2021/02/17

40k: Crassus Command Vehicle

 Brace yourselves for 40k minutiae.


The Praetor Armoured Assault Launcher is usually pictured open, with its bank of ludicrous missiles on display. When closed though, the vehicle's shape is very striking. Since the Moribundan 1st Armoured Regiment doesn't use missiles or rockets, a Praetor wouldn't fit the general theme. I decided to convert the vehicle into an mobile command bunker; an upgraded Crassus Armoured Transport.


Illustrations of Imperial command scenes always feature loads of interesting details. Holoprojectors, withered servitors, skulls, cables, robes. This isn't a clean Star Trek bridge. It's closer to a submarine or a feudal throne room.

I don't normally do vehicle interiors or mini-dioramas, but the Praetor has basic interior details. After a long bath in paint remover and many hours of scrubbing, the vehicle's interior was ready for basic blocking.
The Imperial Guard commander (based on a Titan pilot) is the focus of the scene, and the only seated figure. In front of them, advisors squabble and gesture.

The Master of the Administratum types on an autoscribe with one hand while gesturing upwards with the other. The miniature's base is a Solar Auxilia commander, with a Genestealer Cultist head. Love the goggles. The base figure is ridiculously ornate and perfect for the scene. The plain shaven head creates a nice contrast with the layers of buckles, scrolls, and tiny gears.

The Master reads from a book held by a kneeling Servitor (not show in the blocking because it kept tipping over). The book contains a few subtle Inquisitorial symbols. Perhaps the Servitor is not all that it seems.

The servitor subtly points downwards with its right hand, while the Master points upwards with their left. In standard Imperial symbolism, this indicates that the Master is supporting the action in question, but is wrong, while doctrine (represented by the book), does not support the action and is correct.

The Tech-Priest's right hand is an iron claw. Their left, flesh, holds a dataslate. The exact symbolism is obscure. They do not hold an Omnissian Axe for three reasons. First, openly displaying a weapon inside an Imperial command vehicle would be a breach of protocol. Second, the miniature didn't come with one. And third, it wouldn't have fit inside the hull.


The last member of the tableaux (so far) is an Imperial officer, possibly representing the Imperial Navy, possibly the Commissariat. Depends on how I paint them, I suppose. Apparently this figure came with the Lucius Pattern Warlord Titan head. I'm not sure how I got it. The figure holds a scroll case in their right hand, but conceals it behind one leg, symbolizing an opinion withheld.

I'd like to put more figures in the scene, but the vehicle's roofline drops suddenly towards the rear, so there's not a lot of space. I'm planning on adding a small shrine and a kneeling Ministorum priest, facing away and to the side.
The floor will be covered in cables, parchment, and candles (and skulls, of course). I'll also try to stick a few extra servitors and acolytes into the mix.

I want to create the sense that this Imperial commander is surrounded on all sides by contradictory advice, overwhelming and irrelevant information, factionalism, ritual, and prayer. Their pose is fixed, passive, staring straight ahead. Are they listening and evaluating or gripped by apathy and madness? In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future, is there any difference?

2021/02/11

OSR: Wizard Libraries

Under this paradigm, a library full of spellbooks is like a mink farm or a cattle ranch, with all the associated problems. Spells can accidentally crossbreed, cast themselves (with disastrous results), devour each other, or slowly fade.

Sensible wizards keep a spell on one page of a spellbook and fill the facing page (or several pages) with explanatory notes, warnings, and useful notes.

Spellbooks don't burn. Scrolls burn (that's their job), but spellbooks are written on thick vellum. Powerful spells are trapped in gemstones, lead sheets, or gold wafers. Setting fire to a magical library seems like a great way to ruin a wizard and level their tower, but in practice, it usually just scorches the furniture and irritates the cleaning spirits.

Cascade failures (where one spellbook fails and sets off the next spellbook) are possible, but wizards usually space out critical volumes and insert mundane books, lead buffers, or blocks of wood between active works. Magical librarians would feel at home in a nuclear safety course. Incidentally, a good scroll case is designed to turn an accidental magical explosion into a magical shaped charge. Anything directly in front or behind of the scroll case is going to have a very bad day, but the carrier, protected by the tube, might survive.

Sensible wizards also use early warning systems. These days, industrial wizards buy auto-buzzers and colour-coded charms. In the old days, a stuffed alligator and some special herbs served the same purpose. Any escaped necromantic spells might earth in the alligator instead of in the wizard; some herbs react to spells or ambient magic in unusual ways. Wizard kitsch serves a purpose. If a wizard finds a strange rock that vibrates whenever fire magic is cast, they'll probably stick a bell on it and use it as a paperweight, because you never know.
 

Books of Theory

The saying goes, "Before Principia Arcana, nothing." Principia changed the world. Old magical theories, no matter how elaborately documented or embellished, were swept into the dustbin of history. A few wizards might keep copies of Druidic Laws or Statgolger's Elements to show their erudition, but they aren't reference works.

The saying continues "After Principia Arcana, a lot of bickering." The core principles of the paradigm are widely understood and rigorously tested. The details, such as the Eightfold Theory and the Problem of Classification of Spells, are hotly contested. Every season sees a fresh fleet of books printed in Endon. Keeping track of their arguments, let alone reading all of them, would take a legion of wizards. Most shrug, pick a few ones with decent titles or reputable authors, read the first few chapters, and leave them to decorate a shelf. Industrial magic requires more than mere theory.

History and Poetry

Was Cuthbert Coldhand's sword really "so sharpe it cleft / light itself in twain / and scattered half-rainbows like tears to the ground"? Did wizards of old really raise mountains or cut new paths for rivers? Where are the fabled cities of Ithicon and Luuur, whose sorcerers once ruled the known world? Wizards, in their idle hours, like to paw through volumes of forgotten lore, both for inspiration and for potential clues.

