who’s that you’re with?: d66 factions and orgs

I’ve had some one-word prompt tables from various writing and art challenges squirrelled away, and finally sat myself down and did something with smashing a few together. My train of thought, over too many weeks to admit, went like this:

  1. I kind of want to write up some starting equipment arrays, like that one in Knock!, but I need to make not just like the one in Knock! …
  2. *keeps on making little phrase+themed equipment list starting ‘kits’ in pocketrpg stuff*
  3. That table of Wilusan factions in City Of Chains worked out pretty good …

And in the end, I took the route of letting all three smash together. Lol.

So here are 36 factions/organizations/guilds/however you’d like to call them. They each have a name, a slogan/quote, a line explaining them a bit more, faction colours and symbol, and a list of five bits of gear. You can use them for quick NPC shorthand, or as groups PCs can belong to, or both.

On equipment: If using these as beginning PC options, I highly recommend also giving PCs a general “starting package”; maybe half the usual beginning funds, or something along the lines of “rations+bedroll+backpack+clothes+1 weapon if desired+2d10 [currency]”, adjusted to taste. Don’t stint them adventuring basics because they chose a bit more flavour is what I’m getting at here — there’s a reason that with very few exceptions these faction blocks have no weapons etc in them.

In any case, on with the main event —

d66Faction NameFaction Details
11Barbed Walkers“The merest scratch may bring low the unworthy.”
Quiet observers and quieter meddlers, most often seen on the back roads and in the back alleys offering a bit of bread, a word carried along, a blade in the ribs
– brown and rust-red; briar knot
– wax tablet or slate, dozen cords for message-knots, edge-sharpened trowel, weathercloak, thorn-vial
12Guiding Light“We find our way through the darkness together.”
More than lantern-bearers and candlesmiths, freely offering words of advice, murmurs of encouragement or simply a supportive silence and open hand
– pale gold and dark amber; candle flame
– lantern staff, oil flask and wicks, hand-warmer, counting beads, dozen candles
13The Unseen“Be like the small crawling ones of the world; unnoticed, and therefore everywhere.”
To some, the best place to be is hidden in plain sight. Or, even better, to be able to insinuate oneself wherever one wishes, whether the long-sealed manor or the exclusive gala.
– bright green and brown; a beetle
– fifty feet of strong rope, barbed gloves, sturdy shoulderbag, notebook of infiltrations, pouch of disguises
14Respitalers“Let none be left in suffering and pain.”
There are healers, and there are healers; and then there are those who walk fearlessly into the jaws of battle and pestilence, without judgement or hesitation, to do what must be done.
– dark green and blood red; open-palmed hand
– balm-box, golden needles and silk thread, scouring soap, coils of bandages, misericorde
15Joyhearts“If there’s not enough hope in the world, it’s up to us to create it.”
Entertainers and clamourors, dashing street actors and colourful fools straight out of the tales and embellished histories, anyone willing to dedicate a smile and a song.
– medley of bright colours; butterfly
– well-thumbed book of tales, bright-coloured cloak, musical instrument or gameboard, packets of news, broadsheet paints
16Alraune Network“It’s alright if you don’t entirely trust me. But do listen to me.”
Embracing the ways of hedges and herbs, poultices and poxes, whispers and hexes, roots and bones and waxy strange sweets from dogeared family tomes works better than given credit for.
– orange and maroon; mandrake fruit
– pouches of seeds or dry fungi or tiny bones, coils of multicoloured yarn, stoppered horn of special salve, layered cloak, yellowed girdle-book, storage gourd
21Eel-Peers“The deeps and torrents clutch their bounty close, but not from us.”
Beachcombers and bargefolk, fishers and foragers, purveyors of treasures and tales and, yes, an abundance of seafood
– pale grey and sea-green; coiled eel
– weighted net, leister and hooks, oiled mantle, pearly ornament, hand-drawn map
22Cornucopia“May a thousand thousand dishes grace a thousand thousand tables.”
Whether frugal or fancy, nothing but the most respect is made to prepare and present food; and woe to any who would waste any morsel without cause
– golden brown and cream; cooking vessel
– extra rations of all sorts, mess kit, collapsible firedog and pot, spice packets, waxed cloths
23Souls Of Silver“Change without breaking, come back from nothing.”
Mystically inclined and determined to withstand whatever the world throws at them, concealing their hardiness behind reflections, mirrors, and metamorphoses
– silver, white; moon disc
– round mirror, silver bell, timepiece, personal diary, moonstone shard
24Chasseurs Wych“The wild summerlands lie under hill, and no venom is sweeter, no chains softer.”
Changeling-child, Bright One-cursed, stumbler into a witchfire revel or bearing quicksilver blood, it does not matter, only the glory and cruel mercy of Faerie matters.
– ruby red and royal purple; fleur-de-lis
– butterfly-wing tunic, pouch of breadcrumbs, graven pebbles, twig dolly, hunting horn
25The Swift“Let the heavens themselves shake with the thunder of hooves.”
Horse-folk. The gentling of wild-running beasts, the soothing of newborn foals, breeders of the most stunning of mounts, all this and more. Woe to those who harm horses.
– grey and deep brown; horse
– bitless halter and reins, saddle and tack, loyal horse, currying tools, ribbons and banner
26Grey Shawls“Mourning is a needed, natural thing, and it may last; so long as none are harmed.”
Professional mourners, congregating not to feast on grief and loss but to guide those grieving through their loss without losing even more
– soft grey and dusty blue; ring
– grey shawl, pouch of ashes, watered wine, incense pendant, paper and ink
31The Bright Path“As history unfolds, as the roads wind on, we will ever find our way, and our fates, in the stars.”
Navigators and diviners, searching the night skies above for the answers to what lies ahead in all ways and measures
– blue-black and silver; multi-pointed star
– astrolabe, star charts, birth charts, road map, starmetal bauble
32Wildwalkers“Everything you ever need is outside farms and roads and cities. Come and find it.”
Hunters and tamers of beasts, foragers of wild produce and crafters of some of the most prized of wild material, from pine mushrooms to pelts to rainbows of dyes
– rufous and black; claw
– fur mantle, dozen snares, pouch of herbals, paintstones, wild sheep fleece
33Pact Scarlet“Life is in the blood, and the blood is not to be wasted without purpose or honour.”
Executioners of grave verdicts and grim oaths both, whether life’s-blood washes their blades, crosses their lips or signs the documents in their care
– deep red and steel grey; droplet
– executioner’s weapon, blood ink, unfilled contracts, wax and signet, sealed drinking horn
34Wayforger’s Guild“Freedom is for all, and for all time.”
None shall be constrained, say these folk; not by locks, nor confinement, nor small-minded ignorance nor crushing powers, because ways can be found around all.
– blue and green; key
– skeleton key, law codes, diamond-toothed file, writ of passage, writ of archive membership
35Widening Gyre“Our winged kin know much that they can teach us.”
Avian enthusiasts in all ways, raising birds from pigeon to peregrine, hummingbird to harrier, and finding wisdom in both the act and in the soaring of their charges
