Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Wandering Titans, part III - Making Things Personal

 Part 1, Part 2

Here's another batch of titans as weather. See part 1 for explanation. The unifying factor with this batch is that these titans interact more directly with people. The first stretches the concept of "weather" a bit.

The Hard-hearted King of Dragons

Logan Feliciano
The artist's description is also pretty good RPG brainfuel.

 On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)

: Just the dragon's sharp silhouette seen occasionally in the sky.

Environmental Effect 
:  Blades and claws become sharper. Stone becomes unchippable. Bones become unbreakable. Metal becomes impossible to bend.  +1d6 damage when attacking a target without hard armor, like plate or shell. Bouts of dart-like hail impale the ground.

:  Gargantuan dragon with impenetrable scales. Wings held wide, blocking out the sun.

Behavior / Desires
: The King of Dragons hoards peace and stability. In a conflict between two states, it will rush to decimate the attacking armies. It will use its breath to turn revolters into glass. And there is nothing it finds more beautiful than a tyrant on their throne. 

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby
  • Sharp nailed dragon cultists on ineffable missions of political espionage.
  • Piles of wicked stones, once merely gravel, now made impassibly dangerous by the Dragon King's presence.
  • Woodland creatures impaled on supernaturally sharp brambles and branches.
  • Beehives and waspnests grown to unreasonable size, their stingers empowered, and their queens driven mad with a lust for expansion.

Radiant Fowl

"The Dragon Prince" background by Michael MacRaebut I doodled a little bird on top. 

 On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Light on the horizon. Most noticeable during the night.

Environmental Effect 
:   Brightness that rivals the sun's. Lights up the night like the day (including effects like vampire ensmoldering). Somehow penetrates indoors and into caverns. Don't need light sources, stealth is impossible.

:  A giant glowing phoenix, wispy tail trailing off towards the horizon. Or maybe its more of a glowing rooster. The details are hard to nail down because you can't really look directly at the thing.

Behavior / Desires
: Witness it! Witness its luminous glory! This titan wants to be seen, appreciated, and maybe even worshiped. It tends to gravitate towards areas with large populations of people or polished surfaces, where it perches and preens.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Fluffy, arm-length, radiant feathers fallen on the ground. They glow so brightly it hurts to look at them. A single small barb casts light like a torch. Frequently leads to deadly conflict between rival feather-hunters.
  • Cold-blooded monsters, standing still, eyes closed, basking in the ever-present glow.
  • Travelling titan researchers bedecked in reflective protective suits. Despite its proclivity for precariously perching on buildings and blinding pedestrians, it's overall the safest titan to observe and study.
  • Nomadic lycanthropes following the titan to avoid transformation, driven only a wee bit mad by lack of sleep.
  • Basements and dungeons choked with new sprouted vegetation.

Desiccant Prowler

Nutchapol Thitinunthakorn

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: No clouds in the sky. No rain.

Environmental Effect 
:  Rivers and lakes dry up, soil turns to dust, plants wither. Deplete an extra water ration each day. Persistent magical effects falter.

:  A dusty striped pantherine thing, surrounded by a thin choking haze

Behavior / Desires
: Lazily tears apart magical protections, sabotages water reserves. It doesn't kill things directly, but its mere presence is hazardous, and it likes to watch things die. Stares down at entire villages or herds as the life drains out of them, and them laps up their souls like a cat drinking milk.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Fanatical dust elementals and living stone statues, helping wage war on water-based life-forms. The titan is ignorant of their devotion.
  • Arcanohazard disposal teams dragging wagonloads of janky cursed items and failed enchantments into the titan's zone of influence, hoping the beast will rip them apart for fun.
  • The desiccated corpses sometimes begin to crawl around and gnaw. Don't let them get their teeth into you, or they'll steal your blood and soul. Outside of the titan's hex, they crumble into ash, which can be sold to wizards for its magic-suppressing and water-absorbent properties.

