Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Brewscape: Brewing Beasts

The Cellar has been around in one form or another since the dawn of time. When whatever crafted the world from primordial stardust completed their job, they hollowed out a little space to ferment a job well done drink. The Cellar has, therefore, had many millennia to change and grow, to play host to myriad civilizations and creatures, to watch the rise and fall of snakeman empires and trilobite kingdoms. Many hundreds have claimed, made use of, and ultimately were outlived by the Cellar, and many hundreds have left artifacts of their presence behind. For some this takes the form of the plethora of unique drinks still fermenting in their bottles and kegs. But living things have been left behind too. Expect aggressive bar food.

Alemental by some guy on Reddit

1-10HD Alemental aka Ethylmental
Appearance: Similar to a water elemental, but with differences in coloration and consistence depending upon their primary make up. Might be red or clear or golden, may have a foaming top etc.
Wants: To create more Alementals, to get everyone drunk
Armour: As Plate
Move: Half Normal, or Twice Normal through liquids
Morale: 8-12
Damage: HD d4 + 1 Drunk Point

Created as the height of decadence by one of the civilizations that claimed the Cellar. Being too constantly inebriated and too thoroughly debauched to care about such things as tableware, they created a number of beings whose sole purpose was to feed themselves to their creators. Same said civilization is supposedly at fault for the plethora of weird golems in the Cellar. Small Alementals would live to dive right into the open mouths of their thirsty masters. Larger Alementals could refresh themselves from barrels then be suckled upon by plastered partiers.  Today, however, the Alementals have been left to their own devices for centuries. They seek the rare reagents needed to create more of their kind which must be placed in a barrel of alcohol and aged for a year before a new Alemental can be born. Alementals grow by absorbing more of the same alcohol from whence they were born, which is why the biggest Alementals tends to be made of the cheapest alcohol. Their personalities tend to reflect what they are made of, but they are all drunk in one way or another. Beermentals tend to be like frat boys. Winementals tend to be laid back and sleepy, but really fancy vintages can be haughty and snobby. Whiskeymentals tend to be highly aggressive and so on. For every gallon of alcohol an Alemental absorbs, they regenerate an HD of HP. If they can absorb HD gallons in a single day they gain an HD up to 10. A 1HD Alemental can be swallowed in one large quaff by anything halfing sized or larger and gives 1d8 Drunk Points. Larger Alementals can sacrifice an HD to do the same, Save vs. Poison (or Con or something) to avoid being forced to drink. Like a water elemental, a Alemental can flow through any crack (under doors, through key holes, etc.) with ease. 

5HD Methylmental
Appearance: Almost identical to Ethylmentals, it would take an alchemist to tell the difference on sight.  
Wants: To kill you, you meat sack
Armour: As Plate
Move: Half Normal, or Twice Normal through liquids
Morale: 12
Damage: Everything within 30' Save vs. Blindness then Save vs. Death from methanol fumes, same with disadvantage if it physically strikes. You have a bonus to your save equal to the number of Drunk points you currently have.

The Methylmental was a mistake. The Methylmental is dying and it knows it. Every round it loses 1HP from evaporation and its is so goddamn angry about it. It will attempt to leave as wide a path of destruction as it attempts to force its pain upon everything nearby. It is incredibly difficult to damage, however fire deals double damage against it as it catches its fumes ablaze. Where an Ethylmental is a stumbling drunk, the Methylmental is direct, focused, and deadly. Like a water elemental, a Methylmental can flow through any crack (under doors, through key holes, etc.) with ease. 

Someone's take on the Angel of the Odd, can't find who


The Cellar has a plethora of Golems inhabiting it, many of them created by the same folk who called up the Alementals. Here are two of the most common varieties.

1HD  Bottle Golem
Appearance: A glass bottle with small copper wire arms and feet. 
Wants: To Pour The Wine
Armour: None
Move: Twice Normal
Morale: 12
Damage: See Below
Shatter: A single strike shatters the Bottle Golem's bottle, everyone within 30' must Save vs. Dex (Plate and above are immune) or take 1 damage from flying glass shards. This also releases whatever the bottle was containing. 
Pour: A Bottle Golem has a 3-in-6 chance of containing normal wine. However it also has a 1-in-6 chance of containing a powerful acid (2d6 Damage), a 1-in-6 chance of containing a random potion, and a 1-in-6 chance of containing a 1HD Alemental. If you are feeling mischievous, 1% chance of holding a Noble Efreet or Djinn

Bottle Golems existed entirely for the purpose for serving wine. Technically, the Golem part of the Bottle Golem is just the twisted copper wire that serves to hold and transport the wine bottle. When inert, the Bottle Golem simply appears as a wine bottle with fancy copper wire decorations. When active, the Bottle Golem seeks to fill any designated container with whatever liquid they are carrying. If not told otherwise, they will continue to fill containers until their bottle is empty, where upon they will seek a new bottle and continue the process. Bottle Golems can only defend themselves by allowing their bottle to be shattered or by pouring their contents upon their attacker. A Shatter Spell instantly destroys Bottle Golems. Fire spells can cause their bottles to spew superheated alcohol in a 10' line dealing 1d6 damage. Electricity spells hasten the Bottle Golem. Cold spells halve the the Bottle Golem's speed.

