Sunday, October 31, 2021

GLOGtober Day 7: Wandering Monsters First

Take all your floating ideas and turn them into a wandering monster table. What kind of dungeon does this table correspond to?

Inspired by my Inktober sketches (2d6):

2. Amanita Angel
3. The Eponymous Lump
4. Myconids investigating an abandoned washing machine
5. Toaster Ghosts (1d4+1, leave grill marks)
6. Pizza Rat (solo boss monster)
7. Myconids tending their rotgardens (2d6+3)
8. Myconids kissing a dead crocodile (1d4)
9. Atomic Possum
10. Myconids holding communion (1d6+1)
11. Antidryad (a woodsman with a harem of 1d6+1 angry trees)
12. Abandoned Sewer Croco-Dragon

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

GLOGtober Day 6: Bird Deals, Bird Crime

me doing my best scrap princess impression

There are merchants to whom you can sell your height, your fears, your memories, your dreams, your ambitions. Everything you thought could not be bought or sold can in fact be bought or sold, but only by them. They call themselves Cygnorés or Cygnards, two rival famiglias.

They have avian heads and long, stiff necks (because they swallow all their coinage). Their fingers are skeletal and webbed. And because they are birds, they do a lot of crime.


It is said they never haggle, because they can see the true value of all things. This is a lie, perhaps not incepted but certainly encouraged by them.


Bird Deals* (d10)

  1. 2-for-1 deal on human souls. Need I say more?
  2. Special Offer: 1cm/20gp! Noblemen are lined up around the block, and walk away no taller than they were before.
  3. An attempt to corner the market on worldly suffering; they'll buy your hunger to sell as a novelty to celestials. You'll need to eat twice as much to avoid starving to death.
  4. 50% off the Fate of a Chosen One.
  5. Memories of a long lost loved one, bottled, advertised as an "interactive multi-media experience." Literally painful to recollect.
  6. Curses and mutations. They'll remove them for cheap, then turn and sell them at a premium to local bog witches, who will hex you all over again. That's business baby.
  7. They want 6-8 hours of sleep each night, to sell to insomniacs.
  8. 5 gp for a lifelong friendship with some rando, who will recognize you and clap you on the back and invite you into his home to meet his wife and sometimes his hand drifts to yours under the dinner table but no he couldn't possibly have meant anything by it. What a steal!
  9. An excellent singing voice. There's a few competing bidders; it's up to 70gp.
  10. Exotic ancestry. (d6) Elf; Royal; Dragon; Troll; Bird; Lion.

Bird Crime (d10)

  1. Shitting in the streets, or on people's laundry, from the rooftops.
  2. Local officials have yet to suss out the sales tax on their wares, which technically makes all their transactions illegal.
  3. Casual necromancy.
  4. Stealing silverware, ransoming them back for crazy shit like your sense of smell.
  5. Murder. Mostly geese.
  6. Unlawfully parking their bison caravans under bridges.
  7. Digging up graves to trade with ghosts.
  8. Knocking on your second-story window in the dead of night as part of an aggressive marketing campaign.
  9. Business-casual necromancy.
  10. Jaywalking.

*Don't think too hard about the vendor/consumer on the other side of this interaction. Or do--I'm sure they have quite a story to tell.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

GLOGtober Day 4: Domain-Level Locks and Keys

overgrown railroads are just cool in general
Thinking a lot about Hollow Knight recently, and the way its world unfolds as you play. It’s that Metroidvania thing where you worm your way into a new area and unlock the door from the other side, and now every time you walk through you remember all the work you went thru to open up that pathway and it feels special.

I want to do that, but for a whole campaign world. And I’m not talking about a mega dungeon (although Hollow Knight is probably definitely one of those). I’m talking about a domain level metroidvania.

The gameplay loop I’m after is this:

Lock → Key → Reward

Normally, on the dungeoncrawl level, you’re opening new pathways, doors, etc., things that let you maneuver the dungeon. On the domain level, you’re discovering new ways to maneuver thru a MUCH larger space.