Kekai Kotaki

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Wandering Titans, part II - Fast and Slow

Giant monsters that are also weather phenomena.

The basic mechanism I suggested in the previous post is to roll 2d6 each day, and move the titan to a neighboring hex when doubles are rolled. Here's a pair of titans brainstormed while thinking about twists to those rules.

Stampeding Winds

Keep track of the direction the titan last moved. Each day, roll 2d6, and use the sum to decide whether this titan continues in that direction (6,7,8) turns left or right (3,4,5;9,10,11), abruptly reverses direction (2) or stalls in place (12).

Donato Giancola

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Swirling clouds, moving at a visible pace, forming and dissolving in the blink of an eye. Distant sounds of roaring winds and hooves.

Environmental Effect 
:  Hurricane-force winds topple structures and knock you to the ground. But if travelling downwind, you'll find yourself magically invigorated and full of energy.  Travelling through the hex in the same direction as the winds provides the same benefits as a long rest. Travelling through any other direction is difficult and hazardous. Exiting the hex in the upwind direction is impossible. 

: A herd of charging ethereal stallions precipitating from the air. Clouds run through the sky, and smaller instantiations charge along the ground. Windward, the air speeds up, forming into visible near-tangible wind-creatures, and then slowly dissipate as they approach the leeward edge of the hex.

Behavior / Desires
: Wants to run. Wants to be free. Wants mortal creatures to charge alongside it without end.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby
If you travel with the winds, 
If you defy the winds

  • The smaller manifestations of the Stampede can be captured and used as a magical power source. Poacher-wizards try to do this with elaborate steel wind-traps. But it's dangerous work, as the winds speed up to impossible levels to batter down walls wherever a member of the herd gets trapped.
  • Wind-dependent ecosystems of whirlibirds, tumbletrees, and lumbering strandbeests.
  • Homes or even entire castles tumbling through the air.
  • An encounter with an instance of the Stampeding Winds. If it likes you, there's a chance it will bless you with tailwinds for the rest of the day. Party travels twice as fast until the next time they sleep.
  • Travelers hitching a ride on the winds
    1. Two blokes calmly rowing along in an airborne canoe.
    2. A gang of witches racing along on suped-up broomsticks.
    3. A village of people, rapidly evacuated, carrying as many possessions as they could grab from their now-destroyed homes.
    4. Bandits in a balloon with long hooks and nets, snatching up possessions that people left behind.
    5. 140-years-old woman, hunched over with age, slowly walking with the wind. Hasn't stopped or slept for the past 50 years. Barely kept alive by the sustaining force of the titanic winds.
    6. A whale which beached itself and just kept going.

The Ponderous Ox

This one's simpler. Roll 3d6 each day and move the titan when you roll triples.
While the party is awake within the titan's hex, don't advance the time of day, and don't roll for its movement.

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Clouds frozen in midair. Things sound slightly more quiet than they should.

Environmental Effect 
:  Silence. Stillness. Fires stop crackling and flickering, but still give out steady heat and light. Rivers freeze in place while remaining fluid. A diffuse mist fills the air. The sun and moon appear frozen in the sky. Your heart aches with nostalgia for things you've never seen. Loosed arrows slow to a stop and hover in midair.  Rest and rations are optional when near this titan. Cannot gain XP while in this hex. As you travel away from it, time suddenly returns to normal as if you never approached the titan to begin with.

: A massive buffalo, with fur like boulders and horns like mountains.  Always faintly visible, far off in the distance, behind the next hill, shaded by the mists. You can always approach the titan, but can never reach it. 

Behavior / Desires
: No one has ever seen it move, or do much of anything at all but slowly breathe titanic breathes. (But surely it must move, for how else can it travel from hex to hex?)