3HD Keg Golem
Appearance: A large wooden barrel with two smaller barrels for legs, two large wine bottles for arms, and something like a tin canteen with a funnel for a head. 
Wants: To Pour The Wine, To ferment, to make ceaseless small talk in a dead language
Armour: As Leather
Move:  Half Normal
Morale: 12
Damage: See Below
Knock: The Keg Golem gives a hard tap to the forehead with one of its bottle hands for 1d6 damage
Swallow: Contested STR Save, the Keg golem can open up and swallow 1 human sized target. Anytime the Keg Golem is Damaged, its occupant take half the damage.
Roll: The Keg Golem can pull in its arms and legs and roll at twice normal speed in a straight line. Occupants take 1d6 damage and any in its path take 2d6 and must save or be knocked prone.
Pour: Roll 1d6. 1-3. Random Wine or Whiskey, 4. Random Potion, 5. Skeleton (50% of being 1HD animate Skeleton), 6. 2HD Alemental

The Keg Golem was designed as a sort of advanced version of the Bottle Golem, meant to serve alcohol at large feasts. The Keg Golem was also able to function as a sort of bouncer for rowdier guests and a conversation partner for the completely inebriated. When engaged in conversation it will repeat on loop various bits of pre-programmed gossip, news, and niceties in a mildly drunken baritone voice. It speaks in the dead language of its creators, but if one could translate it, one may learn some insights into the Cellar. The Keg Golem takes double damage from fire and is slowed by Warp Wood spells. 

This, but the size of a warhorse and can burp fire. 

6HD Schnapshund 
Appearance: Something like a fusion of a Saint Bernard, A Tibetan Mastiff, a Bat and a Camel
Wants: Alcohol, meat, pets, to protect certain vintages
Armour: As chain
Move: 1.5 Normal
Morale: 8, 12 when defending something
Damage: 2d6 Bite +Drunk Point (to be expanded upon), Fire Belch 1/day 30' cone 5d6 Fire damage

The Schnapshund was bred by a now lost civilization to protect their most valuable vintages. Upwards of 50 stone in weight and on average about 14 hands high, the Schnapshund makes the average Dire Wolf look like a lap dog. More or less dog-shaped, the Schnapshund has copious facial wrinkles hiding their almost useless eyes. They instead depend upon their smell and hearing with almost elephantine ears and deep resounding barks for echolocation. Their dense cold-resistant fur coat covers a exceptionally thick and muscular frame, with almost all of their fat being stored in a large hump between their shoulder. This fatty issue actually assists the Schnapshund in processing alcohol into usable water and nutrients. While the Schnapshund will jealous guard whatever alcohol they were originally placed to guard, they lap up anything else that they might find. Their system is so permeated with alcohol that their very saliva is 60 Proof. Schnapspups can be trained to be affable, if ungainly companions but wild adult Schnapshunds tend to be distrustful and territorial. Eating a Schnaphund is possible but problematic. No parasite seems capable of thriving in their alcohol rich system, but it also means ingesting their meat without long and thorough cooking is like guzzling pure grain alcohol. It tastes something like the midway point of lamb and beef with a distinct alcoholic aftertaste (dependent on their primary diet),  Schnapshund fat can be processed into an efficient blue burning fuel source as well. 

1: A pocket of uncooked Schnapshund fat, Save vs. Con or go blind from alcohol poisoning
2-5: Good Meat
6: Vintage Sense: Gain for 24 hours the ability to track a specified alcohol by scent alone and par excellence sommelier skills. 

2HD Wolf Yeast
Appearance: A light tan mass of foam in approximately the shape of a wolf.  
Wants: To eat your sugars
Armour: Unarmored
Move: 1.5 Normal
Morale: 8
Damage: 1d6 Bite, with a bite from two separate Wolf Yeasts save vs. Con or get the Yeast Infection

"Y'see, hic, the modern yeast is well like dogs y'see? We've bred the ability to mate out o' em our yeast--most of our brewery yeast? Yeah, that, urrrp, that shit is cloned. Now wild yeast...truly buck fucken wild yeast...that's a different story."

This is the Ur-Yeast before god and man tamed it into what it is today. This is the Yeast that ate through harvests and people alike, leaving a trail of foam and alcohol. This is the Yeast that nearly ate the world. But in ancient times it was shattered (splattered?) and shoved into the belly of the earth. Its access to sugars now limited and incapable of fusing into a monstrous mass, the Wolf Yeast works as aggressive pack hunters seeking to drink the glucose from live prey. While most times Wolf Yeast seeks to kill and devour their prey quickly, sometimes a pack will leave a victim at death's door instead. When a single victim gets bitten by multiple Wolf Yeasts, they leave behind a little bit of themselves to course through the bloodstream, absorb nutrients, and mate. Without some sort of antifungal or a Cure Disease spell, the Yeast Infection slowly eats up all your glucose and expands. Over 2d6 days the victim experiences dizziness, extreme hunger, headaches, confusion, sweating, shaking, blurred vision, and personality changes. They lose a point from each of their mental stats and Constitution each day. At the halfway point their movement becomes halved due to extreme bloating. On the last day, a freaking wolf made of yeast eats it way out of their body and rushes off to find its pack.

