OSR: Iconodules, Iconoclasts, and 1d50 Holy Relics and Icons

Optional rule: PCs must be either an Iconoclast or an Iconodule. One sect usually enjoys official support, the other is persecuted with greater or lesser severity. PCs could instead be Disreputable Pagans but where's the fun in that?
As long as a character holds a relic or icon, they gain the benefit listed. Characters can hold any number of relic or icons. Unless otherwise listed, they occupy 1 inventory slot.

The relics of a saint are the saint. Any magic targeting the soul of a person carrying a relic has a 1% chance to strike the relic (and saint) instead. Relics have 6 HP. Saints are immune to most magic, but some particularly powerful spells might be have dire consequences for either the caster, the relic-carrier, or the saint.

Icons must be displayed to have an effect. Unless a specific back frame, helmet, or shield is constructed, displaying an icon requires 1 hand.

The destruction of a carried relic or item deals 1d4 damage to an Iconodule PC. They must also Save or permanently reduce a random stat by 1. Weeping and contrition are not required but are encouraged.

Some sects consider holy relics to be merely bits of mouldering corpses, and holy icons as blasphemous idols. Their supposed power comes from mischievous devils or foolish superstition. Destroying these items yields a one-time benefit. The item must be deliberately destroyed. Destroyed icons yield 1d20gp worth of gold and silver leaf.
Other NotesThe benefits of carrying, displaying, or destroying an icon or relic are not immediately known to the PCs. The GM, for ease of bookkeeping, may make them known to the players, but destroying an icon or relic should always be a gamble.

Characters can switch affiliation with a tedious, humiliating, and expensive public ceremony. The procedure requires a priest and at least 100gp. Switching a second time might be tolerated. A third switch marks the character as a faithless fool; they gain no benefit from either sect and are treated with universal contempt.

Parties can (and should!) contain a mixture of Iconoclasts and Iconodules. Religious affiliation tends to take a backseat to looting and practical survival.

Side Note: This isn't particularly historically accurate in a Byzantine context. Both Byzantine iconoclasts and iconodules treated the relics of saints with approximately equal reverence, and focused their dispute on pictorial or sculptural representations. 
Still, it's only D&D. Replace "Iconoclast" with "Generic Evil Cultist" and/or "Iconodule" with "Summoner-Necromancer", if you're so inclined.

1d50 Relics or Icons

Rule text refer to my GLOG hack, but can be easily adapted to most systems.