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Void monk meditating on a hilltop. No, they haven't been following the titan. They've been here in this spot as long as they can remember. The titan hasn't moved in all that time, they say. 
  • Small towns that don't exist, fiercely aggressive towards outsiders.
  • Strange pillars, can be hacked apart (may trigger localized earthquakes) and sold to wizards to make immovable rods.
  • Empty cabins, with a warm hearth and hot soup inside. If you sleep in the soft beds inside, you'll wake up on cold ground outside, weeks later, the titan having moved on.
  • Incomprehensible alien geometries slipping through the gaps between moments in time. Probably nothing to worry about.

Additional Titans: Part 1, Part 3

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Wandering Titans (Monster as a Hex/Weather)

I trust you see where I am going with this.


In addition to the normal features of a hex, the presence of one of these Titans adds some sort of environmental effect and additional things to encounter to the hex it's in. 

The Titan should move about the map, but not nearly as quickly as PCs. It's a mountainous lumbering beast. Untested suggestion: Number the 6 hex directions. Once per day, roll 2d6, move the titan in that direction if you roll doubles.

Combat stats aren't given to the Titans for the same reason that combat stats aren't given to a hurricane. 

Some Example Beasties

Flood Serpent

Flood by Sandara

On the horizon 
(visible in neighboring hexes)
: Towering Rainclouds. Clouds being unnaturally pulled in.

Environmental Effect 
:  Torrential downpours. Banks overflowing. Ankle-deep water even where you might not expect. Poor visibility. Need sheltered high ground to rest.

: A raging river, rising into the air, and then flowing wherever it pleases.

Behavior / Desires
: Capricious. Sometimes languidly arcs through the sky. Sometimes rapidly tears apart towns with sadistic glee.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Bountiful fauna. Animals flee the floods, but mysteriously more than could possibly live in these areas.
  • Strange fauna. Creatures subtly wrong in form. Alien mutations. When killed, their bones perpetually leak water.
  • Landlocked Pirates. Special boats that allow them to sail along in the wake of the serpent's storms, pillaging evacuated villages. 
  • Her sociable children. In calmer waters within the serpent's hex, you can find strange smaller serpents assigning quests and  promising various wet boons. Personally, I wouldn't trust the things. But if you think stealing a dozen cats in exchange for a sword that gives the wielder extra blood sounds like a good time, that's your prerogative. 
Lucas Roussel


Penumbral Hound

by Muroid

On the horizon 
(visible in neighboring hexes)
: Dimmed sky. Sun sets early if the titan is to the west, and rises late if the titan is to the east.

Environmental Effect 
:  Darkness. Like night during the day. The sun and moon appear constantly eclipsed. Light from large fires just doesn't seem to carry as far. Need held light sources to navigate. 

: The stars blacked out by an indistinct silhouette. Two bright eyes like rival moons. An occasional glint of giant teeth.

Behavior / Desires
: Slowly and carefully plod across the forest. It wants to be left alone. It wants to contemplate the stars. It wants to sleep.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • The cult of Mother's Shadow. Blindfolded titan-worshippers, skilled in echolocation. Core dogma is that none who see the Hound's face should live to speak of it. 
  • Wizard vision. Spend enough consecutive time near this beast and you'll begin see the unseen. Permanent if you spend at least a full consecutive lunar cycle in the Hound's hex, or a week there without sleep.
  • Shadow pits. Places of deep shadow (small pits, crevices, overhangs) become physically deeper within the Hound's domain. Sometimes open to inhospitable worlds.
  • Snarls of titan fur, tangled in tree-tops. Can be woven into coarse, scratchy, uncomfortable cloaks which  cling to shadow and help hide the wearer.

The Swine Which Seeks to Unite the Earth and Sky

MtG card art by G-Host Lee

On the horizon 
(visible in neighboring hexes)
: Clouds of dust, floating rocks seen in the distance. Occasional tremors as floating chunks of stone leave the area of the beast's influence and come crashing to the ground.

