Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos and Wonder & Wickedness – putting Cthulhu butter in my Sorcery jam

At my table I do this thing where players can pretty much ask me to use any spell from any source and, after some deliberation and twiddling, I let them.

Enters the Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos. The 7e CoC magic rules are interesting but do not map directly on Wonder & Wickedness, and I want a way to handle them directly with not much problems.

The porting of course implies that your game is old school, with its specific ways. So a lot of premises are different, and we need different outcomes. The approach is as it follows:
Do not use sanity costs. Everyone knows magic is real, and that faeries do in fact live in the hedges between the oat fields and the orchard.

Each spell uses only slot, or one mana point. If a spell allows overspending, each extra slot or mana point accounts for 5 MP, and they can come from ambrosia, mana tar, magic vessels or power stones. When mana runs out, take 1 damage for each MP the spell costs. So, yes, you can cast a lot.

POW costs reduce wisdom: each 5 whole points reduces wisdom by 1 for a month. Leftovers are ignored at the end of the adventure. Likewise, use the adjusted wisdom + unspent spells or mana when you need to roll a contest using POW, and the victim can instead elect to make a roll using their save instead of wisdom. In Mageblade! use wisdom plus the Caster focus instead of using the unspent mana.

Mageblade! casters have two ways: they can either learn the Jevnacack Praxis and cast as above, or they must use overcasting. This means that if they pass all the overcasting rolls the spell does not cost that first point of mana, and if they fail the rolls they can spend one mana point to reroll any roll. And of course they can run out of mana while doing that, which makes for some terrible news, as they either take damage from the cost of the spell or suck up the consequences of the failed overcasting rolls.

I also recommend letting anyone cast those spells, even if they have no mana. The first time a spell is cast by a non-caster, make an intelligence roll to see if it’s been learnt. Then use the overcasting rules as above, but the damage in hit point is paid in advance, and if one of the rolls fails the cost is either paid again or the spell fails.

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Rogue’s Luck in Mageblade! combat

Mageblade classes all focus in something specific. For example fighters have a bonus in combat rolls. This bonus is called Focus, and it depends only on the character level, starting at +3 at level 1, so level 1 fighters have +3 to hit.

Rogues focus on luck, which means they have Focus free rerolls every day. They can use those for initiative rolls, skill rolls, damage rolls, even to hit rolls that hit them.

This is interesting because it essentially gives rogues the ability to get away with something if they really really need to. I really really need to climb that wall? To win initiative and leg it? To vanish in the crowd? Reroll until you succeed.

To hit someone’s face? It gets better. Not only you can reroll to hit, but this has an additional effect: critical hits proliferation. Each character has a 5% chance of a critical in combat. But if you miss and reroll you have another 5% chance. And at level 1 you can reroll 3 times a day, which makes for a bit less than 19% of taking a critical hit, if they decide to dump their luck in a single round, for example if cornered.

That would not be the most effective use of rerolls though: simply rerolling on a miss is more effective, and stretches the Focus a bit more.

MAGEBLADE! the adventuring natural philosopher and Extra Resilience optional rules

Mageblade healing is somewhat inferior compared to other recent fantasy RPGs, so here are a couple of optional rules that help help with party resilience, but not their overall strength.

Better Life through Surgery: The first one is simply to increase the Surgery healing from 1d4 to Focus. I’m not sure if the focus should be the surgeon’s, the patient, the highest of the two or the lowest of the two. My gut feeling tells me that it should be the surgeon’s: there are good arguments for any of those amounts, but all Focus amounts in the game scale related to the active character, and I do not want to trow off people with that one weird rule that works completely differently.

This makes Surgery a better skill, and hopefully there will be more skill options soon for an educated adventuring person.

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from vixen vintage: http://www.vixen-vintage.com/2013/06/inspired-by-lady-adventurers.html

Because I really want to play this ->

… but with goggles, guns, grenades and a grappling hook.

I want to play a character that is a gentleman and a scholar, and while the book has Surgery, Engineering, Exotic/Dead Foreign Languages, Research, Diplomacy, Gather Information and Bullshit, and Climbing and Swimming are definitely an educated person’s kind of outdoorsy activity.

Of course there are more, like Pharmacy, Geography and Law in MB!: Silk Road and Sailing or Piloting in MB!: Tales of the Wind, and stranger things in MB!: Vyrnaccean Science.

The second rule is somewhat similar to the short rest concept from recent games like Into the Odd and possibly D&D (but I’m not sure, I played 4E and 5E a grand total of three times).

