Friday, July 20, 2018

Play Report: Sleeping Place of the Space Swine

Ran myself a pick-up game last night: a level 0, two-man run of Logan Knight's Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine, using my Danscape Spacejammer setting and 5-ish Hack rules.

Party consisted of:
  • Freebo, a gnomish hull-barnacle scraper
  • Dean, a goliath death-ray optics-polisher
(Occupations taken from the space dungeon backgrounds list via Hapless Henchman)
We open with the two unlucky chaps working on a mail ship in the outer system (Freebo was previously fired for being too honest with his boss, and Dean accidentally killed the prior mailman with one of the death-rays he was polishing and so felt honor-bound to replace him).

On their ship with them were some assorted NPC crew-members (read: backup PCs)
  • Basiera, a drow jacobin and pilot
  • Durran, a goliath forge-father
  • Jacques, a sea-elf formerly of the space-curry industry
  • Igor, a duergar mad scientist assistant and Time Cube devotee.

Basiera informed the crew that the asteroid settlement they were approaching hadn't been responding to any normal communication, but she was picking up a weak, intermittent distress beacon. The laws of space are quite clear, one must respond to distress signals and mysterious lacks of signals in equal measure, and so Freebo and Dean were selected as the away team. They in turn chose Durran (and his very impressive custom-built plasma rifle) to tag along with them, and head down to the planet.

(For a visual aid, the settlment consisted of several sealed-off craters which had had breathable atmosphere pumped into them and some basic vegetation transplanted.

In the abandoned arrival center, Freebo hacks himself some admin privileges and looks through the security footage: seems everyone packed up shop and left in the middle of the night before last. Lifesign detection is only picking up one other individual, somewhere outside.

On the crater floor the trio find that life form to be a harried thaumonaut named Felix. He explains that he was part of the security team that was sent in from the main settlement when the crater was sealed off night before last. He begs for help, claiming that his party was attacked shortly after entering a nearby cave by unknown beings. He's lost his spellbook and his friends, and still needs to find out what's going on.

Dean, being a big dumb earnest idiot with a heart of gold, manages to persuade him to come along with them. Felix, so shaken by his recent catastrophe, can't figure out if he's okay with this. Dean has more or less adopted the wizard at this point.

Upon entering the cave, Dean fashions a sling so as to more easily carry the traumatized Felix as one would a baby. The wizard does not complain.

The party quickly finds the remnants of a campfire and a pit of ooze. Freebo, in trying to investigate the shimmering rocks on the other side, loses his grip and falls into the pool, shlorbing down into a bigger cavern. Despite being able to call up to his friends, he is written off as dead by Dean with great melodrama.

On the lower level: Freebo stays far away from the snorning pink flab-hulk that is the feathered swine, finds some light-absorbing mushrooms, and manages to find a passage back up to the upper caves.

On the upper level: Dean, Felix, and Durran manage to avoid a perilous chasm. In a crack in the wall Dean finds a bloated, severed leg. Worms begin to eat into his hand - he calmly pulls out his space-lighter and burns them out.

Freebo rounds the corner then, and is discovered with great joy to be not dead. Being a gnome, he is able to fit into the crack and find the wounded Aspeth, one of Felix's compatriots. With the wizard, Freebo is able to get Aspeth down from her perch and into Dean's sling. She categorically refuses to be taken back to the ship for medical attention, and insists on killing the creatures in the cave before she dies. She gives the ampoules of sedative to Freebo.

In the next chamber, they find the worm tumors, feasting upon the remains of the security team. Durran (guided by Aspeth's advice) advances fires a shot off to smoke them out.

Combat is met, then: two of the tumors go after Durran, while the other four hold the entrance against the other two. Freebo manages to get two successful ampoules into them, allowing Dean and Aspeth to go aid Durran: alas, they are too slow and his aim is too poor in the melee to be much help. Durran's throat is torn out and he crushes the tumor's heart through the hole he shot in its chest.

Dean is infected again during the fight, and the infestation swiftly sweeps up his arm. Using his goliath resilience, Dean shrugs off the damage that lopping off his arm with Aspecth's axe causes, and cauterizes the stump with Freebo's laser-scraper. He picks up Durran's plasma rifle and slings it over his shoulder.

