Friday 22 January 2016

Dilemmas: Pick or Push

Into the Odd doesn't have many moving parts, but your game should have lots of interesting decisions to be made. For interesting choices you need to:
  1. Give enough information.
  2. Have multiple reasonable actions.
  3. Give actions consequences. 
A particular type of choice is a Dilemma, the tough choice.

When ruling a Dilemma, remember the mantra Pick or Push. 

I have no idea what this drawing is about. 

Present two desirable, or equally undesirable, choices. 

The players either Pick one OR Push for both.

If they Pick one, then they get exactly that, but they miss out on the other choice. Don't over-complicate the choice with too many hidden consequences. Keep it real simple between two things they want.
If they Push for both they'll have to do one of the following:
  • Risk: Try something risky that could range from a single Saving Throw* to a full on adventure. 
  • Sacrifice: Give up something else in return for both, normally a resource. Throwing time or money at a problem is usually the easy way out, so make sure those have real consequences. 
  • Smarts: Have a really clever idea that lets them get both without losing out. Generally I'm easily talked into this sort of thing, especially if it's funny. There may still be minor consequences. 
*This is the most detached but also fastest way of dealing with this, so use it carefully. Ideal for choices made through Delegation Play

An Important Note

There aren't really binary choices in RPGs. The players are still deciding on an action, and they might do something different entirely. This system is just a framework for getting them making tough choices, so don't discourage them going off-grid. Most often these will just be one of the types of Push presented in the bullets above anyhow. 


For our example we'll say the group are leading an expedition across the sea to find a mythical vortex to paradise. There are various points I could imagine these Pick or Push moments arising.

Preparing for the Expedition
You've only got an hour left before you need to head to your ship, and you can't be in two places at once. 
- Extra Information: Head to the library and finish reading that guide to ocean storms that you were told to read. 
- Extra Resources: You never got around to visiting that wealthy relative who promised to help fund your expedition. He'll definitely pay a share of the bill if you go and visit him. 

Possible Pushes
- Risk: Steal the book from the Library before heading over to see your Uncle (possibly DEX Save). 
- Sacrifice: Tell the expedition to hold on while you do both, losing travel time. 
- Smarts: Take the book and also extort the librarian for that extra money. (Really closer to a risk, but too good to pass up. Credit to +Chris Mata)

Keeping Morale Up
It's been a good few weeks at sea now. The crew are bickering, they're sick of the same old food, and they've caught onto the fact that you guys aren't exactly seasoned sailors. You could:
- Make them Happy Now: Right, let's crack out some extra rum rations and have a beach party at the next island we come across. They'll love you for now, but they'll be uspet later when the rum runs dry. 
- Make them Happy Later: Look, things are tough, but we have to press on if we're going to get to our destination. They'll be grumpy for now but if you can just get to your destination they'll be glad we stayed the course. 

Possible Pushes
- Risk: Try to make a rousing speech (possibly WIL Save). 
- Sacrifice: Give them a rest day. They'll be happy, but you're wasting time. 
- Smarts: A work-dance. These guys love dancing right, so just work some swabbing and knot-tying into their moves. (Credit to +Joshua Macy)

Look. I don't want to leave you in the snow to die, 
but I absolutely don't want to miss our own homecoming parade. 

Other Pick or Push Moments on a Big Expedition
Getting a Ship: It's a Good Ship, OR it won't Bankrupt you. 
Hiring a Crew: They're Loyal, OR they're Total Bad-asses. 
Travel: Be Fast OR Be Safe. 

Tuesday 19 January 2016

d100 Oddities for New Characters

Sick of the Starter Arcana in the Into the Odd book? Do this instead.

