Religion is a Nest of Serpents


Back in this post I mentioned testing out new Mystic rules, and the new religion we made up based around a Florian Bertmer illustration entitled “Order of the Seven Serpents”.

Well I’m pretty sure I’ve smoothed them out to a point where they’re both easy and flexible enough for public consumption, so here you go.

 

The actual cards are below (I print them on A4 card, punch out the holes and bind them to make a little book), but this is the general idea:

  • Mystics no longer have set spell lists.
  • Instead, they can attempt to make anything happen that they think their god would be in to (though there are general guidelines called Liturgies that make some things harder to make happen than others).
  • After announcing what they want, they make a 4d6 roll on the Invocation table, which can be altered by using Favour points that they’ve earned by doing appropriately religious things.
  • I got over LotFP’s dreary nihilistic “there are no gods just delusion”, it’s much more fun if the things Mystics are worshipping are actually real.
    There are still going to be mishaps, but instead of being the Mystic’s delusion wavering or their god suddenly getting pissed off for no good reason, it’ll be because their god doesn’t really understand what is appropriate. So if Roy’s snake worshipper Tipanius fudges a roll in the middle of combat and gets Inopportune Favour and falls to his knees vomiting an unending torrent of slick adult snakes, the Seven Serpents will be like, “Oh haha what, you didn’t want to give birth to a thousand snakes from your mouth right now? Haha whoops sorry love you xoxo.”
  • There will be specific spells that Mystics can find, where they just have to use a number of Favour points rather than rolling, but those will be things to go out and find from different cults and libraries and stuff.

 

Click to make readable.

 

And Malpractice is still a thing so here’s the table for the Seven Serpents:

 

 

d20Malpractice - Order of the Seven Serpents
1A black serpent slithers its shimmering body from the target, inflicting a further d4 damage as it emerges.
2The ritual succeeds, but the target's skin becomes progressively tighter, causing an increasing -1 penalty to physical rolls every Turn, after 3 Turns their movement halves, after 6 Turns they will need to shed their skin.
3Snake eggs form in the wound or wherever else seems suitably awkward, and the target can't be mystically healed or cured until they hatch in 2d8 hours or are accidentally destroyed.
If they hatch, the target is immediately healed of all ailments and can make a one-time appeal to the Seven Serpents.
If they are intentionally destroyed, a venom-dripping sludge snake forms from the yolk and attacks whoever is responsible.
4The ritual succeeds, but an incredibly long snake tongue permanently glides in and out of the site of the wound (or other part of the body if there was no wound). It is perfectly linked to the target's sensory system, tasting the air for them, making it harder to be surprised, and easier to find things by scent.
5For the next day the target cannot bear to keep their eyes open in bright light, but with their eyes closed can feel vibrations and sense nearby heat.
6The ritual succeeds, but the target's skin grows dry and cracked, flaking away to reveal beautiful iridescent scales. They find themselves able to squeeze and compress themselves through anything big enough to fit their head.
7Part of the target's skin peels back as if it were trying to renew what lies beneath, but all that lies beneath is bleeding muscle. Take d6 damage.
8The ritual succeeds, but a churning grows in the target's stomach, inflating it, until a month later they spontaneously give birth to a stream of juvenile snakes from whichever orifice seems most convenient. This will happen every month.
9The ritual succeeds, but tissue-eating venom bubbles up from the target's body and consumes d6hp of the Mystic's flesh before diluting.
10The ritual succeeds, but part of the target's body withers and falls away to enhance their sleek silhouette, roll a d6:
1: An entire arm.
2: An entire hand.
3-4: d6 fingers, target's pick.
5: An entire foot.
6: An entire leg.
11The target's saliva becomes envenomed for d4 Turns, and they'll need to let it drool out to avoid poisoning themselves by swallowing.
12The ritual succeeds, but the target finds that a rather phallic stubby snake grows from their body. They accidentally discover that rubbing the snake and causing it to cough up coagulated venom causes it to diminish somewhat, though it seems the process would need to be repeated at least d20 times before the snake phallus clears up.
13Gnarled curling horns twist out of the back of the target's skull and a furry, huffing goat's face emerges from their neck, opening its mouth to vomit slick red baby snakes down the target's back. Target must save vs. Poison to stop it continuing to birth and permanently stealing half of their hit points.
If they stop it birthing it will remain as it is and bleat and vomit in surprise any time someone sneaks up on them.
14The target's torso elongates, their legs shrivel and twist about one another, fusing, scales push out like growing fingernails, leaving the target with the lashing lower body of a giant serpent.
15The target's blood turns cold, they'll need to find ways to keep warm in cold environments away from the sun to avoid losing all physical bonuses and moving at half speed.
16The target notices small glistening tongues flicker intermittently from slits in the tips of the fingers of one arm. Over the next few days their fingers fatten, muscle in the arm turns fatty and their bones seem to break down, their fingernails fall away and scored lines open over the top of their fingers and up to their shoulder.
Five serpents dwell within the arm and move it in sinuous curls, emerging up through the slits to let the arm casing slip off and hang limp to allow them to strike.
Charisma check to call them out, granting 5 bite attacks, roll on Poison table for each successful bite. They'll stay active as long as you make a Charisma check every Round, but will spend a Turn getting back into your arm after the first failure.
12AC/DB, on a successful melee hit an extra snake is affected for every 2 points above target. If any of them are killed you don't need to make Charisma checks while attacking the thing responsible.
17Anything within 30' that has eyes must save vs. Magic, otherwise small golden snakes push out from their eyes and break them like eggs, falling to the ground in a pool of yolk and occular fluid.
More eggs will grow in the sockets in d12 hours, and can be turned back into eyes if the Mystic successfully heals them.
If the Mystic fails, birth more snakes. Repeat.
18The ritual succeeds, but musty hair grows in patches over their body, and two bony nubs can be felt on their skull.
The target must save vs. Poison every day to prevent the condition progressing, taking a penalty to physical rolls for every stage it advances. To completely recover, the target must make 3 saves in a row, if they fail a save it regresses to its initial condition, and if they fail 3 times in a row they complete their transformation into an ordinary goat with a lit candle on its forehead that never burns out.
Any healing from a Servant of the Seven Serpents during this time will actually progress the condition.
19The Mystic can feel something digging at their mind and must save vs. Poison. If they fail their body is torn apart from within by emerging singing bluebirds that swirl into the sky and fall upon all those around them.
20The ritual succeeds, but the next time they sleep the target must save vs. Poison. If they fail, their body slowly transmutes and slithers away throughout the night until there is nothing left of them but a dry outer skin.

