Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Dungeon Bitches Part 2

General mechanics, default moves etc here.

Corpse Dolls given more detail here.
Wounded Daughters given more detail here.

Character Creation:

Step 1: pick a class.
Step 2: answer the class's Three Questions
Step 3: assign stats
Step 4: pick moves

Stats: You start out with two stats at +1 and two stats at -1. You can add +1 to one stat of your choice.

Moves: You start out with all the basic moves, with an automatic sex move for your class, and then your class will let you pick some from a short list. Exact details vary.

(Hard/Subtle. Violence focus.)

What are you running from?
Who did you first kill?
Why do you enjoy violence?

Hard & Subtle start at +1, Soft & Queer start at -1.

Pick any two. You also get your Sex Move automatically.

Favoured Weapon
You have a particular weapon that holds sentimental value, and which you are unusually skilled at. When you make use of it, you get +2 to Lash Out.

You're just tougher than your companions. You can take an extra point of Hurt before you're Broken. You're at Death's Door after five Hurt, and become Broken if you take a sixth. 

Military Training
You're well equipped to deal with the consequences of violence. When you Lash Out, if you would suffer Hurt as a consequence of the move, ignore the first point of Hurt you suffer.

You carry a nice supply of poisons, and are skilled in their application. When you attempt use your poison (other than in an open fight), use this move. Your choice of poison might cause uncontrollable bleeding, paralysis, unconsciousness, convulsions, vomiting or some other nasty effect of your choice. For NPCs, you can choose to have your poison's result be death - potentially near instantly, or drawn out and horrible if you wish. PC victims suffer 2 Hurt. Roll with Subtle.
On a miss: You screw up and expose yourself to your own poison. Your victim avoids being poisoned. Take one Harm.
On a Success: Your victim is successfully poisoned, but pick an appropriate complication:
  • You expose yourself to your poison, taking 1 hurt.
  • The poisoning is obvious, and evidence is left behind that might implicate you.
  • The poison acts more slowly than usual, potentially giving the victim time to get to a doctor.
On an Overwhelming Success: Your victim is successfully poisoned, and there are no complications.

Sex Move
Despite your grim demeanour, you're surprisingly good in bed. If you had no Bonds on your partner, you get one. If your partner had no bonds on you, they get one.

(Hard/Soft. Medicine & Necromancy.)

Questions:What are you running from?
What did you die of?
What brought you back?

Hard & Soft start at +1, Subtle & Queer start at -1.

You get Reanimated, and pick one more. You also get your Sex Move automatically.

You are already dead, but not gone. You do not need to eat, drink, breath, sleep and so on. Poison, cold, drowning and other stuff that needs you to be alive cannot hurt you. Unlike other characters, you can use the Heal move on yourself by stitching your dead flesh back together. When you do this, on a Miss you take an additional Hurt (instead of losing Bonds) as you helplessly watch your carcass slowly crumbling.

You can make surgical alterations to yourself or your patients, creating all sorts of interesting effects. This ability might be used to create a perfect surgical disguise, 'improve' the patient's anatomy, undo a serious ongoing wound, or any other mad science you can think of. However, without Graft as well, you can't stitch new bits onto your subject. When you use this ability, roll with Soft.
On a miss: You screw up the procedure, badly. Your subject takes 1 Harm and suffers a permanent, ongoing wound as a consequence.
On a Success: You are able to make the alterations you wanted, but there are medical complications. The GM picks a consequence from this list:
  • Your subject suffers significant pain as a result of the procedure. They take one Harm.
  • Your subject's body is badly damaged as a side-effect of the surgery, resulting in a permanent, ongoing wound. 
  • Your subject's appearance becomes warped, marking them as unnatural and making the nature of the alteration obvious.
  • If operating on somebody else, your subject finds the process invasive and uncomfortable. If you had any Bonds on them, you lose one. If they had any bonds on you, they lose one. 
On an Overwhelming Success: You are able to make the alterations you wanted, with only mild complications. You pick a consequence from the list above.

You can stitch organs and body-parts onto yourself, to grant yourself stolen powers. To do this, you need to be able to justify why the body part in question would give the desired ability. Good examples include a dragon's flame glands giving you fire breath, venomous fangs giving you a toxic bite, wings allowing you to fly, spinnerets allowing you to spin webs, extra limbs letting you hold more weapons and so forth. At first, you can only graft things onto yourself, but if you have the Flesh-Crafter move you can graft body parts onto others as the process's alteration. Doing this - on yourself or others - is difficult, and the body initially rejects the grafted-in tissue, resulting in one Hurt being suffered.

Corpse Puppets
You can reanimate carcasses, by stitching part of yourself into the corpse to operate it. Doing so causes you to suffer one Hurt from the loss of flesh. The animated husk is under your total control, with as much finesse as its state of decomposition will allow, and also largely expendable. The husk remains animated until it is utterly physically destroyed - even severely mutilated it will continue to act.

Sex Move
When you fuck somebody, the whole experience is deeply disturbing for them - you are, after all, clammy to the touch and might be decomposing a bit - even as you take comfort in the sense of vitality. You may heal one Hurt, and they get a Bond on you.

(Hard/Queer. Uncontrolled supernatural prowess.)

What are you running from?
How are you marked as supernatural?
Why can't you control your power?

Hard & Queer start at +1, Soft & Subtle start at -1.

Pick any two. You also get your Sex Move automatically.