1. Roll your Into the Odd character as normal.

2. You also roll d100 for an Oddity. You know how it works unless stated otherwise.

3. If your character would have an Arcanum, they roll two Oddities and keep the one they like best.

d100 Starter Oddities
  1. Essence Extractor - Extract the consciousness of a pacified or willing being to be stored within. The consciousness can be injected into the still warm body of a dead being, giving them a new body to inhabit. 
  2. Time Bomb - Time slows down sixty times in a 10m sphere around the blast. Lasts for a minute outside the sphere, or one second inside. One use. 
  3. Helpful Bug - A metal replica of a beetle that can perform simple tasks. 
  4. Plasmic Convertor - Turns a being's blood into a drop of liquid that grants single use of one special property the being has. 2-in-6 chance of converting an undesirable effect instead.   
  5. Homunculus Gum - Whoever chews this gum bonds with the substance, which will begin to shape into a small gummy version of the chewer. It follows orders but has a bad attitude. Adding further gum will increase its size but decrease its loyalty. If somebody new chews up the homunculus, the bond transfers to them. 
  6. Pheromone Pack - One dose each of Attraction, Rage, and Fear pheromones that work on any creature of animal intelligence. 
  7. Beastmode Formula - A liquid tonic that grant the drinker the properties of a specific animal for one minute. Examples are Eyes of a Hawk, Nose of a Dog, Strength of a Bear etc. Three doses. 
  8. Gamma Ray - Fires a green beam (d12). If the target would lose STR, they gain that much STR instead, grow 50% in size, and their physical attacks are Enhanced. If their STR would exceed 21 they explode in green smoke. Any effects wear off when combat dies down. Has 3 charges.  
  9. Amnesia Font - Stored at your house. Any head dunked into the water loses a specific memory as defined by the dunker. Anyone drinking the water absorbs all of the memories lost to the font. 
  10. Wish Spirit - Three measures of liquor that each grant a wish. The wish only lasts as long as the bracing kick of the liquor (d6 turns). 
  11. Duplicator - A coffin-sized box. Put one thing in, get two copies. Both copies are hugely inferior to the original. 
  12. Mammoth Mask - Highly ornate with a prehensile trunk and tusks that can be used as a weapon (d6) at a push. 
  13. Smart Arm - The fanciest weapon you own is also intelligent, communicating psychically to whoever is holding it. It functions as a normal weapon and gives smart advice. Once per day it can Enhance an attack that particularly pleases it, but it can Impair attacks attacks that displease it any time it likes. Roll 1d6 to find its personality: 1: Honourable, 2: Ambitious, 3: Bloodthirsty, 4: Curious, 5: Pacifist, 6: Bored. 
  14. Devourer - A football-sized bug that curls up in your backpack, but can be woken once per day to eat its own size in organic matter, no matter how inedible. 
  15. Truth Leaf - Smoking this hallucinogenic herb reveals a ridiculous truth and a ridiculous lie. Three doses. 
  16. Dehydrated Beasts - Three rubbery things resembling toy animals. If thrown into water, roll d6 to see what the thing expands into. 1: Mishydration (just a mass of twitching flesh), 2: Crush Beast (STR 18, 7hp, d12 Crush), 3: Brain Beast (WIL 18, 9hp, d8 Brain-Ray), 4: Wing Beast (12hp, d8 Beak), 5: Slime Beast (8hp, Armour 2, d6 Slime Spew), 6: Jaw Beast (STR 14, 10hp, d10 Jaws). When there's nothing left to kill, the creature collapses into inert powder. 
  17. Hover Plate - Platter-sized tray that freezes in space if you whistle a specific tune. There's a second tune to release it. It supports up to one person's weight and can be forcibly released with a STR Save. 
  18. Spare Head - A completely different head that you can switch with your own. Both heads can survive just fine off your body, and generally dislike not being the main head. Roll a new WIL score for each head. WIL damage and psychological effects only affect one head at a time. 
  19. Genesis Molasses - A tin of deep green syrup that causes lush vegetation to grow within minutes, no matter where it is spread. If eaten, the victim loses d6 STR and begins coughing up moss. 
  20. Demon Collar - Any being wearing this collar begins to take on a demonic appearance and loses d6 WIL each day. At WIL 0 they lose their identity, claim a new identity in your service, but will only follow instructions that cause harm to others. 
  21. Beserker Gland - When you take Ability Score Loss or suffer serious pain you fly into a rage. If your next attack is a melee attack, it is Enhanced. If it is ranged, it is Impaired. Once the attack is out of your system you return to normal. 
  22. Imprint Capsule - Any being that enters this booth is bombarded with smoke and emerges spluttering. They imprint upon the next being they see and dedicate their life to them until they next sleep. 
  23. Terrormite - A big termite, pinned down in its box. Once released it burrows into the nearest living creature it can find, causing intense pain. Within a minute the victim develops a tough outer skin (Armour 1) and find they can spit acid (d6 ongoing). This lasts for an hour until the victim coughs out d6 Terrormite larva and returns to normal. If two terrormites enter the same host they fight inside them, causing d8 STR loss. 
  24. Chameleomole - A tiny mammal that can phase into any material without disturbing it. It can talk, but is extremely shy and will only answer a question with one word before phasing into hiding in their master's body. 
  25. Earth-Angel - A tiny clay figurine that can be smashed to cause an earthquake. Those nearby are thrown to the ground and all structures take d12 damage. 
  26. Wild Tongue - You can talk with any living thing, but what they tell you might not make sense. 
  27. Spite Wisp - A glowing orb that materialises near to you whenever anybody gets badly hurt (STR Damage). If you will it, it will begin to attack the victim with sparks (d6), disappearing when they are subdued or killed. 
  28. Threatening Probe - Has no function, but glows and vibrates in a way that suggests it could be used for distributing extreme pain. 
