Monday, November 27, 2023

Blog has moved!

 I've moved over my blog to, here: As I'm using Obsidian MD more and more for game prep and module writing, it makes sense to use it for blogging too.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Mothership Monsters

Some more Mothership monsters. Some of these will be appearing in upcoming supplements I'm writing.

Bilge Rats

C:20 bite 1 DMG  I:15 W:1(1) 10% chance carries bloater parasite. Bites confer infection on a failed Body save.

Appear in swarms of 2d10

A mammal-like alien vermin that is quickly overtaking Terran rats as the most invasive species carried ship to ship. Bilge rats have long, lithe bodies like a weasel, but 12 limbs, 3 ventral sets and 3 dorsal sets, allowing them to grip, climb and move just about anywhere. They can squeeze their bodies through surprisingly tiny spaces.

Though an annoyance on their own, prone to getting into food stocks and chewing wires, the primary threat from bilge rats is the prevalence of parasites they carry, most notably that which form bloaters.


C:- I:- W:1(1) Stinging tentacles: Body save or become paralyzed by toxin. 1d5 DMG / turn while entangled as the tentacles slowly digest the victim. Explosive death: If the bloater body is destroyed it explosively expels a cloud of parasites. Anyone Adjacent and unprotected with safety gear is infected. Body save against infection if in Close range.

Bloaters are formed from a parasitic infection most commonly conferred from bilge rat bites (bilge rats being asymptomatic carriers of the parasite). However there are other vectors of infection, including the explosive decompression of a bloater body.

Bloaters are a colony organism similar to jellyfish. An infected individual begins experiencing fever, nausea, and internal bleeding among other symptoms. If untreated, infection is fatal in around 12 hours. The infected body then begins to hollow and bloat up with gasses that cause it to float like a balloon to the ceiling. Long, nearly invisible tendrils emerge from this floating skin sac, stinging tentacles that paralyze and digest prey snagged in them.

There is a 20% chance a bloater body will spontaneously explode from normal decay if disturbed.

Marionette Virus

This digital malware infects cybernetic implants, enslaving them to an unknown entity. Most commonly it seeks out highly augmented individuals so it can control them entirely. Due to the deep level of infiltration the virus requires, it can only be spread via direct contact, which overrides various security measures using physical hacks and workarounds. This is typically done by a puppeted individual attacking a new victim.

Though confirmed instances of infection are rare, fear of this virus carries outsized prevalence in communities of those with augmentation. It is suspected that the minds of infected individuals are not influenced, meaning infected are imprisoned in their own unresponsive body as it carries out the will of its new master. The paranoia around this virus has lead to several unfortunate incidents of violence against cybernetically augmented individuals when their implants were simply undergoing a normal malfunction.

All infected gain the following combat action:
Hijack Cyberware: 1d5 DMG, Int save or all cybernetic and slickware components are under control of foreign entity (controlled by Warden). If the target has computing or hacking skills, they gain [+] on the save.

The Enduring

C: 30 as weapon I:60 W:4(5) 1d10+2 Master skills. A large stash of wealth.

The Enduring have always walked among us. They look like us, they act like us (in public view anyway), they laugh at water-cooler jokes, have families, mow their synth-lawns on Sundays. But they are not like us, for they never die, not naturally in any case. Enduring do not succumb to aging or disease (though are still subject to violent trauma). They have had an eternity to hone their skills, their patience, and their escape plans (for at the very least an Enduring must conspire to leave their life behind when it becomes undeniable they remain young even as their families and friends age around them).

Enduring are likely the origin of vampires and similar myths, though they don’t have any of the needs or vulnerabilities of such creatures. If an Enduring finds themselves in trouble they simply disappear to outwait their opponents. Enduring have their own take on the tortoise and the hare parable: if you set the finish line far enough away, you will simply outlive your opponents. Most seem to be benign, hopping from life to life, though the obvious implications of the wealth and power capable of being accrued by such an entity must be taken into consideration.

Enduring also have inordinate durability. What would be a fatal injury to a typical human an Enduring can shake off and recover from. This only aids their typical MO of escape when discovered, and many have been thought killed that actually slip away to obscurity. If one discovers an Enduring and feels the need to kill them, they had best be sure it takes.

Rogue Emotion

C: 35 I:10 W:- (Can be dispersed with a particular resonating frequency). On a hit, Sanity save or the emotion enters its target.