When you scream, roll to Lash Out at +1. Add the following options to the possible consequences:
  • Everybody who didn't know ahead of time to cover their ears is deafened. 
  • All delicate objects nearby shatter. 
You have learned to sacrifice your health in exchange for supernatural might, torching away flesh and sanity for temporary power. When you roll for a move with Hard or Queer, you make take Hurt to get +1 to the roll for every Hurt suffered. You may choose how much Hurt to spend after rolling the dice and seeing the result.

When pursuing a target, you have an uncanny ability to arrive in places you weren't meant to. You may spend a Bond on somebody to appear in a scene with them (one currently going on, or beginning a new scene if you wish). No distance, barriers, wards or security can prevent you appearing in this way.

You can mantle yourself with an aura of furious supernatural power. Each time you do this, choose one effect:

  • You can cause anything you see to burst into flames just by willing it.
  • Weak-willed NPCs, animals and non-sentient monsters are overcome with terror and utterly unwilling to approach you.
  • Objects move at your command when you gesture to them.
  • Animals flock to you and obey your commands.
  • Nobody but you is capable of talking louder than a murmur. 
When you lower the aura, you take one Hurt, plus one more Hurt for every full day you'd kept the aura active.  

Sex Move
When you fuck somebody, you go all out and the experience is raw, feral and a little scary. You may suffer any amount of Hurt, and get that many Bonds on your partner. Your partner can do likewise.

(Soft/Subtle. Spiritual support and conflict avoidance.)

What are you running from?
What do you venerate?
What brings you comfort?

Soft & Subtle start at +1, Hard & Queer start at -1.

Pick any two. You also get your Sex Move automatically.

Spiritual Adviser
Your words, though quiet and cloaked in religious symbolism, are surprisingly shrewd and persuasive. When you use a Bond to offer somebody XP to do something, if they don't accept, you get the Bond back.

Cloistered and Sanctified
You are something precious, to be protected from the grim realities of the world. You take -2 to rolls to Lash Out. Whenever you are unable or unwilling to act to act, your companions get +1 to any rolls to protect you. You get a Bond on them when they do.

Beatific Visionary
You have a connection with a benevolent higher power that you can call on for aid. When you Commune With Strange Powers, you may spend a Bond on the subject of your question. If you do, you may roll with Soft instead of Queer.

Beyond Reproach
Your status as an ordained member of a religious sisterhood protects you from certain social consequences. If you are ever accused of wrongdoing - regardless of whether you actually did it - this move triggers. Roll with Subtle.
On a miss: Your shamed reaction provides compelling evidence as to your guilt, regardless of whether or not you're actually at fault. Your accuser gets a bond on you.
On a Success: Your reputation defends you. You immediately get a Bond on anybody who took part in the accusation and, if they had any Bonds on you, they lose one.
On an Overwhelming Success: Your reputation absolves you and shames your accuser. You immediately get a Bond on anybody who took part in the accusation. If they had any bonds on you, they lose all of them, and you get that many extra Bonds on them.

Sex Move
You're a nun, and you know you shouldn't be fucking people. You and your partner have a choice: either you confess to failing your vows, in which case your partner gets two Bonds on you, or try to keep it secret, in which case you get two Bonds on your partner.

(Soft/Queer. Flexible magical power to solve all problems.)

What are you running from?
Who taught you your gifts?
What is the price of your gifts?

Soft & Queer start at +1, Hard & Subtle start at -1.

You get Witchcraft, and pick one other move. Note that, since the other Witch moves refer to the Witchcraft move, they're useless if taken as a cross-class move without first taking Witchcraft.
You also get your Sex Move automatically.

You are capable of casting codified spells from some magic tradition. When you gain this move, pick three spells from the list that you can cast:

  • Shapeshift (take on the physical form of an animal or person, lasting as long as you wish).
  • Enthrall (the spell's victim becomes obsessed with your approval, lasting as long as you wish).
  • Glamour (creates an intangible illusion of anything you can picture, lasting as long as you wish).
  • Animal Speech (you can temporarily talk with and understand animals, and they react well to you).
  • Shroud (somebody or something becomes invisible and otherwise imperceptible, until its presence is impossible to ignore).
  • Second Sight (temporarily become able to see invisible things and pierce illusions and disguises).
  • Transform (temporarily turn the spell's victim/recipient into an animal).
To cast a spell, you need to spend a few minutes performing the correct rites, and the subject of the spell must be present. If you have an appropriate token representing the spell's subject - a little wax doll, a vial of their blood, a letter with their signature - that is just as good as if they were there in person. There is no limit to how frequently you can cast spells, so long as you have the time and space to do so.

The Vancian Tradition
When you cast a spell, you may leave it unfinished, suspended in your mind so that only the final syllables and gestures need be made to complete it. Completing a spell prepared in this way takes only a moment and a flick of the wrist, rather than several minutes of complex rituals. You may have only one such spell readied in your mind at a time; prepare another, the currently prepared spell is wasted.

Expanded Repertoire
You know the other four spells you didn't initially pick.

Magical Research
You have worked to unlock arcane secrets, and have created an entirely new spell of your own. Work with the GM to determine what new spell you've created.

Sex Move
When you fuck somebody, you can keep a little token from the encounter to remember it by. Obviously, counts as a sympathetic token for the purposes of casting spells on your partner.

(Subtle/Queer. Supernatural endurance & lost humanity.)

What are you running from?
When did you become a Daughter?
How much humanity have you abandoned already?

Subtle & Queer start at +1, Hard & Soft start at -1.