Instead of overthinking the theory, I’m just gonna slap down examples to get the gears turning:

The Railroad

Lock: Train tracks tracing the countryside, train stations in a great number of towns, yet no trains running. In fact, there are no trains, period.
Key: Journey to the Trainyard. You’ll need to best the scrapper gang before you can ride their “iron rhinos” (not a euphemism). You also need to clear each track connection—removing barriers, killing tunnel-beasts, relocating communities—before these lines can run reliably.
Reward: Trains! Limited fast travel for yourself and your communities, provided you can keep the lines open. (The druids will be pissed to see trains running again; they are ancient enemies.)

[sidebar: I think you could run a whole campaign around becoming trainlords. I’m sure the glittering city over the mountain will have their own trains, and you could do industrial espionage to learn the secrets of their trains, or discover novel fuel sources (can an internal combustion engine burn ectoplasm?), and now all of a sudden you’re playing Railroad Tycoon.]

[sidebar 2: Also, trains are rad as fuck; they’re super customizable and powerful transportation options without being overwhelming because they’re on tracks. Consider putting more trains in your campaign.]

The River

Lock: A canyon, a dry riverbed served by a tiny stream. At the mouth, a desiccated township, the husk of a once bustling trade city.
Key: Up in the Lich King’s aqueducts, the river has been dammed and diminished to a trickle. You’ll need to delve down and release it somehow. Could involve a series of pipes and valves, could be as simple as blowing up the dam.
Reward: Trade becomes possible up and down the renewed river. Some communities will flourish, some will be wiped away by the flood. Sea raiders travel further inland along this new route, pillaging with impunity.

The Waterfall

Lock: A mountain pass or cave entrance, blocked by a torrential waterfall. The waterfall is obvious; the path is not, but rumors abound.
Key: At the top of a mountain, a dragon weeps for his shattered pride. It’s tears form the waterfall. Stop his crying somehow, and the waterfall will cease. Note that you’ll probably have to climb the whole damn mountain to figure this out, let alone solve the problem.
Reward: A new area is accessible! New hexes beyond the mountain pass, or a new dungeon behind the cave entrance.

The Ocean

Lock: The East Wind was captured and bottled. Until she is rescued, no easterly wind blows, making westward travel impossible on the high seas. The same is not true in the opposite direction, which is why empires of the Western Continent banish their criminals by setting them adrift in our direction. They land in Worstport, a town with a self-explanatory name.
Key: Find the East Wind. She’s deep deep deep in the earth (underdark?), trapped in a tiny blue cloth bag. You have a choice: keep her contained, and only your ships will sail west (so long as you are on board). Release her, and everyone can explore the Western Continent. Careful, she holds a grudge. Alternatively, convince one of the other winds to blow from the East, perhaps for a specific amount of time, in exchange for some favor.
Reward: Literally a whole new continent to explore. A lordship is promised to whoever brings back the most samarine, the rare “blue gold” worn by exiles in Worstport. Also, if the West figures out people can sail back from the East, they’ll a) send conquistadores and b) put bounties on all the criminals they abandoned over here (that’ll be a fun international incident).

Long-Range Communication

Lock: The trollstones are basically an open channel magic HAM radio. They’re unusable because some jag off has been screaming into it nonstop for the last three million years, like the worst discord voice chat ever.
Key: Track their fantasy IP number, find their fantasy house, and fantasy beat their brains in. Alternatively, use your brain. They’re probably in someplace obvious, like the Hall of Screaming Stone. Alternatively, recruit an orpheme.
Reward: Actual instantaneous long-range communication, for everyone who can afford it. No private frequencies, so secret missives can’t be sent without careful encryption. Consider hiring a team of codebreakers. Consider destroying everyone else’s trollstones.


