Dicember 2021 – push

A simple sort of question with a sometimes simple, sometimes very complicated answer:

Why has an adventurer started adventuring in the first place?

So here are a few ideas, for those times when a quick jumpstart is appreciated:

01. Want to leave your old life behind for Reasons, and what better way than to take up a new name and wander around the world and beyond turning over rocks that shouldn’t be turned over?
02. Gained scars and accolades in equal measure defending family and friends from a monstrous incursion; now want to be proactive in rooting out dangers.
03. It’s said that Before, when the sun shone silvery, there were very different peoples and structures and magics — and you want to find proof.
04. Made the mistake of insulting an itinerant minstrel — who promptly laughingly cursed you to do deeds worthy of songs, both grand and gutless.
05. You want to meet with the last crystal dragon. Or greywalk hind. Or bone voyageur. Or bloodsphinx. Or …
06. They stripped you of everything, from family to future, belongings to blessing, and cast you out. But you’ll show them all. Oh yes, yes you will.
07. It turns out one of your ancestors — maybe a very recent one, maybe not — was very much not mortal, and you have Questions that only they can answer. Or answer for, as the case may be.
08. To fulfill a dying request from a kind stranger who gifted you all they had with their last breaths. Which may have included much of your initial kit.
09. There’s this map, you see, and it’s absolutely nonsensical, and it has overlapping parts like the cartographer thinks there’s other worlds overlapping this one, and the key says whole kingdoms swap around, and what even is this, you need to know
10. You want to find a way to travel to the moon. Because there’s flowing rivers of shimmering silver on the moon, you know there are, and …
11. Actually you come from a long line of successful adventuring types, and you’re quite eager to take up your family’s unspoken banner and add to the homestead’s eclectic collections.
12. Because the king must die, and who knows what means you might unearth to bring that about.

Dicember 2021 – huge

Something I poke at on occasion is oversized (“dire”, “grand”, etc) weapons.

Because yes, sometimes I just want to play Cloud for a while, and I’m not even sorry.

So how to go about it with most of the games I’ve been poking at lately? (Exalted, of course, has this answer baked in already, so it can doodle in the corner over there for a while.) What needs to be covered to fit a sword that’s more like a sharpened steel ironing board into a game?

The way I see it, you need:

– the ironing-board-sized sword (or whatever)
– how its going to be wielded
– what it’s going to do
– what other results/effects

Now, the last thing I want is anything complicated, and while I could just try to bolt on Exalted’s reasoning, it’s fairly intrinsic to Exalts-as-existing-in-universe so that could get a little weird just about anywhere else. (but hold that thought for another time. lol.) I want something fairly simple, so I can apply it to OSE or Black Hack or Wandering Jewel Moons or whatever; sort of like my scratch rules for adding mecha.

So, I think I’ll tinker around with the following.

– A “grand” weapon adds a die of the appropriate type to its damage. Big chopper based on a standard sword in OSE? 2d8. This does still have a low end, but even slabs of metal can just graze.

– You cannot deal subdual damage with a “grand” weapon. (come on, now.)

So how to introduce these? Maybe

– If your system has any kind of class or other abilities, make “Grand Weapon Wielder” an optional choice. Replace one of the Warrior abilities in TBH; make it a selectable Trait in Wandering Jewel Moons; add it to the list of OSE Fighter combat options from Carrion Crawler #1 or let it replace a feature from the Cavalier or Paladin. You get the idea.

But what if your Fighter is a basic Fighter type, with no extras? Or if you don’t want someone to pay for the ability mechanically in quite that way?

– Then I suppose you can say a Strength/Body/whatever minimum is needed; say 17-18 on the usual 3d6 possibility. Maybe 16-18 or even 15, you want PCs to be able to do this or why put it in there as an option?

Yes, it’s a lot of damage. Yes, that’s the entire point.

What these behemoths will do, though, even if their wielder knows what they’re doing, is get in the way the rest of the time. Even if you can and know how to carry the thing, that slab is big, awkward, and intractible.

Which means they eat up encumbrance like a mofo.

Play a game with equipment/encumbrance slots? A Grand weapon eats at least two. Probably three. Definitely twice a normal weapon of its type, for sure.

