Saturday, November 14, 2020

Deadly Consequences

Looking for an easy-to-grok death/dismemberment system for my GLOGhack, I stumbled upon this post from Wizard Thief Fighter, then retooled it a bit for my own purposes. I'm not completely sold on the system below (a little too much reading and rolling), but it's certainly a start.


Jose Segrelles

Deadly Consequences

When you take damage in excess of your HP, you come face to face with a consequence based on how much damage you took: either risky, deadly, or career-ending.

Choose or roll from the available options. The same consequence can’t be chosen twice in one session. If all options are chosen, reset the table or add more.

Any Death Dice (DD) you have are rolled and added to the next instance of damage you take. (Death Dice are d6s.)

1-5: Risky Consequence. Your chances of surviving this fight just went way down.

  1. Knocked out for the rest of the fight. When you wake up, some of your memories are missing.
  2. Items held in your hands are sundered, then drop 1d6 more items. +1DD
  3. Throw a nearby ally in front of the blow. If they’re a PC, they suffer a deadly blow. +1DD
  4. A near miss which will become a horrible scar. Gain 1d6 trauma. +1DD
  5. Close shave. You lose 1d6 fingers. +1DD
  6. You make a heroic stand. +3DD

6-10: Deadly Consequence. Permanent injuries, physical and emotional.

  1. Your arm is permanently disabled. +2DD
  2. Your leg is permanently disabled. +2DD
  3. You go deaf. +2DD
  4. You go blind. +2DD
  5. You can’t speak. +2DD
  6. Your spirit is broken. You have disadvantage to combat-related rolls permanently. +2DD

11+: Career-Ending Consequence. Prepare your final words

  1. Absolutely obliterated. Your body is impossible to recover.
  2. You’re on the brink. The next hit you take results in ridiculous, gruesome death.
  3. You make your final stand. You are invincible for 3 combat rounds, then die.
  4. Too old for this shit. Your hair turns grey. You retire at the earliest possible opportunity.
  5. “I quit.” Your PC retires immediately and tosses 3 of their items to a nearby ally. The ally immediately levels up. If it’s a hireling, they may become a level 2 PC.
  6. You survive miraculously, but the universe will punish your good fortune. You fail all checks forever.

Ariel Perez


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Decapitation & the Dullahan

by Valin Mattheis

Here’s some true fun facts about decapitation:

The guillotine was invented in 18th century France as a humane alternative to other, more gruesome forms of capital punishment like the breaking wheel. The driving philosophy behind its creation was surprisingly progressive: that capital punishment was primarily meant to end life, and that inflicting unnecessary pain in the process was morally wrong.

There’s a lot (and I mean a lot) of stories from this time period about recently-decapitated heads blinking or mouthing, as if trying to speak. Scholars at the time would further investigate the duration of continued consciousness by asking criminals to blink in a specific sequence after decapitation, or pumping blood into the heads to see if they would come back to life and speak. More recently, videos of beheadings confirm these stories, showing each blink or muscle spasm in gruesome, high-definition video footage.

And on the other side of the equation, many examples exist of “beating heart cadavers”: non-decomposing corpses who continue to digest, urinate, blush, sweat, and even have babies following brain death. Not to mention Mike, the chicken who lived for 18 months following decapitation, capable of walking, eating, and emitting gurgly clucks.

Nowadays we know to identify “death” as a cascade of smaller events, wherein individual organs and tissues fail in sequence. The question of which of these deaths truly ends a person’s life is hotly debated (and wildly uncomfortable), but it does give me some ideas.

Mike in his prime, absolutely beside himself

If you amputate a person’s arm, that arm has no identity of their own; it’s simply dispossessed. If you “amputate” a person’s head, which part of that body is them?

Was “Mike” the same chicken he was before losing his head, or is “Mike” the head that was left behind? If so, who is the body walking around and eating? Are they two separate beings? Has Mike been split in two? What parts of Mike are where?

Where is the soul in all this?

Let’s focus on capital punishment for a second.

If you split a person in two, can you punish individual parts of their soul? Can you kill the brain, ripe with sin and ambition, but save the innocent body? Can you divide the purple soul from the animal and mineral? Can you excise sin from the soul, and let the rest wander around freely?

What does the body think when the head is removed?

Judith decapitando Holofernes


An ichabod is created following a merciful beheading (what the Pristine Clergy calls a “decree of forgiveness”). Quickly, the head is buried, and the body is anointed in rosewater to prevent infection. A cleric then seals the carotid arteries of the neck stump with wax and begins a 24 hour vigil wherein they nurse the body back to health and ward off psychopomps. Eventually, the body sits up from its bed.

The process absolves the accused of their crimes, albeit at a terrible cost. Without eyes, ears, or a brain, the ichabod jerks back and forth on little more than instinct, obeying the three earthly souls which escaped persecution in the eyes of the law. It has little ambition beyond the most basic functions of eating and drinking. Imagine a high-functioning, self-conscious sleepwalker; this is the Ichabod.

An ichabod retains much of its memory and can comprehend language. (To an ichabod, all meaningful noise sounds distant, as if shouted from the bottom of a deep hole. They can’t hear sounds that are less than obvious.) They can also produce “language” through their neck holes, although it is only a sputtering gurgle. For a princely sum, an ichabod can be fitted with an array of brass horns, allowing it to speak in mournful honks, which is a lot less upsetting than it sounds.

Typically, the ichabod is tasked with performing menial labor in the service of their victims. After serving its sentence, it is turned free.

An ichabod roams where their animal soul guides them, through the wilderness with little more than a blade and liquid rations, which they squeeze down their necks with great difficutly. They can be reasoned or traded with, and are sometimes quite friendly; the animal soul longs for company every so often.

