2022/07/02

OSR: The Mystery of Uriah Shambledrake Session 1 - The Reading of the Will

Uriah Shambledrake, a man of more-than-modest means and immoderate appetites, is dead. His heirs, or those with dreams of inheriting his substantial fortune, descended upon the offices of Dewey Cheetham and Howe, Solicitors and Barristers, to hear the Reading of the Will. How will their fates affect the Magical Industrial Revolution sweeping the city of Endon?


Peering over his inch-thick spectacles at the strongbox and its jumbled contents, the dust-shrouded form of Wisterion Cheetham, legal counsel to the Shambledrake family, read in a faint and unsteady voice:

"To my faithful cook and sometime cottage distiller Elizabeth Ramchander, known as Lizzie Ramchander, I leave the sum of nine copper pieces and a vial of extremely potent gin which she distilled for me but which I did not have the chance to ingest."

Lizzie checked her envelope, pocketed the vial of hypergin (920 proof) and the handful of coins, and sat back with an air of distinct displeasure. Her employer was never generous (when he was present), but 9 copper pieces and a vial of her own special gin was hardly a legacy.

"To Doctor Bunckpert Noyle, who has been my physician since childhood, and who always wished to be mentioned in my will... Hallooo Doctor Noyle!"

"To my hired physician of latter days, Doctor Augustus Hartwell, I leave a figure of a gryphon that I whittled out of wood."

Doctor Augustus Hartwell scowled. True, his attempts to cure Uriah Shambledrake of The Lurch had failed, despite many hours sawing at bunions and painting his feet with mercuric salts, but the whittled gyrphon was poorly made at best.  At least he'd fared better than the family doctor, who had sunk blubbering into his seat, his dreams of wealth shattered.

"To Agnes Shambledrake née Nona, the wife of my late brother Elias Shamledrake as well as the wife of several other late men, I leave a sturdy pair of boots, fitted to her size, to enable her to run as far as possible away from the remains of this family" and here Cheetham coughed with effort, wheezed deeply, and continued, "never to return."

Agnes, clad in black, with a slightly unfashionable mourning shawl, dabbed at her eyes with a silk handkerchief. "Such cruel words to a widow," she sighed, "as well as to a woman of mature years." It wasn't her fault that she'd lost her first husband to pestilential fumes, her second to his own miscalibrated top-heavy invention, her third to an overly ornate and water-absorbent bathing costume, and her fourth to mercury poisoning.

The list continued, as assorted relatives, hangers-on, and friends received bequests varying from nothing to next-to-nothing.

"To Jonty Earl, Associate Professor at Loxdon College, for producing a place for my nephew by insalubrious means, I give an enchanted smart chain, that he may whip some knowledge into that dull-witted child."

Jonty, who had agreed to accompany two of his favorite (and most likely to inherit) students to this will-reading, started awake, then carefully tucked the chain into to the pockets of his robe. A smart chain! An obedient magical servant (for 1 hour every 24). What had he done to impress the deceased, save for steering his nephew through the shoals of Loxdon College's admission process, and that for a very reasonable fee (now, sadly, entirely spent).

"To my nephew's friend and companion Haze Palewolf, I give an indestructible hat, in memory of the many hats he lost or mangled during his childhood visits to Shambledrake Manor."

Haze firmly seated the flat cap onto his head. A flat cap; Uriah was ever mindful of Palewolf's humble origins. Well, if it wasn't a fortune, it was at least a bequest.

"And finally, to my nephew and heir Thomas Shambledrake, I leave... nothing! As I have mortgaged Shambledrake Manor three times, fraudulently, as well as the estate and lands, pawned the moveable furniture, given the rest as securities for other loans, and emptied my accounts, I leave everything to my creditors. Good luck. Haw haw haw."

Cheetham could barely be heard reading "complete will and testament, signed this day" or words to that effect over the irate crowd of bankers, lawyers, and disjointedness heirs surging around his desk.

"Mortgaged to the hilt, eh?" Tom Shambledrake said to his friend Haze. "I didn't even know he was in financial difficulties. Paid for my school fees and all that, you know."

Uriah had died suddenly, after a series of lingering but mild illnesses. He'd burned to death (in his bedchamber) if the reports from other relations were to be believed. The body was identified by his signet ring, his dentures, and an old fracture in his left leg.

His signet ring. That was odd. If it was found on his body, it surely should have been distributed with the rest of the bequests. And there was no sign of it. Peculiar. Tom peered into the box that had contained the will and associated envelopes. One remained at the bottom, sealed - unlike the others - with wax imprinted with the Shamebledrake crest.

"I'm going to steal that letter," Tom whispered to his friend. "Could you..."

"Work of a moment," Haze said, flourishing his hands and casting a minor illusion to replace the envelope with a counterfeit. Tom reached in, slipped the letter into his waistcoat, and hurried down the stairs. 

The PCs

Tom Shambledrake, Electric Wizard
Heir to the Shambledrake estate. Tom's parents were killed when their hot air balloon was struck by lightning. Vowing revenge on the weather, Tom left his career as a political courier (the first step on the ladder) and took up wizardry. His uncle raised him from a child (of 17 and a half) to maturity (now, in theory) and paid for his first year at Loxdon College.

Haze Palewolf, Illusionist
Tom's friend and boon companion. A stage performer with an accordion, Tom never fit in with the Shamebledrake set. He scraped together enough to attend Loxdon College and study illusion magic, in the hope of taking the stage into the bright industrial future. Tom and Haze are both members of Nedalward Hall.

Jonty Earl, Dandy
An Assistant Professor at Loxdon College, Jonty is underpaid but ambitious. He currently teaches a course in Lodestones and Ferric Properties for Prof. Gortz, and slowly starves. A full-time academic position seems more distant by the day. To supplement his income, he tutors out-of-town students in the subtle arts of college life. He owes 15gp to Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl, an interest free loan that he has conspicuously failed to repay. 

Side Note: Assistant Professor is equivalent to the former rank of Junior Lecturer. The college changed the name to make the salary more palatable.

Agnes Nona, Brawler
Sixty-five (allegedly), short, and almost always dressed in black, Agnes has survived all her previous husbands... and is looking for a new one to survive. Not that anyone can prove anything, of course. Accidents do happen. One of her husbands (GM's Note: it's unclear which) was a Shambledrake, and Tom calls her "Aunt Aggy"... and tries not to leave his tea unattended when she's around.

Possibly to keep close to Tom (and his hitherto-certain inheritance), possibly to maintain an illusion of youth for her paramour, or possibly because she'd lived through most of recent history and wanted to get a certificate to prove it, Agnes enrolled at Loxdon College, studying History. She is carrying on a steamy correspondence (and only a correspondence) with Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl, whom she calls "Lord Terro Mondero". He's seen her miniature portrait... though it was painted a few years back. Quite a few years back.

Augustus Hartwell, Biomancer
A foreign doctor, Augustus intends to challenge the medical exams at Loxdon College to prove that foreign medicine deserves the same certification as local medicine. Though physicians from Foreign Parts are respected, Augustus has some unorthodox ideas that rankle both clients and peers.

