Thursday, May 31, 2012

Orlando Furioso

Some inspirational pictures I've come across lately; this is the all-Disney edition.  If you can look at these and not want to play any of them, please check the gaping hole where your heart should be; surely you are whimsy-deficient.
Tengu are rare in Wampus Country, but they have adapted very well.

This aerophant makes good money as a scout, surveyor, and cartographer.

And now, some ducks.
Pretend this isn't Uncle Scrooge for a moment.  Look at this pic as a "Chaotic duck-folk wizard".

Duck-folk with "flying-cloud" mount.

Duck-folk wrangler at a ranch near Massacre Mesa.

No worries, the "aerophant" race-as-class is on the drawing-board.  I don't think Dumbo could fire a pistol, but he could certainly swing a sword with his trunk...and if wanting to see that is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Breakdown: What Handsome Clocks

In the 'Breakdown' series, we take an illustration and attempt to Wampus-ify the entire scene.

"Perhaps you misunderstood me, sir.  When I said I was capable of riding to exhaustion any small-brained, dung-breath, hump-backed, scaly beast that came across my path, I was surely referrin' to snollygosters, not to your wife."

THE SCENE: A pair of mercenaries interrogate seeming ne'er-do-wells near the river's edge in Frogport.

THE SOLDIERS:  The Goodly Company of Reliable Freebooters - also known as Massey's Men - all wear blue-and-red uniforms; most carry cavalry sabres, light lances, and carbines.  Earlier this year, after losing some of their number to an ill-advised raid on a group of lumberjack giants, Massey's boys trotted into Frogport and have started a bit of a protection racket when they're not out doing "jobs".  Their founder and leader, Eliphas Massey, spends much of his time at the sign of the Golden Wigwam, drinking beer and fiddling with architectural drawings of the castle he will build "someday when the money's finally right".

THE SPLENDID GAUCHO-LOOKING GENTLEMAN:  This is Salamao Berengar, monster-hunter and gentleman thief (when the economy is poor).  Berengar has had a number of very successful forays into the deeps of Snollygoster Swamp, returning not only with monster-heads, game, and rare herbs, but on one occasion claiming to have located a ruined castle which he pillaged.  He keeps a fine flat in Frogtown, but spends most of his funds on fine clothing and carousing; Berengar's next expedition is always necessarily right around the corner.  The blend in his pipe is a combination of tobacco and shaved swamp-chestnuts, ensuring that he always smells a bit like nutmeg.

GUY WITH THE CLOCKS:  Comghall Hodge, a petty wizard.  Hodge has sought out Salamao Berengar to enlist his aid in locating the Vanishing Tower of the Swamp Hermit which lies somewhere out in the marshes.  Although a young sorceror, Hodge vastly overestimates his cleverness and readiness to confront the Swamp Hermit; he will prattle on at length about how good he is at overcoming magical traps and the like, or the projected resale value of the Hermit's no-doubt-numerous spellbooks.  Like all wizards in Wampus Country, Comghall Hodge is slowly going insane with each passing year.  He wears a number of paper clock-faces pinned to his coat, and obsessively moves the hands about to different positions in order to "balance out the chronastronomic humours".

THE BOAT (background): Mr. Gripes the puntsman ferries five visitors into Frogport.  Two of them wish to open businesses; one is fleeing a curse; one is a Candylander agent provocateur; and the last is a clockwork lady discovered in a cavern who now wears the skin of her 'liberator'.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scenes from Wampus Country: Many Ways To Go

The so-called 'Vain Highwayman' has been known to leave his victims alive if they suitably compliment his attire; but do not feign sincerity and praise his boots, for he knows well those boots are shit.
The last thing Eldon Bridely saw was a veritable torrent of gnomes, brownies, and atomies of the wood marching toward him with wrathful expressions, just as the one-legged prostitute oracle had foretold all those years ago.
Wearing the Hideous Form of the Scorpion, the assassin become visible for a brief moment before laying low the finest limerick-writer civilization had ever known.
As eldest son of the chieftain, it fell to Shining Talon to take in hand his poisoned obsidian arrows, mount the sacred glyptodont, and ride forth to randomly slay zero-level townsfolk in order to maintain the tribe's street cred.
At that very moment, it finally dawned on Prendergast that perhaps he should not have read aloud from the cursed book in the first place; and for the slightest instant he regretted not listening to his mother's advice, before remembering what a horrid judgmental bitch she was.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mascot Monday: Antonius the Great

Antonius was already a fierce frontier warrior and barbarian-fighter in the years before he became cursed; in the time since his transformation, he has become even more formidable.