You get Unstoppable Life, and pick one other. You also get your Sex Move automatically.

Unstoppable Life
Your physical body refuses to die, recovering from even the most horrible of injuries. Like a rabbit gnawing off its leg to escape a trap or a lizard shedding its tail to distract a predator, you slough off humanity to evade death's embrace. If you are at Death's Door and would take Hurt from a physical source (injury, poison, starvation, etc), this move triggers. You erase all Hurt suffered. Furthermore, you discard some aspect of humanity, such as morality, restraint, mercy or ambition.

Feral Attacks
Maybe you can spit teeth like bullets. Maybe your maw is a ragged-toothed semicircle, far wider than it should be. Maybe your fingernails extend into talons. Maybe your kiss is lethally venomous. Maybe your saliva teems with diseases to which you are immune. As you abandon humanity, you will acquire all these strange defences, and more. Whenever you Lash Out from surprise (after a successful Escape Notice), you roll with Subtle. Whenever you Lash Out at a victim put off guard by your sex-appeal - that is to say, who you have just successfully Flirted with - you roll with Queer.

The as things wound you, you become acclimatised to the pain and learn to shrug it off like it were nothing. Exposure to sickness, hunger, fear, knives and fire all serve only to inure you to their worst stings. When you are brought to Death's Door, you become totally immune to whatever it was that caused that penultimate point of Hurt. You are only immune to one thing at a time: if brought to Death's Door again, you can choose either to retain your current immunity, or discard it and become immune to the current source of pain.

Desperate Hope
If an effect would trap you, grab hold of you, put you to sleep, knock you unconscious, mentally enthral you or otherwise render you helpless, you get one last burst of spiteful action before it claims you. You might choose to Lash Out when you do this; if you have the Feral Attacks move, you may roll with Subtle or Queer (whichever is better) instead of Hard. Alternatively, you might try to Escape Notice, or to use some other move. If your response can destroy whatever threatened you, or allows you to escape it, then the effect doesn't happen and you wriggle away in time. Otherwise, after your last action is done, you are ensnared and must rely on your companions to save you.

Sex Move
When you fuck somebody, the raw force of untamed, furious life within you uncoils and extends. It uses the meeting of your bodies as a conduit to feed. You and your partner may collectively decide to transfer any amount of Hurt from one of you to the other.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Dungeon Bitches

This post is the result of a series of shitposts on /osrg/ that accidentally turned out to have a kernel of a good idea in them. Thanks go to regretAnon for getting the ball rolling on this.
That said, this pulls together some ideas I've been forming for a while now. Some of it keys off the same elements as the Wounded Daughters, who will probably get to be their own class in this.
It's Monsterhearts mashed up with OSR dungeon exploration mashed up with survival horror.


A game where you play as dungeon-crawling disaster-lesbians.
Here's the pitch. A faux-medieval gritty fantasy setting with all your standard crap hetero-patriarchal assumptions. Political marriages, dowries, etc etc. Not the best society to be a queer girl in. Luckily, if the thought of getting married off and having to pretend like you're happy with that is too much for you, there are two options.

  • You can run away and join a nunnery. This is slightly more socially acceptable, much less likely to get you killed, but will also result in living a life defined by limitations and restrictions.
  • You can run away, join a band of similar (heavily armed) bitches, and make a living as mercenaries, tomb-robbers and adventurers. This is far less socially acceptable, and far more dangerous, but you might get rich, fall in love, and be able to wreak terrible vengeance on the society that wronged you. 

So how does this game work?
It's a PbtA hack with certain OSR ideas thrown in. I cannot be bothered to explain a) how PbtA games function or b) how the typical OSR sandbox/emergent narrative works. If you're reading this you probably are familiar with them already, and if not, google exists.

I might do this up as an actual game and stick it on drivethru. Who knows?

This is the mechanics. Basic moves and structures and stuff. Not yet playtested, but it probably will be. Character gen, with classes and special moves and sex moves in an upcoming post.

Instead, let's get into our mechanics.

THIS MUCH IS A GIVEN:-Your PC is female, young, isn't straight, and doesn't have a place in polite society. All of these are absolute requirements, but the definition for them is messy. Femininity need not be defined in strict and binary ways, 'youth' is relative by culture and species, you can be ace or bi or whatever so long as The Straights don't get it, and if you had a place in polite society you wouldn't be exploring a dungeon, would you now. 

You have four stats, rated from -3 to +3. They are:
  • Hard: used to do harm, act violently, and cope with hurt.
  • Soft: used to behave sensitively, perceive subtleties, nurture, and heal.
  • Subtle: used to avoid notice, deceive or manipulate others, and steal things.
  • Queer: used to seduce your fellow gay dungeon bitches, interact with and understand weird things.

When a PC is harmed - physically or mentally, they accumulate points of Hurt. Normally one point at a time. You can have up to four points of Hurt and survive: when you have all four, you're At Death's Door, and things might affect you differently. 
If you would take a fifth point of Hurt, you're Broken. You'll be dead shortly. Or, if not physically killed, no longer able to go on. You hide in the dark to be picked off by monsters, or accept defeat and crawl back to the life you tried to escape. Either way, it's game over. It's debatable which of these ends is worse. Most Dungeon Bitches don't really differentiate between giving up and being claimed by the monsters, or giving up and being reclaimed by society. To them, Broken is Broken.
Sometimes you'll encounter monsters with the faces of your former companions that accumulated too much Hurt and got Broken. Often this will be in the dungeon, but just as often it'll be when you return to town.
NPCs don't track Hurt. If the PCs try to hurt them, then a successful Lash Out move means the NPC is as injured as the PC wants them to be.

