Thursday, September 13, 2018

Aberrant summon generator

Ability

  1. Claws
  2. Lightning
  3. Fire
  4. Grasp
  5. Psychic
  6. Negation (magic/fire/sound)

Senses

  1. Light
  2. Sound
  3. Movement
  4. Magic
  5. Contact
  6. Heat

Behavior

  1. Attack stimuli
  2. Repel stimuli
  3. Seek stimuli
  4. Avoid stimuli
  5. Attack randomly
  6. Move randomly

Movement

  1. Immobile
  2. Walk
  3. Float
  4. Crawl
  5. Roll
  6. Teleport

Shape

  1. Humanoid
  2. Human
  3. Beastial
  4. Wormlike
  5. Shapeless
  6. Geometric

Mutation

  1. Eyes
  2. Teeth
  3. Limbs
  4. Heads
  5. Skin flaps
  6. Tendrils

Deformity

  1. Eyeless
  2. Mouthless
  3. Headless
  4. Skinned
  5. Boneless
  6. Desiccated

Entrance

  1. Flash of light
  2. Burst of smoke
  3. Fissure in the ground
  4. Coalescing ooze
  5. Ripple of space
  6. Swarm of vermin

Examples

4, 3, 4, 5, 2, 3, 5, 1
Dolgru Var Namm
Appears with a flicker of dull, orange-yellow light, this being resembles an enormous human with many arms and legs lying in a limp heap. It is quite cowardly despite its strength, and will flee readily from any rapid motion, crushing anything in its path and ripping through walls with its numerous, seemingly broken arms. It is thought, by those few scholars who know of it, to perhaps be a lost god of the giants, twisted and broken in a war with a distant unknown pantheon.

3, 4, 2, 6, 5, 1, 4, 4
Valafar
When summoned, this being first appears as blood seeping from the eyes of any nearby mortals, though that will quickly gather and build into a sagging mound of muscle and fat, dotted with eyes. The eyes glow a soft orange, and can splash jets of flame from their corners, or move the creature in an instant through a blue beam of light. If it comes across any source of magic it will attempt to drive them off with its fires, or use the flames to goad mortals into removing magical objects. It is subtly careful to never truly harm magical creatures or items, but is quite careless for the mundane.

2, 6, 3, 2, 3, 4, 2, 2
Tremellin
Carried atop three tall, spindly legs, this worm crackles with energy and has three heads with no mouths. It appears in a thunderclap of dark grey cloud, before rising to its full height of about five meters. Its six eyes look through any kind of boundary for the most heated object within its reach, which it then lowers itself to warp around and exchange energy, heat for lightning. It seems to find comfort in this act, and will rest there until dismissed.

In my personal game I'm going to have summoners roll on this table every level, but you can use it for any bizarre creatures you want. It obviously doesn't do everything for you, but that's how it allows for creativity!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Potion Generator

Random Potion Generator

Use this to generate some interesting random potions. Tables are written in descending order of significance, so you can just keep rolling until you get a potion exactly as complex as you want. You can even roll multiple times on a given table, especially side effects and flavors.

Effect 

  1. Increased accuracy
  2. Increased hit points (long-lasting)
  3. Glow (long-lasting)
  4. Invisibility
  5. Darksight
  6. Water breathing
  7. Levitation
  8. Haste

Side Effect 

  1. Change skin color
  2. Change hair color
  3. Grow feathers
  4. Grow scales
  5. Eyes sprout from skin
  6. Teeth sprout from skin
  7. Gain weight
  8. Vomit

Flavor 

  1. Fruity
  2. Citrus
  3. Salty
  4. Bitter
  5. Sour
  6. Bland
  7. Spicy
  8. Tangy

Texture 

  1. Carbonated
  2. Oily
  3. Pulpy
  4. Gritty
  5. Creamy
  6. Thick (like pudding)
  7. Syrupy
  8. Foamy

Size 

  1. Microliter (droplet)
  2. Millileter (dram)
  3. Centiliter (10ml or two tbsp)
  4. Deciliter (100ml or half cup)
  5. Two deciliters (200ml or one cup)
  6. Half liter (two cups)
  7. Liter (one bottle)
  8. Two liters (jug)

