Tuesday 25 April 2017

Imprints: Foreground Growth in Context

Foreground Growth is a simple concept; It can be broken down into three principles.

Foreground Growth
  1. Your character grows more interesting, not necessarily more powerful. 
  2. Every piece of growth is tied to a specific experience. 
  3. There are growth opportunities everywhere. 
Scars and Oddities are easy to throw in there, but having a characters' adventures directly affect their growth is more tricky.

I've explained it in the context of the original Into the Odd samples monsters.

For my own game prep, I'm referring to these character-altering abilities as Imprints. Think of them as a simplified take on the Odd Marks that I experimented with in the past.

  • Imprints function in the same way as Oddities, but are part of a character’s physical being.
  • When creating an Odd Being, ensure it has at least one way of leaving an Imprint on a character through the being's action or players' exploitation.
  • Imprints generally affect a single character, and always manifest physically, overriding previous Imprints to that body part. 

It's nothing new really, just a new take on Oddities, but it won't make much sense without examples, so let's hit up the classic D&D Monster Manual and see how I'd implement Implants there.

Remember that not every Imprint is going to happen to every group that encounter that monster, but there's at least the possibility there.

Skeleton Guard
STR 10, DEX 15, CHA 1, 5HP. Ancient Sword (d6) and Shield Armour (1).

  • Piercing attacks are Impaired.
  • Intrigued and Confused by modern technology.
  • Breaking the Shield of a Skeleton Guard Imprints the breaker's forehead with the shield's symbol. They can command any Skeleton Guards bearing this symbol.

STR 15, DEX 10, CHA 5, 12HP, Thick Hide (2), Angry Jaws (d10). Death-Ray (d10, Permanently Petrified on Critical), Telekenesis Ray (STR Save to avoid being thrown).
  • Hates everything that is different to itself.
  • Swearing servitude to the Beholder requires a CHA Save. On a fail, the Beholder executes the character, on a Success it Implants them with a Merged Eye capable of rudimentary telekinesis.
  • The Beholder's central eye renders any technology, Oddities, or Implants useless as long as the gaze remains.
Colossal Red Dragon
STR 19, DEX 10, CHA 14, 18HP. Huge and Scaly (3), Jaws (d12) or Tail (d10 Sweep).
  • Wants to hoard precious things and avenge thieves.
  • Breathe Fire (d10 blast, Recharges with a Rest).
  • Burning a dragon's heart requires extreme heat, but consuming the ash Imprints that character with bright red hair, and allows them to breathe fire as the dragon could in life, once per day.
Ice Devil
STR 15, DEX 17, CHA 2, 11HP, Carapace (1), Ice Fork (d10, Freezed Solid on Critical)
  • Seeking a single target, to be frozen and taken back to Ice Hell.
  • Anyone that survived being Frozen by the Devil's fork now has ice-blue eyes Imprinted, and can recover lost STR by bathing themselves in ice water.
  • If killed, summons d6 Ice Devils to avenge them (these cannot Summon any more).

STR 16, DEX 4, CHA 19, 9HP. Big and Blubbery (2), Tentacle Lash (d8), d6 Smelly Grey Slaves (2HP, d6 Spear)
  • Always plotting for revenge against another Aboleth that may be off in a distant time or place.
  • Gurgles a command, which the target must obey or lose d6 CHA. Always starts with "Bow to Me". 
  • Anyone bowing to the Aboleth, or driven to 0 CHA in their presence, gets covered in slime and Imprinted with grey skin. They now smell so bad that others around them are Deprived unless they move to a safe distance.

Gelatinous Cube
STR 13, DEX 3, CHA 0, 1HP.
  • Ignore any physical attacks besides explosives, electricity, or extreme temperatures, and drift towards the nearest source of body-heat, or away from extreme temperatures.
  • Pass over anything in their way, forcing a DEX Save to avoid being enveloped. Enveloped characters cannot break free themselves and lose d6 STR each turn through corrosion. Anyone 
  • A small Central-Gland is found at the top of the cube. Eating this turns Imprints the character by turning their tongue transparent and allowing them to melt any organic matter in their mouth.


  1. Chris, this stuff is awesome! I love the thought of having your combats mold the players into weirdos. Very cool.

    How do you plan on implementing it? Like do you write adventures with each entry on the random encounter table having an imprint? Or are you planning on adding to the entries of the Monster Manual like you did above?

    Can't wait to see more!

    1. I'm still messing with a few options, but most likely:
      - Make sure significant monsters (and maybe places or Oddities) have an Imprint ability
      - Ensure that players are aware of the possibility of these cropping up, so they can actively look out for them.

      Glad you enjoyed them!