Wednesday, October 9, 2019

How About a Little Nightbane?

I have this love for Palladium and every now and then I must toy with it.  Here's a character I rolled up for Palladium's Nightbane.  She has bio-mechanical, plated, plastic skin and a bio-mechanical limb gun.  The creation process also produced insectoid wings (and potentially much more as Palladium's creation process is often generous, but I prefer more grounded characters with only a few powers and skills) which I completely forgot about when drawing the picture, perhaps they unfold out of her plated shoulders.....

The rules for the gun-limb state that you have to find real bullets and jam them into your flesh doing 1d6 S.D.C. (Structural Damage Capacity of which she has 154) damage per bullet(!) storing up to 100 rounds.  Cool, gritty.  She has to constantly scavenge for ammo and fully loading is detrimental to her health.  In a game of survival, this is a nice touch.

Nightbane is a horror/superhero game where, like mutants, one day (Dark Day, as it's called) the characters (all orphans) transform into something potentially horrific with a connection to another place called the Nightlands, which is ruled by Nightlords who now secretly dominate Earth.  In the game, you're supposed to be able to transform back and forth between your human form (Facade) and your monstrous form (Morphus), but I prefer the notion that your transformation is permanent; you are what you are, now deal with it.  And it might be truly weird and/or grotesque.

So how about some stats...

O.C.C.(Occupational Character Class): Nightbane
Level: 1
Alignment: Scrupulous

I.Q.(Intelligence): 9
M.E. (Mental Endurance): 7
M.A.(Mental Affinity): 15
P.S. (Physical Strength): 19 -- Supernatural Strength
P.P. (Physical Prowess): 14
P.E. (Physical Endurance): 27
P.B. (Physical Beauty): 15
SPD (Speed): 22

H.F. (Horror Factor): 9

S.D.C. (Structural Damage Capacity): 154
H.P. (Hit Points): 54
P.P.E. (Potential Psychic Energy): 119

Initiative: +1 (optionally I like to give a bonus for a high Speed score using the P.P. bonus line which would raise this to +5.  You can see this option on my Rifts Character Sheet on the blog sidebar which is otherwise formatted 99.99% by-the-book.)

Hand-To-Hand: Basic
Attacks: 4
Strike: +2
Parry: +2
Dodge: +2/+3 when flying
Roll with punch: +5

Restrained Punch: 1d6+4
Punch: 2d6+4
Power Punch: 4d6+4

Insectoid Wings: +15 S.D.C., +1 H.F., +1 Dodge, Speed:40 (about 30 mph)

Bio-mechanical Plastic Skin: +20 S.D.C., +1 H.F.

Bio-mechanical gun-limb: +1 H.F., +3 to strike (+1 for a burst) 6d6 damage.

Saves: Coma/Death: +24%, Disease: +4, Horror: +4, Magic: +12, Poison: +6, Psionics: +3

For the purposes of this character I kept skills to a bare minimum.  She has no Physical Skills and no Weapon Proficiencies (other than her gun-limb) having only Computer Operation: 50%, and Programming: 35%.  Anyone who knows Palladium knows how bogged down you can get with skills, I feel (usually) that most characters have plenty going on without them.  I love Palladium, but I'm definitely a minimalist with it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Dream Goes Like This...

Night time in the city, here in Detroit, maybe, I don't know.  Walking up fire-escape style stairs between buildings.  There is a girl with me, both of us mid-20's.  We come to a rooftop directly attached to other buildings.  People, maybe a dozen, hanging out, some leaning up against brick walls.  The place seems semi-secret.  Not somewhere I would normally go.

Then, a rabid, Nosferatu looking vampire comes up the stairs and starts savaging people.  The girl and I keep to the shadows.  Several people fall before something else shows up, materializing out of the darkness near a wall.  He's dressed nicely, tuxedo, top-hat and cloak.  Pale skin, long black hair, kind of like Vampire Hunter D, floating, you can't see his feet.  His fancy cloak opens up and a dozen long tendrils shoot out and latch onto the vampire, sucking it dry of all the blood it just leeched.  The vampire collapses dead and the well-dressed stranger floats away.

Had that dream about 20 years ago.

Blood Stalker

AC:  as plate +2 (can't be harmed by non-magical weapons)

HD:  9

Attacks:  1d6+6 tendrils (+9 to hit, long reach) each one does 1d4 damage and heals the Blood Stalker the same amount.

Stealth:  5 in 6 (in low lighting the Blood Stalker can use stealth to practically disappear)

Save As:  Fighter: 9

Move:  standard (hovers)

AL:  chaotic

Morale:  11

XP:  3,000

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Succubus...

We all know what a Succubus does.....

D&D has never done this demon justice (nor has any other game that I'm aware of.)  They're essentially just "pretty" monsters.   Maybe they "charm" you into not attacking that round, and maybe they "kiss" you to drain some levels or hit points.  Sure, they should have those capabilities, but only as a last resort.  In fact, if you are awake and face to face with a Succubus, then things have gone terribly wrong.....for the Succubus.