Container

  1. Glass bottle
  2. Clay jar
  3. Waterskin
  4. Stone pitcher
  5. Crystal decanter
  6. Metal vial
  7. Wax-coated sponge
  8. Magic field

Cursed Effect 

  1. Blind
  2. Numb
  3. Paralyzed (short-lasting)
  4. Asleep (after potion wears off)
  5. Addictive
  6. Repulsive (can't drink another)
  7. Gibberish
  8. Sluggish (half movement)

Examples

2, 7, 3, 3, 7, 5, 5
A semi-common drug known to those in the underground as Filler, it is relatively unknown in normal society. Its taste alone could be described as inoffensive, but the texture makes it highly unpleasant to most. Drinking it causes growth of a type of firm fat deposits that resemble muscle, but soften into normal fat over night. An adventurer's dose is usually sold in finely carved crystal decanters that would make the the whole thing hard to get down during the heat of battle, so most dealers will recommend drinking it at the start of the day.

5, 3, 1, 7, 6, 4, 3
Usually imported from tropical islands, this potion is kept in the same stone cups used to mix it from exotic fruits and herbs. It is known as Eagle Eye because it allows the drinker to see through any shadow, but causes feathers to sprout from the drinker's shoulders and hips. The shift in vision is deeply disorienting, and stuns anyone who drinks it for up to a minute. Certain adventurers tout it as a superior alternative to torches or oil lamps, but most stick with fire, and Eagle Eye remains a niche product.

7, 1, 4, 5, 8, 7, 8
Referred to as Cloud, or drinkable clouds, this is thought of by most adventurers as being of little use, but it retains a high price for its popularity among the upper class. The drinker will find themselves floating gently in the air, as though swimming. Most often it is stripped of the wax and then warmed until it becomes thinner and drips out of the sponge, giving it a flavor often compared to tea. The large size of the sponge is one of the biggest hindrances for an adventurer.

In my opinion these examples I rolled up are a perfect sign of how good this table is, and my only hope is that others will find it as useful and enjoyable as me.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Roleplaying games cause health problems

Most games measure the physical status of characters with a linear number or bar, which typically measures their status from perfectly fine to dead. Whether it's called hit points, health bar, or life, damaging effects will reduce it by flat, cumulative quantities that can end in death from a thousand paper cuts just as effectively as an explosion by their head. This made sense at one point, but in the current wider context it's nonsense.

The origin of roleplaying games, as well as a shocking number of game design conventions, is Dungeons & Dragons, often abbreviated to D&D. It was adapted from Chainmail, a medieval fantasy wargame in which most units would die if hit by any attack. When adapting it from a wargame to a roleplaying game, Dave Arneson wanted to increase survivability and granularity so that players would feel more like heroes than expendable soldiers. He added in the 'hit points,' which presumably represent an individuals physical health, as well as dodging skill and luck to some degree.

These hit points were based on civil war naval combat wargames, in which ships would have hull points that were depleted by attacks before the ship would sink. Much like the infamous one-minute combat round, hull points made much more sense in their strategic origin than they do in a more specific, individual scenario. In both systems, the target is fully capable of fighting and moving at full potential until defeated, being either sunk or killed respectively. When a ship is taking shots to the hull, it makes sense that the guns would be fully capable of firing as long as the ship stays afloat, barring possible crew deaths and direct hits to the weaponry. But when a person is wounded significantly, they are noticeably less capable of wielding a weapon or defending themselves, even while alive and still able to fully recover later.

The issue here is that damage and wounds are tracked in a purely linear, cumulative manner. Some games will actually include specific types of wounds, but they usually take the form of a very restricted and oftentimes minor debuff caused by one special attack. Consider some real world comparisons. If you have ten paper cuts along your hand, each one centimeter long and one millimeter deep, then that wouldn't matter much. If instead, you had one cut ten centimeters long (about four inches) and one centimeter deep, it would be significantly more concerning. And likewise if you had ten of those cuts, they would be nothing compared to one wound a meter long (about three feet), and ten centimeters deep, which would be a mortal danger no matter where it is on the body.

