Monday, March 18, 2019

Dolmenwood: Ratling (Race-as-Class)


Noted in Gavin Norman's Dolmenwood House Rules document, the idea of Ratlings in the setting have long entertained me. Are they meant to be truly tiny things, or are they halflings but a bit scummier a la 40k? Given that Gavin has said he's not a deep Warhammer fan (or so I misremember from a convo on Orks), I must assume that Ratlings are meant to be actual rat-like people; something in tone akin to Redwall or Mouse Guard possibly. While noted in the document as being functionally equivalent to Halflings, with a 3-in-6 hiding rate in any environment; I'm going to attempt to do something a bit more setting appreciative with them. Also chucking in some Midderlands references.

Art from Larry MacDougall's Gwelf Project

Ratlings

Requirements: Minimum CON and DEX 9
Prime Requisite: CON and DEX
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 8
Allowed Armour: Any appropriate to size, including shields
Allowed Weapons: Appropriate to size (see below)
Languages: Alignment language, Common, Woodsigns

Ratlings (aka Giant Mouselings as they're called in Scrotland) are diminutive race of furred demi-humans who possess rodent-like features, long filthy tails, and teeth as strong as well-tempered iron. Seldom achieving heights greater than 3 feet or weighing more than 60 pounds when preposterously rotund or heavy with child, Ratlings rely on knowledge of secrets and their community to survive in an unforgiving world. Each Ratling warren is built in spiraling stone architecture deep beneath the roots of old trees, ruled over by broodmother and rat-king who tend to the collected knowledge and deeds of their ancestors. 

Ratlings, in their pure and honest forms, can be found in the Table Downs and Brackenwold; with corrupted forms commonly found in the Upper Middergloom of Havenland. Both types make use of sacred Woodsigns written in the whorls of trees and stones, which whisper secrets when read. Seldom does a Ratling adventure, as to surface-dwellers they are seen as pests or plague-spreaders regardless to any truth on that matter. When one does join up arms with humanity, they do so often with ambitions to start their own warren or as exiles of a warren which cast crimes against them. 

They're not the most well-loved creature to walk the world, but Brackenwolders have seen worse and Havenlanders have better things to fear. Grimalkin personally dislike the whole of the Ratling race based on a folkloric dispute wherein a Grimalkin was once made stumbledrunk on tipple and robbed of an estate by the Ratlings. 

Prime Requisites: A Ratling must have at least 13 in one or the other prime requisite in order to get a +5% to experience. The character must have a CON and DEX of 13 or higher to get a +10% bonus.

Abilities

Combat: Ratlings may use any type of armour, but it must be tailored to their small size. Similarly, they may use any weapon which is appropriately sized to their stature. They cannot use longbows or two-handed swords.

Defensive Bonus: Due to their small size, Ratlings possess a lower Armour Class (-2 bonus) when attacked by creatures larger than itself.

Hiding: Ratlings have an uncanny ability to disappear from sight:
        In bushes or other outdoor cover, a Ratling can hide with 90% ability.
        In dungeons, a halfling can also hide in shadows or behind other forms of cover, so long as he or she remains silent and motionless. The chance of success is 3-in-6.
        If nude, a Ratling may pose as a rodent of unusual size rather than a sentient being, succeeding at a rate of 4-in-6 so long as those viewing the Ratling don't know they're on the lookout for the creature. 

Listenings: Ratlings have a 2-in-6 chance of hearing noises at doors, and in conversations or gathering gossips they have a 2-in-6 chance to determine if the information they're receiving is deceptive or intended as a secret.

Teeth of Iron: Ratlings may make unarmed attacks by biting, dealing 1d4 damage. Their teeth can pierce stone and metal with enough time. This damage increases to 1d6 at level 4, and 2d4 at level 6.

Secret Woodsigns: Ratlings may take a minute to read the whorls of a tree's trunk or the roughness of a stone to discern secrets. Once per day, a Ratling may use their woodsigns to do the following:
        Determine the location of nearby edibles or water. The chance-of-success is 3-in-6.
        Determine something said by a passerbyer in the last 24 hours. The chance of the information being relevant or useful is 10% per character level, to a maximum of 80%.
        Conceal a message for others who can read woodsigns, up to 20 words. This message remains for a number of days equal to the Ratling's level.
        Determine if another Ratling has made use of the woodsign, and if so what message they have concealed with it.

Stronghold (Warren): When a Ratling has sufficient funds, secrets, and time, they may construct a stronghold. These strongholds will be built deep beneath the roots of an ancient tree, constructed of stone along dirt tunnels when properly finished. Ratlings who have heard of the character's deeds and wisdom will make their way to the stronghold, and over time they will expect the Ratling to become either broodmother or Rat-King.

Dark Heather from Mouse Guard is a good base for a Warren

Level Progression/Saving Throws: As Halfling.

Randomized Appearance (Head, d8)
  1. Pudgy, slight-eared and tooth-bearing, like a gopher.
  2. Large-eyed and larger-eared like a vole.
  3. Long-snouted and squinty-eyed like a shrew.
  4. Tiny-eyed with large ears, like a house mouse.
  5. Large fleshy ears and bulbous black eyes, like a wood mouse.
  6. Slanted snout and small ears, like a common black rat.
  7. Jovial black eyes and chubby cheeks, like a doormouse.
  8. Large-headed with small black eyes, much like a musk rat.
Randomized Appearance (Colors, d10)
  1. Pink, nude and wrinkly, with flaking dandruff as if diseased.
  2. Pale white, with eyes that blaze red when concerned.
  3. Brown and black, like the bark of a tree towards the forest duff.
  4. Black and grey, like the smoke from an elder's pipe.
  5. Black as a cold winter night without stars.
  6. Red as fallen maple leaves, hints of orange.
  7. Pale grey, like a stone dove.
  8. Powder blue, like the Wood-King's jael stones.
  9. Wheat blond, like the autumn grains before the harvest.
  10. Stony grey, like an outcropping in the woods.
Randomized Coat (d6, don't roll if a nude)
  1. Straight-haired coat.
  2. Curly-haired coat.
  3. Wavy-haired coat.
  4. Velveteen coat of furs.
  5. Long silky coat of furs.
  6. Long straight-haired coat of furs.
Randomized Pattern (d8, reroll on Colors, if nude it's a mark on the flesh)
  1. Completely solid coloration, white upon the feet.
  2. Solid with different coloration upon the belly and hands.
  3. Blaze of a different color upon the face.
  4. Capped upon the head in a different color.
  5. Hooded in a different color upon the head and back.
  6. Masked in a different color over the eyes.
  7. Of roan pelt, with initial coloration fading into a different type as the seasons change.
  8. Varegated in different colors.
The Midderlands are very unkind to Ratlings.