Resilience: a character can spend two turns after an encounter to get a proper rest. They can then recover 1d6 hits if they have been wounded or 1 mana if they spent any. Each character can rest this way Focus time per day.

This is great for everybody, without making characters stronger. It stared as only healing 1d6, but adding the mana option gives other classes some more occasions to shine. It mostly get around the problem of the five minutes adventuring day in the following ways:

  • front line people get some healing, so last for more encounters
  • mageblades get extra blademagic and devotions, so can use them in more encounters
  • rogues get even more mana to spend as luck, for extra shenanigans
  • casters get extra mana, which is great for extra malevolence and magic shields, but still does not let them spam the same spell over and over again: the hard limit of 1 cast per spell per day is still enforced.

Also, the extra mana means more attempts at saves. And nobody wants to fail those!

 

MAGEBLADE! and OSR Vehicular Shenanigans

MAGEBLADE! uses a roll-under mechanic for every check: roll 1d20 and get equal or under your stat. Dexterity roll? Just roll under your dexterity. Attack roll? just roll under your Melee or Missile (they start at 12). Resist a Charm spell? Roll under Wisdom.

More than one agent is going at it? everybody rolls, whoever gets the highest success wins. So if you’re struggling a clash of wit with a tax inspector, and you succeed your intelligence roll with 13 and the tax inspector succeeds their Extract Money roll with a 14, you succumb to taxes and have to pay.

But how do you handle vehicular shenaningans in this game? Use the Core Rule and roll a Piloting/Sailing/Driving/Cycling contest! Rogues have better access to skills and their Focus Ability essentially having free rerolls every day, so rogues are the best candidates for vehicular shenanigans.

I mean, rogues are also the best candidates for shenanigans in general, but whatever.

Prepare to improvise a lot as these rules strive for generic usability rather than detail. Also, MAGEBLADE! has skills (albeit very simple skills) accessible to all characters, so if you use this for other OSR games maybe replace the Piloting rolls with dexterity rolls, and give +2 to rogue-types.

Anyway: vehicles have stats, exactly like characters:

  • Focus: a modifier added to the piloting skill of the pilot. It’s added to the skill, not the dice roll.
  • Level: the bulk of the vehicle: subtract it from the piloting skill. Unlike for characters, it is not related in any way to the vehicle’s Focus.
  • Hits: how many wounds they can take before completely failing. Damage taken from anti-personnel weapons like swords and rifles is divided by 6, rounded down.
  • Defence: the vehicle’s armour. 0 for no armour, 2 for light, 4 for medium, 6 for that fine steel plating. Defence protects not only the vehicle, but also characters in it: exposed characters do not benefit from it.

With many excuses to Miyazaki-san, but just to explain what is the main inspiration for mageblade, have some examples:

  • Bicycle: Focus -3; level 0, hits 1, Defence 0. Carries 2, both exposed.Image result for miyazaki bicycle
  • Jet glider: Focus 4; level 2, hits 6, Defence 2. Carries 2, both exposed.largeAnimePaperscans_Nausicaa-Valle.jpg
  • Hydroplane: Focus 3; level 3, hits 12, Defence 1. Carries 1. Attack: twin MGs (2d6)Image result for porco rosso
  • Tank: Focus 0; level 5, hits 30, Defence 6. Carries 4. Attack: Cannon (1d12), MGs (1d6)
  • Small Airship: Focus 1; level 4, hits 20, Defence 3. Carries 5. Attack: 2 x MG (1d6)
  • Carrier airship: Focus 1; level 6, hits 25, Defence 4. Carries 40. Attack: Cannon (1d12), 5 x MG (1d6)
  • Moving Castle: Focus 0 (6 if elemental-powered); level 8, hits 50, Defence 5. Carries 60. Attack: 4 x Cannon Turret (2d12), 2 x Cannon (1d12)
  • Flying Island: I have no idea but maybe level 12, hits 80, Defence 9.