  29. Caged Biter - A monkey-like creature (STR 5, 5hp, d6 bite) in a cage. Once released it attacks its designated target and fights to the death, ignoring any further commands. If it wins, it eats some of its opponent before slinking back to its cage. It won't follow any other commands. 
  30. Saucer Scar - You don't remember getting it. In the presence of artificial light it tingles, and you can will yourself to levitate slowly towards the light.  
  31. Maiming Claw - A grappling hook that latches onto living tissue with an unbreakable grip. You know the trick for getting it to release. 
  32. Trick Coin - Looks like a Silver Shilling but has three secret functions that you know how to use. First is a weak light. Second is a powerful magnet. Third is a d10 bomb (destroying the coin). 
  33. Universal Pin - A hair-pin that sticks into any surface, no matter the material. Causes no pain if stuck into flesh. 
  34. Curse Doll - Anything significant that happens to the doll happens to you, beneficial or harmful. 
  35. Snake-Cat - A cloth toy with a snake body and cat head. Once per day you can throw it on the ground and have it transform into a real snake (STR 3, 4hp, d6 Bite, d6 STR loss on Critical Damage) or cat (STR 3, DEX 16, 4hp, d4 Claws) that loosely follows your commands. It returns to its cloth form after a few minutes.  
  36. Second-Chance Skull - If you die, your body disintegrates to ash and immediately regenerates from this skull in perfect health.  
  37. Jerk Sprite - A statuette of dried meat. Whatever eats this will act like an utter jerk for the next hour, even to their most loved ones. 
  38. Powder Sack - Any powder stored in this small pouch becomes essentially unlimited. Turning the pouch inside out empties the current contents, with no unusual effect. Currently contains salt. 
  39. Star-Beacon - A heavy tyre-sized metal beacon (requires two people to carry) with a matching pin-badge. Pushing the badge teleports the wearer back to the beacon. 
  40. Dire Barnacle - Three vicious little mollusks (1hp, Armour 1) that explode in a 2m blast (d8) when killed. 
  41. Ambrosia Seed - A bag of golden seed that any animal can't resist eating if thrown. If they're smart they'll realise you have the bag when the thrown seed runs out. 
  42. Haunted Egg - A stone egg that can be used as a crude weapon (d6). The last thing killed by the egg will inhabit it as a ghostly voice, and will answer questions to the best of its knowledge. It doesn't have any more knowledge than it did in life, but anyone can understand its words. 
  43. Tiny Shield Generator - A rat-sized collar that will creates a force-field (Armour 3) around the wearer. Only works on subjects of chicken-size or smaller. 
  44. Echojector - Hears up to ten seconds of sound and repeats it at vastly increased volume on command.
  45. Doom Siren - A tiny clockwork box lets out a booming drone when a being within 10ft dies. 
  46. Stick Eye - A glass eye on a stick that the holder can see through. 
  47. Champion's Mark - When you defeat a willing opponent unarmed (even as part of a group) you glow with health and gain the immediate effects of a Short Rest. If anyone defeats you unarmed the Mark transfers to them. 
  48. Hell Spice - Extremely concentrated powdered hot spice. Enough to sabotage three meals. 
  49. Bear Jelly - A pot of jelly that reeks of animal musk. Will scare off small creatures, but attract any large mammals. 
  50. Sub-Flare - A one shot pistol that launches a burning flare immediately skywards, burning through any substance in the way and leading a fist-width hole. 
  51. Orphan's Ruin - 6oz of Milky drink. 1oz pacifies any unease, 2oz causes a deep sleep, 3oz eternal sleep. 
  52. Steel Goggles - When switched on, objects that have a current owner glow faintly green, objects that have been taken from their rightful owner glow red. Objects that have no current claimant look normal. 
  53. Parallel Shifter - A metal tin big enough to fit a pistol inside. If an object is placed inside and shaken, the object is replaced with a parallel version of itself from another reality. Roll d6. 1: Only ash remains. 2-5: The change is cosmetic but significant. 6: The new version is better than the old. 
  54. Brain Jar - A jar of brine and wires that can sustain the brain of a freshly killed creature, allowing it to psychically project its thoughts. The brain must be fed blood or else it dies. 
  55. Stinkincense - A pot of wax with a wick. When burned, sewage slowly drips over from the top of the jar. If left for an hour it will burn out, but produce enough sewage to fill a large room.  
  56. Cosmic Ranker - A grey wand that, when waved between two objects, pulls to the object that it deems best by the standards requested. In case of a tie it flies from the wearer's hand. 
  57. Rail-Lens - Any missile fired through this lens (breaking it) accelerates to impossible speeds, causing d20 damage and tearing through structures.  
  58. Anti-matter Key - When placed in a keyhole, utterly annihilates the door. 1-in-6 chance of annihilating itself too. 
  59. Nightmare Flower - Anyone sleeping in the same room as this flower suffers horrible nightmares. When they wake, they bring back the worst thing from their nightmare with them. 
  60. Sanctuary Idol - Burning a candle in front of the idol causes smoke to billow out and reinforce all doors, open passageways, and windows into the room. Nothing can enter through these as long as the candle burns. Has no effect outdoors. 
  61. Banker Pig - A clay pig with a coin slot. A penny causes an oinking sound. A silver shilling causes it to transform into a normal pig for an hour. A gold gilder causes it to transform into a vicious boar (7hp, d6 gore) for an hour. If it dies in pig form, it never transforms back. 
  62. Evacuation Syrup - Removes any ill effects the drinker is suffering from, including anything short of death, but flushes the body clean in every sense. One dose. 
  63. Alien Bone - Looks like a wishbone, but if broken sends out a psychic wave of pain to all in 10m (d20 WIL loss).
  64. Savage Vine Berries - If eaten, rapidly growing vines erupt from the mouth (d6 STR loss) and grow into a sprawling vine filling a large room and clinging to whatever surface it can. 2 berries.