Lizzy Ramchander, Potion Wizard
Brewer to the Shambledrake family (and home distiller), Elizabeth is not an academic wizard. She learned her trade the hard way, and has a permanent smell of stale beer to show for it. She dreams of one day opening a high-class establishment called "De-Ginerates", where, using her hyper-concentrated gin and Augustus's extract venom spell, they can get patrons drunk, then sober them up (without a hangover!), and reuse the gin. In Endon, they say beer is merely rented. De-Ginerates would take this to its logical conclusion.

Lizzy and Augustus share an apartment. To avoid impropriety, she gets the apartment during the day while he gets it at night.

The Story Continues

As Jonty blinked in the afternoon sun outside the offices of Dewey Cheetham and Howe, a messenger ran up, held out a sealed letter, then held out a hand for a gratuity. Jonty said "not today", glared, and cracked the blank wax seal.

To Ass. Prof. J. E, from your friend L. T.-on-B.
Beg your remembrance of a certain sum advanced to you some months past, which it has not been your habit to repay or acknowledge. Be so good as to meet a certain Mr. Snedge at the Unicorn Arms near Hasselby Court before sundown.
Jonty stuffed the letter into his pocket, but not before Agnes, descending the stairs, had caught a glimpse of its colour and peculiar blank wax seal. Her hand-delivered letters from Lord Tarrigan-on-Burl were identically marked. Curious...

"We should have a drink to, err, recover from this will-reading and wash down these will snacks," Jonty said to the small crowd piling up around the base of the stairs. "The Unicorn Arms, say?"

"Ooh, thank you sir," Lizzy said, "Always happy to accept a drink."

"Err, well, that is... oh very well. All for the Unicorn Arms, then?" And so Jonty lead the somewhat disparate group down the street. Free drinks and general poverty are great social levelers.

Logan Stahl, from Magical Industrial Revolution.

As the group ambled west along Lewin Street, they spotted someone in an archaic suit of armour staggering, as if drunk, while being pursued by half a dozen urchins with strings and dog leashes.

"What in the blazes is that?" Palewolf said.

"Looks like one of those new Gel Knights," Augustus replied. "Animated armour. This one seems to have gone awry."

"Oh my. Should we..."

But Agnes had already crossed the street. "Hello young sir," she said to the cleanest-looking urchin at the back of the group, "what's all this then?"

"We're gunna captwure it ma'am and weturn it for a wansom."

"Ah. With string?"

"With stwing. And weashes."

"I see. Well, I might have a more expedient method," Agnes said, pulling a fencepost from the ground. She swung at the Gel Knight's head.

Across the street, the rest of the group winced. A miss. The Gel Knight stopped, turned, and extended a silver fireplace poker with a wicked point. Raising it high, it brought it down like an executioner's axe and struck the pavement where Agnes had been standing.

"Close shave," Lizzy said, panting with exertion after a cross-street sprint and desperate shawl-yank.

Agnes didn't reply. "So that's how it is. Naughty Gel Knight!" Dropping the fencepost, she swung her handbag at the automaton's head, caving it in and splitting the knight at the seams. Agnes' handbag contained her handkerchief, a few coins, a small bag of boiled sweets... and two lead bricks. You just can't trust young people these days.

Side Note: a critical hit with a reinforced handbag, wielded with two hands, will in fact knock out a Gel Knight... and many other creatures.

Green ooze boiled out of the automaton's joints, congealed, and began flowing towards the gutter. "Oh no you don't," said Agnes, and scooped a purseful into her handbag. It glorped merrily as it devoured the boiled sweets.

The rest of the group stared in astonishment. "She's your aunt, you say," Haze whispered. 

"By marriage," Tom said hastily. 

"You know what this means," Jonty said, eyes gleaming.

"That she married my uncle?"

"No, that we can return that Gel Knight to its owner or creator for a fee. Not only that, but we have a helpless elderly lady that was terrified and very nearly killed during its rampage."

"There's a plaque inside," Lizzie said. "41 Daudette Lane. Do you think that's the address of the owner or the wizard what made it?" 

"Daudette Lane... that's near Colbraith Square. On the other side of the city! We should hurry," Jonty said. "Luckily, I have a plan."

Jonty examined the automaton's dented shell. It was far too heavy to carry, and didn't seem to be designed for a human to wear. But its internal components could be manipulated by a newly acquired smart chain! Jonty shook off the entourage of urchins, marched the shell to Loxdon College, bribed a porter to borrow the college's cart and ancient horse, covered their prize with a tarp, and set off for Daudette Lane.

As there wasn't enough room in the cart for everyone who thought they had a share in the scheme, and hiring a cab was a luxury none of them could currently afford, Jonty suggested that Lizzy, Dr. Hartwell, and Haze have a drink at the Unicorn Arms while Jonty, Tom, and Agnes returned the Gel Knight. "We'll return before sunset," Jonty said, reaching for his recently pawned pocket watch and not finding it.

Map by Jonathan Newell, amended with this session's activities.

"A rampage!? Oh no, it's happened again." Nero Krahlhammer, of Krahlhammer's Fine Security Apparati for the Discerning Home-Owner, slumped in his chair.

"I'm afraid so," said Jonty, putting on his most lugubrious tones.

"Were there many casualties?" 

"Thankfully, none, but this gentlewoman here," he said, pointing to Agnes, "was very nearly killed when your device inexplicably attacked her." 

Agnes burst into tears. It was one of her best skills. She cried piteously at any mention of death, husbands, and inheritances.

"There there. Have another candied fruit," Nero said, passing the bowl. Agnes sniffled and surreptitiously dropped a few into her ooze-filled purse.

"Now, this sort of thing could damage your company's reputation if it made it into the papers. I'm sure I could speak with the other witnesses, especially gentlemen of quality such as Thomas here, to ensure their, err, discretion... but some of the urchins might need remuneration."

"But I've already paid you 5 silver pieces each for returning the Gel Knight," Nero sniffed. "Oh, if only I had the ooze! You see, my HATED ENEMIES and NEFARIOUS COMPETITORS are poisoning, yes, poisoning, the ooze with control-altering substances. I'm sure of it! This was no natural fault but DELIBERATE SABOTAGE!" He puffed and dabbed his forehead.

"And how generous might you be if a sample could be obtained?"

"I'd pay 5 gold pieces for a fresh sample, but I must warn you that it must be fresh. If the ooze eats anyone... I mean anything... it could taint the assay, rendering it uselessly muddled. And you would have to find it in the sewers. Are you familiar with sewer delves? I suspect not. Quite insalubrious."

"For 6 gold pieces, I'm sure we could make suitable arrangements," Jonty said.

"But so quickly? Very well, but I must warn you again..."

Agnes presented her purse. Nero peered inside, stammered, whispered "pirates and rogues!" to himself. "But I must perform the assay first, to see if this is my ooze, and if so, whether it was poisoned. You must wait here until it is compete. Smith! Bring me the ooze press!"

"Wait here?" Jonty said, eyeing the orange-red sky through the shop window. "I have an appointment..."

"This will not take more than an hour. And 6 gold pieces... well, I'm sure a gentleman of your condition can wait.

