23 June 2020

Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting

If you haven't seen Spwack's Finders Keepers, go have a look. The character generator is absolutely glorious.

Demon Flips the Cart style
From Kill Six Billion Demons.
Anyway, I've recently seen such wonderful films as the Invincible Armour or the Five Deadly Venoms, and they got me thinking that Finders Keepers lacks some nice, dirt simple martial arts. Thus the list below. As it was envisioned for an Into the Odd adjacent rule set, it assumes hp as stamina - very low and easy to recover after a fight, plus you only start taking real injuries once you are at 0 hp. But it wouldn't be an OSR if you couldn't tweak the table to fit into your own wuxia game.
From Exalted.
Instead of a weapon, you can start proficient in a martial arts style. You can use one style at a time and it takes an action to switch between styles you know. No weapon-based martial art styles were included, so you can only use martial arts while unarmed and unarmoured. If one of your party members knows a different style than you, you can train with them and gain that style once you level up / spend enough XP.

Each martial art comes with a trick, many of which do something with no save / no roll, or grant some immunity. When two martial artists fight, a perfect defense always beats a perfect offense. Thus if a Jiu-Jitsu user tried to knock prone a master of the Jade Mountain Stance, they would fail. Otherwise, you can use the tricks at will.

Optional Rule: Odd Stunts
If you describe your attack in a cool way that incorporates your surroundings (kicking a table at your foe, running up a wall for a backflip kick), the GM may enhance your damage roll.
Elemental Bending: Fire style
From here.

