3 December 2021

Slip

The parking lot was mostly empty and drowned in heavy rain, yet I still left the car at the very far end, right next to the fence with only a river beyond. It did mean enduring the sleet as I trekked to the nearby building, but I would rather be hidden from any coincidental meddlesome eyes, and the darkness of heavy clouds and defunct lamps provided for that nicely. I took cover under the small roof above the back entrance and had one last look at the pocket clockwork.

The small hand was pointed at the door and the big hand was nearing twelve. It must be here, though I didn't feel anything except for some strange familiarity with this place. Then again, I wasn't quite at the top of my game. Everything was still so new and a little off - not truly uncomfortable, but different, like a tooth cap you can't stop touching with your tongue.

I couldn't really idle, though, with the readings as urgent as they were. I didn't want to idle.

Picking the lock was easy and I took out a flashlight as I ventured inside. Everything was gloomy and grimy, all sounds drowned out by the insistent rainfall. From what I saw on arrival, this once was a cinema, now rundown and abandoned. A dead place, out of sight of anyone who didn't know what to look for. An ideal place for an incursion.

Then I heard the voices.

Coming from behind the door to my left, they seemed to be chanting. I tried the door handle, and though stiffly, it moved. The room beyond was large and poorly lit by flickering light, its floor strewn with strange shapes. The chanting intensified, accompanied by the sounds of struggle. I attempted to slip through the door without making a sound or drawing attention to myself with abrupt movements, but still the old hinges creaked and I involuntarily cringed and something was really wrong with that scene and I had it on the tip of my proverbial tongue, but-

"Hey you!"

A shape rose up from one of the many seats randomly littering the floor, starting right after me. Then the lights exploded in a crescendo of music and I finally made one more half-step into the room that let me see the threadbare film screen where a cultist just summoned a "demon" in a latex costume.

"I was starting to think you forgot, Robbie," the woman who got up to greet me said.

"Oh, hi. No," I managed, before she threw her arms around my neck and started to kiss me.

Well, that explains the feeling of familiarity with this place. Incited, the memories came flooding in, of this little hideout where I - no, Robert - sometimes went with Kristy to hang out with her rowdy bunch of friends. From the memories I managed to quickly skim through, Kristy was clever and generally fun to be around. Robert had a good taste, though unlike Robert, I wasn't particularly enraptured by the neon green stripe in her hair, nor the piercing currently scratching my tongue.

She pulled away and looked at me questioningly: "Is something wrong?"

I leaned forward for one more quick, reassuring kiss. "No, sorry. I had a few rough days."

"You could've called me," she said, hugging me tight.

"I know, I just needed a while to take stock of, well, everything."

Damn, poor choice of words. She looked me in the eyes, suddenly uncertain and worrying.

"What's happening, Rob?"

Not the time for this! I came here...

"Everything all right, Kristy?"

Dave, I remembered. He always saw Robert as the outsider and rival.

"Everything's just peachy, Dave," I retorted and turned back to Kristy: "My uncle died recently. He made me his heir, and now the family is pretty pissed at me, so I was trying to avoid everyone, I guess. Sorry."

Distract her with a sob story, then get back to work. I came here...

"Oh," she hugged me again. "You could've still called me. Wanna go out and talk about it?"

"No," I offered a smile. "Maybe later. Thanks," I amended quickly to dissuade any further prying.

She dragged me to her cushion and cuddled up as we watched the bad old horror film, but something continued to bother me, and it wasn't my newfound girlfriend nor the squalid, spooky surroundings.

I knew I came here to... to...

I couldn't concentrate. The air was stale and stinky, smelling of old beer and sweat and...

Robert did frequent the parties here, he knew the people and I could chalk up some confused feelings to that, yet I followed the readings, not Robert's memories. I could have made a mistake, maybe? I was missing something obvious, and the acrid air, the loud film and a starting headache from trying too hard to get all the fleeting memories and thoughts in order didn't help.

I had something that might, though.

I reached into my breast pocket for a flask of lishgar. I liked to carry one with me, even if I only rarely used it. The risk of addiction and the sheer price of this stuff made me think twice. I had a new, young, healthy and most importantly completely clean body now, though, and I needed a clear mind. I involuntarily shuddered as I quaffed a small sip.