Untranslated works in obscure languages fetch high prices at Endon's auctions. Forging them is a lucrative art.
 

What Not To Do (And How Not To Do It)

Few wizards are willing to admit that they turned 40,000gp of funding into a small lake of sludge, an ocelot that can sing, and a permanent odour of buttermilk. A wizard has to balance the humiliation of publishing their failures with potential gains in revenue, credibility, and survival. The nascent academic publishing system in Endon is more of a newsletter distribution mechanism; wizards publish papers by stuffing notes under doors, taunting rivals, or writing screeds to the editors of papers.

Since spectacular disasters tend to destroy all notes, experimenters, equipment, and witnesses, reconstructing events that lead to the final "hrm, that doesn't look right" moment is a difficult art. Retrograde scrying is possible, but grows increasingly fuzzy near high-powered magic events. Wizards with the skill and experience to examine the wreckage tend to stay away from smouldering craters. The mob might mistake them for the perpetrator. The greater the disaster, the more speculative the reconstruction. Criminal prosecution can uncover all sorts of interesting details. The courts of Endon are notoriously slow, corrupt, and ignorant of magical matters, but when the public good is at stake they can force wizards to explain extremely complex concepts in absurd levels of detail. Court transcripts (copied by diligent scribe-spells) form a solid core of many libraries.

The line between "cautionary tale" and "instruction manual" is very thin. One wizard's disaster might be another wizard's desired outcome.

Bottled Memoirs

Wizards with more money than sense buy and store bottled memories. Drink one and you gain a new memory. If the seller was honest, it might be a titillating, scandalous, or thrilling memory.

Memories are fickle things. Without links to other cues, a new memory fades quickly. It's not an immersive experience (despite promises on the bottles). It's a memory; it's in the past, and all the irrelevant details are fuzzy. Drink too many and your own memories will get mixed up.

Some wizards are said to store crucial trade secrets in memory bottles, but it's a device from melodrama, not from life. The safest and most useful place for a secret is in the wizard's head.

More than one wizard, haunted by youthful hubris or foolish decisions (the kind that arrive suddenly in the night and make one want to gouge out one's forehead with a metal brush), has prised offending memories out of their head and stuffed them into bottles, to be stored and ignored. Editing your own past is a recipe for disaster; your past mistakes inform your present self. Still, it's a tempting prospect. Woe betide the burglar who downs a draught labelled "A Night With A Princess of Thule" and gets a brainful of "My First Date And The Horrible Aftermath", courtesy of a frugal wizard reusing bottles.

Extracting a recent memory from a trained and willing individual requires a trivial spell. Extracting a buried, distant, or complex memory requires a dangerous and experimental helmet, the services of a dubious physician, a human-sized centrifuge (#41 in the catalogue), and some bottled lightning.
 

Animated Pornography

The oldest enchanted illustration known to Loxdon College features, according to the prudish catalogue card, "two nude figures encountering difficulties while attempting to fold a bearskin rug". Chronoscrying puts the illustration's age after the invention of fire but well before the invention of trousers. Students, of course, use "encountering difficulties" and "folding a bearskin rug" as euphemisms.

Moving illustrations of every act imaginable (and some you can't imagine, even with the aid of explanatory diagrams) are available in Endon for the right price. Owning them is technically a Moral Crime, but punishment (if any) depends on the nature of the acts illustrated, and the outrage that can be mustered locally.

The largest enchanted illustration known to Loxdon College (though not officially) is "Custard Accident #4", a 12'x'18 canvas currently in possession of an anonymous coal magnate.

Book Lists and Useful Tools

I was going to write my own table of books, but a) there are plenty of tables and generators out there, b) MIR has an abundance of name tables, c) the course list in this post can double as reference book titles, and d) the temptation to make them all puns was too high.

Elfmaids and Octopi
1d100 Books Found In A Dungeon
1d100 Worst Books In The World
1d100 Blasphemous Books of the Black Library
1d100 Books of Shadel Port
 

One Hundred Grimoires
Donjon Tome Generator

The Library of William Morris
Listing to Port (tagged) books
Pulpcovers.com

The Stygian Library


2021/02/10

OSR: Generic Laboratory

Patrick Stuart set a challenge. I needed a generic laboratory for a chapter of the Monster Overhaul. Lo and behold, it all worked out.

Original: Pits of the Black Moon by Dyson Logos.

It's about as poetic as those dreadful sonnets students are forced to write and about as artpunk as an office photocopier used to make zines, but it's done, and (hopefully), it's useful.

Small Dungeon Considerations
  • I try to aim for 6-12 rooms. Fewer than six isn't really a dungeon; more than 12 doesn't fit on one page in the format I've chosen, and often leads to duplicated ideas. This limits map selection. Having a d# of rooms lets GMs easily roll a random room number.
  • I try to pick maps where the natural room order (if you start numbering where the PCs enter the dungeon and increment in some sort of logical path) matches the layout on the page, so each room's description is close to its number. Sometimes (like in this map), it doesn't work perfectly, but it's something to aim for. Dyson has so many maps that picking one is often the hardest part of a generic dungeon; this challenge was helpfully specific.
  • I edit maps to make them fit the page, the concept, or the format restrictions. Dyson's maps have shadows so rotating them can lead to odd effects, but trimming off a few rooms or adjusting some details is trivial and can significantly change the nature of a map. In this case, I cut off the entire left wing of the dungeon.
  • I try to strike a balance between evocative language and impenetrable prose. These generic dungeons are supposed to be instant GM assistants. Every line should add meaning or utility, but if a GM has to stop to untangle a sentence, the generic dungeon becomes less useful. Distilled essence of dungeon or Reader's Digest pablum? Your call.
  • All generic dungeons (and all bestiary entries) receive periodic punch-up passes, where I try to identify boring bits, excise dull words, and look for repeated adjectives.