Investigation of the room reveals the leftover equipment of the dead security team. Freebo grabs the sphere from the pool, and the crew descend deeper. The monsters need to be rooted out.

In the burrow-room, Freebo manages to find three black firebombs in a hole in the wall. This is great, until a tumor slides out of another burrow and manages to get its claws onto Felix. The others manage to kill it quickly, but the wizard's spacesuit is ruined.

The crew enters now the great chamber of the feathered swine, queen and source of this infection. Dean, using his lighter, a scrap of cloth, and the bottle of windex he got as background equipment, fashions a crude molotov and tosses it at the swine. Freebo follows it up with a black firebomb.

The swine does not appreciate being set on fire and lets out a horrific screech, bull-rusing the group. Dean is struck down and killed. Aspeth rolls out of the sling and grabs the plasma rifle. Felix is crushed under the creature's bulk. Aspeth takes off half of its head with a green bolt but it's not enough to fell the beast.

"KILL THE FUCKER!" she screams.

Freebo, knowing that this is the only way to end the nightmare, dodges out of the way of the swine's burning beak and tosses a second grenade behind him.

The explosion is a glorious spray of chunky pork salsa. Aspeth's severed arm flies by, flipping off the swine's carcass. Dean's severed arm flies by, giving a thumbs up.

Freebo retreats to the ship, traumatized forever. Basiera dumps the packages off at the visitor center, declaring that if "they want their mail that bad, they can fucking get it themselves."

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Class: Carvergirl


Class: Carvergirl

They kill unicorns.

Hit Dice: d6
Saves: As halfling
Weapons and Armor:
  • Cannot wear anything heavier than light armor. 
  • Cannot use large weapons. 
  • Medium weapons must be wielded in two hands.
  • To-hit bonus as fighter
  • May use DEX bonus for melee attacks.  
Skills: Choose or roll two. For LotFP skills, these skills begin at 3-in-6 and increase by 1 at levels 4, 7, and 10. For SotDL skills, add an extra boon at levels 4 and 7.
  1. Bushcraft - Wilderness survival; scrounging, foraging, identification.
  2. Butchery - Properly carving up animals into usable pieces.
  3. Dirty Fighting - Sneak attacks, hamstrings, kidney punches, crotch-shots
  4. Hide - Remaining unseen and unheard.
  5. Rootwork - Understanding root magic, creating root charms.
  6. The Watch - Knowledge of the monsters of the night
Cavehtung: In addition to the common language, carvergirls speak a chaotic creole pulled from a dozen mother languages and sewn together with their own slang. It is impenetrable to outsiders, save with a lot of slow, clear enunciation and pantomiming. Most speak it as their primary language.

Starting Equipment:

  • Ragged clothing
  • Weapon and trinket
  • A handful of cigarettes or a rat on a stick or a flask of rotgut
  • Tattoo of vertical bars on forehead and back of right hand
  • 1000-yard stare.

Name Table (d6 & d8)

4MouserKipShitbitchBo MaybeSawboneDrop Bear
5FireballThornyCrunchThistleBig ShotNo-Nose

Status (d4)

  1. Young scrunt; unproven and soft
  2. Blooded carver; good with a knife
  3. Hardened veteran; sharp and cunning
  4. Among the oldest; an institution

How Did You Come to the Farm? (d6)

  1. Orphaned
  2. Abandoned
  3. Forgotten
  4. Lost
  5. Stolen
  6. Sold

Weapon (d8)

  1. Carving knife
  2. Rusty shank
  3. Machete
  4. Shovel
  5. Broken bottle
  6. A long gun with no bullets
  7. Sharpened bone or stone club
  8. A unicorn horn

Favored Breed (d10)

  1. Midlands Blue
  2. Appaloosa
  3. Three Dead Ladies
  4. PfTD
  5. Mountain Draft
  6. Old World Palatine
  7. Quakemouth Bastard
  8. Shambling Dorie
  9. Qirax Devilsoul
  10. Karkadann

Your Nature (d%)

  1. Humor black as a tarred gallows.
  2. Break chains, burn shit, eat the rich.
  3. Still hoping, however foolishly, that things will get better.
  4. The facade is cracked.
  5. Devoted utterly to the hunt.
  6. A rare kindness
  7. Just barely keeping it together.
  8. Pain-tempered wisdom
  9. Dead girl walking

