January 22, 2012

Surplus Spells & Slings

This will be an ongoing, though not necessarily consistent, series where I make up four random, and hopefully unique magic objects and devices each entry. These aren't things made for D&D 3 and up however, so it's up to those that do to come up with item prices and such. These things will also usually be quite vague, and are intended by the DM/GM/Ref/ML or whatever to make their own lore and reasoning behind the existence of these things.

Now for our first fun four.

    Esteem Band
A small gold band with a faint green sheen. When worn for more than 5 minutes, any sweat from the wearer leaves a thin, dark smudge where the ring had sat. While worn by its owner, the ring implants a firm feeling of self belief and general courage, treating their hit die as being one type greater than their current. This effect raises their maximum hit points by the difference per level, and drops it by the same number if removed. The "replacement" hit die is not used when rolling new HP during a level-up. If taken from the wearer in a most untimely manner, that the character will die if their hit points drop to '0' or less. For example, a 2nd level human fighter with d8 hit die with 14 HP counts as having a d10 hit die with 18 HP for the duration.
(This ring plays to the concept that HP represents the ability to avoid damage, as opposed to a measure of physical damage threshold)

    Bangled Boots
Garb once used in an ancient dancing tradition, and usually danced to the breaking point. This pair, apparently wasn't. While worn, the user feels an uplifting feeling, encouraging extraneous dancing whenever in the presence of polka (or other very happy tunes). Even when not in the presence of chippy muzak, the wearer may lightly hop about when in a good mood. Heroes gain the most use of these boots in any activity involving jumping, skipping and dodging. Dodge-ball was a main event in those ancient traditions. When jumping, the wearer can jump 10 feet farther than normal, horizontally and vertically; in combat, wearers can do zany maneuvers such as leaping attacks as bullywugs do, and are considered as +2 to DEX in combat only for the potential of increasing their armour class. It is up to the discretion of the DM when the cord of the bangles breaks, freeing both glass beads and magical powers.

    Mask of Mouse
Little more than a rough-hewn mask of petrified wood, this simple design is spartan at best. If worn across the face of any more flat-faced hominid, they and the mask suddenly merge, transforming the wearer into a tiny rodent as fitting their personality, as polymorph with no save against, nor chance of system shock. The transformation is permanent for 30 minutes; after which time the wearer may "peel" the mask from their face, an action only a wearer could find possible, though they are not alerted to any feeling that it can be removed now. Every 6 hours that the mask is worn roll against system shock, with a further penalty of -10 each attempt. Failure permanently fuses the mask and wearer, turning both into any other individual of the chosen race, erasing any identity or memory of who they once were. Attempting to dispel or remove curse gives the wearer a save versus death or be obliterated, leaving the mask behind. Passing the save separates the mask and wearer, permanently reducing the victim's intelligence by 2, though fused victims become a rodent in man's body.

    Idiot's Tablet (cursed)
Like a wax writing tablet, but of a jet pitch in appearance, with string-attached writing and erasing utensil. Those who come in possession of this tablet must make a save versus magic or become infatuated with the device. They will incessantly argue the object's worth at any mention of its being, even when they really are losing the argument, and will refuse to separate themselves from it. Driven far enough into anger, an owner will resort to lethal violence to stop anyone trying to remove them of, talk terribly of, or attempt to destroy the tablet.

January 20, 2012

Lovely cover illustration.

Just found this lovely dungeon over at the most interesting blog, Monster Brains. The cover to the book 'The Troll Book', by that Berenstain guy, 1980. Doesn't it just call out to the marauding Player Character in us all?

While you're at it, I suggest taking a gander at other posts over there. Lots of great illustrations and paintings from way back when, across multiple genres, that'll most likely prove inspiring for any manner of game or setting. If nothing else, it might be entertaining.

January 19, 2012

Maybe it's for research...

...so I gladly provide my input to Zak S.'s DIY Q&A, "GM Questionnaire".

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
If it counts, my own rules system. Though the skills need some finalizing still. Fun combat if nothing else.

2. When was the last time you GMed?
Bit more than a month ago. Game ended when one of the main players moved away, and then someone else wanted to play a different system and genre and be the GM.

3. When was the last time you played?
Last week. I was the magic-user in a themed short character party.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
Bitter salt hangs in your nostrils amidst the sways of your seaward journey, all eyes on-deck weary of a swiftly approaching storm...

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Make changes as deemed needed, eat food, doodle the party being killed by the RWM, present a false, slightly psychotic, smile that fakes patience, etc...

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Sometimes Chinese food, other times pizza and extra-saucy meatball sandwiches, and Tab and fritos and mountain dew.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
In the sense that I've a speech impediment and often have to stop and correct myself once I kill the mood of the minute, every five or so minutes, yes. When we go past 3 AM can also be exhausting if bickering starts up.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?

If we mean I'm running the PC that is mine? Pulling a Paladin Moment in the face of extreme adversity, and then after the battle was won, saved the dying party member with -9.
If we mean the others running the PC, well, lesse': the player successfully infiltrating a secluded manor, convincing, bribing and sneaking his way through, gleaning all possible information and then robbing the monarch blind without one drop of blood being spilled, even going so far as to plant a kiss upon his royal bosom.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
I had a single player that made certain everything was uncertain. Then he moved away, and now everyone is far more consistent in having fun without pissing the other players and DM off. Me? I play my character. Sometimes they're sarcastic, amoral, saints and stick-up-the-ass, but I have fun without damaging the mood for everyone else.

10. What do you do with goblins?
That has varied greatly across many campaigns, settings, and DM opinions. I've used them as low-level speed-bumps, intelligent and integrated races, plot points, and buttmonkies for immature jokes. They were one in the same with gnomes at one point too.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
A whole fuck-load of pictures and stories from Heavy Metal 1977-1990's.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
Specifics regarding an outing spent drinking that had no relation to the actual game at hand.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
The Expedition to Barrier Peaks, looking at all the pretty floor plans and that picture of the bulette being tossed out of a door onto its face, almost crushing the party.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
I dunno', maybe that Thunt guy? He draws pritty-pritty kobolds.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Yeah. Powerful and completely unfamiliar monsters tends to work well, considering they aren't threatened by mood descriptions.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
Does using the premise of Metamorphosis Alpha count? Otherwise I'll point out that I've never ran someone's else adventure.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
A lovely, spacious basement with a tiny window and a nice big table with inch-sized grid, a bookshelf for books, sound system for muzak, spare table for chips storage, and enough chairs. Our current residence.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Those god-damned elf and dwarf figurines!

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
The Legend of Zelda and the Cthulhu Mythos.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
The creative and interesting sort. If they can wow me and solve a puzzle outside of my own solutions, that is something special. People wanting to have fun without being too slack, KILLMURDERPILLAGE or MinMaxy are nice too.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
Being genre savvy.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
That god-damned Alien RPG!

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
Occasionally talk to members of my family about the hobby. I usually get the "cool story, bro" routine, if not just polite listeners.