d60Style NameDmgTrick
1Aikidod6When you successfully dodge an attack, you redirect it back at the attacker.
2Capoeirad6When reduced to 0 hp, immediately gain an extra turn. You may drop to 0 hp at will.
3Celestial Monkey King styled8Once per enemy, you may disarm, trip or pickpocket them with no save.
4Charcoal March of Spiders styled8When you roll max damage, you may remove one of your foe's magical or combat abilities until they rest.
5Demon Flips the Cart styled8You can automatically succeed on a STR check by dropping to 0 hp.
6Dreaming Pearl Courtesan styled6Step up damage if you're prim and proper, and again if your foe could be sexually attracted to you.
7Elemental Bending: Air styled6You can push air to project your strikes at range. You can double jump.
8Elemental Bending: Fire styled6Your strikes can deal fire damage. You take half damage from fire and heat.
9Elemental Bending: Metal styled10Metal weapons shatter when they strike you. Still take the damage normally.
10Elemental Bending: Water styled8Breathe and move freely underwater.
11Elemental Bending: Wood styled8Plants never harm, snare or slow you down. You can climb trees and move between treetops at full running speed.
12Falling Cherry Blossom styled6You fall as a feather and can jump or glide long distances.
13Fierce Horse Soul styled8You run as fast as a horse and can run forever without tiring.
14Five Deadly Venoms: Cd8You may decide to impair your damage, but attack everyone in reach.
15Five Deadly Venoms: Lizard styled6You can run on walls and ceiling until you stop moving.
16Five Deadly Venoms: Scorpion styled8Your strikes can deal either bludgeoning or piercing damage. Roll damage with advantage against unsuspecting foes.
17Five Deadly Venoms: Snake styled8Your strikes are fast nobody can even see you move. No counters, dodging or defensive actions are possible.
18Five Deadly Venoms: Toad styled6Take 1 less damage from all sources.
19Five Dragons As One styled6For each ally in the fight that also knows this style, gain +1 damage, to a maximum of +4.
20Head of John styled6Your head is completely invulnerable, both to physical and mental effects.
21Hungry Ghost styled6Ignore all special defenses (like intangibility or invulnerability).
22Jade Mountain Stance styled6You cannot be moved, tripped, etc. Gain a free attack against anyone who would try.
23Jiu-Jitsud6You can knock prone anyone, no save, as long as you also fall with them. You deal full damage in a grapple.
24Judod6When you roll higher than your foe, you may decide to deal no damage and instead reposition them with no save.
25Karated8If you have enough time to properly concentrate, you can punch through any inanimate obstacle short of adamant.
26Ki Ratad12Whenever you roll 10+ on a damage die, add another die. If you roll 3+ dice in a single attack, all the bones in your arm shatter from the strain.
27Kickboxd8While at full hp, reroll all 1s.
28Krav Magad10When you roll higher than your foe, you may decide to deal no damage and instead disarm a weapon-wielding attacker.
29Krayu Matd8You can spend a round focusing your ki to fire a beam of pure energy on your next turn, dealing your unarmed damage to everyone in a line.
30Kung-Fu: Crane styled8Your attacks have reach as a spear. You never need to roll for balance.
31Kung-Fu: Dragon styled10Murder one low-level mook per round, no questions asked. Must be indistinguishable from all other mooks.
32Kung-Fu: Mantis styled8When you roll max damage, you may maim your opponent.
33Kung-Fu: Panda styled8Advantage on STR saves with your hands pressed together.
34Kung-Fu: Tiger styled8Your strikes can deal either bludgeoning or slashing damage. Roll damage with advantage when you can run and pounce at your foe.
35Laughing Wounds styled10If you die in combat, you may continue fighting for 5 more rounds while laughing madly.
36Leisure Kicks styled6When you roll max damage, you may reroll the damage and send the target flying.
37MMAd8Once ever, when you fight another martial artist, you may decide that you know the trick of their style.
38Muay Thaid10Make a free attack when an enemy retreats or moves past you.
39Ninjutsud6You can climb nearly anything without a roll. Only impossible climbs require (and always allow) a roll.
40Old-school Fisticuffsd8When you drop a foe to 0 hp, make an extra attack.
41Pankrationd8Take no penalties from tight squeezes, being prone, grappled, engulfed, or tied up.
42Pattram Sword Hand styled10When you deal max damage, cut off a limb of the victim's choice. This style is considered evil and its adherents often persecuted.
43Peasant's Pathd6You can teach this style to anyone within a week at no XP cost.
44Porcelain Fist styled8You may deal max damage by taking half that yourself.
45Pressure Point styled8When you reduce a foe to 0 hp, they are completely paralysed until they can regain hp.
46Prismatic Arrangement of Creation styled6Choose one damage type other than bludgeoning. While at full hp, you are completely immune to it.
47Senjutsud8You are never surprised and always act first in an encounter. You can sense nearby danger.
48Soul Reaper styled6Once you strike a foe, you can freely teleport behind their back as a move until the end of the encounter.
49Straw Stops Sleet styled6Immune to ranged attacks if aware of them. Your choice of dodging, deflecting or catching them.
50Taekwondod6When you attack, deal the higher of your damage roll and your opponent's roll.
51Tai Chid6You can walk on top of snow, or twigs and leaves. You can run water surface. You leave no footprints.
52Tenfold Ebon Shadow styled6The first attack you ever make against each individual enemy deals 1d20 damage, but only if you know their name.
53Void Lotus styled6Specify a duration to lock yourself out of time, becoming inviolable. If you have an immovable rod, you also become locked in place.
54Vulcan Nerve Pinch styled6You can forgo doing damage to instead stun the enemy for half the rolled number of rounds.
55Way of the Mastersd8You can teach this style to any animal, and talk with any animal that knows this style.
56White Hand styled6Your hand counts as a shield. "Sundering" doesn't destroy your hand, but you will have to meditate to recover.
57Wrestlingd6A flashy finisher can instakill anyone at 0 hp with no save and force their allies to roll Morale.
58Zui Quand6When drunk, you automatically counter-attack against all enemies that strike at you.
5925 Purities Pathd6As long as you lead an ascetic life, you are immune to poisons, diseases and ageing. You also need only half rations.
6049 Empty Palms styled8Your attacks count as blessed if you ask for forgiveness before attacking.

From Doctor Strange.
As a side note, this is quite useful.

13 June 2020

Ancient Artifacts of Stupendous Science

There are interesting gadgets that your players can find when prowling the wasteland, and then there are these things. They were rare and expensive before the Turn, and now they are the most prized possessions of the most powerful water barons, the sacred relics of hidden arcologies, or long lost in forgotten vaults.

Some might be a treasure in the big bad's lair, some a treasure the big bad seeks. Some will be the crux of their evil master plan.

