Tuesday, August 14, 2018

OSR: Root Doctor

OSR: Class:The Root Doctor

Dr. Buzzard as imagined by Monsieur le Battlier

Root Doctor, Conjure Doctor, Two Head Man, Hoodoo Doctor. These are the practical practitioners of the magical world. Through observation and tradition, they find what works and they use it. Generally speaking they don't particularly care why it works, they just know that it does. The Root Doctors of my home area pull from West African, Native American, Central European, and Levant traditions, but you can bring together a grab bag of any sort and it would work just fine.

Also, I won't lie, Skerples' Weather Witch does a very good job as a Root Worker

Class: Root Doctor
Starting Equipment: Purple tinged spectacles, fine linen clothing, dagger
Starting Skill: Herbalism

For every Root Doctor template, gain +1 on saves versus Fear and +1 on any reaction rolls when lying.

A: Root Casting, Mantle,+2 Spells, +1 RD
B: Chewing the Root,+1 Spell, +1 RD
C: Bury the Root,+1 Spell, +1 RD
D: Mojo Hand, Two-Headed Conjurer, +1 RD

Low John Root, looks like poop, tastes like ginger, and the best lawyer money can buy.

Root Casting: Unlike a Wizard, you do not cast magic by caging spells into books or shooting them out of your brain. Unlike a Sorcerer, you do not cast magic through the sheer force of your will, though you are likely a force of personality on your own. Your magic comes from the lingering magic that infuses every part of the world. You know how to combine seemingly innocuous objects in just the right way to cause them to express their magic. You gain +1 Root Die per Template representing materials on hand to cast your spells. Because Root spells are tied up in materials, RD used do not return to your pool but they also do not cause Mishaps or Dooms to occur. When exploring a hex or foraging, you have a 1-in-6 chance of gathering enough materials to replenish RD equal to 1d[# of Templates]. Base RD return after a long rest, in the form of incidental finds in pockets and packs.

Several Root Spells can be reversed, or Buried. Knowing the spell means you know the buried version as well.

Mantle: The Mantle of a Root Doctor is the ultimate source of their power, it the secret knowledge of the workings of the Root. It is either inherited from a parent or teacher or it is gifted to them by some spiritual source. For your player character, roll on the table below to see your new title and the power behind it.

Roll twice for spells, choose.
Roll twice for reaction rolls, take better.
Keen Vision, 2-in-6 Chance of noticing secret doors and traps.
Instantly appraise the worth of anything shiny.
+2 Defense, -1 Movement
+2 Attack on first attack
Immune to effects of rotten food, +4 save against Disease
1/week when reduced below 0 HP, instead remain at 1 HP and, as long as you do not move, appear as dead.
Secrete 1 dose of Bufotoxin daily, grants either 1: Pleasant buzz +1 to saves for 1 hour, or 2: Heart Palpitations  -2 to Defense for 1 hour
+1 Root Die

Chewing the Root: By literally chewing on the material components for Root spells, the Root Doctor is able to affect all within their sight with their power. The Root Doctor may either add or subtract the number of Root Die invested, to all rolls within their sight. Furthermore while Chewing the Root, the Root Doctor may take no other action. If taking any other action but spitting the Root out (thereby ending the effect) the Root Doctor must save vs. Poison, failure ending the effect and causing them to swallow the components and be affected by a supernatural mutation.

Bury the Root: By burying the components of a Root spell, the caster may set something of a magical trap. The spell and RD invested will be set to activate under conditions laid out by the Root Doctor. These conditions must be under seven words long or it fails. As long as the Root is buried and inactivated, the Root Doctor will not naturally regain those invested RD and can only obtain RD via foraging. A Root Doctor can deactivate their own buried Root or invest RD to create a counter charm to deactivate or weaken another's buried root.

Mojo Hand: By wrapping up the components of a Root spell in a specially prepared bag, the Root Doctor may pass on the spell to another person for later casting. The Root Doctor my either invest their base RD or the RD obtained via foraging, but cannot invest more than 2 RD in a single Mojo Hand. Base RD invested do not regenerate as long as the Mojo Hand is active and/or uncast. Mojo Hands naturally degrade and lose potency after [dice] weeks. Mojo Hand function as scrolls but their RD is always burned and additional RD cannot be invested after the fact.