Descriptors (d12)

  1. Tumorous growths
  2. Organ failure date tattoo
  3. Missing or misshapen limb
  4. Bone-shard facial piercings
  5. Crow-feathers woven in hair
  6. Disfiguring scars
  7. Blind in one eye
  8. Ocher-and-clay face paint
  9. Albino or piebald
  10. Filed teeth
  11. Filthy, matted hair
  12. Occult tattoos

Trinket (d20)

  1. Your sister's skull
  2. Necklace of rat teeth
  3. Hand-carved dice
  4. Spotted unicorn-hide poncho
  5. Horn from a prize hunt
  6. Jar of scavenged coins
  7. Rag doll with a crowfeather bonnet
  8. Poster detailing the cuts of meat
  9. Shimmering blanket of woven unicorn hair
  10. Cords of root amulets and bone talismans
  11. Three bullets and a photograph
  12. Long pipe and a bag of unicorn shit
  13. Pendant icon of Brother Bones
  14. Padded leather apron
  15. Purple foalskin moccasins
  16. Fishing rod, bait and tackle
  17. Cold iron horseshoe
  18. Gator-skull helmet
  19. Circlet of swampflowers
  20. Fetal unicorn in a jar

Carver girl, carver girl, don't lie to me.
Tell me where did you sleep last night
In the blood, 'neath the bone, where the sun's never shone
Won't make it the whole night through

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Faction Progression: Knights of the Broken Sword

From Endless Legend

This is an example of one of the alternate progression systems I proposed back in this post and first worked on in my Shadow of the Eschaton hack.

Knights of the Broken Sword

Long ago there was a mighty sorcerer-king, who ruled over a vast and prosperous kingdom. When he had grown old, there came from the night, vile ghouls that rose from the earth and breached his castle by secret paths. They killed the king in his chambers and lapped up his golden blood, taking it into themselves and drawing upon this power. The king had no heir, and so the kingdom fell to ruin and dissolved among its lords. Few of his knights remained loyal, and swearing an oath to their Lady they waged a war against the goldbloods that lasts to this day.

A) Initiate
Requirements: Swear the Lady's Oath
  • Stone mask, tabard bearing the order's regalia (+1 boon to social rolls within friendly territory)
  • Lady's Compass (Detects goldbloods within 1000ft)
  • Will be called upon by higher-ranking knights to assist in the hunt of goldbloods.

B) Knight
Requirements: Complete initiation
  • Knight's Mask (Proof that one has completed initiation)
  • Blessed broken sword (1 boon to hit goldbloods, 1d10 damage : d4 to all others)
  • Lady's ring (Official seal of the order, legally binding)
  • Lady's Burden (Must consume the blood of at least one goldblooded creature per month)
  • May call up 1-2 initiates for aid in a hunt.

C) Veteran Knight
Requirements: Years of service and notable achievement. (Alt. bribery and politicking)
  • Seat on the temple council (may vote on and direct order policy)
  • Reputation precedes you (+2 boons to social rolls)
  • Access to the uncensored Annals (contains order's true history & names of the great ghouls)
  • May call up a lower knight for aid in a hunt, along with 2-3 initiates.

D) Lord Commander
Requirements: Elected to the position by meeting of the temple councils or by the Lady's wish.
  • Access to the Lady's audience chamber.
  • High broken sword (2 boons, 1d10+2 damage to goldbloods)
  • Can request aid from outside the order to assist in a hunt.
  • May direct the order in major hunts.
  • Can command goldbloods with vocal commands (target resists with 2 banes).

Sunday, July 15, 2018

3 Reviews: Krevborna, Chromatic Soup, and Faux Pas

It's a triple header!

In line with some of the talk going around of improvements in the general OSR/DIY community, I've gone and revamped my reviews to be a bit more directed. They're still going to be rambly and based primarily on clusters of personal impression points rather than in-depth analysis, though.

Krevborna: A Gothic Blood Opera

Jack Shear
Pdf purchased

What is It?: A system-neutral gothic horror setting guide / toolkit.


