Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Deck of Manly Things

Yea I know this is stupid, shut up. We got too much pretty girly stuff on this blog.

The Fool: You become capable of riding any four-legged beast. They instantly recognize you as alpha and obey standard horsemanship commands, even if they shouldn't.

The Magician: If you are a woman, you become a man. If you are a feeble man or a wimp, you become brawny and strong. If you are hairless, you become hirsute. If you're already all these things, you become so masculine that it's kinda toxic. You become emotionally insensitive, unconsciously bigoted, and you become unable to tolerate doing unManly things.

The High Priestess: You are now an inexhaustible lover. She never gets pregnant and you never get crabs or diseases. You're great at sex and everyone in town seems to know.

The Empress: You are embued with a magical 'MOM' tattoo on your upper arm. It alerts you if she is in trouble and reminds you to get her something nice on her birthday. She appreciates your visits, but understands that you're busy saving the world. If your mom isn't alive, you will never love, cry, or smile again.

The Emperor: Your entire wardrobe is replaced with manly versions. Everything you wear is incredibly cool, made of leather, and provides at least +4 AC. Your existing armor, if any is modified with sculpted abs and pecs. You invent Aviator shades.

The Hierophant: You know the law, and can argue it rationally and eloquently. If you were chaotic, you become neutral. If neutral, you become lawful. If the local law enforcement are overwhelmed (aren't they always), they put a badge on you before you leave the tavern, mutating you closer to the stereotype of a scary, tough cop.

The Lovers: Everywhere you go, unimaginably beautiful young women throw themselves at you shamelessly. You may indulge in their attention as much as you want, but you never become attached to any one female.

The Chariot: At any body of water you need to cross, you grapple a shark, who swims you to the other side. You subtly become more like a pirate.

The Justice: You become a master at arm wrestling. No one can beat you.

The Hermit: You grow a massive, manly beard. Even Dwarves will envy your beard. It has an AC of 15, is hard hard to break as diamond, and can lift 300 lbs.

The Wheel of Fortune: In every man's life, there comes a time when he has to make a decision. You choose BACON. You can now cast Grease at-will, due to having eaten so much bacon without washing your hands.

The Fortitude: You become capable of skinning and cooking anything you kill. You have an infinite supply of barbeque sauce. You can drink any volume of alcohol with no negative consequences. Your diet consists solely of meat and ale.

The Hanged Man: You become significantly well-endowed. Yes, just that one anatomical part. You will need a new codpiece for your armor, and probably looser-fitting pants. You have a third equipment slot for magic rings.

The Death: It takes enough arrows to darken the sky, or a moon crashing on you, or a similarly insane amount of awesomeness to kill you. You are immune to disease, papercuts, gangrene and old age.

The Temperance: What? There's no temperance in being manly. You rip up the card, eat it, and knock out an opponent by spitting it at them. Someone yells "Blackjack" and you win 100 gold.

The Devil: You encounter an Owlbear, and you wrestle it to the ground bare-handed. You may choose to slay the Owlbear and wear its coat (which makes monstrous humanoids afraid of you forever), or it will follow you as its new pack leader (which makes humanoids afraid of you forever).

The Tower: You become impervious to fall damage. Regardless of height, you land on your feet, or crouched with your fist to the ground. You leave craters in dirt, and crack stone.

The Star: Forever more, after you have defeated an enemy, something behind you explodes!

The Moon: You become immune to fear. You stand brave in front of Ancient Wyrms and Liches alike. While it doesn't make you invincible, you think that you are.

The Sun: You become immune to fire, even magical. You can walk across coals, strike a match on your knee, and start a fire with just two sticks.

The Judgement: You can spot an unmanly man, regardless of magic or disguise. You immediately intimidate any man lesser than yourself, and can spend a Downtime/Haven turn making such a man half as manly as you are.

The World: Your lifting and carry limit skyrocket. You can carry up to 30 times your own body weight without difficulty or encumbrance.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Catch You, Catch Me

Cardcaptors are people who aren't competent at normal spellcasting, necessarily, but discovered the workaround of befriending spells instead of creating and casting them. A Cardcaptor not only needs to be everything else expected of a magician or adventurer, but they must also be an empathetic and kind person if they want to go far. Their spells, their cards, are all full individuals with personalities, wills, temperments, and desires. Should they be sensitive to them and believe in the heart of the cards, they have potential to be one of the strongest spellcasters in the realms.