Here's a bonus Generic Grotto.


2021/02/05

OSR: Thomas Infolded

Straight from a nightmare I had.

Thomas Infolded is, by most definitions, a cannibal. He eats people. Technically, he infolds them. He weighs twenty two and a half tons, but he can fly.

And he looks just like anyone else.

Imagine the outline of a human being on a sheet of paper. That's a normal person.

Thomas has the same outline, but the paper inside the outline is crinkled and warped and extends backwards and forwards. There's more surface area. There's more Thomas. A lot more Thomas.

He eats people by touching them and folding them into his body. For a few seconds, they look like they're falling into his flesh, as if he's much farther away (and much larger), or they're shrinking. And then there's a ripple and warp and he's whole again.

He eats people to gain their memories and their powers. He's a polymath. He speaks most languages. He's a very powerful wizard (but keeps it hidden in his infoldings, so you'd be hard pressed to detect it from a distance).

Stab him, and fresh hearts swim to the surface. Thomas's outline is human, but the filling isn't. Not really. Not anymore.

Thomas has a lot of HP. Physical damage is irritating but rarely dangerous. He's eaten people who can regenerate; he heals very quickly. He's hard to assassinate; his infoldings have eyes in all directions. He's hard to poison and hard to trick. He can fake his own death (he's done it more than once).

It might be possible to kill him by letting him eat someone unpalatable or fundamentally unstable.

He's strong, but not overwhelmingly strong. There's only so much muscle you can cram into a human-shaped outline. He's smart, but his brains still take time to process information.

But he's been alive for a long time. He's eaten several immortals. He's not done eating yet.


2021/01/27

OSR: Massive Community Hexcrawl - Complete

 The Massive Community Hexcrawl is finished. 42 different people contributed hexes and encounters. Starting from nothing (no prompts, no direction, no theme or direction), the hexcrawl grew organically into a post-apocalyptic science fantasy wastelandcrawl, the sort of thing you could use with Ultraviolet Grasslands, Acid Death Fantasy, or stick next to Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, or mash it up with my unofficial World of Rust bestiary.

V 1.7 PDF


Final Notes
It was really interesting to see how the project developed. I tried to stick to a format that would avoid some of the worst issues with community projects and (despite the extended timescale), it worked. The main delays were on my end.

The strict character limits were usually followed, but some people either missed them or didn't care. I had to do a fair bit of editing and, in a few cases, ignore submissions that didn't really fit the theme or provide any added utility.

People tended not to submit encounters. It's strange that writing a hex is easier than writing a good random encounter, but not too surprising. I had to write a fair number of them.

The hex and encounter formats (first tested in the Veinscrawl) are as robust as ever.

Enjoy! And thanks again to everyone who contributed. The whole thing is licensed under CC-BY-NC 4.0. If anyone feels like making alternate maps, handy tools, or extra content, drop a link in the comments.


2020/12/30

10 Stupid yet Robust Games for Video Calls

2020 is a weird year. A lot of people are relying on video calls for holiday gatherings.

This is fine, but it does limit the type of holiday games that can be played. For some participants, setting up a video call might push their technical skills to the limit. Asking them to also download an application, share a screen, learn a video game, or install something would lead to disaster.

I've come up with (or, more accurately, adapted, stolen, or lightly improved) 10 stupid robust games for video calls. They've all been tested.

Criteria

  • Will work over video chat.
  • Cannot require special items, applications, or elaborate preparation.
  • Cannot rely on the physical fitness of any participants.
  • Are not intellectually challenging.
  • Are sufficiently ridiculous that anyone who gets overly competitive will feel a bit silly, yet still retain a degree of competition.

Items
Each Participant Will Need: Several sheets of paper, a marker, and a pen.
Each Household Will Need: A ruler or tape measure, and an umbrella, rolling pin, or walking stick.

A marker is easier to see when held  up to a camera. Pencils will not work; they're too hard to see. The ruler/tape measure and umbrella/rolling pin/walking stick keeps people guessing and promotes interest in the game. Ooh, what have they got planned?

Participants
The games work with up to 20 people, though anything past 10 results in moderate chaos from time to time.

The person organizing the games should commit to them knowing full well they'll look like a damn fool. The organizer can participate in most of the games.

If you've got one uncle who flipped a card table when they lost a particularly close card game, or an aunt who hasn't had fun since 1952 and has no intention of starting now, these games simply won't work. Arguments should be fun, self-aware and performative, not actual fights. As with any game, you need a certain type of relaxed group.

1. The Category Challenge

Using your pen, on one sheet of paper, write down:
5 Animals larger than a golf ball.
5 Machines
5 Foods
5 Musical Instruments

Do not let anyone else see your sheet of paper.

If the thing you write down is unique, you get 1 point.
If exactly one other person writes down the same thing as you, you get 2 points.
If two or more people write down the same thing as you, you get 0 points.

So you want to be clever, but not too clever. Animals should be general: "Spider" not "Black Widow Spider".
 
You have 2 minutes starting now.
 
Notes
You can adjust the number of items required. Use 3 if you actually intend to cross-reference and mark the results. 5 is a decent middle-of-the-road value. 10 keeps everyone very busy.

The scoring system for this task is a bluff; it's a bit painful to actually mark it. The idea is to promote some animals that aren't just "dog, cat" etc, and get categories for other games without having to email out a secret list of animals. It's very cunning.

If you do want to assign points, after you have played all the other games here and no longer need the secret list, have one person list their animals, then see if anyone has the same one, then have them write down the points next to it.
 