  65. Ghost Story - If you tell this story to somebody as they fall asleep, their ghostly skeleton leaves their body for the night, returning when they wake. The skeleton acts as the owner wishes and is completely immaterial. 
  66. Companion Ball - A hollow ball that rolls behind you and never stops trying to follow you. Can pop open to store a head-sized object or smaller.
  67. Green Soil - Small pot of soil. Any plant that is planted into it will grow a whole season's worth of growth in one minute, but otherwise grows normally. 
  68. Pyrophone - A klaxon-like horn that repels fire away from it. 
  69. Stem-Stone - Pebble that transforms into whatever inorganic substance it last touched. Currently the leather of your pouch. 
  70. Maggot Prince - A tiny maggot with a gold band marking. Flies and maggots will vacate the area to make room for it, and anything that eats bugs will be strongly drawn to try and eat it. 
  71. Ovality Bomb - Explodes in a cloud of beige dust, forming a 2m high egg around the blast area. Nothing inside can break out, but the outside is easily broken. The egg keeps its contents alive in a happy stasis until released. 
  72. Worldly Tortoise - A small tortoise (STR 2, DEX 1, WIL 6, 1hp, Armour 1) that knows the way to anywhere you ask, but gets there very slowly. 
  73. Fantastic Machine - Huge machine stored in an old factory. Has a slot where paper instructions can be inserted, with a coin slot for a 10s payment. After an hour of clinking it produces a rough approximation of the requested item, but anything fancy is poorly made. 
  74. Unstoppable Rod - When thrown, nothing stops the movement of this rod, including gravity. Eventually flies off into space regardless of its trajectory. 
  75. Slam Bomb - Causes all doors and windows in a large-room sized blast to slam open or shut, even if secured. 
  76. Air-Sac - A membranous sac on your chest that you can inflate to 2m in diameter. Your lungs can draw on the air within, but remember the inflated sac floats. 
  77. Gore Candle - Any injuries that happen in the presence of this candle's light are extra painful, messy, and harmful, doubling any STR loss caused. 
  78. Skeletal Dove - Carefully assembled. Can be crushed to unleash a cloud of confused doves. 
  79. Slaughter Brand - A three-pointed mark on your hand. When you kill a worthy opponent, one point turns darker. When all three points turn dark, your arm grows into an unnaturally strong, chitinous claw (d10 damage) for the next hour. When your arm returns, the brand resets. 
  80. Noble Tumor - This visible growth absorbs the next harmful effect to enter your body, whether poison, parasite, curse, or otherwise, before dropping off. 
  81. Blank Contract - A contract with blank parts. Can be modified into any sort of deal you wish. The first party to break the contract is blasted with a beam from above (d12, ignore armour) and the contract dissolves into shredded parchment. 
  82. Utility Orb - Any tool that could plausibly exist in a mundane pocket-knife has a 50% chance of existing in this orb. Keep a track of what tools it does and doesn't have. 
  83. Cocoon Wax - Anything covered in this wax is sealed off in a cocoon. After 24 hours it bursts free as a winged, hostile version of its previous self. One use. 
  84. Plague Wart - A carefully extracted wart sealed in a jar. Anyone that touches it contracts a disgusting plague, losing d6 STR each hour. Any touch immediately spreads the plague. There is no cure that you know of. 
  85. Ego-Mirror - A pocket mirror that functions as normal, but doesn't reflect anyone looking in. 
  86. Fetch-Pearl - A silvery pearl that can attach to any item submerged in water. On a mental command from you, it floats to the surface, carrying whatever it is attached to. If attached to the ground, it just rips up a large chunk of it to fetch. 
  87. Tiny Phantasm - A floating mass of swirling colours the size of a penny. It follows your every command and leaves a multicolour trail across any surface it touches. Cannot physically interact in any other way.
  88. Prosthetic Tail - A metal tail that straps to your body and functions as a third arm. 
  89. Devil Salts - Awakens any creature from sleep or unconsciousness, but they flail and scream in terror for a few seconds first. They have no memory of this afterwards. 
  90. Phase Tonic - A dose sends you out of sync with reality for around ten seconds. You can act as normal, but when the tonic wears off, time snaps back to the point before you drank and all actions are undone. The dose is still consumed. 2 doses. 
  91. Reconstruction Silk - A handkerchief that repairs any object it is draped over for an hour. The object must be small enough to be covered. 
  92. Sabotage Disc - A disc of metal that can be slipped into even the most tightly cased machine, causing it to immediately malfunction in the most serious way possible. 
  93. Preserved Soul - A tiny shriveled humanoid that can be thrown into a fire to release a flailing alien apparition (d8 eye-beams, immaterial, lashes out for 1d6 turns before vanishing in a flash of light).   
  94. Animation Oil - When rubbed onto an object, it springs to life for the next hour as your loyal servant. One dose.
  95. Pain Wire - Causes instant agony when touched by bare skin (you have gloves). 20m in length when uncoiled. 
  96. Hunger Clamp - A small clamp that can be clipped onto loose skin, causing the victim to have a ceaseless hunger, which they'll do anything to sate. They suffer no ill effect from over-eating, but will not starve any faster than normal. 
  97. Proxy Chain - When two or more beings are in contact with the chain, any harmful effects that affect one of them affect all instead. 
  98. Tin Buddy - A can that springs out to a 2ft tall automaton (2hp, Armour 1). He is loud, annoying, and doesn't do a good job of whatever you request. Has no real means of fighting.
  99. Broken Basilisk Symbol - Two pieces of an astral symbol set in lead. Anyone that pushes the pieces together while looking at it loses d20 WIL. 
  100. Gallon-Syringe - A tiny syringe that can draw up to a bath-sized amount of liquid. 