  • Not getting a proper night's comfortable sleep.
  • Not getting enough food or water.
  • Drowning (AKA, too much water).
  • Eating unsafe food.
  • Monsters trying to eat you.
  • Booby-traps.
  • Town guards kicking the shit out of you.
  • Being on fire.
  • Exposure to awful body-horror.
  • Awful body-horror being done to you.
  • Meeting people from your past who really hurt you.
  • Having to pretend to be somebody you're not.
  • Getting your Heart Broken
  • Being exposed to freezing cold or dangerous heat.
  • Finding the corpse of somebody you loved.
  • Falling from great heights. 
  • Poison.

PCs learn from the horrible shit they go through. They grow:  more calloused to the world, but also better able to understand others. 
Tally up Experience like you do Hurt. When you get five points of Experience, erase it all and pick an Advance.
  • +1 to a stat (each stat can be increased in this way only once).
  • Take an extra move from your class (up to twice).
  • Take an extra move from any class (which can be your own if you want) (up to twice).
NPCs don't track experience.

Bonds are a measure of how close you are with somebody. You accumulate them sort of like Hurt and Experience. However, Bonds are specific to a given character. IE, you might have 1 Bond on Annie (a fellow PC), 4 Bonds on Beth (another fellow PC), and 1 bond on Xiximanter (an NPC snake-lich that rules the dungeon). Annie, Beth and Xiximanter might all have Bonds on you, too, although Xiximanter is likely to have less since he's an NPC and only gets to gain Bonds in response to moves made by PCs.
There's no limit to how many Bonds you can have on a given character.
You can spend a bond to:
  • Heal an additional Hurt when a move you use would do that. Whilst NPCs don't track Hurt, you can use this to make attempts to heal them more effective, if you're very fond of them.
  • Deal an additional Hurt when a move you use would do that. Whilst NPCs don't track Hurt, you can use this to make attempts to harm them worse, if you're feeling spiteful.
  • Give the person in question +1 to a roll. NPCs don't roll dice, but you can do this to give them useful moral support on their actions.
  • Give the person in question -1 to a roll. NPCs don't roll dice, but you can do this to sabotage their actions with your bullying.
  • Give yourself  +1 to a roll against them. 
  • Offer them one XP if they do something you ask of them. The Bond is spent even if they don't go for it. NPCs don't actually track XP, but will normally accept the offer unless they have a pretty darn good reason not to.

We're playing as disaster-lesbians trapped in a horrible situation, so obviously characters are gonna fuck eventually. When a PC fucks, each class has a sex move that triggers automatically. If multiple PCs are fucking, all the sex moves trigger. This may cause cascading effects. This is probably gonna be Fun, in the Dwarf Fortress sense. 

When the fiction triggers a given move, roll 2d6 and add the relevant stat. 6 or less is a miss, 7-9 is a success, 10+ an overwhelming success. Sometimes it will happen that the group *as a whole* will trigger a move (such as when everybody gets pulled into a fight or must hide from something): in this case, the players nominate the PC who is taking the lead, and that player makes the roll and takes the consequences.
Every class gets access to all the moves listed below, and then some unique to their class. See the upcoming character gen post for more deets.


Lash Out:
Use this move when you resort to violence to solve your problems. This probably means killing somebody/something, or it might mean using violence to force somebody to act. Roll with Hard.
On a miss: The problem isn't solved, and the GM picks two options from this list (they can pick the same option twice):
  • You take a point of Hurt.
  • Somebody you care about who's present takes a point of Hurt.
  • The move's victim gets a Bond on everyone acting against them.
  • Something valuable of yours is lost or destroyed in the fight.
  • You and your companions are forced to flee, and anybody who doesn't or can't is Broken automatically (this one can't be picked twice).
On a success: The problem is solved and you get what you wanted, with costs. You pick one option from the list above, and so does the GM. If your victim was another PC, they probably need to Endure Pain to cope, taking 1 Hurt if they fail.
On an overwhelming success: the problem is solved, and you get what you wanted, with only mild costs. You pick one option from the list above. If your victim was another PC, they probably need to Endure Pain to cope, taking 2 Hurt if they fail.

Endure Pain:
Use this move when something horrible happens to you, and you must cope with it. Maybe you're risking drowning, maybe you're watching somebody suffer a grizzly fate, maybe you're facing people who victimised you in the past, maybe you're gritting your teeth to act despite an injury. Roll with Hard.
On a Miss: You don't cope. The GM will give you one or more points of Hurt, depending on how bad the situation is. For group rolls, everybody takes this much Hurt.
On a Success: You can just about deal with it. The GM tells you how many points of Hurt you would have taken; if you accept it anyway, mark Experience. For group rolls, everybody gets this choice.
On an overwhelming success: You give no shits. Mark experience. For group rolls, everybody marks experience.

Use this move when you spend a significant time and effort trying to fix somebody else's Hurt. Roll with Soft. 
On a Miss: Your attempt fails. If you had  Bonds on your patient, you lose one of them. If your patient had Bonds on you, they lose one of them. If nobody loses a bond, pick one of you to take one Hurt.
On a Success: Your healing leaves scars. The patient erases one Hurt they were suffering, replacing it with an appropriate permanent injury. 
On an Overwhelming Success: The patient erases one Hurt they were suffering, with no long-lasting consequences.