2. The Noise Game

Holding the umbrella/rolling pin/walking stick in both hands, one person will make the noise of the first animal listed on their sheet of paper. They may only make noises. They cannot use actions or gestures, or make any noise that sounds like a word.

They will make the noise for 10 seconds, then everyone will get a chance to guess.

If your animal doesn't make a noise, make the noise of a person seeing your animal, or a noise associated with your animal.

The person who correctly guesses the animal gets 1 point. If no one guesses your noise, you get -2 points.

[You can repeat this game, immediately or later, with machines, foods, and musical instruments. In a large group, it might be a good idea to have the first few people do one category, then switch it up.]

Notes
Taskmaster task for reference (UK S10E07). Any attempt at controlled sequential guessing usually (OK, immediately) devolves into everyone shouting guesses as the poor person valiantly struggles to make noises, so there's no point in trying to structure it.
 

3. The Third Largest Duck Game

Using a marker and a piece of paper, draw the third largest duck. There must be 2 ducks larger than your duck. You have 30 seconds to draw your duck. Then, hand your duck to someone else to measure.

Winner gets 5 points.

Notes

Taskmaster task for reference (UK S04E08). Duck measurements are controversial. Some people measure beak to tail, some people scalp to foot, some people insisted the duck they were asked to measure wasn't a duck but a sort of mutant potato and therefore should be disqualified, etc. It's all great fun. Though yes, it is a blatant duck measuring contest, and you may need to keep a straight face when discussing it.

You can't use "the average duck" because that requires math and you can't use "the median duck" because you might have an even number of participants.
 

4. The Portrait Game

Using a marker and a piece of paper, draw a portrait of one person you can see on this video call. You cannot use your dominant hand. You cannot write letters.

You get 1 point for each person who correctly identifies the subject of your drawing.

You have 30 seconds starting now.

[Ask people to write down their guesses as each drawing is held up to the camera... or just let everyone shout answers and award maximum points all 'round.]

Notes
In theory, very competitive people will deliberately fail to recognize the subject of any drawing. In practice, everyone gets caught up in the hilarity (or tragedy) of the results.
 

5. The Ten Word Fact Game

Using a pen and a piece of paper, write down a ten word fact. There is a bonus point for the best fact. You have 1 minute starting now.

Silently mouth your ten word fact to the judge. You get 1 point for each word the judge gets correct. The judge gets the average of all points assigned.

Notes
Taskmaster task for reference (UK S07E03). Ideally, you'll want to select a fairly competitive and confident person to be the judge. Averaging points does require math, but there's no easy way around it. In testing, it's much easier to mouth facts when the judge is physically in the same room, so you may need to rotate or swap judges. You can also rotate judges for each fact (the judge and the fact-mouther getting the same points).
   

6. The Straight Line Game

Using a marker and a piece of paper, one person will draw the second animal listed on their sheet of paper. They can only three straight lines at a time.

After drawing three lines, everyone will get a chance to guess.

The person who correctly guesses the animal gets 1 point. If someone correctly identifies your animal after 3 lines, you get 5 points. After 6 lines, 4 points. 9 lines, 3 points, etc.

[You can repeat this game, immediately or later, with machines, foods, and musical instruments, though they're much harder than animals.]

Notes
Taskmaster task for reference (UK S10E06). All the notes from the Noise Game apply here.
 

7. The National Pride Game

Using a marker and a piece of paper, draw a map of this country/region/continent/etc.

The most accurate drawing, by popular vote, will get 5 points. You cannot vote for yourself.

You have 30 seconds starting now.

Notes
You could also have a judge (the person with the worst drawing) pick a first, second, and third place drawing. 30 seconds isn't a lot of time, particularly if you're looking for complex internal borders or geographical features.
 

8. The Hand Drawing Game

Using a marker and a piece of paper, draw the outline of your dominant hand. You cannot use your dominant hand to draw, and you cannot trace your hand or touch the paper with anything other than the marker.

You get 1 point for each finger that has an outline all the way around it, but where the outline is not more than 1cm away at any point from the finger. Someone else will judge your drawing.

You have 30 seconds starting now.

Notes
People tried using the shadows of their hands, or drawing a huge circle and arguing that the fingers were all inside it, etc. It was very fun.
 

9. The 45 Second Game

Close your eyes. Put your hand on your head closest to 45 seconds from when I start the timer. The person who puts their hand on their head closest to 30 seconds, but without going over 45 seconds, will get 5 points. Do not open your eyes or make any noise until the game is over.

I am starting the timer now.

Notes
Taskmaster task reference (NZ S01E06). The organizer can't participate in this game and should be fairly vigilant, but it's a fun one. You can use a toaster instead of a timer, but that requires effort. The longer the time, the greater the spread of results, but the more bored everyone will be.
  

10. The Monster Drawing Game

Using a marker and a piece of paper, draw the monster I am going to describe. You have 2 minutes to draw your monster, starting from when I start describing the monster. I will not stop or repeat myself.

The happy monster has two arms and three legs. Two of its legs are spiky.

It has two wings on the top of its head. The wings are like bat wings.

It has three eyes and two more eyes. And sharp fangs. And two more eyes.

It has scales on its arms and it has claws on one hand. Its tongue is very long and it has a tooth on the end of it. It is holding a curvy sword in one hand.

It has big round dots all over its body, but none on its face. And it has two more legs. And it is riding a bicycle. And it has one more withered arm. And it has chains around two of its ankles.

And it has a scarf made of fur. And one more very big eye. And it has a ring shaped like a skull. And it is drunk and cross-eyed and very sleepy.
Hand your monster to someone else to mark. You get 1 point for each criteria your monster meets. Arguing is permitted. Maximum of 20 points.