Throwing sugar beets at them are a valid way to keep them busy while you run away. Wolf Yeasts leave a trail of alcohol wherever they go and any space that they occupy slowly becomes a suffocation hazard as they release vast quantities of carbon dioxide.  Schnapshunds and Wolf Yeasts attack one another on sight.

Maenads at work

2HD Maenads
Appearance: Mostly human-like, predominately female. Dressed in stained robes and grape leaves, bloodshot eyes, grasping claw-like hands.  
Wants: To drink, to party, to give into wanton instincts of sex, hunger, and bloodlust
Armour: As Leather
Move: Normal
Morale: 6/12- When frenzied
Damage: See Below
Claw: 1d6
Blood Frenzy: As soon as first blood is drawn, their claw attack becomes 1d6/1d6
RIP AND TEAR: A Frenzies Maenad will rip and tear at their victims. If they roll max damage, they will either 1. Tear off a random item or 2. tear at the victim's armor. In the first case, the Maenad will tear the item to pieces on their next turn if it is not retrieved. In the second, the Maenad will half the armor's effectiveness until it can be repaired. A Maenad RIP AND TEARing an unarmored victim deals and additional 1d6 damage. 

Maenads are the incarnation of debauched alcoholic frenzy. Nominally they are servants of one or another God of Revelry and Alcohol, but if you ask them, they probably don't remember which. Maenads are pure Id and deeply tribal. If a thing is not part of the Maenads and doesn't show itself to be immediately beneficial to the Maenads, they immediately fall upon it with savage violent glee. Maenads can potentially be calmed with sufficient offerings of quality alcohol (is very large quantities of cheap alcohol) but are like sharks in a feeding frenzy as soon as blood is scented. 5 or more Maenads create an unconscious aura of debauchery and any within hearing distance must Save vs. Charm or be drawn into their Caligulan festivities. 

A Greater Maenad has become one with their wanton instincts and are incapable of any sort of reason beyond their selfish desires and need for revelry. A Greater Maenad is always naked but has Armour as Chain, 5HD and is always considered in a Blood Frenzy. Hearing a Greater Maenad is enough to provoke a Save vs. Charm to join the Maenads' party. Spending more than 48 hours in the presence of a Greater Maenad turns the victim into a Lesser Maenad. 

What? I'm totally serious here guys.


Okay, I know what you are thinking: How are nuts going to be a threat to my players? Well first off, you uncultured swine, peanuts are a legume. Second off, there is nothing like a few thousand years in intensely magical soil to make things go...weird. No one is quite certain who was the first to breed these cultivars or even why, but all can agree that a wizard probably did it while thoroughly intoxicated. While there are dozens of interbred cultivars infesting the Cellar, two are of particular note.

2HD Virgencia
Appearance: Arm thick roots hanging from the ceiling and walls, heavy with nuts the size of a dwarf. 
Wants: To club unwary prey to death and drain their nutrients 
Armour: As Leather
Move: N/A
Morale: 12
Damage: 1d6 Bludgeoning, 1% chance of causing anaphylactic shock (Save or Die)

The Valencia Peanut is known for the number of seeds each pod could hold and the Virginia Peanut is known for its prodigious size. The Virgenia is the result of fusing these two cultivars together and growing them in alchemically enhanced soil. On the surface they seem to be simple yellow flowers, but their roots extend deep into the earth where their seeds hang in oversized bunches from the underdark ceiling. Having long since leeched much of the nutrients from the soil, the Virgencia now obtains nutrients from battering prey to death and pulling it up into their root system. While lone Virgencia can occasionally be found hanging around, they usually come in large batches with much of the headspace of smaller chambers being filled with  their wildly swinging bludgeons. They cannot see or detect movement in anyway, but they can smell the carbon dioxide in your breath and are triggered into their frenzy by your exhalations. If cut from the root and roasted or boiled, a single Virgencia pod contains 2d4 rations. 

0HD (1hp) Runner
Appearance: Small tangled patches of plant matter that suddenly leap to life. 
Wants: To infest unwary prey and drain their nutrients 
Armour: None
Move: Twice Normal
Morale: 8
Damage: 1 Piercing Damage ignores leather armor, 1% chance of causing anaphylactic shock (Save or Die)

The Runner Peanut grows in large patches often near to patches of Virgencia. Like their larger cousins, the Runners cannot see or hear, but they can detect breath. When a breathing creature is within 30 feet of a patch of Runner Peanuts, they spring into 2d6 (exploding) small predators looking something like a demented topiary fusion of a cat and a spider. They run in a straight line towards the greatest source of carbon dioxide and swarm over it, stabbing with small sharpened roots strong enough to pierce leather. Once their prey has been felled 1d6 of the Runners will take root in the corpse to absorb its nutrients while the rest either continue the attack or retreat back to their original patch. A keen eye can notice skeletons under inactive Runner patches. A single Runner can be harvested of a enough peanuts to be roasted for 1 ration, however they have a metallic flavor that not all find appealing. 

