Wednesday 29 October 2014

Big Shirtless Men with Axes - A Table.

The company rests around the camp-fire. Tonight they rest, but tomorrow they fight the horde they've been paid to deal with. The rumour mill spins…

Roll once per old timer.

The thing about barbarians is…
They really DO fuck their horses.
Their womenfolk are three times as 'ard as the men and fight nude.
Children of the tribe are cannibals.
Every single weapon is poisoned horrendously – a scratch will do the job.
Their priests can breathe fire and bring down the animals upon you.
They’re terrified of coins.
They’re not even human – they’re just animate tree-folk with murderous intent.
They wear bodies of the fallen as ablative armour.
They fight to the first blood, and then simply sit out the rest of the fight.
Simply the scouting force of some foreign power.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Old Familiar, yet less than faithful

Familiars are not an assumed default - magic users must seek them out and entreaty them to enter into the Familiar's Pact, the details of which the creature in question will dictate. Not any creature can be a familiar, but there appears to be no common trend amongst those which can besides some touch of magic about them. Not all can speak, and so the use of Comprehend Languages may be in order. Once the Pact is made, the MU and their familiar will be able to speak and understand each other.

Familiars have something to gain from the bargain - this much should be obvious. They are individual, intelligent beings and demand to be treated as such. They have their own agendas, which they may or may not share. Many will allow themselves to be used as magical batteries, re-usable scrolls - although there is no guarantee that the familiar will not use the stored spell to further their own agendas.

Due to the limited number of familiars in the world, a popular acquisition method is the murder of the previous owner followed by offering terms to the now-master-less familiar - familiars cannot break pacts, nor can MUs. Familiars tend to take a vicious glee in this, regardless of their stance on violence in normal contexts.

Familiars can be asked to do a variety of tasks, and will generally agree, although this will vary by temperament, and they will never follow through with tasks they feel are too dangerous. As mentioned before, they can cast spells stored in them, either on own their own initiative or at the caster's order. They have HD appropriate to creature.

The only common theme for a given pact is the permanent loss of d6 HP by the MU, to a minimum of one. General terms should be negotiated in-character, whilst more esoteric requirements can be rolled below. 

Roll as many times as the familiar tells you to.

**edit - blogspot swallowed my table, hence less than useful format.

Other familiars you meet must be killed, or their plots discovered and thwarted.

Weekends off. The MU must not travel too far from the familiar, effectively halting movement beyond a day’s travel. Weekends off can be waived, but only in promise of next week off at the familiar’s choice.

They must not be watched eating, and will only eat incredibly specific foodstuffs which may or may not be easily acquired. The MU must provide this food.

The MU must remain celibate. If this is not followed, the MU’s lover will be found in chunks about the next adventure location. The familiar will not divulge information on how this was achieved.

Rituals must be performed to the familiar every full moon, often involving expensive perfumes and incenses.

The MU, and by extension the familiar, cannot enter sacred ground. If they enter said ground unawares, they have d4 minutes of uncomfortable itching before they burst into flames. These flames do not go out until put out conventionally, outside of the holy ground.

The MU must speak and write in verse – no prose can be read. Spells are pushing the envelope, but just about get by. The familiar will critique the poetry.

Whenever a tattooist is discovered, the MU must get tattoos of arcane symbols and of the familiar. The first 3 must be easily visible.

The familiar will drink the blood of the MU every night, reducing healing by 1 point every other night from constant cuts.

The familiar despises a spell, and completely bans the MU from casting it. Determine the spell randomly. The MU is physically incapable of that spell.

All familiar effects only last as long as the pact - barring the HP loss, which represents the binding of the MUs soul with the familiar itself. It is theorised this is not actually needed, but used as a method of keeping masters under control.

Familiars can appear in any form, although most prefer subtle, easily explained forms like conventional animals, travelling companions and the such. Others are highly unconventional and have varying difficulties being hidden, such as a disease-familiar or a huge fantastic beast. They have the dietary requirements (unless specifically mentioned in the pact) of a standard creature of their chosen type. The form cannot change. 