William Hogarth

"D'ye think they've swindled us?" Lizzy asked, nursing her one glass of gin. 

"Not likely. I know where he lives," Haze said, "and where he works. Unless they got a huge reward, of course... but no. Ol' Prof. Earl would never give up his position. He's got too much pride."

"Too much pride by half," Dr. Hartwell muttered. "It is nearly sunset. I would not attend a tavern such as this without the promise of a free drink."

"I gave ye a free drink," Lizzy slurred.

"That is so," the Dr. said, examining the not-too-clean tumbler. "That is so."

Jonty, Tom, and Agnes, entered the Unicorn Arms in a cloud of dust and sweat. Jonty had whipped the poor carthorse half to death to get to the tavern on time. He was slightly worried about the horse's health, but more worried by the four gold pieces in his pocket. Tom and Agnes had demanded their payment immediately.

"My friends," Jonty said, shaking everyone's hand and palming a coin to them. Lizzy looked at hers with astonishment. A gold piece! For almost no work! Two months wages in the palm of her hand. She slipped it into her purse. 

"And there's more where that came from", Jonty explained, after filling the group in on the excursion. "If we can find the rogues who are sabotaging Mr. Krahlhammer's Gel Knights, he said he'll pay. No exact figures were discussed, but, as you can see.."

The group began to conspire. Jonty ordered another round of gin, then attempted to excuse himself. "I will return momentarily. There is someone I must..."

"JONTY!" a voice slurred, as Snedge stumbled over to the table. "How're you? Well I see."

Side Note: With some NPCs and settings, a name is enough. Snedge is Snedge; no description is required. You can already visualize Snedge.
"Eh he he," Jonty said nervously. 

"And who are these fine people. Introdusse me." Snedge drawled. He appeared to be drunk, but as his eyes met Jonty's, it was clear that the drunkenness was superficial. His smile didn't reach the corner of his mouth, and his eyes were dead and cold.

"Ah. Well. This is, err, my good friend," Jonty said, as Tom shook Snedge's hand.

"Didn't catch a name," Snedge gurgled.

"And this is another friend," Jonty squeaked, as Lizzy extended her hand... and cast inebriate on the interloper. She'd also recognized the signs of false drunkenness and hidden menace.

"Have a seat," she said, sliding a chair behind the rapidly collapsing Snedge. His eyes went glassy and his nose bloomed red. Lizzy tugged his ear and his face flushed. "Now tell us all about yourself."

"Yew bastardsh," Snedge slurred, "whadid you do to me?"

"Do not fret. Why do you want to see the Assistant Prof?" Haze said.

"Goht an message for im. None of yer busness. Private mattar."

"What sort of message?"

"Consherns some munies he owes. An I am shure he wundnt want you lot to ear about it."

"That is so," Jonty said, "now if we could all just..."

The spell wore off. Snedge instantly sobered up. "You bastards," he said. "Casting a bewizardment on a man without his knowing. I ought to call the coppers."

"But you won't, will you?" Tom said.

Snedge grunted. "You and me should have some words," he said, dragging Jonty away from the table and towards the Alley of Easement behind the tavern. Haze waited, then followed. The rest of the group were too busy arguing over who would buy the next round.

"Listen you slimy bastard," Snedge said, sticking the point of a dagger into Jonty's ribs and holding him against the alley wall, "I don't know who your associates are and I don't much care for them. You owe a debt to a mutual acquaintance, to the tune of 15 of the Monarch's finest. Our mutual acquaintance is willing to reduce that debt to 12 if you perform a little service for him."

"I'm listening," Jonty said, very aware of the dagger pressed against his waistcoat.

"There's a girl what lives at this address," Snedge whispered, handing Jonty a folded piece of paper. "Go and pick her up tomorrow night, after dark, and bring her to the second address by eleven."

"Consensually?"

"Yes, and I'm none to particular about how you get that consent neither. Whether you use menaces or drugs or some wizard business, it's all the same to me, as long as she's not injured much."

Jonty glanced at the paper. It read,

Aggy
59 Sonper Lane S of Gaumdart Ave.
to 88 Hasselby Court E of Fanigail.
Aggy. Well, he didn't know this woman, and kidnapping was not exactly his business of choice... but three gold pieces and the good will of his creditor...

"I'll do it."

"Good man. I'm off." Snedge said, tucking the dagger into his belt and sliding down the alley.

Jonty sniffed, then turned to go inside, only to see Haze's face in the doorway.

"Augh! Uh, how much did you hear?"

"Oh, all of it," said Haze.

"I'm sure this must come as quite a shock to you. I mean, your dear mentor, involved in such a disreputable trade."

"Not really. Just letting you know that if you need assistance, I can be relied upon." Haze tapped the side of his nose.

"Well," said Jonty, deeply relieved, "that is a comfort. But this is between ourselves, you understand? Discretion, my friend, discretion."

The group dispersed for the evening. Flush with cash, Jonty attempted to increase his earnings with a bit of light gambling, only to lose 5sp in a few hours. He returned to his lodgings sad and sober. Haze, possibly to dull the growing unease over his companions moral turpitude, or possibly just for fun, elected to try opium for the first time and found it very soothing. The dreams and visions were, to an illusionist, almost heaven-sent.
 

Night closed over Endon. In the communal bedroom in Nedalward Hall, by the light of a dim candle, Tom finally examined the envelope he'd pilfered from the will reading. It was sealed with the Shambledrake crest. The only other mark on the outside was the scrawled name "Uriah."

Inside, written in a deep and unsteady hand, almost carved into the paper, were the words "SAVE ME".

Tom slept fitfully. Why was the envelope addressed to his late uncle Uriah, if it was sealed by his late uncle's ring? Who wrote the address? The same hand that wrote the contents? Who was to be saved, and why, and from what? And why was it in the box with the will, if the will made no mention of it? 

So begins The Mystery of Uriah Shambledrake.


2022/06/29

OSR: Alloy Wizard, Civic Wizard, and Potion Wizard

These classes are intended for my Loxdon College game. They (along with an assortment of other wizards) will accompany the Brawler, Duelist, Thief, and Dandy.

Aaron Griffin

Alloy Wizard

Starting Equipment: spellbook, ink and quill, gold earring or gold ring worth 5sp.

Alchemists are obsessed with transformations. Alloy Wizards prefer to take metals as they are and make subtle improvements.

Perk: You are immune to mercury poisoning.
Drawback: You must be in contact with gold to cast your spells.

Cantrips
1. You can tell if a metal is pure or impure by touching it. Lick it to identify specific impurities.
2. Your fingernails are as hard as diamonds, and can be used to engrave metal or cut glass.
3. Your heart beats exactly 60 times per minute.

Nikola Matkovic

Alloy Wizard Spell List

1. Command Coins
R: 30’ T: [sum]x100 coins D: [dice] hours
Coins will leap up and obey your single-word commands. Affects all unattended coins in 30' of you and lasts 1 hour. Coins can be commanded to follow you, hide in crevices, or serve as rollers for heavy statues. They are mindless and feeble.
 