– brass and grey; feather
– trained bird, packets of feathers, notes on bird-flight divination, mist net, collection of leg rings
36Open Hearth“Be ye great or small, be welcome; we all need a moment’s warmth.”
Hospitality within one’s means is the philosophy, given without price or extracted oaths, whether a warm place to sleep by the fireside or the offer of shared cloak and travel-bread on the road.
– dark orange and yellow; open gate
– firestarter, extra cloak, extra rations, field dressings, horn of mead or cider
41Scribes of Whispers“What came before, we record in the now and pass to the future.”
Scholars, copyists and explorers of ruins, believing that peoples may come and go, but their beliefs and traditions must live on, whether passed on from those who share or found in broken remnants
– copper and ivory; rings linked in a triangle
– scribe’s kit, antique map, dozen blank scrolls, oil paper and charcoal, offerings for the long dead
42The Cresting Wave“There’s no greater joy than the open sea and the salt breeze for your breath.”
Sail-trimmers and shipwrights, fishers and privateers and swift conveyors of people and messages both, and pleased to boast loudly and musically about their beloved ocean
– ultramarine and teal; wave
– oilskin coat, carpenter’s tools, canvas sack of sea-treasure and stockfish, great net, whaletooth comb
43Cats-Cradle“When all you have left is each other, leave no one behind.”
An informal, ever expanding network of the dispossessed, the down on their luck, and the overlooked in society, dedicated to distributing what they do acquire
– any colours; tangle of yarn
– patchwork wrap, collection of chapbooks, waterskin, half-dozen candlestubs, mark-code and chalk
44Nightingale’s Voice“Find the beauty in all things.”
Artists and artisans, yes, and collectors of beautiful things when they can, yes; but beauty is also in a smooth grey pebble and the work of farmer’s gnarled hands, and they will make that known
– white and sandy; songbird
– unpublished play, whittled animal figurines, metal statuette, list of performers, glass beads
45Bloomwrights“All existence is as ephemeral as a drifting petal, so make your own meaning out of it.”
For these connoiseurs of blossoms and cultivators of gardens, their handiwork reflects the way of all things, even life itself, fading away almost before it’s enjoyed — but that enjoyment is enough.
– shell pink and gold; petal
– pouch of seeds, fresh cuttings, flowers pressed in parchment, tiny bloom in a phial, wax tablet and stylus
46Rill-Roamers“We are the rivers that water the people all around us.”
Communities are often flung far and wide across forbidding wilderness; and as long as they are, there will be a webwork on foot, by beast, and stranger still, carrying news and goods.
– sky blue and tawny; wheel
– sturdy boots, heavy cloak, annotated map, ciphered drop-off locations, letter of commendation
51Fire-Eyes“Yesterday already happened and tomorrow never comes, so enjoy today.”
Whether hosting a revel or indulging in someone else’s festivities, keeping all involved happy, entertained and ready for more is the name of the game
– orange and gold; stylized eye
– extravagant outfit, amphora of wine, little scrolls of personal details, copper-fringed stole, written promise of gift
52The Tapestry“You see it coming together? The fibre, the thread, the warp, the weft? As the weaving, the world.”
Ostensibly a cottage organization of spinners and weavers, and weave they do; but the average weaver doesn’t hide messages in the colours of skeins or the patterns of their cloths
– gradations of a single colour; spindle whorl
– handspindle, backstrap loom, several skeins, shoulderbag of roving, packets of dye
53Longwatch“None shall cross this threshold nor lay hands upon my charge while I draw breath.”
Guardians of places, objects, relics, people, and even intangible oaths, pledged to do their utmost to keep their pledge safe even from themselves
– ivory and steel; shield
– padlock and key, brazier, stormcloak, sealed pledge, oath-ring
54Prayerwalkers“It’s about having something to believe in. Or someone.”
Not as strictly spiritual as the name implies, so long as there is honest faith in a thing or a person, a faith that buoys the faithful as much after their travels as during them
– deep rose and dark blue; heart
– pilgrimage token, devotional ribbon, letters to the faithful, woolen mantle, shoulderbag
55Roots Of The Wise“There’s comfort and courageousness in gathering and spreading knowledge.”
Scholars and taletellers, professional and traditional, united in their quest to learn whatever they can about whatever they can to pass it along their web and beyond
– leaf green and ivory; cupped hand
– memory-aid trinkets, manuscript-in-process, list of local fellows, fragments of ancient epic, restricted tome
56The Pack“We provide.”
Hunters and trackers of frightful creatures and rightful game; the first brought low in defense of others, the second brought down to sustain them.
– grey and orange; pawprint
– snares, fur cloak, trail notes, hunting horn, pouch of marker-stones
61Border Saints“Reach out to those who just weren’t ready to walk away from the world.”
Seekers of the dear and forgotten departed, for conversation, or just to let the dead touch the living world and be remembered
– yellow-green and silver grey; bisected star
– incense burner, paper and ink, records of the dead, anointing oil, candles
62Zenith“All good things come from the sun and its rays, and the sun teaches us temperance thereby.”
Calm and cool-headed mediators, as well as ardent horticulturalists, bleachers of cloth and preservers of goods; all things in their proper measure, by their light.
– copper and gold; sunburst
– magnifying lens, parasol, handful of prisms, sitting pillow, scroll of personal musings
63Woodspire“Spread the forest’s reach by carrying its offspring afield and surrounding all with the warmth of its wood.”
Inspired woodcrafters and carpenters that reject building in stone, whether structures or smaller creations, but best known for the seedlings they lovingly plant by their scores after felling a tree
– brown and pine green; seedling
– adze, set of chisels, handful of burlap-wrapped seedlings, willow basket, sack of acorn meal
64The Ivory Key“We all deserve to rest.”
Buriers of the lost or broken dead, restorers of defiled graves and skeletal artisans who murmur reassuring verses over the bones they set carefully into place
– ivory and white; skull
– burial shroud, engraving burins, book of eulogies, folding trowel, bone prayer beads
65Lightning Riders“Don’t worry, we’ll get it; you have my word.”
Others may carry messages or parcels, but these folks will get that request to its destination, or bring some other request back again, with the directness of a thunderbolt
– pale yellow and dark blue; lightning bolt
– wax-sealed letter, locked puzzle box, map to a crypt, annotated trail map, reinforced boots
66Wardens Of Dream“Anything can happen inside the dreaming worlds. Learn from that.”
It’s not that dreams are believed to be as real, or more real, than the waking world, no; but spend enough time inside them, and what you experience can affect your waking world.
– ivory and tawny brown; spiral horn
– herbal-filled pillow, scrapbooked journal, dream-pearl, sketch of another dreamer, fleece mantle
note that none of these are “archetype”-locked, even if you use character classes.
mix and match to your heart’s content.