Midderland Variety Mutations (d8)
  1. Covered in caustic green boils which rupture when struck with critical damage.
  2. Three eyes of murky jaundiced pickle green.
  3. Teeth like needles which pierce through the snout at odd angles.
  4. Slime-leeks from pores rather than sweat. 
  5. Vomits luminescent slugs when speaking too long.
  6. Forever twitching and speaking in double-double, hacking cough when trying not to.
  7. Fingers and toes of misshapen lengths, vaguely arthropod in digit appearance.
  8. Secondary rat-head growing out of back. Has nothing good to say.
Starting Outfit (d8) (Coinage/Wealth as a Halfling, its the whole of your warren's wealth.)
  1. Brata cloak of ochre red, clay-handled dagger, fine leather belt with beetle-buckle.
  2. Tunic of blue and white, carpenter's hammer (as mace), leather pouch with brass aglets.
  3. Long nightgown and sleeping cap, zig-zag dagger (your mother's), a smoking pipe (no snuff.)
  4. Cloth gambeson with fish patterns upon it, woodcutter's hatchet, tricorn hat.
  5. Pig-leather culottes bleached white, yellow-and-red beaded sash, walking cane (as staff.)
  6. Long Tartan with serpent torc, ancient brass shortsword (Goman make), bag of hash.
  7. Artisan's smock-frock, leather jackboots, and a tack-hammer (as mace.)
  8. Surtout of deep clay red, with a torc of ancient rat-king tails. A black hand ax.
Names (d20)
  1. Clundoder / Mosswater
  2. Basilmac / Gingi
  3. Methuselah / Prudencia
  4. Mac Luch Mor / Bea Luch Beag
  5. Kimkarnagie / Clarymulch
  6. Bromaine / Celdana
  7. Rocksorrel / Gabwhacker
  8. Quillhaver / Cloggswalk
  9. Craiken / Cavelhome
  10. Swiftlysung / Mumblerock
  11. Saynavain / Viluna
  12. Bigglebones / Bucklescutt
  13. Shoggwallow / Horsewalma
  14. Logalwealth / Buskerback
  15. Eulail / Biskpaw
  16. Clayulton / Doomhaver
  17. Reginald / Miramoore
  18. Broggleton / Constantia
  19. Wellbuckle / Limewater
  20. Reynard / Wilffenleaf
Why do you adventure with humans? 
  1. The Watchers made dark work to steal the bones of our ancient rat-kings. I must see them returned to my deeply-delved warren.
  2. The warren flooded, leaving few of us behind. I seek funds so I might rally kindred in distant warrens to help reclaim it from the water wyrds that've come.
  3. The Hag stole away my kin, humanity and grimalkin don't care for her muchly. They'll be honorbound to help me if I provide services in kind.
  4. The glint and glitter of gold warms my belly with mead and meat; to live under a tree is no life for a young blood like myself.
  5. I was chosen to join the Rat-King, but I feared the ritual. I can never go home, nor face my kind. I must find work among the tall-ones.
  6. In dreams I was haunted by the sword of  Saint, one of the Church of the One True God's sort. Upon his shoulders sat a head like mine own, and from his mouth he spoke of my destiny. I must seek such a thing.
  7. Kin mined too deep, found blue stones that laugh, found green stones that cackled. I made it out alive, but they're not my kin under that hill no more.
  8. Wolves routed us, devoured us, and faerie folk watched and laughed. Good neighbors my arse. Met enough men-folk who in words don't care for neither crowd. Figure we can kill a bunch of them together, have a day of it.


Next: I was putting together some random encounter lists, but Ratlings caught my interest. 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Dolmenwood: The Tumulheights - (Hex 1609)

One-page settings seem to be making the rounds as a concept, and while I'm totally in favor of that sort of framework I'm also really big on the three-hex starter situations as well. So I figured to combine a sense of those both, thwap together a map in a hex, and then place it in a setting near and dear to my heart. This is a hex-as-setting, meant to provide just enough to get the ball rolling. So these are the Tumulheights, a series of hilly barrow mounds located in Hex 1609; which on the Dolmenwood regional map is a few south of Castle Brackenwold and can be located beneath the map key. It is a thematically low level area, a place to learn a little bit about the setting, defeat some lesser villains, and to get away from the woods for a little bit. '


Click to Expand


Hex 1609: The Tumulheights
A patch of rough hills, scrubland and sparse woods to the south of Castle Brackenwold, the Tumulheights are a sacred burial ground or the ancient Emeraude warriors who beat back the Gomans. Man, Goat, and more than a few other stranger things lay buried beneath the mounds. 

From Culderhill, the Lichwards see that the anointed dead stay buried and at peace. But villains out of Pook’s Way know all too well that the Watchers and fouler sorts in High Hankle and Havenland would pay well for the blessed bones. 

Throughout the mounds swine gather in large numbers, trudging through the forest in troupes, snuffling the pungent hilly air for the seductive scent of truffles and other pungent fungal spores. On nights of the full moon, the Black Pig is said to be seen in the woods, and those who gaze upon his baleful magnificence will find themselves forever cursed. The Lichwards, as well as academics of folklore out of Castle Brackenwold, have their own theories as to the origin myth of the Black Pig; but the locals out of Pook's Way claim it to be a wicked fey prince.

All manner of bogun and goblin from the Dolmenwood make their occasional appearance upon the mounds, often as spectators watching the spirits of ancient Emeraude warriors butchering the damned shades of Goman legionnaires upon the blessed earth. When the bones of the fallen are removed from their mounds, these displays change. The Goman begin to win. The spirits, be they man or goat, fall into despair and in time become tortured and wretched wraiths who devoid of their stories, cast forth oblivion.