2. Detect Metals
R: 100’ T: self D: [sum] minutes
Allows you to identify the eight true metals. In order of brightness: occultum, gold, silver, mercury, iron, and tin. Lead and copper are nearly invisible. You see them through walls and barriers as faint shifting afterimages, but the spell bleeds into you other senses. If you cast this spell with 3 or more [dice], your eyes turn gold and the effects are permanent.
 
3. Magic Missile
R: 200' T: creature D: 0
Target takes [sum] + [dice] damage, no Save. As an Alloy Wizard, your spell is a silver dart with gold hoops and spirals.
 
4. Heat Metal
R: 30’ T: object D: [sum] rounds
Target metal object becomes warm. Each round after the first, it deals 1d6 damage to anything touching it, or 3d6 damage if the metal has become liquid. The maximum size of the object, and additional effects, depends on how many dice are invested in the spell: 1 [dice]: sword-sized, 2 [dice]: door- or armour-sized, melts lead and tin after 6 rounds. 3 [dice]: cart-sized, melts gold, silver, and copper after 6 rounds, 4 [dice]: cottage-sized, melts iron after 6 rounds.
 
5. Control Metal
R: 50’ T: metal D: concentration
You must choose a metal when you select this spell (MIR pg. 90). Each [dice] you invest increases the effects. One [die] is minor, 4 [dice] is a legendary display of metal control. At one [dice], control a fist-size lump of metal. You can a) make it hop or roll at a walking pace, b) magnetize or demagnetize it, c) slowly reshape it, d) gently heat or cool it, or e) slowly separate impurities.
 
6. Metal Chime
R: touch T: metal object D: [dice] days
You touch and enchant a piece of metal to make a terrific noise the next time it strikes a solid surface or is struck. All creatures within 100' (except you) must Save or be deafened for 1 minute. If used as a signal, it can be heard up to a mile away.
 
7. Light
R: touch T: object or creature D: [dice]x2 hours
Object illuminates as a torch, with a radius of 20’+[dice]x10’. Alternatively, you can make an Attack roll against a sighted creature. If you succeed, the creature is blinded for [sum] rounds. If [sum] is greater than 12, the creature is permanently blinded. You can chose the colour of the light. If you invest 4 [dice] or more this light has all the qualities of natural sunlight. Alternatively, if you invest 4 [dice] or more the light can be purest octarine, although it will only last for 1 round. Octarine light is extremely dangerous.
 
8. Explosion Containment
R: touch T: self D: [dice] hours
You may cast this spell as a reaction. Save, with a bonus equal to [sum]. Any incoming damage from an explosion or high-speed impact is stored in the palm of your hand. You also block damage that would be dealt to anything in a cone behind you. You can’t use this spell to stop an arrow, a magic missile, or a falling wall, but you can use it to stop a barrel of gunpowder, exploding magical equipment, or a fireball. Before the spell’s duration expires, you must release the explosion in a cone aimed from the palm of your hand.
  
9. Fool’s Gold
R: touch T: object weighing [sum]x10 lbs D: [dice] hours
Touched object, or heap of objects, appears to be gold for the spell’s duration. Alchemy or magic will reveal that it is not truly gold. This spell is Illusionary Fraud (MIR pg. 41).
 
10. Mercury’s Haste
R: touch T: creature D: [sum] rounds
Target creature’s body becomes mercury. Save negates. They can flow through gaps as a liquid, but sink in water. They are immune to piercing damage and reduce all other incoming non-magical damage by 2. They move at 2x normal speed, but cannot jump.
 
11. Leadfall
R: 30’ T: [dice] creatures or objects D: [sum] rounds
Target moves at ½ speed. Alternatively, you can cast this spell in reaction to a target about to take fall damage. They take double fall damage.
 
12. Magic Cramp
R: 100’ T: creature D: 0
Target takes 1d6+1 damage per the maximum number of MD they possess, or 1d6 damage per HD for magical creatures (unicorns, dragons, etc.). Additionally, they lose [dice] MD for [dice] rounds. Save for half damage and to negate MD loss. Nonmagical creatures, or creatures that have no spellcasting ability, are unaffected by this spell.

Alloy Wizard Mishaps

1. MD only return to your pool on a 1-2 for 24hrs.
2. Take 1d6 damage.
3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail.
4. Blind for 1d6 rounds.
5. Loud clanging noise for 1d6 rounds. Audible within 500’.
6. Weigh 1,000lbs for 1d6 rounds. Movement impossible.

Alloy Wizard Dooms

1. All carried gold turns to lead.
2. All gold within 100’ turns to lead. All iron within 100’ turns to tin.
3. You transform into an iron statue of yourself. All mundane items are also transformed. Magical items get a Save. You can be de-petrified, but for a maximum of 1 hour every 24 hours.

Mechanical Notes on the Alloy Wizard

The Alloy Wizard is a replacement for the Drowned Wizard, made slightly more sensible for Endon's post-feudal world. Wearing a gold mask is not obligatory, but it's a great way to show off.

Shion Mirudakemann

Civic Wizard

Starting Equipment: spellbook, ink and quill, umbrella.

Endon’s prosperity has created a new breed of wizards; casters for whom magic is merely another tool or ornament.  

Perk: You can draw and open an umbrella as a reaction. This is unlikely to reduce incoming damage, but it might be a surprise.
Drawback: You must rest indoors in a room designated for sleeping to regain MD. Crypts and caves do not count.

Cantrips
1. In a street with cabs, you can always hail one with almost unnatural ease. You must still pay the fare.
2. If you tip someone and they don’t carefully examine the coins, they will assume you’ve tipped them approximately three times what you actually presented. They may start to notice a pattern after a few interactions.
3. You can accurately throw a coin up to 30’.

Edouard Guiton

Civic Wizard Spell List

1. Cure Wounds
R: touch T: creature D: 0
Target creature heals [sum] HP. It costs 2 HP to remove 1 negative HP and 4 HP to remove 1 Fatal Wound. This spell cannot restore lost limbs, remove injuries, or cure diseases.
 
2. Speak with Vermin
R: 0 T: self D: [dice] minutes
You can talk to rats and pigeons and they will respond. Pigeons are very dim, but can be given simple suggestions. Rats are clever, but they require payment and will attempt to involve you in conspiracies, relationship drama, and crime.
 
3. Part Crowd
R: 500’ line T: area D: 0
You raise your hands over your head, then swing them down. Along a 500’ line, creatures move out of the way, opening a clear path. Hostile creatures get a Save. The path closes naturally in 2d6 rounds.

4. Lock
R: 50' T: [dice] creatures or objects D: 10 minutes
Non-living object closes and becomes locked. If the object is a door, chest, or similar object, it will slam shut, dealing [sum] damage to any creature passing through it and then trapping them. This spell works on things that aren't technically portals (lock a sword in its scabbard, etc.). Requires Str 10+[dice]x4 to open. Alternatively, this spell can be cast on a creature's orifice. The creature gets a Save to resist, and another Save at the end of each of its turns.

5. Knock
R: 50' T: [dice] objects D: 0
Object is opened. Doors are flung wide, locks are broken, shackles are bent open, belts come undone. Treat this as a Strength check made with Str 10 + [dice]x4. If target is an armoured creature, Save or armour falls off. If target is an unarmoured creature, Save or vomit for 1d4 rounds.
 