  • The title is very accurate. You know exactly what you are getting into.
  • Provides everything one would need to run just about anything - NPCs, monsters, factions, cities, wilderness regions, potential dungeons, encounter tables, aesthetics character backgrounds, plot seeds, recommended reading.
  • The formatting is such that each topic of note is a table, bulleted list, or a single paragraph. Each city and region has the same sections in the same order, all nice and neatly spaced. Very easy to read.
  • The Bloodborne influence is super-strong. Mostly this is a positive, though when we had gotten to Grail Dungeons I was less enthusiastic about it.
  • There is not a whole lot of art (that which is featured is very good), which when combined with the formatting leads a lot of the book to look pretty samey. There's a good deal of whitespace. But, that does make it easy to find information on the page.

How I'd Use It: Most likely I would nestle Krevborna out in the hinterlands, and leave dangling hints and rumors of the goings on far away. It seems a good fit for a strangers in a strange land setup, so "invited to partake in elaborate vampire hunt" would also not be out of the question. I could definitely see adapting the tables in Yoon-Suin to Krevborna to supplement the provided adventure seeds.

Chromatic Soup, issues 1 & 2

Evlyn Moreau et al.
Physical copies purchased

What is It?: A pair of regional-setting gazetteer-zines filled with classes, monsters, random tables locations, and all manner of  practical plug-and-play things.


  • Free pdfs, less than 5 bucks each for physical copies of 100+ pages, and Lulu regularly runs free shipping coupons. This is the highest quality-to-cost ratio in RPGs, by my reckoning
  • Content that can be plucked out and used as one desires. Links between entries can easily lead you into gradually introducing more stuff as time progresses. All the great strengths of zines are here on display.
  • The settings are full of weird backwoodsy folk and weird backwoodsy locations, fleshed out through the content.
  • Digest size makes for easily handling and carrying about.
  • There's no issue 3 yet, and thus I can neither submit content to it nor purchase it.

How I'd Use It:

Several of the classes have already snuck their way onto my master list of character options. With the way the books are organized, that alone will bring in other entries. The Tarry Baunbak, demon salesman of vol. 2, is sure to appear in my games at some point.

Faux Pas

Nick LS Whelan
Pdf purchased
Perused and played

Disclosure: I helped playtest this (though not all of it) and am credited in the book.

What is It?: A town come down with a terrible plague of the demons with a dungeon below. Comes with an audiobook!


  • The audiobook module is both novel and helpful. Nick's done a great job with Blogs on Tape, and in proper form he's able to get all the content to sink in and stick.
  • The encounters in the town are all memorable (on account of being terribly fucked up). Writing is vivid and to the point. The mutations are visceral and gross. Adding the Violence as a temporary event complicates all reactions.
  • The gotcha (the demons are neither demons nor evil) is, unlike many gotchas, not just there to screw over the players. There's a solid amount of interaction choices and potentials to be had.
  • Offhand mentions of the practices of the ancient cult and the Creature that Lurks on Mars are the right kind of flavor-that-probably-won't-come-into-play: short and evocative. Same with God-most-Censorious.
  • The art and photo collages really aid with the off-kilter tone of the whole thing. The time limit adds the looming dread into the mix.

How I'd Use It:

Standalone adventure, and it's already been added to the docket. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Kicking it Old-School with 5e: Character Creation

5th edition is super-popular, and that is fucking great. New blood is good blood.

The question is "How do we get all the new blood that's over there, and bring it over here?"

To that end, I'm writing up a couple posts as a way to bridge the gap between 5th edition and old-school play, as a way to encourage them into the mindset while not straying too far from the rules that they are familiar with. Ideally, it would be something that you could introduce to all those bushy-tailed, bright-eyed newbies while running sessions at the local library without scaring them all away.

Basic mechanics

  • Attributes are 3d6 in order. Attribute bonuses are as in 5e. 
    • If the level-0 session is not meant as a funnel, you may adjust scores as you wish.
  • Reaction and morale rolls are in effect.
  • For level 0 characters, start with 1d4 + CON bonus HP.
    • Alternatively, HP = CON,  skip HP gain at level 1.
  • Checks operate under Shadow of the Demon Lord rules. You need to beat 10. Add your ability modifier to d20, then apply the greatest boon or bane that was rolled. 
  • Initiative is also according to SotDL rules.
  • Advantage and Disadvantage are replaced with boons and banes.
  • Skills are out. Proficiency may be treated as a single Boon. 
  • Feats are for walking, not for characters.
  • Backgrounds can be whatever fulfills "prior employment". Use whatever list you like. You start with a (usually makeshift) weapon and an appropriate item, DCC style.


