2018. augusztus 2., csütörtök

Plant-growth serum side effects

Recently, I wrote up some ideas foralternative healing potions. One of them is actually a plant fertilizer / growth serum, but used by adventurers as a healing drug. In my original post, its side effect is a rapidly growing plant scab monster sprouting from the treated wound. In this post, I offer more side effects when using a plant-growth serum as a healing potion.

Main stats reference OSR/LotFP rules, [5e mechanics in square brackets].

Plant-growth serum

Effect: Heal 1d12 hit points [heal 2d4 + Constitution modifier hit points]

Side effects: Save against Poison [make a DC 15 Constitution save], or roll 1d8:

Cough up seeds for 1d8 - Constitution modifier days (min. 1). The seeds belong to a grain or plant common to regional agriculture, can be eaten or planted.
Become mildly/strongly/hopelessly addicted to the serum. Each 3/2/1 days without it, add 1/2/3 points to the total Encumbrance rating [add 1/2/3 levels of Exhaustion]. Every time this result is rolled, increase addiction level. If addicted, Save against Poision [make a DC 15 Constitution save] every day/week/month. On success, lower addiction rating (mild addiction goes away for good). Negate daily effect with minor healing spell etc., cure addiction as strong disease.
Fertile sweat! All items in prolonged contact with the body during the day of consumption (clothes and armor worn, weapons held, the bed slept in, etc.) become covered in nasty mold.
Skin takes on a greenish hue for 1d6 days.
Experience strong changes in taste and eating habits (crave a food that was previously hated or something generally not considered edible, covet a food that’s a religious taboo, eat soil).
Beautiful, but vile-smelling flowers sprout from the healed wound (or, if there was no open wound, from the orifices of the consumer). If torn or cut, a very bad mood sets in for 1d3 hours.

2018. július 22., vasárnap

Downhill Race - a cheese-rolling contest minigame

Need a merry and possibly deadly folk festivity for your setting’s rural areas? Why not consider the famous Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling race at Gloucester?

I wrote up some rules for a minigame for a cheese-rolling contest player characters can enter, and, possibly, win.

There are two eerie alternative outcomes of the contest too, for that weird horror touch.

Have fun!!!

2018. július 18., szerda

[LotFP] Extended laboratories for research

This post is a collection of things a high-level wealthy Magic-User can use to stock her laboratory and library. This is mostly for flavor, extending and fleshing out the abstract approach of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rulebook (p. 80-83). With a distinct early modern science feel.

Cabinet of curiosities

No laboratory can be complete without a nice collection of curiosities! 

Strange creatures
Creatures preserved as skeletons or taxidermic mounts can be added to the cabinet of curiosities. The preparation of such objects requires special knowledge and skill. For taxidermy, the corpse must be relatively fresh (1d6 days after death). For skeletal mounts, most of the bones must be present.
Where to find: Collected personally or purchased from adventurers.
Price & value: Depends on the type and hit dice of the creature.

Price & value / hit dice

Minerals, gems, jewels, crystals, stones, metals and ores, various substances (resins, oils, liquids, etc.); and also seashells, corals; butterflies, insects.
Where to find: Collected personally or purchased.
Price & value: If the value is not evident, set it as 1d10 x 10sp.

Medical oddities
Specimen displaying signs of illnesses, pathologies, malformations. Usually preserved in fluids, displayed in glass jars.
Where to find: Purchased from medical facilities, collectors, unfortunate parents...
Price & value: Depends on the rarity and state of preservation: 2d10 x 25sp.

Curios and various objects from faraway lands. Masks, costumes, jewelry, paintings, drawings, dolls, puppets, idols, art pieces, musical instruments, anything.
Where to find: Collected personally or purchased from merchants, travelers, agents. Good connections with trading companies can give the opportunity of first picks from any haul…
Price & value: Calculated based on the distance the object had to travel to get to the collector. Add 1d10 x 10% on top of that for agents’ fees (only added to the buying price, not the value).