Environmental Effect 
:  The earth reaches towards to sky. Trees grow upwards at visible rates. You feel lighter on your feet and can lift more weight. Random updrafts and downdrafts. Whole chunks of land lift up into floating islands.  No fall damage. Bulky items easier to hold in inventory.

: Thick vegetation spiraling upwards into the air, carrying masses of debris with it. Pieces flake off and float into the sky. The entire tangled grove always looks at least vaguely like a giant boar.

Behavior / Desires
: Uproots earthen structures and hurls them into the air. Carefully avoids damaging obelisks and towers. Bows in deference to particularly impressive spires and mountains.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Foreign Isles. Some of the large floating chunks of rock have been drifting along behind the Swine for decades, and are host to strange endemic species.
  • Skywood. Plants which have passed through the Swine's body become buoyant in air and desirable for building flying ships. Incredibly difficult to collect in large quantity without getting crushed.
  • Vanguard Birds. A society of birdmen worship the beast, and zealously attack anyone who comes near (that can't fly). Easy to bribe with shiny objects.

More Titans:

Part 2, Part 3

Thursday, March 25, 2021

A handful of random tables about magical whatzits

d6x6 Random Mundane Materials

1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Dirt Tin Stone Ethanol Chitin Hair
2 Silk Copper Sand Soap Rope Skin
3 Water Silver Diamond Nacre Pykrete Bone
4 Grass Gold Glass Grease Graphite Giblets
5 Shellac Iron Rust Treacle Cement Blood
6 Mold Lead Mud Honey Rubber Meat

d20 Random Magical Materials with Impossible Properties

  1. Dirt
  2. Skywood: Dense, hard wood which resists the pull of gravity. Grows as trees which float through the air, carrying along clumps of earth tangled in their roots. Wicker panels of the stuff are used to craft flying ships.
  3. Adamant Glass: Cloudy gray glass, impossible to sully or scratch. Impervious and impenetrable to all forms of chemical or magic, meaning it can be used to entrap ghosts, spells, and other spirits. Really easy to melt, though, and can shatter violently.
  4. Vermillion Ichor: Like red-tinged quicksilver. Constantly jitters in place. Imbues anything it’s placed into with elan vital, compelling it into motion and imbuing it with will.
  5. Magnets
  6. Shimmersilk: Lightweight fluttering cloth of indeterminate form. Appearance changes based on the viewers’ expecations
  7. Alkahest: Universal perfect solvent, seperates things into their constituent components without otherwise damaging or changing them.
  8. Tomberstone: Stone which hates the heavens. Dark violet with streaks of iridescent yellow. When directly under an open sky, it pushes downwards with immense force. When covered, behaves like normal stone.
  9. Chornolyst: Magical kudzu. Thick sticky pitch-black sheets which grow rapidly over surfaces in the presence of mana and bright light. Rapidly dies and rots in their absence. Tough but flexible. Highly flammable. Technically edible.
  10. True Vitriol: Green-Red crystal with a greasy lustre. Eternally burns with an unquenchable putrid flame. Powerful heat, but irritating headache-causing flickering light.
  11. Ectoplasm: A versatile stringy substance that can be regurgitated by skilled experts. A sort of physical manifestation of the soul which responds to the emitter’s will. Is capable of fine manipulation and interaction with a wide variety of magical phenomena. The main drawback is that any damage to the substance has drastic psychic health consequences for the person who squeezed it out.
  12. Philosopher’s stone: Turns mercury into silver on contact, lead into gold, reverses aging, frags trolls, etc.
  13. Slarmbe: Insulates from time. Kind of a salty amber-tinted jelly. Kind of just a zone of shimmering air. Kind of makes you go cross-eyed to look at it. The thicker it covers an object, the more slowly that thing advances through time. Can be arduously moved by prodding it with a long stick.
  14. Solidified Nimbus: Like the cartoon version of a cloud. Soft and moldable. Cold to the touch. Drips water out of the bottom when squeezed. Accumulates static electricity.
  15. Null: Absorbs energy practically without bound. Unworkable and immovable in its pure form. Can be dissolved and alloyed to produce immovable rods and similar wonders.
  16. Impressionable Flesh: Raw animal matter in its most magically pure state. Often mistaken for a species of pale grey ooze. Assimilates small bits of detritus and small clumps of organic matter. When it comes into contact with a larger body of living flesh, it merges into and assumes the form of that flesh. Potent for healing, and can even restore lost limbs. Contraindicated for head and spinal injuries, under penalty of execution.
  17. Demoncore: Densely malevolent metal, brimming with alchemical power. Capable of poisoning those who merely stand near it, or providing a near limitless source of arcane energy.
  18. Voidmetal: Sticks to shadows and vice versa
  19. Pureglass: Perfectly invisible stone.
  20. Song-glass: Frost that dissolves into radio static whispers divine secrets.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Universal Magical Object Classification Guide