Vehicle combat is organized in rounds, but those rounds might be longer than normal rounds: for example, you can decide to use a minute round for ship combat. Each round the two pilots roll initiative, the loser declares their action first, then all roll a skill contest. Only the winner of the contest gets to do their action successfully:

  • Boarding: the two vehicles collide, the winner deciding if softly or violently. If violently, each vehicle takes 2 damage per Level of the other vehicle, and all on board the smallest take 1d6 damage plus 1d6 per size difference. Afterwards it’s possible to somehow board the other vehicle.
  • Manoeuvre: the winner gets to do one of the following:
    • add their success margin on the next piloting contest
    • get some distance between them and the other vehicle: when the distance gets over a threshold (for example 3) the vehicles disengage from shenanigans due to distance or other circumstances.  The threshold depends on the vehicles and environment: planes in the clouds will have a different threshold than bikers in a city or a bicycle trying to hide from a plane in a village.
    • recover some distance between them and the other vehicle, and win initiative the next round.
    • accomplishes some daring manoeuvre the Referee previously agreed not to be entirely impossible.
  • Shooting: the winner can shoot with all manned vehicular weapons on the loser, while the loser can shoot with half of their manned weapons on the winner. The vehicle guns can each be used once: attackers can each try to shoot with a d20 roll on Missile or Artillerist (or Dexterity for you OSR types). If they pass, the roll must also beat both the target target’s piloting roll and the target’s defence to deal damage; if they beat the piloting roll but not the defence the vehicle is fine but exposed characters might be hit. Damage is dealt to straight to the hits of the target vehicle. People on vehicles can also take damage: keep on reading.

When a vehicle is hit people on the vehicle can be hit too. First divide the characters in groups by location (so if two are in the cockpit and one is on a wing, there are two groups), then roll 1d(vehicle level): on a 1 characters in the first group are hit, on a 2 the second group is hit, etc. Hit characters must save.

  • exposed characters suffer the weapon damage multiplied by 3 if they fail a save, or 1d6 if they save. Also
  • unexposed characters take 1d6, no damage if they save.
Image result for sherlock hound
Of course you want critical hits: in that case do not deal extra damage, but come up with some terrible shenanigans. Maybe the vehicle can’t do something specific unless it’s fixed, or must manoeuvre successfully at least once every 3 rounds to avoid shutting down, or something similar. And of course characters can go out, get exposed and try to patch stuff up.
Many thanks to Richard G.

MAGEBLADE: magicky swag to buy

I almost never let characters buy magic items. Make, yes; buy, not really.

But in the first Mageblade in the City of Khosura there’s a priest called Caius bin Caius that sells potions. So we tried. And we liked it. So, there you go.

Here’s the list of stuff commonly available for sale if there’s an alchemist:

  • Blazing Oil: 20c: Catches fire super-easily, deals 1d6 damage for 2 rounds.
  • Oil of Fire Protection: 300c: half damage from fire. If a save is allowed to reduce or deny damage, an extra save is allowed to reduce or deny damage.
  • Healing Geode: 500c: Once per day heals 1d6 cuts or blunt damage at the cost of 1 mana.
  • Thaumaturgic Gem: 500c: Once per day heals 1d6 burn or cold or acid damage at the cost of 1 mana.

And this from a pharmacist:

  • Healing potion: 50c: heals 1d6+3 damage.
  • Antidote: 100c: counters poison effects.
  • Life potion: 250c: heals 3d6+5 or 3 sips for 1d6+3.
  • Balm of Restoration: 2000c: Heals 1d6 stat damage. It’s also a material component for the Death unto Life spell.

And this from an Apotropaist (or the kind of witch that removes evil eyes or whatnots):

  • Goat: 4c: it’s a goat, it bleats, it screams like a human. It’s great for sacrifices or monster fodder. It poops at random.
  • Blessed Water: 40c: deals 2d4 to undeads.
  • Hamza: +4:300, +6:900: protects the character from ill luck. When the character fails a save, add the bonus of the amulet creator to the roll: if the new total passes, the character saved and the amulet breaks.
  • Candle of Respite: 1200c: it removes the curse, but only if the creator level is at least the same as the curse caster.

Khosura Street Blues: where I get lazy and tell you about how my campaign is going making a post with some pictures, plus an attempt at a Knotromancy School for W&W

I’ve been running one of the two Mageblade playtest campaigns in Khosura [post in Hungarian], written by the always awesome Gabor Lux. I’m playing a prewritten module because I’m playtesting and I’d rather spend more time evaluating how the game mechanics behave and not tinker with the world as I go: less prep is better prep. Also, Mageblade requires no adaptation whatsoever from your typical D&D, you only need to raise[lower] AC by 2.

(see what I did there? I made a funny).

At any rate, this is the amount of Khosuran underworld we explored in about 6-7 sessions.

IMG_20160827_091232.jpg

Yes in Glasgow we drink a lot of Tennets. Those in the front of the screen are dead PCs to remind players that I am a cruel douchebag.

Khosura seems to be one of those dungeons where sessions alternate between exploratory (finding interesting stuff) and resolving (getting the sweet swag out). At any rate, the party last night was as usual not at its full. In order from right to left: Durgon the Fighter, Alyna (yep, that’s a rogue with a scumbag hat and a monkey), Cailan the Knotromancer with his rope.