Hit Die: d6
To-hit progression: As Cleric
Saves: As Cleric (using Charisma instead of Wisdom where applicable)
Weapons and armor: Simple Armor, Shortswords, Staves, and other simple, wand-shaped weapons.
XP per level: As Wizard

SEALING WAND: A Cardcaptor's first willworking is the creation of their Sealing Wand. It has the hidden form of a simple key, trinket, pendant, pen, or some other such thing, and the Cardcaptor can transmute a Wand into the revealed Sealing form assigned at its creation; a staff, a sword, or some other appropriate implement. A Cardcaptor can only have one Sealing Wand at a time, though using the same rules for spellbooks, they can create a new one if destroyed, or abandon their old one and bind a new one. It's possible to bind a pre-existing valid object as a Sealing Wand, such as a +1 staff or magical sword or what have you. This provides no benefits to Cardcasting, but hey, it sure is nice to have a better weapon if you need to use your Wand as a blunt instrument. A Cardcaptor cannot perform Cardcasting without their Sealing Wand. This final restriction is removed at level 20.

CARDCASTING (CON/CHA): Cardcaptors do their magic by conjuring spell-spirits from their cards. Cards created by a Cardcaptor are generally part of a deck named after the creator, such as "The Clow Cards" or "The Sakura Cards." When a loose Card (see below) is encountered and then defeated, a Cardcaptor is capable of using their Sealing Wand to bind it back into a Card form; this is done only when the encounter is resolved with the Card's defeat or subjugation.

A Card without a living Creator has finite magic; they can hibernate indefinitely, but otherwise have an active magical lifespan of a year and a day; if exhausted, the card will cease to exist. Additionally, using someone else's card can possibly draw on their own magic (see below), and thus, it's often in the best interests of a creator to sever a card if they can't retrieve it. A Card with no valid master can be Converted, reincarnating it into a member of its new master's deck. This follows the same rules as copying a scroll into a spellbook, using Charisma.

Creating a Card is similar to Converting one; if a Cardcaptor gets their hands on a a spell scroll, they can destroy it to reincarnate (one of) its spells into a sentient, free-willed living spell entity with a heart and mind of its own, which is then bound into a Card. A Wand, Staff, Potion, or other temporary magic item can also be destroyed in this way, for this purpose. Mechanically, treat it as copying a scroll into a spellbook each time, same as Converting a card.

To actually use a card, the Cardcaptor need only use their Sealing Wand, and spend the appropriate Card Points. A Cardcaptor has Card Points equal to their level plus their Constitution modifier, and casting a Card requires the card's spell level in Card Points. Yes, this means a Cardcaptor could hypothetically blow their entire spells-per-day to cast Time Stop once at level 6 if they have 18 Constitution. Why the fuck did you give them a Time Stop scroll, though? Idiot. You're stupid.

When a Card is cast, it transforms into its more elemental, personified living form. This entity should be treated as an elemental, fey, or spirit with its spell level in HD if you need to reference stats, though honestly they're just a spell with a roleplaying personality, so it shouldn't come up much. Cards remain summoned theoretically indefinitely, and can use their powers freely. Except they have free will. So your Cardcaptor needs to actually roleplay befriending them, and make Charisma checks (with a level bonus) to convince a card to act if it goes against their themes, nature, or general personality to do so. Even then, they usually only stat out for the Cardcaptor's level in rounds; a Reaction check can push them beyond this if you make it every round, but even with a success you'll need to make a major concession to the card in some way to compensate. As a general rule, however, the cards aren't dicks; if you ask a Feather Fall card to get someone to the ground safely, it will do so no matter how long it takes.

Stronger cards generally have more arrogant and unruly personalities, and cards you created yourself are naturally inclined to obey and like you. Converted cards also prefer you to a lesser extent, since you're feeding them mana to exist. Foreign-deck Cards have no level bonus, but should still at least not get a penalty to most requests, since you're an honorable Cardcaptor that did acquire them legitimately (....right?).

