Monday, November 23, 2015

Our Universal System Can Do All the Genres, Look!

THESIS: An "Our Universal System Can Do All the Genres, Look!" cover is invariably lame.


Let's illustrate that our game can handle ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE by showing the most generic tropes floating around in space in...bubbles.

Or maybe quadrants? 

Hey that genres-in-quadrants thing that GURPS did above seems like a good idea! Right? Right?

Okay, what if we scrap the quadrants and just mash it all together? Oh, no, that's just a god-damn mess:

Okay, okay, let's simplify then. Less is more, right? Right?

Maybe simple will look better if we do a color gradient? Maybe?

Okay, that didn't work. Maybe if we make the cover look like the label of a body-building supplement?

Hmm, da Vinci is cool, right? Gamers love da Vinci!

This is what is looks like when you lose all hope:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Wildeacre Estate

Wildeacre is an estate in the rural country north of Blighter's Manse; it has long been the seat of the Lacey family. The estate is currently owned and operated by the brother and sister team of Harry and Beatrice Lacey.

There is something rotten at work in Wildeacre.

Beatrice is unduly and obsessively attached to the land of Wildeacre. Her love of the estate and its farmland is a dark, pagan undercurrent of passion; whether through delusion or supernatural agency, the land whispers to her in her dreams.

When Beatrice realized that her brother would inherit the land she loved due to entailment and that she would inevitably be married off and sent to live on her husband’s property, she seduced Wildeacre’s groundskeeper, Ralph, and convinced him to assassinate her father. Once her father was out of the way, she seduced her craven, weak-willed brother Harry, the new lord of the estate, in order to maintain her connection to Wildeacre.

Harry would be an utter failure as the master of Wildeacre if it were not for his sister’s knowledge of how to administer the farmlands. He is over-educated in academics, and under-educated in practical matters. Worse yet, while at Oxford he fell in a crowd of boys who used him, literally, as their whipping boy. Now masochism is an ingrained part of his personality. Indeed, it was the discovery of his masochistic streak that allowed his sister to seduce him into an incestuous relationship; now she uses her body and a whip to bend Harry to her will–she is the true master at Wildeacre.

But what of Harry’s bride, the child-like and fragile Cecilia? She seems relieved that her husband’s amorous attention is directed elsewhere, but is she truly as naive as she appears? Perhaps she is more involved in the horrors at Wildeacre than anyone realizes.

After Ralph murdered Beatrice’s father, she set a man-trap in his path so she might dispose of her inconvenient lover and assassin. The trap crushed his legs, and Ralph was left to die alone and in great pain. However, his specter continues to haunt Wildeacre, dragging behind it the trap and chains used to end his mortal life.

Complicating matters is Ralph’s gypsy mother, who is known to be a witch. Formerly a tenant of Wildeacre, she disappeared soon after her son’s death. Is she behind the reappearance of Ralph as a haunting shade, or will she seek aid in giving her departed son the peace of eternity?

* * *

All of the above was inspired by and bastardized from Phillipa Gregory’s novel Wideacre. Consider this the start of a Gothic estatebox, a sandbox limited to a single horrible country estate.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Haunted House Encounter Table

1. Hungry Shroud
Armor 12, HD 3, Movement 120', 1 touch attack doing 1d4 damage plus envelopment, Morale 9
Enveloping Shroud—anyone struck by a hungry shroud must pass a Saving Throw vs. Breath Weapon or be enveloped by it. Enveloped creatures take an automatic 1d4 points of damage per round from suffocation. Each round an enveloped creature may make a Saving Throw vs. Paralyze to free themselves from the hungry shroud. Any attacks directed against an enveloped creature damage both the hungry shroud and its victim.
Undead Immunities

2. Possessing Geist
Armor 12, HD 10, Movement 120', 1 ranged attack doing 1d4 damage, Morale 10
Violent Mischief—a possessing geist can cause inanimate objects to hurl themselves at their victims; these objects are thrown clumsily and only cause 1d4 points of damage.
Possession—in lieu of making an attack, a possessing geist can attempt to invade the body of a living creature. The victim of this attack must make a Saving Throw vs. Spells; on a failure, the geist takes possession of the victim's body. The possessing geist can vacate the body at any time, or may be driven out by spells such as Bless or Turn Undead.
Ectoplasmic—possessing geists are comprised of ectoplasm, and only take half damage from non-magical attacks.
Undead Immunities

3. Dreadful Apparition
Armor 12, HD 8, Movement 120', 1 touch attack doing 1d4 damage, Morale 9
Feeds on Fear—if anyone seeing a dreadful apparition fails a Saving Throws vs. Paralyze, it gains 1d4 hit points and the viewer experiences Fear. These hit points can increase the apparition's hit points above and beyond the limits of its hit dice.
Ectoplasmic—dreadful apparitions are comprised of ectoplasm, and only take half damage from non-magical attacks.
Undead Immunities