Some years back, Antonius the Great and his companions (Gerfeldt the Lazy, a wizard; and Heathclyff the Rogue) were investigating ancient tunnels beneath the ruined city of Crumbledown when they came upon what they believed was an incomparable treasure: a massive cats-eye opal the size of an infant's head.  However, when one of them reached out to touch the precious stone, there was a flash of light, and the three adventurers were instantly cursed with a kind of lycanthropy.  Each of them were now trapped in a half-man, half-tiger form; and in the years since, none of them has located a cure or a counterspell.

Although the three trouble-seekers continued to seek their fortunes together for a few months, inevitably their compact was broken and they went their separate ways.  These days, Antonius has retired to a small ranch, only occasionally riding out when crisis rears its ugly head.  The doughty warrior has rejected multiple calls to join Thunderbolt Black's Amazing Action Show.  Neighbors describe Antonius as an eternal optimist, always seeing the up-side of any situation; he has a natural charisma, and if he wished it, Antonius could easily recruit a body of soldiers or set about building a castle.  But instead, the great Antonius merely wishes for a quiet life in the country.

Antonius the Great is a 6th-level Fighter.  His massive clawed paws do 1d8+3/1d8+3 (for Strength).  He has some small measure of wealth, and his equipment may vary, but he is at all times encountered with the following magical gear and effects:
Eye of the Tiger - The curse laid upon Antonius has made him into a bipedal weretiger in perpetuity; however, the transformation has boosted his strength and senses significantly.  An additional side-effect of the transformation seems to be increased speed, granting Antonius a +4 initiative bonus, insuring that he always rises up to the challenge of a rival.
Desperado's Bandana - A red scarf enchanted years ago by the Stump-Witch, this magic item improves any rolls made for stealthiness by +1.

Although Antonius has no grand desires to return to the adventuring world, he could serve as a suitable patron for a young warrior.  In addition, Antonius the Great has a good working knowledge of the catacombs beneath Crumbledown, and might be consulted regarding those secrets.

Hey, Antonius, what are those beaky tentacle brain things we saw in the catacombs?
"They're GRRRRRRRells!"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Anglers

Death and fate come in many shapes; in the Wampus Country, one of those shapes is the Anglers.  A bizarre trio of banshee-like spirits, the Anglers appear as headless gentlemen, nattily dressed, with severed heads (their own?) dangling from yarn attached to their umbrellas or walking-sticks.

The Anglers are said to appear to those on the brink of a momentous decision - perhaps one which will end their life or change the fate of the world.  Usually the Anglers materialize out of nowhere, perched in a tree near a source of water or on a bridge, and sing an unearthly song which alludes to someone's upcoming destiny.  These songs shift between haunting harmories, barbershop, shrieking cacophany, and atonal dirges [1], and include cryptic predictions and perhaps even hints which, properly interpreted, could assist the hearer in their task.  The voices of the Anglers emanate from the empty space where their heads should be; on occasion the severed heads join in on the chorus.  A dance routine to accompany the prophetic song is likely.

If attacked, the Anglers will defend themselves with fierce (yet nonchalant) blows from their umbrellas; the Anglers themselves are a manifestation of some higher power, and are not easily destroyed.

(Sung in three-part harmony)
"Crack a smile and drain thy flask / Set merrily on this bloody task
Be not deterred by moral no-nos / the Devil smiles 'pon murder-hobos"

[1] - If the rest of Wampus Country is uptempo bluegrass, the Anglers are System of a Down.

Friday, May 25, 2012

(Bonus) Mascot Monday: Rabbitjacks

This is an 'extra' Mascot Monday entry for Memorial Day weekend; we'll have another when actual Monday rolls around.

The Rabbitjacks of Dawn Valley, a species of bipedal lagomorphs, are not native to Wampus Country. Their forefathers arrived in this world by means of a spherical craft made of semisentient water, which was capable of moving across planar barriers.  The original crew of the ship were explorers and diplomats who used their magical and alchemical skills as they traversed the multiverse; unfortunately, when the aquaeous generation-ship phased into Wampus Country, it did so too near to the defensive cannon on the walls of Sugarplum Castle.  A fusillade of cannonballs battered the spacecraft, and then a final eldritch bolt from the Witch-Queen's staff brought the water-ship down.