Criteria (1 point each):
[Read out loud and get people to put a checkmark for each criteria met, then collate the totals.]

  • Arms: 3
  • Legs: 5
  • Eyes: 8
  • Two spiky legs?
  • Bat wings on head?
  • Fangs?
  • Scales on arms?
  • Claw on one hand?
  • Very long tongue?
  • Tooth on tongue?
  • Holding a curvy sword?
  • Dots on body but not on face?
  • Riding bicycle?
  • One withered arm?
  • Scarf made of fur?
  • One very big eye?
  • Ring shaped like a skull?
  • Drunk?
  • Cross-eyed?
  • Very sleepy?

Notes
Taskmaster task reference (UK S10E09). Feel free to write your own monsters (and/or post them in the comments). The description should be convoluted, but each individual element should be clear, brief, and distinct. Most of them should be easy to draw (the bicycle is just pure evil). Pause while describing the monster to let people catch up. Really relish each word.

This game leads to some truly hilarious mock-arguments over the number of legs, what constitutes a fang, etc. It's good fun.
 

Final Notes

 A lot of old game books have truly terrible party games in them. Classics like charades, impressions, Who Am I?, Pictionary, etc. can work over video calls, but it's good to try new games or introduce arbitrary twists. Programmed party games, like Jackbox Games, are great but feel really sterile and soulless to me. It's like enforced, optimized, normalized fun. Everyone is looking at a screen instead of at each other.

If you try these games, let me know how they go. I will not accept responsibility for any disasters that might result.

Goodbye 2020. You won't be missed.

2020/12/17

OSR: Magical Industrial Revolution - Loxdon College Pt. 1: Courses and Halls

Magical Industrial Revolution is designed to support many different game types. The most obvious, and the most playtested, is dropping Endon into a generic fantasy setting and letting generic fantasy PCs interact with its moving (and exploding) parts.

Since most of my usual players were involved in test games, I'll need to run a different sort of game to make use of MIR. I'd also like to use bits from other books and blogs (Electric Bastionland's background/item tables,
Goodberry Monthly's Wizard City material).

Nothing in this post is canonical, just as nothing in MIR is canonical. Everything changes.

Jan Matejko

Academic Magic

You are students at Loxdon College. You're not nessesarily a Wizard; more politicians in Endon can handle a broadsword than one might expect. You could be the paid bodyguard or servant of a student.

Loxdon College grudgingly allows women to attend, provided they fill out additional paperwork and follow obscure restrictions. Interestingly, the ancient College Charters make no provision for slug-people, phase-shifted entities, obligate polymorphs, or anyone else that might wish to check off [other] on a form. The general standard is the "beard test"; if it can grow a beard, it counts as male. This famously lead to Hamish Philostratus enrolling a mossy boulder as a student while shouting "Behold, a Man!". Some women carry false beards on campus to deter sticklers. Others carry wands of disintegrate, which tends to be a better deterrent.

You level up every Season, provided you pass your exams and survive the term.

You pass classes by completing  and Extra Credit Projects.

Each Season, students select a Major. For Wizards, this determines spells. For other classes, this might just be helpful background information.

Students also roll 2 Courses off the d100 table of Courses. (Optional: A PC can elect to take a Course another PC is taking or roll.) Lecturers offer courses at their discretion. PCs cannot take the same Course twice (unless they failed the first time).

At the start of the Season, students roll to see if they are currently passing their Major and their 2 Courses. Passing requires a grade of 51%. Passing with Distinction requires a grade of 80% or higher.

A grade is determined by: [The PC's Intelligence score] + [the Course's Difficulty score] + [some listed dice].

A student's Major is Int+35+1d4! (1d4 exploding, on a 4 roll an additional 1d4).

E.g. "Lyric Poetry in Ancient Gronk", which everyone agrees is a dead easy Course, is Int+40+1d20. You'd have to be as thick as two short planks not to pass. 

E.g. "Higher Thaumic Field Theory", which nobody fully understands except the lecturer, and even then only when they've had their special medicine, is Int+20+2d8.

If a PC is currently passing their Major or a Course, they don't need to worry.

If they are failing, there always extra credits available for dangerous activities, dungeon delves, looted treasure, and experimental work. Test new innovations. Track down escaped monsters, addled undergraduates, absent-minded professors, and students in arrears. Loxdon College wants to produce competent students... just not necessarily very many of them.

At the end of the Season, students roll grades for their Major and 2 Courses again (adding any bonuses for extra credit work). They can choose to take the new grade or keep the old one.

Once each Season, a PC can say "They Really Really Tried" for a +10 bonus to a Course or their Major.

If a PC fails one or more Courses, they don't level up that Season.

If a PC fails all their courses, they are put on Academic Probation, and must pass all their Courses next season or be expelled. Expelled students are forever barred from calling themselves wizards (or lawyers, etc.). Ancient law also says the Chancellor can lop two fingers off an expelled student. It's rare for students to be expelled; they either die while trying to improve their grades or quit.

Tuition at Loxdon College is 15gp per Season. Membership in a Hall or Academy (mandatory) is another 15-30gp per Season. Education is expensive.

This system is still in playtesting, and may be altered.