Lock: A long long time ago, a monster set up shop in the space-between-space, eating whoever passes through. It isn’t omnipotent, so you could theoretically sneak past, but it’s lethal enough that no one uses the teleport spell unless absolutely necessary (1-in-20 chance of success, +1 for each good idea for distracting/pacifying the beast).
Key: Use the teleport spell, survive the beast, and then STAY in the space-between-space (extra dimensional dungeon!!!!) until you find a way to get rid of the beast for good. A fools errand, naturally. Alternatively, teleport other monsters in until something kills it. Careful: the beast might poke its head out to see who’s dumping trash into their home.
Reward: Teleportation of all kinds works again, although the remaining spells are still sort of shitty versions of the original teleport. The beast’s progeny disseminate across the world; the Hounds of Tindalos hunt once more. Some sort of ancient evil is unleashed, for sure.


Lock: Someone put a ceiling on the sky (to keep humanity from reaching the moon). It’s like a forcefield made of stained glass. It’s really pretty at sunset.
Key: It’s held up by six pillars of glass (BIG ass dungeons). If you climb one and punch a hole in it, it’ll splinter like ice on your driver’s side window and fall all at once, which is about as bad as it sounds.
Reward: You can be certain all the wizards in their towers will immediately try to colonize the moon once the ceiling comes down (space race!!!!!!). And of course, when you open the ceiling, things are going to start coming in; outsiders who have been fogging up the glass for aeons, looking for a crack.

Essential principles:
Interhex relationships. A lock in one hex should yield rewards in another hex.
No single path. Hopefully, the keys are open-ended enough to not feel constraining.
Two-way streets. With each reward comes new and unexpected complications.

The scale is important. The locks are huge, known features of the world, visible from a mile off. Ideally, you remember them from level 1. The keys are their own dungeons; you’ll have to crawl them to unlock the new content. The rewards are entirely new hexes, new lands to conquer, new tools with which to assert your despotic(?) reign.

Tramways, breached borders, actual fucking infrastructure; these are the carrots that keep the game running thru domain level.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

GLOGtober Day 3: Metauniversal Texts

Dmitry Khrapovitsky
These are slim paperbacks, some nearly pamphlets. Each varies wildly in content and print quality. Some are utilitarian arrangements in sensible fonts. Others appear to have been illustrated by six-year-old child suffering night terrors. They are always found in dungeons, still crisp and warm to the touch as if freshly transcribed.

Each tome describes a reality that DOES NOT EXIST. They detail FICTIONAL realms with NO BASIS IN TRUTH, where spells cannot speak and magic tastes like blood. Few themes are shared among the larger body of literature: the four-fold life cycle of Man; the near-obsessive tabulation of Wizardly Cubes.

For all intents and purposes, they should be harmless speculative fiction, but the Church confiscates every copy they come across. This is reason enough for everyone else to value them highly.


PCs can use a metauniversal text to literally change the rules of the game. This takes as much time in-game as it takes you to identify the rules you want to change irl. Small tweaks (like removing fall damage) can be made on the fly. Significant changes (i.e. anything that takes more than 20 seconds to figure out as a table) don’t occur until the party gets a few minutes to breathe.

Each text comes with a coupon for the Fundamentum (a metauniversal text containing your original ruleset). You’ll need it to reverse any changes you make. Copies are sold by gretchlings.

Oh yeah, gretchlings.

Ripping a hole in reality has consequences, and they are one of them. Whenever you use a metauniversal text, more gretchlings stumble into the world. They invariably live in the deepest dungeons, where they subsist on pity and blogposts. They’ll sell you metauniversal texts, some of their own creation.

You should probably kill them on sight. If enough accumulate in one place, they’ll gnaw thru your campaign’s suspension of disbelief and drop you into Phlox’s Discord.

It is trivially easy to write a metauniversal text. Encourage players to do so.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Hkepites & What Happened to the Giants

masashi kageyama
All you need to know about the giants is they were massive, grade-A, Greek-God-level dickweeds. They were the beloved children of a greater race before them, spoiled and arrogant, and all the world belonged to them. They made love to mountains and had thousands of children, which they abused for their own amusement. They had shitty asshole names like Bezos and Kanye. They were big, they were smart, they ruled the earth for a couple millennia, and then they all died.