Separated from its originating human by metaphysical hyperspace storms, the emotion now wanders the universe seeking a new mind to roost in. Its long and lonely wandering has intensified the strength of the emotion 100 fold. Roll to determine emotion:

1 Bliss 2 Terror 3 Rapture 4 Anguish 5 Rage

If someone contracts a rogue emotion the feeling overwhelms them and they can think of little else. They act accordingly. Can be treated with specialized mental and pharmaceutical therapies.


C:70 claw 2d10 DMG (bleeding/gore[+]) I:25 W:2(30)

A body stripped of the mind yearning for what is missing. They take what is inside of you out with deadly precision and lay it out in orderly rows to watch it glisten in the light. They study their bounty to try and find what is missing but never fathom that it isn’t something held in blood or gristle.


C:40 strangle 1d10 DMG or attack as weapon I:50 W:3(20) When observed can only make one attack. If not, can make five.

Superposition hyperspace organism. They are forced into static form by human observation and they loathe it. They appear as twisted amalgamations of body parts, faces, or objects. Maintaining observation slows them, losing it is usually a fatal mistake. They often wield twisted versions of weapons that do not seem to obey the normal rules of physics.

The Friend with a Winning Smile

Sanity save to resist the Friend’s charms
The Friend with a Winning Smile is helpful, jovial. The Friend grins from ear to ear–well, you can’t quite make out the Friend’s features but you're pretty sure they have ears. The Friend with a Winning Smile is comforting and familiar. They couldn’t be something strange, something abhorrent, something wet-slick and smelling of salt and iron that sets all your hairs on end. The Friend with a Winning Smile will help you find your way in this place with grace and charm, and you will all laugh and laugh and laugh. The Friend with a Winning Smile is of great comfort to you when you are missing your comrades—you came with so many and now you are alone. But what other companions do you need besides the Friend, really? It’s right there in the name.


When you come in contact Body save or contract infection. Automatically contract if taken in capsule form.

Extremoplasmosis infections result in lowered inhibitions toward risky behavior, and a feeling of increased confidence in one’s capabilities. While this change is strictly psychosomatic, the performance increase from the behavioral change shouldn’t be dismissed.

It is unclear whether extremoplasmosis started as naturally occurring or was lab formed, but it’s clear now that many pharmaceutical companies seek to leverage its effects as a marketable drug. The more reputable pharma corps produce pills using compounds from extremoplasmid byproducts, which have temporary effects and do not result in infection. The less reputable simply produce capsules of live organisms practically guaranteeing infection.

While infected by extremoplasmosis a person has the following effects:

  • Will always take the riskiest course of action in a dangerous situation. Sanity save with [-] to resist this effect.
  • When called to make a Fear save, automatically succeed.

Extremoplasmosis is typically spread by consuming contaminated food. While surface spread is rarely a risk, coming in contact with significant quantities of infected blood can also result in infection.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The Rumor Mill

I've been noodling something in the back of my mind, inspired by reading my daughter Rumpelstiltskin, specifically the beginning where the miller boasts to the baker's son his daughter is too good for the likes of him, why she can even spin thread into gold! This rumor gets passed along various villager until it reaches a servant of the king, who tells the king himself, who of course has to see this for himself much to the consternation of the poor miller's daughter.

I was thinking this could be a fun quest hook to throw at players, where they do some deed and a local VIP catches wind of it and sets them up for another job. Even better, what if the original boast or deed was pretty mundane, and it got twisted by word of mouth to be something blown way out of proportion?

Well over at Mindstorm Press was just posted a blog describing pretty much how to do just that, in a way that is better than anything I was working up (go read that first so the rest of this post makes sense). I'm definitely going to use this. Here is a summary of the method straight from their page:

Add an Exploit

When the group performs a great deed and it is known to the world, record the deed on your reputation charter. Make sure to number it.

Checking your Reputation

When the group encounters a situation where your past deeds might be known, the GM and players pick up the dice.

The players pick up a total number of dice equal to how many exploits they have. It doesn’t matter who rolls the dice, either a single player or spreading them across the entire group.

The GM picks up a single die.

Roll the dice. If the GM’s die was less than or equal to the number of exploits on the reputation charter, the group is known. The exploit that matches the GM’s die is the one they are most known by.

If the GM’s die matches any of the player’s exploit dice, one of their exploits is twisted out of true. If multiple exploit dice match the GM’s die, the exploit is permanently twisted out of true. Erase and record the new version of it.

