Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Low Country Crawl: The Zine! IS OUT NOW!

Hello again everyone!

I am happy to announce that Low Country Crawl made is debut yesterday evening and it has gone better than I could have ever hoped for! If you don't know what Low Country Crawl is, it is my systems-agnostic game supplement for adding Southern Gothic and Marshlands flavor to your games.

To get your copy follow this link to Technical Grimoire!

I'd like to thank David Schirduan for his expertise in layout, map design, and publication, Charles Ferguson-Avery for his art work, Akelah Adams for her work as a sensitivity reader, my fabulous anonymous editor for her editing and beta reading assistance. I'd also like to thank the likes of Skerples, Arnold Kemp and Dan D for inspiring me to take to RPG blogging in the first place.

A special thank you to Natalie and Ron Daise, The Penn Center, and the whole of the Lowcountry itself for providing an atmosphere of history and adventure that has inspired me and countless others. I can only hope that this Zine inspires you to learn more about the Gullah-Geechee culture, the strange and wonderful lore of the South, and maybe inspire you to learn new and amazing things about your own hometown.

While I'm at it for thanking people, let me thank Zoey McCullough for being my first Dungeon Master and teaching of the ways and wonders of RPGs. See her Sound Cloud for an excellent musical experience.

Friday, October 25, 2019


A Metaphor is "a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable." Well as we've seen from the likes of Sir Terry Pratchett and his Anthropomorphic Personifications, when something is well enough known in the public noosphere it gains something of a life of its own. Thus I propose a class of beings and objects called Metaphigures. These are Metaphors given Life/Form, no longer representing another object but instead personifying the concept that they allude to. I can imagine these beings having a certain place in my Royalverse setting, but they just as well can pop up anywhere that a far too literally minded archmage might be present. Because I'm trying to make a list here folks some of these could also be counted as idioms. Perhaps Idiomimics?

The 800 Pound Gorilla
HD 20
Appearance:  An 800 pound silver-back gorilla, he might be wearing a hat of some sort.
Wants: Eat, Sleep, Mate, Occasional bouts of mischief
Armour: As Plate + Shield
Move: Normal, unless he wants to move faster
Morale: 12
Damage: See Below
Slam- 1d20+5
Infinite Strength- For any check involving strength, the 800 Pound Gorilla automatically succeeds.
Infinite Leap- Y'know how the Hulk leaps? Yeah that.  

Where does a 800 pound gorilla sit? Anywhere it wants to. The 800 Pound Gorilla is the incarnation of having such power that one can disregard laws and common decency without reproach. When at rest, the 800 Pound Gorilla is the same as any other western lowland gorilla, however when in pursuit of something it desires it is essentially a demigod. It can move as fast as it wants, hit as hard as it wants, and do whatever it might want to obtain its goals. Luckily for all of us this usually involves bamboo shoots, juicy termites, and a comfy patch of grass. The best way of dealing with the 800 Pound Gorilla is to make sure you have nothing it might want and/or redirect its desires towards the opposite side of the planet. 

The Imp of the Perverse
HD 0
Appearance:  A tiny smokey wisp, vaguely humanoid, constantly whispering
Wants: You to do exactly the wrong thing in a situation simply cause it can be done
Armour: None
Move: 1/10 Normal
Morale: 8
Damage: None

The Imp of the Perverse is in face one of several dozen non-infernal imps that maintain and run the various mechanics of the human brain. The Imps of Reason, Hunger, Focus, and Disgust are among the others. The Imp of the Perverse, however, is a special case as it strives to do harm to the creature it inhabits and seeks other victims after their death. Wizards think that the Imp of the Perverse started as some sort of emotional parasite that got its life cycle tangled up in ours. The Imp is incapable of doing harm on its own, however it will see to subtly manipulate its host into harming itself through inappropriate or dangerous actions. An individual "infected" with an Imp of the Perverse will need to make a Save(Charisma or Wisdom or something) every time there is a chance for them to befoul their current situation with a single action or sentence. Examples include cutting the rope a friend or ally is climbing, yelling "I stole the crown jewels!" in a busy street after said heist, or anything the player themselves might say "It would be funny, but i shouldn't do that." Every successful save increases the difficulty by 1, saving successfully 5 times in a row rids you of the Imp but any failures resets the counter and the difficulty. A Remove Curse can also rid oneself of the Imp

