Monday, October 14, 2019

A Good Comment


My in-thread comment replies aren't working, and I also deleted a good comment by mistake, so here I am! The good comment was on this post about Open air Dungeons, and it was (paraphrased) "how is this materially different from a point crawl?".

The answer is that it's not materially different at all, it's just points and lines. 

I guess the implied question with that was: "what's so special about this then?". The answer there is that that system about using randomization and semi-conscious procedure instead of deliberate design to create an adventure. 

If I wanted to make a miniature cave system, for example, I just need an impure block of limestone, a continuous drip of water, and thousands of years. I don't need to "design" it, there's a process that'll do it for me. I want to make things that work like that, but faster.

So just drawing a  point crawl would be fine, but in that case you end up having to make all these decision about where everything is, what kind of spatial relationships there are. That can be alright, but if a randomized procedure does that instead you end up seeing the meaning of the layout as you play the game. Things will happen that you didn't plan, or couldn't ever plan. For me, at least, that's way more interesting to run, and play with.

I also like what it does for the imagination. You have a process that'll lay things out, right? You just need to think of stuff that might be in there. Beyond that, you can mix and match. Place what's necessary, randomize the rest. 60/40, 50/50, 90/10, whatever. It's flexible.

When it comes to making maps I'm not really trying to like, find new shapes for people to make maps out of or whatever. I'm trying to abstract space and time in ways that aren't about accurate scale, trying to make something that allows you to prep and use an adventure in like 15 minutes, and also something that let's you have an actually different Adventure if you run it again later. I also think of it as a play-aid instead of an illustration, every kind of map I use looks like scribble, but it's functional scribble.

A map that make the game a process of discovery-through-play for everyone. I like that a lot. That's what's different about it. 


Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Voyage

Part One To reach the land of wonders the ship travels to the furthest point from land, the very center of the open sea. The path is takes is inefficient and confusing.  The journey can last months.


The ship is controlled by unseen forces, and the Attendants have no influence. They cannot leave it, held in as if by magnets. They are servants of the masters. The Ship itself is demonstration of the masters unearthly power. The top deck is an austere Roman garden filled with uncanny amenities.


The Greater Attendant acts as mouthpiece, strolling the decks or standing at the bow, while the Lesser Attendants have other duties. They are nudged into work or relaxation by instinct. They are meek and submissive around visitants.


  • Standing at the edges of the topmost deck, watching the open sea. As the masters view it, all things adrift at sea are “lost”, and can be claimed by them. This includes those marooned, or shipwrecked. These attendants carry long hooked poles that extend out when placed on fulcrums round the deck, and can lift in any living person. 
  • Tending to the gardens, and harvesting its many fruits and other byproducts.
  • Perform music on numerous remarkable instruments, in small groups. They have developed a unique style across the centuries, built on group improvisation. Hypnotizing and complex, between raga and bluegrass.
  • Below deck, they have created many impressive macrame using found rope and collected fish skeletons. Parts are reused, all is as temporary as sandcastles.
  • When there are visitors, some Attendants catch and others prepare the bounty of the sea. Fish is served sliced, and raw.
  • Attendants will obey all visitors, more or less. They are here to serve them, as well. They will not harm them, or free them, but most all else is valid.

THE GREATER ATTENDANT
It remembers its old life only vaguely, as it has been years and years. It was once a fisher, it remembers always knowing the sea. The body it has now is very different from its old one (as are all the attendants). It is thankful for the many wonders it has seen, but sometimes misses its former life. It trusts the masters, perhaps for lack of other options. It has seen islands of solid ice, rocks that can only be reached by birds, tiny sandbars in the midst of nothing with only a single tree.

Offerings are left to their own devices, they may “pursue all pleasures”. Time on the ship passes loosely, a mixture of idleness and distress. Unless time is tracked deliberately, speak about it passing in the broad est generalities.

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Ship

An 18th-century print of a royal barge as used by Caligula
Throughout the world are old stories about isolated harbors. It is an obscure field, but studies of these stories and their common features will be found in exceptional libraries. To wit: at known intervals, years apart, a great ship from a "land of wonders" would arrive at a designated coastal sacred site. Those outside this place would never see the ship, or be able to recall its passage. 

The ship awaited volunteers who would give service to the masters of its land. They would board this ship, sometimes promised an eventual return, but would never be seen again. In exchange their people were given simple tools with miraculous qualities, which functioned until the time of exchange came again. Kingdoms flourished while sacrifice was maintained. They gained wealth and power far beyond their neighbors.
The gifts of the ship included self-turning millstones, baskets of replenishing fruit, and ever-burning unfueled ovens without smoke or vapor. Bells that summoned rain, rods that fertilized barren earth, unerring arrows, and blades that split all things into smooth halves. These were trinkets of the masters power, hairs from a lions head. It is implied that witnessing their glory in person was reward all its own. These objects may still be found, with near intangible auras of their old powers. Now only props for old stories, they are valuable for Magical research. They prove that the contours of the old stories are correct, with the tables and charts of those obscure books. The ship is real and can be found.

Receiving no sacrifice it has given no gifts, always to eventually return. It could still be boarded, once it arrives. The land of wonders could be seen, and the masters could be met. It is surrounded by a distant shimmer like rippled glass. It will not be seen unless you are at a designated harbor at the designated time. It comes by night, arriving after sunset and leaving before dawn.
Immense, oppressive. Long oars out each side, hints of stately architecture seen on topmost desk. It comes to shore, impossibly close, with the bow opening like praying hands separating. On an emerging walkway stands a figure with an impassive head of swirling marble, subtle shining metal accents glint in moonlight wearing flowing robes of neutral colors. With gloved hands spread wide, spoken with your inner voice, an audible thought intrudes: “Who is offered up for service to the masters, and will journey to the land of wonder?”

