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.