Tuesday, May 11, 2021

d6x6 Sources of Magic.

What is magic anyways? Where does it come from? What is it all about?

 

1... Magic comes from nature.

  1. It just comes out of big holes in the ground.
  2. Dragons radiate it. Mana is dragon waste. Some creatures have evolved to collect this waste and reuse it to open doors or clean their clothes.
  3. Lightning supercharges matter with mana.
  4. People learned magic by studying the abilities of the ancient titans which roam the land. Pyromancy was learned from the father of dragons. Divination is a gift from the Moonwatcher. Necromancy comes from the Corpse Ball over in Glasmont.
  5. Only animals have access to magic powers. In order to cast a fireball, you need a pet fire toad.
  6. Gold. Gold is where magic comes from.

 2... Magic comes from the divine.

  1. There are multiple competing gods, who disagree about the laws of physics and try to change things when they think the other gods aren't looking.
  2. Gods are playing hyperchess with people as the pieces. Magic is given to the important players.
  3. God just really likes certain sounds and gestures. Spells are divine applause.
  4. Spells are what happens when spirits show up in the physical world. Ghosts, demons, spells--all the same.
  5. The universe is a dream, and if you think in ways similarly to the dreamer, you can exercise some control over the dream.
  6. Magic is the divine. Not a manifestation of the will of the gods, but the actual physical form of the gods.

 3... Magic is metaphysical in nature.

  1. Magic is what happens when parallel universes slam into each other. You get magic by stealing power from your alternate-universe selves.
  2. The universe is actively anti-inductive. A previous civilization figured out the laws of physics, which made the laws of physics change to become weirder.
  3. The cosmos used to be chaos, filled with the unlimited force of creation. From this chaos, many universes were born. Ones in which the force of creation was limited tended to be more stable. But entirely constrained universes can't use the force of creation to create new universes. So there is a selective advantage for worlds just unstable enough to support the creation of child demiplanes. The anthropic principle does the rest.
  4. Magic is just the leftover scraps of physics that haven't been banned. At the start of time, magic was limitless and birthed the universe. Any time magic becomes degenerate enough to cause an extinction event, it becomes more limited. Eventually, only the magic of magical exclusion itself will remain.
  5. Chunks of another reality fell through the holes in the sky (the stars) and warp the world around them. Mages carry around little slivers of these other worlds and throw them at people.
  6. The laws of physics are a government cover-up. Anyone can do magic if they stop eating the fluoridated ham.

4... Magic comes from the self.

  1. Magic comes from meditation and attunement with the universe.
  2. Magic comes from the power of emotion! Specifically, an emotion that most people can't feel anymore. Ancient sages trapped the emotion in a bottle and distilled it into a more concentrated form.
  3. Magic comes from Fighting Spirit! Scream loudly and passionately! Wizards train to scream in the most passionate manner.
  4. Blood is liquid magic. More blood = more wizard powers. The gods have severe hypertension.
  5. Magic occurs when your soul leaves your body to go do other stuff. Counterspells are dark magic that directly erases the soul.
  6. Mana is the byproduct of normal metabolic processes. Plants transform stale air, water, and light into fresh air, sugar, and magic. Wizards transform fresh air, sugar, and magic into stale air, water, and bad decisions.

5... Magic comes from technology.

  1. The universe is a simulation. Magic is just a hacked together solution to some universe-crashing bug, and will be removed in a future update.
  2. Spells are just technology from a long-dead civilization.
  3. The universe is a simulation. Due to a security flaw, you can send commands to some subroutines you weren't supposed to be able to access.
  4. Inter-dimensional aliens are doing science. Spells are experimental tech, and the aliens are having expendable lower-life forms run the safety tests.
  5. Listen. There was this talking bird who crashed into a psychic ocean monster, but he was so good at video games that he was able to take over the monsters brain and then used his new psychic powers to transform himself into a spaceship and fly around the stars but then he got into a fight with a big robot crab and the robot crab pushed him into a black hole but instead of getting squished he became omnipotent. So anyways when magic happens, it's the bird guy.
  6. Nanomachines, son!

6... You are mistaken about magic.