SIDEBAR: Cardcasting for Everyone Else

Other people besides you can use your Cards. If they do, they technically draw on your mana. This doesn't use your Card Points, technically, but it does fuck with your general magical feng shui. It's likely you have psychic dreams about the missing card and what it's been up to, and the fitful sleep prevents you from recovering Card Points with rest, or something. In fact, yea, that's cool, let's do that. Card Points are usually required with rest but if a card is being abused in this way, the only way you can recover Card Points is by passing a saving thow after each night.

To use a Card, you must have some sort of magical potential. Someone capable of reading scrolls, and/or has spell-like abilities can use a Card as a 1/day scroll, making a Reaction Check with no level bonus. On a failure, after a single use the card shoots off and becomes a Loose Card, adopting their personified form to act freely. A normal spellcaster (or psion, or whatever the fuck) can do this, or they can also bind the Card to a spell slot of appropriate level, allowing them to use it as a prepared spell. They still need to make Reaction checks with no level-bonus, but as long as they cast it from a spell slot, there's no risk of the card flying off on a failure. Only going apeshit and defiant, like for a Cardcaptor. Oh well. That said, a Spellcaster cannot unbind it from a spell slot without making the Reaction Check that might send them off flying. A Card is only truly loyal to a Cardcaptor, in the end.

The Cards have a non-trivial resemblance to Tarot cards, and this is intentional. If a Cardcaptor has at least nine cards, they can do a reading with them. various spreads and draws you can do, but for those without, just make a table and roll nine random cards from your list. You may perform the effects of the Contact Other Plane spell, save that you can only ask questions regarding the themes of the drawn cards. For instance, if your cards include a Fireball card and a Cure Wounds card, you can ask questions regarding fire and healing.

A secret reaction roll determines the honesty of the cards, though they will always be 100% honest on the Full Moon, and will allow twice the number of questions. This reading can be done whenever, but takes an hour of meditation to perform.

TWIN GUARDIANS: A Cardcaptor automatically creates two familiars, which are similar to a wizard's for all intents and purposes, save for the differences listed here. They're free to define the form of both familiars, and can even make them appear to be ordinary 0-level humans, so long as they are 1-HD creatures. They must be associated with opposite elemental affinities,such as Sun/Moon, Light/Dark, Ying/Yang, Fire/Water, etc., and once determined this cannot be changed. Like Cards, they are dependent on their Master to continue existing, and follow the same rules for what they must do if they lose their Master.

When a Card is created or bound to your service, it must also be assigned to one of your two Guardians. You cannot bind a card of opposing themes to a Guardian (no water cards to the Fire guardian), and you must keep the cards roughly evenly distibuted between the Guardians. Failure to do so can cause the cards to revolt from a magical feng shui imbalance. Cards treat the

Guardian they're bound to as extensions of you, for all purposes of reaction checks. A guardian has a 'true', alternate form. It has to resemble their hidden form in some way (like a kitten becoming a giant celestial lion), and the true form has an extra HD for every three cards bound to it; a Guardian with 30 cards to its name thus has a 10 HD alternate form. When a True form is reduced to 0 HP, they remain conscious, but are forced back to their hidden, simple form. Despite being conscious, any further damage can kill them according to the rules of your game.

If a Guardian dies, the cards under their name will revolt and be uncooperative. You will need to create a replacement Guardian, with the same mechanics, affinity, and basic nature, and is created using the same rules as casting Find Familiar. However, this is not actually the original Guardian revived, but a new individual.

Even though you create and sustain them, the Guardians are free-willed creatures. They're naturally inclined to like and serve you, but if you haven't noticed this whole class is basically being a spellcaster using Follower/Henchman mechanics. So, yea.

TRUE FEELINGS: At 20th level, a miracle happens. The Cardcaptor's heart is so full from their relationships with their Cards, and their magical power so refined, that they can create a single card ex niliho. This card can have any spell effect, including one entirely custom and unique of the Cardcaptor's design, and can be of any spell level. They need never make a reaction check for this card's loyalty and cooperation, though it can only be used once a day (but doesn't cost Card Points). This card is bound to neither Guardian, but is directly bound to the Cardcaptor's heart. No one else can ever use it, under any circumstances, unless the card's master gives it to someone else after they die. Finally, if the Master is ever about to die (or suffer an event they consider worse than death, like the death of their true love or some other sort of intolerable suffering), the card can permanently sacrifice itself to negate the event as a Wish-level miracle.