The Attendants
On the ship are many Lesser Attendants, and a Greater one. The Greater Attendant is described above, with statuesque stone head minimal and elegant. The Lesser ones have simpler forms, they are cruder. Less clearly human. They dress in leggings with knee-length tunics of rougher, quilted fabric. Their hands are also gloved, and like the Greater Attendant you cannot see any of their skin. Image result for henry moore head Related image
The Greater Attendant can "speak" using the inner voice of all onboard the ship or in its presence, while the Lessers cannot make a sound. Both Lessers and Greater can hear and see in ways that are approximately human. They do not tire or grow hungry. They do not thirst, or age, or suffer sickness. The fleshy parts of their bodies feel pain and typical sensations, but not in ways that mean a thing to them. If cut or crushed they quickly mend. You cannot kill them, or crack their stone.

They are here in Service, and have been changed as part of it. They do not steer the ship, and do not control it. The vessel is autonomous, and for centuries and centuries they have gone along with the strict choreography of this ritual exchange. Beneath their clothes the head, neck, and torso are all smooth stone, the gently changing marble. Their limbs by contrast are all flesh. This is attached by narrow  rims or brands of metal. All of it is mismatched. These limbs all came from many other bodies.


The Boarding & Departure
All offered will enter the ship with the Greater Attendant, and stand in a dimly lit room surrounded by curtains. An incense haze, a whisper of unearthly music. Simultaneously, the gift will be given to recipients on the shore by several Lessers. They will return, and the bow will swiftly close. The ship departs sudden and smooth. The Greater welcomes those offered with gravitas and poise, thanking them for their upcoming service, as Lesser Attendants emerge from behind and gently pull them into a smaller, dimmer darkness. In this curtained space they will be anointed with fragrant oils, while a necklace is offered to them and gestured to be worn. Hands move around them performing obscure gestures as they are given a sweet nectar drink and drift into stupefaction. Lulled into sleep by strange narcotics as now droning, chiming music plays. Attendants are meek and pitiful if you resist this at any stage. You are merely in a room with cloth partitions and clever lighting, and could tear it all apart. They will be overawed, and will cower. The Greater will beg for calmness, peace. It will apologize. You can ask it all you want, and it will answer. It cannot stop this.

The necklace, if willingly worn or placed, cannot be removed. If torn off it will still be there. A simple disk on a simple cord, it completely defies you. The Greater does not know what it is for, or what it does, should you ask it.

The nectar is delectable and harmless. It makes you warm and dulls the senses with fuzzy bliss. You will awake from sleep after uncounted days, nourished and relaxed, atop a heap of downy cushions.


Next: The Voyage

Monday, September 30, 2019

MOTHERSHIP: Space Cities & Visual Tropes

MOTHERSHIP is a lot of fun. The rules are light and intuitive, and the system definitely does what the designer wants it to do while being malleable enough that you can easily make it your own. I've been playing it very happily, running the Pound of Flesh module.


It's in Space. 

When you run a game of say, Olde Tyme D&D there's this sort of mental reserve we all have (assuming I have an audience that's all absorbed plenty of European/North American sorts of media, anyway) . It's a saf assumption that everyone at the table probably  has well established aesthetic reference points and known visual tropes for "the vaguely medieval world", so you don't ever need to describe what a Town With A Castle looks like, basically.

Space isn't exactly like that, as a genre. Think of the immaculate jumpsuit world of Star Trek, then the steamy Giger'd corridors of Alien. The Winnebago-punk styling of A New Hope, contrasted with the grim meathook tomorrows of Event Horizon and Dead Space. The interior design of Blade Runner compared with the look of 2001: A Space Odyssey.



When there's non-detail-descriptive language ("you're in a spaceship") and assumed familiarity ("you're in a city"), people jump to an aesthetic reference point to fill in the gap. If I tell you "you're in a city" you know there's buildings and cars and business in it, I really don't have to tell you that. In Space, when you lean on that, what do people imagine? With 3 players and 1 Warden you could have 4 entirely different looks going on.

I'm not building up to say this is bad or anything either, it's sort of the only reason literary fiction works. Imagine having to give a complete phenomenological account of everything in a world when you wrote a book, every time. You can build off of and play with assumptions, and you can set them up.



So, Mothership: A Pound of Flesh. There's a Space City, a city inside a space station. What does it look like inside? That's not spelled out for you. 8 million people live there, you're given that much, and you pay a daily Oxygen Tax. 

I imagined a place that always smelled like an airplane, with an occasional hint of sweat and garbage, the whole of it like a super-massive shopping mall. That's why you have to spend 10 credits a day, you just don't have O2 like that in a place this dense without paying for quality you can smell. I can use pictures of dead malls to set the scene.
Here's a few other ones.

6 SPACE CITIES



1. GARDEN

Oxygen is provided by an abundant living, thriving ecosystem. Whole biomes. There is grass, there are trees, there are fields. All of it bio-engineered, home-grown. Live animals just walking around, wandering, shitting where they please.

It's not perfect. There's no "sky", of course, only screens and glass under the outer defensive layers of whatever station this is in. Humidity and light are mechanically controlled. There's a non-insignificant chance of suffering merciless allergies the whole time, a non-zero chance of a full-bore anaphylactic event. You might get attacked by chimps, even.

But, it delights the soul to be in a place like this. You lose something from being in suits, in ships and on lifeless, hostile rocks for months on end. This kind of place brings that missing thing back, at least a little.

COST: The kind of expensive where you do not ask. This is more expensive than money. It is a gift for you be here, or more precisely, it has been a loan.

BENEFITS: Significant Stress relief, outside of worrying what you owe this place.

RISKS: As mentioned, this is a petri dish and a nature preserve. You might be allergic, it might be allergic to you, and the fauna may predatory. This includes the owners.