  1. Magic is a hoax. Doesn't actually exist. It's all just mirrors and bits of twine.
  2. That's not magic. It's just a very elaborate form of camouflage for insects.
  3. It's all a coincidence. Particles can, with very low probability, spontaneously rearrange due to quantum tomfoolery. You just happen to live in one of the vanishingly rare Everett branches where magic coincidentally seems to work. Chants and finger-wiggles correlate with the spontaneous appearance of fireballs. There's no reason for it to continue working tomorrow, though.
  4. That's not magic. It's a tumor.
  5. Magic is just an allergic reaction to certain foods.
  6. The real magic was the friends we made along the way.

 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Classifying Monsters by Type

I've been making a lot of wood-block minis, lately, and need a good color-coding system.

Here's what I've settled on:

Artificial, Bestial, Chimerical, Dungeonesque,
Ethereal, Fay, Grubby, Haunting,
Inflamed, Moist

Each category is associated with a basic color term. I tried to make the split be along aesthetic and thematic lines, so that the color-coding of a monster indicates something about the style of game encounter it leads to, as opposed to indicating something about the monster's appearance or physiology.

For example: Werewolves are fully alive, but in terms of thematic associations, interactions, and weaknesses, they're very similar to vampires. (As recognized by pretty much every piece of 21st century pop culture.) So Instead of having a category for "undead", I have "Haunting monsters", which draws a big circle around that whole chunk of slightly tragic halloweeny horrors.



Artificial

Creatures of artifice. Robots, golems, and alchemical oozes. 

Thematic Commonalities:

  • Rigid programming gone awry. (Golem guards preventing people from stealing, but doing nothing to retrieve stolen items. Oozes mindlessly cleaning all 'filth', including living creatures.)
  • Unhealthy relationships between creation and creator.
  • Unique specimens trying to make more of their kind (with potentially apocalyptic consequences if they succeed)
  • The dangers of hubris.

Mechanical Commonalities:

  • Very durable.
  • Aversion to water or fire. (Sinks or short-circuits; overheats or explodes)

Edibility:

  • Extremely inedible.
  • You can eat these things, but they will really do a number on your digestion.
  • 0/5. Would not recommend steel nachos dipped in alchemical cheeze.

 

 

Bestial

Big animals, ogres, any any critter that's down for a good wrassle. Things that you'd hunt or which would hunt you.

Thematic Commonalities:

  • Hunting, being hunted. 
  • Uncomplicated Nature, red in tooth and claw.
  • Straightforward fights. Brutal but necessary actions.
  • Overcoming adversity, making new friends (bestial creatures are the most likely to be tamable as pets.)

Mechanical Commonalities:

  • No fancy tricks. Just brute force and animal cunning.
  • Will attack if they have the advantage, and retreat if they don't (unless enraged).
  • Wary of loud noises and fire (but only because they don't understand it.)
  • Trying to exploit some other sort of clever weakness (like smelling salts or holy water) is more  likely to drive such a creature into a murderous rage than it is to actually scare them off.

Edibility:

  • Yes, very edible.
  • Delicious too.
  • Just be warned that the feeling is mutual.




Chimerical

Whimsical creatures of folklore, especially those composed of two real beasts stapled together. Cryptids, centaurs, fearsome critters, and the like. I'm including flying-saucer style aliens here too.

Thematic Commonalities:

  •  Solitary and elusive creatures, often the only one of their kind.
  • Tall-tales. Chasing rumors. Piecing together clues. Monsters as mysteries.
  • Fairytale-style allegories. Storybook logic.
  • The wonder of the unknown.

Mechanical Commonalities:

  • Flashy magical abilities.
  • Some exploitable eccentricity. Easy to trick, if you did your research.
  • If all else fails, it will probably help to play soothing music.