The Odd Duck
HD 0 (1hp)
Appearance: A duck. No a rabbit. A DUCK. A RABBIT! 
Wants: MEAT
Armour: None
Move: 2x Normal, Fly 2x Normal
Morale:  2
Damage: Bite- 1d6+Attach 

If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, its a duck. If it hops like a rabbit, if it twitches its nose like its a rabbit, its a rabbit. This thing does both. Is it s a Duck? Is it a Rabbit? Any two or more individuals witnessing the Odd Duck will be incapable of agreeing on which it is. If arguments over which it is are allowed to last more than a few rounds, the parties must Save or become so enraged that they attack each other with intent to kill. Once one target has died, and the victor hopefully running away from the scene, The Odd Duck splits down the middle opening its hellish gnashing mouth and consumes the corpse. Where there is one Odd Duck there is a flock (Warren?) of them nearby. 

The Elephant in the Room

HD 9
Appearance:  An Elephant, you can see it but you will not recognize it as anything of consequence
Wants: 200-600 pounds of vegetation and 50 gallons of water daily
Armour: As Leather
Move: 1.5 Normal
Morale: 8
Damage: Tusk/Tusk 2d4/2d4 or Trample 4d8

By all accounts, The Elephant in the Room is an ordinary elephant with ordinary elephant desires. The Elephant in the Room, however, is both capable of moving through any entrance a mouse could fit through and be essentially invisible. I say "essentially" because The Elephant in the Room is not invisible at all. Instead anyone observing The Elephant in the Room will simply be unable to register it as anything of consequence, it is about as interesting and important as the vacant cobweb in the corner. Individuals will go through whatever routines they would in the room, moving around the Elephant as needed to accomplish this and not make any mention of said Elephant. Anyone upon first witnessing the Elephant may Save to notice the Elephant. If you notice the Elephant, you will forever be able to notice this particular Elephant in the Room. Someone who has noticed the Elephant may bring it to the attention of other occupants to give them another Save, however doing so enrages the Elephant and it will attempt to trample or gore you. Anyone attacked or killed by The Elephant in the room will go unnoticed by anyone who already does not notice The Elephant.

The White Elephant
HD 9
Appearance:  An Albino Elephant with seemingly bejeweled tusks
Wants: All of the attention, special rare foods, love oh so much love, mountain spring water, gifts!
Armour: As Leather
Move: 1.5 Normal
Morale: 8
Damage: Tusk/Tusk 2d4/2d4 or Trample 4d8
The inverse of The Elephant in the Room, The White Elephant is exceptionally needy and will attach itself to one individual. In mindset, The White Elephant is a 6 ton pure breed show dog, it wants to be pampered and be given your attention at the cost of all else. Not giving The White Elephant the attention it wants results in it doing everything in it's pachyderm power to get it. Once The White Elephant has chosen a target for its affections, they can find and follow that target through any distance or obstacle short of divine intervention. The only way to get rid of the White Elephant short of killing it (which gives the killer a random curse) is to gift it to someone who takes it willingly.

The Albatross
HD 1
Appearance:  A white bird with black wings, about 4.5' tall with 10'+ Wingspan
Wants:  Fish, to fly long distances, to not get shot
Armour: None
Move: Half normal, 3x Normal-Fly
Morale: 12
Damage: Peck 1 Damage

All Albatross other than The Albatross are Lesser Albatross. When sailing, having a Lesser Albatross follow you is supposedly good luck while killing one is profound bad luck. In truth, there is actually a 5% chance of receiving exceptional good luck from a Lesser Albatross and a 5% chance of receiving a ship-wide curse on killing one. Having The Albatross follow your ship will grant advantage (or equivalent) to everything done aboard that ship. Killing The Albatross will result in a bane (or equivalent) on everything done aboard that ship AND 1d6 curses from your favorite curse table. When The Albatross is killed, some random Lesser Albatross in the world is promoted to being The Albatross. 