The film was blaring, but otherwise, everything was so... still.

"Hey, what are you hiding in there?" Kristy grinned at me.

"Nothing particularly tasty," I smiled back and tried to leisurely tuck the potion away, but she was already snatching the flask from my hand.

"Let me be the judge of that, you know I have a cultivated taste," she winked.

I stifled the urge to yank it back. I did not have enough to waste it, but I really did not want to make a scene. The potion was so bitter that she won't drink much, and it can't really harm her with a single dose. I hope.

Sure enough, she swallowed, started to cough and shoved the flask back at me.

"Why in hell would you drink that? That's worse than the rotgut Dave brought that one time!"

"Told you," I said and went to hug her, but then she turned pale and started to scream.

I didn't misread the clockwork. The party was too still. I came here for a reason, but I forgot.

Kristy had fat white worms gnawing through the flesh of her arms.

We both jumped up from the cushion that was crawling with the same worms. My mind cleared as the drug sharpened my focus, and I saw how many people there used to be on the party. The bodies were everywhere. Half-eaten corpses sitting with a slouch, their insides teeming with hatchling grub. Skeletons nearly cleaned of all meat lounging on chairs, the maggots slowly spilling from them to look for another meal. Here and there was somebody still alive, missing limbs or stretches of skin, ignorant of the eggs laid into the bloody holes in their guts or their eye sockets. Dave tried to kiss his girlfriend, but couldn't really do much more than spread some worms over her face, as they have already devoured his lips. She smiled and kissed him back.

Suddenly, I was staring down at the floor, retching. The smell, the sight, lishgar made me take it all in at once and twice as strongly. I squashed some worms that found my boot and tried to centre myself, then heaved again.

"Fuck! What the fuck?! What did you give me? What the fuck was that shit, Robert?!"

Unfortunately for Kristy, lishgar enhanced all forms of perception. Including the sense of pain. She was clawing at her arms, nails digging deep into the open wounds, tearing the worms apart or away.

"It's real," I barely rasped. My throat felt awful and my stomach swayed with each word. "What you see. We have to get out. Get out of here. Quickly."

She wasn't listening. She was taking in everything, too much.

I tried to grab for her arm, but she recoiled, quick and skittish. At least she was paying attention, now.

"We need to run," I said, then seeing her look I added: "Please, you have to trust me."

Lost look in her eyes, she let me take her hand. It was slick with blood, but at least nothing wriggled in the ragged wounds any more. I had to drag her as we moved to the door.

They were all over the ground, but they were just worms. With every step, they squished beneath our boots. I nearly lost my balance when I slipped on an empty beer bottle, and it was Kristy who kept me up, hissing in pain as she strained her wounded arms. I opened the door and slammed it shut again once we were through, crushing even more of the worms. Not that it would matter in the grand scheme of things.

"We'll have to burn all of this. They are everywhere and I don't have anything else that would make sure we stop them before they can get out. I really hope there are no open drains or pipes in here."

"What the- No! Are you insane?!"

"Kristy, I swear this is real. I'm sorry, but it is. The potion we took doesn't make you see things. I mean-"

"I know! I can feel it, no, see it, no, I just- I know it's real!" She gripped me, pupils dilated so wide there was nearly no iris left. "We have to go back. The guys, we can't leave!"

It was really dark in here. I thought I brought a flashlight, but I must have left it somewhere.

"Rob? Robbie!"

"Sorry, I... Sure, let's go back. I didn't... I... Let's go back to the party," I smiled. I had a really ugly taste in my mouth.

My head hurt.

"What? No. No, no no no no!"

Damn, I felt tired and sick and didn't pay enough attention to what I was saying. Kristy had a touch of panic in her voice, now.

"Hey, I'm not feeling all that well tonight," I said, trying for a soothing tone. I should get out of here, figure out what's going on, try to remember more about Kristy, her gang and this place, then come back. "Would you mind if I skipped this evening? I will make it up to you, okay? I will call you tomorrow, I just need to sleep it off."

"You vomited," she said, suddenly. It was starting to get on my nerves that I nearly couldn't see her in the dark. I thought I brought a flashlight, but I must have left it somewhere.