There was one female giant, ever. In most accounts, she hunts her brothers to the last, probably out of shame.


The people named Hkepite (meaning “earwig” in a tongue time has forgotten) are not hunters of giants. They are scavengers and detritivores, living in the ancient corpses, standing guard at the tombs of the godlings.

You’ll find them in the Dessication. They don’t get many visitors—the desert expands with each passing year—so expect a lavish welcome.

They’re a sedentary people, prone to obesity, inclined to merriment and religiosity. They give good hugs and sing when they pray. They wear sun-scorched leather and drink cactus juice. They drawl. They laugh. They make really stunning stained sand art.

They were led here by a dream about a whale.

Each family is tasked with eating an entire giant, which they believe will prevent the giant’s reincarnation. The flesh is perfectly edible; decay can’t seem to make a dent in it. After a particularly wet rainy season, the bodies even seem to grow.

Once a giant is fully consumed, the family builds a boat from their bones and sails into the ocean for their eternal reward. This has only happened four times.

Before the feast began, they were carvers and butchers. They recall bits and pieces of this heritage, now expressed as a mastery of bladecraft and an odd dance form. A cut from a Hkepite blade is imperceptible, at least until the skin flap gets caught on something. They’re made of giant bones (pretty much everything here is) so they keep the edge as long as they don’t touch anything harder than a tough hide.

The Hkepites build very little. Mostly they carve new chambers. Sometimes they build lookout towers, forgetting the last few endeavors, and are freshly disappointed by the lack of things to look out for.

About whales

There’s a rumor about whales; they don’t need to swim. Anything with that much power and gray matter could figure out walking if they wanted to. Rumor among sailors is they’re afraid of something, which is why they ran to the sea.

These tales are told only by long-retired sailors, in taverns far from the sea. The risk of a whale overhearing is too great shoreside.

armando veve


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Dream Nail (the only magic item you will ever need)

charging up
The Dream Nail. This forum post explains why it’s awesome in Hollow Knight. I’ll elaborate on why it works just as well in D&D.


The Dream Nail is a magic sword. It does not cut the physical; instead, the Nail is used to carve one’s way into dreams.
The depth of the cut dictates the depth of access. A scratch reveals surface-level thoughts. A deep cut lays the conscious mind bare. Drive the Nail hilt-deep into the forebrain, and one can cross the threshold into dream.
The Dream Nail cuts the spirit, and thus works on the living and dead in equal measure.


On the face of it, the Dream Nail is like a Zone of Truth/Speak with Dead that you stab people with, which is already fantastic. However, it gets even better because it opens


In a world rife with mind-readers and truth serums, those who bear great secrets must hide them from even themselves. They accomplish this by constructing Dream Dungeons; hostile dreamscapes designed to rebuff attempts at recollection OR infiltration.
These are dungeons! You can crawl them, meet people from the host’s memory, and fight monsters! You can use them to pry information out of those driven mad, those long dead, and wizards. You can pull an inception and influence them outside their dreams.
You can even dream-delve therapeutically, assisting the host by actually physically fighting their repressed trauma or unlocking their memories.

More things to do with Dream Dungeons:

  • Explore an extinct civilization in its prime, as depicted in the interwoven dreams of the king’s mummified advisors.
  • Undo an imperial sleeper agent’s brainwashing.
  • Rescue a prince who has been spirited away in the dreams of a Grey Maiden.
  • Defeat a memetic parasite in the mind of a mad paladin.
  • Dive 5 dreams deep to incept the evil overlord’s downfall.
  • Dungeon-delve through your own repressed memories.

Basically, the Dream Nail can nestle dungeons within dungeons, turn emotional challenges into dungeon crawls, and inject fantastical set pieces into temporally/physically/genre-ifically distant locales.