Reveal Truths:
Use this move when you probe a situation (physical or social) to uncover something hidden. You might use it when searching a room you believe is dangerous, when assessing an NPC's trustworthyness, or feeling out your relationship with another PC. Roll with Soft.
On a Miss: You learn nothing. Your probing probably sets off a hidden danger, destroys the evidence you were looking for, or spook whoever you were talking to.
On a Success: You learn something useful. You may ask the GM (or most relevant player) one of the following questions, and get an accurate answer:
  • What is the most dangerous thing here?
  • What is the hardest danger to notice here?
  • What is being deliberately hidden here?
  • What hidden motivations are at work here?
  • What did the most damage here?
On an overwhelming success: You learn something useful, and can act on it. Ask one of the questions listed above. In addition, you can chose one:
  • +1 to the next roll to act on the answer.
  • A Bond on the person in question.

Escape Notice:
Use this move when you rely on your wits and skill to avoid being noticed. Roll with Subtle.
On a Miss: You are spotted. If you want to escape, you will need to Lash Out or find some other solution.
On a Success: You successfully escape notice for now. You may leave the scene safely. Otherwise, if you stay acting with the advantage of surprise gives you +1 to the next roll to do so.
On an Overwhelming Success: You escape notice, with plenty of cover to use and an easy escape route. If you act, the advantage of surprise gives you +1 to the next roll to do so. Even once you've revealed yourself, you can escape safely - immediately, if you wish.

Use this move when you try to take something valuable that isn't yours, without being caught. Roll with Subtle.
On a Miss: You're caught in the act. You'll probably need to Lash Out or Escape Notice to get away.
On a Success: You get what you want, and everybody with you gets one Experience, but pick a complication:
  • You and your companions need to leave immediately or you'll be caught.
  • You leave some evidence behind pinning the blame on you.
  •  A tool you were using is lost or broken.
On an Overwhelming Success: You get what you want, everybody with you gets one Experience, and there are no complications.

Use this move when you use your sex appeal to make somebody feel good about you, or about themselves. Roll with Queer.
On a Miss: They see what you're doing, aren't into it, and you know. They get a Bond on you.
On a Success: They're into it. They pick one or both of the options below:
  • They offer you something they think you want.
  • You each get a Bond on each other.
On an Overwhelming Success: They're really into it. You get a Bond on them, and they pick one or both of the options from the list above.

Commune with Strange Powers
Use this move when you reach outside of yourself, asking a spiritual force for help or advice. You might be praying to some patron, practicing divination, or taking part in some mind-altering ritual. Roll with Queer.
On a Miss: The results are confusing, overwhelming or frightening. In any case, they're of no use to you, and you will need time to recover.
On a Success: You asked for help, and something answers. Ask one of the following questions, and the GM (or most relevant player) will give an accurate answer:
  • What did I do wrong?
  • What bad shit is coming my way?
  • What is supernatural about this?
  • How does she feel about me?
  • Am I safe?
On an Overwhelming Success: You asked for help, and something has your back this time. Ask one of the questions above. In addition, you can chose one:
  • +1 to the next roll to act on the answer.
  • A Bond on the person in question.

The 'steal something' move is basically XP for treasure (endure pain also grants XP, but is risky). Lash Out resolves fights in one roll. Endure Pain is your saving throw against all sorts of bad stuff.
Hurt is meant to represent the accumulation of pain, exhaustion, fear, loneliness, that comes with the premise. When it gets too much, you're done for. Healing somebody makes you vulnerable but that vulnerability is needed because it's the only way to recover from being hurt.
Hurt probably won't kill you all in one go, but it will accumulate fast and be slow to get rid of.
Reveal Truths and Commune With Strange Powers are basically parallels to each other. They differ in the situational use, and which stat you use, but otherwise work the same. Being Soft (so sensitive and delicate) makes you good at spotting immediate danger and deceptions, whilst being Queer (and so strange and alluring) deals with more long-term or esoteric stuff.
To succeed, you need to bond with your companions: building up Bonds (by probing each other with Commune With Strange Powers & Reveal Truths, or the direct way by Flirting) is vital: you need those bonds to boost each other's rolls, to bump up healing, etc. It also makes a neat source of XP if you're willing to get into that power dynamic. 
The flipside of Bonds is that they're also a threat: a PC with lots of Bonds on you can spend 'em all and royally fuck you over. So the closer you get with somebody, the more you *have* to cooperate.
Of course, you can get bonds on enemies, and spend 'em to fuck them over. This means its best to probe situations before going into conflict, maybe lay some social groundwork *before* you kick stuff off.

The intent is that being put in horrible situations will cause everybody to trauma-bond just to survive, resulting in messy social dynamics in the dungeon as well as a gritty horrible survival-horror feel. 

Monday, 23 March 2020

A Selection Of Supernatural Seas

Lotus Sea
The surface of the sea here is covered in floating water lilies, a vast plane of glittering white flowers. As the Primrose sails through it, it leaves a trail of open water that slowly closes as the lotuses drift back.
Eating the lotuses is a mild euphoric. The high gives the eater +1 to every roll they make (damage, saves, etc). At the end of this, they can eat another lotus to keep the high going, or suffer the comedown. The comedown lasts as long as the high did, during which time they suffer -1 to every roll. For fresh lotuses straight from the water, the high lasts for an hour; otherwise, the high lasts a turn. A lotus loses power entirely a week after it’s taken from the water.
Within the lotus sea, there are a handful of black lotuses, which have far greater potency.  The high from a black lotus lasts for a full day (or an hour if it’s not fresh), and gives a +5 bonus (the comedown likewise inflicts a -5 penalty). If a second black lotus is eaten to prevent the comedown beginning, the eater must make a Save vs Paralysis. If they fail, they fall into a coma lasting as many days as the result on the d20 that failed the save, during which time they are plagued by nightmares and visions of hell. If the save is passed, however, the eater is forever changed. Consult table XX (slipping beyond the bounds of mortality) for how.
There is a 1-in-20 chance of finding a black lotus just by sailing through the lotus sea, or 1-in-10 if deliberately looking.