Related image


Related imageRelated imageImage result for giant greenhouseImage result for windows hill background


2. MODULAR
Immense warehouse-like sectors subdivided into quadrants, segments, units using movable partitions, scaffolding, and shipping container-sized units. Visualize an immense big box store space filled with sheds, additional floors created to hold more sheds. Communal bathroom and kitchen areas with large water/sewage tanks. Large bands on floor designated for traffic. Smaller warehouses built inside of larger warehouses. A world of IKEA showrooms, luxurious spa gymnasiums, and Kowloon Walled City. Each main "warehouse" has individual 02 production facilities and zoning, leading to stark difference between each sector. One can hold thousands, dozens and hundreds joined create a city-world. Imagine if the rich part of town really could close its' doors to the poor, and had its' own atmosphere.

COST: Varies wildly from Section to Section.

BENEFITS: Options. Endless, ceaseless options. Change is easy, constant, relentless. Essential independence of each discrete sector means citywide Doomsday scenarios are unlikely.

RISKS: Options. Endless, ceaseless options. Change is easy, constant, relentless. Essential independence of each discrete sector means sectorwide Doomsday scenarios are frequent.
Related imageImage result for empty home depot
Kowloon Walled CityImage result for ikea showroom houses



3. REPLICA
The artificial sky is high enough for skyscrapers. The artificial sky can remain a stately black, use inbuilt lighting systems to simulate a day/night cycle, or be some kind of endless Fremont Street Experience hellscape. Constant buzz of delivery drones overhead, buzz of electric vehicles on roads like on some kind of actual earth. An urban environment close enough to a "real one" that you can easily forget what you're inside of. Cities like this are built on grids, every inch of  real estate is leased and sold in horizontal and vertical units. Typically the whole affair is a kind of Company World, everything built on borrowed ground.

COST: Expensive. This may be the least efficient way to oxygenate a city.

BENEFITS: This is also one of the more popular forms of Exocity, or at least more enjoyed, because it hits the sweet spot between cold efficiency and actually existing psychology. It's an urban environment. It acts like something you've seen before, and can be understood like it. Making a fake atmosphere to scale and just growing a city in it works.

RISKS: The rent is high and life is cheap. Everything you didn't like about planetary cities, but with a chance to fall into O2 debt on top of it. No corrupt, ineffectual government to keep corporate entities in check either.
Image result for cyberpunk cityImage result for cyberpunk cityRelated image

4. DEAD
When a population is 95%+ Android there is no "02 Infrastructure". Vast mining outposts, research facilities, zero-g fabrication complexes, and other places where humans are in a supervisory role. Any residue of organic humanity in a place like this is either in a vacuum suit, an oxygenated ward that might be the size of an apartment building, or on a ship with a working life support system that's about to leave. Interiors are functional, ugly, and uncomfortable. At best, it's like living on an oil derrick, McMurdo Station, a submarine, or a space station now, and wearing a sealed suit almost the whole time. Amenities are minimal. Recreation is nil.

COST: Incredibly cheap, at least in terms of money. You might even be working there.

BENEFITS: If you can trust the Androids you have almost nothing to worry about, and it's just like a small town when you're one of the only few thousand real-humans.

RISKS: You can't reduce Stress, unease is constant. The environment is so close to being inhospitable to human life it takes almost nothing to make it completely inhospitable. It's just like a small town, of people who've been around too many Androids for too long. There aren't many things here, unless the Androids have secret recreational cycles.

Image result for space station interiorRelated imageRelated image

5. MICRO
Micro-apartments, capsule hotels, plazas, and loading docks. All hallways and corridors, lobby waiting areas, generic interiors re-purposed regularly. Hundreds of floors. No sky, no windows. Shopping Malls, Airports, Convention Centers, Storage Units. An absolutely thriving VR scene.

Image result for dead mall interiorImage result for dead mall interiorImage result for dead mall interiorImage result for rental storage

COST: Affordable! The very modest alternative to the Replica concept.

BENEFITS: You can probably find it here, for sale, for rent, to own. Affordable!

RISKS: Easy to get lost in. One wrong turn and you end up in some dim chamber, abandoned, leaky with low 02, no security systems. No way out, you are surrounded, wake up later in a dark room. It gets worse from there. They never find you, remains thrown down disposal chute. 

It's cheap because it's easy to build, it's easier to replace it than fix it , it's easier to forget about a lost sections, even if someone plugs the wholes and opens a grey market organ farm.

6. IMMERSIVE
The very non-optional VR overlay creates a unique civic experience. Informational videos on plain wall-panels, or a complete Synaesthetic Immersion Experience. It varies. If you let yourself get lost in the more ambitious ones for a bit this is the best there is, was, or could be. It's at least memorable, like a dream. If you aren't comfortable with haptic fedback, having your eyes influenced a bit, your ears whispered into, getting your nerves tickled, don't bother going past the Welcome Center.

COST: Not as much as you'd think, not as cheap as you'd like.

BENEFITS: Particularly efficient Stress relief, numerous Optional Cosmetic Upgrades.

RISKS: If you're worried about them keeping you in some vat while you just think you're walking around, them duping your synapses and carving off parts of you for resale while they drain your accounts, there are probably ways to take precaution. You wouldn't want to see how fast a place with full Immersion could descend into savagery if the Main Processor went down. Being sold things that aren't real.

Image result for augmented realityImage result for augmented realityImage result for pastelaeRelated imageImage result for augmented realityRelated image


Monday, February 11, 2019

Spell: To Take Eyes

This spell requires a human eye in arms reach of the Magic User, or a former eye previously affected by this spell.

When cast this spell causes a sudden and fluid movement of the Magic Users arm and hand directly towards the chosen eye. One digit flicks a closed lid open, if needed, and the index and thumb dip into the milky white of the sclera.

The fingers pinch and pull out iris and pupil intact, like a rose petal plucked from a puddle. The eye is left a bloodshot ball, slightly smaller, fully blind.

