practical first-hand experience with the global effect of the spell system at high levels 
…on the other hand, the same could be said for the current spell system I'm using, which is totally experimental.
Might let people grandfather-in old spells.

-Random unattached stuff I don't like/care about
This is a catch-all for stuff I can just ignore, so whatever. That's what I do with every other edition.

-Players have new shit to remember
Everybody gets abilities they didn't have before which they need to keep track of. Like my half-orc has the ability to pop up to 1 hp when he's knocked down to 0 hp because he's a half-orc.

-I have to rebalance monster hit points and weapon damage
I usually build monsters from scratch so this is no big deal.

This, by the way, is how I do it at high levels: I want a relatively high-armor, short-combat game.
The unit of damage is The Fireball (an unavoided, average-damage fireball from a caster at 10th level. That's 35 points of damage in D&D Type III or D&D Type V if the caster uses a highest-slot fireball).
A backstab should be roughly equal to a Fireball.
An average successful melee attack from a 6th level fighter should be 1/2 fireball. So if both attacks from a high-level fighter hit, that guy might as well have just gotten fireballed.
A 10th-level fighter-type monster should have about 2 fireballs worth of hit points.
To see how it'd work, I converted Connie's character over to the new system.

It took about an hour of working together and wasn't totally boring. Trying to retroactively decide what background and archetype you have is a thing.
Asterisks indicate things Connie's going to have to learn how they work.

Half elf
Background: Urchin
Level 12

Prof bonus +4
XP 70,660 100,660

Wis 10 14 (+2)
Dex 15 (+2) (+6 save) 16 (+3) (+7 save)
Cha 13 (+1)  16 (+3)
Int 15 (+2) (+6 save)
Con 15 (+2)
Str 11 14 (+3)

Close combat +9/+4 +7
Shooting/throwing/finesse +11/+6  +7
Melee Damage bonus +0 +3
Armor: Chainmail (no proficiency) Studded leather 15
Hit points 51


Improved Uncanny Dodge *Uncanny Dodge see p 96
Defensive roll *Evasion see p 96
Sneak attack: +4 to hit(you'll usually have advantage) +6d6 damage
60 ft Darkvision
+2 vs enchantment & sleep Advantage vs enchantment & sleep
*Urchin stuff (items, mouse, city movement, etc), see p. 141)
Archetype: Assassin
*Cunning Action see p. 96
*Assassinate see p. 97
*Infiltration see p. 97
*Reliable talent see p. 97

Sleight of Hand (Expertise +11) 
Stealth (Expertise +11)
Bonus to listen search spot for being a half-elf  Perception (+6)
Acrobatics (Expertise +11)
Insight (+6)
Deception (+7)
Intimidation (+7)
Animal Handling (Expertise +10)
History (+6)

Reliable talent plus existing bonuses means a thing has to be like 22 difficult before our thief even has a fail at her specialties.
Gypsillia is about a fireball and a half worth of hit points tough but uncanny dodge takes a huge bite out of that. So did the old version of Improved Uncanny Dodge.
Gypsillia is a little better at animal handling and a little worse at forgery than the previous version
She can't really climb anymore because she didn't go for athletics and chose the assassin archetype instead of thief
She's averaging something like 7.5hp (a little over 1/5 fireball) on a successful hit, but will be doing more than fireball damage on a backstab thanks to sneak attack plus the Assassinate ability. Without that assassinate ability, she's quickly outstripped by any high-slot fireballs.
I currently add the d20 roll to the damage for every non-spellcasting class, as a Fireball-offset. It adds 10.5hp to every damage roll. I may just keep doing that.

"Because of the urchin thing I now have the song from Aladdin stuck in my head"
"That's another emergent effect of switching over to the new system. I'll have to note that on the blog."

Monday, August 11, 2014

"…and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes"

--Daniel 8:5

Animals are the most common monster in your setting.

Yes, your druid can talk to them, but what do they say? Oh I want to pull your sled, hippie? No.

Animals are political--flies hate toads and frogs and toads and frogs hate my Monday group, because they killed a Slaad, one of their gods, which in turn hates the Chasme, or demon-fly.
…and in Carcosa it's even worse.

Point being there is, even before the new Monster Manual arrives, a great deal of nascent animontrosity nascent in your world. Dormant hates, waiting for a moment to bray and bite. Yes, your honey badger Animal Companion will help you, but if you tell it to kill snakes--it might not stop.

Which brings us to the goat. We imagine animals are us and imagine their inner world is the world we'd have had we that face.

By and large, our ancestors seem to have looked at goats and seen a sharp-featured male face, whose beard made him old, whose hollowed cheeks spoke not of softeing age but of having been harrowed, shriven and shrivelled and whose side-slit half-open eyes made him sly and drunk.

We aren't complete idiots, though--and once dealt with domestic animals daily--so much of what we decide is based on what they actually do. So we can add in that this particular senior citizen is omnivorous, tenacious, and difficult.

At some point, most of Europe decided this was the worst kind of man you could be. He, like, the serpent, had been too far and taken in too much.
Might've been the horns
People say goats are lustful, serving Baphomet, a duke beneath Demogorgon, but then, people say a lot of things.

What is known for certain is that the goat is contemptuous of the sheep, which obeys, that two goats--Toothsnarler and Toothgrinder--draw the chariot of Thor, that they give milk, meat, cheese and hide, that sin may be invested in a special goat to purge a community of it, that they possess a two-breasted udder, that they whisper lewdness into the ears of saints, and that the Cathedrals of Tittivila used to be built inside the bodies of massive, 8-legged black goats.

While it is not true that goats may eat anything, they have been known to ruminate on a wide variety of topics. Those casting Speak With Animals and consulting a goat on any topic will likely be confronted with a well-developed (if not always well-conceived) treatment of the subject.

Beastmen are chosen of Demogorgon, and possess goat heads, but they lack the gimlet calm of their goat parents. It is said among goats that two-legged blood makes beastmen lustful.

War-goats have 2+2 hit dice and attack as wardogs, save they do +2 damage on a charge and are much harder to train. If you ask a wardog to fetch something it might work, your wargoat will probably eat it.

Halflings, dwarves and both tribal and witchwood goblins are known to ride wargoats, and it is claimed gnomes have a great affinity with them, but no-one gives a fuck because they're gnomes.

The goat's greatest foe is, of course, the troll. Trolls lurk beneath bridges, for they are places which connect, by civilized means, loci which Demogorgon--in his wisdom--preferred to conceive separately.

Typically, trolls will menace each goat that passes a bridge (to quote the Monster Manual) "unceasingly", until gored by an unusually large, pugnacious, skilled or lucky goat. Such a goat (known as an Escape Goat) then acquires the trolls' regeneration abilities. If, like Toothsnarler and Toothgrinder, they are slaughtered by their master and eaten in a goat's head soup, they will return healthy the next morning.

Another variety is the Night Goat, which is a kind of crime-solving goat. It has no special abilities, but murmurs in the darkness.

As the Icelandic Goat nears extinction, it requests your help.