The Infinite Turtle
HD 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13...
Appearance:  A brown, green, and orange turtle about large enough to fit in your hand
Wants: Leafy greens, fruit, the occasional worm, a warm rock and a cool pond. 
Armour: As Leather
Move: 1/10 Normal
Morale:  6
Bite: 1 Damage (See Below)
Withdraw: When an Infinite Turtle fails a Morale check, instead of retreating it will withdraw inside of its shell. A withdrawn Infinite Turtle has Armour as Plate+HD.

It's turtles all the way down! This turtle is the top of the stack, the rest of whom currently reside in higher (or lower) dimensions. A Wizard or other sensitive would perceive this turtle like looking at the inside of a matroska doll without taking the outer layers off first, a small core to a many-layered being. Even saying this turtle is the top of the stack is not accurate, it is merely the turtle that happens to reside in our current time/space. The Infinite Turtle spends most of its life as an apparently ordinary turtle until it is met with violence. When the turtle apparently dies, the next largest turtle gets bumped up to our dimension. The size of the turtles follows the Fibonacci sequence, increasing in size and HD in proportion to that sequence. If left alone, a larger Infinite Turtle will eventually lay a single egg that will hatch, climb onto its mother's back, and push the larger turtle into a lower dimension. 

To defend itself an Infinite Turtle will bite and flail its limbs. The smallest can only do minimal damage this way, but increasingly large Infinite Turtles will be able to deal significantly more damage. Treat, for example, a 34 HD Infinite Turtle as a Dragon Turtle dealing 1d8/1d8 Claw and a 10d6 Bite. 

The Road Hog

HD 10
Appearance: A truly massive pig, takes up all possible space in any sized corridor
Wants: To eat refuse
Armour: As Leather
Move: .5 Normal
Morale: 8
Damage: See Below
Front End- Bite/Tusk 1d4/1d4 
Back End- Caustic Wind as a Green Dragons's Breath Attack
Slick Trail- The Road Hog leaves behind it a constant trail of bodily waste, causing the area for at least 120' behind to be affected as by Grease.

The Road Hog takes up space. How much space? All of it. Road Hogs are usually encountered in dungeons where they appear to be a porcine equivalent to a Gelatinous Cube. They fill an entire section of corridor so completely that there is no conventional means of getting around their seemingly square body. While this has led to some speculation that Road Hogs come in a variety of sizes to fit a variety of sized corridors, a wizard with an idiot idea decided to test this. When a Road Hog is brought into a non-enclosed space, such an open road, one finds that you can be faced with the front end or the back end, but you cannot come around its side. You can walk as far perpendicular of the Road Hog as you like, it will always appear to be blocking your way with its immense bulk. It is only once killed that the Road Hog merely becomes a pig of epic, albeit limited, proportions. The Wizard Porceen the Greasy once attempted to make a great wall from Road Hogs but eventually died of dehydration when he couldn't get around the pigs to his well. 

