Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fogwatch


The Fogwatch is one of the few respected institutions of Strigastadt, keeping vigilant for signs of Yellow Misama, Deep Purple Smog, and Black Smoke. Upon detecting traces of an imminent threat, a patrolling member of the Fogwatch will fire a colored flare into the sky at their location, indicating the nature of the gas present. Regularly-placed watchtowers scan the skies for these signals, and on sighting will start working the sirens, warning the populace to get indoors or evacuate. This defense system has saved countless lives as people respond like a well-oiled machine. One of the things that makes scavenging in the Grey District so dangerous is the lack of these warnings.
Since the patrolling Fogwatch members are often at the cusp of the incoming gases, they are provided with gasmasks as proof against the initial lung- and eye-burning effects of Yellow Miasma and some Black Smokes, as well as grappling hooks in case of being caught away from accessible entrances to shelter.
Members of the Fogwatch patrol singly during the day, but on the dangerous night streets travel in pairs, with the supplementary Fogwatcher carrying crossbow and saber to ward off the lesser terrors of the night. It is not uncommon to hear of the flares being shot offensively as desperate measures.
Fogwatchers are forbidden from smoking on duty as scent is the earliest means of identifying many gaseous threats. As such, khat chewing is particularly popular among the ranks.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Strigastadt Map


After your brief reunion with extended family members in Strigastadt, you are handed a parcel they hope will serve you well in your planned scavenging forays. The handful of objects belonged to your cousin before her untimely passing. A member of the Sewer-Militia, she had carried this map with her on her last detail, and it bears the grime of repeated use. It appears to be some sort of schoolchild's exercise - a map of Strigastadt's boroughs all unlabeled. In tiny script, your home borough of Krüger has been labeled in an abortive enterprise to fill the blanks. Perhaps you can finish the job.

My intention is for the party to explore the devastated Grey District from the start of the campaign, and move to city-crawl like adventures in the East End after they've gotten a handle on the place. I've divided the city into boroughs which are composed of a double fistful of neighborhoods each, allowing several levels of abstraction as needed. Each is as-yet unnamed - I will generate them as the PCs travel, allowing us all to explore the city together.

Some notes on the setting - the Grey District has lain mostly deserted for the last hundred years since it was devastated in a great war, primarily by the use of chemical weapons (such as Black Smoke). Terrible monstrosities rose from the ruins, and plentiful undead roamed free. The weakened city heads cut their losses, demolishing the bridges to quarantine the worst of the damage. Since then the worst of the chemicals have stabilized and while things are still terribly dangerous, hardy and desperate souls have begun to scavenge in the ruins, picking over the abandoned dwellings of a century ago.

For Strigastadt I have been primarily drawing from Wermspittle (obviously), Cörpathium, Vornheim, and of course, Gormenghast. Wermspittle for the wonderful mashup of elements from the last couple centuries with fantasy, Cörpathium for its beautifully mad creativity (especially their Maleficar!), and Vornheim for the simultaneously useful and inspiring random tables. I'll mention elements I'm using from time to time when they are germane to whatever tidbit I'm posting, but know that I am gleefully lifting sections wholesale - like ransacking a liquor store and greedily guzzling the finest spirits.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Demonspawn

(Based on "The Dragon-Blooded" by Calithena in Fight On! #2 and the anime Claymore)

There are people who have within them the semi-dormant blood of ancestral demons who mixed with their line in ages past. Over time and with exposure to violence, the blood awakens and grants the bearer unholy strengths alongside surges of blood-lust, eventually transforming their body and mind into something corrupted and demonic. Society fears such folk, and fully supports the actions of an organization of demon-hunters named The Order of the Lily and the Torch, who purge such elements wherever they can be uncovered.

PCs can choose to be demonspawn in addition to their particular class and/or race. This makes them Chaotic (in the LotFP way of magic-touched, rather than a description of morality) and grants a set of abilities that grow over time. The more power the character gains and the more they are corrupted by over-reaches of that power, the easier it is for The Order of the Lily and the Torch to find them and bring them to "justice". Other characters that are unable to convince The Order of their ignorance of their companion's true nature will suffer as well, for aiding and abetting demonspawn is almost as terrible of a sin.

Essentially, a character chooses to have a secret growing edge over other characters, in exchange for starting a countdown on that character's lifespan.

How it works:
At first level the character gains a random power on the chart below. Each level thereafter, they have a 50/50 chance of either increasing a single existing power or gaining a random new one.
Each effect lasts a single turn, except for the wings, which last a solid minute. For the powers other than the wings, the use of the power is not visible to others at rank 1, but at rank 2 there is a brief fluctuation that may be noticed by those near (1/6), and will likely be noticed by the target. At rank 3 the change is obviously visible and lasts until the next turn, being noticeable by any nearby.