Planar travel: Ringwalking

Work on my pocket-planes addon has gotten some core portions committed to words. Yay!

One of those is ringwalking; in other words, how all this dimensional-planar-world travel is actually happening a lot of the time.

(not all the time, of course, because there’s still plenty of place for mysterious arches and exactingly-wrought spells and magical doodads that just need twisted and poked in the right way)

Do your characters like collecting patterns and brushing up on calligraphy and illo work by any chance?

Ringwalking

To ringwalk across the planes, one must be taught; and then, one must have learned the pattern of the ring of ghostly sigils that needs to be inscribed (on a surface or even in empty air, though that’s certainly more difficult) in order to open said ring and walk on through to the other side ~

  • Inscribing a ring requires two successful tests, one of Alacrity and one of Psyche. Failing the Psyche test means that the ring fails to ignite at all; failing the Alacrity test means a flaw in the pattern of sigils, and you wind up somewhere other than the intended destination, and the greater the failure of the test the farther out you find yourself.
  • 1 advancement point may be spent to indicate the memorization of a specific pattern to the point that no rolls need be made barring extreme circumstances.
  • Inscribing a ring will take at least a few minutes, even if the pattern has been memorized. (2d6 is a nice roll.) Conditions at the time may add to that!
  • Some patterns are easy to inscribe, the plane familiar (like one’s home) or easy to reach, and give a bonus (+1 to +3) to one or both attributes; similarly, others are fiendishly tricky, or the plane is distant, tenuously connected, barricaded by gods or dragons or wards, or otherwise a complication.
  • It’s possible to find patterns that have been written down! Of course, whether enough information is also there to say anything about the destination is a trickier question, and so is the accuracy of any such information — or the accuracy of the sigils themselves, for that matter. More than one ringwalker learned a broken ring from physical records and found themselves walking into very unexpected terrain indeed.

Bolt-on mecha (and random tables)

I like mecha. I like mecha a lot, from personal power armours to towering colossi, sci-fi to fantasy and everything in between; Gundam to Escaflowne, Tekkaman to Xenogears. So of course I get the itch to add mecha to my games, settings and most everything else.

That itch meandered its way back and forth across my hindbrain and eventually stumbled over a small passage I wrote for my still-unfinished spacehack concerning fantasy spaceships and fighting them — and so here we are, because I also don’t feel like bolting a massive new system onto anything to get my death machines going, lol.

Back-of-napkin Mecha Rules

To add mecha to an existing rpg, rules-wise (how you add them into a setting/story is entirely up to you and well~ outside the scope of this little project, lol), try this:

  • Mecha use the exact same sort of stats as other potential antagonists.  So, monster statblocks with Hit Dice in many many games, the antagonist rankings in my pocketrpg, shorthand NPC statblocks from Shadowrun, etc etc.  Reskin as desired.  

What’s the notable difference?  The following:

  • Mecha deal damage to other mecha (or mecha-equivalents) normally.
    • They will obliterate a squishy target such as your average adventurer outright; a person is not surviving getting even broadsided by the backwash of a beam sabre. Or being stepped on. Depending on the situation a save or test to get the hell out of the way might be allowable though.
  • Under most circumstances, the average living body with typical weaponry is not going to damage a mecha.

But!  All is not lost, because adventurers gotta adventure and also Sabin Figaro and Master Asia exist.  So to the above, if desired, add the concept of [antimech] — renamed appropriately for setting and campaign, if it has a name at all — which is a fancy way of saying “deals normal damage to mecha targets”.

Some ways to make antimech abilities available:

  • Make it an intrinsic trait of some character (types); say, all Fighters can damage mecha, for example
  • Make it an acquirable trait, whether replacing an existing ability or as a purchaseable trait in games that use those
  • Some spells, psychic abilities, or magic/tech/special items may have the ability to damage mecha
  • You could also assign broad damage types as antimech; biomecha might be vulnerable to flames or to poison or necromantic energies, for example.

Please note that being able to damage a mecha doesn’t mean it won’t still turn Ixion Iron-Thewed into a bloody smear if he gets stepped on by it.  Gauge risk and rewards accordingly, lol.  Some special equipment/magic/etc might mitigate some or all damage from mecha attacks, though!