In the Magic Users palm the pupil, iris, and sclera they have taken rests like a puddle of raw egg.

The Magic-User may keep this stolen eye in their hand for One Turn per Level before it degrades into a muddled useless soup. The following can be done with the snatched eye, in the same round it is taken or at any time while the stolen Eye is safely in their hand.

The Magic User may discard, crush, and ruin the eye forever in any way they wish. 

They may return it where it came, placing it back into the target just as quickly as it was taken, restoring their vision.

It may be placed into another eye. This can cure blindness and issues of vision in that eye, should the new eye be more functional. with the faulty portions of that eye now safely in the Magic Users hand. The same can be done with inferior eyes.

It may be placed into one of the Magic User's own sockets. It settles in next to their own iris in the sclera, like another bit of oil pooled on water. It rests in the corner or side of the eye, and it does not impair or improve the Magic Users vision significantly, but may also remain there indefinitely. The Magic user may fit one snatched eye into each of their own per Level. 

A snatched eye may be put into the flesh of the Magic User, or another target within arms reach. This eyespot resembles a colorful bruise with a pale halo around a small black birthmark. The being this was taken from can see through the eyes of the flesh it was placed in, if they close their own. The person the eyespot was placed in can resist this with a Magic Save. Should the being this eyespot was removed from die it fades away, gone forever.

A snatched eye is placed into water suitable for any sort of fish it becomes an eyelet. So long as this water is exposed to light and shadow, providing visual nutrition, all eyelet inside it will live forever. Eyelets undulate like thumbnail jellyfish, with the reactive intelligence of a goldfish or guppy. They move in cloudy schools, and follow the movement of light and shadow. They live independently of any bodies they originate from, and can be placed back into sockets and transformed into ornaments as desired.

When placed onto an object an ornamental eye is created. If this eye was taken from the socket of a living being it forms one embedded in the object. It can be seen through by the prior owner. If they have sacrificed one of their eyes for this they must keep one covered to see through the other without becoming disoriented.  

If this is an addition to their visual field, it sits next to the limits of their mundane vision like a facet in a kaleidoscope. Movement seen by this ornamental eye might be detected from it at all times, using a Surprise Roll. The Magic-User may also “switch” their vision to come from this other eye if they choose, at will. 

A Magic User may have one such ornamental eye created from themselves per level. If this is destroyed while being seen through the Magic User will be blinded until they Save, and may only make one Save per day. If this is an addition to their visual field, it sits next to the limits of their mundane vision like a facet in a kaleidoscope. 

Movement seen by this ornamental eye might be detected from it at all times, using a Surprise Roll. The Magic-User may also “switch” their vision to come from this other eye if they choose, at will. A Magic User may have one such ornamental eye created from themselves per level. If this is destroyed while being seen through the Magic User will be blinded until they Save, and may only make one Save per day.

An ornamental eye created from an eyelet or eyespot is an otherwise mundane object, a piece of jewelry or decoration, worth 1d6sp x 10SP x the Level of the Magic User, in addition to whatever the object it was placed in was already worth. It cannot be changed back from this into an eyelet, eyespot, or eye.

A sleeping or helpless target has no way to resist this spell. It causes no pain, and does not alert them.

In combat, or against a “difficult” target, the Magic User must roll a Melee attack, adding their Level, to successfully strike the target. If this misses the spell has become a Risky Casting.

Using this spell on the eye of another species is always a Risky Casting.

MISCAST TABLE
1. The target being snatched from becomes distorted, like it was made of clay and had a clumsy hand pressed into it. This mangling leaves living things hideously deformed with a 1 in 6 chance of instantaneous death. Valuable things are ruined. Snatched eyelets are dead and useless, embedded inside the magic-users hand, making it mostly useless until the dead bits of it are removed by another casting of this spell. A second failed Risky Casting destroys the hand.

2. The Magic Users arm jerks in a horrible spasm. A handful of whatever was being snatched from is combined with their head. This can embed a useless eye into their face, add a grotesque tumorous lump to their head, or even meld their flesh with a lump of solid stone.

3. The Magic Users hand becomes stuck inside what they were snatching from, at the wrist. It does not harm what it was placed inside. If this were a volume of water their hand cannot break the surface of it, or be seen. It is in a null space.

A trapped hand can only be removed by a second successful casting of this spell. If this is attempted immediately, and another Risky Casting fails, the entire Magic-User is pulled inside the surface and vanishes from reality.

4. The eye pulled out is like a dull stone. Not pretty, not useful. It cannot see, it has no value. Any eye it is placed in will be blind now, any object it is placed on will be ruined, and it will float dead in any water it is placed in. If there was not already an intended target, this eye will be placed in a randomly determined target within range.

5. The initial target of the spell is transformed into a perfect gemstone so that the Magic-User is instantly affected by Trap the Soul as if it were a Trigger Object (the Magic User is trapped in that gemstone until it is destroyed). If the target of this spell was an eye in a living human that human is now blind in one eye, but is otherwise unharmed as long as the gem is not removed.

6. The entire body of one target of this spell is bashed into the second target with a hideous force, the Magic-Users arm able to pull in ways that defy physics. This does 1d6 damage per Level to any parties involved. If no living humans were intended to be involved, the Magic User is what gets thrashed. If there was no declared second target, the Magic User will receive this damage if there is no other valid human target within range to receive it.







Sunday, February 10, 2019

Mycology: Meadowbread & Spumarodus

Image result for drawing puffball mushroom
MEADOWBREAD
They grow in the same places season after season, like subtly wrinkled stones that appear in the grasses. Smallish at first, expanding to full size over several days, always a white-gray or brownish color. Some grow to the size of chicken eggs, others are bigger than a human skull. A rare few large enough to be small boulders, bigger than a tree stump or a horses head.