Character Race

Character race is determined by die drop.

Category (d%)TypeRaceRerollBonusWeakness
1-5Human (d20)1-7: HumanAnyKinship with dogs1 bane to resist mutation
8-10: DwarfCONCan identify origin of worked itemsNo booze = exhaustion
11-13: HalflingDEXLucky: rerolls a 1, 1/daySave vs lost in cities
14-16: GoliathCONShrug off d12 damage 1/dayToo big for normal doors
17-18: Half-OrcSTRExtra attack after drawing first bloodCursed by the orc gods
19-20: FirbolgWISSpeak to animals and plantsUnmaskable smell of dirt and sweat
6-7Monstrous (d10)
1-2: KoboldDEXCan squeeze into tiny spacesTerribly nearsighted
3-5: GoblinDEXImmune to diseaseLeave filth and grease everywhere
6: HobgoblinINTKnows military hand signsAll about machismo and saving face
7: BugbearSTRHides without detection under beds and behind doorsTerribly confused by blankets and sheets
8: LizardmanCONd6 bite, 13 AC scalesSave vs cold or 1 bane to all checks
9: OrcWISCan survive a hit that would drop to 0 HP, 1/sessionSave vs blood-frenzy
10: SerpentmanINTMilk a dose of venom 1/dayOpium addiction
8-9Elf (D12)
1-2: GnomeINT1 boon to understand, repair, and build mechanical devicesEnemies may choose to punt
3-4: Half-ElfCHA1 boon on saves vs magicHated by domestic animals
5-6: Wood ElfDEXStealth boon in natural coverAllergic to iron
7-8: DrowCHADarkvisionSunlight sensitivity
9: Sea ElfCONSpeak with sea creaturesSinks like a stone
10: High ElfINTThermal vision and magnetic senseTerrified of ugly things
11: Shadar-KaiDEXSpeak with dead, lvl/dayLooks like a warmed-over corpse
12: EladrinCHACan make dead plants bloomMust have permission to set foot in a building
10Exotic (d8)
1: DragonbornSTR2d6 dragonbreath 1/day, 15'Breath causes 1d6 damage to self
2: KenkuDEXMimicry of sounds and voicesCompulsion to devour carrion
3: TabaxiDEXDarkvisionSave vs laziness
4: GithINTCritical range 19-20 with bladesSave vs chaos or anxiety attack
5: DuergarCON1 boon vs mental effectsAlcohol triggers PTSD
6: TritonCHACan breathe underwater1 damage / hour if left to dry out
7: AasimarWISCan heal ally lvl HP Explode when critically hit
8: TieflingCHAResistance to fire damageHeavy leaden footsteps


A Minor Extrapolation of Setting

5e comes with some implied setting bits that aren't all that common in OSR-style games: cosmopolitanism, panoplies of playable beings, and high magic all over the place. Certainly not in the tradition of Appendix N, but let's try something different.

All those angels / demons / dragons / liches / squibbly squid things / other immensely powerful beings out there? They run the world. They are the boot stomping down on everyone's neck, forever. They are the scions of a world based on inequality and systematic oppression.

Imagine a world where Jeff Bezos can resurrect himself.

You know that sort of crippling melancholy oppression found in the boat and parade sequences of Ghost in the Shell? Replace the computers with magic.

The superficial trappings are different, but the core is the same: old-school 5e characters are nobodies on the fringe, scrounging through the wilderness and the ruins of previous civilizations and societies, trying to make ends meet in a world stacked against them. It's basically scum and villainy tier Star Wars.

If the players want to be big heroes, let them. But make them earn it. No one gets to start out as Mr. Big Hero Man. Gotta work for it.