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Archaeology is sexy and exciting

The deals have been cut and the expedition has been funded – nothing could go wrong at this point.

The table below should be rolled on whenever you feel significant dig process has been made. Adjust the dice rolled depending on how hectic you want the dig to be - using a d8 or d10 means many surface related activities, whereas larger dice give a higher chance of a structure being excavated.

Once the first structure has been unearthed, 1d4-1 artefacts worth up to 100sp will be found each time this table is rolled on

What happens?
The local merchants have arrived, hawking their wares to the workers. They integrate themselves with the existing tent-village. 4-in-6 chance they are genuine, 1-in-6 of bandits and 1-in-6 chance they have some stake in the dig. Goods are of mixed quality. Small boost to morale throughout the camp.
Symptoms of some novel disease are rife in the workers, slowing down work. There are whispers of ancient curses and retribution from the dead. Morale is eroding rapidly.
Natives of the area gather nearby to watch the progress. 50% chance of being inscrutable, 50% chance of openly decrying the dig. Minor accidents start happening, and tools go missing. Workers are getting a little skittish. Small morale loss.
The more magically or spiritually attuned have been visited with terrible dream-visions of the culture being unearthed, of punishments for grave robbers and of some arcane secret below. Take a small penalty to actions if you keep it to yourself, or lower morale overall to share your problem.
The dig has revealed something lurking in the ground – ancient guardians, restless dead or worse. Morale penalty scales directly with fatalities caused.
Oversight on the side of the foremen has led to man-made disaster – a portion of the dig has collapsed, killing a decent proportion of the workers. Huge morale loss, and new workers need to be acquired fast. 1-in-6 chance of the collapse revealing something previously missed.
Workers have become developing small rituals and turns-of-phrase which seem decidedly off. Those of a historical bent recognise these are the hallmarks of the religion(s) of the culture under the dig site. Morale is slightly lifted, unless this revelation is shared – in which case morale lowers.
A section has revealed itself thanks to the tiresome labour of the workers – a structure large enough to warrant exploration has been revealed! Significant morale boost.

Tracking Morale for the Dig

Scale slides from 1-20, each step representing the overall ‘feel’ of the operation. As morale lowers, productivity lowers, but providing endless distractions and drink to workers could be just as detrimental. Mundane morale factors include things like -

- Time spent on dig (no progress over a significant period of time lowers morale)
- Weather
- Quality, amount and variety of food and drink
- Distance from home
- Pay

Most expeditions should start with around 10 morale, although conditions at the starting point of the journey should affect this. Difficult journeys will affect the morale quite heavily.

Small changes in morale should net a change of 1 or so, with a huge swing being 4 points or so. Resolving issues in flashy ways will actively improve morale, whereas quieter resolutions simply stop the loss of morale – although this is inverted with strife within the camp – i.e. quietly removing a thief from the workforce rather than publicly and harshly dealing with them. 

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Invoking the Knife Demon

Knife Demons are the essence of function given form. A sleek body, much like that of a fish with a horrific blade instead of a face. The tail shimmers with its near-invisible edge, known for gracefully slicing flesh from bone. The side facing eyes are tiny, appearing more like tiny gems embedded in some exotic weapon than actual organs dedicated to sight. The entire creature is flexible, and cuts through the air with ease, appearing like some twisted fish swimming rapidly regardless of the lack of water. Average specimens are about the length of your forearm.

The speed of the thing is used in combination with blade structure, as the Knife Demon accelerates hard at the designated victim, smashing into them with horrific force. With a flick of its razor-tail (which usually inflicts further wounds) it flees, preparing another strike once significant distance is established. Wounds inflicted by the first attack appear like conventional wounds delivered by a pole-axe or similar weapon, whilst the tail-wounds appear as the work of some demented surgeon possessed with considerable scalpel-skill.

In additional to all this, Knife Demons are also able to camouflage themselves whilst still seeking their target – often appearing as a domestic animal whilst travelling. Once the target has been spotted, the assault begins. Knife Demons attempt to kill until killed or banished, and never re-assume their disguise.