 

The thing I like most about these rules is that I can have Mystics of different religions running around that actual feel and play like they have different religions, without having to do, like, any work. It pretty much just happens.

 

If you’d like to make your own you can download the InDesign file for the cards from Penny Pamphlets or click here, and spend 5 minutes altering the Liturgies and Inherent Abilities to whatever religion you like.

 

And if you can’t be bothered actually writing a Malpractice table beforehand you can just use this template and make up the specifics as you need them:

 

 

d20Malpractice Template
1Target takes damage.
2Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to an ongoing debilitation.
(roll on Duration table)
3Target is subject to an ongoing effect or alteration, no mystical healing or cures until it ends.
(roll on Duration table)
4Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
5Target is subject to an ongoing debilitation.
(roll on Duration table)
6Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
7Target takes damage.
8Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
9The ritual succeeds, but the Mystic takes damage.
10Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
11Target is subject to an ongoing effect or alteration.
(roll on Duration table)
12Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration until they perform a task to remove it.
13Major mishap involving detrimental alteration, loss of hp or stats, etc.
14Target is subject to a major permanent effect or alteration.
15Target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
16Target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
17Area affect that everyone within 30' must make a save to avoid.
18The ritual succeeds, but the target is subject to a progressing condition.
The target must save vs. Poison every day to prevent the condition progressing, taking a penalty to physical rolls for every stage it advances. To completely recover, the target must make 3 saves in a row, if they fail a save it regresses to its initial condition, and if they fail 3 times in a row the condition results in their spectacular death.
Any healing from a Mystic of the same religion during this time will actually progress the condition.
19Mystic must save vs. Poison or die.
20The ritual succeeds, but the target must save vs. Poison the next night or die.

And yet the congregation remained unmoved




PETTY GODS // DELVERS OF THE GOLDEN VEINS


So Petty Gods is being re-revived, and here’s one of my awful entries.

 

Text from a year or so ago, art from a few days ago.

 

//

 

Hidden away in the mountains, living in whitewashed caves, away from the prying eyes of those who would call themselves holy.

Their god is a walking mountain of flesh, all-consuming, ever enduring.

 

When the stars are deemed right, worshipping before an idol carved into stone wall, when their ululations reach fever pitch one of their number is blessed with transformation, alchemy of the soul and body. Their limbs atrophy and their back bends, their torso expands to the floor like a dropped sack, skin grows dark and pocked, their flesh is doughy and pliable, it is forbidden to touch during the transformation. Their head rots and retreats into the body, new pink-flecked quivering orifices open on their belly and across their sides, dissolving anything placed before them into atoms and breathing in the spore cloud.

 

Holy manifestation of their god, the Atmungsgebirgshund is carefully moved to a dais, carved from a crop of stalagmites, fed and adored. As it feeds, the Atmungsgebirgshund’s body becomes ever more stone-like, fracturing, forming peaks.

When the stars again proclaim the time right, crowning spires of light grow from the pinnacle of the Atmungsgebirgshund’s spine hill, and the Delvers fall upon it with pick and hands. They drink deeply of the golden blood that flows as they break away the shards of its flesh, and they are once more blessed to live long in worship amongst the mountains.

 

Their god does not exist. Their god is communal. Their god is them.

If they were destroyed, so would their god be.

 

Their number never exceeds 40, breeding is only permitted when another member has been lost, either by violent death or ascension.

Memories of persecution have rooted deep over the ages, and any intrusion into their caves will be seen as an attack. The Delvers are non-violent, their god is not. Some will delay the intruders, throwing their bodies upon the blades, others will fall against the Atmungsgebirgshund in supplication to be consumed.

 

Cracking shards of primordial blue light extend from the Atmungsgebirgshund’s belly, roots worthy of a mountain god, the orifices penetrating its side expand and howl like rushing wind, every Delver sacrificed on its body increases its HD.

 

You will see a mountain walk, you will see your flesh drawn across the room like pollen on the wind.

 


Name: Atmungsgebirgshund
Alignment: Lawful
Movement: 120′ (40′)
Armor Class: 0
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 8 (1 HD + 1 per self-sacrificed Delver)
Attacks: Special
Damage: Special
Save: M23
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: The Delver’s art may be worth something to the right person
XP: 2000 x HD at time of death

 

Once the first Delver has been sacrificed on its side, the Atmungsgebirgshund is able to digest the flesh of one creature within 4′ at the rate of 1hp per round. Every additional sacrifice increases the range by 4′ and allows another creature to by consumed simultaneously.

Every round there is a 10% chance of fragmented spikes of blue light bursting from the earth, impaling the unlucky creature above, consuming them from within in floating blue sparks that rise as the spikes retreat. Save or Die.

 

If anyone other than a Delver attempts to drink the golden blood of the Atmungsgebirgshund roll below.

 

d6Effect of the Blood of the Atmungsgebirgshund
1Your torso turns to stone, brittle internal walls crack and break, you're alive as your body splits in half and stone organs spill across the floor.
2An atomising black hole forms in your belly, consuming you from the inside, lasting another hour after you have disappeared, affecting anything that comes within 10'.
3Roots of molten stone seep from your feet and embed deep into the earth, your legs petrify up to the knees. Better find a hammer.
4For the next 4 days you gain no nutrition from anything you eat, you grow weak, but a solid gold nugget is forming in your belly, worth 2000gp if you can pass it.
5You can hear the Breathing Mountain, you weep at its glory, you remain in the caves to rebuild its family and live forever. Slay any who would stand in your way.
6The blood of the earth fills your veins, you will never age, decrease your Dexterity by 1 every year that you do not drink the golden blood of the Atmungsgebirgshund as you slowly turn to living stone.