Month Month (Real) Month (Fictional) Activity
1 January Portia Off-Season
2 February Malbrogia Roll Grades
3 March Stump
4 April Fillia
5 May Omnia
6 June Lestia
7 July Hadria Roll Grades Again
8 August Clept Off-Season
9 September Paislia Off-Season
10 October Bastia Off-Season
11 November Doria Off-Season
12 December Destros Off-Season


1d100 Courses at Loxdon College Difficulty Lecturer
1 Potion Miscibility Studies Int+30+1d20 Prof. Barns
2 Nonessential Salts Int+40+1d6
3 Phlogiston Distillation Int+35+2d6
4 Principal Underground Rivers Int+40+3d6 Prof. Wosgrab
5 Lost Islands and Continents Int+25+3d10
6 Disagreeable Masonry and Columns Int+40+1d10
7 Pendulum Harmonics Int+25+3d8 Prof. Ziler
8 Tension in Unmoderated Solids Int+30+3d6
9 Compression of Unusual Liquids Int+35+2d6
10 Uses of Sieves and Filters Int+30+2d20
11 Foundations of Endon Int+30+3d6 Prof. Runcible (MIR pg. 12)
12 History of the Fifty-Six Years' War Int+30+3d6
13 Dynasties of the Upper Rogat River Int+40+1d20
14 Architecture Through The Ages Int+30+2d20
15 Nomads and their Uncouth Ways Int+25+3d10
16 Failed Parliamentary Reforms Int+30+2d10
17 A History of Endonian Statuary Int+40+1d10 Prof. Optott
18 Existential Countermeasures Int+30+3d6
19 Sites of Ancient Magic Int+25+3d8
20 Standing and Recumbent Stones Int+30+3d6
21 The Intelligence of Enchantments Int+30+3d6 Prof. Carmot (MIR pg. 90)
22 Practical Golem Logic Int+25+3d10
23 Nebulous Mathematical Analysis Int+35+2d6
24 Recent Runes Int+30+3d6 Prof. Turnspit
25 Things That Should and Should Not Be Int+30+1d10
26 Heretical Geometry Int+35+2d6
27 Bibliomantic Analysis Int+25+3d8
28 Meditations on Immortality Int+35+2d6
29 Notable Prophecies Int+40+2d6
30 Translating Inhuman Utterances Int+35+3d6
31 History of Embalming Int+40+1d10 Prof. Esilibum
32 So-Called "Ghosts" and Other Frauds Int+40+1d6
33 Origin of Textiles Int+40+3d6
34 Practical Haruspexy and Taxidermy Int+40+1d10
35 Curse Mitigation Int+25+3d8
36 Selected Fish Studies Int+40+2d6 Prof. Theric
37 Corpuscular Theory Int+40+1d6
38 Scapular Flow Int+30+2d10
39 Truly Disgusting Anatomy Int+30+2d8
40 Dredging and Dissection Int+30+1d20
41 Lesser Ferns and Greater Ferns Int+40+2d6 Prof. Chamberstoat
42 Advanced Horticulture Int+30+2d6
43 Properties of Various Hardwoods Int+40+1d20
44 Fundamentals of Alchemical Assays Int+30+3d6 Prof. Glass
45 The Properties of Obscure Crystals Int+30+2d6
46 Unusual Noises  Int+40+1d20
47 Overview of Approved Alchemical Theories Int+20+2d10
48 Recursive Introduction to Philosophy Int+40+2d6 Prof. Scalimoss
49 Introductory Recursive Philosophy Int+20+1d20
50 Proof by Lightning Induction Int+30+4d6
51 The Migration of Ley Lines Int+30+2d20 Prof. Gortz
52 Phenomena of the Upper Air Int+30+3d6
53 Lodestones and Ferric Properties Int+30+2d10
54 Extraplanar Geometry Int+20+2d10
55 Moderate Meteorology Int+40+2d6
56 A Sanitized History of Necromancy  Int+40+1d20 Prof. Horton
57 Neo-osteoarchaeology  Int+30+2d6
58 Advanced Indices Int+30+1d10 Prof. Nostrocalcine
59 Applied Illiteracy Int+40+1d10
60 Relentless Logic Int+30+2d10
61 Higher Thaumic Field Theory Int+20+2d8 Prof. Revelston
62 Advanced Paradoxes Int+20+2d10
63 Repairing Thaumic Manifolds Int+35+3d6
64 Frictionless Metaphysics Int+30+2d6
65 Unusual Cartography Int+40+1d10 Prof. Fogel
66 The Lives of Beetles Int+35+3d6
67 Induction and Interpretation of Dreams Int+40+2d8 Prof. Scrute
68 Rangement of the Senses Int+30+2d6
69 Applied Astrology Int+40+1d20
70 Conjunctions of Celestial Bodies Int+25+3d8
71 Inks and Unguents Int+40+2d6 Prof. Ganderblast
72 Filtered Telepathy Int+30+2d6
73 Improvisational Countermagic Int+40+1d6
74 Speculative Herbology Int+35+2d6 Prof. Morlund
75 Tinctures and Extracts Int+40+1d20
76 Retrograde Inheritance Studies Int+30+1d10
77 Approved Culinary Dark Arts Int+30+1d20
78 Error Correction and Documentation Int+30+3d6 Prof. Hextangle
79 Residual Thaumic Trace Theory Int+30+1d10
80 Synthesis and Countersynthesis Int+30+1d20
81 Dissecting Humourous References Int+40+1d20 Prof. Nudgon
82 Contemptible Modern Literature Int+40+1d10
83 Lyric Poetry in Ancient Gronk Int+40+1d20
84 Tragic Poets of Early Endon Int+40+2d8
85 Undirected Reading Int+40+2d6
86 Boundaries and Wards Int+30+3d6 Prof. Aster
87 Detection of Undetectable Signals Int+20+3d6
88 Intermediate Rift Stabilization  Int+30+1d10
89 Musical Theory of the Spheres Int+30+3d6
90 Counterharmonic Alloys Int+30+2d20
91 People Who Have Wronged Me Int+40+2d6 Prof. Loam
92 Unorthodox Debating Int+30+1d20
93 Introductory Cipher Theory Int+20+1d20
94 Metasystemic Analysis Int+30+3d6
95 The Acts of the Eleven Tyrants Int+35+2d6 Prof. Hark
96 Military History of Endon Int+40+1d6
97 Gunpowder Improvement Studies Int+30+2d6
98 Emotional Control of Small Animals Int+40+1d10 Prof. Jariclave
99 Training Through Moderate Torture Int+30+2d20
100 History of Poisons Int+30+3d6
Laurent Gapaillard

Loxdon College

Loxdon College is not, when the game starts, the chaotic heap of history and magic that you might expect. It's not Goodberry Monthly's Wizard City, The Unseen Unversity, Hogwarts, Castle Heterodyne, etc. It doesn't have basements full of secrets, floating buildings, hallways that lead into the past... or if it does, it doesn't have too many of them. It is a fairly normal and down-to-earth place... at first.