Rules for Drunkeness- 

  • Every drink you take gives you a drink point. You lose a drink point every hour.
  • The first X drink points do nothing, where X is half of your Constitution. Each drink beyond t hat threshold is instead a drunk point.
  • Each time you gain a drunk point, you must make a Con check to avoid passing out.
  • Each drunk point gives you -1 to Initiative, Saves vs charm or emotion, and Con checks to avoid passing out when binge drinking. Additionally, each drunk point expands your fumble range by 1 (so if you had 3 drunk points, you would fumble when you rolled a 1-4, instead of just a natural 1.)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Brewscape: A Mega Barcrawl

André Meister

So many a moon ago I decided that I wanted to fuse two of my favorite things, Cuisine and RPGs. When I started thinking on this, I discovered that a number of other folks had also been thinking about this. Dan from Throne of Salt enumerates a number of them quite well. And just recently Betty Bacontime added their own take by combining food and my favorite TSR setting, Planescape, to create the Elemental Plates. Even 10' Polemic James Young has recently jumped on it with a couple of hexed up spreadsheets. It is now time for me to finally start weighing in on this.

I'm not going to reinvent the various fantastic systems for cooking monsters, I'm going to encourage their use. I am interested in writing up a beast of a dungeon that is somewhere between The Tomb Of Horrors, Iron Chef, Dungeon Meshi and The World's End. I've never designed a dungeon before and I've not done nearly enough research into dungeon design. So I'm just going to spitball ideas at random and see what sticks, then refine it from there.

Pieter Claesz

Brewscape Hook/Premise:

What is the one thing that matters more to adventurers than loot? That's right, spending that loot. And I tell you nine times out of ten their are going to drink away a certain percentage of that loot. Everyone of course has their favorite watering hole, often stocked with the hyperlocal cottage industry microbrewery ales and beers one would expect. However times have been a'changing and the crafting of alcohol has slowly moved from a wholly domestic industry, to something of an artisanal and almost industrial industry. Every other monastery seems to be producing beer of one fashion or another, and some pubs have grown into small export industries.

In this rise of industrial beer-craft, one name has risen above others. Strum Wheatbeard, a dwarven connoisseur and genius of beercraft, discovered the beauty of bottom fermentation by aging his creations in deep cool caves. His lagers made him rich, his brewing operations expanded into a massive industrialized factory, and now all corners of the world know of Strum Breweries. Generations later, Strum Breweries remains on the top as other brewers rise and fall, Strum's products are the gold standard against which everything else is judged. This is, in part, because Strum Wheatbeard is still running the place, experimenting and crafting and inventing. However, in his eternal pursuit of beer, Strum has extended his life unnaturally and by this time is a demilich, now known as Strum Dust-Tongue. This has given him great arcane power and the ability to continue his work on for the ages, but it has removed from him his natural sense of taste. He has...means of ensuring quality of his products, but he is denied the ability to sample any of them himself.

This is where the Adventurers come in of course. Deep in the depths of the earth, there is said to be a vault from antediluvian times containing a single keg. This keg has been fermenting since the dawn of time, the first and greatest of all alcohols, it is the God's Mead, the Prima Vina, the Eternal Brew. There are many properties assigned to this mythic beverage, but Strum is convinced that first and foremost it will restore and heighten his sense of taste. Recently some of the Wheatbeard clan have uncovered a cellar. The top floor of it contains some of the rarest and most delicious vintages, many thought lost to time. The floors below contain only increasingly amazing, weird, and unique vintages. The dwarves soon discovered that they were not the first creatures to discover this cellar and had to fight their way through strange and disturbing monsters to continue their path downwards. They never found a bottom before they were driven back to the surface. Strum believes this cellar goes clear down to the vault of the God's Mead and is willing to offer shares in his extremely profitable company to any who might bring him back a taste as well as allowing the adventurers to keep anything they might find in the depths.

The Cellar itself is made of many dozens of floors and layers, becoming progressively stranger and more dangerous as it descends deeper. I am considering that there will be a set of Key Floors that are stable and represent a change in theme/environment, while everything between them are semi-randomized within a consistent theme for the section. They characters can expect to be down here for weeks, but as luck would have it, there is plenty to potentially eat down here. From a variety of forageable plant-life to edible creatures to things left to ferment besides all the alcohol. While these foodstuffs represent their own challenge (poison, disease, combat, weird magical reactions), another challenge will having a source of clean water. For while they will constantly be surrounded by kegs, bottles, amphorae and so on of liquid, just plain water will be a rarity. There will be civilized creatures down here, from strange descendants of ancient brewers to incursions from the Underdark and Veins to other adventuring parties. They represent threats, potential allies, and potential exits/shortcuts around the Cellar.