1d50 Relic or Icon Benefit (Held) (Iconodule) Benefit (Destroyed) (Iconoclast)
1 Ashes of St. Sophia, pyromartyr. Autoimmolated rather than face eternal shame. Once per day, emit a flame burst. 2d6 fire damage, 10' radius. Does not burn wielder. Can light or extinguish candles and lanterns by touching them. Does not work on larger fires.
2 Blood of St. Cletia, who ate no flesh or cooked food for fifty long years. Can gain the benefit of a meal at lunch without spending a ration. Heal 1d6+2+Level HP at lunch instead of 1d6+Level.
3 Briar-Wrapped Heart of St. Anastasius. Blind, yet dictated mighty sermons. Take 1 damage to have the relic cast light as a torch for 10 minutes. +4 to Save against sight-based attacks (petrification, sigils, etc.)
4 Burial Shroud of St. Larch. Did not expire until he recieved his Abbot's permission.  You have 4 rounds to remove all Fatal Wounds instead of 3 rounds. The next time you would gain Fatal Wounds, gain 1 fewer.
5 Chain of St. Volusian, martyr. Crushed by steel coils, the saint's blood ran pure and clear. As chain armour. Wearer can lose 2 permanent HP to reduce incoming attack damage to 1. Permanently gain +2 HP and +2 Strength.
6 Dying Breath of St. Calixta, whose body was consumed by envious tumors. Reduce the number of Fatal Wounds gained by 2. Fatal Wounds are removed on a 1 or a 2, instead of just on a 1.
7 Finger of St. Strata. Learned scholar and archivist, the saint died while copying holy text. Gain +2 inventory slots that can only contain books, texts, or scrolls. Gain the ability to read 1 additional language.
8 Flayed Skin of St. Hermalyos, martyr. Endured six days of unspeakable torture. Gain +2 Defense. If not wearing armour, gain +2 Defense.
9 Foot of St. Psellus, martyr. Thrown from a tower, he lived just long enough to convert his enemies. Reduce all incoming fall damage by 4. The next time you would take fall damage, you take no damage instead.
10 Glass-Encased Tooth of St. Florus, martyr. Fed live scorpions by his captors. Immune to poison. Reduce incoming poison damage by 2.
11 Hair of St. Basina, martyr. Fleeing an unwanted marriage, she was beaten to death by sticks. Reduce all incoming bludgeoning damage by 2. Permanently gain +1 Constitution.
12 Hand of St. Auxitius, who cured all by his touch or by his prayers. Once per day, can restore 2d6+2 HP to a touched living creature. All Iconoclasts within 100' heal fully and are cured of all curses.
13 Hand of St. Iustina, who tamed wild beasts by her kind words and calm demeanour. +2 bonus to reaction rolls against beasts.  The next time you encounter a hostile beast, it flees instead.
14 Head of St. Ignatio, martyr. His holiness was such that it took nine blows to sever his spine. Reduce all incoming slashing damage by 2. Permanently gain +1 Constitution.
15 Mummified Heart of St. Polyeuktos, martyr. Beheaded, mangled, and scattered. +4 to Save against limb loss. The next time you would Save or lose a limb, automatically pass the Save.
16 Rib of St. Placida, martyr. Her zeal inflamed and her death converted a vast mob. Hirelings gain a +2 bonus to Morale or to Saves against fear. Once Iconodule witness may become an Iconoclast without the need for ceremony.
17 Robe Fragment of St. Martinus the Hermit. Lived unseen in the wilderness for sixty years. Effectively invisible to intelligent enemies until you take offensive action or make an attack. Permanently gain +2 to Stealth.
18 Scapula of St. Alphage, martyr. The lash marks are still visible on the bone. If an ally within 50' takes damage, you can take 1d6 damage to reduce their damage by 6. The next time an attack would deal more than 6 damage to you, it deals 6 damage instead.
19 Skull of St. Domitian, who spent all his family's wealth with a free and easy hand. Can donate, scatter, or burn 100gp to restore all HP or remove 1 curse. Cannot give to allies. The next time treasure is found, +10x1d6gp is also found in a hidden compartment.
20 Skull of St. Ellia, martyr. Her eyes gouged out by hot irons, she still proclaimed her faith. Can see 30' in total darkness. Can see, as normal sight, even if blinded. The next time you would Save or lose one or more eyes, automatically pass the Save.
21 Thighbone of St. Regulus the Theologian. Survived nine shipwrecks while preaching. Save to reduce incoming lightning damage to 0. On a critical sucess, can redirect the lightning. Reduce incoming lightning damage by 2.
22 Tongue of St. Placida, who removed her own tongue to avoid accidental blasphemies. Can speak telepathically to other Iconodules within 50'. Can only broadcast. Permanently gain +2 to Save against mind-altering effects.
23 Vertebra of St. Olibert, martyr. Torn asunder by horses in the arena, he did not cry out. Can choose to make no sound when injured or surprised. +1 Stealth. Permanently gain +1 HP.
24 Eyes of St. Laurier. Vigilant investigator of heresies and abuses in the church. 50% chance to act in a surprise round. Once per day, can detect lies for 10 minutes. Cannot be blinded pr deafened, even if eyes are destroyed or ears mangled.
25 Skull of St. Walter, martyr. His flesh was proof against knives, so his enemies strangled him. Reduce all incoming piercing damage by 2. Permanently gain +1 Wisdom.