As the game's Tempo increases, Loxdon College will change, but it will also change because of the PCs. The PCs are the ones who will found the Order of the Ebony Chalice, open a portal to the moon in a broom closet, fund a new building, destroy and old one, and alter the very fabric of academic reality. They're the founders of a new tradition! They're the ones who future generations of students will name cautiously and with reverence.

Or maybe not. We'll see how it goes.
 

History of Loxdon College

When Endon was just a trading post on a river ... boiled him alive, but not before ... the First Founders ... a group of itinerant turnip-sellers ... believed in education by proximity to knowledge .... the Eightfold Duel and Cogfallow Night ... full of spiders ... and then the Great Reform ... first woman to successfully assassinate a Warden ... the Alchemists were, as usual, terribly sorry ...

Loxdon College has 1,000 students and, at present, 4 areas of study.
-History / Literature / Politics
-Law
-Medicine
-Magic

Given the popularity of Wizardry in Endon, assume half (500) of the students are studying Magic. In a four-year degree, assume 40% (200) are first-year students. Magical education is very dangerous and magical industry is very lucrative. Assume just over half survive to the second year (125), that leaves 75 third year, 50 fourth year students, and 50 post-graduates.

Each of the 10 Academies and Halls (see below) boasts around 100 students, unevenly distributed. Some contain as few as 10, some as many as 200.

Magical education is a dubious art. Shaping a student's brain to accumulate magical energy and store spells is not an exact science; the general theory is that proximity to other wizards and magical books will eventually produce the correct thaumic soul adjustments, turning a spotty and indolent student into a proper wizard. Some students (and some professors) seek an easier path, using powerful equipment, ancient rituals, or sheer terror to rapidly create wizards or instantly transfer knowledge. It rarely works.

Lada Da

Ranks and Roles

Chancellor
The head of Loxdon College. In most hierarchical organizations, power accumulates at the top. At Loxdon College, no one is entirely sure where power accumulates, but it's not in the Chancellor. Their job is to hold dinners, perform ceremonies, assist the Monarch when they encounter a headache-inducing problem, and placate various factions. Since no faction can ever (it seems) accumulate more than a 10% stake in Loxdon College, the Chancellor's job is both tedious and simple.
 
Bursar
The person in charge of money. Students (in theory) pay tuition, sometimes ruinously calculated. Staff (in theory) draw salaries, petition for grants, demand new buildings, and pay for equipment. Endon (in theory) throws handfuls of tax revenue at Loxdon College. In practice, nobody is entirely sure how Loxdon College's finances operate, least of all the Bursar.
 
Deans
Deans oversee a Field of Study. Traditionally, this included History, Law, Literature, Medicine, and Magic, though Magic's proliferation has lead to a nebulous assortment of Deans, as each Chancellor attempts to impose some sort of order on Loxdon College.

Each time a Dean of Magic is required, roll 1d4 for the number of Deans, then assign each Dean a school of magic (MIR pp. 75-76).
 
Warden
Each Hall and Academy is overseen by a Warden. The name was not chosen idly. Wardens have enormous powers within their building and very little outside of it.
 
Lecturers
Those who take up the difficult task of educating the ignorant, the indifferent, and the willfully obtuse. Lecturers have very little power, but are also immune to most consequences. They straddle the boundary between the Middle and Upper class. They are held to a certain standard of behavior, yet everyone accepts a degree of eccentricity. Lecturers in magic can call themselves Mage, Archmage, Magos, Interrogator, etc. Powerful wizards title themselves.
 
Postgraduates
Academic wizards too lowly to earn a position as a Lecturer, too blighted or dedicated to seek a lucrative position in Magical Industry, or too foolish to leave. Every serious researcher has a gaggle of Postgraduates willing to do their bidding. Ignore the patched robes, haunted eyes, and inkstained fingers; your average Postgraduate Wizard totes enough spellpower to knock a building off its foundations. Vaporizing a few undergraduates only results in paperwork. Postgraduates serve as Proctors during examinations.

Halls and Academies

In theory, Halls offer rooms and meals, while Academies offer rooms, meals, and some level of academic support, from tutors to dedicated lecturers. Loxdon College itself hosts most lecturers, workshops, laboritories, and examination halls.
 
1. The Academy Chronometric
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: White clock dial worn above the heart.
Formal Uniform: All white robes, sundial hat.
 
All students must swear, on a lump of primordial rock, to study "Tyme and Alle Its Workes", though the diligence or nature of this study is left unstated. Some see it as a quaint and meaningless ritual and treat the Academy Chronometric as any other hall. Others, openly or in secret, follow the Academy's original purpose. Paradoxes, time-copies, and casual madness are rife. Students are encouraged to keep lead-sealed journals.
 
2. Academy of Reformed Witchcraft
Open To: Women
Casual Uniform: Black conical hat.
Formal Uniform: Black conical hat, reinforced bodice with pockets, cloak, heels.
 