4. Mischievous Ghost
Armor 12, HD 1, Movement 120', 1 ranged attack doing 1d4 damage plus terror effect, Morale 7
Uncanny Animation—a mischievous ghost can cause inanimate objects to hurl themselves at their victims; these objects are thrown clumsily and only cause 1d4 points of damage. However, anyone struck by an object hurled by the ghost must make a Saving Throw vs. Paralyze or be fraught with Fear.
Ectoplasmic—mischievous ghosts are comprised of ectoplasm, and Only take half damage from non-magical attacks.
Undead Immunities

5. Tortured Wraith
Armor 12, HD 6, Movement 120', 1 touch attack doing 1d6 damage plus Strength drain, Morale 12
Enervating Touch—the cold touch of a tortured wraith does 1d8 points of damage and saps 2 points of Strength from the victim. Anyone who loses all their Strength to a tortured wraith rises as a tortured wraith themselves.

Mournful Wail—a tortured wraith continually shrieks and howls in exquisite agony; anyone who can hear this wail has disadvantage on their rolls, and all spellcasters must make a Saving Throw vs. Magic to successfully cast spells do to the difficulty of concentrating amid the din.Ectoplasmic—tortured wraiths are comprised of ectoplasm, and only take half damage from non-magical attacks.
Undead Immunities

6. Vengeful Specter
Armor 12, HD 8, Movement 120', 1 touch attack doing 1d8 damage plus Charisma drain, Morale 12
Cruel Touch—the cold touch of a vengeful specter does 1d8 points of damage and drains 2 points of Charisma from the victim, infusing them with the hatred of mankind that the spirit feels. Anyone who has all of their Charisma drained by this attack becomes a vengeful specter.
Nocturnal—vengeful specters are powerless in daylight.
Ectoplasmic—vengeful specters are comprised of ectoplasm, and only take half damage from non-magical attacks.
Undead Immunities

Monday, November 16, 2015


Add caption
(You can see the whole thing here. It's great.) 

Eleanor Rigby
AC 12, Move 120', HD 5, HP 23, bite 1d8, Morale 10

  • Eleanor Rigby can assume the facial likeness of anyone she has seen.
  • Eleanor Rigby is compelled to pick up any grains of rice that are scattered before her, provided that the rice has previously been thrown upon a newly-married couple.
  • Eleanor Rigby has advantage on attacks against all the lonely people. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

An Unholy Misc.

Crimson Peak reveals the truth about Gothic lit. fans:

* * *

Here's a map I found some place or another that will likely get used in a game someday:

* * *

Song of the Moment: Cocteau Twins, "But I'm Not"

Things from the forest die here
But I don't
Dead forest things are offered here
But I'm not

* * *

Monsters in literature, in one handy graphic:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Color-Coding a Character Sheet

One thing new players sometimes struggle with in rpgs is finding stuff on their character sheets, which makes sense if they're just not used to the visual conventions and layout strategies of tabletop games. I'm wondering if color-coded characters sheets, like my above example of a custom LotoFAP sheet, could help. Something like "Okay, what's your Armor Class? It's in the red area" might just save some time and help nail things down.

If you want your own technicolor Baphomet character sheet, I've made it available here as a pdf.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Daughters of the Eel Cult

A Confession: I've been using the Daughters of the Eel as antagonists in a couple different Arksylvania games, but I haven't really fleshed-out what they're all about. But I have some dice and some random tables, so we can fix that.

Some things we know about the Daughters of the Eel:
  • The members of the cult are drawn exclusively from the ranks of female artists who are inspired by the terrible and sublime power of the primordial sea. Only women who evidence an affinity with the dark depths of the ocean can hear the call of the Eelmother. Since all its members are artists, it is a tenet of the cult that beauty and aesthetic pleasures are to be celebrated. Conversely, those whose art is mockery--such as clowns and buffoons--are to be stripped of their motley and tormented without mercy.
  • The Eelmother promises to bring her faithful Daughters wealth and prosperity. Those who survive shipwrecks and drownings are thought to be blessed by the Eelmother.
  • One rite practiced by the Daughters of the Eel is the profane mixing of sacrificial blood with that of monstrous creatures from the deep to create an injectable, magical substance they refer to as "the Mother's Nectar."
  • The Daughters of the Eel seek the entrance to an ancient reliquary hidden within a seaside cove; they believe that the reliquary houses a potent artifact that will allow them to raise the Eelmother from the depths.
  • Those who serve the ends of the Eel Cult are granted a transformative boon: their skin becomes as tough, rubbery, and protective as that of a great eel. Furthermore, the recipient of this gift is able to survive the crushing pressures of the undersea. 

The above details about the Daughters of the Eel were generated with Rafael Chandler's Obscene Serpent Religion supplement; I modified things here and there to be less about snakes and more about eels, but it was really useful as a starting point.