26 Gilded Fetters of St. Theonas and St. Wograil, drowned for their faith. While displayed, can breathe underwater for +2 minutes. Permanently gain +1 Strength.
27 Ensign of the Seventh Emperor. Golden starburst on a pole. Unweildy. While displayed, all Iconodules gain +2 to Save. Requires 2 hands. 4 inventory slots. All Iconoclast witnesses heal fully. Yields 20x1d10gp.
28 Icon of St. Athagel, who remained in vigilant prayer for fifty days and nights during a siege. While displayed, all Iconodules within 100' do not need to sleep and cannot be put to sleep. Can fall alseep instantly, in any conditions, and wake at a set time or with a set trigger.
29 Icon of St. Eudoxia, who was nightly tormented by legions of foul demons. While displayed, summoned or unnatural creatures cannot approach within 20'. +2 bonus to reaction rolls against summoned or unnatural creatures. 
30 Icon of St. Evantia the Wanderer. Only stopped her travels to pray and sleep. While displayed, cannot be fettered, slowed, or bound by mundane or magical means. Permanently gain +2 Movement.
31 Icon of St. Gratian, martyr. Tied to a stake and pierced by darts.  While displayed, cannot be hit by mundane missiles. Requires 2 hands. 2 inventory slots. Increase range of all ranged weapons and spells by +30'.
32 Icon of St. Neophotus. Stauch defender of true doctrines, the saint's words were as bedrock.  While displayed, cannot be pushed, moved, or tripped.  Permanently gain +1 Dexterity.
33 Icon of St. Tarsus, Champion of the Faith.  While displayed, all melee attacks by Iconodules within 50' deal +2 damage. All Iconoclast witnesses may reroll 1 stat (3d6) and take the higher result.
34 Icon of St. Tyrophon. At the saint's command, the dead returned to life. While displayed, target fresh corpse answers 3 questions. The corpse can lie. The next time you would die, you are knocked unconcious with -10 HP instead.
35 Icon of St. Verina of the Baleful Gaze. Killed sixteen pagans with a glance. While displayed, once per day, fires a 2d6+2 damage holy bolt at a target within 100'. All offensive spells deal +1 damage.
36 Icon of St. Xenithia of the North. A white-haired convert from beyond the world's edge. While displayed, reduce incoming cold damage by 6. Requires 2 hands. 2 inventory slots. Permanently reduce incoming cold damage by 1.
37 Icon of St. Zusanna, pyromartyr. Walked willingly into the flames. While displayed, reduce incoming fire damage by 6. Requires 2 hands. 2 inventory slots. Permanently reduce incoming fire damage by 1.
38 Icon of the Sword of the First Archangel. Seems to blaze with silver fire. While displayed, all weapons of icon-bearer and allies count as magic weapons.  Your weapons count as magic weapons.
39 Silver Death-Mask of St. Valens, martyr. Executed by rivals, he accepted his fate. While displayed, immune to fear and mind-altering effects. Can be worn on the head. Permanently gain +1 to Save.
40 Icon of St. Cyra, martyr. Visited her congregation in dreams after her death. While displayed, ghosts or undead cannot approach within 20'. Can see ghosts or invisible spirits.
41 Icon of St. Praetextatus the Hermit, who wrestled lions. While displayed, for 3 rounds, an Iconodule's Strength becomes 20. Gain 2 additional quick draw inventory slots.
42 Icon of the Nine Martyrs of Petropolis. From the earliest days of the faith. Nine identical faces. While displayed, Iconodules within 100' gain a +4 bonus to Initiative. Permanently gain +2 Wisdom.
43 Icon of St. Cassia, who turned the beasts of the arena against her tormentors. While displayed, Iconodules within 100' improve their critical range by +1. Choose a weapon type. Increase your critical range with that weapon by +1.
44 Icon of St. Iovivus the Wise. Noted for his clarity, the saint cut through tangled discourse. While displayed, for 1 hour per day, all illusions are revealed as illusions.  Permanently gain +2 Intelligence.
45 Embroidered Sash of St. Servella. Densely woven iconography and stylized scripture. While displayed, all spells targeting the icon or icon-bearer have a 25% chance to fail. Permanently reduce incoming magic damage by 1.
46 Icon of St. Discoria, martyr. No prison could hold the saint. While displayed, once per day, one lock opens. Permanently gain +1 Dexterity.
47 Icon of St. Joanna. Tended to the sick during a terrible plague.  While displayed, all Iconodules within 100' cannot gain new diseases. All Iconoclast witnesses are cured of mundane diseases.
48 Icon of the Bathing Prophet. Popular but slightly scandalous scene from a holy text. While displayed, intelligent creatures must Save or continually glance at the icon. Permanently gain +1 Charisma.
49 Icon of the Tempest of St. Sergia. Golden thunderbolts, azure waves. While displayed, all Iconodules within 50' can walk on water for 10 minutes. Can take 3 steps on water before sinking.
50 Gold Feretory of St. Eugenius, who razed pagan temples and built churches from their ruins. While displayed, all Iconodules deal +2 damage. Requires 2 hands. 6 inventory slots. All Iconoclast witnesses may reroll 2 stats and take the higher results. Yields 30x1d10gp.