IMG_20160827_091254

Durgon is short because I clearly can’t draw, depicted with his re-re-replaced plate mail. Durgon uses a pollaxe, not a sword, sorry. Alyna has dagers, but never dual-wielded daggers in her life, and I think she actually never made an attack roll ever in two sessions as she always, always slithers away. She’s good at that. Sometimes Cailan goes around with a goat, but only for sacrifice purposes, blame Brendan, and he’s depicted with his pet magic rope. Spaturny not depicted, but he usually goes around with a bag on his head. Rhaegar is also absent, together wish his basilisk-in-a-cloaked-cage.

Wait, Knotcromancer? It’s complicated. In my games a lot of casters tend to study a field of magic but also necromancy, for obvious reasons: it’s a very concrete, god-of-the-flesh, effective, if totally unsubtle school, so its perfect for those adventury shit-hits-fan, make-or-break times.

But Cailan is not like that. Cailan is a necromancer that is totally ashamed of being a necromancer, and never admits being one. So I started calling him Not-romancer. And he got progressively more and more funny (and by funny, I really mean creepy and weird yet hilarious) about his magic pet rope.

At any rate, how did Cailan get his magic rope? I make starting PCs roll on the Kata Kumbas Inheritance Tables. This is the Summoner/MU table:

IMG_20160827_091400

No game mechanics defined for at least half of these objects. Yes, you can get 4 geese or an axe that never misses its target or a plum shortcrust pie or a pet snake. Roll well.

So Spaturny got a Gnostic Gem of Healing (spend a mana to heal 1d6, once a day) and a Ring of the Sea Gods, while Cailan got a magic rope and a bottled metamorphic ectoplasm.

IMG_20160827_091422

58 it is

So it happens that Kailan has a bit of an easy trigger with magic and ends up always with no mana too soon. This is col because he’s forced to deal with what he has available, which in this case is an enchanted rope that can move as long as he holds it. So he used it to lazo treasures away from traps, rescue comrades fallen in deep waters, and so on. And treat it like a pet. Sam (Kailan’s player) feared he was pissing me off with this creative use, but it’s totally, totally fine, and when I groan and facepalm is because I’m surprised by the player creativity.

So Gary asked if I meant Notromancer or Knotromancer, and obviously it’s both.

So, here’s a first selection of Knotromancy spells. All have a 50′ long rope as target.

Sorcery School of Knotromancy

Brendan, don’t worry, they are not for the revised W&W.