Here is my contribution to add to this method: a spark table to determine who changed the rumor and why, a tweak to the GM roll, and rules for players to try and modify a rumor themselves--either to set the record straight or exaggerate for their own benefit.

The Gossiper Table

Roll on this table to describe who altered the story about the exploit and why.

d12        Who Twisted the Exploit?                           Why?                                                                              
1 Villagers or civilians Misinformed or Misremembered
2 A local gossip For monetary gain
3 A bard or entertainer To seem more impressive or spice up the story
4 A local authority figure To harm the party's reputation
5 An NPC involved in the exploit To harm or improve a rival party's reputation
6 A rival group of adventurers To create chaos, drama, or doubt
7 The quest giver for the exploit (re-roll if there wasn't one) Opinion of events altered by political views
8 A town crier, journalist, or new service Opinion of events altered by religious views
9 A guild faction Opinion of events altered by views of people involved (party or NPCs)
10 A religious faction Opinion altered by views on local authorities
11 A government faction Asked to change story by someone else (roll again to see who)
12 An enemy of the player party Memory magically, technologically, or supernaturally altered

Modify the GM Dice

The GM rolls one die against the party's pool of dice. If the GM's dice rolls over the player total, the party isn't recognized for their deeds. If you want to add distance or other mitigating factors into this roll I propose the following:

For every mitigating factor in a story spreading such as distance (one kingdom, country, planet over from where the party typically operates), language or cultural barriers, or someone trying to suppress the story, the GM adds an additional die to their roll. This makes it both more likely the party hasn't been heard of and more likely it gets twisted. Use the highest result to determine what rumor they are known for if it is the case the party is recognized. (if the party lists their deeds in chronological order, that also means their most recent are more likely to be known, which makes sense).

If using the capped exploit variant where there are only a limited amount of listed deeds allowed, treat all the GM dice as a dice pool and use the largest.

Controlling the Narrative

The players can get a chance to control their story, at least for a little while. If all the player exploit die match, they can choose how to twist the narrative of one exploit (including resetting it to the truth). This overrides any match with the GM dice. This requires having at least two exploits listed. The more accomplishments the party has, the harder it is to control their legend (or infamy).

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Combining the Underclock with Hazard Die

I came across the Underclock Goblin Punch post and immediately wanted to start using it. I've been using the Angry GM's Tension Pool a bit, to decent results. I think I like the Underclock better, as it gives an immediate feedback and foreboding of the number counting down, and allows for more player planning.

In the Underclock post, he talks about giving up on tracking torches and similar resources, but what if we could integrate that using the same system? I'm thinking specifically of using the Hazard Die system (originally by Necropraxis but which I come to by way of Knave 2e). Just as on the Underclock a 3, 0, and less than 0 result causes events, we can assign Hazard die results to other clock numbers.

I like the idea of everything below 6 having an event, since d6s are the default dice to use to reduce the clock value. So integrating hazards the new underclock would look like this:

On a result of 5: Advantage (In the normal hazard die this is just a free turn, but that is every other turn above 5 when using the Underclock. So I propose a small bonus to what the players are currently attempting--advantage on a check, some extra treasure, automatically uncover secret information, etc).

On a result of 4: Dungeon shift (Change in environment conditions. The temperature shifts, a secret door opens, etc)

On a result of 3: Omen or Sign of encounter, as in the original Underclock.

On a result of 2: Expiration of effects (Typically lit torches go out. This could also be used for ending transient dungeon conditions, spells, or other limited time effects).

On a result of 1: Fatigue (Each party member must rest or take damage or another penalty for pushing on. Yes, this still results in counting down the clock and increasing the countdown die).

On a result of 0: Reset to 3 as in the original. (Or, optionally, reset to 6 instead. This will lower chances of omens but increase the chances of all the hazard results).

Below 0: Encounter as in the original.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Side-Based Action Initiative

I was reading (and loved) Prismatic Wasteland's take on action based initiative. I'm running some OSR play by post stuff soon and was thinking how to apply this to side-based initiative, which is what I'm planning on using. So here are two methods (caveat, these are not play-tested, just right off the top of my head, though I may try them in my upcoming games):

Side Based Action Initiative with Static Enemies

This is your typical side-based initiative which determines if PCs act before or after their opponents. folding in action types to this:

Unarmed attacks or weapon die of d6 or lower - Act before enemies

Weapon die of  d8 or higher, spellcasting, or multiple actions (if available in your system) - Act after enemies.