Side Note: Guided by the Beauty of our HTML Generators

While searching for existing relic and icon generators (because I'm not going to build a tool if someone has already done it), I found this post on detecmagic.blogspot.com.

It's exactly the opposite of what I need. In that sense, it's a useful illustration.

1. Format
It's a list of all possible variants. It can't be printed, copied, or quickly examined. The push-button HTML rolling function is just a gimmick. Show your work and then I'll press the time-saving button.

201. The finger of a martyr
202. The finger of a king
203. The finger of a queen
204. The finger of a prince
205. The finger of a princess
206. The finger of a scholar
207. The finger of a messiah
208. The finger of a prophet
209. The finger of a culture hero
210. The finger of a mythological figure
When the entire table could be presented as:

d44 The... d10 of a...
1 Breastmilk 1 Martyr
2 Tooth 2 King
3 Femur 3 Queen
4 Tibia 4 Prince
5 Blood 5 Princess
6 Phlegm 6 Scholar
7 Bile 7 Messiah
8 Sternum 8 Prophet
9 Scapula 9 Culture Hero
10 Rib 10 Mythological Figure
11 Pelvis

12 Radius

13 Ulna

14 Bone Chip

15 Spine

16 Brain

17 Liver

18 Intestines

19 Foot

20 Hand

21 Finger

22 Toe

23 Thumb

24 Hair

25 Skull

26 Jaw

27 Nails

28 Beard

29 Bottled Breath

30 Heart

31 Mummified Corpse

32 Skeleton

33 Coprolite

34 Execution Paraphernalia

35 Footprint

36 Outerwear

37 Belt or Sash

38 Undergarments

39 Turban

40 Utensil  or Dinnerware

41 Text

42 Weapon

43 Religious Item

44 Professional Item

2. Duplicates
Over half the d1000 list is duplicated entries. The 10 "Execution Paraphernalia" variant list is repeated at least 3 times.

Do you even need a d1000 list for relics? How often are you going to roll?!

3. Lack of Specificity
If I roll on a table, I would like the table to do some of the work for me. This table just creates more work. Let's say I roll "The professional item of a culture hero" (449, 559, or 669, 779, 899, or 999!).

Now I need to invent or roll a professional item. As a sensible GM, I've got a table handy, but what the heck is a "culture hero" in this context? Robin Hood is a culture hero, but is Robin Hood's [roll] hammer a relic?

There's no flavour. "Utensil or Dinerware" is trash compared to "Bottled Breath". "A Martyr" is trash compared to "St. Lucia of Baswell", which in turn is trash compared to "St. Lucia of Baswell, devoured by lions in defense of her faith."

When writing a table, think about how a GM will use the table. Just writing stuff down and putting numbers next to it is not enough. Give guidance! Put some creativity into it! Make it easy, even desirable, for a GM to use the tool you've made!

System-neutral and setting-neutral material can be tricky, but this is not the way. This is just... some text. As usual, elfmaidsandoctopi has better versions of the same concept.

I'd much rather have a setting-specific or system-specfic table that demands to be adapted than an utterly flat setting-neutral table that creates more work for me.


OSR: Ultraviolet Grasslands Session 6 - I Am A Real Doctor

Last session, the PCs found, looted, and partially demolished a the house of a Porcelain Prince.
Note: If you haven't read Ultraviolet Grasslands, most of this writeup will seem like psychedelic heavy metal Mad Libs. Even if you have ready UVG it's going to be a mess.
The members of the Cat's Meow Trading Company are:

Granville Porter
Cogflower necromancer lawyer. A mutant human thief/necromancer and warlock of Kon-Fabulate. Equipped with starscape skin, a vibrating thumb, a telephone that talks to dead people, and a surprising number of explosives.
Bluelander engineer. A human hunter on the run. Member of the Bluelander Liberation Front.
Gormog the Builder
Safarian merchant adventurer. A half-orc barbarian/fighter and warlock of Kon-Fabulate.
Exiled pirate liberal. A half-elf barbarian chased out of the Red Lands for their radical views, Clovis has a chainsword and a tattooed map to an aerolith fortress.
Wine vampire priest. A dwarf forcebender wizard and warlock of Deel, Orbital Wargoddess. Full of a strange blend of bloodlust and diplomacy.
A dwarf demon hunter from the Red Lands secretly fighting the most perfidious demon of all: capitalism.
Oblong Dusk
Degenerate quarter-ling Docteure Massese, the faceless Oblong Dusk provides healing and sensual massage... for a fee. A fleshbender and warlock of Deel, Oblong has a free-spirited approach to teamwork, fees, and property.
Transport: 2 mules, 2 carts, 1 looted one-person porcelain walker, 4 zombie porters.
Hirelings: 4 Bluelander Revolutionaries, 1 Orangelander Pirate Liberal.

Side Note: the rest of this post contains minor spoilers for the adventure "Glass House of a Dead Prince", UVG pp. 30-31.