They are much lighter than stones, and their outer skin only papery shell. This is often smooth, sometimes faintly scaled or warty. It can be cracked and then peeled, showing a second layer that is like eggshell, but rubbery. Beneath this is a dense foam, moist, the texture of tofu or marshmallow. Whitish and sometimes tinted with faint yellows or browns. It has a faint but pleasant smell.
They are only barely tethered to the earth by a small tangle of threads, coming from an inconspicuous nub-stalk on the bottom. When winds are powerful enough smaller ones come loose and roll freely through the fields.

Left undisturbed all meadowbreads eventually harden, crack, and split open. Their interior will have darkened some, and then goes to the color of tobacco. It all crumbles into a loose powder. The smell of their decay is putrid and nauseating. In especially fertile seasons it becomes overpowering. This dust can even a sickness if it enters the nose and lungs.

The harvesting of meadowbread is an old tradition. It is still easy to find peasants who have preserved themselves with it in times of famine. Idle children and grazing animals will eat it too, and most shepherds are happy to see them gathered up for food rather than smelling it all rot.

Eaters of meadowbread sometimes emit a faint but distinctive odor for several days after. This leads to mockery in some places, an insult based on the assumption that only a lazy fool would resort to eating meadowbread instead of grain. 

In other places they are used as medicine, the powder insides used to staunch the flow of blood. Cut into slices and pressed into flowing wounds, they form thick scabs over even deep gashes. This causes the distinctive meadowbread stench in every case, but few would ever use this as an excuse to mock a wounded soldier.

When the insides are still white meadowbreads can be eaten. They can be chewed up raw, but are better fried in fats or simmered in hot broths. Their own flavor is plain, but they absorb the taste of any juices they are cooked in.

There are eight known sorts of meadowbread.

1. Pathbuns, Travelers Biscuits
These grow in clusters, small enough to fit in your palm, near roadsides. When found there is usually enough to feed 1d6.


2. Soft-Eggs, Lonelybirds
If you spend all day in a field that grows them, you will gather enough to feed 1d4. They are egg-sized, and grow far from each other, and have a felt-like texture.

3. Boulderbread, Lordsloaf.
Enough to feed 4d6. You need not search for this meadowbread, as it is always too large to be hidden.

4. Pale Toad, Mace-Heads
Feeds 2d6. Fairly large, like a human head, and bumpy-scaly like a toad.

5. Beetcake, Purplepear.
Enough to feed 1d6 can be found in a few hours. The outside crackled like a good bread, the insides like purplish chocolate cake. The most lovely flavor of all the meadowbreads.

6. Physicians Bread, Physics Manchet, Chymisloaf
Unlike the others, extremely low flavor no matter how it is prepared. Grants another Save vs Disease if eaten, and more prized as a styptic.

7. Roundmouse, Sparrowbulbs.
These small brownish bulbs grow in clusters, and only provide enough to feed 1d3.

8. Meadow-warts, Bandits Biscuit
These spiky, bumpy things grow up on a tiny stalk. They profilerate wildly, with enough to feed 1d8.

SPUMARODUS
It began long ago. From a central tumorous knob a tangle of billions of pale threads meandered through the darkness of the earth, growing upward to the sun. Growing millimeters over months, wrapping round subterranean nutrients like a shroud, strangling earthworms, weaving into the roots of living grasses.

It has formed a body in the land where these threads are concentrated, immense and immobile. It feels the footfalls of things on its skin. The green grasses are it’s pelt. This is also its tongue, it tastes the world above absorbing droppings and remains. This is how it understands, it learns from eating all detritus. It sucks on the ground around it, pulling fertility into it as fuel for inefficient growth. This leaching weakens the soil, causing poorer harvests and then famines in less verdant areas.

This is a Spumarodus. One could surround a whole city, silent and unseen, merely by expanding through slow growth. Their growth is almost unstoppable. They are only unable to grow their threads near trees, in sandy earth, or under salty water. Eventually it will drain the earth of all that is edible, then wither and die or fall into a torpor until the earth regenerates. They depend on ambulatory creatures to spread to farther places. Meadowbreads are reproductive tissue grown by a mature and established Spumarodus.

The things that eat the meadowbreads become innoculated with their essence, causing a temporary stench until the humors return to balance. This eater has now become a seed. The Spumarodus then grows a the second organ, called a swain. This is an imitation of a surface creature, growing from the earth in a secluded place, and then finding its way to its seed. The swain eats the seed, and then fertilizes the earth below. They rapidly decompose into an oily paste that is absorbed into the ground and forms a new instantiation of spumarodus. The cycle begins again.

1d3 days after a meadowbread is eaten, those who ate it must Save against Magic. If this is failed they emit the distinctive stench of meadowbread for 1d3 days, and are also who the swain will be bonded to. If used to treat wounds infection is automatic.

Each type of meadowbread is from a different kind of spumarodus, each of which has a particular kind of swain with a particular method of acquiring seed.

COMMON FEATURES OF ALL SWAIN

Most swain appear to be humans, though some are not.

In all cases swain appear normal from all outside views. Under their skin they do not have bones or muscles, but are dense enough to seem like it. Their inner flesh is a rubbery foam, like a meadowbread. They have a hollow tube inside them from one end to another, so they will be able to pretend to eat well enough to match expectations. When relevant, they have enough of a mental life to appear to be a mere human. They are unaware of their true natures. If forced to introspect they would realize they have no self control. They are not prone to introspection.

They are not affected by poisons, and do not need to breathe (although they will pretend to). They have a blood-like substance pumping in them, just slightly darker. They are dense with energy, and supplemented with nourishment from sunlight. They do not sleep, but imitate it as needed.
When any swain is reduced to 0HP it imitates unconsciousness, but when reduced to -4 begins to rapidly decompose into tobacco colored sludge. They heal at a normal, human rate.