Monday 18 January 2016

Far Theories 1: Inside the Jealous Mirror

Part 1 in a series of apocryphal essays concerning the nature of the Far Lands. Of all the great minds in Bastion, these five writers were available.

Inside the Jealous Mirror - Peter Mannick, Columnist for the Bogroll

Oh how they hate us. But who can blame them?

Bastion is home to the happy factoryman, the playful urchin, the smiling postguard. Together we've told greedy unionists to get back to work, kicked the backwards-minded yokels back into Deep Country, and embraced the glittering star temples that pen-pushing academics want you to abandon.

And so to the Unbastiards. A foreign man, if you can call them that, peering in envy from a land that we don't even bother to map. Their hair is soft, their hands clean. We have only their laziness to thank for their current absence from our city.

Their cities have no work houses or offices, only parks to indulge in their life of leisure. Instead of temples to the stars, they idolise themselves by lavishing riches upon their children. In place of our free market of trade and personal ownership, they wash with the same cloth as their neighbour.

You'll read that the Unbastiards aren't here, but do not let your guard down. If the new family on your street have suspiciously spotless skin, smooth pale features, or a lackadaisical attitude to paperwork, send their name and address to this publication for investigation.  

3hp, Back-Scratcher (d6), Soft Clean Clothes.
- Indulge in arts and leisure activities.
- Expect to be able to share anyone's possessions.
- Act impulsively without filing the proper paperwork.

Friday 15 January 2016

The Death of Arcana (plus Oddities to find)

The Death of Arcana
Arcana were introduced to the game to act as rule-breakers. Items that function as magic does in D&D, or high-tech does in Sci Fi games. Early versions were simply D&D spells bolted onto an item, some of those even made their way into the book.

But the more Arcana I create, the more I move away from seeing them as spell-replacements. They could be entirely passive, one-use only, big enough to be completely immobile, bolted onto a weapon, or existing within a living creature.

And where is the line? Is the Heat Ray from the starter list really an Arcanum? It doesn’t break any rules in an interesting way, it just zaps through things.

Don’t get me wrong, I want the Heat Ray in my game, but it’s just an example of how the boundaries between Arcana and Fancy-Item are blurred.

At the moment the distinction only actually matters in two places. Highly specific abilities that interact with Arcana, and more frequently in the ruling that characters can “bend an Arcanum to their will” with a WIL Save, altering its effect somehow.

The tie to WIL from the very start, albeit in different forms. It gives WIL an active use, which is nice. It meant you could create a character that was great at using Arcana, if you had your heart set on a wizard before your GM told you that this game is classless. Without that, if you rolled an 18 WIL it was hard to get excited.