Track encumbrance by weight? The thing weighs a shitton. This will vary by actual weapon of course, but come on now, the Buster Sword is surely easily comparable to a pile of armour in weight at the very least.

And if you want to be devilish, say if Grand weapons are enchanted (if they are enchanted at all) they have a high chance of being sentient if not sapient. And willful. Lol.

Dicember 2021 – runic

Runes are a collection of small enchantments — or evocations of the power of the world, or bits of spirit knowledge, or however you choose to apply them in your game — that anyone can pick up and learn.

There are no “spell slots” or the equivalent involved, just the knowledge of the rune and the time to prepare it. Once made, a rune may be kept almost indefinitely; however, they certainly aren’t immune to being lost, damaged or erased, or deliberately destroyed. Activating a rune — which requires contact — expends the power of it, but the physical rune may often remain and can be “topped up”.

The number of runes an individual may have prepared depends entirely on their available materials and time. The number of runes which may be used in a day, however, are limited by one’s fortitude and will (i.e. the higher of a character’s applicable attributes — Body and Psyche for Wandering Jewel Moons, Constitution and Wisdom for OSE/The Black Hack/etc — divided by 3).

Some sample runes:

01. Gleam: Limns supernatural things or manifestations in a soft, brief glow
02. Soothe: Calms the nerves, removes fear and lifts fogginess of the mind or heart
03. Mend: Restores a repairable object; think torn clothing
04. Sustain: Nourishes as a good meal and drink does
05. Ignite: Kindles a flame, or grants fire’s warmth
06. Freeze: Induces cold, potentially enough to cause frost
07. Illuminate: Creates light of the power and duration of a candle
08. Communicate: Understand an unknown language until encounter with it ends
09. Hold: Seal a portal or container closed
10. Inspire: Uplifting surge ensures next task will succeed
11. Abjure: Repel specified malignant forces for a dawn-dusk cycle (or reverse)
12. Heal: Banish disease or infection, last injury knits twice as fast

You can give them more interesting names, of course, even simple ones, maybe something like

01. Wyrdrune
02. Heartrune
03. Weaverune
04. Breadrune
05. Flamerune
06. Frostrune
07. Brightrune
08. Speechrune
09. Lockrune
10. Faterune
11. Wardrune
12. Bloodrune

Each rune requires at least two of several possible elements in order to be successfully created; perhaps a specific colour of pigment, a particular addition to that pigment, or a burin or knife or stylus or brush made at least partially from a specific substance. Some may also have a “preferred” material to be placed upon.

It’s not a terrible idea to also design some omni-applicable elements — perhaps suitably unusual or rare — to give out as goals, or simply as a flavour to add.

An example set of associations, using the runes above:

01. seashell; silver; dew; ivory tool
02. applewood; rose; wine; willow tool
03. leather; tawny; dust; oak tool
04. maplewood; green; blood; willow tool
05. jet; orange; ash; iron tool
06. glass; azure; salts; iron tool
07. horn; yellow; wax; oak tool
08. paper; violet; sugar; ivory tool
09. foil; black; resin; iron tool
10. copper; gold; gall; willow tool
11. parchment; red; incense; ivory tool
12. linen; green; marigold; oak tool
* omni-applicable — black rosewood or tree ivory; ultramarine; musk; moonsilver or sungold tool

Dicember 2021 – balefire

Not all dabblers in the arts of death confine themselves to flesh and bone, or even to the rarified essence of the restless unliving soul; a rare few find themselves enraptured by the rarest of manifestations, the unique intersection of death and soul and prayer and emotion that comes to a head when a beloved one is laid to rest on a funeral pyre.

Sometimes that pyre burns so fiercely — carries so much of its burden to mingle with the grief and the yawning finality of the afterlife — that its flames absorb all, and in the depths of the dancing fires something else catches alight.

That something is pyreflame, and its pale strange fires are valued and abhorred.

A strange substance, it is. Flickering like flames, it casts off a foxfire phosphorescence like a sheen across its bright blaze; and it blazes in colours of pale green, greenish golden, faint blue or a ghostly white. There’s an eerie solidity to pyreflame, a sense of clinging, syrupy presence, an almost jelly-like consistency that nonetheless slips through the fingers — and slip it may, without harm, because pyreflame does not burn living flesh. It feeds on bone, and only bone.