4 cacophonous mutterers




Show Me Where The Angel Touched You


I’ve been doing some illustration work for Mateo Diaz’s absurdly lovely Pernicious Albion, and so far it’s producing some of my favourite things I’ve ever drawn, so I’m looking forward to it being an actual thing that I can hold and play and you should be too.

The link above goes to Mateo’s initial concept and content rundown, but follow the label at the bottom of that post to see all the other things he’s posted on the subject.

 

The illustrations:

 

Penemue, Mad Angel of Secrets, who taught people writing before it was meant to, and will say hello to you via personally-addressed thousand-year-old dungeon graffiti carved into the walls.

 

And the Incubus, which is fairly self-explanatory.

 

4 cacophonous mutterers




Rubenesque as Fuck


I really enjoy drawing fat girls.

 

Xanthuulia, Devotee of the Corpulent One.

 

And yet the congregation remained unmoved




In Cörpathium


Whhh okay, deep breath, this is going to be a big one.

 

M. John Harrison’s Viriconium was one of the big inspirations that brought Cörpathium into existence, and one of the things that I loved most about those stories was that the city was never the same; places move, facts shift, but it remains Viriconium. So that’s something that I wanted for mine, a city that could be destroyed and brought back without just hitting a reset button, and is why my magic mishap and city encounter tables are so gleefully full of potentially world shattering stuff: I’ve never been worried about having to start again, it’s fun if everything gets torn down.

But at the same time, I’m not writing fiction here, I’m writing things that need to be used. Actually throwing everything out and starting from scratch would be an insane thing and a huge waste of my time.

 

So, my answer was to write up twenty potential boroughs, a method for randomly generating the entire city with a dice drop, and conditional variations based on what boroughs end up existing and which dice generated them.

 

First you take a 7 dice set and 5 other d20’s in your hands (or more if you like go nuts) and drop them in front of you, trying to keep them reasonably close together.

 

 

Each dice represents a different borough. Their position doesn’t necessarily show the physical layout of the city, just how the boroughs relate to one another.

You take the points of the shape on the top of each dice (well, just the points for the d4, and for the d10’s pretend they have a triangle on top), and if that leads to another dice, those boroughs are accessible to each other, which ends up looking like this:

 

 

Now the numbers on each dice relate to a different borough on the table below. Go through the 7 dice set first, beginning with the d20, then move to the highest number of the other d20’s. If you get a duplicate number, replace it with the next lowest number not already taken by a smaller dice, and if all the lower numbers are already taken, roll on the Additional Undefined Boroughs tables.

 

(Clicking any of the borough names will take you to its full description further down the page.)

 

 

ResultBoroughs
1Artist's Quarter
2The Rookery of Van Möldus
3Temple District
4The Twin Nests:
Plateau of Plague, Plateau of Time
5The Sporous Apiary
6Lilacs
7The Wheel of Gold
8Von Goethe Gardens
9The Crystal Ponds
10Flesh Market
11The Sulphurous Spires
(of the Serpent)
12The Library Eternal
13The Old Folk
14The Sprawling Tower
15Plague Zone
16The Black Web
17The Blood-Red Palace of the Godless
18The Demiurge Pit, Crater of Life
19The Device
20Manifestation of the Monolith in the Dark

 

There are also some constants regarding Cörpathium:

 

 

Constants
The Fogwalk
Replaces the dice nearest to the bottom. The Corpusmilch canal (and Möldenghast Blvd either side of it) then flows through to the furthest dice.
The Emerald Pit
Replaces the additional d20 nearest to the centre of the group. Roll on the Additional Undefined Boroughs tables for its surroundings.
The Howling Spire of Time
If the Twin Nests do not exist, place the Howling Spire of Time in whichever borough you see fit.
Chance of Deicidium per Borough
POOR boroughs have a 1 in 6 chance.
MIDDLING boroughs have a 4 in 6 chance.
RICH boroughs have a 5 in 6 chance.
Guilds for Everything
If there's one thing Cörpathians love, it's organisations.
The Candle-Makers Guild, Seamstress Union, The Baker's Cooperative, the Rag and Bone Guild, Order of Lost Letters. Numerous guilds for everything.
Chances are that no matter who you talk to, they're part of some kind of sect, no matter how small.

 

So then things look like this:

 

 

Cörpathium’s government and law enforcement depends on what boroughs actually ended up existing in this iteration of the city, so you start at the top of these tables and pick the first one that applies:

 

 

Conditionals: Government
(select the first that applies)
Conditionals: Order
(select the first that applies)
If there is no Temple District, but the Blood-Red Palace of the Godless exists, Cörpathium is ruled by the Godless and the Childlike Oracle, the Lamb, Eater of Eternity.If the Blood-Red Palace of the Godless exists every single borough will have a Deicidium, and the Godless are responsible for the order and protection of Cörpathium.
If there is no Temple District, or the Blood-Red Palace of the Godless, but The Old Folk exist, Cörpathium is ruled by that which crawled up from the Emerald Pit so long ago, and the Old Folk live.If Cörpathium is ruled by the vast thing that crawled up from the Emerald Pit, Cörpathium is guarded by the Order of a Thousand Eyes. Replace the Deicidiums with Watch Houses and re-roll for each borough that doesn't have one.
If there is no Temple District, or the Blood-Red Palace of the Godless, but there is a Manifestation of the Monolith in the Dark, it is no manifestation, Cörpathium is ruled by the Monolith and those that speak for it.If Cörpathium is ruled by the Monolith in the Dark, Cörpathium is watched over by the Silent Ones. Remove any Deicidiums, the Silent Ones have no home, they simply are.
If there is no Temple District, Blood-Red Palace of the Godless, or the Wheel of Gold, the Haugroten trading family own all of the Fogwalk and hold a constant seat within the Corvuscult, as well as appointing a trio of Haugroten Sons to watch over each borough.If there are no more than three Deicidiums and the Corvuscult are in power, the city guard is made up of the private mercenary armies of the Corvuscult families, the Whoredens. Remove any Deicidiums and place a Whore Den near each Corvuscult Family's home.
Otherwise Cörpathium is ruled by the Corvuscult.Otherwise Cörpathium is guarded by the Godless.