Frankly I don’t know if I want Arcana to be some specific group of items any more.

There’s weird stuff all over the Odd World, and most of it isn’t drawn from an Arcanum. It’s just an Odd place, so of course there are talking snails in the Underground, and cow-titans in Deep Country. Sure, this guy’s a hologram, and this device lets you move the stars around to summon astral abominations. Why does only that last one get its own special classification?

The solution?

There are normal things, and there are Oddities, and the boundary is a huge mess. The term Oddity carries no mechanical impact, but the word can be used to describe any fantasy or sci-fi element in comparison to the more mundane Industrial-Era content.

A spider that weaves webs out of light instead of silk.
A poison gas grenade launcher.
The bits of the Underground that don’t follow the laws of physics.

So new characters might start out with an Oddity, most likely of which will be an item carrying a certain power. Any existing abilities linked to Arcana can probably apply to Oddities, and the Referee can apply judgement on how they function.

Bending their power to your will with a WIL Save? Looking back, I’d rather give Oddities their own risks, limitations, and side-effects, then let the players get creative in working out a way to bypass them. Giving WIL an Active Use was more of a motivator for this rule than it should have been, and I’ve moved away from the idea that all Ability Scores must be equal. I won’t be shutting down any players that want to get creative with Arcana in my games, but I might try shifting the focus from the WIL score. Expect a post on WIL Score soon to address its future. Rest assured it’s not going anywhere.

What does this mean for your Into the Odd Rulebook? Tear it up and await Into the Odd 2nd Edition?

Nah, that’s not happening any time soon. Just be aware that I might call things Oddities instead of Arcana, then the next day I’ll forget about this post and call it an Arcanum again. 

That's a lot of waffle. Let's put it into practice.

Oddities to Find

I love bombs. In the same way as potions they’re sort of self balancing by their one-shot nature. Of course it all goes wrong if you can make a load of them, but these are all intended to either be one-off items, or something you get one small batch of and never any more.

Roll d10
1: Crank Bomb
Turn a crank to power it up. Roll d6 for each turn you crank it, charging up the damage that is released when you eventually throw it. If the charge reaches 13 damage or more it blows up in your face.

2: Mass Bomb
Has a spike on top that takes a small sample of the material it is stuck into (must be soft enough to prod, no gold). Explodes to fill a 10x10 area with that material. Organic tissue created this way will live if it can, but most likely not.

3: Slam Bomb
Causes all doors and lids in 10m to violently slam open or shut, even if locked.

4: Portal Bomb
Has a home pod that must be fixed onto a solid surface. Anything the bomb strikes, up to the size of a wagon, is teleported back to the home pod and the bomb along with it.

5: Monster Bomb
Requires a brain to be fed into a funnel on top of the bomb. An hour later it lights up as ready. When you throw the bomb a monstrous version of the brain’s owner is spawned and immediately hostile.

6: Piranha Bomb
Spawns a swarm of hungry piranhas (6hp, d6 jaws, detachment). When no food is left they devour each other Obviously ineffective out of water.

7: Airmines
A floating sac of explosive gas (d10 blast). Far too sensitive, so a 1 in 6 chance that it goes off prematurely, causing no harm.

8: Augmentor Bomb
Explodes in a 5m cloud of shimmering air. Whoever is in the blast gets a random mechanical augmentation.
1: Digster - Replaces mouth. Mechanical voice and vomit a corrosive slime at will (d6 ongoing damage, melt stuff).
2: Extender - Replaces neck. Extend up to 10m at will.
3: Thruster - Replaces anus. Converts waste into a powerful rocket-thrust once per day.
4: Wings - Fly and Slash (d8)
5: Trunk - Replaces nose, prehensile, scent analysis
6: Observer Dome - Replaces top half of head. 360 degree vision, d6 laser, levitate small items towards you.

Literal or otherwise, they’re things you can use to hurt things in a pretty direct manner. Nothing should just be a better version of a gun or sword, so they’ve all got their own deal going on. As discussed, the line between Arcana and weapon was always blurred.

Roll d6
1: Light-Grapple
Functions as a grappling hook and rope, but fires an unbreakable "rope" of red light that can hook onto anything. Can be used to throw targets around for d6 damage, more if you can get them to fall or fly onto something nasty. Targets bigger than you get a STR Save to try to pull you instead. 

2: Predator Tick
A tiny bug that burrows into the back of your neck and whispers hunting advice directly into your brain. Gives you enhanced sense of smell and a venomous bite that paralyses the target when you cause Critical Damage. The tick needs lots of food, so you don't benefit from a Short Rest unless you eat a large snack. Removing the tick causes d12 STR loss in the wild, or d6 under proper surgical conditions.