Two-Headed Conjuror: A Root Doctor of this caliber has their head both in the spirit world and the mortal world. Choose: Learn 6 additional spells or become a Boo-Hag, gaining their Flight, Incorporeality, Steal Breath, and Claw abilities but also gaining their weaknesses to counting, boodaddies, salt, and the color blue.

Minerva, widow of Doctor Buzzard,
is known to some for her role in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil


1. High John The Conqueror
R: Touch T: creature D: [dice] hours or until used
A literal root spell, this creates a temporary talisman from a type of jalap root called John the Conqueror Root. The bearer of this root is enchanted to "get lucky." This will allow the user to have a +2 bonus to any seduction relate rolls and will ensure conception after any sexual congress. The user can alternatively use up all the luck at once and add [Sum] to any roll where luck or gambling is the primary determining factor of the roll.

Buried: A Buried High John The Conqueror can have an inverse effect, causing sterilization and bad luck instead.

2. Hotfoot Powder
R: 5x[sum] feet radius T: Area D: [Dice] Hours
A temporary protection against those who would do you harm, Hotfoot Powder is spread in an approximate circle around an area and creates an impenetrable ward against disembodied undead. When cast, the caster can also identify a single unique being of 2x[dice] HD to be similarly warded against. If the caster, or whomever spreads the Hotfoot Powder, steps over the circle, the magic is nullified.

3. Honey Jar
R:[dice] Miles T: Creature Type D: [sum] Hours or until candle is extinguished, whichever is first
By adding honey (or anything else sticky and sweet) to a prepared candle, the Root Doctor creates a psychic lure for a type of creature chosen at the candle's creation. All creatures within the affected area that meet the Root Doctor's specifications must save vs. magic or feel a strong pull towards the candle. Creatures of [dice] HD or lower are helplessly drawn, dropping everything to move to the area around the candle. More powerful creatures will still feel the draw, but will not be compelled to answer it. If the Root Doctor knows the true name of a target, they may focus the Honey Jar only on that target  and affect [dice]*2 HD.

Buried: By using a vinegar or something else bitter and sour, the Root Doctor can cause this effect to create a sense of disgust instead of attraction. Although not warded like Hotfoot Powder, creatures instinctively avoid the area and can only be forced in. More powerful creatures similarly feel intense disgust but can overcome that feeling to approach.

4. Butting (or Flipping)
R: Touch T: 1 Creature D: [sum] turns  or until candle is extinguished, whichever is first
By taking a specially prepared candle, flipping it upside down, digging out the wick, and lighting it, a Root Doctor may inverse a curse or negative effect for as long as the candle remains lit and the target creature carries the candle. The candle must be invested with more RD than either the MD(SD, RD, whatever) invested into the curse effect or equal at least half the HD of the creature the curse effect originated from.

5. Live Things
R: 200' T: 1 Creature with flesh D: 0 to [sum] rounds
Target takes [sum]+[dice] damage either instantly or divided out over [sum] rounds as insects, small snakes, spiders, and other small crawling creatures force their way out through the target's skin. If the target does [dice]d4 damage to itself with a slashing weapon or is affected with a counter curse type ability, this spell will end prematurely.

Artist Andy Tate as Doctor Buzzard

6. Jitter Heart Powder
R:30' T: Cone D: [dice] Rounds
A powder made of finely crushed reagents (arsenic being a major component), Jitter Heart causes severe heart palpitations in those affected by it. It can be tossed over an area and function as an inhalant. Targets with HD less than 1/2 [sum] must save vs. Poison or half their Movement and Defense for [dice] rounds and take 1d6+[dice] damage. If a single [sum] HD or less target should be affected by the whole spell (such as it being mixed into a drink or be blown directly up their nose) the target must save vs. Death or instantly perish, still taking [sum] damage and halving their Movement and Defense on a successful save.

Buried: A reversed Jitter Heart Powder can be used to shock a target unconscious due to injuries back into fighting form for a short time. When used on a creature with Fatal Wounds, it temporarily heals [sum]/2 Fatal Wounds and brings the creature back to [dice] HP. However after [sum] rounds, the target must Save vs. Con. A successful save brings them back to 0 HP and the amount of Fatal Injuries the target previous had. A failed save doubles their initial number of Fatal Injuries and calls for another roll on the Death and Dismemberment table.

7. Black Cat Vanishing Bone
R: 0 T: Self or 1 Creature D: [sum] rounds or until dispelled
As Invisibility, except you must keep the properly prepared bone of a black cat in your mouth the duration of the spell and are therefore unable to speak coherently.