Mortal man does not tarry upon the mounds at night, lest the pucklemotes swarm them and steal them away to the Dredgemoot; where the Black Pig is said to slumber all other nights of the year in corpulent hateful bliss.

Key Features:

  • Hilly - The grounds of the Tumulheights ebb and flow like waves upon the sea, and under each hill lie countless dead heroes from ancient days.
  • Haunted - If not for the Lichwards out of Culderhill, the actions of the dead would be far more vicious to outsiders. They only appear deep underground, in the Dredgenmoot, or on starry nights.
  • Windswept - Between the hills, the air blows quick and fierce. Smells carry for miles, as does laughter and whispers upon the wind.
  • Wooded - The woods, while sparse, are primarily old pines that have long succumb to the rot and weight of bracket fungus which clings to their trunks.
  • Temperate - It is as temperate here as in the rest of the Dolmenwood, though being just south of the wood proper, winter can be found here in its season--albeit reduced by proximity.
  • Colors - The flora here is like smoke-stained juniper leaves, the browns are of deep earthy slate. The pigs are all black, but not as black as the Black Pig or the Pucklemotes.

Points of Interest:

Culderhill Abbey:
A small, fortified tower of rustic stones hewn in elder days. Two stories, with a large stables which due to a lacking of many horses has been turned into a make-shift training grounds for those who make use of scourges and maces. A large stained glass window depicts St. Signis upon a hill, tending to flowers which grow from the skeleton of a woman whose spirit looks upon the incident fondly. Matron Superior Muccshab is almost always present here, alongside 1d8 acolytes (usually nuns), and 1d4 warriors, generally seeking blessings or knowledge of the undead.

Pook's Way Taphouse: A rickety wattle and daub building built like the long halls of old, with ramshackle gutters and the occasional chicken running wild outside its coop. A burnt wooden sign nailed above the door depicts a large orb-headed fairy of black, pointing a finger towards the door while a lantern sits on its lap. The interior is decrepit and the floor is uneven, with many loose boards and whole sections of dirt floor. The kitchen is well-stocked with sausages and rotgut beverages, and the goatman Tarridan Gresh is often singing a jaunty tune when not being berated by moss dwarf or more thuggish customers.

The Dredgenmoot: A section of the Otherwold, an underground maze where the mycellum of fungal deities once lived. They were consumed by the Black Pig and its predecessors. There are many ways out of the Dredgenmoot, but they require crawling through loose soil, eating hallucinogenic fractal molds, and being subsumed by slime molds that reflect forbidden suns on their shimmering masses. Moss Dwarfs can easily find there way out of here, often leading back to the real world by coming up under a garden of mushrooms. 


Cast of Characters:

Matron Superior Muccshab of St. Signis:
A grizzled woman in her late 60s, allegedly older if the hateful gossip of novice lichwards are to be believed. She bares an unearthly pallor and the chiseled face more befitting a mountain than a mortal; her habit is reinforced with leather tassets and she never leaves her chamber without her blessed jack-of-plates hauberk. A lover of poetry but a long sufferer of the ravages of the undead, she maintains many spells and trains others in the profession of a lichward cleric. She has long enjoyed her time in the Tumulheights, but recent bone thievery has forced her to take a hardline approach to any strangers she or her lackeys come across. She works from Culderhill Abbey.

[AC 9, HD 3 (12hp), Att 1 x scourge (1d6), THAC0 19, MV 90' (30'), SV D11 W12 P14 B16 S15 (CL3), ML 9, AL Lawful, XP 45]
  • Spells: Matron Superior Muccshab can cast three spells from the Cleric list as a Level 3 Cleric, and she can Turn Undead as though she were a Level 5 Cleric.

Tarridan Gresh:
A freshly twenty-year old goatman, child of deserters who fled Lord Malbleat's wrath, and apprentice-turned-propreitor of the Pook's Way taphouse. Easily mislead and with a voice like an angel, Tarridan has fallen under the coercion of Bashwick and his goons, and has long suffered the abuses of moss dwarf truffle hunters even before his former master was devoured by a "fog of shadows." Is overworked but likes the challenge. Has never consumed human flesh and will become an insatiable man-eater should he develop the taste.

[AC 5, HD 1 (4hp), Att 1 × Frying Pan (1d4-1), THAC0 19, MV 120’ (40’), SV D8 W9 P10 B13 S12 (D1), ML 6, AL Neutral, XP 10]

Bashwick of Great Lunden:
A bastard of a Havenlander, he shows signs of ensorcellement to those with the gift to see it. He drinks with hooded men and talks of expeditions into the mounds and the profits he's made selling pagan bones and old Goman scrap to high society folk in Lunden. He knows the Watchers and speaks kindly of their patronage. They plan to kill him once he's unable to fund further mercenary endeavors which might steal the bones and disrupt the joyful entertainment of faerie-folk.

[AC 5, HD 2+1 (14hp), Att 1 x Goman Sword (1d8+1, Masterwork), THAC0 19, MV 120' (40'), SV D12 W13 P14 B15 S16 (F2), ML 8, AL Neutral, XP 35]
  • Bashwick is supported by a network of goons, lowlifes, and general thugs from Bellthorp and the Midderlands, all functionally equivalent as low morale henchmen. He has at least 1d4 with him at any time, and 1d12 when out in the field personally appraising or stealing bones.
The Black Pig:
A powerful fey spirit in the form of a repugnant and gargantuan swine the size of a cottage. It belches forth spoors, and breathes deep the sorrows of the damned. While it has a rapacious love of honey wines and stump dryads, it is a known enemy to moss dwarfs. Their scent is often too much for the Black Pig to readily tolerate.