Crashing in a flowered valley just outside the borders of the Candylands, the rabbitjacks buried their dead and took quick account of their situation.  They were devastated - their commander and several of the most adept sorcerors had been killed in the crash, and the ship itself was beyond repair.  The small company of rabbitjacks  were forced to begin anew with their myriad children, but so much knowledge was lost.  In a matter of generations, the rabbitjacks had established themselves as a power in Dawn Valley, and as a threat to their new nemesis, the evil Witch-Queen of Sugarplum Castle.


Rabbitjacks (the neutral or male term; females are rabbitjills) average about five feet in height, with rabbit-like heads and faces and long, floppy bunny-ears.  They stand nearly upright and are fully bipedal; each arm ends in a dexterous four-fingered hand.  The senses of a rabbitjack are quite keen, particularly the hearing.  Although rabbitjacks are quite capable of wearing human-like clothing, most eschew this adaptation, preferring to go au naturale or simply wearing a belt or bandolier on which to hang their rapier and pistol.  Some rabbitjacks, especially the gardeners and briar-jacks, wear gloves.

 Most of the adult rabbitjack population has some proficiency with magic use, but their collective skill has suffered much since the crash; PC rabbitjacks count as elves in all ways.  Fur colors include white, brown, tan, grey, black, spotted, striped, and even more unusual colors for some family lines with a little more magic in their blood (for example, a family of rose-colored rabbitjacks who seem to be immune to fatigue).  The majority of rabbitjacks are either Neutral (50%) or Good (40%).


The hillsides in Dawn Valley are dotted with hemispherical homes and outbuildings, but much of the rabbitjack settlement is actually underground warrens and burrows.  A number of the edifices are barns, corrals, and the like, the 'jacks having taken to raising horses as steeds and oxen as plough-animals.  Workers till the fields and grow wheat, vegetables, and corn; gatherers (known as apple-jacks) pluck fruit from the orchards in the hills while the briar-jacks tend to the defensive thorny hedge; rabbits hop here and there visiting their friends-and-relations.  Life in Dawn Valley would be rather idyllic, were it not for the constant threat of the Candylanders and their wicked matriarch, the Witch-Queen.

Strategic defense of the rabbitjack colony is coordinated by the Council of Five, who also act as a judiciary for any inter-rabbit disagreements.  The cold war with the Witch-Queen works on two fronts: first, the crusaders, a cadre of mounted warriors, some armored, who patrol the valley.  The second prong of the strategy involves a 'special operations' team of rabbitjack, the so-called 'Tricksters', who regularly penetrate into Candyland and act to disrupt the Witch-Queen's operations and generally foil whatever she and her minions happen to be up to that week.  Morale is kept high by the colony's priests, who serve as both a living link with the forgotten culture of the rabbitjacks' homeworld and a diplomatic corps which can deal with human visitors; however, of late, a small cult (the "Westburrow group") has cropped up which advocates intolerance of other species.  There are rumors that one or more of the rabbitjacks has abandoned the colony and gone to willingly serve the Witch-Queen; these sorts of rumors are quickly quashed by the elders.

Rabbitjack alchemy, although much diminished since the Crash, remains one of the colony's strong points.  Skilled brewers manufacture all manner of potions, and rabbitjack defenders are often armed with one or more of the common types, and trained in their effective use.  In addition, the chemists of Dawn Valley have developed a new potion which requires as an ingredient liquid from the Witch-Queens chocolate fountain - very difficult for the Tricksters to obtain - but which, when properly prepared, produces a "quickening" effect in the imbiber comparable to a long-lasting haste spell.

A rabbitjack alchemist responsible for potion production.
A stalwart defender of Dawn Valley sallies forth on patrol.
This trickster made a name for himself defending against last year's giant insect incursion.
Another rabbitjack trickster; he has been assigned the task of locating and sabotaging the Witch-Queen's granaries, but unfortunately has yet to lay hands on the cereal.

Breakdown: Angry Kite Versus Psychic Badger

In the 'Breakdown' we take an unusual picture and try to appropriately Wampus-ify it and extract stuff for the setting.  I have a whole folder of weird illustrations suitable for this exercise, so this should become a regular thing. Here's today's picture.