Monday, February 5, 2018

My Stupid and Unnecessary D&D Cosmology

So, cosmology. It's very rare in most campaigns for the planes, theology, and origins of the multiverse to be at all relevant beyond what mortals THINK is true, but in my games this stuff comes up all the time. That, and the typical OSR fashion is to simplify things and cut the fat, and I figured, fuck that, why not go against the grain and go so stupid-cosmic that Planescape has to get on my level? So, without further adieu: Aura's Stupid and Unnecessary D&D Cosmology.


In the beginning, and perhaps after the end, there were the Far Realms, maybe. Their nature will be discussed later, but for now, Sages believe it to be a sort of alternate multiverse or primordial chaos of infinite possibility, bubbling and dissolving. There was one such bubble of ethereal protomatter, still and quiescent, free of change, causality, and time. Or so the theory goes.

Perhaps a passing Elder Thing or Outer God stuck in an appendage and swirled it before moving on, as some sort of incidental Prime Mover. And the swirling Ether eventually coalesced into the Planes of Positive and Negative energy. They spun about, endless founts of Creation and Destruction, constantly energizing and polarizing forces around them, until the planes of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air stabilzed around them. From then on, intersectional Elemental Planes of all possible interactions were born. Mud, Salt, Vacuum, Steam, Radiance, Smoke....eventually, Phosphorous, Uranium, Gold, Sodium, etcetera, with the Positive and Negative Energy Planes intersect to create Temporal Energy.

All Positive Energy eventually transitions and converts to the Negative Energy Plane, and in however many kalpas, eventually it is all that will remain. This is Entropy, and the Temporal Energy Plane measures this, and all possible transitions of time. The timeline(s).

Eventually, all the possible extant Elemental Planes intersected to create the Prime Material Plane, though parts of it were too bright and dark to stabilize, creating the mirror worlds of Feywild and Shadowfell. More on these two, later. There are infinite worlds in the Prime Material, as Temporal Energy made every possible outcome of causality extant in its own timeline. Indeed, even if you root down to the First Cause, there are infinite worlds for every POSSIBLE first cause. The Feywild and Shadowfell mirror every possible Prime Material World, and intersect with every possible Elemental plane, save for the Energy Planes. Positive/Temporal/Negative already map to Feywild/Prime/Shadowfell.

The Feywild is the plane where things are more alive, more manic. Everything can talk and bargain here. Everything lives. Every passion is given drive. This plane can change you, and make you a more manic, impulsive, inconsistent person. The Shadowfell is a more dead world. Illusions persist here, forms without substance and substance without form. It is a more mutable plane but its people are more static. The moroseness and depression makes you more resistant to change, drive, and passion. You're reduced, made less.

The Ethereal Plane has near and far shores; the Near Ethereal is less a plane and more a phase-shift to the Material. The state of being intangible. The Ethereal Plane connects all the elemental and material worlds; Demiplanes can exist out here, and you can reach other Prime Material planes save for ones based on your own direct timeline. From Oerth to Krynn, as opposed to Alternate Oerth.

There is also the Astral Plane, the plane born of thought and memory, which connects to and contains the Outer Planes, as in Planescape. The world of Beliefs and Ethos made manifest. The Ethereal and Astral planes intersect to create the Dream Plane, the world where Thought Appears To Have Form. The Dream Plane intersects with the Outer Planes to create the Questing Grounds, the Plane of Narrative, where Thoughts and Symbols Appear to Have Meaning. Archetypes, stories, and narrative causality rule here. Here, travel is only made by progressing stories, and distance is measured by how long a story is told.

The Inner and Outer Planes intersect to create the Ordial Plane, where Belief has Substance. The Plane of Proof. It is the Akashic Records. Anything can be learned and proved here, but this is a perilous place, because ANYTHING can be PROVED here, even if it's not true.
Many who search the Ordial Plane for Truth end up being lost in their truth, and are trapped in a fantasy world of confirmation bias.

The Intersection between Ordial and Narrative is the Meta-World, which intersects with the Multiverse and the Real World. It's the plane of the 4th Wall, where PCs can become aware of the actual truth of their world, and transcend what they are. This plane leads to other campaign worlds and RPG systems. PCs can talk directly to their players and the GM here, and in a text-based game can actually read the text. Portals here lead not to planes, but to stories; different campaigns in the same world, or a movie and its sequel, would all be separate portals.