In this consideration it seems quite obvious that most wounds on a human don't quite add up in the way hull damage does on a ship. It can be a helpful simplification in a tabletop game, or in early computer games where processing power was limited and detailed simulations were difficult. However, for any modern video game trying to claim any realism, a health bar or life bar of any kind really makes no sense. Many games, such as most military shooters, try to make this seem more realistic by hiding the health bar, instead displaying blood effects on the edges of the screen and allowing health to regenerate over time.

In fact, this quick health regeneration makes the health system significantly less realistic, and accomplishes only a more even balance for a game with guns and attacks that can't be dodged reliably. While there is an argument to be made for this balancing, my point is that an argument could equally be made against the general concept of linear health bars. For tabletop games, adding a complex wound system always bears the possibility of making the game overly complicated and unwieldy, but there are better ways to handle that as well. And making players worry about every wound will increase the tension of the game, creating more engagement and interest in the outcome of every conflict, and in turn increases the sense of reward whenever a challenge is overcome.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Wand Generator

Power

  1. Fire
  2. Ice
  3. Lightning
  4. Oil
  5. Grasp
  6. Shrink
  7. Polymorph (bear, lynx, hawk, deer, rabbit, or horse)
  8. Negation (magic/fire/sound)

Target

  1. Individual (creature or item)
  2. Line
  3. Cone
  4. Circle
  5. Wall
  6. Nearest sound
  7. Nearest magic
  8. Random

Material
  1. Wood: Plain wooden wand.
  2. Base metal: Iron, nickel, copper, lead, zinc, or a combination.
  3. Noble metal: Gold, silver, platinum, mercury(?), electrum, or a combination.
  4. Stone: Crude granite, fine marble, or even limestone.
  5. Gem: Ruby or sapphire, maybe quartz if you want.
  6. Glass: Preferably of a bright color, or hollow and full of liquid.
  7. Animal: Bone, bound leather, or a living worm.
  8. Reroll twice, combine results.
Shape
  1. Straight: A plain, straight wand.
  2. Forked: Splits into two ends, or maybe two handles.
  3. Flat: Broad and flattened, like a small plank.
  4. Crooked: Bent oddly.
  5. Spiral: Twists around like a corkscrew.
  6. Ring: Donut shaped, like a horseshoe or chakram.
  7. Object: Looks like a random mundane object, but is still clearly magical.
  8. Reroll twice, combine results.
Feature
  1. Bulbs: Rounded irregularities along the length of the wand.
  2. Thorns: Long spines or tiny bumps.
  3. Ripples: As if it was the surface of a lake as a stone skips, frozen and coiled into your hand.
  4. Grooves: As if gouged out with the tip of a blade.
  5. Holes: Running through the wand, possibly making it a tube.
  6. Runes: In whatever language you like.
  7. Utility: Functions as or contains in its design a mundane item, such as a key behind the handle, or a small holding compartment.
  8. Reroll twice, combine results.
Effect
  1. Glowing: Could pulse, or glow at certain times.
  2. Sparking: Might crackle intermittently, or when used.
  3. Flaming: Illusory, harmless flames or a candle flame at the tip.
  4. Oozing: Drips onto the floor, the user's hand, targets.
  5. Distortion: Causes a lensing effect around the wand, like a black hole or heat waves.
  6. Debris: Small chunks or dust float around it, or comprise part of its length.
  7. Voice: Echoes, whispers, screaming, or humming
  8. Reroll twice, combine results.
Examples

7: Shrink
5: Wall
7: Animal
Bone
2: Forked
Cracked and split
5: Holes
Cracks that run through the bone
2: Sparking
In the marrow

This dry, broken bone still feels somehow alive with twisted energy. It splits near the end, and inside the many cracks and holes there can sometimes be seen a crackle of dark energy. Casts out an elongated field of dark indigo lightning that will reach out to shock anything that passes over it, reducing its size dramatically for a brief period.