6. Useless Spell
R: 30’ unless otherwise stated T: varies D: varies
You automatically gain this spell at first level. Roll for your other spell normally. Roll twice on the Discount Spell Table (MIR pg. 86). You gain both spells. The effects are adjudicated by the GM. They take up a spell slot, but require no MD to cast. You can still invest MD in them if you’d like to increase the effects, but it’s not worth it.
 
7. Newspaper Trap
R: touch T: paper D: [sum] hours
Enchant up to [dice]x10lbs of paper (traditionally a newspaper but any loose sheets will work). The next creature to approach within 10' of the paper will be attacked by it. The paper will blanket their head, blinding and stunning them for [sum] rounds. The creature can Save each round to remove the paper and end the effect. If you invest 3 or more [dice], the target also takes 1 non-lethal damage per round. The trap fades after [sum] hours.
 
8. Light
R: touch T: object or creature D: [dice]x2 hours
Object illuminates as a torch, with a radius of 20’+[dice]x10’. Alternatively, you can make an Attack roll against a sighted creature. If you succeed, the creature is blinded for [sum] rounds. If [sum] is greater than 12, the creature is permanently blinded. You can chose the colour of the light. If you invest 4 [dice] or more this light has all the qualities of natural sunlight. Alternatively, if you invest 4 [dice] or more the light can be purest octarine, although it will only last for 1 round. Octarine light is extremely dangerous.
 
9. Mage Hand
R: 30’+[dice]x10’ T: self D: concentration
Gain an invisible telekinetic limb. It can extend up to 30’+[dice]x10’ long and uses your Int. as its Str. You can use the limb to attack, but do not gain an additional attack per round. If you invest 2 or more [dice], the limb has fingers capable of delicate work.
 
10. Scuttle
R: touch T: [dice] creatures D: [sum] minutes
Your clothes and hair animate to carry you. You can move at full speed in any orientation, and you can freely rotate as you move. For instance, you could run while standing on your head, holding a torch, and turning counterclockwise. You can lie on your side and, while flipping end over end, move backwards. This effect does not allow you to climb up walls, but you can climb ladders or rope at twice your usual speed.
 
11. Triple Doorway
R: touch / 5 miles T: door D: [sum] rounds
Touch a closed door and clearly visualize an unlocked closed door of approximately the same size within 10 miles. The doors are linked for the spell’s duration. Stepping in one doorway and out of the other. If you invest 3 or more [dice], the duration is [sum] hours. If you invest 4 or more [dice], the effect is permanent.

12. Forget
R: 10’ T: creature of [dice]x4 HD or less D: 10 minutes
Target creature must Save or get the last 10 minutes. They may recall vague details but not useful information.

Civic Wizard Mishaps

1. MD only return to your pool on a 1-2 for 24hrs.
2. Lose 1 permanent HP and take 1d4 damage.
3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail.
4. Fingers dribble ink for 1d6 rounds. Stains everything.
5. Wind gusts upwards for 1d6 rounds. May knock loose objects free.
6. Spell targets you (if harmful) or enemy (if beneficial) or fizzles (if neutral).

Civic Wizard Dooms

1. You fade from existence for a day, leaving only your shadow behind.
2. You fade from existence for 3 days, leaving only your shadow behind. Your shadow roams without you.
3. You permanently fade, leaving a ravenous shadow behind.

Mechanical Notes on the Civic Wizard

A slightly eccentric counterpart to the Orthodox Wizard. Some of the same spells, but a few powerfully useless ones as well.

Bjorn Hurri


Potion Wizard

Starting Equipment: spellbook, ink and quill, 1 potion (MIR pg. 97).
Starting Skill: Alchemy or Botany or Cooking.

Potions are increasingly common in Endon. Some wizards choose to specialize, though the drawbacks of ingestible temporary magic are significant.

Perk: When you drink a potion, you have a 50% chance to recycle it via whatever orifice you prefer. You have 10 minutes to excrete the potion.

Drawback: You smell distinctive. In unperfumed or neutral environments, you can be detected within 30’.

Cantrips
1. You can learn a potion’s approximate effects by tasting it or wafting it under your nose. Implausibly deadly poisons may still affect you.
2. Spend 1 MD to double the duration of a potion you drink, or double its numerical effects (HP healed, damage reduce, etc.)
3. Wave your hands wildly to deflect an incoming arrow or thrown weapon. Requires a Save. If successful, the attack barely misses you.

Dan Peacock

Potion Wizard Spell List

1. Flying Syringe
R: 100' T: object D: 0
You must hold a potion, vial of poison, or other liquid in one hand while you cast this spell. The spell changes the potion's container into a glass dart and fires it at an enemy within range. The target must Save or be struck and immediately take the effects of the potion. If you invest 2 [dice] or more, you can redirect a missed syringe, once, to a new target with a successful Save vs Int. If you invest 3 [dice] or more, you can mix [dice] potions together into the same syringe. If you invest 4 [dice] or more, the target does not get a Save.
 
2. Animate Potion
R: touch T: potion or liquid D: [sum] hours
You turn a potion into an obedient homunculus (HD 0). It is tiny (1' tall) and feeble (Str 1), but it can go where you direct and even bring you small items (like a single coin). The potion can be delivered by touch or by “drinking” the homunculus. Aware targets can swat the homunculus away to avoid the potion's effects. Works on any liquid except water.
 
3. Desiccate
R: 30’ T: creature D: 0
Hydrated target within 30' takes 1d6+[dice] damage. Can also be used to turn meat into jerky or concentrate water-based liquids (wine, most acids), up to 2 gallons per [dice]. You can make a cup full of very strong brandy from a bottle of wine.
 
4. Grease
R: 50' T: object, surface D: [sum] rounds
Can be cast directly on a creature or a 10' x 10' x [dice] surface. All creatures affected must Save vs Dex or drop held objects, or, if moving, drop prone.
 
5. Inebriate
R: 50’ T: living creature D: [sum] minutes.
Target becomes drunk. If they were already drunk, they must Save or fall asleep, and can't be awoken by anything less vigorous than a slap. If [sum] is greater than 6, the duration becomes [sum] hours.
 
6. Horrible Sobriety
R: 50’ T: living creature D: [sum] minutes.
Target becomes sober. If they were already sober, they gain a +4 bonus to Int and Wis (including Initiative) for the spell’s duration, but take 1 non-lethal damage every time they roll using those stats.
 
7. Control Glass
R: 50’ T: a bottle’s worth of glass D: concentration
Control a lump of glass. At one [die]: (a) reshape or reform the glass, (b) seal a bucket’s worth of liquid inside a glass orb, (c) melt a person-size hole in a window. Each [dice] you invest increases the effects. At 4 [dice], raise a small palace or warp windows along an entire street.

8. Potionify
R: touch T: spell and object D: [sum] hours
You take an echo of a spell from a spellbook, wand, or enchantment and transfer it to a potion. The spell activates when it is ingested, using ½ the [dice] invested in this spell if a roll is required. The potion loses all magical properties after [sum] hours.
 