Buried: If ground instead into a powder and thrown at an invisible target, the target is made visible for [sum] rounds.

8. Poison Drawing Coin
R: T: Creature or Object D: 0
By taking a silver coin with a hole pierced through the middle, one may detect and draw out poison. Placing the coin against the foot of a target or onto a suspicious object (such as a liquid) will cause the coin to tarnish and go black if the target is poisoned. 1 [dice] allows the caster to detect poison, 2 or more [dice] allows them to attempt to draw it out. In roll over mechanics, use the invested to make the save the poison requires. In roll under mechanics start with 4d6 and subtract a d6 for every [dice] invested over 1 to a minimum of 1d6. The poison will pour through the hole in the coin and can possibly be collected for use.

Buried: If a whole coin is used instead of a pierced coin, the target instead has any check against poison penalized by [dice] for [sum] hours.

9. Jack-Ball
R: 0 or [dice]x[sum] feet T: [dice] Questions or 1 type of material D: 1 round per question or for [sum] rounds
The Jack-Ball is a small pendulum usually made out of yarn or cloth, with the ball end full of special herbs. The herbs attract a spirit (called a Jack) to inhabit the ball and it will give simple answers to questions or act as a dowsing pendulum.

As a device for divination, it will give "Yes, No, and Unsure" answers to [dice] questions, but the spirit is not omnipotent and is only knowledgeable about the general area that the Jack-Ball was created in. The ball will sway to the left for No, to the right for Yes, and turn in a circle for Unsure.

As a dowsing device, the Jack-Ball is presented with a sample of a material that the user wants to find. If there is more of that material within range, the Jack-Ball will point towards it for the duration of the spell. It will only point towards the largest amount of the material so, for example, if it is presented with iron it is going to point at the huge iron door in range, not the hidden scythe trap in the wall.

10. Two Headed (Wo)Man
R: 0 T: Self D: [dice] x 10 minutes/Permanent
As Wizard Vision, except it can only be cast on oneself via application of prepared eyedrops. The caster can also mitigate the Permanent aspects of the spell by wearing purple tinted spectacles.

Buried: Reversing this spell instead causes the caster to be completely blind to the supernatural and eldritch for [dice]x10 minutes, thereby making them immune to appearance related or gaze abilities from monsters but also rendering those creatures invisible to the caster.

A selection of Anointing Oils used to empower mojo hands and conjure candles.

Chewing the Root is something that used to happen a lot in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Usually defendants in court cases would hire a Root Doctor to Chew the Root (specifically a root called Chewing John) and it would hex the judge and jury into being confused, flustered, and unable to make good decisions.

Burying the Root is a common practice used as a deterrent or as a curse. By burying the Root on someone's property, they are constantly under the influence or the threat of that root's malintent. I've personally seen cases where individuals were unwilling to go home for fear that someone has buried a Root on their property.

High John the Conqueror is one of many similarly named roots that are often multipurpose.  High John is usually used luck, Low John is used for sex, and Chewing John or Little John is used for influencing decisions, mostly for influencing courts as said above.

Poison Drawing Coin is one of the many methods that a silver dime can be employed, usually as a protective charm. Silver dimes minted during a leap year work best, so Mercury Dimes tend to be the preferred coinage for rootworkers.

Jitter Heart Powder actually comes from an instance in my home county. There was an overwhelming number of people not passing the medical tests during the Korean War draft in the area and Sheriff McTeer, the White Root Doctor mentioned in the previous hoodoo post, went to investigate. It was found that one of the local root doctors had been proscribing a powder to folks as a means of making their heart have temporary palpitations and help them dodge the draft. It also caused several people to get seriously sick because a major component in the powder was arsenic.

Generally speaking with a lot of these spells, the root Doctor would "dress" the components of the spell by anointing them with oils and go through a series of magical incantations. The interesting thing about the incantations though is that all Root Workers recognize that it is less about what is said and more about how it is said. It is about cadence and letting it flow from you in an impromptu way. For a lot of Root Workers who are often also Baptists or Methodists, their incantations sound a lot like a a particularly energetic and fiery minister's sermon. Many of these Root Workers see the bible as a source of magic and Moses as the penultimate "Conjure Man." Other Root Workers, however, come from different traditions, but still use many related items. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Tomb of the Serpent King Play Report Session 1 & 2

The Best Dog
So two weeks ago I had a chance to run two small sessions of Tomb of the Serpent King with my wife, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law. We were not able to get particularly deep into the adventure due to timing and baby needs, but we've gotten ourselves a pretty fair start.