When doing this they ripen, transforming over moments. A ripe swain reeks of rotting meadowloaf. It is pale, deformed, swollen, and disproportionate. When injured their rotting foam spits out in a great gout. 

Roll 1d6 for each point of damage a swain receives, when it receives it. If the total number rolled on these d6 exceeds the Constitution of anything within melee range they must Save or lose 1d6 HP. This is from choking on spores, and will “heal” fully within a Turn.

Their disguise is flawless without close examination. However, whenever the maximum number on a damage die is rolled for an injury to a swain they have received an injury that looks like it should be instantly fatal, like an arrow straight through the head, regardless of if they are at a low enough HP to indicate death.

All swains have a condition during which they will immediately try to consume their seed, becoming mindless monsters.

Pathbuns, Travelers Biscuits
1 HD (with 5 HP per) for every seed.

These look like plain humans in all ways. They are found in a helpless state, a barely clothed body lying in the field, near the roadside. They barely know how to move, and cannot speak. They depend on passing samaritans.

Once human skin touches them they learn enough to complete their disguise. They know their name then: Nirno, Biur, Fald, Myse. They know enough to somewhat mimic others, stilted social manners and subtle awkwardness. They are outsiders, they do not remember anything before they were found. A dim-wit, but lovable. Mild mannered. Humble.
They become a loyal companion to the Adventurers that touched them, and will travel with them for as long as is needed.
These swain consume the bodies of a seed after it has died. As soon as their seed dies the swain will want to be alone with it. They will gnaw and rip off portions of the dead seed, crumbling as they consume it, melting into the dirt.
They will become agitated if questioned or delayed, they will lash out violently if impeded. They will become a ravening ghoul that will attack anything that tries to stop them, or witness what it will soon do, very quickly.

Soft-Eggs, Lonelybirds
1 HD (with 5 HP per) for every seed, Stealth 4, Sleight of Hand 4.

A stalking human seen for the second or third time at a tavern, or a distant someone always down the road. They will flee if chased. If caught they will not be able to explain their obsession, and why they must follow you. They might cut off some hair in a crowd. Their have clothes grown over them, simple shrouds. They steal and scavenge better clothes when possible.
They will continue appearing until you die, and even then they would dig up your grave. They prefer their seed alive though, and would try to take a piece of you when you are sleeping. Just a bit of flesh, a digit or an earlobe. They will run away to eat this, and crumble apart as they do. If threatened too strongly they ripen, and try to tear off what they must have before they run.

Boulderbread, Lordsloaf
3HD (with 10 HP per) for every seed, Armor 16.

This swain is a mighty horse, powerful, beautiful and untamed. It comes to you. It chooses you.
Only a seed may ride it. It carries them fearlessly, it defends them from attackers. Its hooves smash foes, it bites off the flesh of all who would harm you.
If a seed ever falls unconscious from injury it will try to eat them, after tossing off any riders. If resisted it ripens, lurching forward standing on just the back legs. The front hooves becomes wormy fairy fingers, the mouth spreads into something crocodilian. It hacks and roars, needing to devour at least most of a whole mody before it can turn to slime and fertilize the earth. It would prefer to devour more.


Pale Toad, Mace-Heads
2HD (with 6HP per) for every seed

This will be someone the seeds have seen before. A familiar face, from their memory. A friend. They will be found somewhere, confused as to how they came to be there. It must be someone they have met in play, not in imagined backstory, so they might see a double of the last kind person from the previous town, if not just nodding interloper they passed along the road. They will have the same clothing, all the usual things they would carry.
Confused by their predicament, they will want to travel with the Adventurers. In their seeming normalcy they might become a friend.
They will try to eat a seed once they are alone with them, at the first chance. They ripen into large ogre-like abominations.


Beetcake, Purplepear.
1 HD (with 5 HP per) for every seed.

This will be someone who has recently died in the area, such as a victim of banditry, famine, or plague. They don’t know much, they know what they were, but they also know they want to be with you now. This causes distress in the community if they are seen again, appearing as not only a ghost of sorts but one gone mad. There is much trauma, sadness, wailing, and eventual acceptance (perhaps), when they leave with the seeds.Once taken far from their originating population they try to eat them.

Physicians Bread, Physics Manchet, Chymisloaf
1 HD (with 2 HP per) for every seed.

An archetypal wise guide, some amalgam of old elder figures. A plausible sage, or some other figure who would know.
They by chance know something about the thing you are looking for, they might even commission you to help find it. They will lead you on a wildly divergent journey, taking you far away from anything useful for 1d4 days. At nightfall on that last day they go feral, getting one tiny sample of a seed before they crumble. Merely stabbing one and licking the knife is plenty. They only ripen early only if you try to abandon the “journey” before the end is reached.

Roundmice, Sparrowbulbs.
0HD (with 1d8 HP) per seed.

An assortment of small creatures follow the seeds now, as if you were a dryad or druid. Mice and marmots and squirrels, sparrows and jays. If a seed is injured they swarm it, nibbling at the wound. Each creature has only 1 HP. but releases the same choking rotten spores when killed. They do one damage in their attack, before crumbling.


Meadow-warts, Bandits Biscuit
2d4 per seed, each with 1HD (3HP)

These grow into rangy, feral looking human simulacra. Unclothed and armed with improvised weapons. They all look somewhat related, almost like they could be your the seeds distant cousins. They seek to ambush and then tear the seeds apart for devouring once they reach the ends of where this Spuymarodus grew, but outside any civilized places.

Spell: To Pass Unseen

This spell causes the Magic User to be, in essence, invisible, so long as the Magic User moves with some subtlety.

The spell lasts until the sun either rises or sets. During the dawn and twilight hours everything affected by this spell is allowed one Save against its effects, but is otherwise helpless.

The Magic User should move cautiously, as if there’s no magic at work, for this spell to be safely effective. They ought to avoid direct lines of sight, preferring shadows to light, and take efforts to not make much disruptive noise. They should stay hidden in the periphery of others vision.