Some further considerations and ruminations:

  • Hit Dice/challenge tiers/etc correspond to a given mecha unit’s capabilities but not necessarily its size, any more than they do in “mundane” encounters.  That relatively shrimpy machine might be a top of the line prototype bristling with pain-dealing weapons and unusual systems!
    • “Power Armour”: Similarly, if you want a power armour-like unit that is basically a fancy suit for a person but conceivably can be damaged by a person, just go the [antimech] route — the machine can be damaged by routine sources, but its own attacks damage mecha (and may or may not instant-splatter other targets, depending on the suit’s power).
  • A mecha isn’t a perfectly impenetrable barrier just because it’s a death machine.  If something can still specifically target the pilot — mindprobes, curses, and so on — it’s going to still work.
  • Repair rates are largely going to be up to individual tables as well as the base system being used; maybe something along the lines of using base “healing” rules, doubled if swarmed by techs or using hyper-mending abilities of some sort, halved if no one familiar with maintenance is available or if supplies are poor, etc.  Healing magic isn’t going to work (unless the mecha is biological, perhaps ~).
  • It’s best to establish a baseline for mecha in a setting, especially if making specific mecha traits purchaseable or assignable to a unit.  Do typical machines have open cockpits/are they ridden, like FFVI Magitek Armours, or enclosed cockpits, like a Gundam?  Is flying standard or is it a special feature?  How about aquatic capabilities, or sealed cockpits/internal environments?
    • If average mecha have open cockpits, then an enclosed one (with its added protection) is worth making a special feature to acquire, especially if its capable of being a sealed environment.  Flight is a big thing, if mecha are normally ground-based.  And so on and so forth.
    • Of course an absolute free-for-all is also on the table if you want it ~
  • Themes are also good.  Are mecha in your world entirely mechanical?  Are they metal, or crystal, or biological?  Plant or meat?  Solidified light?  Solid thought?  Animated bone?  Uncountable porcelain petals held together by blood ritual channeled through amber focus-studs?  Does it vary by culture?

And now random tables, because random tables

Need some quick inspiration to help reskin that statblock or conjure up a new one? Here’s some ideas to get the ol’ creative mecha juices no, not Protoculture flowing —

Composition IComposition IIAesthetics IAesthetics II
01. Common metal01. Exotic alloy01. Sleek01. Asymmetrical
02. Bone02. Ivory02. Ponderous02. Jagged
03. Ceramic03. Stone03. Attenuated03. Angular
04. Chitin04. Shell04. Bulky04. Bulbous
05. Crystal05. Soulstuff05. Crude05. Corded
06. Mundane wood06. Plasm06. Delicate06. Chiseled
07. Precious metal07. Glass07. Jury-rigged07. Squamous
08. Living flesh08. Dead flesh08. Militaristic08. Organic
09. Hard light09. Petals09. Minimalist09. Bladed
10. Concrete10. Solid thought10. Baroque10. Halo’d
11. Pearl11. Plasteel11. Predatory11. Inscribed
12. Marble 12. Rare wood12. Mass-produced12. Banner’d
mix and match for best and most hilarious results; some more suitable for fantasy than others, lol.
using a roll on both Aesthetics tables gives nice shorthand descriptions.
FormPower SourceControlsWake it up with …
01. Humanoid01. Biojelly01. Reins & spurs01. Bond-brand
02. Piscine02. Fighting Spirit02. Ship’s wheel02. Skinprint
03. Bipedal walker03. Lightning shards03. Paired joysticks03. Circuit medallion
04. Quadruped04. Harvested souls04. Steering yoke04. Soul scanner
05. Avian05. Reactor core05. Thoughtgem05. Eye reader
06. Centaurine06. Radiant prism06. Empathetic skinsuit06. Blood sampling
07. Serpentine 07. Manastones07. Pulse-point pearls07. Sung command
08. Arthropod08. Refined fuels08. Enclosing shell08. Tuned chime
09. Amorphous09. Energy cells09. Body harness09. Answered riddle
10. Cephalopod10. Solar generator10. Gradient keyboard10. Inscribed code
11. Vehicular11. Steamworks11. Thinking cap11. Button sequence
12. Hybrid (roll twice)12. Heartjewel12. Uplink jack(s)12. Inserted prism
yes, yes, “vehicular”, because Dairugger XV exists damnit and also the Guntank is hilarious
Features IFeatures IIWeapons AWeapons B
01. Extra armour01. Long-distance flight01. Beam02. Shot
02. Generates nutrition02. Amphibious02. Razor02. Pulser
03. Life-supporting cockpit03. Barrier-generator03. Monoline 03. Blade
04. Weapon supercharger04. Network transmission node04. Banishing04. Wing
05. Magic channeler05. Cockpit sub-mecha05. Frost (Cryonic)05. Sabre
06. Psychic channeler06. Linked drone(s)06. Flame (Pyretic)06. Fang
07. Self-regeneration07. Weapon absorption07. Souleating07. Bolter
08. Flight08. Damage immunity08. Plasma08. Whip
09. Bits/dragoons/weapon drones09. Burrower09. Repeating09. Cannon
10. Transformation10. Soul-storage of pilot10. Corrosive10. Claw
11. Mana/psychic/comms jammer11. Cloaked11. Thunder11. Disrupter
12. Unusual sensor suite12. Holographic projector12. Hardlight12. Hammer
do please use both Weapons tables simultaneously! “Thunder Pulser”, anyone?

why did I write an rpg: some navel-gazing

At some point over the weekend — said weekend was cold, raining, and generally gross, which made work a grind and my brain search for distraction but fail to have energy to do much constructively — I had a somewhat incoherent train of thought that went basically like this over a day and a half or so:

“There are other setting ideas kind of rattling around aside from the plane-hopping one, and hell I’m practically admitting that the plane-shopping supplement is also basically a setting; should I post up somewhere a ‘generic’ version of the rules I use for my pocketrpg?”

->

“If I posted up a generic version of the rules somewhere, wouldn’t it make sense to add a ‘feel free to use these to make stuff’ note or something along those lines in case someone would like it?”