One thing D&D kind of lacks, is demonic possession.  And while the Succubus doesn't exactly "possess," it certainly "haunts," but not a place, rather, a dream.  For this reason, it's one of those classic demons of fantasy and horror that's hard to get right.  How often do you focus on the PCs while they're sleeping?  But, you don't have to.  It's not about the sultry details of the dreams, it's about how they affect the PC during the days that follow.

Succubus should behave like a demonic spirit, "haunting" and feeding off a victim until that victim expires.  Why they do this is up to you, but a common theme seems to involve the creation of Cambions.  Encountering a Succubus should be like catching a disease or a curse.  It's an affliction, and one that should haunt and ultimately kill you.

Using a Succubus

A Succubus strikes when the target sleeps, usually at night, but not necessarily.  This is best used when the PCs remain in a certain area for extended periods, such as in town, or during wilderness travel.  Designate an area (such as a group of hexes) as the demon's hunting grounds.   When the PCs have entered the danger zone, at some point during the day have all the PCs save vs. spells.  Have them make this save every day that they're in the danger zone until someone fails.  The PC that fails the worst will be the target.  

That night, the Succubus does her thing and the PC is essentially under her spell.  All you're going to tell the PC is that they wake up feeling like shit.  Any healing, spell slots, or abilities they expected to gain from their rest doesn't occur, nor will it while they're under this spell/curse.  

The second night, everything from the first night applies, plus the PC loses 1d4 hit points.  All healing spells on the PC only heal half the amount and the PC cannot be healed beyond the hit point total that they woke up with.

The third night and all subsequent nights, everything from the first two nights applies, plus the PC now has disadvantage (or -4) on all attack rolls, if the PC is a spell-caster, their targets make saving throws with advantage (or +4) or get a save where none was before (such as with sleep.)

On any given morning, you may grant the PC an un-penalized save vs spells to see if they remember "haunting erotic dreams."  Once they make this save, they should realize what's going on.

 Keep it clean, keep it vague, don't get graphic,

Hopefully, the PCs will start brainstorming a solution, because if this is a low-level character, they're going to die soon.  The PCs may have already used some sort of Divination spell to figure it out.  The PCs may have also decided to observe the afflicted PC while they sleep, in which case they'll simply witness the PC having some sort of nightmare.  Forcefully waking them up doesn't change anything, as with any dream, the whole thing could have occurred in mere seconds.

Exorcising the Succubus

Exorcising the Succubus must be done while the target is sleeping, first by casting a Bless spell on the target followed by a Remove Curse spell.  Seeing as the Succubus is the curse, she gets a saving throw to resist but initially does so at disadvantage because of the Bless spell.

Note: At this point the Succubus is still a spirit and cannot be seen, but you may want to have her vocally taunt those trying to exorcise her.  Describe her voice as a mixture of whispers and screams, both angry and seductive, coming from all directions, sometimes right in a person's ear.

If the Succubus saves successfully, another Remove Curse spell can be attempted, but the Succubus no longer saves at disadvantage unless the victim is once again Blessed.  So it goes:  Bless, Remove Curse, Saving Throw.  A Succubus is highly resistant to magic so this exorcism could go on for awhile.  In fact, you could run out of spells and have to try again the next night, that is, if the PC is still alive.  

If the Succubus fails her saving throw, she is ripped away from her victim (who remains in a state of sleep paralysis, waking up only when the Succubus is finally driven off) and now becomes visible in a physical or semi-corporeal form (your choice, it's just aesthetics.)  At this point she may flee or she may be so enraged that she actually attacks.  In any case, she almost certainly won't fight to the death so check morale at 1/2 and 1/4 hit points.  For Turning purposes, I suggest treating Succubi like Vampires.

Keep in mind that the PCs might not have access to the required spells and may have to hire a relatively high level cleric, perhaps at 500 GP per level of the cleric plus 200 GP per Bless spell cast and 1,000 GP per Remove Curse spellYou can use whatever rates that you deem fit, but it should not be cheap.

When all is said and done, the afflicted PC may now begin the normal healing process for your campaign.  If you want this ordeal to have lasting effects, you can have the PC make a save vs. paralysis and for every 5 points of failure, they permanently lose 1 point of constitution.  However, you can balance this out by giving them an equal bonus to charisma, as perhaps they now have, just a touch, of diabolical charm.

So, what if the target of the Succubus is female?  Use an Incubus, or not.  KNOW YOUR PLAYERS and once again DON'T BE WEIRD. 

Sample Succubus Stats

AC:  as plate  (can't be harmed by non-magical weapons)

HD:  6d8+6

Attacks:  2 claws, 1d4 each, or special (see below)

Special:  Can cast charm and shape-change at will.  Can also become ethereal at will, but must materialize to attack or use abilities.  On a successful "hit" she can kiss her target doing 1d4+1 damage, healing herself an equal amount of hit points.