"Okay, okay, calm down.  Let's make it...fifty dollars, the psychic badger, and two baked potatoes.  Do we have a deal?  Fantastic.  Enjoy your new Angry Kite Person, sir."  
Today's pic is a cropped version of an illustration from an 1869 German alphabet book; as it's the "D" illustration, I can only presume that much of what appears begins with a "D" in German.  Because of that "wtf" juxtaposition, there's so much weirdness in here I instantly fell in love with the picture (and others from the same book).  Let's go through some of the prominent elements and see what we can do with 'em for Wampus Country.

THE SCENE.  The "Three Aces", an adventuring compact composed entirely of magic-users, cut a deal with a merchant to offload their latest haul.

THE LADY.  Although human in appearance, this adventuress, Kassandra Flip, is actually one of the more human-looking Lakeborn; her hoop skirt obfuscates double mermaid tails.

KITELING.  The kitelings are a dying race, crafted long ago by unknown ancients by stretching shmoo-hide across a wooden frame and awakened by forgotten rituals.  Each kiteling is diamond-shaped and pale or white in color, with an immense human-like face (of either gender).  Long tails of ribbon or flowers trail behind them as they fly; and the kitelings are accomplished flyers, when not tethered down by an oppressive string.  Although they lack hands, some kitelings have found employment as scouts, shepherds, or even bodyguards.  Some warrior-kites will partner with a human, who holds an attached string coated in glue and glass; their enemies may initially chuckle at being confronted with an animated kite, but most laughter ceases once the sharp string winds around their throat a few times.

THE MONKEY.  The monkey called Fumble was once the familiar to a sorceror; said wizard foolishly applied multiple doses of Doctor Higgenfrother's Patented Brain-Enhancing Powder to little Fumble.  In time, the monkey rose up, strangled and cannibalized his master, and became a wizard himself.

THE CAMEL.  Dromedary Larry is Fumble's familiar (and mount, obviously).  Fumble has fed Larry a dose of Brain-Enhancing Powder; Larry secretly stole another.  It is only a matter of time until Dromedary Larry eats the monkey and becomes a sorceror.

THE MERCHANT.  "Starchy Bill" hawks baked potatoes out of a box on the streets of Thistlemarch; he is also willing to buy and sell unusual acquisitions.  His dog is called Lumpkin.

THE BADGER.  A rather handsome example of the Northern Frangbadger, which is known to be somewhat telepathic and have the ability to psychometrically "read" objects, sniffing them then pantomiming the life story of the item's previous owner.  The badger's street value is enhanced here in Thistlemarch, which lies south of the beast's normal range.

THE MUSICIAN.   The third of the Three Aces, the man known only as Piper casts fell enchantments through his bagpipes.  He has a penchant for cheap whiskey and his partners plot to murder him the next time he screws up and costs them money.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Getting Kreativ

There's this thing called the Kreativ Blogger award:

and when you're tagged with it, you're supposed to answer seven set questions and offer up ten factoids about yourself, then tag seven more blogs.  It's like a Ponzi scheme of kudos or something.  I'm kidding of course - it's really more about getting the faces behind the blogs you enjoy to stick their noses out and chat about tangential stuff briefly.

...and the sky full of dust and Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque have both poked me in the ribs with this thing now, so here goes.


1.  What's your favorite song?  I love all sorts of music, but I'm not certain I have a real favorite.  "Take On Me" is a good bet if you want to see me bounce around the room belting in falsetto, but I suspect that's probably true of everybody in my age cohort.  I really like XTC.  Lately I've been listening to a lot of Wampus-friendly bluegrass and zydeco.  See also #5.

2. What's your favorite dessert?  Either key lime anything, or the classic orange dreamsicle.

3. What do you do when you're upset?  Bottle it, swallow it, shove it under a rock so it can slowly grow and then explode all over the place, inappropriately.

4. Which is your favorite pet?  "My wife has cats."

5. Which do you prefer, black or white?  Johnny Cash.

6. What is your greatest fear?  Failure and/or poverty as filtered through classic American Daddy Issues.

7. What is your attitude, mostly?  Externally positive, internally pessimistic.

TEN FURTHER FACTS ABOUT ME (by which we may verify our identities when the dopplegangers come):

1. By day I teach basic analysis to Defense personnel; before that I was a manager-type in the same field.  I try very hard to be "the cool teacher", and most of the time it works.  I don't know if it's the tweed jacket over a Batman t-shirt, or the rockabilly mutton-chops, but the students seem to recognize I'm a little different from their other instructors.  I do love working with the younger folks, fresh out of school or AIT.