[AC 4, HD 7 (32hp), Att 1 x Gore (2d4), 1 x Trample (1d8+1), or 1 x Spore Belch (3d4, Save vs Breath to halve), THAC0 13, MV 180' (60'), SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (F6), ML 11, AL Chaotic, XP 450] 
  • Spore Belch targets all within a 90' cone in front of the Black Pig's mouth, those struck by it can be tracked with supernatural ease by pigs, pucklemotes, and moss dwarfs until the half-moon. Moss Dwarfs struck by this spore belch are instead healed an equal amount of damage, with any bonus HP over their maximum threshold blossoming into an equal number of random edible mushrooms.
  • The Black Pig becomes enraged in the presence of less than it's HD in Moss Dwarfs, and dazed for 1d6 turns in the presence of more Moss Dwarfs than its HD.

The Pucklemotes: 
Lesser fey spores, sentient bits of black puffballs that chase and harass mortals who walk the mounds at night. They are attracted by candlelight and campfire, but oil lanterns perplex and disturb them. They serve the Black Pig and other faeries who watch the spiritual melee, acting as house servants and bootlicks. If they engulf a mortal, they will transport them into the Dredgenmoot. 

[AC 7, HD 2 (9hp), Att 1 x Swarm (d4) or Engulf, THACO 18, MV 90' (30') flying, SV D14 W15 P16 B17 S18 (NH), ML 9, AL Chaotic, XP 35, NA 1d3]
  • Engulf: Engulfing an enemy requires the swarm to collapse into the area directly around a single enemy and succeed at dealing maximum damage on a Swarm attack. If successful the victim must make a Save vs Spells or find themselves taken to the Dredgenmoot.
  • Size: 20' x 20' area, typically, acting like hooligans and shuffling about as though gravity didn't matter.
  • Swarm Attack: Unlike normal swarms, Pucklemotes will be half biting and nipping and half attempting to cast a spell to pull the victim into the Dredgenmoot. Roll 1d4 to determine damage, and halve any HP loss on those wearing armor (to a minimum of 1).
  • Warding Off: Characters wearing cold iron force a morale check to be attacked by the Pucklemotes.
  • Escaping: Fleeing the Pucklemotes is hard, as they are quick and vicious when finding someone scared of their violence. Characters who serpentine in their movements or throw distracting mushrooms or shiny objects can flee from the inside of the swarm by doing so for 3 rounds.
  • Pursuit: A damaged swarm of Pucklemotes will chase characters until they enter a religious establishment or an area where they must otherwise ask for permission to enter. If a character enters the "home" of another creature like a wolf's den, a bear's cave, or an owl's tree, there is a 50% chance the Pucklemotes will not pursue.
Randomizers for the Tumulheights:
Some specific and specialized randomizers for use in this Hex, or anywhere really. 

What is Tarradin singing? [d6]
  1. O Darling Fangbone - And what a sight was she, with a bone so biting brutal, it stretched from mouth to knee. 
    A jaunty and comedic love song about a man who fell in love with an ogress and sang her a tune while she slowly cooked him, eventually he sings from inside her gullet.

  2. Malbleat's Many Follies - "As boundless as the skies, as foolish as a goblin rump, as pointless as his spies!"
    An insulting tune about the idiocy and wretchedness of Lord Malbleat, mocking his abuses and his foolishness. Popular in Lord Ramius's army.

  3. To Dine Again in Bellthorp - "Crying, Cockerels and taters, and turnips, my boy! Oh bloat me, oh save me, my sweet Bellthorp girl."
    A drunkard's tune about better times and family, sung in Bellthorp and by those who wish to mock the Emeraudish over in the Midderlands.

  4. Blind Eyes Me God - "So I'm sure as a Wolder, with Drunegelt I came, and in my wyrm's greed, I feel now His shame..."
    A lament for shameful actions in the eyes of the One True God, generally based around pride and greed. Can be sung as a comedic tune, as if God is not judging but rather it is all in one's head.

  5. Waulking the Elf-Maid's Tartan - "We washed her great gown, with starlights and lamb's silk; we wash-ed her veil, festooned with pearls..."
    A washing song, generally getting more and more embellished with each verse until someone sings a line of how the elf-maiden is crushed under the weight of her luxury and goblins pick her corpse clean. Gallow's humor tune. 

  6. Lament of the Deorlings - "The Wood King bred me, for nine months and better, he stole me fair heart, and my soul to fetters..."
    A song about the King of the Woods, the deorling, and the loss of station and sense of self; a ballad of ego death. 
Concerning Truffles [d6]
Type...
  1. Robust Black Truffle
    The robust black truffles of the Tumulheights grow only near the mounds, and to the common eye they look like either the spoors or eggs of some terrible basilisk. The taste is too rich to be consumed raw, leading to a drunken state if not properly prepared. When cooked it fills the belly as full as any steak or hauk of ham. If prepared into an oil, it is a bit greasy but greatly contributes to the speed of the cooking process and if left to ferment with garlic in it, can create a robust cordial. 

  2. Ivory White Truffle
    A robust truffle that tastes like the richest and most earthy of breads, commonly found by both dogs and swine. When shredded or cut, it compliments most meals and greatly adds to their qualities. The most common sort of truffle to find itself exported both raw, and as an oil. Worth silver in either case.

  3. Grue-apple Truffle
    Cluster truffles that sprout like red fungal caps deep underground, often consumed by woodgrue and lesser fey as they enjoy the taste---something akin to blue berries over a stinky cheese and onion skins. Grue-apple can be used to make exceptional cooking oil which allows flavors to fully reveal themselves; and if coated to flesh this same oil can make poisons all the more powerful. Worth silver raw, worth gold in high amounts or in oils.

  4. Broom Truffle
    A truffle that grows like a bracket fungus underneath the bark of ancient trees, popping through the trunk of a tree like bristles on a broom. Bark must be carefully peeled back to allow for harvesting, which requires the use of specialized awls to fully dig out the fungus. Salty but sweet, like a baked apple left to ferment. Used to make fine cooking oils that peasants can afford. Worth silver.

  5. Scag's Tuber
    A false truffle, but still a favorite of pigs and moss dwarfs alike. Scag's tuber is a fungus that grows in wild onions, tasting much like fermented garlic and robust earth. Worth copper pennies in an open market, silver to someone buying in bulk. Can be used to ferment semi-spoiled food back to satiability. 