Rank 1 Rank 2 Rank 3
Demon's Arms +1 Damage +2 dmg & +1 to-hit +3 dmg, +2 to-hit, first-strike
Demon's Legs +1 AC +2 AC & 200% move/jump +3 AC & 300% move/jump
Demon's Flesh Heal 1 HP Heal 2 HP & Damage-resist 1 Heal 4 HP & DR2
Demon's Wings Glide 1/2 run speed Glide full, fly 1/2 run speed Glide double, fly full
Demon's Eyes Save or morale check Save or paralyzed Save or controlled

Using a power costs one demonic surge per rank of power used. Powers can be used at a lesser rank than maximum if so desired. Characters can use two demonic surges per level per day. Using over that amount is risky - for each surge over maximum used, roll 1d10 on the following chart and add your Corruption ranks:

1-4 No effect
5-7 Gain one rank of Corruption
8-9 Visible fluctuation in limb's appearance, +1 Corruption
10-12 Limb changes for several minutes, +2 Corruption, Save at +2 or berserk
13-14 Limb changes for full day, +3 Corruption, Save or berserk
15-16 Limb changes permanently, +4 Corruption, Save at -2 or berserk
17-18 Assume demonic form, permanently berserk, NPC

Berserk: save again (with bonus/penalty) or attack nearest entity you know about. Success means you're standing there frothing at the mouth and grinding your teeth at them instead. If you make three such saves in a row you can stop berserking. Or three turns without a target.
Limb Change: gain rank 1 power bonus and using that limb's power costs 1 less while limb is changed.

The Order of the Lily and the Torch:
On a given week there is a 60% chance in a city, 20% chance in town, 1% chance in village that there is an agent of the Order. They are able to sense demonic presences. Chance they detect a character each day is x/20 where x is level + ranks of corruption. They get -1 per city block the character is away. On sensing a demonic presence they will send a messenger to fetch a team of Purifiers, who will arrive in 1d2 weeks. After sending the messenger, the agent will attempt to find out the source, trailing discovered demonspawn in order to be able to lead the Purifiers to their target.
In Strigastadt, replace the above city/town/village with wealthy/middle-class/poor neighborhoods.
If hirelings see proof of a demonspawn PC, they must make a loyalty check or desert at the next opportunity, tipping off locals and attempting to notify the Order of demonic presence.

Secrecy:
I like having secrets within a group - as long as the secrets don't involve actively fucking over other characters. At the game table I intend on keeping the demonic nature of a character secret, and have chosen powers that can hopefully, at least at the first rank, be used on the sly. A wink at an appropriate moment can signify doing additional damage with an attack, for example. Hopefully the other players will be surprised when the final reveal comes, though I have my doubts as to how long this secrecy can be kept up in practice. :)

Thoughts? Suggestions? I'd love to hear 'em! I need to convince someone to play as one before they can be properly tested, so the values above may need heavy adjustment.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Bonebeetles

Hello again! My apologies for the absence, I tend to switch focus between my obsessions frequently (this time it was painting/constructing miniatures). I'm currently in the process of compiling resources that I'll use for Strigastadt, so I haven't created much in the way of original material. However, I came across an item by Jack Shear earlier today called the "bonearrow" that set my imagination on a ramble. The item is a +3 arrow that, upon slaying the target, raises the corpse as a zombie under the control of the person who fired it. Iterating upon that idea I came up with the following:


Bonebeetles - ivory colored beetles hatched by a sorcerer and fed upon a paste of bonemeal and rare minerals mixed with drops of the sorcerer's blood. When the food source is removed and the beetles exposed to a brief period of cold, they enter a desiccated hibernation state. They can remain in this state for an extended period of time and will only awaken when exposed to warm and wet conditions.

When placed into a wound of a living or recently-slain (still warm) creature the beetles will animate and infiltrate the body. A minimum of three beetles per HD of the host are required for the reanimation to be successful. If the host is still alive they receive a saving throw vs poison each turn until they either make three saves or fail one, with a bonus to the throw equal to their remaining HP. On each successful save they sustain a point of damage as the beetles chew their way to their destinations, but on a failed save they have succumbed to the workings of the beetles and become a mindless zombie under the control of the sorcerer who raised the beetles. If the sorcerer no longer exists, they are uncontrolled and will simply attack the nearest living target. If the target successfully makes their three saves the beetles will die off before they are able to accomplish their task, which after a day or so will cause a fever (-2 to all rolls) for 3d4 days as their body purges the foreign bodies.

Bonebeetles are usually employed by being sprinkled into the open wounds of captive or slain creatures, but on occasion are delivered via an arrow or crossbow bolt. A hollow pottery or glass point is charged with a small cluster and fired into the target. Such arrows do one less damage due to their construction, but the beetles more than make up for the difference. Arrows that miss are shattered, but the desiccated beetles are usually recoverable.

The time of maturation for the beetles is one month, during which time each beetle will consume 40 silver worth of rare minerals. For each two dozen beetles one HP worth of blood must be shed each day by the sorcerer. Certain rituals must also be performed at the hatching, beginning of pupation, and final maturation of the beetles, which are detailed along with the recipe for the paste within the pages of a Manual of Bonebeetle Creation.

I'd love to hear if you have any thoughts/input regarding these little creatures! I've tried to balance the fact that you can basically store a raise dead spell, making the cost on the low end of the scroll-creation range (according to the LotFP rules) but with an additional HP cost.