2.   I went to school for Anthropology, which likely explains the years I spend slinging coffee and CDs at a big chain bookstore (with purple hair).  I did once get a proper job offer in the Anthro field, as a folklorist for the government of the Gambia, but elected not to take the position once I did the math and realized the annual salary, all together, wouldn't cover a plane ticket back to the States.  So much for Indiana Jones.

3.  I met my wife through gaming, and online to boot.  Maybe that's chuckle-worthy, but it's worked out great for us.  Most of my gaming-pals are a little jealous that I have a gamer-geek wife.  She's more into White Wolf stuff but has played her share of everything else.  And she knows more about Star Wars than maybe anybody else I know.

4. One of the things that I love about the online gaming community is that we all get along great because for the most part we restrict our interaction to talking about gaming (and related sci-fi geekery).  No political arguments, none of that crap, and I'm hoping it stays that way.  I'm fully cognizant that some of us would be at one another's throats in a political discussion, and that's fine, because that's not why we're here.

5. When I was a kid I wanted to be a cartoonist or a comic-book writer; messing around with rpg stuff thankfully scratches both those itches these days.  My artistic talent is on the limited side, but I'm pretty kickass at 'Draw Something', and I draw just well enough to please my kid.

6.  I have accumulated more stupid knowledge about Transformers than is considered healthy.  However, I've yet to find an rpg that will do Transformers in a manner which is satisfactory to me.  No, not Mekton.  No, not Cartoon Action Hour.  Don't even bring up Mechamorphosis.  Someday I will write the game I wish existed (I have started and given up several times).

7. Much of my time is spent with my son, The Boy, who's just finishing up first grade.  He's learning-disabled and didn't speak til he was four and a half; the last two years have been an absolute verbal explosion around here, and it's wonderful.  He's my sidekick in our constant battle against boredom and a world painted in grey, and every day he inspires me to work harder and kick my own creativity in gear (since it comes so naturally to him).

8. Never having been to Europe is one of my great regrets.  Someday, someday.  Central America, yes; West Africa, yes.  No Europe.  However, I often fantasize about traveling around the U.S. and Canada after retirement, so who knows what'll happen.

9. I love food and cooking.  I come from a family of food-lovers - our family motto has been "If You Leave Hungry, It's Your Own Damn Fault" since the early seventies.  We watch a lot of Food Network and the like around here.

10.  Language and wordplay are other hobbies.  I acquire languages rapidly, but forget them just as quickly if not used.  Faux languages are the best!  I love wordplay of all kinds - it might show a bit in Wampus Country.

Giblet Blizzard
The Most Unread Blog On The Internet.  Ever.
My Terrible Sorcery Is Without Equal In The West   (dude, where are you?)
The Fearless DM
Monster Manual Sewn From Pants

Mascot Monday: Gastrognomes

Small humanoids living in family groups inside hollow trees, the gastrognomes are masters at cooking and baking.  When a group of gastrognomes has nested nearby, the smell of fresh baked goods wafts throughout a large swath of the forest.  While the gastrognomes often trade their creations to other inhabitants of the forest - talking animals, fairies, and the like - they do not customarily supply humans, and in fact will jealously guard their food and recipes from interlopers.  The cookies and cupcakes created by the gastrognomes are uniformly delicious, and some have potion-like effects if consumed with milk.  On occasion, rogue gastrognomes will abandon their families and travel extensively in search of new ingredients and recipes; some of these roamers have served as cooks with mercenary companies or bandit gangs for a short time.

  The appearance of individual gastrognomes can vary wildly, but they tend to range between six and eight inches in height.  There are dark rumors that a nefarious sorceror has forcibly crossbred gastrognomes with halflings and uses the results as slave labor within his hidden chocolate factory, where he plots to overthrow the Witch-Queen of Sugarplum Castle.

Gastrognome families operating in the same area tend to be friendly rivals, attempting to one-up their neighbors with more delicious recipes and elaborate decorations.  Most gastrognomes have good relations with the dough-folk and maple-spirits; however they hate spoiler-pixies and will quickly band together to drive one out of their territory.