Distance & complications
Price & value
For every 100 miles over 500
Transportation included both land & sea
The original owners of the object would kill to get it back

Laboratory equipment

A well-equipped laboratory must include a wide range of vessels, both simple and complex, which can be used for sublimation, distillation and other processes. Including, but not limited to:
  • alembic – two vessels connected by a tube, used for distilling chemicals
  • aludel – clay subliming pot, made up of two parts
  • athanor – a special furnace that provides uniform and constant heat
  • crucible – a small vessel or container that can withstand high temperatures
  • “Moor’s head” still – distillation apparatus, with an extra vessel for cooling water
  • mortar – for grinding up various substances     
  • retort – spherical vessel with a long neck, protruding downwards
Where to find: Most of the equipment is available for purchase only in major cities. Some pieces are produced on special orders.
Price & value: Any amount of money can be invested into this sinkhole…

Extended and specialized laboratory spaces

These rooms are counted towards the value of the laboratory as usual, but might give situational advantages (a bonus on the Magic save, etc. – Referee’s discretion).
Additional space is a one-time extra, counted over the base space requirement of a 10 feet square / 1000sp value.

Additional space required
Price & value
Anatomical theatre
50 feet square
Animal kennels
Botanical garden
20 feet square
Ä Hothouse, greenhouse, orangery, conservatory
20 feet square
50 feet square (tower or top floor)

Special implements

Additional space required
Price & value
Calculating devices
Printing press
10 feet square

Monster Man II Contest

The Monster Man II Contest has now entered its voting phase: you can check out all the entries on James Holloway's blog.

My entry is the Cloud of Chaos.

[Laird Barron] Swift to Chase

Swift to Chase is my favorite Barron collection. It has some weak stories, but I just absolutely love the interconnected narratives concerning the lives and afterlives of Alaskan teenagers. Cosmic slasher horror forever - literally. Time is a flat circle. Jessica Mace is a kick-ass character as well, and I'd love to see more stories about her. Jessica was assaulted by a serial killer, but fought back, shot it, and lived to tell the tale. This episode is a linchpin around which many of the stories revolve, or relate to, in some way.

So let's break this down!

I: Golden Age of Slashing

Screaming Elk, MT -- The opening of the collection is, unfortunately, one of the weaker ones... It's a good introduction to Jessica Mace as a character, but the story itself is a so-so report of her encounter with a haunted traveling circus.

LD50 -- Now this is a good one. The characterizations are great. Gritty and raw. The story and its resolution might not be a groundbreaking idea, but it's good enough and it's only a background for Jessica anyways.

Termination Dust -- A disjointed account beginning with Jessica's encounter with the Eagle Talon Ripper, with some more stuff thrown into it. I think this story really starts to shine when you return to it after finishing the whole collection.

Andy Kaufman Creeping through the Trees -- My favorite Barron story. He does a great job creating a unique voice for the narrator - cheerleader and alpha female Julie V - without it becoming a parody. Then there is high school weirdo / genius / fixer figure Steely J (one of his many "incarnations" throughout the collection). Barron weaves urban legends, Mean Girls, pop culture into a single strain, leading to a most horrific climax... I absolutely love this story.

II: Swift to Chase

Ardor -- This story picks up the Alaska themes, but otherwise I feel it's a bit underwhelming and uninspired. I usually skip it during my Swift to Chase rereads...

the worms crawl in, -- This one is quite a mess! But the mess has certain hypnotic qualities, as the paranoid ramblings and stream of consciousness quickly blow this tale of domestic violence into cosmic proportions - only to collapse back into the mundane?

(Little Miss) Queen of Darkness -- Back to the horrific lives of the Alaskan teenagers of Eagle Talon! We revisit those fateful nights, and see the aftermath, or one of the aftermaths... The account is once again radically divergent from all the others: maybe it's an unreliable narrator, or perhaps what we read is the description of how it all went down in one of the personal pocket hells.

Ears Prick Up -- Given the collection's overall coherence, this story is kind of a weird choice... A piece told form the point of view of a genetically/robotically enhanced combat dog, set in a pseudo-Roman futuristic science fantasy world. At the same time, the title of the whole collection comes from it ("My kind is swift to chase, swift to battle"). This story loosely fits into Barron's pulp / gonzo line of output, it also lines up along stories like "Vastation". And it is a great story in its own right, with the stream of dog-consciousness just driving it forward.

III: Tomahawk

Black Dog -- Barron's stories often have a romantic / existentialist (?) streak. They are about outsiders, damaged people, individuals who don't necessarily fit into society. "Black Dog" is about two of these people going on a date and sort of just clicking? It might sound lame, but actually this is a great short story, almost purely in dialog form, with an eerie horror undertone.