"I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to-"

"Robbie, listen! That drug, you have a little bottle in your pocket? You took it and me too, but you vomited it up. You have to take it again!"

She was just a shadowy silhouette, but her hands were trembling as she clutched mine.

Lishgar? How did she know about it? I had some with me, but if I took it and couldn't even...

I took a good gulp. If I couldn't even remember, something was definitely happening here.

***

With the canister of petrol and other stuff I had in my car, the building was soon up in flames. Limited, controlled flames, I must add, and the heavy rain would limit them further. Enough to scorch everything inside, but not enough to spread. With the dark and stormy night and only old office buildings all around, hopefully no one will call the fire brigade and the fire will have its time to remove all traces of the incursion.

The bodies will be found, and it will be reported as a great tragedy. When we came back, there was nobody left to rescue and save. At least their families will have the memories and some measure of closure.

I sat in my car, intent to keep watch and make sure it is truly over.

Behind me, Kristy was propped on the back seat, her arms patched as best as I could with the first aid kit. I offered to drop her off at the hospital, but she refused. The stitches can wait, she said, and that she wanted to see this through.

But all the action was done and all that was left to do was to wait. I knew the inevitable question will have to come now.

"Who the hell are you?" she asked, her tone low and hard.

"Normally, I would fear to sound totally crazy saying that," I chuckled, "but there is more to the world than meets the eye. There are things that-"

"No. Who the hell are you?" she repeated, pointed and accusing.

"I... beg your pardon?"

"That! The stuff you gave me, whatever it was, it makes you more aware, doesn't it? I started noticing all the little things. Posture, gestures, expressions. Like right now, my Robbie would never say that."

... Oh.

"So fucking tell me, who are you and what did you do with Robbie?!"

1 November 2021

Regioncrawl

I've been playing Dark Elf lately, an older online kingdom management game, and it has a beautiful map with little regions that you war over. It would be perfect for region-crawling. So I've taken the liberty of keying all the regions, though only with names so far. Hopefully they can serve as hooks in and of themselves. Many places are named in Low Elvish (see the dictionary below), because why not, and some are loosely inspired by their in-game names.


>KEYED MAP<


>CLEAN MAP<


Each region can be handled as a hex or point on a more traditional map, with your favourite rules for overland movement. Any shared border means the regions are adjacent "hexes" and each region takes the same time to traverse - the smaller regions have rougher terrain while the larger ones have nice roads. Rivers and mountains on region borders are impassable unless the PCs find a ferry/mountain guide, while rivers and mountains within a region have bridges or trails.

There are several portals, which can speed up your travels a lot if you know the rune-code of your destination.

 

As far as starting locations go, I'd suggest Crown-by-the-Sea in the lower left corner, the Refugee Camp in the upper left, one of the settlements around the Undertide Lake, or perhaps the Little Big Burgh in the lower right. (Pro tip: You can Ctrl+F any location on the map.) I'm personally a fan of starting the players in a relatively normal place and then having them delve deeper into the weird, and all of these locations can serve as the grounded base of operations while having something worth exploring only a hex or two away. I'd probably just show the players the named map to give them some idea about what they can expect and aim for.

You can also start some trouble brewing for the players to fix or flee from.



Have I missed any regions on the map? Any suggestions or corrections?

31 August 2021

3d100 Positive Traits

Here's a table to quickly make up competent characters. Just choose or roll for three traits and let your imagination do the rest.



From here.