It’s a good idea. Steal it.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

GLOGtober Day 1: Belliserum's Mind Palace // Through the Veil

Ryan van Dongen
You stumble forth from the catacombs into a blistering sandstorm. A towering palace of sun-bleached stone, cloaked by the desert’s rasping winds, reveals itself to you as you crest a dune. You can hear it churning, the great gears turning, postulating, theorizing, reminiscing.

The gate is open, just a crack. You slip into the mechanism. The bonfire flares to life. 


This is a rewrite of Belliserum's Mind Palace for Lich's Through The Veil GLOGhack.


What is known:
This is the palace of Belliserum: the Mentor, the archetype of genius, the unclouded one. She is long dead, the second casualty of the war with Archenemy. Her grave is elsewhere, unmarked, in a formless field at the feet of the Monarch.
The palace contains the complete contents of Belliserum’s mind, transcribed in impossible detail on each brick and tile and tapestry.
There is a Standing Stone within the palace—an anchor between the Veil’d world and the Real. If destroyed, the mortal realm will be one step closer to freedom from the unreal.

What is within:
The old: Memories of the world, unmarred. Frozen, as in amber, the truth of all known things.
The new: Miraculous inventions, the triumph of dreams over reality. Music unheard of, stories untold.
The outsiders: Antessa, far from home, drawn to dreams; Brumi, back from the dead yet again; the gnashing Plaque
The indigenous: Belliserum’s paper angels; her stone-wrought golems; her fabric-men; her Fears.
And the Other: A great Fear, buried in the subconscious.

Belliserum was obsessed with the preservation of the self. In all their myriad forms, the curators of her palace bear her visage, stoic and pristine.
Wants: To preserve Belliserum, as she remembers herself. To preserve knowledge.
By: Denying or destroying outsiders. Seeking out or confiscating texts, artifacts, trivia.
But: Their memory of Belliserum is itself eroding. The palace is slowly self-destructing.

A: The Bonfire. Brumi is here, again.
- A monolithic stone gate bars the way forward (leads to H); it is sealed shut with red wax, as if it were an envelope, and emblazoned with a heron.
- A tapestry depicting a red-gold mandelbrot, so detailed it makes your head swim. Brumi is leaning against it.
- A chiseled tunnel behind the tapestry (leads to room B).
- A charcoal note: “Illusory wall ahead.” If you strike the wall, Brumi laughs at you.

Brumi - The Cockroach
Don’t look at me, the door’s closed. I’m not fool enough to try it anyway; they don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat in there.
Knows: Nothing. He wants his money back though. You remember. Don’t be a dick, cough it up.
- If asked about why he’s here: I’m not joining your little suicide mission, if that’s what you’re asking. I die enough on my own time.
Wants: His money back. Like, for real.
Has: A Dead Man’s Coin. If you would die, call and flip the coin. If you win, you don’t die. 

B: The Scriptorium. A handful of fabric-men are milling about, unperturbed by your presence. They read the wall carvings with their fingertips, then adjust them with tiny chisels.
- Piles of overstuffed tomes, umbrella stands full of imaginary maps, bouquets of schematics line the walls.
- An enormous stone golem with a newborn’s face patrols the halls, softly sobbing.
- A chiseled tunnel in the far wall (leads to room A).
- A stairwell in the opposite corner, behind the baby. It goes up (to room D) and down (to room C).

The Waif
Excised from the palace proper, a painful memory given shape and purpose. She knows little but crying and smashing.
2 (20 HP)/2 Stamina/1 Humanity
Attack: (2 Stam) Smashes indiscriminately. Hits all enemies standing close together. Physically and/or emotionally isolated characters have -2 to Dodge.
Armor: 3 (Stone) 

C: The Stacks. A hall as deep as it is long, replete with lengthy memoirs and biographies. All is written in an alien language.
- Unraveled fabric-men are torn to shreds on the floor.
- An enormous, statuesque painting of a woman. The features seem warped, as if half-remembered.
- A stone tiger with a woman’s face prowls the stacks, killing for amusement. Unseen, she calls to the party: Help!
- A balcony ~80 feet off the ground. Possibly reachable by scaling the bookcases, and the network of platforms between them. (Leads to E)
- A monolithic stone gate bars the way backward (leads to H); it is sealed shut with red wax, as if it were an envelope, and emblazoned with a heron.
- Stairwell to B + D.