This whole sea is caught in a huge circular current that spirals inwards, pulling ships inexorably to its centre. At the centre is a huge whirlpool, mountain sized, that swallows ships whole. Surrounding the maelstrom, like the accretion disk around a black hole, is the debris of countless wrecked ships smashed to bits by the maelstrom’s power.
When the maelstrom’s surrounding sea is first entered, whoever’s at the helm must make a Strength roll to avoid being pulled further in; if this is passed the ship can continue as normal, but if failed the primrose is drawn towards the Maelstrom.
If this happens, every hour, whoever is at the helm must make a Strength check to resist the maelstrom’s pull. If they wish to allow the ship to be drawn towards the maelstrom’s centre, they can roll as many extra d20s for the check as they wish, and take the worst result.
Explain the dice mechanisms being used to the players, and the potential risks and rewards, and let them make their own decision on how close to the maelstrom they wish to be pulled.
If the check is failed, note the actual result on the dice (taking the worst dice if multiple were rolled) and add it to a running total for how far into the maelstrom the Primrose has been drawn. If this running total reaches 40, the Primrose is pulled into the maw of the maelstrom and utterly destroyed.
If the dice roll is passed, note down the result on the dice and add it to a running total for how much progress the Primrose has made in escaping the maelstrom. If this total is higher than the running total for the maelstrom’s pull, the Primrose escapes the maelstrom and is able to continue sailing normally.
Regardless of if the roll was passed or failed, look up the result of the dice roll on page XX (treasure) for what can be dredged out of the water. If multiple dice were rolled, look up all of them.
The maelstrom exerts a much lower pull on small vessels (such as life-rafts, rowing boats, etc), which might be deduced from the way the flotsam isn’t being pulled into the maelstrom’s heart. If piloting a small vessel like this, roll the relevant Strength check on a d12. Start a new running total for the new vessel if they abandon ship and board an escape raft etc. In the worst case scenario, if the crew leap into the water and try to swim to safety, then roll using a d8.

The sea here is composed of ink, not water. Almost opaque, staining everything that touches it, slightly sticky. Even the air feels grubby.
Pitch black fish, adapted to the environment, lurk in the pitch black ocean.

Precambrian Nursery
When the world was young, there was an explosion of life, infinitely varied, wildly experimental. Strange creatures not seen since emerged, flourished, and died out.
This age did not last. Without the ambient force of  possibility and vigour to sustain its wildest excesses, life fell into a few, well-worn patterns, that survive to the present day.
In this area of sea, however, that never happened. The atmosphere of vibrant potential hangs over the sea, which seethes with strange life.
All healing is doubly effective here. Fishing yields twice as much here, but roll a d20 for what the fishing yields.
(1) Armour-plated fish. Perfectly normal and edible.
(2) Spined toxic sea-slugs. Rather than food, each slug can be used to produce one dose of poison (d20 damage on a failed save). Best not to eat them.
(3) Huge undulating flatworms. Edible, but mildly poisonous. On a day that the flatworms are eaten, -1 to all dice rolls from stomach cramps.
(4) Twitching, squirting sea-sponges. Vaguely suggestive looking. Totally inedible.
(5) Oyster-like luminescent shellfish. As well as meat, can be harvested for pearls worth 100 gold per meal gained.
(6) Hermit crabs parasitizing living bivalves. Perfectly edible.
(7) Thumb-sized tardigrades. Edible.
(8) Incomprehensible masses of thrashing tentacles. Perfectly edible. Also produce ink from pores in their skin.
(9) Giant copepods. Edible, crunchy.
(10) Gigantic aquatic beetles. Meaty and delicious.
(11) Strange half-lobster-half-lizard creatures. Exquisite taste. Double XP on the day they’re eaten.
(12) Huge sessile tubeworms. Instead of food, half of the fishing yield is their chitinous shells, which can be used as timber.
(13) Boneless eels. Edible. Tasty.
(14) Long sea-centipedes. Have a toxic bite. Half of the fishing yield is instead poison (fall comatose on a failed save).
(15) Rubbery half-prawn-half-serpent creatures. Perfectly edible, if a little weird.
(16) Jellyfish with exoskeletons. Edible, but not very tasty.
(17) Tiny bioluminescent mouthless fish. Hallucinogenic. Roll for Omens & Portents (p XX) if eaten; everybody gets the same omen.
(18) A blob of indistinct twitching flesh. Edible, if a little bland.
(19) Exploding one-eyed ringworms. Chemically volatile. Half of the fishing yield is highly explosive, and counts as a batch of cannon ammunition.
(20) A mass of heaving, wiggling pink flesh with no discernible anatomy. Edible and delicious.