d100AdjectiveCareerSkill
1AgileActorAcrobacy
2AlertAlchemistAnatomy
3AthleticAnimal TrainerAnimal Handling
4BeautifulApothecaryAppraisal
5BloodthirstyArchivistArcheology
6BraveArsonistArchery
7BrawnyArtistArchitecture
8CalmAssassinArtillery
9CarefulBanditAstrology
10CharmingBarbarianAstronomy
11CleverBarber-SurgeonAxe Murder
12ConfidentBardBluffing
13CunningBeggarBlunt Weapons
14DeceitfulBlack MarketeerBotany
15DefiantBlacksmithBrawling
16DeftBurglarBrewing
17DestructiveButcherBushcraft
18DeterminedCannibalCalligraphy
19DextrousChirurgeonCamouflage
20DisciplinedClerkCarousing
21EducatedClockmakerCarpentry
22EruditeCoachmanCartography
23FastCon ArtistChariot Driving
24FearlessContortionistClimbing
25FierceCookClose Quarters Combat
26FlexibleCultistCooking
27FocusedCutpurseDancing
28ForcefulDeserterDeciphering
29FriendlyDiplomatDelving
30FurtiveDrug DealerDisguise
31GourmetDrunkardDeep Diving
32GracefulExorcistDodging
33HardyFaith HealerDuelling
34HealthyFalconerDungeoneering
35HelpfulFalse ProphetEscaping
36HeroicFirefighterEtiquette
37HulkingForesterEvasion
38InconscpicousFortune TellerExotic Weapons
39IndomitableGamblerFarming
40IndustriousGladiatorFencing
41IngeniousGoldsmithFishing
42Iron-WilledGraverobberFisticuffs
43LikableGuardFletching
44LimberHaruspexForaging
45LitheHeraldForgery
46LuckyHerbalistGambling
47MaliciousHermitGrappling
48ManipulativeHunterHaggling
49MightyInquisitorHiding
50MuscularInventorHistory
51MysteriousJailorHusbandry
52NimbleJesterImpersonation
53ParanoidLawyerInterrogation
54PluckyLibrarianIntimidation
55PoisedLocksmithJuggling
56PureLumberjackJumping
57QuickMarksmanJury-Rigging
58QuietMartial ArtistKickboxing
59ResilientMercenaryKnife Fighting
60ResoluteMerchantLarceny
61RobustMessangerLeadership
62RuggedMinerLinguistics
63SagaciousMonk/NunLong-Distance Running
64SavagePerfumerLying
65SavvyPhilosopherMedicine
66ScaryPirateMountaineering
67ShiftyPlague DoctorMusic
68ShrewdPoacherNavigation
69SinewyPoisonerOccultism
70SlipperyPoliticianOration
71SlyPorterPerformance
72SneakyPriest/essPickpocketing
73SociablePrisonerPole Weapons
74SpitefulProstituteRanged Weapons
75SpryPugilistRiding
76SpunkyRat CatcherRunecraft
77StalwartSailorSabotage
78StatuesqueScholarSailing
79SteadfastScribeScouting
80StealthyShepherdSearching
81StoutSlaverSeduction
82StreetwiseSmugglerShadowing
83StrongSoldierSiege Weapons
84Strong-MindedSpySinging
85StubbornSquireSlaying
86SultryStalkerSleight of Hand
87SwiftStewardSpeleology
88TallStorytellerSprinting
89TenatiousStreet MagicianStick Fighting
90TirelessSwashbucklerSubterfuge
91ToughTax CollectorSurvival
92TrustworthyTaxidermistSwimming
93UnderestimatedThiefSwordplay
94VersatileThugTactics
95VigilantTorturerThievery
96ViolentTrapperThrowing
97Well-TravelledTricksterTinkering
98WillowlyUndertakerTracking
99WiseVagrantUnarmed Combat
100ZealousWet NurseWrestling

29 July 2021

Elemental Powers: Air, Fire, Water

Continuing from the previous post, here are the other three classic elements.

From Avatar: The Last Airbender.
I still haven't actually watched it.


All aeromancers have good stamina and singing voices, though whether that's an aspect of their powers or the result of the many breathing exercises needed to master them is up for debate.