A swift harvester may count themselves lucky if they recover more than a thimbleful or two from any given fiery altar, gathering the clinging tongues of pyreflame into iron or crystal or stiffened silk. Of course, the gathered mourners may not approve of this behaviour …

But what does it do, this strange amalgamation of essence and prayer and spirit, of afterlives fair and foul?

– A dram of pyreflame will fuel any magic that involves the soul, the spirit, prayers or petitions or calls to higher (or lower) powers, instead of relying on the caster’s own reserves.

– Perhaps paradoxically, it will both fuel necromantic magic likewise, offering a greater animating spark to the unliving produced by such rites, and will cause any weapon smeared with at least a dram (more, for larger weapons) to cause critical and irreparable injury to the undead.

– A dram of pyreflame will also grant great restorative power to the healing arts, which will be cast at their maximum potential without fail.

– One may consume pyreflame, with unpredictable results:

01. Gain partial memories of the deceased
02. Gain one of the skills or talents of the deceased
03. Purge all impurities and weaknesses but be vulnerable to banishment or castigation as the unliving are
04. Attract the attention of one or more powers to whom mourning prayers were addressed (but sense the content of those prayers)
05. You now sense the presence of the newly and the restless dead
06. Develop the need to feed on at least a pound of human bone each week
07. You can, if you exert yourself, open the way to the underworld, but must pay in consumption of bone and blood
08. Burn out half of your allotted lifespan in a blaze of frenzied, aethereal enlightenment

Of course, there is also the rumour that, if enough pyreflame is consumed — and one is not overwhelmed or driven mad or mummified while living or any number of other whispered possibilities — one may catalyze the prayer-stuff and soul-stuff and lingering life-and-death and become a veritable small godling in one’s own right, capable of hearing prayer and snatching them the very air to, perhaps, grant, or to feed on as your rightful repast, or fuel your sorceries, or all of these things.

One does have to wonder what existing powers may think of such a thing.

Or, for that matter, the loved ones of those whose final travels you stole your quickening flames from.

Dicember 2021 – nap

Where do adventurers rest their heads?

In a rented room at an inn or roadhouse, ideally, many would say; or at least a spot in front of a banked hearth in a not-too-drafty tavern (or the tavern floor of a less than stellar, or an overpacked, inn). Maybe in a traveller’s croft or waystation, if those exist, or even in a lonely homestead’s hayloft. Places where one has at least a fighting chance of warming up (or cooling down) and lying flat on a mattress or at least a tick of straw or hay.

Alas, these are all but fond and wistful daydreams when you’re all six levels deep in a labyrinthine underground nightmare and desperately need to stop for some kind of rest before exhaustion makes you make a stupid, fatal mistake. Sometimes you just need to camp out in the dungeon.

(or you might actually enjoy sleeping over in dungeons. no one here is judging.)

Here’s a few ideas to add to your kit that just might make the idea of a sleepover with the dungeon beasties slightly more bearable:

Pick the right bedroll. Sure, some fancy thing all lined with fur will, one hopes, keep you toasty even in the dampest, chilliest delve. But here’s the thing: even on the best days, fur attracts even more bugs. And dirt. And it mats. Don’t do that. Bring along a sturdy woolen bedroll — two layers, if you want the bulk, but see below — without bells and whistles. Wool keeps you warm. Get it wet and it still keeps you warm. Easy to wash. Wool is your friend.

Don’t lace, tie, button, or anything else yourself into that bedroll. If your impromptu camp gets ambushed the last thing you want is to be trapped in your sleeper. Come on now. If you’re worried about the cold, do the two-layer thing, or

Wrap yourself in your cloak before you crawl in. Or your mantle, or what have you. Not too tightly! You want to get loose after all. Wool’s a good choice here too, by the by; what do you need a fancy silky fur-trimmed cloak for in a dungeon? You’ll just be a target, and you’ll ruin your cloak. Put any spare tunics, bandages or other soft-and-not-ruined-by-squishing objects in your kit into the cloak’s hood and you even have a better-than-nothing built in pillow.