 

Which in this case means that Cörpathium is ruled by the Corvuscult and guarded by the Godless.

 

The Emerald Pit (in the centre there) still needs to be in an actual borough, which is where the Additional Undefined Boroughs tables come in:

 

 

d6Additional Undefined Boroughs
1Poor.
2Poor.
3Middling.
4Middling.
5Rich.
6Rich.

 

d12Name: Poord12General Environment: Poor
1The Warren1Infested with fungus and an unnaturally large amount of insects. At least there's something to eat.
2Swinehaven2Ramshackle buildings overgrown with plantlife.
3Crone Spawn Commons3Oily, sludgy slum, terrific brewhouses.
4Black Rose Hill4Enormous kludge idols to strange gods are erected in the streets, on rooftops, in the middle of public houses.
5Corpsewallow5Built around an open sewer, algae-covered stone hewn steps leading down. Easy access to Cörpathium's subterranean for the Kanalsknecht, easy access to Cörpathium for things that live below.
6Red Rookery6Inhabited below the streets in the sewers and tunnels and carven halls, the lavish buildings above abandoned to superstition.
(roll on Rich tables for the borough above)
7The Drowning Mass7A single monumental swaying tower continually built upwards from scavenged scrap, erected in the midst of another borough.
8The Scales8The pages of religious texts and pamphlets plaster the walls.
9Bladderrot Downs9Carrion birds wait patiently on cracked tile rooftops, the people throw birdseed about them as they walk to no avail.
10Syringa Vulgaris10Thick layers of soot coat every visible surface, communal fires are kept burning in the streets near alley entrances.
11Roach Bottom11The buildings are well-kept but the people are anaemic, a blue-and-white walled mansion of turrets and balconies looms in the centre of it all.
12The Pit12Leeches. The people walk around with giant fucking leeches gorging on their blood, letting them grow big and fat enough to cook like some kind of nightmare blood sausage. On the plus side all this leech treatment means they're all surprisingly healthy, if a bit light-headed.

 

d12Name: Middlingd12General Environment: Middling
1The Flower Bed1The door of every building is carved with a mass of tiny figures and the people walk mice on leashes of string.
2Bloodvessel2Fruit vines grow up the faces of buildings, bats are everywhere, heavy round seeds underfoot are the foremost cause of injury and guano is scraped from the streets.
3Liberius Waltz3An abnormal amount of lanterns both on the street and hanging from building walls, lamplighters work in packs here.
4Blackmark4Aqueducts bring water to an excessive number of overflowing fountains, the streets are constantly flooded.
5Crowsfoot5Brightly-coloured pennons hang from the balconies of every house, inked with various poems, some like wards of protection, some regarding potently vapid nonsense.
6White Walls6The streets are paved with several layers of skulls, their brainpan supporting foot traffic, supposedly covering something more concerning below.
7Littledeath Point7The walls are plated with thin pressed sheets of bronze depicting battles that never happened, great romances that never were, fables taken deathly seriously.
8The Festival8Shambling buildings leaning out over the streets to drape silks and lanterns over the heads of those below, waiting for the next celebration to begin.
9Blackfriar's9The entire borough subscribes to a sect that forbids cleaning of any kind or severity, but the craftsmen are some of the best in the city.
10The Gallows10The buildings are tall and stern and spiked as if previously used for some dastardly purpose, inhabited now by gaily dressed dandies and sighing madams.
11Tenderloins11Soft pink curtains hang in every window, beautiful terrace houses huddle close and hide the activity in the alleys behind, an enormous marble statue depicts a young woman willingly offering her thigh while a starveling dog chews on it.
12The Bowery12The ground is sour, like a marshy mangrove mud flats type deal. The entire borough is built on one big stilted platform over the top of it. You can see crabs and breeding insects through the gaps.

 

d12Name: Richd12General Environment: Rich
1Dulwich Hill1The buildings are all painted in solid pastel shades, hand-lettered black script above the doors proclaiming the owner or purpose.
2Weaver's Cross2Every roof is a spire, it's like a patch of needles threatening the sky.
3Báthory3The cobblestones are carved like the beautiful faces of youth, scrubbed daily to shine by hump-backed cleaners.
4Yellowbrick Court4Clean white walls enscrawled with symbols in living green moss, constantly trimmed and watered.
5Moonpond Waltz5Houses raised up amongst an absurd walled-in zoo, the occupants accompanied by a small entourage of armoured handlers wielding mancatchers and padded tower shields whenever they wish to go for a stroll.
6The Old Rat Ward6Monumental houses of dark stone arranged in the sign of the Yellow Queen, dedicated to pursuit of her knowledge and happiness.
7The Spiral Rise7The walls are all coated with dripping pink wax, like a thousand candles had been lit around the parapets and allowed to burn down.
8Copperpin Peak8Rich red droplets of blood always seem haphazardly splashed about on the streets, porcelain-pale and just as smooth, but if the sombre polished-wood faces of the houses have a tale to tell their lips are tightly sealed.
9Blue Points9Every house has a goat on a running chain, allowing them a good 10ft reign around the front of the building. They're like a status symbol, would you look at the horns on that.
10Willowood10The entire borough is like one big theatre, the sets are absurd, everyone acts as if they were auditioning for a part with exaggerated melodramatic flair, don't block.
11Dartmoor11All of the major buildings are ceramic, curiously shaped, decorated by images of unseen flora, with vulgar yellow stone staircases that spiral down into the earth.
12Featherwort Downs12Birds in cages line the streets, hanging from balconies and street lamps, attached to doors and trained to sing a certain song when a visitor shakes them.