->

“An ‘SRD’ or a make-stuff note is kind of extraneous isn’t it, there’s piles of games that people would rather use/would get more out of/already tinker with and oh gawd the brainweasels are closing in”

->

“But doing a Whole Thing every time I might want to post another minisetting or whatever also kind of feels presumptuous? Or ridiculous? Or something?”

->

“Oh gawd I need this weekend to be over, I can tell I’m doing terrible things to myself here”

… and from there (by this point I was trundling around on Sunday evening), I wisely chose to divert myself away by indulging in the recording of the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade and hauling several comforting textbooks on dynastic Egypt to work, which did help. It also had me ruminating on a different-but-related topic by the time last night rolled around:

Why did I write an rpg/these rpgs/these rules?

I mean, the first answer is also the simplest: because I wanted to. All of the various iterations have boiled down to “because I wanted to”; so will the ideas I’m still nibbling away at, because this is a hobby for me and I like to create, and rpg things are one of the things I like to create.

The actual path for this pocketrpg thing went basically like this:

-Two summers ago(ish) I was at work and had a moment of “I wonder if I can fit a tiny system+enough flavour for an implied setting into a pocketmod?”, and proceeded to peck at the notion for a bit. Nine Black Jewel Moons was the result, which I then promptly also reskinned into a cyberpunk-with-psionics version (Neon Burning Skies) because why not. A few folks liked this, which was reassuring.

-Not leaving well enough alone, I made a companion pocketmod for NBJM with some magic items and more setting snips and a few ideas for rules additions. (originally I was also going to do a companion for NBS and I still have the scribbles, but to this day it’s never actually materialized …)

-About the first time it looked like Fantasy Flight was about to kill off L5R *bitter laughter* I tried my first take on “here is a different type of setting, please see NBJM for the rules” and wrote Steel Blossom Dreams, my little pocketmod take on what I got after shaking my fist at a lot of L5R’s … L5R-ness and hauling textbooks to work. (said books are probably why SBD owes as much or more to Heian as to later eras.) At the same time, I was experimenting with a setting-with-map-in-a-pocketmod, and in the end tried to sort of thread the needle to make Six Swords Rising usable with or without SBD, though the two were (tenuously) connected.

(I am tempted to give SSR an overhaul and expansion, and maybe a different map, and probably lean even harder into being a fantasy setting not meant to emulate any specific thing, I freely admit. it would also make borrowing over the one thing I kept-ish from L5R, descriptive clan/family/whatever-you-like-in-your-setting names, both much easier and far less fraught.)

(… I also just really like pocketmods >.>;;)

-Hilariously, expanding past pocketmod-size was entirely prompted by my being thoroughly annoyed by several years’ development in a completely different arena — the Fire Emblem srpg franchise — and throwing up my hands and yelling fine I’ll make my own, then! … And then I did, if by “made my own” I mean “emulated the tropes common to FE characters with traits and equipment and then wrote another small setting from scratch while including a few nods to FE plot tropes here and there”. I’d use my mini rules (+ the companion bits) as a base and expand a tiny wee bit, and add a wee gazetteer, etc. And so, Lost Emblem Saga. Which also had a few folks like it, which was also reassuring.

Equally hilariously is this is where I actually started calling these things my “pocketrpg” because — this is 100% true — since what I wanted to do would never fit on one sheet, I would make something that once printed out, would be the size of the quarter-page handmade notebooks I make. Which conveniently fit snugly in the back pocket of my work pants.

Yes these are literally pocketrpgs and I am not even sorry.

*ahem*

-Some time shortly after LES, I started thinking I’d like to use its expanded rules (I’d elaborated on magic a little, among other bits), originally from NBJM/Jewel Moons, to actually expand out Jewel Moons itself into a similar pocketrpg. This was not so much prompted as a sort of “I think I’d like to do that …” and then I started tinkering. Oops?

What eventually because Wandering Jewel Moons took a lot longer to pull together, but there were more hurdles (even more pandemic brain; other ideas, like what became Wilusa, City Of Chains, itself spinning from my first ideas of the “mini-not!Planescape”; etc) to get past to do it. But I did. And a few folks like that also.

This is a lot of rambling to basically still say, at the end, I did it because I wanted to …

There are and were other games I’ve done. The Blue Lotus Hack (which is out there on the interwebs) is a flavour tweaking of The Black Hack 1e with a setting/bestiary/magic items selection attached, and I also used TBH 1e for a conversion of Final Fantasy (yes, the original; no, this one’s not out there on the interwebs) including the whole bestiary. Some day I might finish the “space hack”; sometimes I muse on seeing if I can switch it over to pocketrpg or pull what system it has out altogether.

But, it was nice to make a little game framework of my own? Even if, in my personal opinion, there are plenty of folks who do much better — and yes I can name quite a few without batting an eyelash — I wanted to make it, and it made me happy, and I can use it to be that framework for other things I write. I just need to keep taking a newspaper to the brainweasels over it.

I still want to make more things for the pocketrpg (which if I ever do pull up my britches and post a generic version, for folks to use or otherwise, probably needs some kind of name). I need to also keep on telling myself that that’s fine. This is a hobby, after all. I like to make things, and I like to make little notes about little worlds.

This has been a lot of babbling and if you’ve made it this far, congrats *lol* There’s no grand conclusion, alas, not to the babbling and not to the questions that kicked it all off. But sometimes, it’s like that –?

Fungus Among Us

A month(?) ago I said over in Twitterland I wanted to write some random tables for mushrooms, and some kind folks made encouraging noises. And then, after some speedbumps, I wrote the tables.

And then, because the universe continues to be utter pants, I never actually typed and posted said tables.

Oops.

So, here they are — not technically table-tables, because the formatting still hates me half the time and also these are (like a lot of my stuff) more numbered lists than anything else, but here. One for edible mushrooms, one for mushrooms with other interesting and not always entirely realistic (but sort of realistic!) uses. Some fun fungi for foraging characters, ha.