After witnessing an argument about the difference between artefacts and regular magical items, I've devised a foolproof and universal classification system:

I hope that this answers all of your questions.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Rpg Mechanics Stolen from Clearance Rack Boardgames

Here are a couple board games I picked up from clearance bins. They each have interesting mechanics which can be stolen and incorporated into tabletop rpg encounters.

Attack on Titan

BGG link. One-versus-all boss battle. Based on a show about fighting giant monsters called titans. 

I picked this one up because I like the designer's other work. The main problem it has as a board game is that the titan's side of things isn't very engaging. If the titan was automated, then it could be a satisfying cooperative dice-rolling puzzle thingy. 

But it had some really fun little ideas:

Climbing on the Beast:

First of all, the human characters move up and down these little cardboard standees. The ground counts as a space, as does each layer of the tower, and about half of the locations represent the humans climbing up the titan, shadow of colossus style. Some spaces allow you to do special actions, like firing the cannons from the tower, while others are places you need to maneuver to accomplish certain objectives.

This is just good fun.  And you don't really need a 3d prop to accomplish this effect. Just lay up some index cards indicating certain points-of-interest atop whatever giant monster is being fought.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Deck of ̶M̶a̶n̶y̶ ̶T̶h̶i̶n̶g̶s̶ Just One Thing, (and That Thing is Bees.)

The Deck of Just One Thing, and That Thing is Bees.

This powerful relic takes the appearance of a deck of cards. Once per day, you may take a draw from the deck. Before you draw a card, you must declare how many cards you wish to draw. Then randomly draw exactly that many. Each card causes some magical effect to immediately occur. The magical effect is always bees.

If an effect refers to "[cards]", that means the number of cards you drew. So if you drew 7 cards, then "[cards] minutes" means "7 minutes".

Unless otherwise mentioned, any summoned creatures or items last until dawn (or 0 hp) before vanishing.

To use this in a game, draw cards from a deck of Tarot cards and consult the tables below.

If you are using a poker deck, then just ignore the knight cards and trumps. And treat the red/black jokers as The Fool and the Pagat, respectively.

Clubs - Carpenter Bees

Ace: Summon Xylie, the jumbo sized carpenter bee. 

    About the size of a beachball. Really good at chewing through wood. Can burrow a passage large enough for a human to crawl through at a rate of 1 foot per minute.
    Loves to imagine herself as a master thief and will volunteer to help with heists, but terribly clumsy and makes lots of noise. Enjoys chatting about food and carpentry, spitting out pulped wood as she talks. Terrified of birds.
   (2 HD, no armor, 1 damage sting, flies at half normal speed.)

2-10: Summon a swarm of 2-10 regular carpenter bees.

X normal blue carpenter bees appear, where X is the number of pips on the card you drew. 
- They don't speak your language, but you can magically order them around. 
- They move as a unit, and have X hp. Each bee that dies reduces the swarm's hp by 1 and vice versa.  
- The swarm can attack for dX damage. (Carpenter bees  don't die when they sting; that's a honeybee thing.)