Session 1:
Human Barbarian- BiL
Elf Ranger- SiL
Really Good Dog- Wife

So as a prelude, I will note that our trio of players have about 4 sessions or so of Pathfinder experience and nothing else. Their RPG backgrounds primarily come in the form of JRPGs and Dark Souls and thus GLOG and TotSK really work here as tutorials. Michael Bacon 's Index card sized character sheets were an instant hit after having only dealt with the ten tons of math that a Pathfinder character sheet is. I offered them to either have a small starting adventure in a starter town or just skipping right to the dungeon. They decided on the latter, feeling that they could both learn more and be less prone to getting lost in the concepts by going directly to a dungeon crawl.

We used Arnold's Lifepath generator to get the Elf Ranger and the Really Good Dog, the first an accomplished and weirdly muscular weaver and the latter a disgraced temple dog. BiL was less interested in something so convoluted and just rolled 3d6 for stats right down the line.

Having some meta knowledge about how dungeons worked, the Ranger and Dog spent a lot of time on the first floor trying to sniff out traps and secrets, seeking any minute detail to use to their advantage. When they encountered their first coffin, the Dog used her sniffer to detect something wrong with the hollow statues they found within, but the barbarian just heard "hollow statue" and decided to slam it with their hammer. Luckily a good CON roll kept the rage-prone foreigner from succumbing to the acrid gas within.

You'd think they'd proceed with more caution. Tomb 2 was met with another hammer blow and a less enthusiastic CON roll. Tomb 3 had more of the same. Tomb 4, the Really Good Dog decided to save the Barbarian from the pain and jumped into the coffin and broke the statue with its weight. Having survived this though, now bedazzed with a few golden amulets, the trio decided it was a good time for lunch. Crossing off a ration, a dead opossum, and some carrot sticks from their inventories and coming back to nearly full strength, the trio decided to take on the stone door at the end of the hall.

The barbarian investigated the door and took notice that the pegs that it rested on were pressed down by the weight and no single one of them could lift it on their own. Instead of teaming up to try and lift it, the party came up with a lever idea. The Really Good Dog dug a hole in the pounded earth floor and piled up dirt and stone to act as a fulcrum, while the Ranger tore the lid off of one of the coffins. Using the lid as a lever, the Barbarian gave it a good pull, successfully lifting the door themselves and successfully taking a massive hammer to the face. Really Good Dog avoided the trap entirely by diving into the hole it dug. The Ranger's animal companion stood valiantly before them and was turned into jelly, but provided enough padding to leave the Ranger at 1 HP.

This left us needing a new character for the BiL and teaching us all a lesson in how lethal a dungeon can be. So, instead of choosing a race and a class, BiL opted to just randomize everything and ended up with a Boarling Paladin of the Voice who had been left in the room beyond the trap after a hazing by their own order. They brought the mute Paladin back to their camp outside to try to get details out of him to little avail. In the mean time, the Ranger went out to the swamp and  Steve Irwin'ed an alligator into being their replacement animal companion. Thus they rested, ready to take on the room beyond the stone door the next day.

In the large chamber beyond the door, the trio was faced with 3 coffins and immediately were on the defensive. They've gotten to this point and there was no combat yet, obviously there was something going on here. And they were, of course, right. As soon as they touched upon the coffins, three Snakeman skeletons burst forth to combat them. It took a few rounds for them to get used to Attack+(10-Defense) but they soon got the hang of it. Through some coordinated efforts and a really excited dog, the skeletons were defeated with no lasting damage done to the party. About at this point my daughter decided that it was time to stop playing with Megablocks and we concluded our session.

The Terrible Snake God!

Session 2:

Boarling Paladin- BiL "Man-Bear-Pig"
Elf Ranger- SiL
Really Good Dog- Wife

So before Session 2, the group decided that it was fantastic that it only took 3 minutes to roll up a new character instead of an hour to generate one and the idea of completely random characters appealed to them greatly. Thus the even before, I randomized 20 characters and put a number of 1-20 on them. This way when a character dies, we just need to roll a d20 and pull out an index card. 