OSR: Imperial Megapalace - Rapid Dungeon Assembly

On Saturday, Feb. 1st, the Pirate group TPK'd to beetles (and greed).
On Sunday, I despaired at the need to find a new genre, system, or plan. The Pirate game, after two TPKs and many hijinks, had run its course.
On Monday, I decided to write a Byzantine megadungeon.

Next game is scheduled for Feb. 16th. If you're in that game, look away! Spoilers abound.

Here's either how I wrote a megadungeon in two weeks.... or how I failed miserably.

Step 1: Concept Map

I picked an approximate layout. A round fortress-palace with four towers and a central dome. Crypts and a cistern underneath.

Then, I started tossing rooms onto a piece of paper. I went through existing palace maps (real and fictional) to find common rooms. Adjacent sections overlap or are placed nearby.

Ideas started to solidify. The dungeon would initially have one entrance, but more could be found and opened. Each tower would be guarded by a classic mythical beast. The dungeon will be a testbed for the Monster Overhaul, full of creatures and reskins for convenient playtesting.

Step 2: Draft Map

I decided to map the dungeon in Sketchup. It's not an ideal mapping tool, but it does have some handy features:
-ease of rotation

-components (items that can be cloned, but editing one item edits them all)
-ease of checking sightlines and overlap of complex regions

Starting with the south tower and working outwards, I started mapping rooms and zones. I didn't worry about assigning specific functions or occupants to every room. That can come later.

I did start planning routes. Assuming the players enter from the south, where can they go? What will bottleneck them? Is the dungeon sufficiently jaquayed?

I imagined a party moving through the dungeon. What would they see? Where would they go? What about the dungeon's original inhabitants? How would they use this space? Would an Emperor share a corridor with servants? What would diplomats see?

Mapping the dungeon will be a challenge. I'll probably provide players with template maps or approximate scribbings, or let them map it pointcrawl-style.


Step 3: Stocking Maps

Main Level
Upper Level + Towers
The map is very heavily jaquayed. Some sections are linear or gated, but the bulk of the dungeon is criss-crossed with multiple paths, weird loops, and interesting choices. Secret doors are often one-sided (one side is hidden, one side is obviously a door). If approached from one side, they can create a shortcut back to a previously explored area.

The clock tower (the north tower) has two rotating sections. The bottom section rotates as players discover keys or gears. The upper section rotates on a 1 hour timer.

I want a mix of small and large rooms. Fights should require manuvering and flanking. Give players space to stretch out. Engulf them in the majesty of the Last Emperor.

At this point, the maps are ready to be stocked. They are
still drafts. As I stock them, I'll remove and edit rooms, make notes, and scrawl corrections. 

Step 4: Stocking Subsections

I like minimaps. They make running complex dungeons much easier.

I am currently cutting the main map into sections. 3 are present in the image above: the South Tower, the Hippodrome, and the Menagerie.

Numbers are assigned based on probable routes players will take. To minimize flipping, each section will have its own half page, whole page, or 2-page spread.

I'm also writing very brief room notes as I assign numbers. No evocative prose, no details, just "gate" or "manticore" or "trap." If I have details I add them, but at this stage it's better to get the content down. I can always punch up the prose after playtesting.

This section takes ages, especially if I have to renumber a section or find I've missed a critical room. Splitting the dungeon into subsections helps.

Next Steps

Stock, stock, and stock some more.

If you've got ideas for things that lurk in the Imperial Megapalace, let me know in the comments.
I can't guarantee I'll take your suggestion (or any suggestions), but it can't hurt to throw ideas out there. Procopius might help.

I'm not sure if this dungeon will become a free product, a Patreon exclusive PDF, a paid Kickstarted thing, or something else entirely. It depends on how the playtest goes, how much I like the final product... and if I get it finished in time.

Scratchpad Notes

To Do

-d100 Encounter Table
-I Search the Body
-d50 / d100 table of backgrounds (not using -lings this time).
-review these tables (good work, past Skerples) and use them.


The Last Emperor
-Anyone who eats his flesh becomes sort-of immortal.
-Also cursed. A lot.

-Regenerates, but is weak.
-Built an Artificial Hell under the palace to torment enemies. Also serves as a regeneration point if he is killed.
-With blind tigers.
-Possible to negotiate with but far easier to avoid.

-Probably the first "big" monster the PCs will meet.

-Guards a path up to the Royal Prison.
Twisted Giant

-In the cathedral. A bishop grown large. Wields a censer.

-Twins. One in the Prison Below, one in the Prison Above.
-In the west tower. Pick off creatures who scale the walls.
Hereditary Eunuchs
-Don't ask.
Ketolysis Monks
-Flame breath from ketogenic starvation.