Whether or not they do these things nothing will notice them though, in day or night. The gaze of the night watchman will glance in the wrong directions, and even dogs ears will not hear the little sounds they make. Sleepers will not awake when windows creak slowly open, guardsmen at gates will look to their feet at the moment of passage. Things gone missing are not realized as gone, at least until the changing of the sunlight. If the Magic User were to speak, shout, or even scream, no one would hear it.

The Magic User is not restricted in any way while under this spells effect. They may do anything they are usually able to, including casting other spells.

All Risky Casting rolls for this spell are made at the end of this spells duration, not as it is cast. If any conditions for a Risky Casting are met while casting this spell, or while under its effects, a Risky Casting roll will then be required (or modified).

The caster is able to Save to not be affected by an instance of the following Risky Casting Conditions per level. The Referee should keep a silent, but sincere, tally of such violations until the spell has ended, and then allow the Magic User to make (or fail) their saves.

Risky Casting Conditions
Exposure: Making no efforts to be hidden. Standing in direct plain view. Moving through a direct, unambiguous line of sight without any cover or obscuring elements. This applies to all possible viewers, even "friendly" ones.

Noise: Moving oafishly. Stepping on cats tails, knocking over pots and pans. Breaking windows, doors, crockery. Shouting, speaking, ringing bells, playing instruments.

Action: Stealing things sitting in plain view. The food off a plate as its eaten, the shirt off of someones back. Touching someone with willful force, harming them with a weapon or other implement, attempting to move a conscious being against their will. Moving a sleeping person, or the things they rest on. The Magic User casts a spell after their usual level-based limit.

Condition: The Magic User reaches more than Light encumbrance. The Magic User is injured.

Event: during dawn or dusk, a being Saves against the effects of this spell.

n.b. basically, whenever you would give someone a chance to make a stealth or (sleight of hand) roll to be sneaky this spell is still “safe”, and if they do anything where it would be ridiculous for a roll to work it becomes a risky casting. They stay invisible either way.

Miscasts
1. Anything that was or is looking for the Magic User will find them by the changing of the sunlight.

2. The Magic User is not aware of anything outside of their direct line of sight until the changing of the sunlight.

3. Nothing physical reacts to the Magic User until the changing of the sunlight. They cannot manipulate their environment in any way. Even opening a door is impossible. It’s as if they are immaterial, but cannot pass through solid matter.

4. If being noticed by a being, but then not noticed, The Magic User has a chance of ceasing to exist unless they Save. They are in an ontological fugue if this happens, for all others it’s as if nothing the Magic User did ever happened. They will have never existed, so that no one has ever even imagined them. If this happens they will reappear where the spell was cast when the sunlight changes, and reality instantly readjusts to be as it was if they had always been.

5. The Magic User has only an intermittent relationship with causality, everything they change will have a chance to snap back to being “undone” at the changing of the light unless they Save.

6. All things that were done by the caster while under the effect of the spell become common knowledge, everyone involved in any of it it knows exactly why it happened, and who did it.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Spell: For The Movement of Stones

This spell requires two solid stones.

The stones must be the same weight, as closely as can be measured by the Magic-User when the spell is cast.

The two stones must be of a different kind, at a base enough level that there is no easy argument to be had about their difference. Some dust their stones with pigments, others use different quarries.

The stones may be changed. They can be polished, scraped, chipped, and chiseled as much as is needed. A pair of sculptures could be used as easily as two natural specimens. They may be drawn upon, marked, and altered in any imaginable way. Things may even be attached to them. As long as their weights are matching when cast, all is well.

The location chosen must be known to the Magic-User, but they do not need to have seen it. As long as the image they have of this place in their mind is true the spell will work. If it is something they see now it is irrelevant if that place is in motion, or changing in other ways. It can be living. Distance is meaningless. With clarity of mind any site is possible, if the mind sees it true. A faulty mental image is, however, a hazard.

When this spell is cast the two stones must also be known by the Magic-User, with the same lack of limitations on distance and the same correctness of location required.

The spell takes effect instantly. One of the stones, as chosen by the Magic-User, is the Stone-in-Motion. It travels in as straight a line as can be drawn to the chosen destination. It can change direction instantly, with no loss in velocity, if this is needed.

It travels at terminal speed, never stopping or slowing. It never makes any contact with things strong enough to harm it and end its travel. All else is plowed right through.

It can come as close as an eyelash is thick without touching, but when it reaches its destination it touches it with full impact, as if dropped from the top of the sky.

The second stone is the Inert. It must remain in exactly the same place as it was when the spell was cast. As long as it does not move in any perceptible way the Stone-in-Motion will continue movement until reaching the chosen destination.

If the Inert Stone is moved, the Stone-in-Motion will instantly comply with physics and plummet down as demanded by local gravity. If it has reached its destination already there is no effect, as the spell has already ended.

A living body, even one trying to be still, is always in subtle movement. The spell cannot be cast safely if the Inert Stone is being held.

The Inert Stone does nothing to indicate the Stone-in-Motion has reached the end of its path.

EFFECTS OF A MISCAST

This spell is potentially miscast if the stones are not of the same weight, the secondary stone is not truly still at the time of casting, or if the destination is not actually truly "known" by the caster. The Referee should never, ever warn an Adventurer of a potential miscast if they have not made sure themselves, as it is their responsibility to take precautions.

1. The Stone-in-Motion does nothing, the Inert stone does the same. The Magic-User is instantly flung towards the intended destination as if they were the Stone-in-Motion. They cannot be stopped, and will ultimately collide at terminal velocity.

2. Both stones become Stones-in-Motion, travel to their intended destination, and without making contact with that destination, instantly begin a linked orbit around it at terminal velocity. The stones are half the distance they traveled apart, one across from the other, and the smallest possible distance above the intended destination. They will not change their path to avoid any obstacles, and will not stop their orbit unless destroyed.