M. Nishimura

The Problem:

I've never designed a map, on my own, even for a cave for players to investigate much less a megadungeon. I've never personally played through a megadungeon for more than a few floors before the game fell through due to life. I've been ruminating on this for a few years (this draft is actually among the oldest for the blog) but I'm not entirely certain where to actually start.

So! I want to appeal to all of you, my readers, I need a starting point, I need your thoughts and tips and tricks. Should I work on environment generators? Alcohol generators? Monsters? Should I make kits? What do you suggest for learning how to appropriately craft a dungeon? What would you like to see?

Friday, February 22, 2019

"I'm Lookin' For"

This post and all the art in it is inspired by or borrowed from Alexandre Diboine.

Conviction is a mechanic in pure GLOG that I do not see a lot of people using. Arnold recently mentioned in the OSR chat that this is how convictions as he envisioned them working:

"Convictions are basically the answer to the question of "what separates you from the average murderhobo?" and can include high ideals as well as petty ones.  You can ignore them if you want.  The only mechanical function of a Conviction is: if you follow your conviction and it generates some complication for your party, you all get a small amount of XP. It's meant to incentivize players getting away from a purely murderhobo lifestyle."

I like the idea of giving people a mild mechanical reason to go beyond mere murderhoboing, giving them a little depth and perhaps encouraging players to seek out other curiosities beyond mere gold coins. I've been thinking, perhaps I could combine Convictions and Skills into something handy, interesting, and more importantly, can be put on a d20 table.

So here are my thoughts. When creating your character, roll or choose from the " I'm Lookin' " list. This will provide a basic goal, item, or mentality that is associated with that character. Any checks directly related to the acquisition of that goal that do not provide direct combat advantage receive a bonus equal to your character level. Furthermore any time one is acting to achieve that goal and suffers consequences, a certain amount of bonus XP can be gained. You can, of course, come up with your own "I'm Lookin' " items subject to DM approval as usual

I’m Lookin’
For Strange Ingredients
For Exotic Animals
For A Worthy Challenge
For Unique Geography
For Home
For Peace and Quiet
For Drugs
For Revenge
To Make a Deal
For Rare Books
To Get Laid
To Obtain Followers
To Spread my Religion
To Protect my Ward
To Hone a Craft
For Fine Art
For Real Estate
For Advanced Technology
For Liberty
To Test my Endurance

I went with fairly broad strokes with this table, however one could potentially narrow down the "I'm Lookin' " into very minuscule categories like Insects or Your Lost Brother or Cheddar Bay Biscuits. The less likely it is to be broadly useful or the more likely it is to have consequences, the more I personally would reward for good dedication to concept. One could also apply something like this to Factions and player interaction with those factions. Broad-stroke goals accomplished for said faction are easier and less rewarding, while niche or highly specific goals are more difficult but much more rewarding. Many in the OSR scene are better with factions than I am, but I immediately think of Planescape's 15 factions in Sigil. A broad-stroke goal for, say, The Mercykillers would be to bring individual criminals to justice. A niche goal would be to topple a criminal empire or exposing a corrupt bureaucrat that is preventing the efficient carrying out of justice or discovering a potent truth-serum. One could apply these goals to individuals, nations, and so forth as well of course.

Monday, February 18, 2019

New Job, Slowed Work, Thoughts of the Moment

Howdy folks, just a quick little update on things in my life since G+ is going down and I've not quite gotten the handle of MeWe yet. I just put in my two weeks at my current job after being offered a position for nearly twice what I make now. On one hand I'm super excited because this means that I will not be facing the sort of financial hardships that I have in recent months. On the other, however, it is going to mean I have less time to be able to check in on Chris' Discord and work on stuff here. FEAR NOT! I still plan on taking every lunch I can get away with to work on stuff for Unlawful Games and stay connected with the RPG/OSR community.

While I've been getting ready for this new job, I've been packing away my old office. I've taken down the pictures of my daughter, I've packed away my knick-knacks, I've sorted through my small library and lined them up in a box. It feels so weird to be able to see five years of your life packed into two small boxes. Its been making me think about what is and isn't important to me and has me thinking about all the connections I've made and the people I know. There are folks that I am so excited to cut ties with and there are folks that I almost feel like I'm betraying by leaving. I'm not someone who makes choices easily. It is probably why I'm an eternal DM, because I can always leave the choice of direction in the player's hands. However the world around me has been changing. Folks are getting the courage up to change their lives and speak out. I'm not going to make some sort of extended Zak post because I had about 3 lines of interactions with him before I blocked him, but I knew what sort of jerk he was and I wasn't going to invite that into my life. When Mandy et. al. came forward, I was little surprised but horrified all the same. However, at the same time, her and others coming forth gave me the courage to go out and cut toxic relationships and make a difference for myself.