Character classes will be featured in a subsequent post. For the time being, one could easily use classes as they are in 5e, or Mateo Diaz Torres excellent Lamentations of the Fifth Princess. The final result will probably tend towards the latter over the former, but with more random tables.The aim is to get all nine core classes adapted, so that prospective players will keep the options they get in the default book.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Class: Priest

Alexis Rives

Everyone and their cousin has their personal take on clerics (I really, really like Beloch Shrike's anti-magic cleric, myself) so I might as well too.

Class: Priest

HP, XP, Saves: As cleric
Armor and weapons: Light armor and simple weapons only.
Starting Items: Staff, holy text, holy symbol (prayer beads, icon, amulet, etc)

Bless: With a prayer and a laying on of hands, you may do the following:
  • Bless a person: give another individual 1d6 + lvl points that they may add to any non-damage, non-magic roll they make. This may be cast CL times per day, but the recipient may only receive one blessing per day.
  • Bless an object: The object is considered holy to the priest's religion and will remain so until the next day. If cast every day for a week, the object will permanently be considered holy.
Turn: Priests may turn away unholy beings as in LotFP. Roll 2d6 and compare to the graph below.
  • Numbers indicate what must be rolled for a success.
  • 'T' indicates automatic turn.
  • 'D' indicates automatic destruction.
Upon failure, the priest cannot Turn for the remainder of the day.

Turning works against whatever is considered unholy by the priest's religion. By default, this includes demons, malicious spirits, and desecrated undead.

Relics: Priests may use relics appropriate to their religion

Holy Orders: Choose one of the following.
  • Parishional
    • +1 to reaction rolls within your community.
    • Can drum up 1d6 volunteers or a specialist in an emergency.
  • Monastic
    •  +1 to reaction rolls with those of religious or political authority.
    •  May request access to monastery's wealth and resources (CHA check).
  • Scholastic
    • Gain 2 additional languages and 2 academic areas of knowledge.
    • +2 boons when attempting to debate on a known topic.
  • Martial
    • May wear medium armor and use bladed weapons.
    • +1 to reaction roles among soldiers and men of violence.
  • Penitent
    • +1 additional HP gained each level.
    • May Bless and Turn as one level higher for sacrifice of 1d6 HP (heals 1/day)
  • Mendicant
    • +1 to reaction rolls with the poor, homeless, and marginalized.
    •  May live on half rations.
  • Inquisitorial
    • 3-in-6 chance of accurately detecting a lie. 3-in-6 chance of false positive.
    • +2 boons on attempts to intimidate.
  • Charismatic
    • Can gather and stir up a crowd with an hour of preaching.
    • Can project your voice and be heard over long distance and loud noises.
  • Heterodox
    • Possess studied knowledge of rival religions, 1d3 close contacts among other faiths.
    • Take orders from the top: may occasionally eschew church bureaucracy.

Mike Mignola

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Chambermaidens: Henry Justice Ford Monster Manual

For Eric Nieudan's bestiary project.


Armour class: as leather
Hit dice: 1
Move: 1 turn of fast, otherwise slow
Attacks: Fist (1d2)
No. Appearing: 1
Morale: 9
Treasure: Special (see below)
Alignment: Neutral or Good

A type of faerie native to all manner of pots, jars, and assorted earthenware containers. Typically take the form of beautiful women about a foot tall, wearing gowns of white, blue, or butterfly wing. Generally friendly, but very protective of their pots and the contents thereof. They greatly enjoy riddles and games, and so will ask visitors to bring them some obscure and obfuscated item for their help.

What Does the Chambermaid Desire?
  1. A peacock tailfeather.
  2. A crossword puzzle with no errors, done in pen by an orc.
  3. A gastrolith from a basilisk.
  4. A spirit of hope and open skies.
  5. An ogre's love letter.
  6. A shell that contains seven seas.
A befriended chambermaid can provide information about the dungeon, adjacent hexes, enchantments, or local monsters, and will be willing to share the contents of their pot.

What Does the Pot Contain?
  1. Enough stew to keep 10 men fed for a month.
  2. A pond's worth of cool, clean water.
  3. A wagon full of nightsoil.
  4. The scraps from 10 aurochs eaten by trolls.
  5. The mummified organs of a prince, wizard, or priest.
  6. Fine wine enough to keep an army drunk for days.
Breaking a chambermaiden's pot will release all of its contents at once, and produce one very angry chambermaid. Curses will fly.