  6. Swinefavor Truffle
    A common truffle, most often consumed by boars, devil swine, pig seers, and common farm pigs. Seldom seen in kitchens for this reason. Cheap, worth copper pennies. Tastes salty but savory, almost like caramel. 
Quality...
  1. Dreadful quality, barely ripe, molded over and maggoty. Worth 1d4 its coinage.
  2. Poor, broken, and poorly harvested. Possibly half-bitten by swine. Worth 1d4x2 its coinage.
  3. Harvested too early, not robust with spoors, or insufficient size and vintage. Worth 1d4x3 its coinage.
  4. Adequate form, good shape, little damage. Worth 1d6x3 its coinage.
  5. Perfect size, good shape, no damage, robust texture, and fine scent. 2d8x3 its coinage.
  6. Huge, powerful, bountiful, possibly sentient. Almost a burden to carry, but too perfect and astounding not to. Worth 3d10*5 its coinage.
Random Encounters (Day)
  1. Huntsmen with Truffle Hogs and Hounds, (1d3+1d8)
    1. Open to conversation. 2. Polite but cagey. 3. Professional and willing to barter. 4. Caustic.
  2. Havenlander and South Emeraude Thugs and Lackeys (2d6)1. Casing a mound. 2. Hunting deer. 3. Arguing with leader (Bashwick, if present), 4. Drinking.
  3. Lichward Friar and Exorcist Disciples (1+2d4)1. Ritual prayers for protection. 2. Contemplating signs of a struggle. 3. Reciting scripture in the field. 4. Contemplating signs of recent excavation.
  4. Deer (2d12)
    1. Bounding over hills. 2. Grazing on grasses. 3. Fleeing wolves. 4. Fleeing hunters.
  5. Swine (2d12)
    1. Consuming truffles. 2. Horrifying noisy sex. 3. Consuming a dead body. 4. Sleeping.
  6. Pilgrims (2d6)
    1. Singing songs as they march. 2. Discussing philosophy. 3. Praying. 4. Foraging foods.
Random Encounters (Night)
  1. Swine (2d12)
    1. Consuming truffles. 2. Horrifying noisy sex. 3. Consuming a dead body. 4. Sleeping.
  2. Havenlander and South Emeraude Thugs and Lackeys (2d6)1. Excavating a mound. 2. Camping. 3. Fleeing from undead, 4. Drinking.
  3. Deer (2d12)
    1. Bounding over hills. 2. Grazing on grasses. 3. Fleeing wolves. 4. Fleeing hunters.
  4. Pilgrims (2d6)1. Camping around a fire. 2. Warding away Pucklemotes to little effect. 3. Praying. 4. Sleeping.
  5. Moss Dwarfs (2d6)
    1. Hunting for truffles. 2. Hunting swine. 3. Tracking the Black Pig. 4. Making truffle oil.
  6. Undead (Ghosts, 1d8 or Ghouls, 1d4)
    1. Fighting Goman Ghosts. 2. Making merry upon the mound. 3. Cavorting with faeries. 4. Seeking justice for bones stolen.
  7. The Black Pig (if Full Moon), Elf Hunters (2d6, if not Full Moon)
    1. Reflecting upon nature's majesty. 2. Gazing upon the moon in strange sadness. 3. Rubbing bone weapons against fungus-infested trees. 4. Digging in the dirt, as if looking for something.
  8. Pook Morels (Wormskin 8, p.35, 2d10)
    1. Speaking ghost stories upon the wind. 2. Mocking the party for their terrible fate. 3. Turning acorns into beetles. 4. Throwing centipedes and roaches at one another.
  9. Pucklemotes (1d3)
    1. Laughing and giggling. 2. Engulfing a pig. 3. Bursting from the ground. 4. Eating truffles.
  10. Lichward Nun (Unique)
    1. Seeking to prove her bravery. 2. Romantically embracing a spirit. 3. Praying above a corpse. 4. Eating bread upon a corpse. 5. Meditating as a ghoul sucks upon her breast, burning. 6. Cavorting with additional Random Encounter.


Friday, March 15, 2019

State of the Goblet: Q1/Q2 2019

Howdy folks, 

I apologize for the inactivity on the blogosphere front, as I've been busy or otherwise preoccupied. I'm going to breakdown below what I've been up to, what I'm working on, and what I expect to have done by prospectively the end of the summer.

Rakehell:


I put out a zine called Rakehell, it's about 44 pages of content for 3 bucks; currently undergoing revisions which will add considerable more value in page count for the same price. Rakehell is a KNAVE-zine, a setting, and many a set of randomizers for small towns, giants, dragons, fiends, and other strangeness in an area called The Rift of Mar-Milloir---a sort of weird northern hinterlands between a pseudo-French and pseudo-German set of kingdoms; and war is likely to come.

Rakehell, its first issue anyhow, was released on my 28th birthday and it was a pretty great success. I was able to afford to pay my layout person decently (I'm learning the skill myself, but wouldn't expose any purchasers to my freshman efforts there), and also get myself some PB&J materials. The copy detail for it can be found on its page, which I've linked to.

Revised items to be added to the first issue before it goes POD on Lulu, DTRPG, et cetera include generators for The First Men (ancient barrow wights), more notes on the factions (including specialized gear to purchase from them, rough interactions between them, and things like that), a black market system (for selling items to the Kingdoms without leaving the Rift), new basic equipment descriptors for weapons/armor both into and out of the Rift, a home base to start out from, and a few micro-dungeons.

I expect to be done with the rest of these added bits by the 20th, so I can hopefully get the total thing out on the 27th. It will also feature illustrations by a good friend of mine.

With the first issue of Rakehell finished, the second issue---an urban one which I've pitched as "what living in a city does to people" will see its way to digital marketplaces sometime in late April to early May; depending on whether or not one of my roomies moves out of my apartment and I'm forced to struggle and spend more of my time working a proper dead end gig.



The Monsoon Ghats:
This is sort of my big new project, though in truth I've been working on it for a good long while. It's been mainly a means to decolonize myself and gain a better appreciation for a cultural heritage I didn't really get to embrace growing up. It's something that is working out pretty well right now, and I remain immersed in constant research to try to do it right. The end results are starting to shape up; it won't be a total recreation of India---but it'll hopefully do it enough justice that people can see how metal and awesome it is without having to deal with issues like Kali in fantasy-land.