All can surely be used for many a shenanigan.
A cruciform.
I've stolen this one wholesale from the Hyperion Cantos.
If you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you do.
d20 Artifacts
  1. Bioprinter: From a single droplet of blood, this device can recreate and clone any creature. An adjustable fast-time field will even age the subject appropriately.
  2. Recoiler: A piece of jewellery (normally a ring, bracelet or a brooch) that can be activated to instantly return the wearer to the safety of a pre-defined receiver chamber. Its range is long enough to bring one from Earth to the Moon.
  3. Transmat cannon: During the Turn, these weapons were used to instantly teleport an armed antimatter bomb onboard an enemy vessel. It has a range of about a light second, a projectile chamber large enough to fit several people inside, and cannot be blocked by anything short of very advanced force shields.
  4. Hypnolearning bay: A comfortable coffin where one can lie down to sleep and learn a new skill overnight*.
  5. Phylacterion: A throne of chrome and wiring. When a creature is strapped into it, the phylacterion can either scan their brain and create a new mindstate disc, or download a mindstate disc into the creature's brain, overwriting their whole psyche with another person.
  6. Cruciform: A cybernetic symbiont that bonds with the user and makes them nigh immortal. No matter how grisly their injuries or how little remains from their dead and destroyed body, the symbiont will eventually reconstitute them to full (physical) health. It's impossible to deactivate or detach, so users tend to be dealt with by chucking them into a volcano.
  7. Becoming nook: Lie down into this surgery station and close your eyes as it anaesthetises you. One quick implantation later, you will be on your way to bionic ascension. No surgery roll is required and the recipient gains +4 bonus to their post-surgery Con Save if the becoming nook is used to add a new augmentation.
  8. Warp star: A miniature black hole trapped in an indestructible crystal. Serves as an infinite power cell, capable of powering a whole city alone.
  9. Gravity cannon: An unassuming platform that can nonetheless accelerate anything up to the size of a spaceship to a good fraction of c.
  10. Phase gate: A cannon-like device that will charge up with 5D energy, then blast a hole to the next dimension over.
  11. Nulltime tank: Inside, the time itself stands still. The grieving might keep their loved ones alive, for a certain measure of "life", while the decadent will always have their meals fresh and warm.
  12. Replicator: A cloud of nanites in a box will break down matter on atomic level, then rebuild it into whatever their owner desires. While pretty much anything can be quickly fabricated, one still needs the materials and blueprints.
  13. Matrix: There are many people with access to the Matrix, but this is the Matrix. Destroy this core, and the Matrix is gone. Or reprogram it to change literally anything inside. You can be a virtual god.
  14. Humongous mecha activation codes: The chrome colossi of yore have lain dormant since time immemorial, but this could bring them back to life.
  15. Sensory deprivation tank: The resting place for powerful psions. See here.
  16. Regeneration tank: A sarcophagus-like medical device that can heal any injury, and even bring back the recently dead. Minor injuries disappear within ten minutes, a lost limb would regrow in an hour, while a resurrection might take half a day. When used to bring back the dead, however, they must Save with a penalty equal to the number of hours since their demise, or gain an insanity. Corpses that already started to rot cannot be brought back at all.
  17. Time machine: When you climb inside, you can travel anywhere along the machine's own timeline, from the first moment it was activated to a split second before it will be rendered inoperable.
  18. Docility drug formula: Dulls emotions, squashes all defiant thoughts. Easily spread through water supply. With a passable chemical lab, it wouldn't be hard to mass-produce the drug.
  19. Small spaceship: One planet is not enough.
  20. Stargate: Actually, you don't need a spaceship.
A phase gate, from Stranger Things.

*) Still subject to the limits on Memory.

9 June 2020

The Old Axe

A broad, jagged axehead of black iron, its haft stained with blood.

It is said to be possessed by the spirit of a mighty warlord who stood unconquered even in death. He succumbed to his wounds yet remained standing, and the enemy forces, unaware of his demise, were so shaken by his unflinching, horrible stare that they sounded a retreat while they already had victory within their grasp.
Fearless Axe
This axe bears the blessing of courage and valour. It grants immunity to fear and advantage on Trauma rolls. Once you win a number of battles equal to twice your level while wielding the axe, it transforms into the Fearsome Axe.

Should you ever retreat from battle or otherwise prove a coward, though, it transforms into the Fearful Axe.

Fearsome Axe
This axe bears the blessing of blood and glory. It has all the benefits (and drawbacks) of the Fearless Axe, plus whenever a fear effect* successfully affects your enemies**, you channel their fear and can either heal d4 hp, or deal d4 damage to any creature in sight, no Save.

Fearful Axe
This axe bears a curse of disgrace and cowardice. You automatically suffer from any fear effect that happened near you, even if you weren't the target***, and take d4 Stress. You will never voluntarily ditch the axe, though, and always wield it in combat, even if the situation would call for eg. ranged weapons. If anyone tries to take the axe from you by force, you immediately Crack.