9. Cone of Dense Foam
R: [dice]x10' cone T: area D: 0
A huge cone of white foam sprays from your hand. It's as dense as porridge, but tastes like seawater. Creatures inside must Save vs Con or begin to drown unless they struggle free. Any creatures covered in foam have -2 to Attack until they can wash.
 
10. Fog
R: 30’ T: self D: [dice] hours
You breath out a bunch of fog. Everything up to 30' away from you is obscured. Sunlight, wind, or heat dissipates the fog in 10 minutes. If you cast this spell with 3 or more [dice], other casters lose 1 MD while they remain in the fog.
 
11. Cloudkill
R: 30’ T: [dice] 10’ cubes D: 24 hours
Summon a cloud of ghastly yellow-green vapour. Creatures of 2 HD or less in the cloud are instantly slain (no Save). Creatures of 3 to 5 HD must Save or die each round. Creatures of 6 or more HD must Save or take 3d6 damage each round. The cloud is heavier than air and slowly drifts. It moves 10’ per round in a gentle breeze. A strong wind disperses the cloud in 10 minutes.
 
12. Duplicate Self
R: touch T: self D: [sum] minutes
You split in two. You and your duplicate have the same stats, but must divide current current HP, MD, and any single-target enchantments, curses, diseases, or effects as equally as possible. Items are not duplicated (so you may wish to carry spare clothes in your inventory). At the end of the spell’s duration, if you are within 30’ of your duplicate, you merge back together, combining current HP, MD, etc. If you are more than 30’ away, the version with more HP survives, while the other version withers.

Potion Wizard Mishaps

1. MD only return to your pool on a 1-2 for 24hrs.
2. Lose 1 permanent HP and take 1d4 damage.
3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail.
4. Bright sparks fly from your ears for 1d6 rounds.
5. Liquefied for 1d6 rounds. Effectively knocked prone. Any poisons or toxins within 10’ are automatically touched.
6. Spell targets ally (if harmful) or enemy (if beneficial) or fizzles (if neutral).

Potion Wizard Dooms

1. You cannot drink water, and cannot regain MD if you have not ingested a potion within the previous 24 hours.
2. You become very soggy. Your Str and Dex become 2. While unconscious, you are a liquid, and must sleep in a tub or cask.
3. You dissolve into a liquid slurry. You might be able to gurgle answers if stored in a glass jar, but mobility and coherent thought are no longer viable.

Mechanical Notes on the Potion Wizard

I've started to split classic GLOG biomancers into a potion variant and a Fleshcrafter variant... and possibly a creature-creating variant.



2022/06/21

OSR: Flying Machines, Traffic, and Rollercoasters

This post is a medley of ideas that didn't make it into full post development, but which still deserve consideration. It's a scrapbook.

Part 1: Flight

Access to reliable flight changes a game. Overland exploration becomes trivial. Running away from a fight becomes far easier. The GM has to pivot to air-based encounters, which can be frustrating. It's hard to build interesting kinetic arenas in the air. Over the years, games have tried various methods to limit flight's appeal.

Most of these issues are covered in the AD&D DMG (pp. 50-53), but from the D&D-as-a-wargame perspective.

Limited Duration

In OD&D and AD&D, the fly spell lasts [level]+1d6 turns, with the 1d6 being secretly rolled. This makes planning difficult, but flying casters can always err on the conservative side. Flying creatures have to rest and eat.

Limited Speed
OD&D doesn't have the most consistent rules when it comes to flight duration and flight speed, but the gist is that flight is slow (by aircraft standards). Ask any pre-modern general if they'd like a high-altitude scout or courier that ignores terrain and can travel 10 miles per hour for several hours on end and they'd start to froth and salivate.

Limited Capacity
"Can a wizard with fly cast on them carry another person?" is one of those perpetual GM rulings. If the spell can lift a 200lb wizard, can it lift 400lb at half speed? 2,000lbs at 1/10th speed? Will the effort pull a wizard's arms off? Can one person ride on their back and fire a crossbow? Can the wizard fly upside-down?

Flying carpets typically become mobile casting platforms, a sort of dungeon helicopter. Flying brooms are most useful in pairs, with a sort of loot hammock between, ideally occupied by a  rascally urchin, a lantern, and a crossbow. Or maybe that's just my groups.

Setting Concerns
The GM can present a compelling reason why long-distance flights are unwise. In the Ultraviolet Grasslands, shards and wires of ancient force fields dot the landscape. Skyhooks, shattered shields, miscast spells. At ground level, they tend to accumulate debris and turn into hills or pillars, but in the sky, they're invisible hazards. And so, very few aircraft exist.

In by-the-book classic fantasy settings, players might be disappointed if the GM introduces high-altitude mosquito swarms, jealous lightning-wielding gods, and or 50' thick atmosphere to prevent flight.


Part 2: Flying Machines

Fairly early in D&D's evolutionary history, players started making airships. The process was eventually codified, but enchanting sailing ships and trying to invent the hot air balloon are old traditions. Airships are great. A convenient mobile base to satisfy the base-building furnishing-orientated players. Conventional wisdom says a game becomes a pirate game the moment the PCs acquire a sailing ship. An airship lets the GM use standard dungeon/land-based adventures.

Rapid long-distance travel is covered by teleportation spells, gates, or restarting a campaign with new characters in a new setting. 

Small fast flying machines do not have a niche in D&D. Brooms, carpets, mounts, and spells cover the typical combat use cases. Without a long-range machine gun, an airplane is a expensive way to deliver a crossbow bolt somewhere near a target.

Yet there's a delightful period of aviation history between the discovery of stable flight in 1903 (ish) and the pressing needs of war in 1914. To most people, a biplane is a biplane, but the variety of workable (if we're being generous) designs before the First World War is astonishing. This site lists most of them.

To make a plane, you need:

  • A method of 3-axis control.
  • A light power source. Steam engines and springs are too heavy.
  • -Some basic knowledge of aerodynamics.

If you can read, weld, and do algebra, you can probably make a functional plane that will get off the ground. The trick - as many pioneers found out - is control and stability. Up is easy; up and then immediately nose-first or sideways or back over is almost inevitable. It's probably best to buy a kit... or avoid the whole hobby. All the kit planes are designed to fly at sensible altitudes and useful speeds, while a 1910s replica is basically cross-country cycling with added danger. At low speed, the difference between flying like a kite and falling like a brick is a strong gust of wind.

Also, don't get your airplane-building advice from RPG blogs.

In a typical RPG setting, planes can't stay at the 1903-1914 pioneer phase. Settings are designed to be timeless and static. Technology does not change, outside of the occasional mad scientist type (who usually shares the same fate as their inventions). The timeline covers centuries. But in Magical Industrial Revolution, the setting is designed to progress, over a relatively manageable number of years. Powered flight can flourish in such a setting, if your players are so inclined.

Judge Magazine, Feb 1895. Colourized.
Side note: Judge Magazine's early issues are very racist. You've been warned, but you're not prepared. By the 1920s, it's become a slightly edgier Readers Digest or Life magazine.