There is the Mirror Plane; the world behind every mirror. It connects all possible Prime Worlds, essentially where Temporal Energy meets Dream; Alice could tell you all about it, honestly.

The Dungeon Plane is one of the only planes that touches all others, and one of the planes where Demiplanes can be created (the others being Ethereal, Astral, Dream, and Meta). It is alive, and cancerous. An infinite, ever-evolving Megadungeon. It is sentient but perhaps not intelligent. It grows and burrows into the other planes, connecting to places that could be defined as 'dungeon' and expanding them into true Dungeons. These dungeons are like split personalities or perhaps offspring, separate mindshards that can grow into their own. It is the Mythic Underworld, but not the place of the dreaming dead. Every dungeon contains a secret exit into the Dungeon Plane, and thus from Dungeon you can reach all possible places, save for perhaps a place of true peace.

Good luck finding one of those.

The Far Realms are...'not'. There is nothing outside the Outer Planes. Nothing inside the Inner Planes. Nothing before or after the end of time. Nothing on the other side of Dream where no one observes.
But if you go to these places, you find the Madness.

The Far Realms are the Minus World, basically; it's a mindrape zone created phenomelogically when you try to perceive Something where there is Nothing. Perhaps the Far Realm is not truly an alternate cosmology; perhaps it's the Abyss. Not the familiar abyss of chaos and evil... but the Abyss of Choronzon.

The things you encounter there are Not-Things. Hallucinations and shapes in the void moving with agency and half-life because of your perception. If your mind can survive this ego-death, and traverse to the other side of the Far Realms.... you would find a truly empty space, defined by none but you.
You are God.


Maker Anew, of a place that can never be where you were before; purified of every mental and spiritual flaw with no regard to the safety or well-being of your mortal ego-identity.

This is where multiverses come from.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Homestuck Trolls

So. Homestuck. That webcomic that took over the internet from 2009 to 2014. I'm not going to make a big thing about explaining the lore, there's way too much here. I'm just going to adapt the Troll race. For fluff details, go to the wiki here.

Mechanically, Trolls have a subrace for every blood color, but there's commonalities. Simplified, they are:

+2 STR, +2 DEX, -2 WIS, with Daylight Sensitivity as a Drow.

Additionally, roll a 1d100 for Blood Color, or ask your DM.

01-20:  Rustblood
21-36: Bronzeblood
37-52: Goldblood
53-64: Oliveblood
65-74: Jadeblood
*69: Candyblood
75-82: Tealblood
83-88: Ceruleanblood
89-92: Indigoblood
93-96: Purpleblood
97-98 Violetblood
99: Fuschiablood
00:  Limeblood

Rustbloods receive +1 INT in addition to the above traits and tend to live 40-60 years.

Bronzebloods receive only a -1 WIS penalty, and tend to live 50-90 years.

Goldbloods receive +1 INT in addition to the above traits and tend to live 70-120 years.

Candybloods receive +2 to a stat of their choice, and have lifespans equal to a human's. This is a mutant blood color, and should not technically exist.

Limebloods receive +3 CHA and have no Wisdom penalties in addition to the above traits, and live 100-160 years. This is, in most settings, an extinct blood color.

Olivebloods receive +2 DEX in addition to the above traits and live 150-240 years.

Jadebloods receive +2 CHA and have no Wisdom penalties in addition to the above traits, and live 180-270 years. In addition, they do not have Daylight Sensitivity.

Tealboods receive no Wisdom penalty, and live 225-400 years.

Ceruleanbloods receive +1 to CHA and one other stat of their choice, and live 300-500 years.

Indigobloods receive +3 STR instead of the normal STR bonus, and live 325-800 years.

Purplebloods receive +2 STR, +3 CON, -3 WIS, -1 INT instead of the usual ability modifiers, and live 450-1000 years.

Violetbloods +2 DEX in addition to the usual ability modifiers, and live 750-1500 years.

Fuschiabloods receive +2 to every ability score, and can live forever.

Your Blood Color gives a modifier to Saves vs. Psionic Powers and Mind-Effecting affects as follows:

Rustbloods: -5
Bronzebloods: -4
Goldbloods: -3
Candybloods: -2
Olivebloods: -1
Jadebloods: 0
Tealbloods: +1
Ceruleanbloods: +2
Indigobloods: +3
Purplebloods: +4
Limebloods: +5
Violetbloods: +10

Fuschiabloods are utterly immune to psionics.