Zombie Sea
The water is dark and murky. It stinks of rot and death. Bloated things drift about, tossed by sluggish waves, gently writhing.
Merely touching the water results in sickness, death and then reanimation. Even very slight contact - a fingertip, a few droplets of spray. On contact, make a Save vs Poison. If passed, the victim is ill for an hour or so, but recovers. On a fail, note the number on the d20; after that many hours of sickness, the victim dies, and their corpse stands back up as a zombie.
Needless to say, fishing here is a terrible idea.
Each day or night spent here, there’s a 1-in-6 chance the dead floating in the water notice the ship, and 3d6 of them attack. Their stats (and those of anybody zombified) are as follows:
ò 2HD. 10 HP.
ò AC as Chain.
ò 2 Clumsy Unarmed Attacks (+0, d4 damage and save to avoid zombie sickness, as detailed above).
ò Saves as Fighter 2.
ò Vulnerable to turning, holy water and other stuff undead are vulnerable to.
ò Immune to poison, pain, cold, drowning and other stuff undead are immune to.

Jellyfish Pilgrims
Jellyfish have a simple nervous system. Not enough to be intelligent like a crab or a fish, but enough to detect changes to their surroundings, and respond to them. And, perhaps surprisingly, just sophisticated enough for faith.
Imagine the faith of small children, without sophistication, reason, or doubt. Just exuberant and sincere. This is how jellyfish worship.
This sea is, for some reason, holy to the jellyfish. They drift here, floating on imperceptible currents, and gather in huge blooms. The water is dense with them, so a ship must push them aside as it sails. From the water’s surface comes a constant, sonorous Gregorian drone, the sound of millions of jellyfish at prayer. Beneath the jellyfish’s habit-like mantles, trail several-meter long filamentous tentacles.
The water here is holy (and so can be used for things like throwing on devils, etc), but loses its potency a week after being removed from the sea. Each vial’s worth of holy water uses up one ‘slot’ for cargo in the Primrose.
Fishing here does not yield food (the jellyfish are pretty inedible) but instead the jellyfish’s toxins can be extracted from their nematocysts for use. The poison does d20 extra damage if a Save vs Poison is failed, and furthermore is effective against supernatural beings such as devils and undead that would normally be immune to poison - against unholy beings, the poison damage is doubled. Like the holy water taken from here, each dose uses up a cargo slot, and loses potency after 7 days.

Whale Cemetery
Whales come here to die. Like elephant-graveyards on land, their remains are scattered about, and a morbid air permeates the place. Every few hundred yards, another bloated whale carcass, floating as it decays.
The place is serenely haunted. Odd lights flicker over the whale-corpses at night, the sound of distant whale-song echoes from the deep. Odd little coincidences occur to travellers here - a whalebone corset might break, or images of whales rearrange themselves when nobody is looking.
If the players think to look, 1-in-6 cumulative chance each day (IE, 1-in-6 on the first day, 2-in-6 on the second) that a corpse is found that is fresh enough to have harvestable ambergris, worth 2,000 gold as treasure.
If a whale carcass is interfered with (for ambergris, or other reasons), the haunting goes from serene to wrathful. Poltergeist activity flares up on the ship, spoiling supplies and disturbing sailors. 10% of the ship’s provisions, timber, and cannon ammunition is lost to poltergeist activity, and roll for The Crew Grow Restless (p XX) for how they respond to the haunting. The haunting follows the ship once it has left the Whale Cemetery, only ending once they return and attempt to make amends to the whale whose spirit they’ve angered (a funeral, offering, service etc).
Once the haunting has begun, there is a 1-in-6 cumulative chance that the Primrose is attacked by the whale ghost seeking to exact vengeance for the desecration of its corpse. Its stats are:
ò  20 HD, 60 HP
ò AC as Unarmoured
ò Attacks with Ghostly Bite (+5, 2d20 damage, ignores non-magical defences).
ò Saves as MU 20.
ò Totally immune to non-magical physical attacks.
ò 1/2 damage from physical magical attacks (IE magic swords, fireballs etc)
ò Undead, and vulnerable to everything the undead are vulnerable to.
ò Intangible. Can attack through walls, float, swim through ships, etc.
ò As well as biting, can use Banshee Whalesong. All hearing it either take d8 damage or are permanently deafened (player chooses which)
ò Can poltergeist instead of biting, creating various spooky effects.

The water is sweet. As if infused with dissolved sugar rather than salt. Vaguely floral scented. The taste is rather like liquid parma violets.
Drinking the nectar prevents the need for food; the dissolved sugars provide all the nutrients the body needs. Furthermore, drinking nectar allows the drinker to perceive people’s souls as luminous auras that hang around their bodies. By gauging the appearance of this aura, the viewer can judge the state of the subject’s soul; any damage to it, how tainted it is by sin, any pacts that have a claim on it, and so forth. This ability to view souls lasts the rest of the day after nectar is drunk.
Each day that nectar is drunk, there is a 1-in-6 chance that the body becomes physiologically reliant on it; if this happens, the drinker can only gain nourishment from drinking nectar; their body fails to process other food, in the same way that a carnivorous animal cannot digest leaves.
A day’s worth of Nectar uses a cargo slot, and loses its potency after one week.


Saturday, 21 March 2020

Engines of Heaven

The island itself is a steep blade of stone jutting from the ocean, jagged cliffs down either side of a sharp crest. The island’s flanks are covered in gorse and heather, storm-lashed and exposed.
At the summit, a huge machine. Multiple intersecting rings and disks, some fifty feet across or more, built from brass and lead. Like a humongous astrolabe or gyroscope. All mounted on a central axle that impales the stone beneath. In the centre of the mass, a metal brazier, with traces of ashes within it. At the base of the central axle, the interface; a row of seven four-foot levers, each with three positions (low, medium and high).