For the love of gods and demons don’t wear armour to sleep. Yes, yes, ambushes. It’s still a bad idea. You won’t get rested, and you’ll pay for it, and that mail won’t save your sorry behind when you’re too groggy to not get eaten by that grue to begin with.

Campfire bad. Bed bricks good. This one’s a tricky one, but can be worth trying. Don’t set a fire anyway, though — seriously, do not set a fire in the middle of an enclosed and probably solid stone room. You want to wake up again. What you can do, though, is stuff some embers from a lit torch or two into a stoneware or brick dog, or whatever those cute bed-warming bricks look like this year. That’ll keep you toasty til you nod off.

Maybe try not to lie on bare dungeon floor. It might be damp, it’s sure to be dusty, it could be stained with blood (or worse), and boy oh boy the gods know what else is waiting on that floor. If you can spare the kit space, bring along some canvas or burlap or other heavier textile, treated with wax or other proofing if you’re really feeling fancy. Spread that out first, then bedroll and be-cloaked you on top of that. Keep your floor tarp in a sack of its own if you can.

There’s other advice that goes without saying, of course; spike any doors closed (make sure you can get the spikes back out if you do this!), set a rotating watch, keep waterskins close, don’t decide to turn a dungeon camp into a party, so on and so forth. Maybe you can even afford fancy magical light or wards! But this here’s a bare-bones survival guide for maybe making the actual sleep part of “sleeping in a dungeon” worth the risk.

Sweet dreams!

Dicember 2021 – unholy

Sometimes they fall.

“They” are virtually anyone. Grand holy knights and those sworn to higher powers, of course; the high hosts themselves and all their servant creatures, without a doubt; but also all those who try to reach for something better, something grander than themselves.

Sometimes, their reach exceeds their grasp, through their action or inaction or the one black moment when all one can do is lash out. Or fail to lash out. Or to act at all. Or perhaps act too much.

It doesn’t matter, really.

Sometimes they fall.

And, sometimes, they fall so fast and so deep that the act can never be truly hidden from sight.

Cast out, cast down, fallen, marked —

01. by Rage: blood-banner aura, burning eyes, mouth marred by bloodstained tusks
02. by Betrayal: crawling scars, bloody tears, crown of leaden horns piercing the scalp
03. by Oathbreaking: blackened mouth, smoke-haze aura, trailing phantasmal chains of bleeding gold
04. by Grief: corpse-pallor, black lacework scars, perpetual trails of thin black tears
05. by Temptation: cloven hooves, slit-pupiled eyes, golden nimbus shot with fissures and cracks
06. by Binding: thorn-chain brands, twisted bone-barbed limb, a collar of cold fire
07. by Corruption: ink-pool eyes, serpent’s tongue, patches of velvet scales upon the flesh
08. by Vice: whispering voice, satin skin, warm brassy antlers curving and baroque
09. by Ennui: unnatural soft flesh, burbling voice, a pale tattered trailing shadow
10. by Spite: bleeding mouth, blunt curving claws, a frozen fang-filled snarl
11. by Dishonour: phantom castigation chants, ashy touch, burning brand upon the brow
12. by Repudiation: clouded eyes, tongue of flame, flesh of marble seamed with ember’d veins

Dicember 2021 – snow

For all the pale chill darkness where the snow runs deep — for all the fleetingness of summer and the long cold grip of the winter nights — it is not as if nothing lives, no one lives, in the Brilliant Lands. Far from it.

Be it fellow travellers or fair terrors, who might you meet?

01. A lordling in sable-trimmed finery, out for blood-oath payment with a retinue of spear-masters
02. A rimewalker, frozen heart exposed horribly, blackened talons caked with crimson ice
03. A ghost lion, shoulder-tall and snow-smoke-pelted, in search of prey or den
04. A gnarled puck bent beneath a pine-bough basket’s weight, offering dreams for wishes
05. A snow-witch, wrapped in icy finery and crowned with glittering thorns, singing a storm to life
06. A small herd of caribou, spooked and fleeing or, rarity of rarities, standing to stare in wary curiosity
07. A foxfire racing across snowy drifts and frozen bog, its tail flagging like a blue-white flame
08. A hunter, clad in verdant wool and heavy leathers, with a brace of snowhounds snuffling the drifts
09. A delicate iceknight, promises of eternal comfort falling from pale thin lips as they approach
10. A sleigh pulled by shaggy-coated horses, loaded with bales and bundled pelts and a traveller or two
11. A winterdrake, all coils of blue-frost scale and ice-splinter fangs and dark whispers of winter night
12. A family fleeing calamity, everything they have in the bundled packs lashed to their backs