2: Fire
4: Circle
3: Noble metal (3: Platinum)
1: Straight
3: Ripples
Carvings of fish and waves
4: Oozing
Fish oil or algae

Powerful in the hands of a merfolk, on the surface world it feels slick and stinks of the sea. Some may call it cursed, but in truth it is simply out of place. Its power causes all liquid within the area of effect to ignite with green flames that burn water almost as if it were oil.

6: Negation
3: Cone
8: Combination of 6: Glass and 3: Noble metal (4: Mercury)
Hollow glass, full of mercury
4: Crooked
3: Ripples
5: Distortion
Extends the pattern of the ripples

An elongated, narrow cone of glass. It has a rough surface, carved in a wavy pattern that seems to extend an inch or so beyond the surface. Inside it contains some liquid metal that seems averse to heat.

Seems good for making some crazy looking wands. Maybe I'll come up with a wand effect table, or you can just use your spell list of choice.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Three Empty Cities

Tliuklef is sometimes called the City of Glass Thorns or the Growling City, and some bards are trying to coin it as the Swamp King’s Castle, although anyone can see that it lacks a castle entirely. Each day it grows a little more out of the swamp, as if it sunk long ago and is now rising back up. But surely it has changed, as now it is impossible to enter without hearing a constant scratching, clicking, and buzzing from every direction. No source of this noise can be seen, and in fact the city has an eerily complete lack of any life whatsoever.


Those who explore soon leave, finding nothing of use, and food brought into the city is always stolen overnight, leaving only the faintest remnants. Only a few people have run screaming from the place, covered in cuts and punctures. Some have been lost to the city, and those who survive these mysterious attacks claim that they saw nothing, but were suddenly attacked from all directions as if by tiny invisible knives. This has earned it a fearsome reputation of being cursed, or full of unseen hazards, though some survivors claim that it was no idle thorns that threatened them, but rather a ubiquitous and malicious force.

The Growling City is inhabited by a hive of giant, invisible insects. Each one is about the size of two fists put together, and they have barbed mandibles that rip apart flesh. They are generally peaceful, but those who have died within were simply unlucky enough to step on one, angering the swarm. These insects are not the reason for the city’s return to the surface, they merely took up residence there.

-----------

The Coward’s Peak is a small city built on a mountain pass, presumably once a great trade route. Now it is called cursed, a place of eternal darkness and nightmares. The city looks shaded from afar, a dark space nestled between two mountains, in a way that seems almost natural. But even when the sun shines on it, no light reaches those towers or streets.

From within it is even worse; the sun and moon disappear, the sky becomes black, and the stars open up into gaping, soulless eyes. None can walk the streets without feeling death at their heels, and sleep only yields endless nightmares of ripping oneself apart using nails and spikes. The city is also filthy, filled with the stench of rot and obvious signs of decay.

The only group to have stayed longer and returned said that they could see eyes in every shadow, and always when they turned there would be something poking out from the corner that quickly ducked back out of view. After their return they have proved to be mad, one killing their spouse and children, while another ran into the wilderness and disappeared. Any who die within the city are found dead beyond its walls the next morning, even if there were no survivors to carry the bodies.

The only thing living there is a powerful monster and the aura of fear it exudes. It doesn’t want to kill, or even to be known. But when people enter its city, it fears them. And with this fear it creates nightmares, showing people what they fear most and attempting to chase them from the city. If they still linger, then it will attack, shrouding itself in their greatest fear. It weeps tears of terror as it attacks, killing the trespassers and dumping their bodies safely out of its city, its sanctuary, the only place where it can be safe.

-----------

The Wild City appears to be a great metropolis, but like Tliuklef there is not a single thing living within. What makes this even stranger verging on impossible, the city lies in the middle of a forest, near a well travelled road. Anyone who enters beyond view disappears quickly and quietly, leaving no traces. Many travellers have disappeared along that road, and are thought to have been taken in by the city, devoured.

It looks beautiful, with elegant archways and clean, seemingly polished surfaces. The gates are open and inviting, and a faint smell of baking bread surrounds the place. This city is in fact a mimic. Possibly one gigantic mimic, possibly a colony of them (like algae), or perhaps even the god of all mimics.