The Scapegoat

HD 1
Appearance: The blackest, most evil looking goat you've ever laid eyes on
Wants: To chew on everything, to headbutt stuff
Armour: As Leather
Move: 1.5 Normal
Morale: 8
Damage: Headbutt 1d6+1, Bite 1d6+Cure Poison/Disease/Curse

With its four curved horns, black fur and glowing red eyes, the Scapegoat looks like the evil spawn of Baphomet. In truth The Scapegoat is in nearly all ways an ordinary goat with ordinary goat wants and needs. Young Scapegoats are white, pristine, cute, and almost angelic. It is the Scapegoat's diet that causes its dark transformation. Whenever a Scapegoat bites something or someone, any impurities are driven from that target and manifest as apparent corruption in the Scapegoat. Sins are absolved, poisons purified, curses lifted, diseases banished. When a Scapegoat dies, however, all of the evil that it had consumed over the years floods out inflicting themselves on any nearby target. A community that gets its hands on a real Scapegoat will usually let the creature bite whatever it wants until it looks like Satan's step brother then they drive it out to die in the wilderness where its curses can affect a bunch of random squirrels instead. 

The Paper Tiger
HD 8/6/1
Appearance: The epitome of tigers, a regular tiger, a crudely crafted paper tiger
Wants: To invoke and feed on Fear
Armour: As Plate, As Chain, None
Move: 2x Normal
Morale: 8
Damage: Claw/Claw/Bite 1d8/1d8/2d8, Claw/Claw/Bite 1d6/1d6/2d6 , Claw/Claw/Bite 1/1/1
Fearful Roar- The Paper Tiger always starts combat with a Fearful Roar. All who hear it must Save vs. Fear. Targets failing the Save interact with the Paper Tiger as though it was an 8 HD Saber-Tooth Tiger. Succeeding the save treats it as a standard tiger.
Fire Vulnerability- The Paper Tiger takes double damage from fire sources. Furthermore the Paper Tiger reverts to a crudely crafted origami 1 HD if it takes fire damage.

It is unknown if the Idiom or the creature came first, but like a lot of weird and magical animals out there we can all agreed that probably a Wizard did it. The Paper Tiger exists with a sort of Glamour, allowing it to manipulate others perceptions and bolster itself with those feelings. When met with fear, the Paper Tiger is a massive and daunting saber-tooth, something that strikes right at the scared ape deep inside our genome. When confronted by the reasonably brave, it appears as a normal, albeit still deadly tiger. Those incapable of fear, the truly innocent, and those that confront the Paper Tiger in daylight (or similarly bright conditions) find that it truly is paper and is about as dangerous as a paper cut. 

I looked for Skeletal Clowns and I noped the hell out of Google

Funny Bone

HD 2
Appearance: A skeleton with a rainbow afro-wig and a fake red nose. Squeaks as it walks
Wants: To make you laugh!
Armour: As Leather, half damage from slashing
Move: Normal
Morale:  12
Damage: Acid Squirt-Flower 1d6 (range as sling)
Bad Joke: Once every 1d6 rounds, a Funny Bone may tell a joke so terrible that all that hear it must save or be affect as a Ghoul's Paralysis. Uncles and other beings with exceptionally bad senses of human may have an advantage to this save. 

Funny Bones as the risen skeletons of clowns, jesters, and other comedians who died while telling a particularly bad joke. Unsurprisingly common in the dungeons of Tyrants.

The Gift Horse
HD 2
Appearance: A shabby but sturdy gray dapple mare
Wants: Grass, not to have its mouth looked into
Armour: As Leather
Move: 4x Normal
Morale:  8
Damage: Hoof/Hoof 1d4/1d4, See Below

The Gift Horse is, by casual observation, a shabby but serviceable horse that you might find at a mildly shady stable. A Gift Horse will always cost half of what any other horse costs or be entirely free. As long as no one looks the Gift Horse in the mouth, it is essentially a standard Riding Horse. Anyone who looks the Gift Horse in the Mouth must Save (Vs. Dex or Reflex or something) or be swallowed as a Bag of Devouring. Anyone adjacent to the target may attempt a Strength check to pull the target out of the Gift Horse's mouth, but failure draws them in as well. 