I hope to have something to show for it by June or July; in addition to blogposts about it. Time will tell, depending on if things go tits up in my life or not.

It uses the same set of rulings as the Wildwood Manuscripts; and while it has not fully supplanted Wildwood; I would sooner do the Ghats and then Wildwood proper. Give me a chance to see what works for a more niche market before entering the saturated generic market of settings.

Comics:
The Sisters is still trucking on pretty good, not that I expect people here read it. We're almost at the end of our third story arc, one issue left after our current one before we get to go whole hog on horror shenanigans. 

Dolmenwood:
I fully expect to be running another local Dolmenwood game again, so I'll be able to get back to blogging on Dolmenwood as a setting. I like it in collaboration with the broader Midderlands world; so expect that kind of intermingling.

Yoon-Suin: 
While I intend to put most of my research focus towards the Monsoon Ghats, I have an online group that is all about Yoon-Suin; so possibly expect some material specifically for that setting rather than applicable to both it and the Ghats project.

Branding:I was able to spend some money over the holidays on a logo which was crafted by the awesome Imogen Mangle, and it'll be on the back of products. We negotiated a nice two year long exploitation use contract and it was an entirely enjoyable experience. She's a great young creator and I'm happy to have gotten to work with her.

General Conclusion:
It's going all right. I have probably a month and a half before uncertainty takes hold. 
I hope to be accomplished in that time. 

Thank you all for reading in general, and if you have any specifics you'd like to see in terms of content; hit me up. 
- Brian

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Monsoon Ghats: Skyclad & Linen Armor

Depending on one's varna, luck, and worldliness is how one dresses while adventuring in the Ghats. Regional styles of decoration, the influences of the Bel Shahih from the northwest, and the variety of dyes available for the cotton, camel hair, and silk of the land make the Monsoon Ghats an eclectic and colorful region. Those wise in the way of fashion can tell where a man is from, what a man has lived, and what a man does by virtue of their dress. 



What follows is a partial set of armor rules I'm using in my home game that I'm playtesting on the weekends; but the randomizer tables will certainly be useful even if you personally do not like my armor rulings. 

Said armor rulings are as follows:

  • AC = 10 + Dexterity Modifier. It ascends.
  • Shields, Helmets, and other such items have a Protection Value, which can reduce damage at the cost of reducing the dice of the Protection Value. A roll of 1 means the breakage of the item. 
  • Poor Quality Items last one expedition before they must be replaced or repaired.
  • Adequate Quality Items may suffer 1d3 expeditions, in need of replacement or repairs after a roll of 1. 
  • Exquisite Quality Items must be destroyed or tarnished through violence or hardship to be in need of repairs or replacement. 
  • Magical Items are of Exquisite appearance and can only be destroyed by magical means.
As I am at work, and have much more work to do before this is worthy of being a total article (randomizers for each category and type of armor by quality), here are simply the first two items: Skyclad depictions and Linen Armor.

Armors


Skyclad: To go skyclad is to wear nothing, to put your faith against the metal of your foe and to let fortune divine the victor. When fighting skyclad you gain your Charisma Modifier as a bonus to AC, but enemies inflict a critical hit on a 19-20 range rather than just upon a 20. A naked character is not necessarily considered to be skyclad.

What it looks like (d8):
  1. You have dusted yourself in bhasma, sacred ash, caking yourself in grays.
  2. You have painted the mark of your patron daeva upon your brow, it makes you daring.
  3. You have been painted with the face of a great beast upon your belly, like a tiger. You feel as though you are connected to this totemic image.
  4. You have painted upon your brow a devotional tilaka, for the achievement of central focus.
  5. You have dribbled red vermilion across your face, pulled down over your eyes as though expectant of blood to shed.
  6. You keep a single red upward brushing of the thumb upon your brow.
  7. You have ornate calligraphy inscribed upon your nude form in henna, devotional mantras.
  8. You have danced in audacious, gaudy kumkuma, embracing the illusory spirit of the world made manifest.
Linen Armor: Composed of finely quilted linens, reinforced beneath by studding of nail, scale, or metal plates. Clothing of quilted linens caries no social stigma, can be tailored to fit a variety of styles, and can be worn comfortably when travelling in arid climates. (AC +1) [If you prefer to, use this to replace any generic Light Armor by using a different value.]

What color is it (d30):
  1. Yellow, like mango blossoms.
  2. Yellow, like the desert sky before a storm.
  3. Yellow, like the soft light of a morning sun.
  4. Blue, like the ocean on a summer day.
  5. Blue, like a peacock's cerulean feathers.
  6. Blue, like the hottest and most sacred of flames.
  7. Green, like a fresh hog plum.
  8. Green, like a forest in a valley gazed from a nearby hill.
  9. Green, like a skittering lizard's scales.
  10. Red, like the bitter clay of the desert.
  11. Red, like the blush of a young lover.
  12. Red, like the warmth of a heart illuminating a home in evening.
  13. Orange, like the wings of an evening moth.
  14. Orange, like an evening sun.
  15. Orange, like the baked flesh of an unfortunate wayfarer.
  16. White, like snow upon the mountain.
  17. White, like foam upon the river waters.
  18. White, like teeth, like bone.
  19. Black, like the midnight sky on a starless night.
  20. Black, like back of a sun bear.
  21. Black, like the hair upon a child's head.
  22. Pink, like coral from the bay.
  23. Pink, like the last bright light before evening takes hold.
  24. Pink, like a sunburnt elephant's chapped hide
  25. Violet, like pressed lavender flowers.
  26. Violet, like the twilight sky.
  27. Violet, like the bruises upon a fighting-man.
  28. Brown, like the down upon a chick.
  29. Brown, like the richest of coffees.
  30. Brown, like the tan upon a well-traveled man.
Poor Quality Modifiers (Cloth, d6)
  1. ...which always smells of mildew.
  2. ...which is stained with incriminating and embarrassing colors.
  3. ...which is torn and ratty from years of use.
  4. ...and it itches fiercely.
  5. ...which looks like you stole it off a pauper.
  6. ...which looks like you stole it off a corpse.
Adequate Quality Modifiers (Cloth, d6)
  1. ...patterned with images of stylized fauna in silver thread.
  2. ...patterned with images of stylized flora in contrasting thread.
  3. ...which carries with it a scent of perfumes.
  4. ...patterned with geometric symbols.
  5. ...which brings you some small comfort when worn.
  6. ...which shows signs of clear care from the one who crafted it.
Exquisite Quality Modifiers (Cloth, d8)
  1. ...elaborately patterned with scenes of aquatic life in golden thread.
  2. ...elaborately patterned with depictions of cosmic powers in golden thread.
  3. ...inlaid with small gemstones which shimmer like starlight.
  4. ...feathered with the plumage of peafowl and birds of paradise.
  5. ...crafted from only the finest silks, imported from beyond the northern mountains.
  6. ...sewn with thread woven by the hands of the divine at a loom beyond this realm.
  7. ...which scintillates through various colors dependant on how the light hits it.
  8. ...which is always comfortable and lavish to wear, regardless of climate.
Next time: Rattan Armor & Styles, Hide Armor & Styles, and Poshteens I've got a good few books on the textiles of India back at my apartment, and I really want the inventory/armory for this project to allow for interesting looks and interpretations for each type of armor. Outfits, and regular clothing, are deserving of the same sort of love but I might save this for things like clan/tribal groupings/varnas or regional purposes.