Edible Fungi

  1. Fire Wings: Thickly ruffled scallops, orange and rust, growing on tree trunks; earthy scent, tastes like mix of hazelnut and fresh bread; best sliced and fried
  2. Meadowlime Cap: Small, ribbed trumpets, violet-grey to violet, sometimes hard to spot; no noticeable scent; citrusy taste, stronger when dried
  3. Pincher’s Spice: Horn-like, fleshy growths, pale grey to ivory; no noticeable scent; edible if of indifferent taste, but dried to powder gives taste of red pepper and sea salt
  4. Boarcap: Thick cap with pores instead of gills, broad stem, yellowy-tawny; acidic scent; does not preserve well, but when thickly sliced and cooked have the taste of and nearly the texture of pork
  5. Burning Shaggy: Clusters of purplish irregular growths, like shredded dough; faintly fishy scent; unexpectedly firey, excellent chopped in garnishes or sprinkled as fine dice over meat dishes
  6. Phantom Cup: Ghostly-looking, translucent crescents of rubbery consistency, up to palm-sized, growing from shaded wood; mild earthy taste, not exciting but add welcome bulk and body to sustaining soups
  7. Meadow Meat: Handspan-tall trumpets, tawny coloured and fleshy; slightly meaty scent; dry readily and reconstitute well, grow in large numbers and take on the flavours of anything they are cooked with
  8. Faerie Cap: Nondescript brown cap and stem, no more than an inch across; bleeds bluish when cut, bruises blue; sweet caramel taste, intensified by drying or salting
  9. Scholar’s Fingers: Tall slender white stems, tubular pinkish-white caps; sweet scent; unappealing when raw, retain firm texture when cooked and gain refreshing, slightly vinegared taste that pairs well with greens
  10. Traveler’s Truffle: Knobbly, greenish-potato-looking things, pebbled when cut open, size of a fist to nearly one’s head; cook up mealy and salty-nutty, dense; will keep for days without preserving; grow in patches; avoid when sporing
  11. Earthmilch: Dark, almost black and slightly sticky caps, reddish shank; earthy scent; inedible raw, if cooked with liquify and give a creamy, milky taste that adds to casseroles
  12. Landshell: Globular, solid growths, pinkish on the inside, mottled grey exterior, up to two handspans in diameter; sliced thickly, can be fried or toasted like bread, and tastes like prawns

Useful or Notable Fungi

  1. Wychlight: Nearly spherical, brownish brackets the size of a thumb-joint that grow in clusters on pebbly ground; glow greeny-gold in darkness, a double handful equal to a candle
  2. Kindlercap: Low-growing, flat cap broad as a saucer, grey webbed reddish; pulled into shreds, dries swiftly and makes good tinder
  3. Tippler’s Hedge: Nondescript, delicate, white mushroom; dries into a lacy bit of a thing; dropped into any liquor, will absorb the alcohol, five fruiting bodies to a pint
  4. Calfmercy: Golden brown, deeply wrinkled and furrowed caps, stout shanks; a handful can be used instead of rennet to curdle cheese, giving a smoky, nutty tang as well
  5. Flourisher: Soft, spongy, thin-fleshed, conical cap of off-grey; the flesh will liquify within an hour of being plucked or cut away, being usable as shockingly bright purple ink
  6. Flourishing Deceiver: Closely related to the above, with white gills instead of grey — and if written with on parchment specifically, the ink will fade to nothingness after a day
  7. Gladepouch: If carefully peeled away without tearing, the outer, greenish skin of this double-fist-sized fruiting body can be used as a food casing when fresh, or a storage pouch when dried
  8. Fawn Balm: A knobbly-capped, brown, white-spotted specimen; bruises rust and oozes an orange, sticky fluid when cut that can clean and seal minor wounds
  9. Smithy-Cap: Not useful in and of themselves, these copper-blue, dense trumpets grow where metals have been buried under earth, loose stone or even plaster
  10. Crawlerbane: Amorphous lumps studded with gelatinous, oily spherules across their rusty flesh; piercing the spherules produces a fluid that repels insects
  11. The Cleanser: Ruffly clumps, orange and yellow, growing amongst mosses just about anywhere; crushed and rubbed against the skin (or anywhere else), act just like soap
  12. Bonfire Cap: Stout, thick growth, golden brown with cap covered by a thick, gelatinous pink layer; peel away the soft outside and pores, and the dense core will shockingly easily strike a flame (combine with x for even better results)

*please remember these are imaginary mushrooms. do not forage for mushrooms in the real world unless you are very very certain you know what you are doing.*

Character Trait Tables

Some months back I had the notion to write up some random tables for generating quick character details, basically inspired by the tables in Knave.  And then, of course, everything in the last year kept on happening *vague wave* and I poked around the idea in my head some but didn’t actually get things written down.

But now I have!  *doot doot*

Hilariously, one of the things that I dithered on was how long to make the tables; too long and I felt like things could turn into more like variations (some physical descriptors are/were especially annoying for this), too short and there wouldn’t be enough options.  Eventually I settled on d12 tables as a decent middle-of-the-road.

You don’t have to use the Favour Owed and To Whom tables in tandem, if you’d rather not deal with starting favours/debt/etc.  The To Whom table would probably work nicely on its own as a “starting acquaintance or contact” table.