However, if you manage to land a killing blow regardless, the axe will transform into the Fearless Axe.
*) Including when they fail a Morale roll.
**) Only once per effect, so affecting an individual is the same as affecting a whole group.
***) The wizard casts cause fear on some orcs, the fighter tries to intimidate the lonely kobold, the child shouts "Boo", etc.

31 May 2020

Jar of Dirt

The Sun was beating down hard on her bare shoulders as Eli took a short breather to think through her next few steps. There was a small overhang on the rock face just above her, and then she should already be on the ledge. She let go of her comfortable cranny and gripped a sloper over her head instead, then shifted her weight and hauled herself upwards, until she was hanging on her straightened arms. The stone was coarse and dry under her fingers, and she was sweating and breathing deeply and enjoying every moment of this.

Eli hooked her heel on the edge of the overhang and then traversed to where it broadened into a wider, grassy cleft with a narrow cave opening. Sitting down on the ledge, she dangled her feet above the rustling tree crowns and relaxed in the warm sunlight until the drying sweat started to feel chilly on her skin. Then she got up, took out her flashlight and approached the cave - the entire point of coming up here. She found about this small cave on a geocaching website, a cache prepared specially for climbers. She will have to snap a picture once she finds it, to brag into the twins' faces.

She had to duck low to enter the cave, but the ceiling rose quickly and she could soon walk almost upright, even if the floor covered in gravel and the angled walls made it somewhat difficult. The corridor took a sharp turn and then abruptly ended as a mound of dirt and stones completely blocked off the path forward.

Eli looked around for some hiding place that could hold the plastic container of a cache, but the only obvious spot seemed to be the top of the wobbly-looking pile. On the other hand, she wouldn't be the first person to climb here, so it couldn't be that unstable, she reasoned. Stepping carefully, she got to the top of the heap only to find a tight crack that someone might just about stick their arm through. In the shadows cast by the hard edges of the rock, she could make out some kind of a box sitting askew in the crevice.

She had to crouch on the mound to reach it, and had to try twice to drag it closer. It wasn't a plastic box but rather an glass jar stoppered with a metallic cap, surprisingly heavy but filled only with some dirt. If this was someone's idea of a trolling cache, they were quite dedicated to the joke to bring it all the way up here. Eli held the jar up to her flashlight and tried to shake it, when the grey powder rippled and lunged against her at the glass.

Completely surprising herself, Eli let out a high-pitched scream and slipped down from the mound, both flashlight and the jar flying from her hands. She heard the glass shattering, and the cave was cast to shadows as the flashlight fell somewhere between rocks. Scraped and annoyed, she went to get it back, but somehow the flashlight managed to wedge itself just deep enough to escape her grasp. She did find the lid of the jar, though, curiously heavy and thick, with some fine engravings on the underside.

As she was turning the lid in her hands, a sudden sound froze her mid-thought.

"أين أنا؟"

Eli stumbled to turn around in a blink, barely catching herself on the cave walls. In the sparse light of the lost flashlight, she could just about roughly make out a tall, muscular figure that was now filling the corridor, completely blocking off any hope of an escape route. With adrenaline thrumming in her head and the shadows playing tricks on her eyes, the figure seemed larger than possible, imposing and inhuman. Its grey skin rippled.

"أعذري وقاحتي"

Before her brain could decide on any fight-or-flight response, the figure lifted its arm and Eli wasn't quick enough to dodge.

The figure touched her forehead.

It was as if a single needle of numbness speared into her brain. A split second of weird sensations that forced Eli to close her eyes and take a step back. She steadied herself on the cave walls, unsure what else to expect.

Nothing happened.

She cracked her eyes open again, glancing at the figure that was still standing in place, silent now.

Eli licked her parched lips before speaking up: "What did you do?" Even as frightened as she was, she felt a momentary pride that her voice didn't falter.

The figure gestured and globe of light appeared above its extended palm, providing a soft illumination that only accentuated the confined conditions of this little cave. Eli could now finally take a good look at the massive man. He was naked, except he wasn't... equipped. His hairless grey skin gave off nearly metallic red gleams in the light and he held himself way too still, not even breathing, no expression on his face.

"Accept my apologies for scaring you and for melding you without your consent. I didn't speak your language and needed to make sure we could understand each other. I have too many questions now that I was released from my prison, only thanks to you of course. For that, I am deeply in your debt."

"I... You're welcome?"

"Now tell me, what is the name of my liberator?"