The most important thing for us to do is to be honest with ourselves and not let veils of deceit (purposeful or not) cloud that. When something doesn't make you happy, when something causes you undue anxiety, when something makes you question who and what you are, you need to change it. Sometimes this means seeking help, sometimes this means throwing away junk attachments, sometimes this means taking a breath and re-evaluating yourself. One of the last things I will be packing is a little document my wife gave me about ANTs, Automatic Negative Thoughts. It describes multiple "ANTs" and how to squash them. "All or Nothing" Thinking, "Always" Thinking, Mind Reading, Fortune Telling, Labeling, and Blame. The three I've struggled with the most are All or Nothing, Mind Reading, and Fortune Telling. I'd tell myself that if I tried something and I failed, I would lose everything and I would fail everyone around me and I would be despised for it. I'd predict my own failure and it would leave me unable to progress because I was unwilling to risk the first step, even if in all honesty there was no risk at all. If we try nothing, we cannot progress. If we do not fail, we cannot learn. If we allow the opinions and the perceived thoughts of others dictate our actions beyond what we feel in our heart of hearts, we are nothing but a tangled marionette.

I totally started this meaning to just tell folks about me being slow with my new job, but I ended up venting a bit there. I just want you folks out there to know that unless you step to the edge of your comfort and then take another step forward, you'll never know adventures and freedom may be awaiting you.

Happy Adventuring my friends, see you soon. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Commissioned Post: Unlawful Asset Assessment

Assets in games are not something that I think about as often as I probably should. This comes from a life time of free form RPing over strict abeyance to any sort of ruleset governing multiple assets. Or, when I was active in 3.x, I was used to light being ignored, arrows merely being a suggested number that may or may not be ticked down, encumbrance being a suggestion than a rule half the time, rations ignored completely etc. However as I've spent more time with old school style games, I've come to appreciate more and more the importance of these aspects of play. Veins of the Earth was probably the first time where the importance of tracking light sources was really driven home for me. What I had first just thought to be a chore of the simulation, instead became a major source of drive that profoundly affected play style. So here I'm going to go over a few assets and how I use them now or plan on using them. I've absorbed much of this through a sort of osmosis and barely any of this is unique to me, so I apologize if something here was originally your idea and I've not credited you. I'd love to hear your alternatives in the comments too!


As I walked further from storygames and Adventure Paths, I found myself bringing more and more folks down into the bowels of the earth. Though I've yet to get up the nerve to try to actually delve into the Veins, I have been digging ever deeper into increasingly dark dungeons. As such light has become a much more important asset for me and my players. The method I currently use for this is through a Light Depletion Die, which I believe is pretty standard for a number of old school DMs. The Light Bearer keeps a die on hand that represents the life span of their light source. Stronger light sources have bigger dice. For each hour that the light source burns through fuel that isn't replenished, the die ticks down a notch until it degrades into the next type of die. Whenever something happens that might threaten the integrity of the lightsource (a stiff breeze, the light bearer being knocked about etc.) the Light Die is rolled. If it rolls less than half of the total left on that die, it automatically degrades to the next lowest die. A d4 Light Die goes completely out when a 1-2 is rolled. Generally speaking I have a candle as a d4, a torch as a d8, a full lantern as a d12. A magical source of light might be a d20 or above, but my players have not encountered something like that yet.


So I've not always been good about tracking rations, but rations have always been something interesting to me. I'm something of a closet foodie so anything related to something edible immediately grabs my attention. Skerple's Monster Menu-All and Dungeon Meshi have especially driven this home for me (even though I had long in the works been working on a food themed dungeon). With my current use of GLOG, rations have been vaulted further into a place of importance as they are the only reliable source of healing for the system. 

Players have access to two sorts of rations. The first is simple iron rations, it will fill your belly but it won't be an experience. I still enjoy encouraging my players to envision these as culturally appropriate. A dwarf's iron rations might be a piece of hardtack, an especially dense and salty cheese, and a mole sausage. An elf's might be dried fruit and a dense honeycake. Etc. This is especially fun for weirder races and I enjoy seeing what players might come up with. My wife plays a Really Good Dog in my home campaign and her Rations are made up of dead opossums. Regardless, rations of this sort are simply counted and checked off from the inventory as they are used up, something that can easily just be bought and replaced at the next town.

The second sort are foraged rations. These are Ingredients obtained from picking mushrooms, gathering berries, slicing steaks off of a giant lizard etc. I usually have to make a call at the moment to decide how many of an ingredient takes up an inventory slot, but each unique ingredient takes up its own slot generally. These can be prepared alone or together to produce a variety of effects depending upon the materials used and the method used to prepare them. More times than not, it is simply slightly improved healing, but on occasion I can pull out the Monster Menu-all or Jame's Dungeon Masterchef Rules to make the whole experience a little more interesting. While my players have not taken fully to the complexity of James' system, they have been less disappointed when a monster doesn't drop gold since they can always eat it instead. 