2  Armor as leather  Quarterstaff 1d6
8  Int 8  Morale 2


by Bastien Grivet

Sometimes, the ichabod's head will refuse to decompose, breathlessly mouthing curses into the hateful earth. Wizard heads are sealed in molten silver to prevent their spells from escaping. Being an ichabod means knowing that somewhere on earth your evil twin is buried under the floorboards gibbering blasphemies.

If an ichabod comes into contact with its head, it “dies”, and the head reassumes direct control. This is what creates a dullahan.

8  Armor as plate  Sword 1d8/1d8/1d8
12  Int 14  Morale 8
Soul Link

The link between a dullahan's head and body is tenuous at best, characterized by a constant struggle for control between the heavenly and earthly souls. The dullahan loses control of its body beyond a range proportional to the strength of their willpower: a serial killer can maintain control within a 20' radius, an ancient sorcerer-king can do so over many miles (1 hex). The dullahan can only truly be killed if its body is removed from this area; otherwise, it regenerates quickly over 1d4 hours and continues its pursuit.

Dullahans hold their heads where they can survey the landscape. They often ride horses and are frequently megalomaniacs.

If they are a wizard-head (sealed in molten silver, see above), they will employ avian familiars to act as their eyes and cast their spells. Some of them carve their silvered craniums into artful filigree, or a mask of the face underneath. Some just really dig the aesthetic of being a silver cube.

Dullahan by Cromwaits


Sunday, November 1, 2020

5 Wholesome Monsters


by Andrea Lavery

In a very-not-OSR very-not-halloween twist, here’s some monsters that aren’t tortured abominations. No duplicity, no trickery, no murder-mimic-shaped-like-a-tree-stump-with-a-bunny-on-top, just good vibes and cute monsters.

Kisse Bird

A very circular bird with watercolor-on-canvas plumage. It’s extremely friendly, and will happily ride on your shoulder (it actually prefers it to the little gilded cage it comes in) and eat assorted seeds out of your hands. It can’t fly because it only has a single, disproportionately large wing, which has no apparent effect on its limitless avian cheer.

Kisse birds are extremely rare treasure. Each one is worth 200gp to collectors and lovestruck nobles. A mating pair of Kisse birds is worth a king’s ransom, but they must be kept in separate cages lest they ascend together.

When two Kisse birds to meet, they will huddle close to one another and coo. At that point they become inseparable, having bonded on a molecular level, and can fly by coordinating their wingbeats. As soon as they have a clear path to the open sky, they will grab the party member who has treated them best by the collar and ascend into the clouds with their powerful wings. The abducted PC will fall from the sky within view of the party 1d4 hours later, wearing/carrying 3 magic items from your second-best loot table and, invariably, a Ring of Feather Falling.

Nightmare Gliders

Long-haired, parasitic sugar gliders. They eat bad memories by clinging to their host’s skull and sipping harmlessly from the brain with their long, anteater-like proboscides. They generally start from the most recent memories (like when a sugar glider suddenly landed on their head, unless you’re cool with that).

A PC with a nightmare glider on their head loses Stress (or Trauma, Mania, Insanity, or whatever system you use for mental fatigue) every night. If you run out of prevalent bad memories or try to put on a helmet, the glider jumps to a new PC (or leaves, if no desirable hosts are available).

When a nightmare glider parasitizes a wizard, they are likely to steal spells directly from the caster’s brain. Necromancy and damage dealing spells are always the first to go. If a nightmare glider drinks too many spells, it grows rapidly and becomes a Dire Sugar Glider (refer to your Monster Manual of choice).

If you eat a nightmare glider, you’ll get your memories back, as well as all the worst emotions of all the glider’s previous hosts (debilitating nightmares prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep for 1d4 weeks, plus Stress/Trauma/Insanity/etc., no Save). It’s a shitty idea for many reasons (including a 4-in-6 chance of insanity from sleep deprivation) but could teach you a handful of terrible secrets.


Headless glow-in-the-dark dungeon boars who look like the rear ends of 2 swine stitched together. They’re cute/wholesome, and I don’t have to explain myself.

by Jessica Fong

 Affirmation Sphinx

Q: “What is wrong with you?”
A: “Nothing.”

The answers to this sphinx’s riddles are all some variant of positive affirmation. This is because the sphinx can read minds, and is genuinely concerned about your mental health. However, all sphinxes must talk in riddles, and besides, you wouldn’t heed a sphinx’s advice anyway unless you came to the conclusion yourself.

The affirmation sphinx is warm and matronly. She is often bundled up in many layers of furs and hides, adding to her comfy vibe. She can light a campfire with a whisper and is willing to share a leg of fresh elk with hungry adventurers in exchange for stories. The sphinx won’t protect you from wandering monsters however; she can’t help but root for both sides equally.

Besides being just a cool person to talk to, the affirmation sphinx can detect magic and see invisible creatures. She is guarding something, probably a treasure hoard, but she can’t let you pass until you answer her other riddle: “What is the password?” The answer is long and case sensitive.

Dragon Caterpillar

A regal purple caterpillar with a proud display of horns, from which it derives its name. It uses its front-most claws like hands and begs for food with its enormous eyes (it’ll eat anything it can fit in its mandibles, but prefers small berries).

If you give it a large sum of gold, it will chew it up and spin it into a hoard-cocoon over the course of 1d4 weeks. The cocoon is worth 1.5x the gold you put into it to seamstresses and nobles, who can unravel the cocoon into true golden silk with ephemeral properties.

If you hold on to the cocoon for 3d4 years, the caterpillar will emerge from its metamorphosis as a dragontail butterfly, who grants a single wish before disappearing into fae space. The scope of the wish is proportional to your relationship with the caterpillar.

happy just-after-halloween y'all
by Wylie Beckert