 

Which I roll on and get a poor borough, The Drowning Mass: Inhabited below the streets in the sewers and tunnels and carven halls, the lavish buildings above abandoned to superstition.

Which means I need to roll a rich borough to go on top of it and get Báthory: The cobblestones are carved like the beautiful faces of youth, scrubbed daily to shine by hump-backed cleaners.

Which is awesome.

 

And a great city needs great entrances, so here’s a few that can be put around anywhere that makes sense (well except for The Tributary which should be put at the opposite end to the Fogwalk so that it can be next to the Corpusmilch as it enters the city):

 

 

Entrances
The Tributary
An expanse of open-palmed beckoning arms, their perfect marble skin marred by patches of crustose red lichen, reaching out around a gaping entranceway astride the Corpusmilch river.
Entrance requires a gift or action dependant on the cycle of the moon. Nothing may pass through the Tributary during the full moon.
The Common Gate
Six severed goat heads hang from the walls along the gateway, hung with wooden charms. A low keening crawls from their throats and their nostrils flow with a lurid pink mucus when something unnatural moves in their presence.
The heads need to be prepared and replaced weekly as they rot.
Fishwall Gullet
Gaping fish-like lips emerging from the wall, hewn from the same stone, carved within like a cavernous throat, an inviting tongue lolled out, waiting to swallow you whole.
Attended by the Fishwives, it's best to treat them kind or you may find the mouth on the other side reluctant to open, the way behind you closing.
The Oracle Gate
The undying head of a little girl sits in an iron cage suspended from a lantern post, limp red hair hanging now almost to the ground.
Each group of travellers leaving by her gate must ask a question or curse their own journey. Roll a d6.
1-3 she answers your question true
4-6 she spouts prophecy unavoidable
Each group of travellers entering by her gate must answer a question of her own, and if they do not know, must seek out the answer before the moon's next phase.
Lie to the little girl and face the laughing living light which spills from her mouth.

 

Which after I think maybe half an hour including messing around in Photoshop, gives you a city that looks like this:

 

 

The actual dice that generated each borough also determines another variation, which you’ll find in the Dice Variance tables below. I’m not going to list all of the ones I got here, but among other things it did result in a huge flesh giant being under construction, and the in-vogue religion being Yoon-Quiun, most hated enemy of Roy’s snake worshipping Mystic, which I think is pretty funny.

 

Anyway here are the full borough descriptions. Really most of these could be used as cities all by themselves, they don’t have to be in Cörpathium. In fact after generating the city above for our current game, one of the first things I did was decide that the the Sulphurous Spires wrapped around the Demiurge Pit would be a whole other city to visit.

The Additional Undefined Boroughs could also be used for extra neighbourhoods outside the main walls or to pop up unexpectedly if you travel down an unfamiliar path or whatever you want.

Really, I’m incredibly happy with this, it feels like nose to tail cooking in RPG form and I love it.

 

Make your own Cörpathium.


Continue onwards…

8 cacophonous mutterers




I’M GOING TO TAKE ALL THE COCKS: Rose’s Guide to Threatening People in D&D


We’ve been playing regularly the last few weeks which has been amazing, I’m not going to do full play reports because I don’t got that kinda time but here’s a quick rundown of some things that happened since last time:

  • After all the murder and screaming, Tipanius started nailing the chosen of Yoon-Quiun to the town wall while Thoth-Mora set the house full of previous murder victims on fire, then sacrificed his silk rope to escape from a back window to avoid all the concerned townspeople milling around.
  • They then broke into the giant boar pen, made enough successful Naturalis rolls to saddle up about three of them before the guards got to the gate, then Tipanius asked his snake gods politely to constrict two of them and Malatesta charged at the last one on a giant boar with his zweihander levelled over its head like a lance and rolled a fucking 20, skewering him through the mouth and charing onwards until he crashed through the rickety town wall, knocking down a good portion of it either side, and they rode away with all the other boars following them out and leaving the town of Yellow Watch to its spidery doom.
  • They named their giant boars Piggy-Wiggy, Hamish, and Dr. Grunts.
  • They travelled for a while until they found a nice doily seller called Gretchen Horrovich resting on a caravan with a broken wheel after having her screaming horse eaten by something during the night. They quickly made friends and hitched up a boar so that they could follow her to the trade town of Blackpond which I made up on the spot and turned out to be awesome.
  • They wanted to get Florian a proper peg-leg instead of a candlestick, and some kind of harness made for the wizard Felix Longworm so that they can carry him on someone’s back now that he pretty much has no limbs, so I rolled to see how good some local craftsman was (when it comes up I roll a d6 and 6 is unbelievably horrible), and rolled a 1, so soon enough they’d put an order in with Edvard Oman which consisted of:
    1. A prosthetic leg that contains a wheellock pistol that shoots out of the heel, with rotating barrels of pre-loaded shot and powder in the calf that spin around when the foot is pushed forward, as well as several hidden storage compartments and a flanged mace on the heel so that if it comes down to it, Florian can take off his leg and beat something to death with it.
    2. Tipanius’s wavy bronze sword and two wavy bronze daggers to be re-forged into two wavy bronze short swords that can be joined at the pommel.
    3. A badarse armoured harness for Felix to wear so that he can be strapped onto someone’s back, that comes complete with a bookrest for his spellbook, a small attached bowl for the preparation of spell components, a little claw thing to be attached to what’s left of his right arm so that he can turn pages, and a lever-activated blunderbus that flips out at the groin.
  • Then his high-pitched apprentice gave them a crutch for Florian and a wheelbarrow for Felix and bid them good day.
  • Florian didn’t have enough coin for his order so he asked Gretchen if she knew anyone he could sell his ruby too, and the only person she knew was a jeweller named Alistair de Mantajo, her ex-lover whom she left because he was taking too many drugs.
  • My performance as Alistair was my favourite NPC I’ve ever done and I’ll miss him.
  • Alistair kept sniffing and crooning and told Florian the ruby was practically worthless, then later that night sent his two goons to mug Florian outside the House of the Purple Haze, a tavern that Florian had not yet entered because he was scared of the friendly brawl happening inside even though everyone but him and Thoth-Mora had already plowed their way through (Florian wheeled Felix straight through in his barrow and got free top-shelf drinks with straws in them for the trouble). Sophie and Emma ummed and ahhed about what to do until Emma decided that Thoth-Mora would run into the tavern screaming “rape”, but then when Florian followed him in the brawlers thought that he was the rapist and lifted him off the floor by his throat until Thoth-Mora pranced over and told them it was actually the two guys out in the alley he was worried about, who then get beaten to a pulp by most everyone from the bar.
  • Gretchen was drunk watching the whole thing and after everyone drinking up to her level they all decided that the best way to get Alistair back would be to go to the stable where their boars were held, fill Felix’s wheelbarrow with boar poo, then dump it in front of Alistair’s house and fool him into coming out and slipping in it.
  • Gretchen danced around with a lantern and her shirt lifted up and it totally worked, then the beaten-up goons turned up so she shattered the lantern in front of them and they ran laughing all the way back to the House of the Purple Haze.
  • Obediah’s teeth started falling out because he’d contracted Gob Rot so he went to see Yeb-Shoth Shub, thereafter known as Dr. Shub M.D., who first of all tried to cure it by pouring mercury into his eyes, which made all his other teeth fall out, then cured it properly and recommended a good dentist, who was contracted to cast a set of sharp metal teeth.
  • Obediah wanted to buy some new clothes to make himself feel better, rolled on my fashion table, and got “An elaborately decorated bustle sprouting from their hips, overlapping organic spiralled layers of silk making it look like an absurd voluptuous cocoon. And it is, carefully chosen so as to hatch a swarm of butterflies at the perfect moment of the night for maximum visual effect.”
  • Rose immediately decided that Obediah had now found his calling as a cross-dresser, so we upgraded him from 0-level swamp scum to a level 1 Specialist with a cross-dressing skill, and used our Cat Name Generator for his new name. Muffin McTavish.
  • At some point we decided that not only does Felix have a beard so wispy that it’s constantly floating around in the non-existent wind, but that his pubes are exactly the same and they hang out the side of his wizard undies and sometimes his pubes and beard touch in the non-existent wind.
  • Thoth-Mora wanted to buy some good drugs to help learn how to cast the spell One Thousand Hogs which turned out to be in his twin sister’s head, and Obediah wanted to get tore up, so they went to see the only drug user they knew; Alistair de Mantajo.
  • He hadn’t seen anyone other than Gretchen during the boar poo situation, and Muffin McTavish used her new (still toothless) wiles to talk down Alistair’s finders fee, then handed over the coin and agreed to meet him that night at the House of the Purple Haze when he had the drugs. Alistair was really, really taken with Muffin.
  • Felix decided to make a speech in the trading square to try to convince someone to join them for the sole purpose of carrying a limbless wizard around, so Malatesta held him up, said “BEHOLD! THE WIZARD!”, and Michael gave the greatest fucking speech I’ve ever heard and I got all hot and sweaty from laughing and I wish I had recorded it and on top of that he made an amazing Charisma check and got his pick of the awed crowd. He now has a girl called Constance de  la Fuente of the Verdigris Plume, who has a sweet bronze-feathered conquistador helmet and a sword and thinks he is just the most amazing thing in the whole world oh my god.
  • Florian found an alchemist friend and bought a supply of specimen jars and preservatives for the Feathered Swine cysts and all the other weird shit he’s been cutting out of things for his future wunderkammer.
  • Malatesta, murdermachine extraordinaire, descended into the Purple Haze fight pit to win some coin, but got matched up against some poor guy that seemed to have no idea who he was or what he was doing apart from that someone wanted to fight him, who then rolled a critical hit, launched himself up Malatesta’s body by almost tearing away his fused sentient breastplate, and headbutted him into unconsciousness.
  • Constance beat the snot out of the same guy, but then got thoroughly kicked by a huge girl called Clara Bilimoria, the Nest of Desire.
  • Alistair’s goons met Muffin McTavish out the front and told her she’d have to pay double for the drugs after all.
  • Muffin put on her threatening face and said something along the lines of “Your balls are going to end up in my mouth. Because I’m going to punch you so hard in the dick that your balls are going to travel up through your body and fly out of your mouth and into my mouth.” Their reaction roll said they were kind of in to that though so Muffin started to hitch up her beautiful skirt and invited them to take a closer look then throat-punched them both.
  • Muffin went to Alistair’s house and knocked on the door while Tipanius and Thoth-Mora ran around the shitty back alley to try to break in.
  • Alistair acted like his goons were supposed to deliver the drugs and was very upset at Muffin’s inconvenience when she told him she hadn’t seen them, and offered her a drink.
  • Muffin asked if there was anything to blow and Alistair blushed and undid his pants, then Muffin punched him so hard in the dick that one of his testicles exploded and while he was writhing on the floor in agony she started screaming at him about her drugs and money and I think threatened him with “Your dick is going to be in my mouth!”
  • Meanwhile out in the alley they can’t pick the lock because neither of them are Specialists and they keep failing to roll a 1, so Thoth-Mora uses Passwall to open a huge hole in the wall and most of Alistair’s kitchen. They find Muffin writhing on the ground because some guy in a dark cloak came out of the other room and slapped her in the face with some kind of horrible mound-fleshed hand which caused a puff of something terribly narcotic to burst out of it.
  • Tipanius pulled the rug out from under his feet then he and Thoth-Mora started beating him brutally around the head with chairs until he threw back his hood to reveal his hideously deformed face and spewed a cloud of gas at them. Tipanius made his save and dove out of the way but Thoth-Mora took it full in the face and got really, really high.
  • The drug fiend grabbed Thoth-Mora and held him below his face, mouth open, and demanded to know who Tipanius was and what he wanted.
  • Tipanius decided to ask his gods to constrict this guy instead, but they told him that he’d have to do a snake dance ritual for it to happen.
  • So Tipanius started dancing and the drug fiend started regurgitating some kind of fluid straight down Thoth-Mora’s doped-out throat, to which Roy replied “I dance even harder” and the next Round an invisible snake constricted around the drug fiend’s throat and then his guts exploded so that all his weird coloured misshapen organs spilled out but I forget how but I remember that they were like every psychedelic album cover ever distilled down and turned into organs.
  • Gretchen turned up because they weren’t at the Purple Haze and she was worried, didn’t object when Tipanius force-fed Alistair some of his drug fiend drug dealer’s organs so that he’d be brain dead and couldn’t tell anyone what they’d done, and helped him take Muffin and Thoth-Mora to Dr. Shub M.D.
  • Muffin just needed some water and a lie down, but Dr. Shub told Tipanius that he’d never seen anything like the bag of organs he was carrying around or what had happened to Thoth-Mora, but that was pretty sure they should prepare for some pretty serious changes in the future.
  • Emma leaned over to Sophie and whispered, “Does that mean I’m going to turn into one of those drug things?”, Sophie whispered back “I think so, yeah”, and Emma straightened back into her seat and softly said, “Fuck yeah.”
  • They all went back to sleep in their room above the Purple Haze, with Thoth-Mora tied to the bed and Felix being spooned by Constance who softly whispered “the wizard.. the wizard..” all night until Felix woke up to the sound of someone twisting the doorknob.
  • Felix softly whispered, “Constance, the wizard is in danger”, so she jumped out of bed screaming “THE WIZAAAAARD” and ran at the opening door and dragged in the first thing she got her hands on, while Muffin threatened from her bed, “I’M GOING TO TAKE ALL THE COCKS!”
  • Soon enough they were holding a lit torch over the crumpled bodies of Alistair’s goons and the Purple Haze barman was apologising profusely for the lax security and offering to dispose of the bodies, but they decided a better idea was to throw them into Felix’s barrow, put a sheet over them, wheel them across town, Charisma and bribe the hell out of the stablehand and his friends, chop up the bodies, and feed them to their giant boars. So that’s what they did.
  • The next day Muffin McTavish and Felix went to see an amazing seamstress for some more fashion, and they all ransacked the hell out of Alistair’s house while he was still writhing on the floor.