Slave Arm -- "...and begin, again," Barron writes, and once again recounts the story of a party turning into a slasher massacre. I love the enumeration he provides: a 100+ names of everybody who's here: "Your friends are here. Your enemies are here. Everybody you’ve ever slept with is here." After the massacre comes the lengthy period of DEALING with the trauma. Survivor's guilt. Flashbacks. A very strong story, especially in combination with the others in the collection.

Frontier Death Song -- Barron's take on the Wild Hunt motif. Of course, filtered through Alaska, horror and 1980's rock radio. It is a good story, although, weirdly, I don't enjoy the link with the folklore motif much.

Tomahawk Park Survivors Raffle -- And finally, one more long account of the various horrific events that befell the Alaskan teenagers. I absolutely LOVE this story. It's such a mad ride, and a perfect final for the collection. Of course, given what we've already learnt, this is just one of the possible outcomes. This story is permeated with the fallout of our favorite Barronian cosmic horror conspiracies, leaning towards slasher / pulp. Clandestine experiments, secret government organizations, Planet X... I get a buzz from reading and re-reading it.

2018. július 11., szerda

[Magic Item/Book] Tome of Higher Constellations

The Tome of Higher Constellations was created by an anonymous scholar in Prague, for the library of Rudolf II. The first half of the book consists of astronomical tables: meticulously compiled and corrected, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, the second half introduces more charts, graphs, from a wide range of sciences natural and occult. Through complex calculations these are cross-referenced with the heavenly constellations. Uncanny patterns, otherwise hidden, emerge… making it possible to trace and predict the finest shifts of the celestial spheres that command the fate of the whole universe. The final result is a single date in the future, when all factors align, and major, cosmic changes are possible. Actions undertaken on that day will bear major consequences: warlords bent on world domination crave to know this date, alchemists and magicians seek it as the date of their opus magnum or most complex ritual…

The catch: this prognosis is not descriptive. It’s prescriptive. Once a date is divined using the Tome of Higher Constellations, something world-changing is bound to happen. But the exact details are malleable. Anybody who knows the time can attempt some insane endeavor.

To peruse the Tome, one must have a strong academic or arcane background, and then spend 2d4 weeks working on the calculations in a library or laboratory.

After the period of study, a date in the future is predicted.

Dice type
Time unit

Roll two d6’s and consult the chart. The first d6 gives a dice type. The second d6 gives a time unit. A roll with the given type of dice defines the amount of time units.
Example: roll #1 is 3 = 1d8. Roll #2 is 5 = months. The 1d8 roll comes up as 6. This is combined as 6 months.
Repeat this process two more times, then sum up all the results to learn how far into the future will the grand constellation take place, counted from the FINAL day of work with the Tome.
Example: #1 = 6 months; #2 = 8 days; #3 = 12 years. The constellation will take place 12 years, 6 months and 8 days into the future.
If one time unit comes up more than once, just add them up as usual.
Example: #1 = 6 months; #2 = 13 months; #3 = 2 days. The constellation will take place 19 months and 2 days into the future.

Yeah... This is how I envision "epic level" games in LotFP, mwhahah...

2018. július 10., kedd

Clive Barker's Undying

Recently, inspired by Noah Gervais' excellent analysis of Clive Barker's games, I've started playing Undying.

There are so many things I love about this game! The atmosphere, the story, the environment design, the journal entries... But at the same time, unfortunately, I'm not really into, uh, actually playing it. It's a very hard game, and I have to reload and retry a LOT. It's survival horror, so resources (like ammo or health kits) are scarce. And I grow tired of it quickly. I usually play at most 20-30 minutes in one go, then take a day-long break..

Also, so far it feels very linear in a way. Of course, the maps are complex, there are many doors and corridors... but ever so often when you want to go through a door where you are not supposed to go at the given moment of the game, it is jammed ("it won't budge," the protagonist announces). And there is lot of backtracking. E.g. early on in the game you have to go out to the garden through a door in the west wing of the building. When you get there, you learn that the key is in the east wing, so you have to backtrack, then explore the east wing. Ugh. Am I spoiled by tabletop RPGs? :)