Save As:  Fighter: 7 (+5 vs. magic)

Move:  standard (flight)

AL:  chaotic

Morale:  8

XP:  1,050

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Abstract Settings: Zeti-Nocularus.


Abstract works of art remind me of fractured memories.....

Zeti-Nocularus started out as a sketch for something else that wasn't quite working.  It's a fragment of some place, floating through the Astral Plane, destined to collide with the petrified remains of a forgotten goddess.  Its cities are geographically reminiscent of Sigil, in such that when you look skyward you see rooftops miles above. I see Black plate-mail as the dominant form of armor with halberds and crossbows featured prominently.  It's a surreal place of odd angles, strange landmarks, and underground trench-warfare.

I've planted some seeds here.....

Fully armored Nuvians and Zetites clash underground.

Listening to:  "Bayreuth Return" by Klaus Schulz on Timewind.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Liven Up Those Corridors!

Dungeons are a thing of beauty, but too often I see empty, endless looping corridors where nothing ever happens save for the occasional wandering monster.  Mazes are awesome, options are great, but what is beautiful, isn't always playable.

Take Map A above.  All good right?  Nothing you haven't seen before.  But unless something happens in those passageways, you're going to waste a lot of time slogging from room 1 to 2 (especially if someone's mapping.)  It might look cool, might be fun to draw, might look fun to play, but it kind of isn't.  You could just do this.....

Map B might seem dull, but it's gonna make your session run a lot smoother.  You just saved about 20 minutes of unnecessary slog.  But that's no fun.  You want that dungeon to be a labyrinth.  You want that sense of exploration.  You want those players cautiously peeking around every corner.  You want them interested in the entire place.....not just the rooms.  Too often, hallways are just time-killers.

They shouldn't be.

Almost every time the players turn a corner something interesting should happen.  This doesn't have to be a fight, just something interesting.  Dungeons should not only be places of danger, but places of wonder.

Now look at Map C below.  I've added a fountain, a one-way door, an alter, a statue, a portcullis, a curtain, some stairs, and a huge pile of rubble -- all outside of rooms.   Not everything will be dangerous or meaningful, but the players sure as hell don't know that.  Every turn of a corner becomes interesting now.

Many of these objects should do something.  There should be a trick, something hidden, a treasure, a trap, a penalty, or a perk.  At a minimum on Map C, the players will have 2 encounters while traveling between the two rooms. These encounters can make sense or not make sense, but most of them should adhere to the theme of the dungeon.

And that's all it takes to liven up the place.  Now that small, 2-room section of dungeon is packed full of goodness.

Side note Your map doesn't have to be so finished -- you're the only one looking at it!  Consider  Map D, it took a minute to draw.  Fill in the margins with notes and stats and doodles and you'll be good to go with a dungeon just as fascinating to behold as the most professionally drawn piece!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

...And Hear the Lamentations of The Flame Princess

This has to be one of my better drawings.....4 years ago, wow.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  When I first encountered this game I wasn't quite in tune with the OSR.  I remember flipping through the Grindhouse Edition and thinking WTF???

I didn't buy it.

Later, I flipped through A Red and Pleasant Land and thought, WTF???

I didn't buy it.

Eventually the genius and creativity of the OSR hit me.  Many years, in vain, I spent searching for the perfect system (not limited to D&D) when I realized that anything I wanted to do, can be done with some version of an earlier system.  All of those thick tomes I'd been collecting, collectively became obsolete.

The OSR is packed with awesome stuff.  It has changed how I view (and purchase) RPGs.  If all gaming companies suddenly disappeared, gaming would not.  The OSR would thrive.  The DIY genie was out of the bottle long before I ever took notice.

What I like about LotFP:

  • D6 skills.  While LotFP didn't exactly invent this, it utilizes it nicely.
  • Turn Undead as a spell.  I didn't like this at first, but now I do. 
  • No fireball or lightning bolt.  Magic-Users feel more like practitioners of Black Magic as opposed to super-heroes blasting their way through the dungeon.
  • An Encumbrance system that you might actually use.
  • A cool Language system.  You don't know what languages you speak until you encounter them (a little meta-gamey, but cool.)
  • Truly dangerous Summoning rules.
  • Incredible Books (ok, some are strange as fuck.)   I now own many of them after initially saying, WTF.

The official LotFP character sheet is a good one and so is the modified Veins of the Earth sheet.  (I consider Veins of the Earth to be one of the best gaming books ever made.)   For the hell of it, I modified my Rynath OSR sheet to LotFP specs.  It's incomplete -- no encumbrance stuff, but that's ok.  I did this awhile ago as more of a tribute.

Been blogging for a year now.

Good times.

How About a Little Nightbane?

I have this love for Palladium and every now and then I must toy with it.  Here's a character I rolled up for Palladium's Nightba...