Monday, November 30, 2015

Grendel's Arm

The petrified arm of a massive beast, Grendel's Arm can be wielded as a two-handed weapon that does 1d10 damage. The arm still retains a measure of its inherent ferocity; after it has been wielded as a weapon by a character, it strikes out on its own against the same foe with an attack bonus of +6.

On an attack roll of one, the wielder of the Arm must make a Saving Throw vs. Magic Device. On a failed Save, Grendel's Mother becomes alerted to the location of the bearer of her son's arm.

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 Piskaro; 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 Creedhall 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 (shadow)

2. Possessing Geist (ghost)

3. Dreadful Apparition (banshee)

4. Mischievous Ghost (poltergeist)

5. Tortured Wraith (wraith)

6. Vengeful Specter (spectre)

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

Crimson Peak's Truth, Bone Temple, Monsters in Literature

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 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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Villanoska Mystery: The Road to Villanoska

Hurstcote is as vile a den of corruption as you might dare imagine. Within an opium den in a particularly loathsome street three "heroes" gather to meet their prospective employer: Isoline, a dark-eyed gypsy left upon the doorstep of a cathedral; Marius, a thin, nervous man from an ancient house who dabbles in the criminal underworld; Galen, a gnarled little brute with a taste for whiskey and a thorough knowledge of the darkened woods.

Their employer, Madame Urania, is a hulking woman who speaks plainly. She has had a distressing letter from her sister in a village to the north. According to her sister, the citizens of Villanoska have been turning up dead with alarming frequency, and the death do not seem to stem from natural causes. Each victim was found bloated and water-logged, as if they had been drowned at sea--a strange thing for a land-locked village. Though little love is lost between Urania and her sister, Urania feels a duty to send some willing bodies to Villanoska to fetch her sister before she becomes the next victim to whatever is plaguing the village. 

As the heroes set out the next morning they are relieved to let the stink of Chancel recede behind them. But all is not well in the dark lanes that lead north from the city. Sharp-eyed Marius realizes that the trio are being shadowed by creatures who stay just out of sight within the trees. Surreptitiously, they ready their weapons for the inevitable ambush. 

The ambush comes in the form of a number of shambling figures breaking forth from the treeline, surging forward on legs seemingly set at the wrong angle, waving butcher knives and rough-hewn clubs. Galen lets his blunderbuss sing its scattershot song, Marius slips his rapier between ribs with insouciant aplomb, and Isoline calls down the burning wrath of the saints. The group take a few minor wounds, but soon the landscape is littered with the misshapen corpses of their attackers. As this is no safe ground to regroup upon, they opt not to rest here and instead press on to                                                          Villanoska.

Ah, Villanoska at last! A sleepy, ramshackle village protected by a poorly-mended wooden stockade. Urania's sister, Cybaline, is located. She's reluctant to leave the town; when pressed for what little information she has she remarks that if the characters can discover the source of the murders in the village they will receive a substantial reward. 

Others are questioned--and it is determined that the only known source of water in the village is the common well at the center of the what passes for the town square. The well is nondescript from the outside, and shows no signs of obvious malevolence. 

Unconvinced that all is as innocuous as it seems, Galen is lowered down into the well by his rope-laden compatriots. Deep within the well he notes that there are holy runes dedicating it to Saint Arethia--except that these runes have been crudely defaced. Whatever sanctity once guarded this important source of water has been utterly effaced.

The trio retreat to the way-inn to ponder what this might mean, replenish themselves with food and rest, and to wait for the morning sun to rise before taking action. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

#drawlloween round-up

All of those mini Snicker bars are gone, so I guess Halloween is over.

FUCK THAT, let's keep it going another week at least.

Anyway, one thing I did over the course of October was participate in #drawlloween. If you haven't seen it before, it's a challenge to draw one Halloween-related thing per day. I'm posting my output below; I'm still strictly amateur and have only been drawing for a couple years now, but I learned some things by doing these and mostly I'm proud of myself for not missing a day.