Part 3: Deliberate Development

One of the eight Innovation tracks in Magical Industrial Revolution covers the development of personal transportation. "Miras" are car-like vehicles powered by moveable rods. They don't drive. They bounce, then featherfall.

Mira by Logan Stahl

This is fairly insane way to design a vehicle, but that's the point. Putting wheels on a Mira is something the players could attempt (though inventing brakes might be wise). 

By making a bouncing vehicle, I wanted to gently steer GMs towards unconventional civic development. Endon has carts and carriages; a horseless carriage suggests the same development arc as motor cars in this world. Traffic signals, intersections, crosswalks, highways, etc. But Miras aren't cars. They bounce. What do traffic signals look like? Are there designated landing and departure lanes or spots on each street? How are existing structures altered to meet the growing demand for personal transport? In the real world, cities turned themselves inside-out to accommodate cars and trains. What will your Endon look like?



Part 4: Buxton Beach

Very early in Magical Industrial Revolution's development, before the project had a name or a theme, I considered adding a Coney Island/World's Fair/boardwalk area a sort of adventure-exhibit hub. The idea never went anywhere for a few reasons, including (but not limited to):

  • It didn't fit with Endon's London pastiche.
  • It didn't serve any real purpose for adventuring groups.
  • Rides and attractions tend to rely on GM descriptions without presenting any interesting choices.
  • World's Fair exhibits feel like sanitized and saccharine versions of living, vibrant innovations, packaged into a propagandized form for mass acceptance. I wanted Endon to be about the messy process of a revolution, not about the telegraphed reports.
  • 1890-1910 Americana felt a bit too much like Bioshock: Infinite.

And so the idea was cut from the next planning diagram, but it might be worth revisiting on the blog, where ink is free and ideas don't have to fight to survive.

Half an hour downriver, or an hour by omnibus, Buxton Beach is the play-ground of Endon's Lower and Middle Classes. The Upper Class have their own estates (or aspire to them), and can afford to leave the city during the Off-Season to enjoy clean rural air. The Poor can't afford the price of admission, but it's an accessible dream. Both nevertheless seep into Buxton Beach. It is a dream-world, where people can escape their lives and the conventions that bind them.

Attractions

Also see this map.

Bessy the Mechanical Cow
Ejects fresh ice-cold milk from her mechanical udder.

Panoramic Orbisphere
A huge hollow sphere, painted on the inside with a map of the world (speculative). Induces vertigo.

Tableaux Vivants
History, comedy, and literature, plus the most tasteful nude and erotic scenes from history and mythology. Scholars at Loxdon College can earn a few coins by scouring ancient texts for suitably obscure novelties.

Miniature World
A tiny city with tiny houses and (if the shrinking spells work) tiny people in tiny costumes. Shrink down for your shift, unshrink at the end of the day... hopefully. 

Roller-Coasters
With stable short-range portal spells, roller-coasters can cheat gravity and borrow momentum. Surprisingly safe, if the occupants are sober.

Seances
Dread Necromancy is illegal in Endon, so those who trade in false hope and monetized grief must advertise their arts subtly.

And also: Bathing Machines, Brothels, Bear-Fights, Exhibitions from Foreign Parts, Novelty Undergarments Sold Discreetly, 

Part 5: Appendix N:1890s-1910s

The American Experience: Coney Island (1991)


About as much to do with American history as my medieval history posts have to do with medieval history. It's a summary, propaganda, nostalgia. Accurate in broad strokes, wildly inaccurate in detail, more interested in coherence and convenience than in the facts.

This documentary from Defunctland is more accurate, funnier, and more nuanced. 

Side Note: I've always maintained that theme park design and RPG book design have a lot in common. I send this post on Weenies to people on a regular basis.
 

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)
I vaguely remembered watching this film, dismissing it as "unconvincing composite shots of matchstick models", and never revisiting it. I think it must have been the print quality or something, because, rewatching it recently, it's exactly the sort of thing I love. Ambition and folly. Sure, it's the sort of film that makes Jeremy Clarkson tumescent with nostalgia and imperialism, but they built the planes.

They actually built the planes. And then they put pilots into them and flew them, and all the pilots lived. And they all had a great time. You probably couldn't do that these days, but safety hadn't been invented in 1965, making any stunt inherently safe.
 

The Iceman Cometh (1973)
A very long time ago, I picked up this film by mistake, thinking it was "Encino Man". I was in for quite a surprise. The Iceman Cometh is four hours long and has two intermissions. I'd suggest going in without spoilers. I don't know if this play is one of the ones inflicted on indifferent schoolchildren in some parts of the world, but if it isn't, and you're seeing it for the first time now, you're in for a treat.

I was only aware of the director, John Frankenheimer, from Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau, where he shows up to salvage the disastrous film project. In the documentary, he's presented as a tyrannical workhorse, the studio's idea of a US Marshal sent to clean up the town and restore law and order. All craft and practicality vs. Stanley's impractical but artistic vision. It's interesting to see the other side of a director.

The Iceman Cometh takes place in 1912 BCE (Before Conditioned Environments). It's a hot and greasy era, and few films make it feel as suffocating. It's also an old film made cheaply, and most of the commercial versions aren't taken from great prints, so there are fun colour jumps and noise. 

The weird part is that it's not the only film from the '70s set in the early 1900s that's 4+ hours long.

Flight of the Eagle (1982)
Slow, Swedish, and tangentially related to the themes of this post, but if you want to see a full-scale balloon and some folly and ambition, this film might interest you, especially if your players want to explore unknown regions via balloon.
 

And The Ship Sails On (1983)
Barely qualifies, as it's set in June 1914, but it's by Fellini and it's good. Not, perhaps, a work of genius, but it's charming and eccentric. As with Boris Godunov (1989) or Anna Karenina (2012), everything is a set. Since RPGs operate on the same sort of logic, it's useful to see it in practice.

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Famous and immensely quotable


 

2022/06/10

OSR: Indexing and Intuition

Indexing is a difficult art. I've written about categorization before, but index formats deserve a closer look.

The man who publishes a book without an index ought to be damned 10 miles beyond hell, where the Devil himself cannot get for stinging nettles.
— John Baynes

Say I gave you a list of fruits and furniture (apple, chair, desk, plum, banana, etc.) and asked you to order it, without any further guidance.

You might divide methods like this:

  • Obvious-useful: alphabetical and alphabetical by category.
  • Obvious-not useful: alphabetical by last letter, grouped by first vowel.
  • Not obvious - not useful: grouped by things that remind you of your father, categorized as bourgeois and non-bourgeois items.
  • Not obvious - useful: oldest word to most recent, language of origin.

"Obvious" in this case means "immediately and without any further thought or outside knowledge." We can split hairs over what counts as outside knowledge and what counts as utility, but you get the general idea. While a book should contain some obvious-useful indexes, it's important - especially for RPG books - to consider non-obvious useful indexes. Lateral approaches. Ways to mark entrances. Ways to increase conceptual density.


The "Solve My Problems Sheet" from Magical Industrial Revolution has received favourable reviews. I didn't invent the idea, but it's the sort of thing I'd like to see in more books.