Shit Creek- There are a number of metaphysical rivers the connect the various planes of reality. The best known are the Rivers Styx and Oceanus, the diametrically opposed twin rivers of the afterlife. Other rivers include the Acheron, Lethe, Vadgelmir, Gjöll, Sambation, Ruoshui and myriad others. Usually if you encounter one of these rivers you are on your way to the Afterlife or you are on a particularly epic journey. If you find yourself faced with Shit Creek, you've done fucked up. Shit Creek flows from The Rock and ends at The Hard Place, and in between is a polluted nightmare of rapids. Unlike the other metaphysical Rivers, Shit Creek travels, manifesting where an individual (or group of individuals) have so thoroughly complicated their lives that they have arrived at Shit Creek. On the bank of Shit Creek is a dingy (sans paddle). The only answer is to turn back to face your problems or risk being on Shit Creek without a Paddle. When upon Shit Creek roll a d100. The party crossing Shit Creek may make sacrifices to survive crossing Shit Creek, but must do so BEFORE rolling. 

Per Point of Stat Reduction
Per 500GP
Per +1 of Magic Item
Per 10 Years of Life
Per Language
Color Vision
Per Memory (Skill, Ability, Event)
Per Sense (Sight, Smell, etc.)
Race (lose all racial abilities)
Per Level
Immune System (always fail disease checks)
Per Full Stat (You will never succeed this stat check)
Per Person

1. You are absolutely screwed. While going down Shit Creek, you've navigated into a branch of the River Phlegethon. Its hellish flames are so hot that it incinerates your existence from the Akashic Records. Everyone hand the DM your character sheets and a lighter.
2-20. Shit Creek sweeps you away to The Hard Place where you are smashed up against the rocks. Double any sacrifices made, take 2d6 damage, and try to swim back to the original shore
21-30 All your sacrifices are for naught. Double all sacrifices and be slung back to the original shore.
31-60 Despite giving it your all, Shit Creek was too much for you. Your sacrifices remain and you are beached on the original shore.
61-80 The Boatman takes pity on you and lends you a paddle. Your sacrifices are forgiven, but you can only make it back to the original shore. 
81-95 You've made it, but it was hard fought. You have come to the other side of Shit Creek battered and changed. For your sacrifices, everything that was coming to collect their debts upon you (literal or metaphorical) has been dissuaded in some way. Reality will figure things out.
96-99 You've made it, and it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Half the sacrifices made and remove your debts.
100. You have come across Shit Creek somehow unscathed. Whatever sacrifices you have made to get here are forgiven and whatever prompted you to cross Shit Creek is nullified. The law misplaces their warrants, the devil misplaces his contract, your mother-in-law forgets that time you threw up during Thanksgiving. As far as reality is concerned you are as squeaky clean as a saint. 

The Back Forty- Everyone has space that they are not utilizing. For some it is quite a large space, such as an undeveloped part of a farmer's property. For others it could be very little space at all, in the case of a hoarder for example. This space leads a dual life, on one hand existing merely a never-used place holder, while on the other being connected via The Back Forty. The Back Forty is one of several Liminal Lands that exist on the boundaries of creation, such as the better known Crossroads. This is the border between the the civilized and the wild, the remembered and the forgotten, a place that is at the back of our minds (and yards) but barely ever thought of. 

A number of entities make use of the Back Forty. Urban and suburban fae are known to use it as a sort of quick transport system by being able to literally walk between unused spaced. Hobbits make use of this space to build their homes and gardens outside of the perception of the Big Folk. Mortals can make use of this region, but it is inherently destabilized by mortal use. Spending longer than a few minutes in any one area of The Back Forty makes it into a "used" land and is pulled out of its liminal status. It is additionally dangerous for mortals to travel via The Back Forty because a misstep could cause one to walk into a 2x2x2 space in the back of an attic closet or an air bubble in a wreck at the bottom of a lake. 