  1. Rope Trick – you know that spell you throw the rope up and can climb and hide in a nook between dimensions able to host 1 person for sorcerer level? that one. You can also pull the rope in the nook.
  2. Tangle – like Entangle, but with a rope, affects only enemies. Victims are still slowed by the rope even if they save. Can be deployed with a glyph.
  3. Shuffle the Mortal Coils  – Ropes to “Snakes” that are actually still ropes: a rope per level, HD: 3, AC: 7[13], DMG: 1 tight squeeze, Special: after hitting either pin or constrict for 1d8 damage. Each rope has a 5% chance per sorcerer level of being a deadly rope, and when constricting the victim must save vs death/paralysis or die. The spell can be reversed and make real snakes into ropes, splicing them together if needed, permanently. I’m going to remind you that permanent spells can be dispelled.
  4. Stupendous Strand – a held rope can be completely controlled in its motion and can be made incredibly rigid and impervious to damage. In combat can trip/disarm/whip as a magic whip +1.
  5. How Long is a String? – for a turn the sorcerer can extend the rope up to 100 yards per sorcerer level. It’s not stretched nor elastic, the spell simply makes the rope longer (and shorter) as needed, and only when wanted. If still elongated at the end of the spell, the rope unravels into long, impossibly narrow and very weak fibres.
  6. Rope is Always Handy – the rope ties itself around the caster and acts as a third, mind-controlled yet semi-sentient, fully capable hand. Grants an extra attack.
  7. Bind, like the one from Diabolism but with Ropes – because you’re not a Coenobite.
  8. Cat’s Cradle – the sorcerer does some complicated figure-work with a rope, in a complicated yet silent spell cast over many rounds. In the first round, the sorcerer makes an opening, which has no effect. Every following round the sorcerer can elaborate the figure and either unleash the figure’s power or hold it to elaborate it into a different figure next round. The sorcerer knows an opening plus 2 figures per level (which can be openings). This is a tree with some of the possible figures: from a figure it’s possible to make figures tabbed within it; so from cradle, mattress, then candles, then either saw (which is terminal, and must be unleashed) or diamonds, then cat’s eye, etc.
    1. Opening A: opening, no power
      1. Open the Gate: unlocks and opens a door within 10′.
      2. Find the Owl: Detect Avian, 200 yards radius
      3. Dugout Canoe: the rope becomes a dugout canoe.
        1. Crab: the rope become a cranky crab: AC:1[18], 1HD per sorcerer level, ATK: claws 2x1d6. While hostile to the sorcerer’s enemies, its not friendly to the sorcerer either.
      4. Path to the Well: as the Find Water spell.
    2. Opening B: Opening, no power
      1. Fire Drill: seats a nearby thing on fire. Even people.
      2. What Will You Do?: as Confusion, lasts 1d3 rounds
    3. Cradle: opening, no power
      1. Mattress: up to 1 HD per sorcerer level must save or falls asleep.
        1. Candles: the rope shines bright light for 1 hour
          1. Manger: the rope becomes a meal for a person per sorcerer level
            1. Saw: a object or being of wood within 30′ is cut in twain.
            2. Diamonds: the rope looks and feels as if it’s made of pure gold strands.
              1. Cat’s Eye: the sorcerer can see in near-darkness as if it was in full daylight
                1. Fish in a Dish: if offering some food to someone, the reaction is automatically improved by 1 step (similar to Bewitch).
                  1. Hand Drum: terrifying noises make all enemies of lower level than the sorcerer flee if they fail a save.
                    1. Lucky Tea Kettle: it enchants a kettle of warm brew, enough for 3 people; if immedialtely drank, the drinker can reroll a die in the next hour.
    4. Index: opening, no power
      1. Fish: the rope become a fish friendly to the caster with AC:5[14], 1HD per caster level, and of proportionate size. It can be ridden by a human for each HD over 2.
        1. Pig: like Fish, but a pig.
        2. Frog: like Fish, but a frog.
        3. Dazzle: everyone within 20′ must save or stare at the rope. Bedazzled victims are freed when shaken or attacked

None of these spells have been playtested (except those that are inspired by other spells), so CAVEAT EMPTOR.

 

 

Rub-a-D&D: butcher, baker, candlestick-maker, tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor: the Spy as a B/X class

Rub a dub dub,
Three fools in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three

 

The Spy: a full-shenanigans B/X class

Your butcher has always been a bit odd, and did not know the difference between sirloin and ribeye. The baker also, but for the opposite reason: he was honest and delivered always full-weight loaves. The candlestick maker gilting was great but the candlesticks were clearly not well lathed.

That’s because they were not tradesmen.

They were knaves.

They were competent spies under cover.

HP, Saves, hitrolls as clerics. Primary stat is Charisma.

Level XP Title
1 1250 butcher
2 2500 baker
3 5000 candlestick-maker
4 10000 tinker
5 20000 tailor
6 42500 soldier
7 70000 sailor
8 110000 Spy
9 160000 Spy-master
10 220000 Spy-master
11 440000 Spy-master
12 660000 Spy-master

Coverup: the Spy gets some basic training in whichever trade their title is. So level 1 spies get basic training as butchers. At level 2 as bakers. Level 3? Candlestick makers. The problem is that sometimes they are not that competent, but often it does not matter. So for expert tasks they get only a 3-in-6 chance of success modified by their reaction bonus: they might not do a great job, but they are great at selling themselves.

Three fools in a tub: spies in cities can locate another spy in 1d6 days and get useful something in exchange for something (material, contacts, information, safe haven, safe conduit are examples of what can be exchanged) if a successful reaction roll is made. Woe if the reaction roll fails.

Great Coverup: At level 8 they can either roll any of these rolls twice and pick the best result or have a 95% chance of coming up with a convincing reason, happenstance or coverup for the job not to be successful. For example having the workbench collapse, or the horse outside the shop to catch fire, or just mind tricks. Or, surely the best, they can convince you that you seriously do not need that gigot cop today, sausages will be better with turnips, or that, seriously Capitain, the mortar was somewhat cracked already.

Rogue Skills: use 1d6 Thieving, but starts with only 5 points. Gets 1 point per level gained. Or as a rogue of half their level, round up.

Agency: at level 9 Spies can set up an agency. They will attract 1d6 level 1 PCs per season, half of them spies, maximum one per Spy-master level. As they die, they will be replaced as long as the Spy-master does a good job of covering up their demise.