Random gastrognome creations for use in generating smells or treasure when you cut that damn tree down.

1 - chocolate chip cookies
2 - fudge-covered grahams
3 - puffed rice grains 
4 - pink-frosted vanilla cupcakes
5 - chocolate cupcakes filled with cream
6 - eclairs
7 - little fruit pies (these are particularly tasty to those of Chaotic alignment, and greatly coveted)
8 - cream-filled sponge cake

A few well-respected gastrognome families have mastered a form of baked golem construction, whereby they craft a fairly large (near human-sized) golem out of baked goods in the shape of a humanoid cupcake or the like.  These creatures are then either piloted from within by a team of specially-trained gastrognomes, or, on occasion, given real life and intelligence through hidden rituals.  Usually these living baked goods strike out on their own in the world, seeking to make their fortune, but it can be difficult to achieve success in a world where everyone wants to eat you.

These four look like a party of adventurers to me.
"Mascot Monday" is going to be a thing now.  You've been warned.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Marching One by One

One of the dangers of the grasslands of Wampus Country is the presence of the Myrmida, also known as 'ant-men' or, more popularly, 'mants'.  These large insects live in expansive colonies with populations in the hundreds, and their belligerence is well-known.

A mant is a bipedal, ant-like creature between three and five inches in height.  Its chitinous shell may vary in color widely, but all mants of one colony look similar.  They may amble on two legs, or sometimes go about on 'all sixes' as necessary.  The pinching jaws of a myrmida are fierce indeed.

The mants are intelligent tool-users, and have developed a very strange culture.  Each colony manifests a low-level telepathic field centered around the Queen, enabling a kind of hive-mind.  But beyond this, the mants themselves carry within them a kind of 'race-memory' repository of long-dead cultures and knowledge.  A colony subconsciously accesses this race-memory and models itself after one of the cultures in the memory bank, as it were.  Large, successful colonies mimic well-organized warrior cultures; smaller groups of mants (perhaps scattered during an inter-colony war) will quickly adapt to a culture which suits their new situation.  The joint hive-mind of a group of ants is quite skilled in assimilation of technological ideas and in the rapid dominance or domestication of other animals.

Encounters with a mant colony should use the following table to determine their character.

1 - Zulu style.  The mants carry large shields of sawgrass woven with chitin, and wield spears.
2 - Greek.  Mants wear extra armor, crested helmets, and fight with spears, round shields, and swords.  They insist on calling their hive a 'polis'.
3 - Centurions.  Each mant is identically dressed, clad in crested helms and capes and the like; they wield javelins, sword, spear, and shield.  25% possibility they've invented to-scale ballistae or the like.
4 - Feudal knights, or Samurai.  Warrior-mants are armored, and many of them ride steeds - huge spiders, rats, beetles, prairie dogs, whatever's available.  Each mant has its own colorful livery; they are armed with sword, shield, lance.  May be supported by large groups of archers.  Will use tiny siege machinery when attacking another colony.
5 - Savage barbarians.  These mants carry all manner of clubs and spiky weapons, and clothe themselves in the flesh of their enemies and other creatures.  Their leader is a sorceror-queen (magic-user of level 1d4).
6 - Air Force.  The mants wear identical (unarmored) uniforms, but have tamed flying-beasts of appropriate size (large/huge wasps/bees, stirges, sparrows, whatever) and use them as a dedicated air force, strapping tiny bombs to them, etc.
7 - Elf style.  The mants wield bows and swords, try to protect vegetation, and frolic.  Easily distracted by poetry.
8 - Dwarf style.  Most of the myrmida wear false beards woven of plant material and spend their days digging deeper and deeper for precious stones and gold.
(Obviously any warrior/military vibe can be used to create different colonies of myrmida - Scottish Highlanders, Gurkha, snake-eating Special Ops, etc.  A mant encounter is an opportunity to ham it up.)

Encounters with roaming mants may use this table instead.

1 - Robin Hood and his Merry Mants.  These myrmida, clad in grasses, fancy themselves outlaws and will attempt to steal from 'the rich' (ie, anyone).
2 - Dirty Dozen - Mants on a mission!  The team leader chomps on a tiny cigar.
3 - Grail-questing knights (see Feudal above)
4 - Monster-slaying Argonaut mants (see Greek above), determined to kill something much larger than themselves (a buffalo, a crocodile, the PCs...)
(There's also the possibility that the PCs could encounter a mant colony which is later destroyed; a ragtag bunch of survivors then model themselves after the PCs...)