 

The party now consists of:

 

An autistic Fighter wearing symbiotic black armour decorated with porcine teats and insects and little worshipping figures and all kinds of weird stuff, carrying around a gold-and-pearl-hilted zweihander that he inadvertently murdered an old man for.

 

A Specialist collecting as much weird stuff as he can so he can start the world’s greatest wunderkammer, who will soon have the world’s most amazingly deadly prosthetic leg.

 

A swamp-born moonshiner who brutally killed most of his relatives due to a spider cult infestation who is starting a new life as a fabulous cross-dresser named Muffin McTavish.

 

A wizard who had half of his arm bitten off, then had his remaining good limbs torn off and digested by thin air the first time he tried to cast a spell, who is now going to be carried around like a wizard backpack by an intense swordsgirl who thinks he is just the most amazing thing ever.

 

A snake worshipper who decided that when he reaches level 2 he should go see some weird sect to perform a ritual that involves his face being eaten off, and results in him being given some kind of amazing goat snake helmet thing.

 

Another wizard who is learning a spell from his dead twin sister’s skull, who is soon going to turn into some kind of perpetually drug-producing mutant.

 

 

 

I love this game.

2 cacophonous mutterers




“A Dark Blob, Screaming”


Last night we played our first game since the Sleeping Feathered Swine incident.

Rose’s Devotee of the Corpulent One got torn up, set on fire for medical reasons, and left to rot in a cave in that game, so with no Mystic in the party and her brother Roy wanting to join us again, he agreed to test out the new Mystic rules I’d been thinking about.

I randomly threw in “snake worshipper” with the options, which Roy obviously chose, which was great because it meant I got to make a little snake worshipper book and actually write out the new Mystic rules and decide that snakes are the keepers of secrets and sometimes need help solving mysteries so they can know more secrets and are the mortal enemies of the bird god Yoon-Quiun and his blue-bird-troll-looking-motherfucker-chosen who also claim to be the keepers of secrets but are in fact the keepers of lies.

Then a few hours before the game I re-found this print by Florian Bertmer, entitled “Order of the Seven Serpents”:

 

Order of the Seven Serpents - Florian Bertmer

 

So a few text messages later Roy had obviously chosen that over the pure Old Serpent snake cult I’d already made a book for because it’s about a thousand times more metal, so I tweaked the cult and made a new book.

 

And then they were going to need to find supplies and transport when they got out of the mountains so I used my town generator to make Yellow Watch, the last town Michael’s wizard stopped at before going into the mountains with his doomed friends then making new ones. The town ended up being run by militant nudists, and I left it up to Michael to decide if his wizard would think to warn everyone of that. He did not.

 

And I started a world map for them to expand on as they actually visit new places or steal other people’s maps or learn rumours.

 

We also tested out Rose’s Cursed Coral Collection of ceramics because they’re the first she’s ever made and they’re awesome.

 

I’ll do a post with the new Mystic rules and full print-outs after they’ve been fine-tuned a little bit more, but the gist of it is that Mystics no longer have set spells, just free reign to make things happen that they think their god would approve of within general guidelines of power, and a table to roll on to see if it happens or not.