3: Banishment Stake
Can be used as a regular weapon (d6), but if stabbed into a living heart (Critical Damage) the victim is transported to a Far Land without harm. If they get back to you they'll undoubtedly be changed.

4: Shredder Arms
A rig of six arms that fits onto your torso and lets you lash out for d10 damage, climb like a spider, and play complex musical pieces. If you take damage the arms lash out for d6 damage to everyone within reach.

5: Unstoppable Rod Launcher
A heavy tube that fires a single metal rod (d10) that never stops. Will smash through anything in its way until reaching the edge of existence.

6: Murder Lizard
A black and red terrier-sized lizard (5hp, Armour 1, d6 Venomous Bite, d6 STR loss on Critical Damage). If given a taste of any organic tissue it will hunt down the source unerringly and murder it, before seeking out a new master nearby.

Other Oddities
And now the general Oddities.

Roll d8
1: Mother Maggot
Wooly sheep-sized maggot that consumes wood, stone, or metal and excrete a delicious and nourishing porridge.

2: Egg of Immortality
A hollow egg that renders the carrier immune to any harm. Must be openly carried in an open hand, covering the egg in any prevents it from working. Incredibly delicate and loses all power if broken.

3: Pawn Tube
A big golden funnel that can be spiked into the ground. Feed any item into it and a rock or gem worth half of its market value is shot out. If the same stone is returned to the funnel, the item is traded back. 

4: Minion-Maker
A pink headband that turns the wearer into a mindless automaton, obeying any command given to it.

5: Sorrow Stone
A little black stone that gives you the benefit of a Short Rest if you hurt someone, and the benefits of a Long Rest if you torture someone.

6: Caustic Weed
Can be smoked, but causes d8 STR damage if inhaled. Can be blown into someone's face for d8 damage, ignoring armour.

7: Terrible Yeast
Consumes alcohol and flavour. Excretes sugar and tart acids. 

8: Primordial Slime
Can be rubbed onto skin, leaving it soft and jelly-like. You can now bend and squeeze as if you had no bones or internal organs, but you only benefit from rests while in water. If you spend a day out of water the effects wear off. 

The Long Delve

The Underground runs below the rest of the world both literally and metaphysically.

The Underground exists to bypass things. A tramway tunnel under Bastion simply wants to bypass a built-up area on the surface. Other passages bypass the usual restrictions of time and space. Underologists claim that this vast network of movement of everything is responsible for weather patterns, the rise and fall of political dissent, even the creation of the entire surface world.

We all agree that the Underground connects everything.

Equally the most exciting and terrifying connection is to the barely understood Far Lands. But a new theory suggests a different destination awaits those that continue to travel the Underground, but refuse to leave it. Those that pass by all doors and portals in favour of pushing only deeper downwards into the infinitely expanding depths of the Deep Underground.

Without any destination, and with their home stretching ever further away, the Underground makes a destination out of the journey. There are no more doors to distance places, only more darkness and passages downward. Underologists call this the Long Delve, and once you begin you cannot climb back.

There are no monsters, no mechanical traps, no twisted mazes. You only encounter what you have brought with you. Beings you encounter are replicas of yourself and significant people in your life. Chambers resemble significant places. Anything taken from here turns to formless stone.

In the case of groups, the first to pass through the door is considered the pilgrim, and others their companions.

One theory is that the Long Delve passes through nine layers. Pilgrims cannot venture back upwards, and can only descent further if they achieve a certain goal on the current layer. Failure takes a severe psychological toll, and those that lose their mind on the Long Delve find themselves wandering featureless passageways for eternity, eventually losing their identity entirely.

Unless you find them.

d6 Long Delve Eternal Pilgrims
If you don't have a suitable NPC for them to resemble, use one of the PCs.

1: The Sad - STR 10, DEX 8, WIL 3, 2hp, Streaming Tears, Naked, Resembles Somebody you have caused harm to.
- Sob and seek comfort.
- Beg you not to leave them alone.
- Indulge in pitiful gluttony.

2: The Echo - STR 13, DEX 15, WIL 2, 8hp. Faintly Immaterial (Armour 1), Your Clothes. Resembles an innocent person you know.
- Follow you and mimic your actions.
- Phase through anything that obstructs their mimicking.
- Beg for rest.

3: The Guilty - STR 10, DEX 18, WIL 2, 13hp. Rusty Dagger (d6), Eyepatch. Resembles somebody you dislike.
- Lead you deeper.
- Try to stop you leaving the Underground.
- Flee from light.

4: The Machine - STR 12, DEX 9, WIL 3, 9hp. Metal horns (d6), Stony skin (1). Resembles somebody you rely on.
- Sit motionless.
- Perform any command you give them.
- Go into a violent rage if your command is impossible or doesn't make sense.