Dicember 2021 – ooze

I like putting jellies in my games. Like, a lot. (they count as oozes! they do! the ochre jelly has been around forever! and the gelatinous cube is just a big square one! *lol*) Which means every once in a while I write up some new jellies, or give some old ones a fresh lick of paint, or both.

Not really anything fancy as a preface here, just jellies. Because jellies.

Jellies jellies jellies. Lol.

Blossom Jelly
1 HD
A translucent, creeping gelatinous drop, pale pink or deep rose or reddish violet, marked with petal-shaped patches of transparency.
– 1d4 + Evanescence: struck with delicate sorrow, test to take any action, 1d6 actions; dissolves organics

Dream Jelly
1 HD
An effervescent oval of perpetually flowing jelly, transparently amber-rose-violet and spangled with an oily iridescent sheen.
– 1d4 + Waking Dream: dazed and hallucinating dreamlike visions, 2d4 actions

Peacock Jelly
2 HD
What a surprisingly enchanting sight; who expected a jelly to be such a lovely blue-green colour, to have such a golden sheen, to shimmer so iridescently …
– 1d4 dissolve; Fascinate – all within 20’ stand staring at the jelly’s play of colours; Fission — when hp depleted, splits into two 1 HD jellies

Rune Jelly
2 HD
This rippling mass of translucent, flame-coloured cytoplasm sports glimmering runes and glyphs that flare to life on its surface and fade out again.
– 1d6 dissolve; consumes enchanted objects; Spellspawn — immune to spells, spells cast at jelly are absorbed, released as a 1 HD jelly next action

Crystal Jelly
4 HD
Transparent, colourless, glittering — like a great crystal orb, flattened slightly — sliding along the ground … and then suddenly sprouting shining blades.
– 2d4 pummel or gel shard; Volley — launches 1d4 blades of dense sharp gel ‘glass’, 1d6 each; dissolves crystal, glass, gemstones

4 HD
This dense, gelatinous ovoid flows with purpose, and its slightly translucent mass is a single deep colour webbed with markings that make it almost look scaled.
– 2d4 rasping; Exhalation — blast of energy-infused gel, fire/acid/cold/electricity/etc, 3d6, every third action; immune to damage type dealt by Exhalation; consumes metals

Void Jelly
6 HD
Somehow, a mass of light-enveloping blackness and a translucent gelatinous shadow, simultaneously. Still faster than it should be, and very bad news.
– 2d8 entropic pseudopod; consumes everything; Engulfing Nothingness — two successful attacks engulf a target in the jelly’s mass, target is lost 3d4 actions later; immune to mundane damage

Dicember 2021 – food

Oh what a wonderful day! Your latest exploits have gone well, you’ve licked your wounds, you’ve got freshly-acquired coin burning a hole in your stash, and you’ve just come across a whole new tavern. New to you and yours, anyway.

In fact, it looks like the place might have a few specialties on the menu alongside the usual wholemeal loaves, eternal stew, cheese wheels, seasonal veggies and the local poultry. Why, they might even have more than just water and four different kinds of ale on tap!

So, what does this wondrous find have on offer?

1d4 rolls per table for extra fun!