The Man-Eater
A solitary hunter of great cruelty. It speaks in taunts and pleas, but these are tricks; she possesses more instinct than intelligence.
4 (30 HP)/4 Stamina/1 Humanity
Attack: (2 Stam) Pounces from the shadows. If the players have not yet figured out how to track her, they have -4 to Dodge her ambushes.
Defense: Sunder weapon on fangs.
Armor: 3 (Stone) 

D: The Cogs. A monumental stonework machine, cantankerous yet calm like running water.
- A great loom, from which fabric-men are born. One stumbles out every ten minutes or so. At the same time, other fabric-men enter and unravel themselves. Two golems turn the mechanism, unperturbed by the player presence.
- A woman in blue, sitting in a corner, reading from a tome to an enraptured crowd of fabric-men. They seem to show affection for her; they see Belliserum in the lines of her face and the gray of her hair.
- Two stairwells (lead to B, C, and E).

Antessa - The Ashfoot
What hey, travelers. Care for a tale? I’ve told this story four times so far, and these ones still haven’t tired of it.
Knows: About the Fear. She can feel it; the Palace is crumbling under the weight of itself.
- If asked about Belliserum, or whatever’s going on: I can feel it… her fear. It is etched into these walls clear as day. It is fear that built this Palace, and on fear it persists. Perhaps, she is still afraid.
- If asked about the monsters: I will say, I have seen myself in more than one facet of this place. I could swear I looked just like one of them when I was a little girl.
Does: Antessa has both the talent and the will to train sorcerers, an exceedingly rare combination in this age.
Needs: To meet Belliserum, or whatever aspect of her remains.
Has: A Burning Soul. Consume to begin your journey down the path of the pyromancer.
(If you kill the Fear, Antessa gives up her quest, believing Belliserum is dead, and joins the hub. If you pacify the Fear and lead Antessa to it, see THE DAUGHTER RETURNS below) 

E: The Plunge. A stairwell into creeping, whispering darkness.
- In many places, the stairwell has been destroyed, burnt to a crisp.
- Black tar creeps up the walls toward the upper levels.
- Two wax-and-paper angels stand guard, one with a child’s face, one with a young maiden’s. Their heron staves (TREASURE!) exhale fire intermittently at the encroaching dark, forcing it back.
- At the bottom, a thick layer of Plaque. Unless burned away, it eats through the soles and devours one whole. It pours forth from a crack in an eroded stone doorway. (Leads to F)

Paper Maiden
Her delicate, flickering heart threatened to burn her to cinders. One day, she locked it away, and filled her chest with flame instead.
3 (20 HP)/2 Stamina/5 Focus/1 Humanity
Spells: Nurses a fireball in her chest, then hurls it.
Attack: (1 Stam) Strikes with Heron-stave. Foes struck ignite.
Defense: Parry 

F: The Root. The palace foundation, a subconscious space filled with carved stone columns. The chamber is abyssally dark and flooded with knee-high, flowing Plaque. Something enormous is thrashing in the Plaque.
- The Standing Stone, the anchor, humming with energy, supports the weight of a weary mind.
- A monolithic stone gate bars the way forward (leads to H); it is sealed shut with red wax, as if it were an envelope, and emblazoned with a heron.
- But you don’t have time to think about that
- It is among you
- It is here

The Fear
the grotesque, weeping, sponge-like head; the maw, writhing, wriggling, frothing; the arms, too long and reaching, the hands, too fingersome and fidgeting; the crone within, whispering, begging for release
8 (50hp)/5 stam/3 focus/3 humanity
Enemies Close: Swipe. Sends all enemies flying into columns.
Enemies at a Distance/Grouped: Gorilla charge at largest group of enemies. (+2 to Dodge to avoid)
End of Round: Glances at closest enemy. Save or become piss-your-pants terrified of anything that reminds you of it, forever.
When at half hp: The Plaque crawls over the Fear. It grows heavy, hunched, and horrific, and begins weeping fire. All attacks cause a burst of fire.
At 0 HP: The Plaque consumes it, then surges forth. The Palace begins to crumble. 