In this session, our heroes encounter a massive statue of a hideous six armed Snake-Man-God. The Really Good Dog quickly discovers the water damage hinting at a trap door below. Instead of attempting to brute force move the statue, the party decides that there must be some sort of puzzle. There was not some sort of puzzle but there was now. I declared that they should give a closer look at things and find clues. Returning to the previous room, they realized the walls had tapestries depicting the Snake-Man Empire's conquests. At the center of it all was a depiction of this same six armed god, only instead of merely baring its claws, it's hands were occupied holding weapons or treasure or directing its troops. Returning to the statue, the party pulled on one of the arms that had been pointing in the tapestry, and the statue moved aside with no need for physical effort.

Sticking a torch into the dog's mouth and weaving together a harness for him, they lowered the dog down the trap door below the statue to investigate. After noticing the statues below, some meta worries above golems came to mind and the party proceeded downward with caution. It may have been some fault on my part, but I described the middle of the long hall they now faced as having the middle worn smooth. I meant for this to seem like it had often been slithered across by the Snakemen, but the party took it as a sign of some Indiana Jones style rolling ball trap and were exceptionally cautious. They eventually noticed an out of place statue, but they pushed it back into place instead of noticing the trap door behind it.

Figuring that the long hall posed to threats, the party proceeded down to the large tomb space beyond, first lighting a number of sconces around the room to provide more light. After investigating the various doors, the dog noticed the water at the center of the room and did what any good dog would do and writhed in it. The mummy claws took this chance to strike. A nearly deadly battle took place that saw the dog brought to 0 HP, and though the Death and Dismemberment table only gave the pup an Interesting Scar, only the very last stabilization check saved the pup from death from Fatal Wounds. One of the claws took hold of the Paladin in an attempt to strangle them, but he unleashed the voice of god upon them, yelling "UNHAND!" The boom echoed through the dungeon and Fus Ro Da'd the claw off of the holy knight. After cleaning the mess up, the party strapped their dog to the Ranger and returned to the surface for rest.

We will have to see next time how they handle the tomb's true inhabitants.

Now in Color


So a major thing I noticed during play is the different personality types I'm getting in gameplay. 

SiL is a long time JRPG completionist type, who obsessively looks into every nook and crany for every possible thing that can be collected, unlocked, achieved etc. etc. While to an extent, I feel this is a good OSR instinct, I feel like she is still coming at it more from the perspective of searching for the Wonder Chef in a "Tales of" game rather than collecting booty in a dank dungeon. 

BiL is fairly big into Dark Souls and looks at tabletop RPGs as like a slower paced Dark Souls. He is looking for a smash and grab, pulverizing statues and looking for brute force answers. I do feel that playing as the Paladin has encouraged him to think more creatively than just playing his standard two handed axe barbarian type and I look forward to see how that develops.

My wife loves Mass Effect and other modern western RPGs and has played a few sessions of tabletop before. She is also an English teacher and regularly writes creatively. She, of the three, got the most "in character" with the Really Good Dog, trying to act within the limits of an adventurous Lassie-like mind. I think that while the OSR encourages treating characters almost as throw away lives, given the high fatality rate, getting into character helps create some fun scenarios that might not otherwise occur.

All three players were happy to have character sheets that could fit on an index card and characters that could be generated in less than five minutes. SiL does miss the large PF sheets, mostly because she enjoyed it from that sort of completionist aspect. However giving her the task of journalling the adventure has greatly contributed to her enjoyment and I believe using the Last Gasp Grimoire style inventory sheets will fill that void further.

BiL really enjoyed the idea of random characters and as such, I have generated a random character for as many GLOG classes as I could find. I have assigned each a number so when a character dies, they merely need to roll to see which random character they get, thereby increasing the speed of play even further.

I hope further exploration will continue to see the development of these three players as they delve deeper into the OSR and into the Tomb of the Serpent Kings.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

OSR: Skull Wizard

The Wizard Quintuplets: Alabaster, Cranius,Trepannius, Ifori, and Wilbur

An Italian pal of mine was checking out some GLOG Wizards and thought up a Skull Wizard. Not a Necromancer per se, just a wizard with a special taste for skulls. They have a special bond with the Skull King and access the realm of Skullspace to power their effects.

School: Skull Wizard

Perk: You are decked out in the most cliche evil wizard gear imaginable. Black robe with a cowl, skulls hanging by ropes, evil looking sigils, wicked looking daggers, the works. Most creatures have a -2 to morale checks when you are present. You also gain a +2 to reaction rolls with equally evil looking creatures.