Invoking a Knife Demon involves two major components – an item symbolic of the target and a hunting hound of the finest calibre. The sort of item required is highly personal, and the Knife Demon gives no indication of the target it has determined – only that the invocation has been accepted.  Items which have shown the most success are the jewels of the highly covetous, the holy symbols of the fanatically devout and the weapons of the bloodthirsty.

The hunting hound must be of an established pedigree noted for great success in the hunt. Gender of the dog is irrelevant, but it must have participated in at least one hunt. It is believed that the more hunts the hound has been involved in, the larger the Knife Demon. The skull of the hound must be crushed flat with a hammer, maul etc. whilst the invoker screams until they cannot speak. With this done, the Knife Demon, if the invocation was successful, will burst from the corpse of the hound. It will circle the invoker thrice before assuming its disguise and beginning the hunt. If the invocation was incorrect, such as the invoker still being able to speak or the hound not being of sufficient quality, then the Knife Demon will instead circle twice before brutally killing the prospective invoker.

HD – 2-5, increases by size.
AC – As plate, due to dodging through the air gracefully.
Speed – Flying in true form – As fast as a galloping horse of good quality.
                Animal form – As animal.
Attacks – 1. 1d10 mix of bludgeoning and piercing, whichever is most effective. This attack requires 15 foot distance to be successful. Allows for attack 2 to be performed.

2. 1d6 slashing, the razor tail leaves wounds which do not hurt for some time. Ineffective against plate.

Saturday 11 October 2014

Invocation to a Skin Weaver

Perhaps the least overtly hostile variety of invader spirit, the broad category of skin weavers are more than willing to bestow their gifts when invoked correctly – incorrect summons lead to rooms of corpses drained of all essence.

The Skin Weavers are willing to give their gift freely because it is a mutually beneficial relationship – those who take the gift carry the twisted progeny of the Skin Weaver until they die, whereupon something departs to find its parent.

Invoking a Skin Weaver is one of the more simple callings to an invader spirit, though still exacting in its demands. The entire ceremony must be performed inside. The one receiving the gift must be nude and anointed in the mixed blood of a human and two foxes. The bean of the Llangn plant must be burnt, and the choking fumes inhaled by the invoker. They must then speak the invocation itself, which is notable in which it is more of a promise than a command, as compared to most invocations which rely upon strict instructions and commands to coax a spirit to manifest.

With these steps followed correctly, a Skin Weaver will manifest. Appearances vary wildly, but common features include many long legs, compound eyes and emaciated forms. It will rest between the wall and roof, lurking patiently until it is noticed. An uncomfortable whisper will then converse with the invoker. The common trend in this communication is a blank refusal of there being any cost to the gift, laying endless praise upon the prospective recipient of the gift and a snickering at normal command and control methods. Once this exchange has occurred, the spirit descends and bestows its gift. Each spirit has its own method, some wrapping the gifted with webs, whilst others deliver a bite which seems to enact the change. The receiver will scream and wail and claw and fight back, but the spirit is inexorable once the agreement has been made. Those bearing the gifts deny any memory of the experience of receiving the gift. With this done, the Skin Weaver will happily leave.