Just doodling up further randomizers while at work, as today is a very slow day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Monsoon Ghats: The Naga-Malla [Race-as-Class + Generators]

So I've been working with some folks to try to do an Indian setting right. As an Indian person, even as far removed from my cultural heritage as I am, I have always found much of the representation to be...not great. An Indian setting should not be Kali-ma and Ganesha in Fantasylands, because generally you don't get Jesus Christ in Fantasylands because that's a bit insulting. You generally get a "One True God" wherein you can make commentary on the religions at play without directly insulting or disrespecting them. And India, is of course, much more than its religions. It is a beautiful land of many cultures and clans, amalgamated and accommodated to create a unique place that's worthy of proper research and representation in the gaming sphere. 

I'm going to try to do that, in a setting called The Monsoon Ghats, and I am sure that I will also fail on some level; but from the bones of it someone better than myself might be able to do an even better job. I acknowledge that given how utterly colonized I am, I cannot be the true Scotsman some folks might want me to be in regards to representation; but I'm willing to put in the efforts and to try. Making an Elephant race-as-class is sort of its own kettle of fish, but I was inspired because the party I'm playtesting with work for a Crocodile; so I figured I ought to make a class for the rival city-state.

The basic rulings for The Monsoon Ghats are based in Ben Milton's Knave, White Box S&W, and some stuff from the Black Hack that I'm not opposed to.  It does have classes, which grant a Hit Dice, as well as abilities and drawbacks. No saving throws beyond ones base Attributes. Usage dice come into play for item quality.

It works pretty well. I'm playtesting it on my weekends.

What follows is a race-as-class, the Naga-Malla, a reincarnated elephant warrior who hold a vaunted place in the modern society of the Ghats, and who adventure to help scour evil from the land. You could even use this in Yoon-Suin, for an interesting ruler of one of the Hundred Kingdoms.




=============

The Naga-Malla, (The Fighting Elephant)
HD: d12

Prime Requisite Attributes: Constitution & Wisdom of 14+

Starting Karma: 55 + 2d10
[If using another system, the Naga-Malla saves as a Cleric and Advances as a Dwarf]

The Lord of the Universe ignited the twin suns of soul and life, and from their crackling heat the earth was given solidity. As the illusory world of promise and sin began to solidify at the dawn of creation, the sounding of the primal thrum, “Om” rang out into the cosmos. It brought comfort to the Lord of the Universe, it expanded out like ripples upon the sheer surface of a pond.

From the first of the earth, he created beings to carry the sound. Unburdened by his virtues or his doubts, he created the elephant, as stewards of the land, wise enough to be kind, wiser still to be cautious. As time progressed, as the world fell into flux and disarray, as truth and falsehood warred for wounds and for the right of dominion over the world; the elephants stood on the side of the primal truth of an unsullied sound. When river dragons and their falsehoods came to be known as the catalyst for such great suffering, some elephants took up arms.

These were the Naga-Malla, and to this day their breed exists above all others, for their nobility and righteousness. Fewer in number than in times past, they nonetheless carry great respect where it is they tread; and many a mannish house will placate them in hopes of receiving boon or blessing. You are the reincarnated soul of previous Naga-Malla, come once again to ensure the world is held only by the righteous.

Special Abilities:
Arms & Armor - The Naga-Malla, due to being an elephant, is limited in what arms and armor it may wear. It naturally possesses an Armor Class equivalent to Hides, though it may instead choose to go Skyclad if properly anointed and painted for it. Armor for a Naga-Malla must be specifically crafted by artisans, and many armors for war elephants are too crass and vulgar to suit a Naga-Malla. In regards to weaponry, the Naga-Malla can wield any weapon it desires to in its trunk, though it possesses natural weaponry and might be better off not using man-crafted arms at all.

Natural Weapons: The trunk of a Naga-Malla deals d8 damage, its trample deals 2d4, and its tusks deal d8. When used against creatures of significantly vile alignment (Impure, Wicked, or Vile), the damage dice are increased by a degree.

Elephantine - You are an elephant, large and cumbersome, but blessed with divine grace. You may always know, psychically, the general compass directions due to your connection with the earth. You have four legs, tusks, and a trunk; you may trample things, gore things, or strangle things. Your trunk is your only true manipulator limb, and it acts with amazing dexterity.

Spellcasting - The Naga-Malla has the capacity to cast spells from the Earth, Heavens, and Fate domains. They know a number of spells equal to their Level + Wisdom Modifier. They may learn spells from other temples, provided they spend at least one month’s time there or perform a great service for said temple.

My Skin, the Rumbling Earth - The Naga-Malla are proficient in Earth Magic, and may cast spells from this domain as though they were a level higher. Additionally, Naga-Malla possess a tremor-sense that extends out from them in a 30’ aura. If a Naga-Malla meditates or otherwise remains motionless, they can sense the presence of impure or wicked souls.