Drawback: You cannot have more spell slots than you have skulls on hand. 1 Human Skull = 1 Inventory slot

1. You may enchant one skull to be 10x bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. You may only have one skull affected this way at any one time. Items must be able to fit through the eye sockets. Items left in a skull when it loses this effect have a 90% chance of simply breaking the skull and a 10% chance of being lost in Skullspace.
2. You can identify any skull by name and species after 10 minutes of uninterrupted communing.
3.You may mark a single skull with your personal sigil. You may speak through this skull, regardless of distance, as long as you have another skull to talk at. This communication is only one way.

Keep them eyes pealed!

Skull Wizard spell list

1. Skull Speak
R: 0 T: self D: [dice] minutes
You can talk to skulls and they can talk back. Skulls generally know about anything they could potentially see and a little bit about their original owner's demise. These skulls are not inhabited with the intelligence of the original being, rather is the inhabited by the left over mineral soul and any interactions with it are limited by that soul's knowledge.

2. Skull Bomb
R: 200' T: creature+30' area D: 0
This spell requires sacrificing a skull to cast. The caster infuses a skull with the unstable spell which explodes into shrapnel when thrown. Target takes [sum] + [dice] damage, no Save. All within 30' of the target take [dice] damage. 

3. Skull Form
R: 0 T: Self D: [dice] hours
You slide your meat parts off and store them in Skullspace, leaving you a mobile skeleton. Your movement is increased by 3 and your Strength is halfed (no muscle bonehead). You also have half damage from non-bludgeoning weapons. If you roll above a 10, you transform into a random variant skeleton. If you roll above a 14, you may pick the type of variant skeleton you become.

4. Skull Read
R: Touch T: 1 Creature D: 10-[sum] Rounds to minimum of 1 round
You spend time interacting with the skull of a living or dead creature. At the end of the duration of the spell, you know the creature's HD, morale, wants, and general disposition.

5. Skull Flame
R:0 T: 1 Skull D: [sum]+[dice] Hours
You wreath a skull in an evil looking flame that casts light as a lantern for the indicated period. The flames do not burn he caster, however can be bashed against an opponent to deal damage as a light weapon and wreath the target in bright light for [dice] rounds. When used in this way, or when the time is otherwise up, the skull is consumed.

6. Skull Shield
R: Touch T: 1 Creature D: [sum]/2 rounds.
Target creature's head becomes completely invulnerable. This grants [dice] Defense and renders the target immune to blinding, muting or deafening though the mutilation of the sensory organs. Effects that go through said organs such as poison, a siren's song, or a medusa's gaze affect the target as normal.

7. Skull Phantom
R: 30' T: 1 Skull  D: [sum] rounds
You summon the ghostly memory of a whole body that was once attached to a skull. It will be somewhat helpful to you and retain the approximate intelligence of the creature it was in life, but none of the memories. It can attack with its skull as a heavy weapon and can fit through any space that its skull can fit through. Its Defense is equal to plate (the skull is the only actual physical part of its body) but only has [dice] HP.

8. Skull Shape
R: 60' T: 5x[sum] pounds of bone D: 5 rounds
Over the course of 5 rounds, you can control a mass of bones as though it were clay, melting and crafting it into a desired shape such as a bridge or a tower. For every MD invested into the spell, there must be at least two skulls present. After five rounds have elapsed, the desired shape is achieve and this mass of bones cannot be affected again. The GM may require an adequately drawn sketch of your creation.

9. Skull Meld
R: 30' T: [sum] HD worth of Creatures D: [sum] rounds or permanent.
When cast, choose a number of effects up to [Dice]: Sight, Sound, Speech/Taste, Smell. The Target's skull melds seamlessly to hinder one or more of these senses.You may invest more than the creature's HD worth of [sum] in a single creature, if [sum] invested is twice the target's HD, the effect is permanent. Targets who have both Smell and Speech hindered begin to suffocate. A creature suffocates in CON/2 rounds if unprepared or CON rounds if prepared. Assume the creatures have 10 CON, unless the GM rules otherwise. Dealing the target's HD in damage to the mouth or nose area is enough to break the bone and restore breath.

10. Skull Cup
R: Touch  T: 1 Skull  D: [sum] Rounds or until consumed
On touch, the skull of a recently killed monster fills with the creature's liquid essence. This essence has an [Dice]+HD-in-10 chance of being a random potion, otherwise it heals the drinker HP equal to the creature's HD. More intensely magical creatures or incredibly poisonous creatures may have different effects or be more likely to produce a potion.