This is probably my favorite change over in assets, coming into GLOG from 3.x. Wizards have a number of d6 Magic Die equal to their class level/template (up to 4) which represent their magical power for the day. Whenever a spell is cast, they invest however many magic die they like. Higher rolled on the die, the more powerful that individual spell is. However when the die is higher than 3, the power of the die burns out for the day. Thus magic tends to go between weaker but repeatable or powerful but single use. This is of course in addition to rolling doubles or triples resulting in Mishaps and Dooms. I've really enjoyed this method (and the limited spell lists) as it has made the use of magic something that my players weight more heavily before using. Since they do not have a dozen different spells, they need to be creative in their uses of each spell obtained and they need to decide how the investment of a spell will affect the rest of their day. For a lot of my players (who are new entirely or come from Pathfinder) this has resulted in a significant increase in lateral thinking when applying magic to solve a task. It has also resulted in one player looking something like a wickerman as they have hoarded wands for just-in-case situations. 

Potions and Scrolls are also assets that have become more interesting. I use Arnold K's method of potion identification. Without a big fancy alchemical laboratory, the players can only guess at what a potion does by testing it with their senses. What was it look, smell, feel, and taste like. I've not had anyone try to listen to a potion yet, but that might be viable too. Since potions run the gambit of possible effects, among the least common of which is healing, they've become something of a special entertainment all on their own for the players. I had one player find a potion of Iron Skin and use it to turn into X-Men's Colossus for a minute to wreck a room full of traps. Scrolls are like little derringers, easy to use and cast aside in the heat of the moment. Non-wizards can use them but they burn them up upon use. Wizards, with their Book-Casting, can reuse them if they are careful. This has made keeping track of the scrolls and interesting decision between players as they decide if a situation warrants burning one or waiting on the caster and has allowed for some fun coordinated efforts.


Things like arrows or sling stones are a chore to just tick away at so I've taken to using Arnold K's Triple X Depletion system for these. Every time non-magical ammo is used in combat, flip a coin or roll a d6. Evens/Heads your ammo doesn't deplete, Odds/Tails your ammo depletes. A single inventory slot of ammo can deplete 3 times before it needs to be replaced. 


Hirelings are a special asset as they can act upon other assets on their own and require assets for upkeep. I think hirelings and camp followers are really neat, BUT I have not personally run a game where players have actually used hirelings until like literally the last session I've played and it is an extremely smelly, cowardly horse-whisperer. I will update how that goes at some point...


GP=XP is something I've really come to appreciate and I'm excited about how my new to OSR players will handle it. Thus far they've been significantly more willing to take chances for treasure while also being less willing to dive into direct conflict. The fact that they need to choose between leveling and upgrading/replacing gear is also a very interesting dynamic and has helped them to realize that there are multiple paths towards improvement beyond the limited direct leveling (since GLOG goes to 4 before increasingly reduced returns.) 


I know that many other folks in the OSR and elsewhere are a lot deeper into the meta and the mechanics of much of this, but I'm a lowly goblin that primarily vomits d100 tables and sees where they go. Hopefully as my games are more consistent, I will develop a deeper and fuller understanding of these Assets and maybe one of these days give something that is a more profound contribution. It was kinda nice to type this all out and sort my perceptions and ideas though. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Dear Goody Mooncup Episode Two: Rashes, Skulls, Kobolds and More

Oogie Boogie:
 Dear Goody Mooncup: I recently helped my brother clean out his friend’s basement. While down there, we found a small vial of orange liquid. His friend dared me to drink it, and at first I refused. After they made some jokes about my manhood, I gave in and drank it down. I immediately began dancing, and I haven’t stopped since. What should I do? Is there any way to rid myself of this curse?

Dear Oogie, Orange plus dancing? Oh my dear child, what a fretful situation you've found yourself in! I believe you have ingested and entire vial of Liquid Funk, which should really only be used in a spritzer! Please know that the safest thing to do now is accept your fate, enter some dance competitions, and enjoy your life as best you can. However, if you do wish to stop dancing before your venerable years you must ingest the opposite of Funk, you must ingest Blues. But I must forewarn you, an inappropriate balance will leave you cursed with woes, blind, gravely, and preternaturally good at the guitar.

The first component of liquid Funk is Saffron, giving it both its orange color and causing blood to flow to all the right areas, if you catch my meaning. To combat it, you must start with a base of Lavender, a deep blue and restful herb. Indigo works in a pinch but Lavender tastes better. To this you will need to add two ounces of pluf mud from the bayou, a quart of your own sweat obtained through honest but underpaid labor, six letters of unrequited love, the tears of an impoverished but musically gifted child, a notarized infernal contract, and a barrel of the highest quality brandy you can obtain. This will need to be mixed, boiled and distilled repeatedly using a copper alembic until a deep soulful blue liquid is obtained. Normally I would suggest that this be used with a spritzer as in small quantities it is enough for a reasonable harmonica solo, but in your case the entire vial will be called for. I do hope your dancing days are soon over, best of luck dear!

Sugar Skull by Charly Glez
Skull Wizard:
Dear Goody Mooncup: My skulls keep vanishing. I suspect the work of the fae. Could help me out? I am unprepared for everything other than skulls.