To determine whether or not your troll gains Psionic powers, roll a d100 and add the following modifiers
+30: Rustbloods
+25: Bronzebloods
+20: Goldbloods
+10: Olivebloods
0: Jadebloods
-5: Tealbloods
-10: Ceruleanbloods
-20: Indigobloods
-40: Purplebloods

If the result is a 50 or higher, your troll is a Wild Talent psionic, however that's handled in your system. At 60+,they gain an additional psionic power for every ten points above 50 they rolled.

Seadwellers  (Violetbloods and Fuschiabloods) may not have Psionic Powers through this racial trait. In compensation, they can breathe water as well as air and can maneuver perfectly in water as aquatic lifeforms.

Candybloods are to be treated as Jadebloods due to being similar to humans in most ways, and Limebloods are always psionic and need not roll. In fact, when determening their Wild Talents, treat them as if they rolled 100.

As a final note, if you're using Race-as-Class, simply have them advance as Fighters, Psionics, or as a modifier Elf that has stagger psionic progression instead of spellcasting. Also, I'd like to thank my friend Carson for helping me crunch some numbers. He's a boo. <3

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

World Trees

A gargantuan tree, that can be seen from miles away. It is seen in the center of the world. It is also outside the world, keeping it in its branches. Both are true. The Tree is at the center, wherever the center is defined to be.

The Tree is God. It may not be the Person who designed the world, but it is the root. It is deity not because of agenda, power, or worship, but because it is more real than you. It is the Root of the Real. It preserves harmony and balance and stability purely because it is. If the Tree is sickly, or if it dies, the world follows suit. Perhaps the causality is reversed. Sometimes the death of the Tree does not end the world, but it does change it. Perhaps the Tree can be regrown. Perhaps it left Seeds. Perhaps the God-Tree IS a person, and it must be regrown through the sacrifice of a willing saint.

The rebirth of the Tree is Rebirth and Renewal and the Order of Things. It is Eternity, and the tree might extend into the World Beyond. Its roots certainly grow downward into the Underworld. Its highest branches hold the Heavens. It is not merely that the Tree is the World and Nature. It is not merely God or Eternity. The Tree is Connection and Oneness. If the World is in the Branches, you can walk anywhere from anywhere. If the Tree has flowers and fruits, it grows them all, including those that exist nowhere else. It is not merely an Ash Tree; it's all trees that have ever grown, could ever be grown. Could possibly be grown.

The Tree Is Oneness and Connection to Everything. If you make a Promise in the presence of the World Tree, it is binding. A Promise under the World Tree is a guarantee. It is certainly true that the fruit of the World Tree is a treasure to consume. Perhaps its juices can raise the dead, or perhaps partaking of its flesh can heal any illness, or bestow unimagined magical power and vitality upon the eater. But this is a thing that must be earned. Wisdom can be obtained by suffering or meditating under a Tree, and there are often similar trials to earn the fruits of a tree. To steal a fruit is to curse yourself and your descendants with the First of Crimes. Death is granted instead of rebuked. Corruption is born. You stole Oneness and thus fractured the Wholeness.

Often, the Tree is an idea as much as it is a thing. The Tree is the virtues or founding principles of the world. The schema of Why the World Is. The beacon through which the Light of God is within the world.

There are corruptions of the World Tree. Qlippothic emanations. It divides, it corrupts. It consumes everything into itself, and subverts promises into Faustian regrets. This Tree is healthy because the land is sick. Its fruits birth monsters, its flowers are poisons. It is the model of the world's undoing, the vices and subversions of how the world must work if it is to perservere. Its survival is a curse, its seeds a plague.

The Oneness is subverted. There is one World Tree, but of these counterparts, there could be countless. With no harmony or balance, an invasive species that overgrows like a kudzu.

You have to stop them.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Fuck Negative Levels, Negative Classes!

So before you read any further please read Basic Red's Crazy Boys article. I'll wait. It's super good and if you haven't read it already you're wasting my time.

... Got it? Good.

I love this. This immediately replaced ordinary Level Drain for me, because honestly fuck that shit no one enjoys it, not even sadistic GMs because the number-crunching in reverse is annoying. I've changed it even from Basic Red's idea, however, and so that's why we're here.