For now, here’s a rundown of what happened last night:


Continue onwards…

2 cacophonous mutterers




Bring Me the Head of Zachariah Crooks


Another character sheet commission for the adorable Wil McKinnee, Hakaak the half-orc who carries his halfling lady friend around on his back for “combat maneuvers”.

 

Did you know that I played a game with Wil where he jumped on a Pterodactyl being ridden by a javelin-thrower, stabbed it in the side, then used the sword as a rudder to make it crash dead into the ocean, backflipping away from it in the nick of time? Well I did, it was epic.

And yet the congregation remained unmoved




Why Yes I Do Own A Publishing House, What Of It?


So remember that cave map I donated to Matt Jackson, and subsequently all the wonderful things that happened to my players when they went inside it?

Well it’s now a little adventure pdf that you can take home to meet the parents.

 

It’s Pay What You Want, so if you’ve ever wanted to give me money for some reason here’s your chance, or alternatively you can take it for free and digitally spit in my eye, I’m fine with it either way as long as you enjoy it.

 

Click below to make all of your wildest dreams come true.

 

Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine Town Crier

2 cacophonous mutterers




Finding Your Rules Unsupervised, Makin’ Them Do Weird Shit


So I’ve been putting together a new version of my character sheet to fit with rules that have changed and things I’ve noticed in play.

 

Click below for the four page fold-over pdf.

Cörpathium Character Sheet v2

Basic changes apart from obvious things covered in the House of Rules:

  • Ranged weapon distances got kicked off the sheet, because needing to shoot someone far away and know the precise distance hasn’t really come up, and when it does I’ll just say “aw, it’s pretty far, you can do it but you’ll take -2 to the roll”, or “no, they’re hella far away”.
  • The girls pretty quickly collected various different pieces of armour that they put on, and I’d like to acknowledge that. The main armour class still stays as Light/Medium/Heavy, but I added a section on the back where they can list the individual pieces and their Quality rating, added the numbers 1-5 under Defence for them to circle the Qualities that apply to their armour, and when they roll that number or less on their Defence roll it will damage that particular piece of armour first. I’d probably say that each additional piece of armour (like gauntlets, helmet, sabatons, etc.) adds 1/2 a point of AC, so you need two for +1AC, additional pieces can’t raise your AC by more than +2, and they don’t affect Heavy armour.
  • I replaced Sneak Attack with a Quick Death. Sneak Attack always felt weird to me, sitting in there with the other skills but you don’t actually use it like a skill, it just adds a damage multiplier when you attack from surprise. So, a Quick Death does work like a skill. When you sneak up on someone or you’re grappling, if you make a successful Quick Death roll you’ll outright kill anything up to 2HD, and if they have more than 2HD it will add a damage multiplier equal to your skill level if you then successfully attack them. So it’s like learning the best way to cut something if you can get close enough.
    If you fail when attacking from surprise, you can still make a normal attack but they don’t take any AC penalty.

 

And then I got to the encumbrance section with all the different movement rates listed and holy shit is it unnecessary, players don’t need to see that, and so I wanted to get rid of them but couldn’t think of what else to put with the encumbrance description.

Then I had the idea, for movement dice.

 

 

MOVEMENT DICE

 

Roll it for chases or when contested speed is otherwise an issue (like when you and the cultist look each other in the eyes and dash towards the slime-spewing altar).

  • An unencumbered human is d8. Encumbered is d6, Heavily encumbered is d4. Cheetahs are d100.
  • Whoever rolls highest wins. In a one-on-one situation I’d probably apply -1 for Medium armour or -2 for Heavy armour.
  • In a pursuit use the lowest Movement Dice of the group, and you could either resolve it as a one-off roll, or have a lost roll decrease your dice size, a win increase your dice size, and the pursuit ends when someone loses on a d4 or wins on a d20.

[By LotFP rules chases are contested d20 + 10% of your movement rate, which is still pretty easy, but I think this is easier and has much more obvious consequences for the amount of shit on your back.]

 

The lowest Movement Dice of the group is also used for random encounter checks, because if you’re heavily encumbered you’re shuffling and jangling around like an idiot, rather than the guy padding around with nothing but a sack and a knife like an agile agile cat.

 

I’m sure I’ve read something similar to the random encounter check recently but I cannot, for the life of me, remember where.

 

 

And then I looked at the light tracker with its boring-arse checkboxes, and realised that I hated it and changed it to something else.

 

 

LIGHT CHECKS

 

Instead of a set time limit, light sources use a decreasing dice check.

  • Torches start at d8, Candles at d10, and Lanterns at d20.
  • When you’re asked to make a light check (so each Turn or what have you), you try to roll in the upper half of the dice, though there might be modifiers if it’s wet or windy.
  • If you fail it drops down to the next dice for the next check.
  • If you roll a 1 or fail on a d4 it goes out or you burn yourself and drop it.
  • If you have to make a light check because of something threatening to extinguish the flame, if you fail it goes out.

Jeff Russell reminded me that this is really similar to this ammunition tracker, which I’d clearly forgotten about but not.

I’m still not sold on using it for ammunition since I tend to run attacks as one roll one swing/shot and abstracting the ammunition feels wrong, but for something like fire, which can vary depending on conditions and quality, it seems just about perfect.

I think it’s a nice easy way to make light tracking interesting and maybe a little bit fun. Each Turn you don’t mark off a box, you roll to see what state your torch is in, and you don’t look down and see three empty boxes and think “okay I’ve got half an hour before I have to light another”, you look down and see that your torch is on a d4 and think “aw shit it’s all spluttery and stuff there’s a good chance it will go out the next time it matters, I should get another one ready”.

 

[Edit: After discussing it more with Jeff and James Young, we figured that using a target number is a lot better, and the best target number is 4. So, regardless of the dice you’re on you need to roll 4 or higher or you drop to the next dice. This also makes it easy to vary the required roll based on the situation, i.e. “It’s raining from nowhere, the ceiling seems to be screaming at you, roll 6 or higher or your torches all go out!”]

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