Effects of the gift

Thin, metallic silver tracery seemingly sits just under skin level. It shifts every night, and it appears there are slightly more lines over time. You can feel the tracery all the time, and it is just slightly stiffer than your skin. It provides a +1 to AC, but is very visible. Those with the knowledge of invader spirits will instantly recognise this.
Warty, lumpy nodules a dark brown/red colour are chaotically placed all over your body. Small tendrils emanate from them, are they are visible under the skin. They slowly form a network over time. Whenever you are affected by a magical effect, benign or malign, make an additional save vs. magic. Upon success, one of the nodules erupts, causing excruciating pain and the loss of 5 hit points.
You can feel it move within your chest cavity. Something lives there now, coiling around your organs. It speaks to you in your dreams, showing you the terrible sea of chaos its parent calls home. Occasionally it tries to nudge you into certain actions, but with no obvious rhyme nor reason. Magic Users can use the thing as a familiar. The carrier is immune to disease and parasites, although they are unable to take meaningful action for a day after the thing cleanses you of the taint.
You grow copious amounts of body hair, far beyond human extremes – more like light fur. The hair is short, coarse and black, and incredibly uncomfortable for people to touch as it continuously pricks them. You will never suffer ill effects from cold conditions, and magical effects relying on the cold are at half-effectiveness against you. You leave a trail of discarded hairs everywhere you go.
You are entirely covered in scales, much like a snakes. You lose all hair on your body. The scales will match your original skin colour, although the occasional one will be off. You have to adapt clothing and equipment to ensure it does not rub your scales the wrong way, as this is a painful a deeply uncomfortable experience. You get a +2 to AC, but permanently have 1 point of encumbrance to account for your extra care/extra layers to avoid brushing your scales the wrong way.
A large, open wound is left on your body. It is raw and weeps constantly, although it does not hurt. The clear fluid it leaks can be used as a food source, as well as a substitute for water. It tastes slightly sweet, like honeyed water. It weeps enough to keep 2 people alive indefinitely. Those who use it as a sole source of nutrition slowly come to depend on it, and fight themselves unable to derive sustenance from actual food and drink. For each person addicted to the fluid, you can support an additional person per day on the wound – it flows more as more crave it.

Saturday 4 October 2014

Practical Rituals for the Busy Cultist

You've stumbled onto a ritual. What are they doing, and for what purpose? 70% chance the ritual is bunk and does nothing. 30% chance of legit rituals being performed badly and the effect going wildly askew. Interrupted legit rituals have a chance of going askew and causing horrific effects. The likelihood of this increases as the ritual approaches completion.

Three squares of salt mixed with piss, getting progressively larger. Three cultists per square. Each is naked and stands perfectly still for the duration. The air smells of fresh-cut-grass.
To summon a bored entity from beyond the limits of the real. The entity is not bound to act benevolently, truthfully or at all. Forms vary widely.
Semi-circle of seven cultists, each clutching a glass blade. They are all crying and wailing, causing a great cacophony.
The complete ruination and eventual destruction of a specific individual, their family, business ventures and personal belongings. The effect can take up to 5 years to end.
Two cultists sit facing each other, sharing a hookah. A chalk circle surrounds them. The smoke they breathe writhes, seemingly trying to form faces but falling apart at the last moment. There is no smell.
To hasten the re-awakening of an ancient species from the times before man walked upright and spoke language. They will replace humans as the dominant species in a terrible apocalypse.
Three cultists form a triangle around the fourth. They face outwards and chant as the central cultist bites off each finger. They make no noise. They all wear masks of bone and wood.
To cause the target of the ritual to fall hopelessly in love with one of the participants. There is no telling which participant it will be.
A large congregation watch in awe as the leader wrestles with an invisible demon. The battle is long and gruelling. They will not help. The demon will kill and eat the leader, who must put up a fight for the ritual to be successful.
To open a pair of linked portals between two points in the real, allowing great distances to be covered incredibly quickly. The placement is very fuzzy, and can open into solid earth or the ocean. Sometimes, those who use the portal step through … different.
7 innocents and 7 lambs have their skulls split open with a crude killing-rock. The contents of said skulls are mixed into a broth and each member of the cult drinks deep, except those who struck down the sacrifices. The broth is delicious, and contains many foreign herbs and spices.
To anoint the cultists with invulnerability to all physical weapons. This blessing comes at the cost of being unable to eat, leading to eventual starvation. Even if the invulnerability is removed, the inability to eat remains.
One tenth of the cult’s number must drown themselves in the sea whilst the rest lament their sacrifice to the Mother Ocean. There must be a violent storm in progress, and the sacrifices are bedecked in gold.
An elder spirit from the fabric of the Real speaks, and will answer one question. Many of those who hear the speech of an elder spirit die instantly, shaken apart by the very primacy of the being.
An enemy of the cult is burnt at the stake whilst a living saint is crucified opposite them. This must be done underground, and the saint must die first. The fire cannot go out.
To bind an intruder spirit to this realm, and to demand 3 terms of service from it. Once these terms are complete, it remains bound. It despises this, and if steps are not taken it will hunt the cultists.