Remover of Obstacles - The Naga-Malla are blessed by the Lord of the Universe as masters of tribulations and the removal thereof. The Naga-Malla gain advantage on all saves meant to remove barriers, unlock or lock items, break through doors, or to secure a location. You may shrink your form to one the size of a mule, and suffer no disadvantage due to your size or weight when bypassing obstacles (such as walking a narrow precipice, or fitting through a cramped corridor.)

Speaker of the First Thrumming Sound - The Naga-Malla came into being with the first thrumming sounds of existence. The Lord of the Universe, having blessed them with the origin of all sound, granted them the capacity to communicate with all natural things. The Naga-Malla speak through a thrumming psionic voice which radiates out from behind their eyes and the center of their brow; it sounds as it should sound. They can speak any language in the Monsoon Ghats this way, and can communicate gentle commands to animals of lesser intelligence.

Disadvantages

Enemy of Serpents - During the Wounding War, the Naga-Malla gained their title when they struck out at the River Dragons for their dark whispers and mistruths. The Naga-Malla retains this bias towards all serpent-kind, regardless of how many cycles of reincarnation they have fallen through. When confronted with serpents, river dragons, naga, or other sorts of makara, the Naga-Malla must make a morale check or fall into a berserk rage against the creature; shouting condemnations from on high.


Sacred Dharma - The Naga-Malla suffers terrible sickness of self if their actions directly lead to the harm of innocents or those of good karma. If a Naga-Malla suffers a loss of alignment, they suffer Disadvantage until they have made a pilgrimage to the closest shrine and sought out an act to atone for their sins. If a Naga-Malla ever falls into Impure or lower alignment, their tusks begin to burn at their mouth, causing them to speak only lies as they suffer from necrosis of the mouth.

Ignorance of the Illusory - The Naga-Malla exist so firmly as a truth that they have a hard time parsing through the illusory elements of the world. The written word is an utter riddle to them, the study of which perplexes them to the point of headaches. They tend to take men at their word, and for spiritual entities, assume only the concept they’re based around to be truth with no conditions to be applied. Thus to a Naga-Malla, all raksha are wicked and all vanara are good; and any action to the otherwise simply does not make any sense.

Names
  1. Yamavarna
  2. Gazalikhan
  3. Mataangakha
  4. Arjundrona
  5. Pilliayak
  6. Gajachandra
  7. Gajara
  8. Varanakandi
  9. Ihrawani
  10. Kaimmati
  11. Ibhanoq
  12. Gajumanda
  13. Mohandes
  14. Yamagna
  15. Sudraganta
  16. Rishikara
  17. Varumoksha
  18. Dandagaja
  19. Rajarukh
  20. Ganamali


Titles
  1. The Mountain Peak
  2. The Lotus of the Caves
  3. The Churner of the Seas
  4. The Knower Under the Mountains
  5. The Long Marcher
  6. The Herald of the Sound Primeval
  7. The Lord of Elephants
  8. The Breaker of Naga
  9. The Drinker of Skies
  10. The Pillar of Strength
  11. The Opener of Ways
  12. Of Great War-Wisdom
  13. The Noose of the Vile
  14. The Inheritor
  15. The Mighty
  16. The River Lord
  17. The Temple’s Might
  18. The Herald of Great Truth
  19. The Stone Made Shattered
  20. The First of their Name


Appearance Randomizer (Hide)
  1. Rough hide of charcoal greys, as though coated in ash.
  2. Mottled hide of light browns and reds.
  3. Supple hide of black, like a starless sky.
  4. Soft hide, muddy grey; as though slathered in river clay.
  5. Reddish hide like teakwood, covered in small fuzzy hairs.
  6. Rough hide of white, smooth as bone to the touch.
  7. Leathery hide of blue, as if bathed in cerulean as a babe.
  8. Pink hide, with white hairs; like a peach.
  9. Tough leathery hide of black, like wood after a forest fire.
  10. Grey and ruddy hide, like that of an elephant unburdened by its dharma.


Appearance Randomizer (Tusks)
  1. Two tusks, of ivory white, which splay out as if to greet the world.
  2. Two tusks, of bone yellow and unequal size, one has seen wounds the other has inflicted them.
  3. Three tusks, of pearlescent white, two wrapped over one another like embracing vines, the other curved outward to give them privacy.
  4. A single tusk, stained in blood and mottled with pits. The other tusk was lost, and it is felt freshly like a phantom limb.
  5. Two tusks, carved short and tipped in gold. Marks of nobility and station.
  6. Two tusks, long and ancient, they almost drag upon the ground with the weight of their age.
  7. Four tusks, two on each side, bitter and vicious bones. They pierce and rip with the fury of a crocodile or a young bull in musth.
  8. Two tusks, one discolored by the foul magics of a witchburner man who sought your tusk for profane rites.
  9. Two tusks, carved in the visage of serpents, banded in the leathers of those you’ve slain.
  10. A single tusk, cut to half length. In place of a missing tusk, a prosthetic of hateful metal which causes discomfort on a cold night but allows you to feel whole. 


Mark of Reincarnation
  1. Depigmentation around your face and eyes displays celestial events from times immemorial. At night they sparkle like stars in the heavens. 
  2. Those who stare too deeply into your eyes hear the thrumming of the primal sound in the back of their minds.
  3. The tip of your trunk displays patterns of shimmering gold when you use it to manipulate things.
  4. You were born with scars from an ancestral soul’s conflict with the River Dragons. 
  5. Egrets which land upon your back take the color of celestial peafowl.
  6. One of your eyes glows brightly like your inner sun, the other is mournful in its hopes like a midnight’s moon.
  7. Your flesh is deeply grooved with edifices of triumph and spells known by distant ancestors.
  8. The trumpeting of your trunk can play sweet melodies.
  9. The dust at your feet when you walk takes up beautiful colors that suit your mood.
  10. You have a full body of wooly hair, like that of a saddhu, marking you as a most ancient soul.

Dolmenwood: Ratling (Race-as-Class)

Noted in Gavin Norman's Dolmenwood House Rules document, the idea of Ratlings in the setting have long entertained me. Are they meant ...