Several decades ago, a small number of magically-inclined women threatened to create a rival magic university in Endon. Loxdon College hastily absorbed the school, initiating the College's decline or signalling the start of a new era, depending on who you ask. Some citizens think the "Reformed" in the Academy's name is a joke made in poor taste. Rumours of Dread Necromancy, Moral Perversion, and other crimes with capital letters abound, assisted in no small measure by the Academy's younger scholars. Secret investigations and surprise audits have uncovered nothing of any real importance.
 

3. Delmott Academy
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Brown tie, curled brown shoes.
Formal Unifrom: Brown tie, black cloak with red lining, curled brown boots with bows.

Originally founded as an Academy for law students, Delmott boasts quiet rooms, a profundal wine cellar, and the second-largest library of non-magical books on campus. Spellcasting within the Academy is forbidden, so it is only popular with academic wizards, those seeking a safe and insulated haven, and wizards who prefer stealth to spectacle.
 
4. Foster Hall
Open To: Women
Casual Uniform: Lace cravat.
Formal Uniform: White conical hat, lace shawl.

Initially advertised a hall for women studying medicine, Foster Hall adapted to the rising tide of magical interest by building a splendid new pentangle. It hasn't worked; most of the rooms are empty. Rumours of cursed stones, invasive scrying enchantments, and comically strict rules keep most prospective students away.
 

5. Goldplate Academy
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Black scarf with silver stars, worn around the neck or as a sash.
Formal Uniform: Black cloak with silver stars.
 
A den of alchemists and dreamers. Goldplate's most celebrated tradition is the Admissions Rant, where prospective students try to convince current members to permit their enrollment. Bribery, catering, and magical displays are encouraged, but if all else fails, the student body looks for a solid five minutes of frothing and gesticulation. Rotten fruit, fake rules, and (in an emergency),  the Warden's disintegration ray are used to dissuade casual applicants. Women are permitted to join, but typically face a more hostile crowd during the Admissions Rant.
 
6. Longaxe Hall
Open To: Men
Casual Uniform: Red feather in hat. (Informally, a black eye and some scorch marks).
Formal Uniform: Blunt silver polearm, iron torc, red plumes.
 
A dueling club given legitimacy by age and real estate, Longaxe Hall has a dreadful reputation. By ancient decree of the Monarch, a member of Longaxe Hall cannot be charged with Murder or Violence against another member, provided the act takes place within the Hall. The stones are scorched and pitted. Students fortify dormitories, launch raids on academic rivals, and test the limits of Endon's laws. There is no place to gain better training in practical battle-magic. Women are not permitted to openly join, but anyone crazy enough to wear a false beard is acceptable.
 
7. Nedalward Hall
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Red and yellow tie, cuffs.
Formal Uniform: Red and yellow checkered cloak, rowan staff.
 
Inclined towards radicalism, experimentalism, and drinking, Nedalward Hall is fertile ground for secret societies and student plots. Nedalward holds a monthly memorial service for students lost to mishaps, accidents, or duels. The Hall's main building is perpetually under construction. Legend says if it is ever completed, Endon College will vanish into the fog.
 
8. Mamseltrough Academy
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Gold and red lozenge brooch.
Formal Uniform: Gold and red cloak, blue leather shoes.

The cheapest Academy at the College, Mamseltrough takes pride in its cold running water, its sturdy beds (no lice, some termites), and its sporting tradition. Students are expected to take up boxing, Whackit, rowing, full-contact chess, or any other sport to maintain their position at the Academy.
 
9. Scrutcher Hall
Open To: Men
Casual Uniform: Purple tie, usually thin and with a family's crest on a silver pin.
Formal Uniform: Purple silk robe, white circular fur hat.

The oldest hall, and the most reactionary. Relatively few members are Wizards. Most are destined for careers in politics, and spend their time gambling, participating in team sports, smoking, and eating enormous dinners. They have the best buildings, the finest wine, and the most secrets. No one is admitted without society connections, a good name, and a substantial donation.
 
10. Some Saints Hall
Open To: All
Casual Uniform: Blue tie with narrow white stripes.
Formal Uniform: White wig, blue and white zig-zag robes.
 
Endon is not particularly religious. As Loxdon College expanded, a small temple was deconsecrated and converted into a student residence. The irreverent nickname "Some Saints" stuck. The Hall's most notable feature, aside from its excellent dinners, is its Warden. The exiled Lamassu Gilgath II, cursed to only tread on deconsecrated ground, has seen generations of students pass through the Hall. Gilgath II cannot distinguish individual students, but can detect lies with frightening specificity and deliver immediate punishment.

W. Cade Gall

Clubs and Societies


Loxdon College doesn't have a Students' Union, a Student Newspaper, or even a half-decent secret society. The PCs can invent them.

The Ergot Club
Gambling, drinking, and knife-fighting. Prospective members have to pass three challenges, usually involving theft or mischief.

The Hidden Arena
Monster fights in a buried amphitheater. The faculty know about it and sometimes place bets, but submitting their own monsters is considered unfair to the students.

The Most Worshipful Shudderers
A fake religion (or so they claim) with fake rituals, fake robes, fake secret meetings, and fake prophecies. A good excuse to dress up and denounce people.

The Young Gumperts & The Young Bogs
The Gumperts stand for Endon Values, Harsh Penalties, and The Good Old Days. Their colour is green. The Bogs stand for Lower Taxes, Endon Prosperity, and More Wars. Their colour is blue.

Members of prosperous old familes are expected to toe the party line, associate with their future allies in Parliament, and politely shun the incomprehensible politics of the other side. The two clubs tend to attract stuffy and boring students who enjoy the company of other stuffy and boring students. Both have plenty of memmbers, but almost no one turns up to meetings unless food is provided.