d66Air Powers
11You don't need to breathe and can actually keep breathing out, with up to a gale-force strength.
12Slowly float or walk in the air.
13Dash while in the air, performing double jumps and impossible feats of acrobacy.
14Call winds that will quickly carry you and your companions over long distances. Needs a lot of space to take off and land, not enough control for combat flight.
15Build up pressure, then release it for a massive jump. Jumping between buildings is easy, jumping over a building takes a little while.
16Build up pressure, then release it for a shock wave that sends everything around you flying.
21Empower your voice, letting you speak like through a megaphone or scream with a sonic boom that shatters glass and eardrums.
22Manipulate the air in your vocal cords, mimicking voices or sounds.
23Still the air in a small area, damping all sounds or creating outright zones of silence.
24Stop the air in a small area, creating invisible walls and cages, or holding a creature in place.
25The winds carry sounds far further for you, letting you whisper or listen at range.
26Manipulate the air friction of anything you see, slowing or speeding up its movements and falls.
31Your strikes can project slashing winds.
32Push the air to create a strong directional blast of wind.
33Pull the air around anything you see to hurl it in a direction of your choice. Works better on lighter objects.
34Manipulate air around thrown weapons, directing them around corners and attacking from far further away.
35Surround yourself with swirling winds, deflecting ranged attacks and confounding nearby foes.
36Surround yourself with slashing winds, inflicting a thousand minor cuts on anyone nearby.
41Surround yourself with a tornado. Very long build-up.
42Sense air movements within a room. Precise enough to dodge a blow from behind or fight blinded. Your range expands greatly when you sit down and meditate.
43Call a wind that grows stronger over time, up to a hurricane-force after half an hour. The wind power resets if you change its direction.
44Discorporate into wind for a single heartbeat, pretty much teleporting a short distance. Very disorienting when spammed.
45Force air out of an area no bigger than 3 m in diameter, creating a bubble of vacuum.
46Change the temperature within a small area. The change slows down as you go further from normal temperature, but no real limit until you kill yourself with it.
51Cause a rapid spike or drop in the air pressure, resulting in vertigo, fainting, or even blood vessel ruptures.
52Selectively heat up the air around you, blurring your movements and creating distracting mirages.
53Create elemental-like constructs from wind.
54Form an orb of pressurized air that can be thrown and then triggered like a concussive grenade.
55Filter gases and pollution from air. Also enhances your smell, as you can concentrate it and push it in your nose.
56With a touch, induce rapid oxidation in materials.
61Hyperoxigenate the air in a room, which can help some, but works as a poison for most.
62Attune to a town-sized area over several days, gaining control over temperature, pressure, the winds, ...
63Hold your breath to become as light as a feather.
64The wind lightens your steps. Run as fast as a horse and across twigs, fresh snow, or the surface of water.
65Move as silently and invisibly as a breeze. Any strenuous action (such as attacking) will break this trance-like state.
66For a single breath, you can move with inhuman haste, though it will leave you winded.

Also from Avatar: The Last Airbender.


All pyromancers possess a certain level of resistance to fire and heat, from never getting sunstroke to swimming in plasma.

d66Fire Powers
11Direct and move flames. The larger and hotter they are, the more tenuous your control.
12Throw explosive fireballs.
13Breathe fire in a wide cone.
14Shoot sticky flames from your palms, like a flamethrower.
15Spit globs of fire and make them sticky or explosive at will.
16Any fire you concentrate on burns faster, hotter, stronger.
21Heat vision, in both senses of the word. You can see in infrared and shoot heat rays from your eyes.
22Create a miniature sun. It moves at a snail's pace, but burns pretty much anything.
23Surround yourself in a great aura of flames.
24Sweat superheated plasma at will, coating yourself in flames.
25Fire jet flight.
26Teleport by stepping into a flame and emerging from another within 100 m.
31Create elemental-like constructs from fire.
32Create smoke-clones. They cannot deal damage and pop when touched, but you can have a lot of them.
33Conjure a weapon (blade, bow) made of fire.
34Touch an object to imbue it with fire. It can be triggered at will to explode.
35Touch a weapon to infuse it with fire, coating it in searing flames.
36Anything you stare at will go up in flames. Takes longer for less flammable things.
41You have flame for hair and bleed superheated plasma.
42You can raise the temperature of your body enough that your touch will melt metal.
43The more heat and fire is nearby, the faster and stronger you are.
44Make nearby fires emit excessive smoke. Move the smoke as you will.
45Transform into a huge fire bird. You can fly and burn stuff, but are very vulnerable to dousing.
46Form an ember in your hand that can be thrown like a grenade.
51Cause walls of flames to erupt from the ground.
52Concentrate on creatures or objects to grant them fire immunity.
53Snuff out any fire in sight at will.
54Conjure many slow-moving orbs of fire. They will home in on enemies at a walking pace.
55Explode, then reform from the flames. Very exhausting to spam.
56When you touch a flame, you can see and speak from other fires within 1 km.
61Sense heat within a city block, the higher the temperature the clearer the awareness. Body heat is barely perceptible.
62Absorb fire and concentrate it in your cupped hands, then release a devastating plasma beam.
63Call a pillar of plasma from the sky. Has a long wind-up, but extreme destructive power.
64Loop fires, letting them burn indefinitely without requiring further fuel. It's very exhausting to loop many or big fires.
65Consume flammable materials to fuel your inner flame. As long as it burns bright, you don't need to eat and sleep, and never run out of stamina.
66As long as you stand in flames, you feel no pain nor fear nor hesitation. All mind-affecting or emotional effects are burned from your mind.