Operating The Engine
The engine controls the base values of reality - the moral and metaphysical equivalents of the fundamental physical constants - in the local area (IE, in the entire Islands At The Edge Of The World. Each such value is controlled by one of the levers. From left to right, the levers are:
ò Permittivity of Free Will
ò Human Potential
ò Intensity of Suffering
ò Capacity for Growth
ò Speed of Life
ò Depravity of Original Sin
ò Degree of Animism
To make the engine work, a fire must be lit in the brazier. To achieve this, somebody needs to climb up and fill the brazier with fuel - peat, coal or wood all work fine. When the fire is lit, the wheels and rings begin to turn around and within one another, rotating at varying rates and angles.
Needless to say, being caught among the rings as they start turning is not a particularly good situation to be in. 3d6 damage is dealt each round to anybody being ground between the rotating parts of the engine. To avoid this, once the brazier is filled with fuel, it is wisest to climb back down and light it from a distance, perhaps by shooting a flaming arrow.
Once the engine is working, pulling a lever to a new setting causes the machine to alter its motion, which in turn results in an alteration to the base values of reality. The disks and wheels flip into new angles relative to one another, and continue their rotation. The alteration to reality is reflected by an alteration to certain basic game mechanics. These continue once the fire has burned out (and the engine powered down) and affect the game for as long as the party remains in the Islands At The End Of The World.
If the engine can somehow be removed from the island, and transported back to the mortal world, it can be set up elsewhere, and has the exact same effects on its surroundings; a single engine covers an area roughly the size of a moderate mortal nation, such as France or Poland.

Permittivity Of Free Will
This value decides how much control mortals have over their lives, and how much is pre-ordained by predictable brain chemistry, societal influence, and the forces of destiny. It begins at Medium.
If changed to Low, humans become far less independent. They tend towards obedience and conformity, and follow the pre-determined paths fate has laid out for them.. Mind-affecting magic is more effective; it’s duration is doubled and no saves are allowed.
If changed to High, humans become almost impossible to control, wilful and independent. Fate becomes easily discarded, and prophecies easily subverted. Furthermore, mind-affecting magic always allows a save to resist it, and its duration is halved, with an absolute a maximum of one year.

Human Potential
Human potential measures the degree to which mortals are capable of achieving greatness. Which setting it begins in varies by campaign, but in most OSR systems probably begins at ‘Low’.
Human Potential alters how character stats are generated. When it is altered, new PCs roll their stats using the new method, and existing PCs get the option to re-roll their stats exactly once per setting (IE only getting a single new stat array per setting).
At Low Human Potential, humans are basically bland, and exceptional individuals are rare, much like in the real world. At character gen, all attributes are generated on 3d6.
At Medium Human Potential, humans have a capacity for heroic greatness, comparable to a prelapsarian time of legend. Roll all stats on 4d6, and take the best 3.
At High Human Potential, humans are frequently exceptional and widely varied. Roll all stats on 3d20, taking the best single result.

Intensity of Suffering
This value determines how serious pain and injury are, and generally how unpleasant life is. Altering it alters the ‘tone’ of your narration; at ‘low’ gloss over mundane unpleasantness. At ‘medium’, proceed as normal, and at ‘high’ go full grimdark.
Furthermore, the lethality of injury varies depending on Intensity of Suffering. Halve all damage taken by everybody (PCs, NPCs and monsters alike) at ‘Low’, and double it at High.

Capacity For Growth
This value regulates how quickly mortals learn and experience character development. It begins at Medium. At low, human nature is basically set in stone, and people rarely change. XP gained is halved, and the player may choose to flat reject any mechanic or effect that would alter their PC’s mindset, goals or inner nature.
At High, humans learn rapidly and their natures change easily in response to events. All XP gained is doubled. PCs will find that the motivations, loyalties, goals etc of those they deal with regularly will frequently alter in unpredictable ways.

Speed of Life
This value sets the expected length and speed of a human lifespan; adjusting it likewise adjusts the lifespans of other species proportionally. At its default setting (Medium) a normal human lifespan is about seventy years.
At ‘high’, humans live fast and burn out young. A human reaches maturity at around seven, and old age in only twenty years. They must eat, sleep etc four times a day, and likewise natural healing happens four times as often; at dawn, midday, dusk, and midnight.
Conversely, at ‘low’, humans age slowly, potentially reaching three hundred years old or more. They must eat only once every four days, and sleep one day in every four. Healing is likewise slowed; they only naturally heal when they sleep, every fourth day.

Depravity of Original Sin
This value determines the initial, inherent moral standing of mortals. Where it is set will depend on the tone of your campaign. At High, humans are fundamentally wicked, and redemption is hard to achieve. At Medium, humans are neither born wicked nor innocent, but rather accrue virtue and vice over the course of their life as a result of their actions. At Low, humans are born innocent, hard to corrupt, and forgiveness is easily gained.
Unlike other settings, this one has no mechanical effects, but will instead alter the tone and feel of the game and may have serious moral implications.

Degree of Animism
This value sets the limits for what entities are capable of human-like thought, and as such for being held morally culpable for their actions. By default, it is set to Low, and only people can be sentient and capable of sin.
At Medium, animals think like people, can talk, and can be held morally culpable.
At High, even important inanimate objects have awareness and are capable of sin; their capacity to act might be limited, however.