01. winterbite perry
02. dandelion wine
03. drakesbreath wine
04. duskberry cordial
05. fern broth
06. lemonbalm tea
07. moonmead
08. angelsblood
09. hail ale
10. six-saint cider
11. mint-and-violet tea
12. silver smallbeer

Small Eats

01. treerabbit skewers
02. roasted garlic with peppergrass
03. bloodrose fritters
04. pan-fried nightquail
05. marrowbones with salt-dust
06. grilled muskmelon
07. mixed candied locusts
08. bacon tartlets
09. golden boar trotters
10. poached peaches
11. blue moon cheese and oatcakes
12. herb-stuffed mushrooms

Big Eats

01. blood pudding and parsnip chunks
02. venison pie with broth and ryebread
03. grilled whole mooncarp on greens
04. drakewing soup with doughboys
05. dark-spiced beef roast with baked pudding
06. jeweled-lentil soup with walnut bread
07. hand-pulled noodles and greens in mushroom broth
08. pearltrout and pin-mussel chowder
09. mincemeat pie and roasted apples
10. glazed golden boar ribs over floral rice
11. rosemary and garlic-seared chicken with diced potato
12. softshell emerald crab with butter biscuits

Trail Eats

01. ash-pickled eggs
02. vegetable medley pasties
03. maple-salted jerky
04. vinegared blood
05. roasted hazelnut-currant mix
06. smoked eel braids
07. poppyseed honeycakes
08. pumpkin seed bars
09. herb-salted golden boar fatback
10. pepper pork dumplings
11. cherry rice cakes
12. smoked mussel packets

Dicember 2021 – help

Sometimes adventurers are a little more organized than random rapscallions who threw themselves together in a tavern before looking for a ruin to plunder or bandits to, well, plunder. Or, maybe those rapscallions decided to make a decent go at the ruins-spelunking and the bandit eradication and the cleaning up of abandoned graveyards and their restless inhabitants — that sort of thing — and eventually passed along the tricks of the trade to younger, fresher faces.

Or adventuring is more of a cover for finding the ways and means to get the resources needed to push back against an iron fist. That’s also a possibility.

In fact, all these and more are the multi-threaded genesis of the Vine. Less an “adventurer’s guild” and more an interconnected web of chapterhouses, informal associations, whisper networks, chartered “adventuring parties” (where such exist), individual explorers and mysteriously maintained dropboxes, way-houses and gear caches, the Vine — once a budding adventuring sort, young or old, makes a connection — is your best source for weird gear, weirder rumours, tips and tricks, and suggested sources for anything from replacement travel spellbooks to friendly sources of healing magic to the best smith for silvershot weapons to nesting material for an angel’s egg.

Aid received for aid offered, of course. And vice versa.

“Give a little, get a little; we’re all in this crazy thing together, yeah?”
An informal collective of adventurers, explorers, rebels and similar roaming, delving types, connected by their spelunking through ruins and labyrinths and necropolei and trading around rumours, tips and news
– dark green, wine-red and violet; grape or ivy tendril (or related emblem)
– mess kit, scrollcase of scribbled maps and notes, reinforced backpack, lantern and oil or candles, “souvenir” from latest delve

This Vine contact knows of …

01. a deep-forest ravine where a strange blue portal appeared last week
02. a soon-to-arrive band of deer-goblins that make amazing mead
03. a rumoured location to the subterranean cult chambers of Iiifryth Of The Amber Hells
04. a newly discovered sublevel in the Sundered Castle
05. the hidden vices of Marquis Barran, the region’s new conqueror
06. the calculations needed to divine the next appearance of the Pearl Tower, and where
07. a grateful supply trader specializing in trail rations and camp gear
08. the location of Dagger Bright’s newest bandit hold
09. a formula for a balm said to blunt the agony of dragonfire
10. a fervent crusader looking to find a fallen temple to restore and reconsecrate
11. a sorcerer who wants an escort to the magic pool on the Underloft’s fifth marble level
12. what best to bribe the lord’s ailing seneschal with to gain access to The Books

This Vine contact is looking for …

01. a sorcerer who’s willing to take on a wilful apprentice
02. someone who can speak the languages of hobgoblins and unicorns
03. a party to retrieve a fallen friend in the depths of the Bone Cathedral
04. referrals for signing on with a mercenary company for a season
05. clues to the locations of the remaining Night Ruby shards
06. a good source for ingredients for lightning-magic scroll inks
07. the buried granite gateway of the Great Black Delve and its lost halls
08. advice on a source for healing that doesn’t require faith or (too much) charity
09. a body-double for a lordling’s son, just for one night
10. spellcasting strong enough to break the Eleventh Moon Curse
11. leads on iron rations that taste less like wood and have less mushroom
12. a dragon heart, or at least a dragon’s lair and companions to travel with