Although the mants tend to be warlike, they are not necessarily hostile; in fact, some groups of mants are particularly receptive to whatever mood the 'intruders' happen to be in at the time.  Parties approaching a mant colony intending to trade may indeed find ant-merchants sallying forth to meet them.  Some individual mants are hypersensitive to the needs and wants of humans around them.  Myrmida colonies which remain in close contact with a human settlement will begin to take on cultural and linguistic quirks of that settlement, as the hivemind 'absorbs' the cultural mores.

"I don't camp near an obvious mant-hill no more.  Not since the time I woke up and found three little ant-guys dressed like saloon girls standin' on my chest, singin' ta me.  Them things get into yer head, I'm tellin' ya."

Wee Angus, mant mercenary, carried a four-inch claymore and spoke in a  deep brogue.  He quickly proved a useful member of our little group, surviving many capers, until one day one of the mules trod upon him.  Now we use his wee claymore as a letter-opener.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On The Trail

d100 madness will not abate!

Here's a d100 table of events for a wagon-train or overland journey.

Googledoc version

ill-formatted pdf version

About 1 in 6 results are an encounter.  The rest of the results are mishaps, weather, terrain features, whatever.  Everything's completely mundane; you'll have to add the laser dinosaurs yourself.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Scenes from Wampus Country: Fairies & Spirits

The lines between 'fairy', 'spirit', and 'god' are extremely blurred in Wampus Country; creatures of spirit are ancient, powerful, and fickle.  Attempting to make too much sense of their ways is ill-advised.  Although such spirits can often be seen in the wilds of our world, wizards tell us that these strange visitors are, in fact, native to at least two other realms: the Summerland, a world of blazing color and eternal youth; and the City Behind the Moon, an infinite folding conurbation dangling amidst the empty void.

A young dryad cavorts in celebration of springtime.
Pixies are considered pests by many.
These servant-spirits owe fealty to the Vicelords, despite their amusing appearance.
The so-called Princess of All Moths is blamed for at least seven deaths this year alone.
Fairy courtesans of Summerland.
Forest brownies look after the animals in their area.
Talking animals are quite common in some parts of Wampus Country.
It is always better to avoid entanglements in fairie domestic affairs; resist the temptation to take sides when a husband and wife quarrel.
"The people of the Summerland feel emotions you cannot feel; they see colors you cannot see."

Monday, May 7, 2012

d100 Potions

"Bottoms up, you sissies!"
Ever need a mess of random potions, quick?  Raid on a wizard's kitchen?  Players asking you what every potion looks and smells like?

Click here to download a d100 table of potions.  The four columns are as follows:

Appearance - what the potion looks like, presuming it's in a clear container, or the PCs pour some out.

Taste/Scent - roll once for taste and once for scent if you're cruel.  Definitely some Bertie Bott's action going on here.

Effect - one hundred potion effects.  Includes all the classics, plus a bunch more from which you can improvise.

Miscibility - a potion miscibility table with a hundred different results.  Significantly greater chance of things going wrong as compared to the classic table - might want to save this for the yahoo that drinks four potions at once.  Although there's some beneficial stuff on there as well, along with the standard results from the DMG, just not in the same proportions.

"Fantastic Creations"

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Treasure Maps

d100 madness continues!

An attempt at a table to assist in on-the-fly treasure maps.  Some folks end up rolling a 'treasure map' as part of a hoard or event table and are then at a loss, having to quickly create a treasure map - usually as a handout.

This d100 table has only two columns; the second has some minor treasures and disappointments to put under the 'X' on the map.  The first column contains various vaguely-named landmarks that can be used to spur creativity when drawing up a treasure map.  I considered doing a column of "directions", but quickly realized that endeavor was not terribly fruitful.  A randomness-loving DM can use a d8 for cardinal directions or a d12 as a clockface or whatever; other folks will want to roll two or three landmarks and then just plop 'em down on a scrawled map.  Add treasure-mappy goodness (drawings, scribbles of a madman, et al) and go for it.

The landmarks are necessarily vague and could be actual things, metaphors, or local (or ancient) names for rock formations and the like.  You'll see what I mean when you check out the table, I hope.