3. The Stone-in-Motion does nothing. A different stone in the vicinity is propelled instead. Roll 1d6 to determine its size. 1 is a thumbnail pebble, 6 is a boulder large enough to crush a bull. It comes from the ground below the caster. If the Inert Stone is moved its motion ceases, as usual.

4. Until the Stone-in-Motion reaches its destination, the Inert Stone and everything capable of perceiving the Inert Stone is unable to move, or be moved, by anything. This is something like being frozen in time, "paused" as if in a video from the perspective of your own agency. You do not starve, and need not breathe, but you do exist and can be tampered with. Once the Stone-in-Motion arrives at its destination a Magic Save is required to free yourself, and move again.

5. The Stone-in-Motion instantly splits into two pieces, then four, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on to travel in infinitely many directions at once. This can be like a powder horn exploding, or a barrel of gunpowder, depending on the size of the stone.

6. A piece of the destination equal in weight to the Inert Stone is detached from the whole and pulled towards the Inert Stone at terminal velocity. It cannot be stopped.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Spell: To Make Things Hidden

This spell allows the Magic-User to hide an object outside of all human perception until it is retrieved.

This spell can only be cast in places not being touched by the human hand, natural areas not maintained by civilization. If the world of man can be seen from a place, it is not a place this spell should be cast in.

This object must be placed on the ground before the Magic-User, and the Magic-User must be able to perceive the whole form of every object that will be hidden by the spell.

If you are able to see another area already being "used" for this spell from where you are, then you are not in an area suitable for this spell to be cast in. Note that there are no visual signs that this spell has been cast anywhere it has been.

A single object could be one silver coin, a ruby worth thousands, a priceless crown made of precious stones and metals, a sword in its specific hilt, or a single living creature with closed eyes.

To cast the spell the Magic-User must go into a state of trance, with closed eyes, for one turn for every object that is to be hidden. They must not be interrupted, and no human eyes may observe the spell as it is cast.

At the end of this trance their eyelids are snapped open to see the thing vanished, with only a fading negative impression in their field of view. From then on it is safe, preserved exactly as it was when it was hidden, for as long as it is left.

The object hidden in this way is outside of time and the rules of the physical world. It is also nearly outside the reach of magic. Any spell that would show where the object may be, give directions towards it, or even confirm its existence can be made to fail. If a spell like this is cast, the Magic-User may roll a Save to prevent it from working.

To retrieve a hidden object a human must return to the place where the spell was cast. They must wait there for one turn, with eyes closed, until their eyelids are snapped open. The object will be lying there before them. Anyone may retrieve the thing hidden. To fall asleep in this place would call back a thing hidden.

Living things affected by this spell feel nothing to indicate what has happened. If asleep they are asleep, and if awake they feel no time pass until they are retrieved. If a human were to lie under the leaves of a tree with dappled sun hitting their face as this spell was cast, to be hidden by this spell and retrieved 1000 years later, it would happen between the twitches of a leaf in the breeze. Their clothes would lie there empty for some time, in the shade.


Miscast Table

This spell can be miscast using the typical rules in Vaginas are Magic! and Eldritch Cock, and also by violating the various rules above.

All miscasts of this spell affect only the retrieval of hidden objects. It can be known that a miscast occurred when an object is hidden, but the effect should not be rolled for until the object is retrieved.

  1. The object that was supposed to be hidden is now simply gone. When the eyes of the retriever snap open there is nothing except a fading negative impression in the field of view.
  2. An equivalent object vanishes, as if maintaining a kind of balance. This is a very basic equivalency, the nearest most similar thing is simply gone forever. If retrieving a crown someone will lose a hat. If retrieving a person someone new will be lost.
  3. When the retrievers eyes snap open they cease to exist, and the object is in their place.
  4. The object retrieved is a weak imitation of  the thing hidden. It appears the same in every way, but falls apart once under stress while fulfilling its purpose. If it was a key it will break in the lock. If it was a person it will be messier.
  5. A spawning Mimesis Pest has been retrieved. This is a creature that has a body which looks exactly like the object, and functions in the same ways, but is in truth something else in the midst of a breeding cycle. Hidden on its form is an even number of many-jointed appendages, mandibular mouth-parts, and tiny but numerous pairs of eyes. In 6 days it will die, drying up like a beetle shell, becoming just as fragile then crumbling.

    Until then, whenever the object is used (for some intended purpose, not merely touched) roll 2d6. If an 8 or higher is rolled the Mimesis Pest becomes agitated. It viciously bites the user for 1d4 damage, if they fail a Save, before attempting to flee them.

    A Mimesis Pest moves at 1/3rd the speed of a person, and can move on vertical and upside-down surfaces as if they were normal ground. It has an armor of 16, and only 1 HP.

    While it is spawning, every day there is a 1 in 6 chance that 1d6 non-natural objects near the Mimesis Pest will become one. Only object with rigid forms like weaponry, coins, books, and wooden boxes, are at risk. Cloaks and tarps are not.

    Objects that are ever touching the Mimesis Pest, or that it could crawl to and back from are at risk. It has a 3 in 6 chance of not being spotted while it spawns.

    Note that an object being magical in nature does not in any way prevent it from being spawned-with by a Mimesis Pest. The "original" is gone if this happens.

    In 6 days new Mimesis Pests begin their spawning cycles, dying naturally 6 days afterwards.

    Retrieved living beings that are in truth Mimesis Pests should be thought of like puppets on strings, not Doppelgangers. They lack minds, and interacting with them at all qualifies as "use".
  6. An arbitrary object appears in the place of the thing hidden. The referee should pick up the nearest text (if not game-related then a book, magazine, etc.), open it to a random page, and without looking place their finger on the text. Whatever object in that text that is nearest to their finger appears. The original thing hidden is gone.