This leaves unspecified actions such as dashing, swapping items, manipulating objects, etc. I figure there is two ways to rule this: In Prismatic's system this is a d8, so it makes sense if these type of actions are a blanket act after enemies result. 

Alternatively, if using a system that employs skills or proficiencies, you could say that any character taking an action that uses one of their skills or proficiency acts before enemies, while any other skill or action acts after.

Side Based Action Initiative with Variable Enemies

This version of initiative acts like the above, but instead of one enemy turn there are two: faster enemies that act when faster PCs do, and slower ones that act when slower PCs do. This essentially creates quick and slow turns, similar to Shadow of the Demon Lord. In both cases, PCs act first in their designated phase. How it breaks down:

PC Unarmed attacks or weapon die of d6 or lower

Enemies with HD size of d8 or lower (Medium or smaller creatures)

PC Weapon die of  d8 or higher, spellcasting, multiple actions, or generic actions (as above)

Enemies with HD size of d10 or higher (large or larger creatures) 

Other Modifiers

So far pretty straightforward. What about modifying factors like bonuses or surprise? I think this is pretty easy to adjudicate. A side or PC with a bonus to initiative or some form of advantage can act first, regardless of action type. Similarly surprising an opponent allows you to act first. A monster with a speed-based bonus might act faster than its HD would normally allow.

If there is any kind of lair action or hazard, it happens at the top of the round. A multi-step hazard might act twice, especially if using the variable enemy type rule. 

Any type of condition resolution (saves, incapacitation) happens at the end of the round.

Overall, players will still have to think about their actions ahead of time, and can get a tactical advantage for quicker actions.

EDIT: I realized when implementing this for my Knave game that enemies all have one die size in old-school games. Here is the method I'm using in that case:

Decide your action at the top of the round. There are fast actions and slow actions making a fast turn and slow turn. All fast actions and fast enemies act on the first turn (PCs act first) then slow actions and slow enemies. 

Fast actions: Unarmed attacks, weapon attacks with damage dice of d6 or lower (including dual-wielding, as long as both are d6 or lower weapons), dashing, skills with which you are proficient. 

Slow actions: Weapon attacks with damage dice d8 or higher, casting a spell, multiple actions, all other actions.

Enemies act as their attack damage die or as makes sense for their other actions. d6 or lower attacks are fast actions. d8 or higher damage, multiple attacks, spellcasting are slow actions. Special abilities are typically slow but may be fast depending on the specific ability. 

Surprise or initiative bonus: If you gain the element of surprise you make a fast attack no matter the action / damage size. Enemies that gain surprise may act first in a given turn. 

If you cannot perform your planned action you can change it, but your action must take place on the slow turn.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Spellcaster "Talents" for Knave 2e

Spell Level: A spell’s level is equal to what the caster would cast it at. In Knave 2e rules this is equal to the caster’s INT score by default. If you use another ability for casting use that score. If using leveled spells from another source, it is equal to the level of the spell.

If you have at least 1 in a mental stat (INT, WIS, CHA) at character creation, pick an option. You might be able to learn these options from mentors later.

Arcane Scholar: You may create INT scrolls per day from any spellbook you own. Scrolls are used once and then destroyed. They require 50c x [Spell level] in materials and 10 x [Spell level] minutes to craft each. You may choose to craft the scroll at a lower level. The spell is cast at the level you crafted it at.

Magical Thesis: Pick one spellbook you own, spend 200c in supplies, at least a day of downtime, and make an INT check. On a success, you modify the spell in one way (such as damage type, range, shape, duration). You can only have one magical thesis at a time, if you choose a new spell to modify, revert the old one.

Divine Blessing: You have the particular favor of a deity. Pick one relic you own. You can ask for direct aid from this relic for a number of times equal to your WIS score before it needs to be re-blessed. 

Primal Magic: Sacrifice a spellbook you own (destroying it) in an offering to nature spirits, and make a WIS check. The check has disadvantage if you equip metal arms or armor. On a success, you gain a nature spirit companion, which takes the form of an animal, wisp of light, or ghostly being. This spirit can cast the spell you sacrificed once per day at a level equal to your WIS score, and doesn’t take up an inventory slot. It is bound only to you. You may have one spirit bound to you at a time.