FeaturesBuildHairAttire
01. Soft01. Burly01. Curly01. Immaculate
02. Pinched02. Willowy02. Whip-straight02. Homespun
03. Saturnine03. Bony03. Braided03. Monochromatic
04. Wolfish04. Curvy04. Cropped04. Elegant
05. Lantern-jawed05. Massive05. Frizzy05. Patched
06. Hollow06. Lithe06. Furry06. Many-layered
07. Aquiline07. Emaciated07. None07. Blazoned
08. Uneven08. Statuesque08. Ringlets08. Antiquated
09. Delicate09. Lean09. Shaved Patterns09. Scanty
10. Rounded10. Ropy10. Bun(s)10. Fashionable
11. Angular11. Plump11. Dreadlocked11. Tatterdemalion
12. Sharp-cheeked12. Toned12. Mane-like12. Technicolour
you know your own character’s complexion; I’m not making that random.
Distinguishing MarkOdd Trait IOdd Trait II
01. Scarred Face01. Glyph-shaped Birthmark01. Pawlike Feet
02. One-eyed02. Third-eye-stone02. Webbed Digits
03. Heterochromatic Eyes03. Nictitating Membranes03. Bioluminescence
04. Albinism04. Tailed04. Odd-coloured Blood
05. Pictorial Tattoo(s)05. Metallic or Jewel-like Markings05. Eyeshine
06. Calligraphic Tattoo(s)06. Clawlike Nails06. Crystal Teeth
07. Beaded Hair07. Pointed/Elongated Ears07. Leafy/Flowery Hair
08. Piercings08. Fungal Growths08. Fangs
09. Brand(s)09. Tusks09. Metallic Skin
10. Missing Digit(s)10. Gold-limned Shadow10. Flesh-pearls
11. Unusual Height 11. Scale or Fur Flourishes11. Mirrored Eyes
12. Lock of Miscoloured Hair12. Gill Slits12. Chitinous Parts
distinguishing marks are mundane things, whether from birth or acquired before adventuring. “odd traits” are … more out there, ha. you don’t *need* to roll on any of these, of course.
DispositionVirtueVice
01. Secretive01. Generous01. Vicious
02. Friendly02. Humble02. Miserly
03. Bitter03. Forgiving03. Deceitful
04. Quiet04. Honourable04. Slothful
05. Suspicious05. Thrifty05. Slovenly
06. Cross06. Gentle06. Greedy
07. Scholarly07. Patient07. Traitorous
08. Sanguine08. Just08. Wrathful
09. Hasty09. Accepting09. Judgemental
10. Trusting10. Courteous10. Prejudiced
11. Innocent11. Sincere11. Arrogant
12. Phlegmatic12. Loyal12. Vainglorious
a few important caveats: 1) these are just notable features, not necessarily your character’s only ones, 2) please don’t feel forced to use a feature that makes you uncomfortable, 3) don’t insist on using one that makes your fellow players uncomfortable either.
Background IBackground II
01. Ghost Hunter01. Unexpected Conjuring
02. Cloistered Scribe02. Ancient Sleeper
03. Sheepbird Herder03. Soldier of Fortune
04. Ruin Mapper04. Magewar Casualty
05. Maverick Priest05. Minstrel With A Secret
06. Drifter-saint06. Backalley Ruffian
07. Wandering Sage07. Cultist of Some Obscurity
08. Exiled Noble08. Former Ghoul
09. Snowgourd Farmer09. Seasonal Fisherfolk
10. Uncursed Wretch10. Foraging Chef
11. World-lost Foreigner11. Transformed Beast
12. Artisan Looking For Inspiration12. Would-be Lordling
some of these are more exotic than others; some are origins, some professions. you could always roll more than once if you wanted to, but more than twice would probably start getting complicated fast.
What Do You Owe?To Whom?
01. Debt of Coin01. Antlered hedge-mage who lives outside your home village
02. Life-boon02. Bone-dragon that spared your precious one’s life
03. Oath of Loyalty03. Wandering bard that appeared at just the right time with an answer
04. Recovering a Bauble04. Your extended family has certain Expectations of which this is one
05. Carrying a Message05. Witchwolf that gave you shelter
06. Delivering a Package06. Whispering voice that comes on the wind at night; you don’t recall why
07. Season’s Labour07. Demesne-lord who’s pledge you’ve severed; this is your last tithe
08. Your First Claim To Fame08. Eternal One whose blood you drank
09. Part of Your Soul09. Townsfolk who helped you prepare for your travels
10. All of Your Soul10. Patron of the ancient shrine you stumbled across
11. Treasured Secret11. Seediest guild in the city’s underbelly
12. Recovered Knowledge12. Shadowy spellcaster who draws up contracts and breaks curses
the details of each favour are left deliberately vague, because power levels and such vary from game to game

Some Inspirational Spell Shard Tables

When you’re coming up empty and you need a idea for a spell, sometimes a few word prompts help; some inspirational snips and shards you can recombine.  That’s where these tables come in.

Naturally, there’s the more involved way and the less involved way:

More Involved: Roll 1d3+1 for the number of prompts to combine, then 1d4 to determine which tables, then 1d10 on each table.

Less Involved: Pick how many prompts you want and then roll on whatever tables you like.  Or just pick your prompts and smash them together, that works just fine —

All prompts, of course, to be taken as literally or metaphorically or just-vaguely-related-ly as you like ;3

Table 01Table 02Table 03Table 04
01. bone01. shadow01. finding01. shape
02. blood02. night02. vision02. confine
03. sun03. moon03. curse03. mind
04. ash04. earth04. blessing04. dream
05. flame05. storm05. wither05. touch
06. plant06. talon06. mend06. protect
07. thorn07. ice07. travel07. sunder
08. sea08. glass08. strength08. cocoon
09. salt09. steel09. decipher09. preserve
10. gold10. light10. conceal10. fear
substituting related words/concepts: also totally cool

And here are some example spells prompted by combos of some of the above shards —

01 – Threefold Warding: Inking three dots of kohl or ochre on the inside of each wrist (or equivalent) prevents hexes or curses or other eldritch blights from taking hold; each time a curse is thwarted, a dot burns from each wrist and leaves a wound. (curse + protect)

02 – Grand Voyage: For the next six hours, a subject and all that they travel with, up to a small cart, cross distance as follows — four times their speed on land, unhindered by terrain; twice land speed on water, even without a vessel; and, should sunbeams, lighthouses, rainbows and stranger things permit, traveling beams of light as if solid ground. (earth + sea + travel + light)

03 – Elephant Existence: One object or individual cannot be described or even comprehended as a whole for 1d6 hours. Individual attributes may be relayed, but a coherent whole description simply will not come together. (shape + conceal)

04 – Actinic Brambles: An area up to 10 metres in diameter erupts in crackling, clinging briars of semi-tangible stormcloud for the next ten minutes. Anything and anyone already in the area, even if invisible or intangible, is limned with a pale glow; anything or anyone that moves is jolted with lightning. (storm + light + thorn)