G: The Column. A stairwell sick with Plaque.
- Sealed exits lead to A, C, and F.
- Leads down to H. 

H: The Heart. In this hidden place flooded with Plaque, a bloated heart forces its way out of a display case. It has grown thick and black, like a knot of serpents, weeping venom from its chambers. Those who approach feel eerily at peace.
- If destroyed, the Plaque falls silent. Whatever it is destroyed with becomes a Congealed Weapon. (2x damage vs everything, so long as no flame is nearby). If the Plaque is silent, the Fear is pacified.

THE DAUGHTER RETURNS. If Antessa meets the pacified Fear, the latter will regard her for a moment, then leap into her. The Vessel is claimed. The true battle begins.

She’s a perfect fit.
5 (30hp)/4 stam/∞ focus/4 humanity
Defense: Dodge (flies via explosion thanks to innate pyrokinesis)
Spells: Firebomb, slumber, mass teleport, wish, etc. etc.
End of Round: Set closest enemy on fire, no save.
When at half hp: Gripped by fear, THE UNCLOUDED ONE attempts to teleport away. If curators are still on the map, she teleports you with her to them. Otherwise, she teleports you with her 1000 ft above the palace.
At 0 HP: She pupates for a few minutes, then explodes like a ton of TNT. The Palace is destroyed


Hell yeah, did it in one day. Now someone else write the other 5 Standing Stone dungeons.

Monday, October 4, 2021

GLOGtober Day 5: The Skald

the instrument isn't actually all that important
Magic music is a cool concept. That said, casting spells with a musical instrument is just wizardry with extra steps. Here’s a low-magic romantic fantasy bard.


Starting Equipment: a warm cloak, well-worn boots, a golden armband (pawn for 3 years of a peasant’s savings), and a voice that cuts thru clamor and din.
Starting Skill: Poetry and (d3) Music; Sailing; Foreign Tongues
A: Saga, Flyting
B: Tall Tales

C: Fight or Flyte

D: Tongue of 9 Realms

A: Saga
You keep a meticulously embellished account of your/your adventuring party’s deeds. At any point, you may recount a deed from your saga to give your party an edge in any lesser feat that echoes the first. (For example, if you slew the mighty King Roc with an arrow through the wing, dispatching his minions the same way will be easier.) You must recount loudly.

Once per day, if you recount in song, or meter, or with multiple kennings, and the feat succeeds, everyone restores some HP. (note to self: put a number here later)

A: Flyting
When two parties come to an impasse, they may engage in verbal combat, or flyting. Damage is dealt to one’s HP as normal, and those reduced to 0 HP are cowed. Anyone fighting for their lives is immune to skaldic combat.

Damage is proportional to the sharpness of one’s tongue and the force of one’s argument. Start at d4 and increase die size for each of the following, up to d12:

  • Rhyming and/or strict meter
  • One or more kennings
  • A truthful accusation
  • A painful accusation; one which preys on their insecurities

The same insult told twice is blunted, and deals no damage. Keep things sharp by varying your kennings.

These same rules apply for everyone in the skald’s party, or in a party with no skalds, if you want. However, those without great skill in poetry or insults start from d2, up to d10.

B: Tall Tales
If you tell a tall tale, people will believe it and pass it around. Your tales are attributed directly to you. Those you slander will hear of it, and may pay you a visit if thoroughly incensed.

If a tale you’ve told is proven false, save vs. a tarnished reputation. Once tarnished, those who know of you will still pass around your tales, but will not believe a single word without clear proof.