Magic Eater: You can absorb or consume spellbooks (destroying them), letting you learn the spell permanently without using inventory slots. You can do this with a number of spells equal to your CON score. However you can only prepare a number of spells equal to your INT score. You can switch prepared spells after a rest. You must have at least one free hand to cast a spell. When you do so, you take 1 direct damage (Fatigue).

Pact Knowledge: Make a bargain with a power–roll a CHA check with the target number 11 + the number of spells you want. If you succeed they will provide a number of random spell books equal to what you asked at your maximum casting level or lower. If you fail they take something from you—gain a permanent Wound (cannot be removed by any means). This Wound gives you a noticeable physical change or mutation. Cosmic luck disfavors this acquisition of power: each time you make a new bargain increase the target number by +1, no matter the source.

Blood Magic: You can take 1d4+[Spell Level] damage and cast a spell from a spellbook without expending its daily use (including if it has already been used today). Alternatively, you can kill a creature and use its blood to recharge a spent spellbook. The creature must have HD/level equal to or greater than [Spell Level]. 

Ritual Caster: You can take 10 minutes and cast a spell from a spellbook that has not been used today. When you do so it does not use up the spellbook for the day. You can do this a number of times per day equal to half your level (rounded up).

Potion Maker: You can bottle spells. This requires a brewing kit, which takes up an inventory slot. You cast a spell from a spellbook and bottle it as a potion, which takes up an inventory slot. This requires 50c in supplies and 10 x [Spell level] minutes to craft. You may choose to craft the potion at a lower level. Someone who drinks the potion is treated as if you cast the spell on them at the level you crafted it at. You can create a number of potions per day equal to your WIS score.

Runecarver: You can turn spells into magical runes inscribed on items, allowing the item to cast the spell. This requires a smithing kit, which takes up two inventory slots. To do so, choose a spellbook you own, which will be destroyed in the process, pick a non-magical item to inscribe (such as a weapon, armor, or trinket), and spend 1000c in supplies and at least 1 hour of crafting time. When the process is complete, the spell can be cast from the item as if it were a spellbook, once per day and the item uses at least one inventory slot. The spell is cast at a level equal to your INT score when you crafted the item.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Alignment as a Stat

 Woke up this morning with this idea in my head and so I exorcise it here.

I'm not generally one that cares about traditional D&D style alignment that much, and certainly prefer it descriptive rather than prescriptive. But this system might at least make it more interesting? I still don't know if I'd worry about alignment that much at all but here we go.

Alignment is on two axes: Good/Neutral/Bad and Law/Neutral/Chaos. Let's call them the Moral axis and Order axis for now. So far so much the same. But, each axis has a score just like an attribute stat, from 3-18 (higher number being good/law, lower evil/chaos). At character creation you can either start at 10 in both or roll 3d6 for each for your alignment.

When you perform an act of significant Good roll a straight d20, trying to roll equal or lower than your Moral stat. If you succeed, bump your stat one point higher, if you fail nothing happens. It is the opposite for an act of Evil: roll d20 and succeed if you roll equal or over. A success lowers the stat by one, and failure again does nothing. 

Make the same tests for Lawful and Chaotic acts, with Lawful being roll under and Chaos being roll over. 

How about neutrality and acts of balance? If you perform an act truly dedicated to balance and neutrality (not just being passive or wishy-washy) roll over or under in whatever way will bring your stat closer to 10. (So if you have 14 in your Moral stat, you'd try to roll over as if you committed an Evil act, lowering that stat on success, and vice-versa if you had a 7 in Moral). If your stat is already 10 there is no need to make a check for such an act.

How can this be used? I dunno how useful it really is. It gives some more nuance to how good, evil, lawful, or chaotic or neutral you are. Its most practical use could be with dieties, which would require a certain score in one or both stats to give you the time of day (and benefit of their power) regardless of your dedication to worshiping them. Similarly with magical items that test alignment. 

Maybe spells or other effects can force an alignment test, causing damage or a status effect on a failure instead of changing the stat.

For NPCs, should it be useful to give them this stat, I'd rule Outsiders such as fiends and celestials can break the normal bounds. Demons for example would always be at 1/1 for Moral/Order. Devils might be Moral 1, Order 20. 

Anyway, thought successfully put out there.

Blog has moved!

 I've moved over my blog to, here: . As I'm using Obsidian MD more and more for game prep and mo...