Emblem Spells

11. Skull Theft
R: 100' T: 1 Creature or skull of [Sum]/2 HD or less D: 12/[dice] Rounds
By focusing all your will on a single skull, you can call out to it and entice it to come to you. On an unattended skull, it will generally come with no fuss, but on a skull currently being used by something there will be resistance. For every round the focus is kept on the creature, they take 1d6 damage as their skull tries to literally escape from their neck. At the end of the duration of the spell, the creature must save versus death or have their skull sloppily pulled from their body and jettisoned to your hand. Any disruption of your concentration will prematurely end the effect and leave you with a splitting headache, -2 to all mental stats for [dice] hours.

Best Friend!

12. Skull Friends
R: 60'  T: Skull or Group of Skulls D: [dice] Hours
You target either a mass of smaller skulls or a single massive skull depending on invested MD and animate them into Skull Friends.

1-6: 1 human skull, HD 2, 1d6 Damage
7-12: 4 human skulls, 1 Giant Skull HD 4, 2d6 Damage
13-18: 16 human skulls, 1 Dragon Skull HD 6, 3d6 Damage
19+: 64 human skulls, 1 Blue Whale Skull HD 8, 4d6 Damage

Feel free to mix and match within reason and resources. While these skulls are under your control, they grow little limbs and totter after you at your Movement. When animated en masse, they function as a single creature and may do things like stacking themselves up or pull off those bullshit fire ant rafts. Bigger skulls could be potentially ridden in.

Aw hell, mishaps? I didn't sign up for this shit.

1. Skull hurts, take 1d6 damage.
2. Teeth fuse together rending you mute for 1d6 rounds.
3. Splitting headache for 1d6 rounds. Literally. Exposed brain lowers Defense by 4.
4. CARTILAGE IS HERESY! You nose and ears fall off, rendering you deaf and anosmic (can't smell). They grow back in 1d6 rounds.
5. Your skull is too thick! Unable to cast spells for 1d6 rounds as the spells try and fail at escaping your thick head.
6. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then make a save. Permanent if you fail. If the mutation rolled affects your head, you automatically fail.

1. Your face melts off, leaving you looking like a Skeletor wannabe. Halve your charisma and never look in a mirror ever again.
2. All your flesh melts off, leaving you as a mobile skeleton. Halve your total HP and STR, and wonder why those Skeletons at level 1 seemed to dangerous without muscles.
3. Your body falls off, leaving you as an immobile skull. You can't cast spells or take any action, but you can still talk I guess. Welcome to being Bob the Skull.

You can avoid this fate by replacing your head with that of a particularly evil and magical creature, such as the Nega-Pope or a Demilich.


Evil wizards like skulls as decoration. Skull Wizards hate this because they are wasting perfectly good resources. You don't have to be evil to be a Skull Wizard, but it really helps the aesthetic. Not quite a Necromancer and more a focused Osseomancer, you'd probably find things guys haunting ancient battlefields, the cavernous Veins, or your local cathedral made of bones. Who knows if it is balanced or not, but hopefully the Italian approves.

To hell with this, I'm outtie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

OSR: Really Angry Goose

Oh shit!
So nearly three years ago, Arnold K. posted about a class called the Really Good Dog. In the game I'm currently running, my wife is playing one and is having a helluva good time with it. She said to me that I should get to work on creating the exact opposite of a Really Good Dog for her to play, once her character inevitably dies. The first thing that came to mind was a Really Angry Goose. God help us.

Class: Really Angry Goose
Starting Equipment: A Bad Attitude, Serrated beak and tongue (that's right a serrated tongue)
Starting Skill: d3 1= Pissed Goose 2= Enraged Goose 3=Furious Goose

You gain +1 HP per Really Angry Goose Template and +1 Attack every two.

A: Goose, Worst Enemy
B: Bite, Hiss, +1 Attack
C: Feather Fluff, Fly-By-Attack
D: Wing Buffet, Rage Flock, +1 Attack

Goose: You can't hold things in your hands. You can't climb ropes or ladders. Your Movement is 8 (Human Movement is 12) but if you have 50' to take off you can fly at Movement 20. Your bite attack deals 1d6+STR damage. Your feathers give you +2 defense as though you had armor, but take up no Inventory slots. You have half as many Inventory Slots as usual. You do not start with any items. You always know where magnetic North is.  You can understand the words of your fellow PCs and those that your fellow PCs are talking to but if you are interacting with NPCs alone, you are pretty certain everything is an insult.  You understand partially Common, but cannot speak it.  You speak Goose fluently.