First of all, don't change XP. The most recent level is turned into a Crazy Boy/Bitch level. When you gain a level, not only do you gain an ordinary level up, but you can change a single Crazy Boy level back to normal. You can also choose to continue advancing as a Crazy Boy, if you want to run that story arc. Anything that cures Level Drain cures Crazy Boy levels.

Instead of becoming an NPC at Name Level, the change happens when you run out of normal levels. As for what you become, well...I'll get to that. Everything else is the same.

Except you don't lose class features. At least, you don't lose them for nothing. Class features are inverted. That ability you got in your most recent level is reversed into an anti-ability of some sort.

Spellcasters are easy; spells you learned that level are twisted, or cleric spell slots are negatized to an opposite divinity. If you were a necromancer, your infected spells are Vivimancy spells. If you were an illusionist, your spells now purely affect the Real, or are spells to make true things not.

Other supernatural abilities are generally pretty easy. A Paladin's most-recent level is now a Blackguard level even if they're still a good person. A psionicist's mental powers now draw purely off their dark and terrifying subconscious id instead of representing their mental discipline. A bard's music demoralizes and emotionally destroys their enemies instead of bolstering and uplifting their friends.

The mundane abilities of classes like the fighter and thief are a bit more difficult, but just remember that you're inverting these abilities to be subversive and entropic. For a Fighter, for example, their lowering base to-hit is replaced with standard undead immunities. They're slowly given more and more resistances, immunities, and no-sells to various means of harm and other conditions. They slowly become invincible, immune to more and more forms of magic, ignoring more and more weapons and elements. They stand there, having less and less means of retaliation, but become better and better walls. They are the Anti-Fighter, because combat is futile. You can't stop them, and they can't accomplish anything.

The rogue, meanwhile, becomes more based around subverting the success of others. The corruption of a thief makes their skills succeed by making it more difficult for others. They open doors by breaking locks and destroying traps so they can't be disabled again afterwards. They climb walls by splurching upwards like horrid slugs, greasing the walls behind them with slippery slime. They become less adept at stealing things because they end up destroying what they try to take, thus no one has it.

The corruption of these Negative Classes implies the truth of what's happening. The more one is corrupted by Level Drain, the more they become a Monster. Rather than being totally normal until they lose all their levels and insta-corrupting into a Wight or whatever, it is a gradual process that can be observed step by step. When the process is complete, the former PC rises as an entirely unique undead abomination, with unholy powers unique shadows of what they could do in life. Invert everything, at this point. They might have normal to-hit, saves, and hit dice as they're not longer punished PCs, but their powers still remain qlippothic antagonisms.

Additionally all creatures with Energy Drain should have some additional special effect to reflect this. For instance, Vampires should make you more and more like a vampire in addition to everything else, and ghosts should slowly possess you with their own thoughts and emotions, creating a gradual overwriting of your original will rather than the ghost just piloting your body.

For instance, my party recently dealt with a child-wight that played off their protective instincts by pretending to be an innocent waif needing protection. As they held him, played with him, walked with him as they held hands, he sapped their soul. With the Energy Drain came a progressive Charm effect, making them more and more obsessed with the child-wight's safety and happiness. You know Omen where Damien basically telepathically brainwashes his mother? Yea, that shit.

You're doing Level Drain wrong. Do this. It's way better. Hell, your players might actually WANT to get Energy Drained. And if that's what they want, well.... hehehe.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Platinum Pieces Are Bullshit

So I'm not going to retread old ground, here; if you're reading this blog you've probably heard of using Silver Standard or perhaps even Copper Standard currency in D&D. In case you haven't, the basic low-down is that using gold as the standard is not only historically inaccurate, but is bad game design; starting level 1 players with 3d6 x 10 GP is way too much, and creates a set of expectations where 40 GP in a chest is a rounding error instead of a reason for people to squabble, draw swords, and go crazed with greed. Fuck that.

In such a Silver/Copper standard, you basically change all instances of 'GP' to the proper coinage, increasing the value of everything else accordingly. A sword worth 10 GP in your player's handbook is now 10 SP in Silver Standard, etc. To facilitate this, atleast one adventure module I've seen (Isle of the Unknown for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess gameline) uses Tin Pieces as a lower-than-Copper coinage.