5: The Betrayer - STR 5, DEX 11, WIL 2, 3hp. Hoof Hands, Tongue Cut Out. Resembles somebody you disappointed.
- Act feebly to get close to you.
- Happen to have the exact skill or knowledge that you need.
- As soon as they meet another person, begin plotting their elaborate betrayal.

6: The Broken STR 8, DEX 9, WIL 1, 3hp. Noose around neck, broom (d6). Resembles somebody you know that died needlessly.
- Beg you to find somewhere to hang them from.
- Try to clean up after you.
- Apologise for everything, especially if not their fault.

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Too Long in Deep Country

The wind is colder here. The hills are steeper. The wounds left by hungry birds sting more, and your soft city flesh gets infected with tough-skinned maggots.

But it's nice and quiet if you want to get away from things.

If you've had your fill of wandering, roll d20 to see which faint dot of civlisation you find, and what's happening there.

1-4: Banto Rest Lodge
An overgrown old lodge for retired sociopaths to live out their days tormenting each other. They'll put you up for the night but expect malicious pranks from the residents.

1: A little bald old man is going on a rampage because everyone else is pretending he's invisible. They're sticking to the prank far beyond the point of their own safety.
2: The Lodge Matron has put all the residents to bed early after a particularly bloody foodfight. Two bodies are being buried outside.
3: All the residents are pretending to be dead. Each has a 10% chance of just slipping into death during this prank.
4: The Lodge Matron is being roasted alive over a spit.

5-8: Futhkerskuff Ranch
A ranch with dozens of staff tending to just one animal, a huge titan-cow with rocky chunks of flesh that periodically fall off for meat collection (STR 19, DEX 3, WIL 2, 3hp, Armour 2, d10 Trample, Fights as Detachment). They'll give you a meal and bed if you do some work.

5: The titan-cow has broken loose from its unbreakable chain, and needs bringing back in.
6: The titan-cow has eaten all of the ranch staff, and it sits deserted beside the sleeping beast.
7: It's a great meat-harvest this week, so the staff are making the biggest stew in history. The meat is dry and gravelly.
8: The titan-cow has laid a boulder-sized egg, and the staff are arguing whether it's too dangerous to allow it to hatch. Apparently the young are very boisterous and don't know their own strength.

9-12: Leetdeane Practical Boy's School
A dirty old boarding school for children that parents want to disappear. You can stay the night if you can put up with the sobbing.

9: It's micro-lobotomy day, and the boys are having a small part of their brain burnt away by pouring a chemical up the nostril. Those that come out of the infirmary seem pretty content. Those going in are kicking and screaming.
10: A nearby (week's travel) school have come to take part in a Mallet-Match. Boys fight in teams of twelve with heavy wooden mallets, wearing leather caps for protection. The waist-or-below rule is not enforced well, and the last team standing wins.
11: The boys are being taught to use a macro-welder used in laying rails. You see a handful of boys almost die within the first few minutes of the lesson. If you leave them to it, 2d20-10 out of the class of 30 will die.
12: The boys have rebelled and locked the teachers up in the Time Out Cage. They're getting drunk, making huge sandwiches, and raiding the forbidden library for books about female anatomy.

13-15: Tower of Universal Loverhood
A towering monastery built in the name of love for all living things. Full of filthy pigs and cultists that have uncomfortably close relationships with them. You can stay if one of the pigs takes a liking to you. At the first pork joke you're expelled.

13: Celebrating the imminent birth of a new litter of piglets. Make the birthing ceremony grosser than I care to write here.
14: Ordaining a life partnership between a tall, spotty cultist and her favourite pig.
15: Feasting on fodder from a giant trough, allowing food to pass between the mouths of pig and man.

16-18: Howull
A town built around a huge sinkhole previously mined for deep-metals. Lies mostly in ruins. More dogs than people. You can stay the night if you can put up with the residents constantly interrupting you to explain why Bastion is terrible and Howull is great.

16: It's the annual dog cull, so people are chasing down the oldest dogs and throwing them into the sinkhole.
17: Something is stirring in the sinkhole, so the town militia are trying to get a boulder over to the sinkhole to drop on it.
18: The sinkhole is open for mining again! Some new rare metal has been found at the deepest point, and a mini gold-rush is starting.

19-20: Gran's Labyrinth
An ancient hedge and stone maze filled with deathtraps, now occupied by a sweetly malicious old crone (STR 5, DEX 5, WIL 7, 10hp, d4 Rolling Pin) that shouts bad advice from the tower in the center, luring you deeper inside.

19: The concentrated smell of plum crumble is being pumped out of pipes around the labyrinth's enterance.
20: Silence. Gran is dead, and her porcelain collectibles (around 1g total) are up for grabs!