From Naruto.


All hydromancers are quite adept at swimming and diving.

d66Water Powers
11Move and direct water with concentration. It still has the surface strength of water, though, so no grabbing people with water-tentacles.
12Strengthen the surface tension of water, until it works like an elastic film that lets things bounce off of the surface and traps creatures who were underwater.
13Breathe water and swim as fast as a motorboat.
14Walk or surf on the surface of water, faster than a car can go.
15Any surface you can see and concentrate on will start leaking water.
16With a single glance, you can fill a creature's lungs with water.
21Annihilate water with a touch. This is an instant, clean removal that leaves behind only vacuum.
22Raise or lower temperature of water within eyesight. You may not affect steam or ice.
23Breathe superheated steam.
24Create elemental-like constructs from water.
25Manipulate the viscosity of water, making it air-like, solid, sticky or slippery.
26Touch the surface of water to raise waves. Anything from a ripple to a sudden tsunami is possible, depending on the size of the body of water.
31Purify water with a touch. Touching a bleeding wound turns all of the victim's blood to water.
32Create whirlpools. Pretty useless unless you have a big body of water, then you can ride in a huge waterspout and throw people around.
33You regenerate rapidly by absorbing water. Regrowing a limb would take half a swimming pool.
34Sense all water within a city block. The cleaner it is, the clearer your vision of it. Blood is faint but noticeable when you concentrate.
35Stomp the ground to trigger the sudden eruption of a new geyser. Cannot be used multiple times in one location as it greatly strains the ground water reserves.
36Transform into water at will. You are nigh-invulnerable and can flow even up the walls, but cannot talk or see. You may only turn back if all your water is in liquid state and together.
41Transform into fog at will, but only for a few seconds at a time.
42Generate fog. The more damp the environment, the denser the fog and wider your area of effect. You can see through the fog, unlike you enemies.
43A 100 m radius around you is always affected by a rain of your choice, from drizzle to torrential rain or sleet. You cannot stop the rain completely, though.
44Open a portal to the Plane of Water, no wider than 1 m in diameter.
45Drink unlimited amounts of water with no ill effect, then vomit it back up at will.
46Constantly draw and absorb any water-based fluids within 10 m. Stronger when you concentrate, enough to harm people through dessication.
51Shoot a short beam of high-pressure water from your palms, like a water jet cutter.
52Control a slowly floating orb of water, 3 m in diameter. It falls apart when you can't see it or lose concentration and nothing stops people from walking/swimming out of it.
53Call or banish storms. Takes a while, though.
54Leave behind an after-image of water. Basically when you punch somebody, they get punched again by a splash of water, plus your movements are blurred, but rather loud with all the splashing.
55Create walls and simple objects out of ice. Requires water or humidity, so cannot be used in dry and hot environments.
56Cover yourself in a power armour of ice. Requires water or humidity, so cannot be used in dry and hot environments.
61Cause a mini-blizzard in a 10 m radius around yourself, blasting everything with snow and ice.
62Flash-freeze all water within 10 m radius. Won't directly kill anything bigger than a mouse, but will chill creatures to the bone and likely trap them in ice.
63Form a hailstone, then shoot it out. Depending on how long you keep growing it, it can be anything from a tiny grain through bullet to a cannonball.
64Your senses are greatly enhanced while underwater, allowing you to hear infra- and ultrasound, track by scent, or see clearly even in dark waters.
65Scry through reflections, displaying any other reflection on the same body of water. For example, when you touch a lake, you can make it reflect what is happening on the other shore.
66Your deviant hydrokinesis works better on bodily fluids than clean water. You may puppet a creature around, or painfully extract blood through your victims' pores.