You're an amazingly intelligent goose: roll Int normally, but be aware that this is goose Intelligence, and isn't suitable for all things.  For example, you can spot a trap, count coins, or remember a location you haven't been to in years.  However you'll never understand concepts like friendship or altruism.

Worst Enemy: Pick a fellow PC that you hate beyond measure. As long as that PC has HP damage, you gain +1 Attack and Defense. This choice is permanent until that PC dies or the GM says otherwise.

Bite: You can bite your Worst Enemy dealing normal bite damage. You heal HP equal to damage done.

Hiss: You may Hiss a number of times per day equal to your template. This works as a Fear spell cast with a number of Magic die equal to your template

Feather Fluff: You may fluff your feathers to appear less threatening. A single target must save or see you as a non-threatening target. Targets who save cannot be affected by this ability for 24 hours. Taking a threatening action breaks this effect.

Fly-By-Attack: If you are in flight or in the process of take off, you may make an attack roll on an opponent who must save or be knocked prone. Save. vs. Dex to remain aloft.

Wing Buffet: Whenever you make a critical hit on an opponent with your bite, you may launch into their face and buffet them with your wings. The opponent is blinded for 1d6+1 rounds.

Rage Flock: If you spend a day near to a body of water, you can recruit a flock of geese who are less angry than you, but still pretty mean. You attract 1d6+1 1 HP Geese and gain an amount of HP and STR equal to the number of geese attracted. Damage done to you affects the Flock first, reducing your HP and Strength per Goose killed.

You came to the wrong pond buddy.

Really Angry Goose Notes:
Multiclass with Skerple's Many Goblins for maximum effect. Multiclass with Many Goblins and Really Good Dog to get Fly Away Home. This is silly and awful, I hope you love it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Abraxas by Monsieur Le Battlier

One who bears responsibility without power is a mortal. One who is bears responsibility with power is a King. One who bears no responsibility with power is a Fool.

The Kings and their Princes rule reality. They and their Courts keep the rules of the universe rigid. Because of them, 2+2=4 and gravity always pulls and your head isn't just an hole filled with hundreds of teeth. They do not expect or require worship, they simply bear their burdens and act in accordance to their laws.

Gods are not so bound.

If the Kings are Ontological Truths, then the Gods are Ontological Lies. They are the Fools who openly defy the King in front of their court, exempt from both law and punishment. It is by these beings that the Kings come to understand their own limitations and their own faults. This is not, by any means, a purposeful goal of the Gods. Rather these beings of whimsy are creatures of action, chaos, and want with both the power to grab their desires and without the limitations to stop them.

Angel by Monsieur Le Battlier
Gods do not have domains or portfolios. There is no God of Air or God of Law or God of Joy. Those are for Kings. Gods have a motley, an assortment of things that interest and amuse them. They also possess a Motley, a colorful pattern that represents them. Every King a Crown and ever Fool their Motley.

You can pray and sacrifice to a King all day and they are not going to answer. If your crops were supposed to flourish, then the various Kings associated would have ensured it. But if you pray to a God, they might take notice. You may wake up and find your crops have grown overnight, making you a fat and happy farmer. You may also wake and find your crops have become living topiary dinosaurs who are eating your livestock. Attracting the attention of a God is the height of foolishness, it is like handing your chair over to a whoopie cushion wielding jester only in this case the chair is your soul and the whoopie cushion is made of tentacles.

Patagora by  Monsieur Le Battlier
And yet there are fools aplenty out there that reach out to the Gods, seeking to reverse the natural order for their own benefit. They burn sacrifices and chant prayers and throw virgins into volcanoes. The Gods find this amusing and answer just often enough to keep us mortals begging for more.

Let us take, for example, Patagora, the Fool of Lies and Disdain. An emaciated being with inverted hands, a mouth full of rotted stolen dentures, and two tongues- one of lead and the other of silver. Patagora is only capable of telling lies, however they are wholly committed to the truth of their statements. Its lies are so horrid and powerful that they warp reality to fit its thoughts, only resulting in it expressing distaste and hate for the new truths that only moments before had been its own thoughts.

If you need a bizarre deity to ruin the day of your players, or something to balance out the overly orderly Metaphysical Courtiers, give a couple of rolls on the chart below and make yourself a Fool.

Color 1
Color 2
Interest 1
Interest 2