"I'm Eli-"

"My lord djinni," a loud voice sounded behind the grey man. He turned to reveal an old man in a longcoat, doffing his hat in a deep bow. "I am very sorry for interrupting your conversation, but I couldn't have not noticed you awakening from your secret slumber, and I would be loathe to fail in paying you the respects you rightfully deserve, my lord."

"Rise, wizard," the djinni said, "you are forgiven. It pleases me that my kind is still well remembered, even though I understand I slept for a long time indeed. Before my treacherous imprisonment, the skies were silent except for the songs of my brethren, yet now I can hear the whispers of machines everywhere. Is that the mankind's making? Have they rebuilt the chrome kingdoms of yore?"

"The mankind went a long way since you might last recall, my lord, yet to this day the greatest of their accomplishments pale in comparison to the glory of the least of the djinn. This planet is still the hinterland it always used to be. Which reminds me, if I may be so bold to offer my services, that I know of a Way to your homeland. Your kingdom must surely be amiss due to your absence."

"You seem very eager to see me gone, wizard."

"My only hope is to serve well enough for you to spare me a thought on your glorious return."

Eli realized she's holding the strange lid in a white-knuckled grip as the djinni scrutinized the wizard for a long second.

"I will accept your services. Now tell me, where is this Gateway?"

The old man fished out something that Eli couldn't see from his pocket and shown it to the djinni.

"Very well," the djinni said and raised his hand above his head before turning it slightly. The whole world turned along with his hand.

Eli very nearly fell as her equilibrium was thrown out of whack. She hugged herself and bend forward as her stomach felt like making a somersault, barely holding back nausea. She tried to breathe, but the air was too hot and dry. It was suddenly so bright all around that she couldn't quite see.

There was sand beneath her feet.

"I remember these fields lush and blooming," the djinni seemed to whisper.

When Eli managed to take a shallow breath and blink away the tears that welled in her eyes, she saw the three of them standing in front of a massive block of hewn sandstone. The Sun was bright on the cloudless sky and all around was nothing but endless sand and jutting sandstone rocks.

"What happened?" she could barely rasp.

The djinni abruptly turned to her, even as she unwittingly stepped back again.

"I apologize for the second time. I did not think of you when I allowed the wizard to assist me. I have to cut our time short, but you surely understand how much I yearn for my home and vengeance, rash as my decisions might be because of it. I assure you that your services are remembered, too, and shall be rewarded." He seemed to consider for a moment before continuing: "Unless you wish to come with me? The xanthous halls of al-Mariikh have not been seen by a human eye ever before, but I would be willing to grant this boon to you."

"I..." She had no idea what to say. Off to the side, the wizard was staring at her intently. He looked a bit alarmed, maybe? "...don't think I want..." The wizard looked alarmed in a different way now. "...to abuse your kindness so much, my lord?" Eli finally stammered. The wizard seemed to relax slightly.

"Indeed. I cannot afford a scandal when my enemies had ages to plot against me. Still, you both have my gratitude."

"Thank you," Eli said and after a brief second of silence added, "my lord."

"We shall await your return, my lord," the wizard came to her rescue.

The djinni turned back to the sandstone block and ran his hand along the carved symbols, over long centuries eroded into indistinct grooves. Then he touched some of them, one to the left of him, three above and two on the right.

Eli noticed how the wizard, dressed way too warmly for this desert or what it was, has several beads of sweat slowly travelling down his forehead. He didn't try to wipe them away.

With a loud crack, the sandstone in between the touched symbols shattered and fell inwards. Within the resulting hole, Eli could make out a metallic door frame filled with darkness that didn't seem to be touched by the pervasive, bright sunlight in the slightest. A light wind picked up towards this door.

"You shall, and once I return, you both shall have a place among my thralls."

Then the djinni stepped through the portal. The wind stopped as the darkness of the portal winked out, replaced by a smooth plate of the same metal as the door frame.

Suddenly, the wizard dropped down on the hot sand as if absolutely exhausted, wiped his brow and breathed a heavy sigh of relief. "Thank goodness that's over. Though it actually went better than I expected."

It took Eli a few more seconds to compose herself enough to speak without having to worry about freaking out: "What the actual fuck was all of that?"

The wizard gave her a wry look before responding: "That was a djinn king you let out of his eternal prison, and I sent him to Sagittarius A*. No need to thank me, let's all hope he didn't survive. My name's Mr. Kipfel, by the way."