"If this is another chest full of dead cats, I quit."

d100 Arcane Books

d100 table madness!  I have a to-do list of d100 tables in front of me, let's see how many I can crank out this week.

Sorcerous treatises and blasphemous grimoires are common in fantasy.  Find a d100 table for generating arcane books here.

Generates a book name ([the] "Insidious Chronicle", "Otherwordly Ephemeris"), and also has a column for contents (or 'extra contents' if you're doing a spellbook - maybe the spellbook has a few pages of notes on golems in it or whatever).

Part of the 'Fantastic Creations' RPG Blog Carnival.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What if XP came in flavors?

A Possibly Crazy XP Concept

I never liked bonus xp for high prime requisites.  It’s like you’re rewarding potential instead of action, it’s just always bugged me.  Thinking about that led to this...

Normally if you’re trying to reward different classes differently, the onus is on the DM to make sure that some “thiefy” xp goes to the thief for doing “thiefy stuff”.  The concept we’re talking about here doesn’t exactly alleviate that, but you might be able to get away with more generic party awards and push the math off on the players, just as with bonuses from prime requisites.

Under this concept, we break xp up into four or five categories.  It’s really five, but the first four are the major ones, I kinda think “Luck” is a flavorless xp for rare occasions.

GLORY - brave deeds, winning battles, slaying beasts, surviving physical hardships, pious service to a church

GUILE - executing cunning plans, successful trickery, solving a puzzle or problem

FORTUNE - acquisition of wealth, trade goods, land, objets d’art; improving social status

DISCOVERY - exploration of unknown places and things, bringing civilization to the wild, doing the impossible

LUCK - survival despite overwhelming odds, favor of the gods

When dispensing xp to characters at the end of a session or adventure, I don’t have to worry (as much?) about separating awards.  I can say “you guys each earned 200xp for Glory, 100xp for Guile, and based on the stuff you just fenced, 170xp for Fortune”.  Each player then applies their % bonuses appropriately.  The trick is, you can still give special awards for absolute craziness or excellence; and don’t forget special Luck awards for that PC who somehow made it out of the hydra’s mouth alive thanks to that improbable saving throw.

Players don’t have to separate out the xp on the character sheet, it’s still all one big pool to them; it’s just categorized as it’s being handed out so they can tweak the amounts.  Some players may want to keep it separate just for the amusement of watching one pool fill up faster than another, of course.

This is marginally more math than prime requisite bonuses, but it makes more sense to me.  The strong fighter gets prime requisite bonus xp for a session which contained no fighting?  Really?  Yeah, no.  Splitting the xp might set expectations, and PCs will start heading for adventure possibilities (and coping methods) which favor their xp bonuses, as well they should.

At creation, each character gets a 10% bonus to one category, and a 5% bonus to another category; you choose these categories to represent your character’s style.  Big campaign shifts may warrant allowing PCs to redistribute their bonuses moving forward (“But my dude is like a vow-of-poverty monk now!  Can’t I move my Fortune bonus to Glory?”).

For example, Grognoth the Disturbingly-Thewed, a barbarian type who loves to bash heads, drink wine, and bash heads (in that order), might want 10% Glory and 5% Fortune.  The Amazing Weasel, a backstabby thief type with a pencil-thin moustache, might want 10% Fortune and 5% Guile.  This might also help distinguish same-class characters in the same party - the battlemage is Guile/Glory, and the scientist-wizard is Discovery/Guile; one elf is Fortune/Guile, and the other elf prefers Glory/Discovery.  You get the picture.

Here’s the thing - these categories are not all-consuming, they’re just what I think might work for Wampus Country.  In another setting - one full of politics at court, let’s say - you might yank Discovery in favor of Intrigue.  A game with a strong focus on tribal allegiance might have a Family category - or a Totem one or something.  In other words, we can use the list of “xp flavors” as shorthand for what the game is about.

And, like any “meta” mechanic, you could start spinning stuff off from it.  Maybe clerics of the gods of travel hit a PC with a geas to run off find new things (ie, earn a certain amount of Discovery xp); perhaps the knights of the Order of the Crimson Pelican will finally be impressed enough to admit Sir Chuffingham when he earns a certain amount of Glory.  This is more meta than some people like, of course.

I haven’t tried this yet, just punting it out into the ether.

"Onward, to Glory!  For which I gain a ten percent bonus, huzzah!"