Now, this is interesting, as metallurgically, tin is less common and thus more valuable than copper, but alchemically, this makes sense. The idea of coins having alchemical significance is an appealing one, because gold pieces and gems are implied by the rules to have inherent magical significance. What else could it mean to have spells cost arbitrary amounts of money in material components possibly mean? Gems might have mystical symbolism, like a Rose Quartz being an emotional healing stone, but gold seems to act as a natural conductor of magic for all general purposes.

 So, what do we do about Platinum Pieces? Most would tell you that there's not really any need for a better-than-gold piece, but we can justify it, because gold is not actually the final product of alchemy. Turning lead to gold is merely a process, not the end goal. Alchemy is about spiritual purification and elevation of the soul. The Magnum Opus is the process of purifying the soul by way of learning to manipulate the world; transmutation is essentially metaphor.

In this model, Tin Pieces are the unworked lead, and Copper Pieces are the first step; Nigredo, the blackening which represents putrefaction and spiritual death. It represents the soul meeting itself, and forced to face the worst of its inner nature. Obviously, Copper isn't a black material, but it does have associations. Copper decompose and oxidizes in time, becoming green and eventually blackish. Additionally, of all the major metals discussed here, it's the most biologically oriented, involved in dietary management, and often being created from traces of petrified organic matter. It even has associations with degradation of the soul; elevated copper levels have been linked to the onset of alzheimer's.

Silver is Albedo, the whitening or purification, and is quite an intuitive match, here. Silver is a metal of purity and sacred, anti-evil power in most mythologies; it has associations with the moon, and with harming or repelling evil or unnatural creatures. In many real-world magical traditions, it's also associated with witchcraft. The Alchemical Magnum Opus discussed Albedo as the separating of opposites for later reunification; remember this point.

Gold is usually associated with Rubedo, but it's also been associated with Citrinas, the yellowing or transmutation. It is here that silver is turned to gold, and the power of solar symbolism is utilized. This is also fairly obvious; gold has sun associations in D&D and various religions, and has a more celestial presence. It's associated typically with mainstream religions in power symbolism, and also has mystical governance over the material world. Money can buy everything, and all that.

Rubedo, the Reddening, is the finale of the process. The end of the Great Work. This is the wholeness. Silver and Gold and all other opposites come together to create spiritual and material perfection. It's the production of the Philosopher's Stone, and rather than the stone being a magical chemical that turns lead into gold or create immortality potions, it's in fact the ability to create them that lets the alchemist perform these tasks.

So, we'll call these Philosopher's Stone Pieces, or PP for consistency. What sort of society would produce these Rubedo Coins and be able to trade in them? This would be a society wherein anyone capable of minting coins is necessarily spiritually perfect and immortal. An entire society of eternal people in a D&D-verse? That's your high-magic ancient empire. Those are always decadent, and they either destroy themselves or become forces of villainy.

And if we're going to act on pop cultural interpretations of the Philosopher's Stone, like in the Fullmetal Alchemist anime? These red shits are made out of goddamn human souls.

Under a Silver Standard, a Philosopher's Stone Piece is worth 1,000 SP, or 100 GP, continuing the pattern. This would make their worth consistent with the material costs of most resurrection spells in D&D. This also implies unfortunate production methods.

Philosopher's Stone Pieces can only be produced through the sacrifice of sapient souls, equal to one coin per HD/Level of the soul. A 0-level humanoid would be worth 1/10th of a coin.

So there's a society of powerful immortals that are, if not extinct, are secretive, non-interventionist, and thus probably extraplanar. Why are children spirited away? It's not by the fey; it's this society, needing to print some more coinage. This could be the fate of their slaves and prisoners. The worth of this currency might not seem to be worth the sacrifices, save their high, high value. Non-human immortals like elves and fairies all respect this currency even if they don't recognize gold and silver, and when dealing with demons, devils, and other soul-merchants of the planes, these coins are worth six times their normal value.

To that end? An immortal who doesn't want to sell their soul could coax their heart's desire out of the Devil's mitts, if they can sacrifice a sufficient number of high-level adventurers, in a form convenient for innocuously passing around, laundering, and spending.

Carrying trade goods around isn't very practical after all. Whether they're bundles of crops, bars of gold, or the wailing damned...