The Monster Overhaul

Here's some of the methods I'm using to index the Monster Overhaul.

The Alphabetical Index of All Monsters is a fairly obvious index. It's just a list. Short alphabetical list at the front of the book, long one at the back.

The HD(NA) section (direct PDF link) (original post) is an interesting concept. Listing monsters by their HD is obvious, but the results in most books tend to be simple bulleted lists under HD headers. HD(NA) tables are a list of related monsters combined with HD tables. They're an extravagant waste of page space... but I feel like it's worth it.

The Generic Megadungeon is my replacement for Dungeon Level tables. You know, the ones that everyone ignores. They're typically a series of weak random encounter tables split up by arbitrary difficulty. Turning the table into a map of a physical space made sense to me, even if it's not a complete index. I could add references for the various Generic Locations in the book (i.e. the Generic Space Wreck, the Generic Lich Lair), but since the page # references will get the reader close to those maps anyway it feels unnecessary.

The Index of Monster Utility (very WIP) is a sort of Solve My Problems sheet for the Monster Overhaul.

And finally, there's the Celestial Index of Benevolent Knowledge. A monstrous book deserves a monstrous index.

2022/04/26

OSR: Pantheopolis and the Divine Exodus

Pantheopolis, the City of Many Gods! 

Pantheopolis, whose armies ranged far and wide! Their legions captured countless cities, and with each victory, the city's gods were carefully transferred to their new seat of power.

Pantheopolis! City of temples, built with the rivers of tribute flowing to the capital. City of priests and imported rituals. City of blessings uncounted. 

Pantheopolis! And when there were no more enemies to conquer, city of Ecumenodiplomats, who crept into towns and flattered their gods into departing. City of Theoarchivists, who searched scrolls and tablets for forgotten gods. For if the city achieved greatness under the guidance of a hundred gods, think of what could it achieve with a thousand.

Pantheopolis! City of blessings. City of curses. And, in time, a city where they could not be distinguished. Pray for fertility and receive barrenness from a rival god slighted by your inattention, or birth litters of dozens as gods compete to outdo each other. City where every wish becomes a prayer, and every prayer an invitation. Orphanages overflow with least demigods; armies are paralyzed by conflicting omens, crops grow out of season. The gods jostle and bicker, ignoring rites and forgetting their duties.

Pantheopolis! Former capital of an empire, now a collapsing nest of divine feuds. In desperation, the Five Oligarchs have issued a decree. Let the gods depart! 

And so, this is your task. Carry a god to a new place (with their implied consent). Find, build, or reclaim a temple. Instruct the locals in the correct rites. 

Jeremy Hunter

The Divine Exodus

I wanted to find a use for my 1d100 Divine Domains (and associated tables). You could also use the book Petty Gods, or any other list of gods. Pantheopolis is the mirror of Arnold K's Coramont.

The PCs are the usual mix of unsavory types, contracted to transport a god (and their physical presence as a statue or similar object) to a new land. Some money up front, but more money on their return (plus whatever they can fleece from the locals). It's reverse loot-for-XP; the more stuff you haul out of the city, the more XP you get.

All the useful gods (of safe travels, of warfare, of localized bandit smiting, etc.) have already been shipped out, surrounded by small armies and appropriate pomp. Don't expect a lot of help from the statue/stone/petrified frog/shield you're hauling.

In their lust for divine power, Pantheopolis may have unearthed or appropriated gods that were best left forgotten and buried. Traditional tentacular horrors, flame-and-skull cults, etc. Finding a settlement willing to take such a god off your hands may be difficult. Some image rehabilitation might be in order.

Sarunas Macijauskas

The League of Inveterate Atheists

The gods, great and small, have caused nothing but trouble for humanity. They should stick to their own affairs and leave humans alone. The League of Inveterate Atheists undermines shrines, tosses statues into bogs, bludgeons clerics, and generally attempts to reduce the total amount of faith in the world. The Divine Exodus is a great opportunity to pick off a few small and feeble cults. 

Members of the League are typically wracked with philosophy, and can be distracted by complex logic problems. They wear disguises, use false names, and avoid direct and clear-cut blaspheming.  

Of course, there are the usual OSR enemies. Cults of rival deities. Generic monsters. Other adventuring parties looking to take credit for someone else's work.

Nikola Matkovic

Useful Quotes

An enormous crowd went and filled the camp. After the Dictator had taken the auspices and issued orders for the soldiers to arm for battle, he uttered this prayer: "Pythian Apollo, guided and inspired by thy will I go forth to destroy the city of Veii, and a tenth part of its spoils I devote to thee. Thee too, Queen Juno, who now dwellest in Veii, I beseech, that thou wouldst follow us, after our victory, to the City which is ours and which will soon be shine, where a temple worthy of thy majesty will receive thee."  

[...]

When all that belonged to man had been carried away from Veii, they began to remove from the temples the votive gifts that had been made to the gods, and then the gods themselves; but this they did as worshippers rather than as plunderers. The deportation of Queen Juno to Rome was entrusted to a body of men selected from the whole army, who after performing their ablutions and arraying themselves in white vestments, reverently entered the temple and in a spirit of holy dread placed their hands on the statue, for it was as a rule only the priest of one particular house who, by Etruscan usage, touched it. Then one of them, either under a sudden inspiration, or in a spirit of youthful mirth, said, "Art thou willing, Juno, to go to Rome?" The rest exclaimed that the goddess nodded assent. An addition to the story was made to the effect that she was heard to say, "I am willing." At all events we have it that she was moved from her place by appliances of little power, and proved light and easy of transport, as though she were following of her own accord. She was brought without mishap to the Aventine, her everlasting seat, whither the prayers of the Roman Dictator had called her, and where this same Camillus afterwards dedicated the temple which he had vowed.

-Livy 5.21-22

After being thus victorious in battle and capturing two camps and nine towns belonging to the enemy and receiving the surrender of Praeneste, Titus Quinctius returned to Rome. In his triumphal procession he carried up to the Capitol the image of Jupiter Imperator, which had been brought from Praeneste. It was set up in a recess between the shrines of Jupiter and Minerva, and a tablet was affixed to the pedestal recording the Dictator's successes. The inscription ran something like this: "Jupiter and all the gods have granted this boon to Titus Quinctius the Dictator, that he should capture nine towns."

-Livy 6.29

That the art of statuary was familiar to Italian Italy also and of long standing there is indicated by the statue of Hercules in the Cattle Market said to have been dedicated by Evander, which is called 'Hercules Triumphant,' and on the occasion of triumphal processions is arrayed in triumphal vestments; and also by the two-faced Janus, dedicated by King Numa, which is worshipped as indicating war and peace, the fingers of the statue being so arranged as to indicate the 355 days of the year, and to betoken that Janus is the god of the duration of time. Also there is no doubt that the so-called Tuscanic images scattered all over the world were regularly made in Etruria. I should have supposed these to have been statues of deities only, were it not that Metrodorus of Scepsis, who received his surname from his hatred of the very name of Rome, reproached us with having taken by storm the city of Volsinii for the sake of the 2000 statues which it contained.

-Pliny NH 34.24