The Tempest in a Teapot- If a malicious rumor is whispered into the spout of this teapot, it is filled with 4 servings of a delicious hot herbal tea. Any drinking this tea will suddenly know of an exaggerated version of this rumor, drinkers must Save (vs. Wisdom or some such) or take this rumor as gospel. Re-feeding this rumor into the Teapot will create increasingly exaggerated rumors and increasingly dark tea. Opening the lid on the teapot will unleash a 15 mile diameter severe thunderstorm (lightning included) that rains tea, effectively spreading the rumor over the entire area. This also consumes the teapot's magic, leaving it ordinary and probably pretty beaten up by the aforementioned storm.

The Double Edged Sword: This cursed blade acts as a standard +1 Longsword, however all damage dealt with it is mirrored on the wielder. When combat starts, this weapon will always leap to the wielder's hand before all other weapons. If the wielder of the Double Edge Sword intentionally damages themselves, they can mirror that damage on any creature that has damaged them before regardless of distance. A Remove Curse spell can allow one to be rid of the Double Edge Sword. Purposefully attacking oneself with no intended victim can also remove the curse, but has a 5% chance of gaining the attention of a Paradox Angel.  

The Big Cheese: A truly massive cheese wheel, with a width and girth similar to the cross section of a Sequoia. This several ton cheese inspires awe in those who witness it and admiration towards whomever might be in possession of it. The rightful owner of The Big Cheese (called The Head Honcho) is able to issue Commands (as the spell) to anyone who can see The Big Cheese. Furthermore The Head Honcho may cast Charm Person 3x per day on anyone who has been successfully commanded, Create Food/Water (Cheese/Fondue) 3x per day, Stinking Cloud 1x per day, and may continuously speak with and command rodents. The Head Honcho must be in constant contact with The Big Cheese or all effects of The Big Cheese will be ended. The Big Cheese itself tastes disgusting and any attempting to eat it must Save or lose any benefit from rations due to severe vomiting for the next 24 hours.

The Straw- This is the straw that did it, the straw that broke the camel's back. You can pick this piece of straw up as normal and do the things you might do with a piece of straw. But anything that has any encumbrance, otherwise full inventory slots, or is teetering precariously in some manner, the straw suddenly weighs several hundred pounds. The target holding the Straw takes fall damage as though they've fallen from 30' and is pinned under its weight until removed from an outside source. 

The Free Lunch- There is no such thing. The lunch in front of you should not, does not exist. Observing the non-existent Free Lunch summons a hostile Paradox Angel who will purge all observers before eating the Free Lunch and vanishing in a push of logic. Defeating the Paradox Angel and eating the Free Lunch affects you as by Liquid Buffer Overflow and 99 Items (also in Paradox Angel entry, may cause more Paradox Angels to show up.)

The Early Bird: The Early Bird is always the first to get up, reality retroactively ensures it. There are 24 Early Birds, one for each Time Zone, and they are always the first creature to be newly awake in that time zone. An Early Bird kept in a cage will act as a perfect Alarm as it will always be awake before anything else that might ambush a sleeping party. That said, it only works in that single time zone, so travelling too far east/west will kill it. Furthermore, the Early Bird must be released after it has awoken so it may catch The Worm. Not allowing the Early Bird to catch The Worm may have dire consequences.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Low Country Crawl: The Zine!

Howdy everyone! Just wanted to give y'all a heads up on what is on the horizon.

With the help of David Schirduan and Charles Avery, I am producing what I hope to be the first in a series of Zines that can bring the Low Country to you!

 Low Country Crawl Volume 1 will be focused on bringing the Barrier Islands into your adventures. These marsh laden coastal islands will provide your players new and delightful environments to experience and strange creatures to encounter. We will be providing the first tastes of the unique folklore and magic of the coastal south, hinting at the mystical power of the Root and the ever present threat of Haints, both of which will feature more prominently in future volumes. This Zine will also include a few sample islands with locations and adventure seeds that you can drop wholesale into your campaign!

Please follow check out this link to learn more and sign up here for the Newsletter!

 I have more posts in draft that I can feasibly wrap my mind around so expect plenty of somewhat normal updates once everything is more settled.