05 – Blind ‘Pillar’s Travel: Chart your course in your mind and be enveloped in rough silk that cushions you — which is good, because you are not staying upright any longer — and lulls you into a drowsy sense of comfort. While you rest, the silky cocoon sprouts many pairs of strong spurred claws and sets off on the path, walking, climbing, scaling stone, and contending with all obstacles (including fighting with those claws if necessary) . Unfortunately you are aware of nothing outside until you reach your destination or the cocoon is destroyed; but you’re bright-eyed and refreshed when you get there. (talon + cocoon)

06 – The Sleeper’s Quest: A slumber descends from which the subject will not awake for twelve hours. During that sleep, the dreaming self must untangle a code, thread a labyrinth, or deal with a similar puzzle; when the twelve hours are over, they wake with a dreamstone in hand that will restore the lost, from shattered vases to broken promises. It is possible to die in the dream, alas. (mend + dream + decipher)

07 – Burningheart: Sacrifice a portion of one’s own lifeblood and a beloved trinket to a brazier burning with bright coals, and stare into the flames; dancing among them will be seen an adversary’s greatest terror, and the path to best make use of such a thing, whatever it might be. (fear + flame + vision + finding)

08 – Grey Sanctuary: A single chamber, marked with glyphs on all walls, ceiling and flooring, doubles the chances for success in a specific task (including healing) for 24 hours. However, if the chamber is breached in any way, or any enter or leave, the enchantment shatters. (blessing + confine)

09 – Greenblight: With hands (or other extremities) gnarling black and tainted, for the next five minutes any plant matter touched will shrivel. Flowers brown and wilt, greenery dries brittle, even wood can be rendered punky and in splinters. Plant creatures will take double damage. (touch + sunder + plant)

10 – Winter’s Long Reach: Set yourself to gazing around yourself, as far to the horizon (or equivalent) as you can. At any point along the vista, at your will, the ground may split apart — or simply be raised high — as uncountable sharp spars of ice grow suddenly skyward up to a height of 10 metres. The ice lasts until it melts. (vision + thorn + earth + ice)

11 – The Day Turns Its Face: Until this curse is lifted, broken, or runs out its time (up to a year), the afflicted soul finds their strength, vitality and physical skill halved during daytime hours, their flesh growing feeble and wasted. Actually being struck by the rays of the sun intensifies the blight, leaving the subject a quarter of what they once were until fleeing the sun’s touch. (curse + wither + sun)

!2 – Mantle Of Midnight: Draws a portion of the night sky down to wrap around a subject’s shoulders like an all-enveloping cloak. For the next eight hours, the mantle keeps away the night chill and offers all the benefits of chainmail; additionally, once, at the subject’s wish, an attack against their person may either be magically converted to healing energy, or mirrored back at the assailant as a bolt of inky force that shatters weapons or maims claws. (mend + sunder + protect + night)

More Tiny Treasures

Because why not, says I …

01. a delicately woven white woolen shawl, sewn over and fringed with red crystal beads like droplets of blood
02. a full feasts’ worth of red stoneware platters and bowls polished smooth as glass, each sporting a different glyph etched in gold
03. two folding hunters’ stools in blackoak and leather; one seat of white hide, one black
04. a braided torc of bronze, finials wrapped in loops around amber orbs
05. ten discs of compounded alchemical incense kept in a leather-lined brass box
06. a glittering violet-blue scale long as a fingertip, strung on a silver chain
07. a packet of letters on ancient parchment, each sporting colourful silk mending
08. an oval of rosy quartz the size of a quail’s egg, with drops of blood suspended inside
09. a blue steel gorget, mirror-smooth, engraved on the inner surface with prayer sigils
10. a pair of scallop shells lined, trimmed and hinged with gold, one shell packed with pigment and the other meant to hold water

two wee adventure pocketmods

This weekend I got to poking around at work and first coloured, then chopped up, some scans I made a while back of minimaps I drew even further back.  Then, in a fit of why not, I stuck the minimaps onto fresh sheets of paper, folded them up and cut them into pocketmods, and wrote adventures around them.

It worked out better than I expected?

So I scanned them (which worked … not as well, and as it turns out my ornery scanner clips the edges off of full sheets; next time, I won’t write/doodle so close to the edges then, nyeh) and tossed them onto Google Drive, because why not *lol*

You have to deal with my handwriting, though ;3

Crypt Of The Unbalanced Cross

Gelatinous Bounty

Hamsterish Hoard of Hexes is live!

Today’s the day!

The day that Hamsterish Hoard of Hexes is live! 😀

Brought to you by Paolo Greco of Lost Pages (lostpaolo @ Twitter), with lovely art by Alex Damaceno (gnarledmonster @ Twitter), it’s time for spells, shiny things and animal wizards!

Sixty-four levelless spells across eight themed grimoires, each with their own quirks, physical grimoire descriptions, and a selection of brand-new fantsay knowledge, esoterica and tricks of the trade that enterprising spellcasters squirreled away, to whit:

  • Principia Primordia and its powerful channeling spells and plants
  • Least Book of Serpentarius, teaching the secrets of harnessing star power
  • Roseate Codex, a magic handbook about roses, and how to feed them with yourself to defy death
  • Collected Wisdoms, holding the keys to wisdom, denial, and dowsing.
  • Tjehenet, a papyrus filled with shiny and glittery magic
  • Ex Sanguinis, and its crimson sorcery of emotion and blood
  • The Manual, that famous tradecraft grimoire
  • Book of the White Cat, teaching the icy mystery of the Queen of Clowders

The spells in Hexes can be used alongside Wonder & Wickedness, also from Lost pages, or on its own.

And right along with them, there’s a random table for each grimoire just right for equipping a new magely-type with a trinket, toolkit or odder bauble that suits their magical style 😀

It’s not just spells, mind you — the second half of Hexes brings out a collection of enchanted items , polished up and collected in one place. Lenses and lanterns, stones and lanterns and clockworks. Always clockworks ~ Including the spellchick.

You knew I wasn’t kidding about the spellchick, right? 83

Enjoy!