Dear Skull, Oh my! Yes, we have all experienced the glamours of the fae and their little acts of mischief, especially those of us versed in the magical arts. What makes a better target for tomfoolery than one's spell components? Only last week I found that my bats were dropping nuggets of gold rather than guano and I had to beat the local elf-lord around the ears with my broom before I had a reliable source of nitrates again! I don't suggest going out and doing this yourself of course, Wizards never really figured out the proper wrist action for brooms. So you have two possible courses of action here, either stop the fae from taking your skulls or finding a skull-alternative! For stopping the fey, I would suggest mixing up a Hot-foot Powder of equal parts cayenne pepper, brick dust, cold iron shavings, and devil's shoestring. Take this powder and ring it around your perimeter and it should stop the silly little things from getting in. Of course, this would also dampen the latent magic within the confines of the hot-foot powder circle and may cause your own magical experiments to short out.
For a skull alternative, I suggest making Sugar Skulls. You will want to purchase a large quantity of sugar and and eggs and wait for a good hot and dry day. Mix 6 cups of sugar to two egg whites and use the resulting paste to create skulls, I personally have a mold to make this process easy. you must then press into the skulls a full set of human teeth, making sure one tooth has a cold iron filling. Then set it out to dry and harden. You see, it is the Teeth that are grounders for magic and not the skull itself, but the skull shape is the best way to route and channel that magic to any sort of purpose. The sugar will at first attract the Fae, but after one lick with that cold iron tooth, they will quickly gain a distaste for your skulls. Make sure to remove the iron filling before you use the skull for your own purposes of course to avoid catastrophic sugar feedback. My eighteenth husband, Mammon bless him, learned the hard way what happens when a fireball meets a room full of airborne powdered sugar. In any case, if you have left over sugar afterwards, make some Royal Icing and decorate your skulls for easy identification!

Richard Johnson:
Dear Goody Mooncup: What on earth is this rash I've gotten? Is it one of yours?

Dear Richard, I swear upon the hairs of my chin and the warts on my nose that you would know my rashes without question. After all, they are trademarked! If you have caught a rash in the wild, especially of the sort you've implied, I highly suggest keeping in a dry place, apply plenty of witch hazel, and think pure thoughts. And please do not confused witch hazel with Witch Hazel, who would be most displeased if you exposed your...erm...rash to her.

Furtive Goblin:
Dear Goody Mooncup: Do you have any quick tips on how to effectively broker peace between protesting house kobolds and irate Dutchmen? Research for my next Goblin Watch hinges on it!

Dear Furtive, Well my dear Goblin, I do applaud you for continuing your research in your various cousins! Yes, the relationship between a domestic kobold and the so called "home owner" can be quite the source of drama. After all, every house has a kobold and they ask for little in return, merely some leftovers and some polite respect. But even this is too much for some folks, especially in this heathen age of "Roombas" and electronic dish washers. They leave their house a mess and expect everything to be done for them automatically. Part of the respect one gives to a kobold is at least putting in some effort in your own upkeep. I'd be double damned if you found a kobold nowadays that felt confident enough in their own homes to give prophecy or any real luck out like Heinzelmann or Hödekin of old did. And you say the issue at hand here is with irate Dutchmen? Surely the issue started on their side as a kobold will never be more malicious than a small prank or two without provocation! These Dutchmen must has slighted their co-inhabitants in some way to have provoked this protest. And knowing Kobolds, they've undoubtedly not given any mercy to their tormentors for this trespass. 
So, my dear! The most important thing to do here is to first find out what the initial provocation was and address that. Of course by this point there is surely a whole list of complains on either side, but these cannot be addressed until the initial issue has been. One must begin to begin as it were. Of course, after enough insult the Kobolds will eventually throw their hands up and leave, but not before laying down their most heinous curses. As Kobolds dislike being seen, but it is obvious there needs to be some conversation here, I suggest this. Take the largest room in this home and vacate it of all furniture. Take two long dining tables and set them end to end in the the center of the room. Between these tables pull a long white curtain, enough that shadows can be seen between the two parties but not so sheer that details can be made out. Then a sumptuous feast must be laid on one end of the table with the best napkins and china and silverware the house has to offer. To this side off the Kobolds a place and allow them to dine to their heart's content. Once this as been completed, move the leftovers (dishes and all) to the Dutchmen's side and allow them to experience what Kobolds generally live upon. Only after both parties have dined separately will you invite both into the space for talks. I suggest cookies and coffee be served to both sides at this point as the last thing we need are lethargic, full kobolds and Dutchmen with low blood sugar. 

If these talks are ultimately fruitless, one must hope that the kobolds are tied to the physical house rather than the family, as the only route to peace will be for the Dutchmen to move out. Otherwise I imagine that there will be generations of hostilities still to come!

And that's it this week for Dear Goody Mooncup! Remember my little morsels that I will be hosting my two hundred and fifty third annual flea market very soon and I will be there signing my new book, "Feeling Impish, a Diabolist's Guide to Love."