Edibility:


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

10x10 Table of Monster Names, Presented Without Comment

Artificial Bestial Chimeric Dungeonesque Ethereal Fay Grubby Haunting Inflamed Moist
Artificial Robot Manbeast Owlbear Shoggoth Modron Candy Critter Fake Egg Zombie Tarbeast Submarine
Bestial Stichthing Bear Snallygaster Orcgre Eternal Bird Ball of Fur Big Rat Lycanthrope Rakshasha Shark
Chimeric Gargoyle Bigfoot Panther Cerberus Ziz Reptilian Basilisk Pumpkinking Firefox Kraken
Dungeonesque Ooze Dino Gorgon Eyebeast Throne Gnome Spider Shadow Cherufe Urchin
Ethereal Meme Bird of Prey Pegacorn Starspawn Wingaling Fairy Bat Ghost Djinn Flying Fish
Fay Clone Turtle Queen Dryad Mimic Sylph Li'l Elf Ball of Teeth Vampire Will o Wisp Jelly
Grubby Golem Beastman Cyclops Sewercrawler Locus Goblin Wormlord Mummy Firebug Eel
Haunting Frankenstoid Wolfpack Mothman False Hydra Guardian Angel Bogeyman Lemur Skeleton Hellhound Angler
Inflamed Steam Punk Rampager Drake Plaguehurler Phoenix Imp Compostling Devil Flamespren Fishstick
Moist Snowman Leviathan Merfolk Deep One Nimbus Lake Lady Serpent Swampheap Salamander Trout

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Making Scrabble Tiles Into Cheap RPG "Minis"

Here's how to make cheap DIY wooden standee miniatures for 10 cents each.
 
Snail wizard modified from Twitter Emoji; Modron modified from AD&D Monster Manual II; plastic minis from Battlelore 2e.

 Instructions:

  1. Get some Scrabble-style letter tiles.
    • Here's an example search query on Amazon, but you can find similar tiles pretty much anywhere for around 0.04 USD per tile.
    • For a bit of extra money, you can buy them pre-painted in a variety of colors. I bought the pink ones up above to make a gift for a family member, and had a bunch left over.
  2. Glue pairs of tiles face to face to make a thicker wooden block.
    • (A single Scrabble tile can be balanced on it's end, but it's not very stable.)
    • A simple pva gluestick will do the trick. The resulting bond holds up to normal handling, but can be twisted apart. 
    • A stronger bond can be made by scoring the surfaces and using a bit of wood glue, but I personally don't think it's worth the extra effort and mess.
  3. Optionally: give them a couple quick coats of acrylic color. 
  4. Print out some little images of critters.
    • To avoid peeling, make the images slightly smaller than the size of the tiles. 
      • For example, the scrabble tiles I bought are about 18x20mm, so I should have printed the images at about 17x19mm.
    • I print two images per block. One for the front, and a mirror-image for the back.
    • Make or select images with sharp lines and bold colors. Texture and fine detail gets washed out at this scale.
    • I used GIMP to crop my images and Inkscape to scale and arrange them for printing. These are both free software.
      • In Inkscape, you can change the default display units to mm under File > Document Properties.
      • In this same menu, make sure the correct page size is selected. A4 is the default.
      • Leave a bit of space around the edges of the page for printing margins.
      • Once all your images are arranged, export the file as a pdf by choosing File > Save a Copy, and changing the file type to pdf. 
      • Print this pdf at 100% size. Don't shrink to fit it on the page.
    • Color printing services usually cost less than 1 USD per page; my local library charges 0.50 USD per page. You can easily fit 50 blocks worth of images onto a page, making the printing costs no more than 0.02 USD per block.
  5. Cut out and glue the images onto the blocks.

Now you  have some nice little game pieces . They're not as fancy looking as molded plastic minis, but the advantages are:

  • They're significantly cheaper, and easier to replace.
  • They are much more durable than painted minis or paper standees. You can just throw a handful of these in a box or bag without concern.
  • They stack nicely for compact storage.
  • They're pleasant and easy to handle.




Formatted Example Downloads:

 
Here are some downloads for the doodles I made:





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.

Appearance
:  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.

Appearance
:  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.

Appearance
:  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. 

Appearance
: 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.

Appearance
: 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.

Rules

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.

Appearance
: 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

gavi-gavi





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. 

Appearance
: 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.

Appearance
: 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.)


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Massive Community Hexcrawl - Interactive Map

This is a janky interactive implementation of the Massive Community Hexcrawl, orchestrated by Skerples. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0, etc.

Click on a hex, and its description will appear down below.

A standalone version of this map can be found here. You can save the html file, and then easily edit the hex descriptions in a text editor. That version should also look nicer on larger screens.

Click on a hex.