C: Fight or Flyte
When you start a flyte, your opponent cannot start a fight until they return your insult. They can still retaliate if one of your allies start a fight. If you retort swiftly and viciously, you can go back and forth up to three times like this.

D: Tongue of 9 Realms
Your insults (and only your insults) cross any and all language barriers. Likewise, you can roughly translate most insults directed at you or your party.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

GLOGtober Day 2: Heck Drow


If your first response to “what kind of sentient race lives in the deepest, darkest place in the world” is “i’unno, dark elves?”, you’re a hack. (sry gygax)

There are two (and ONLY two) ways to make Drow interesting:

  1. Make them the ONLY elves in your campaign.
  2. Make them not elves. Make them mega-weird. Don’t call them drow, they’re blinklings now and they have 2 rows of teeth and no eyes and smell with their hands and and

Roll a d20 until your drow are finally interesting:

  1. Colloquially known as “snickers,” for the sound you hear as they approach, unseen, thru the caverns. They don’t actually laugh; that’s just what it sounds like
  2. Extremely spindly with pinprick extremities. Can slip through the cracks under doors with minimal effort
  3. Tall, so tall they would need to crouch if they walked through the caves. Thankfully they never need to
  4. “Cannibals? you slander us topworlder; we would never eat our own. strangers, however…”
  5. Darting, mandible-d tongue.
  6. Lay eggs in underground reservoirs. larval form is parasitic, which leads adults to seek out “pastures” for their young to mature upon (it’s absolutely catastrophic if there’s drow in your well)
  7. Blind, have a telepathic/symbiotic relationship with troglograss. They tend to their lawns, and the lawn lets nearby drow know when prey is stumbling by.
  8. Most joints (including the spine) can rotate 180 degrees like broken puppets.
  9. Literally just spiders (and not just spider-themed dominatrixes). Big, sentient spiders, who talk like humans and emote like humans and have absolutely no conception of the boundary between friend and food
  10. Kidnap surface animals to turn them into drow. The process involves a lot of starving and light deprivation. it often works; you can encounter drow cats and drow elephants. They have all the other rolled drow traits.
  11. Indistinguishable from corpses while metabolizing. Can lie perfectly still, all night, watching, waiting. Drow encampments always look like ghost towns, and you’ll wonder what monster wiped all these people out, and then when you sleep they’ll getcha
  12. See-through skin. They wear bat-leather everywhere except their stomachs, where you can see through their intestines and observe whatever they ate recently (it’s a sign of friendliness to wear an open-belly tunic, so whoever you’re talking to can see that you are not currently hungry, and therefore not an immediate threat)
  13. Wear the molted exoskeletons of their elders. When the eldest molts, the rest trade up like a hermit crab parade. very fleshy and moist underneath it all.
  14. 8 FOOT VERTICAL LEAP they don’t even need to bend their legs to do it. All their joints sound like cave crickets
  15. Due to lack of traditional eyes, noses, etc. on the face, Drow paint “self-portraits” on their skin to augment their appearances. Snarling hounds for warpaint, delicate masks for parties. The paints are mild irritants which serve to modify the thermal patterns of the visage; sighted creatures may struggle to comprehend the patterns being displayed.
  16. What you see is little more than the roving gametes of the Linddrow - a great wurm beneath the earth, constantly tunneling around the world, releasing plumes of drow into the caverns. They seek to unite with the great egg, whatever that is (a crystal in the elven kingdom, the moon, a flying city?)
  17. They walk on the ceiling and are absolutely surprised to see you. They claim to be on a mission to chart the depths of the earth. If you let them past, they’ll walk up to the surface, absolutely boggled by the sheer drop into the sky.
  18. Cling to walls and sheer surfaces with ease. Often hide in plain site on paintings and murals
  19. Normal elves infected with some sort of parasite/being puppetted from the shadows/housing an undead spirit (take your pick)
  20. All things the same, except based on a different animal. They aren’t sexy underground elves, they’re sexy underground ELEPHANTS. You can keep the spider-worshipping and poisonings and shit