Saturday, August 19, 2023

The Good We Oft Might Win (Simple Poison Rules)

 Look freaks, you don't need pages and pages of dozens of different kinds of poison for your RPGs. Most purposes you need can be fully covered by a poison that kills quickly and violently, a lethal poison that is tasteless and odorless, a poison that is chloroform, a poison that causes gradual deterioration over weeks, and a nonlethal poison that makes you weak. That's it! You should still give it some panache, come up with a cool name for the poison and so on. But the mechanics should be simple.

Determine the "cost factor" for your setting. Poison costs will scale with that factor. The "availability" shows the chance you can find a meaningful supply in the right circumstances.

  • Quick weakening poison. Obvious smell and color. Cost factor x1 Availability: 4-in-6.
  • Quick knockout poison. Obvious smell and color. Cost factor: x2 Availability: 2-in-6.
  • Quick lethal poison. Obvious smell and color. Cost factor: x3 Availability: 3-in-6.
  • Slow lethal poison. No smell, dissolves totally. Cost factor x10 Availability: 5-in-6.
  • Quick lethal poison. No smell, dissolves totally. Cost factor x100 Availability: 1-in-6.

The DM should determine the name, color, application (bloodstream, inhaled, consumed), what the right circumstances for finding a meaningful supply is, and any partial effect on a passed save, based mainly on vibe.

You can use this generator for symptoms:
Or this one. It's pretty good:

Friday, August 18, 2023

The Written Word Remains: Spellbook Generator

 I like spellbooks. I like to imagine all the notes, marginalia, and non-spell contents in them. To spur that kind of detailed artifact on the fly in a game, I've made a generator for random spellbooks and their miscellaneous contents. Each generated spellbook will have 20 items listed. If you have an idea for how many spells you want the book to contain, simply stop after it lists that many. 

This is a brainstorming aid; it will give you prompts for spells, usually pretty actionable ones, but it will be up to you to designate the particulars.

This generator builds on my glog wizard generator and my wild west wizard generator. See also ktrey's Magical Marginalia and 100 Grimoires.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Producing Nothing By Accident Save Themselves (GL𝚫G Class: Fighter)

Hello again.

This "delta" class was designed to fit in with systems like B/X where there is still some slow form of advancement, and the cost of certain moves reflect that. If circumstances should make a requirement cheaper, that's absolutely fine. It was also designed with a "normal" campaign in mind, where a party of multiple PCs are going on adventures and delving into dungeon spaces together, so progressing along the path of the Conjurer is intended to dovetail into normal activities and into the downtime and management of gradually leveling D&D characters, as well as provide a few mysteries to unravel. The class is meant to try to "solve" some issues that can come up with delta advancement while inventing a satisfactory martial delta class. It does so by leaning into the numinous quality of fictional martial arts. Treat Adverse Conjuring moves as being magical in nature, and all that that implies.

This is a way of living and a way of killing. It is most often practiced by the destitute, the damaged, and the desperate, but being rich is no excuse. Adverse Conjuring is the art of perceiving something's purpose and reversing it. The purpose of a human being is to create life and nurture it.

The fighting moves of Adverse Conjuring cannot be done with a sword, unless it is a very strange sword. They can be done with the body. They can be done with a weapon descended from a tool— a flail, a knife, a warhammer, a staff.

Basic moves can be learned by any journeyman who is initiated into Adverse Conjuring. Specialist moves can be learned by any Conjurer who is taught by a mentor. Chaperon moves can be learned by any Conjurer who teaches others. Immortal moves are shrouded in mystery.

𝚫 - Initiation

Suffer a great loss, then in your despair crush something worth 100 gold coins. Spread its dust over a page and begin to write, letting your unconscious nature take hold of the quill. This becomes the first page of your fighting manual. If the great loss is reversed, start again.

Your eyes grow more vibrant. You may call yourself a journeyman and learn basic moves.


𝚫 - Black Bear Style

Crawl into the body of a creature that was slain by weapons, sleep the night, and crawl out. Encode your findings into your fighting manual.

+1 to hit and your fingers count as crowbars

𝚫 - Yuda's Eager Animus

Spend 500 gold coins to have a stone folly built in some defensible place, and fill it with warriors made of sticks or stacks of grain. Meditate in the folly overnight. If the folly is ever torn down, start again.

+1 to hit and untrained militias get +1 morale. They sometimes grin and don't know why.

𝚫 - Last Lunge

Slay an opponent while one of you is fleeing. Encode your findings into your fighting manual.

+1 to hit and you can do a forced march for an extra day before needing rest

𝚫 - Adverse Tool Art

Slay ten dangerous creatures with ten implements that have never taken a life before.

Weapons you wield deal at least 1d8 damage as long as you aren't speaking. If they do less because they're in poor condition, you can at least sunder them for one good strike.

𝚫 - Adverse Body Art

Slay a creature with a weapon, then slay another such creature with a tooth, claw, or other natural defense, then slay another such creature unarmed. Encode your findings into your fighting manual.

Your unarmed strike deals 1d6 damage. You can use any part of the body to strike.

𝚫 - Shuddering Elk Style

Spend a week and 200 gold throwing coins into the air and attempting to slice two in half with the same stroke. The first time you succeed, each coin turns into a gib of flesh.

At the start of a combat, you may scream in a special way so that blood leaks down your throat. During that combat, if your first melee strike each round would slay a foe, make a free attack against another foe. 

𝚫 - Eribo's Potent Resort

Let an enemy attack you three times before striking back, then slay them. Bury their weapon. If the weapon is recovered, start again.

You may take a penalty to an attack roll to get a corresponding bonus to your damage roll. If the penalty is more than 5, rolling a natural 20 is not an automatic success.

𝚫 - Vool's Iron Enlightenment

Learn the recipe for the salve against iron, hidden away in libraries and the minds of balking sages. Concoct the salve with ingredients worth 1,000 gold coins. Cover your body and leap into a vat of liquid-hot iron.

If the salve was properly made and applied, you survive unharmed. Emerge with a tranquil form— eyes that cannot betray age nor lies, hair full and strong, perfect stillness, and +2 Wisdom.

𝚫 - Kestrel Stride

Spend three days whispering spells into bird-skin boots worth 200 gold coins.

Run along vertical surfaces for up to 15 feet, then jump in any direction.

𝚫 - Whispered Warning Compact

Help a ghost or other spirit find their eternal rest, or bottle an imp and reduce its fat to fluid and drink it.

When in an established marching order, you can move from the middle to the front or the back in an instant as soon as initiative is rolled.

𝚫 - White-Tail Deer Step

Spare a foe, then later suffer an attack from them. Steal and wear their belt, or make one from their remains.

When lost, reduce the chance of getting ambushed by 1-in-6. You can ditch the belt by the way, the spell doesn't need you to wear it constantly.

𝚫 - Eribo's Levity

Spend a month meditating on the movement of fish or of birds. Encode the results into your fighting manual.

You can swim with a weapon in your hand and light armor on without penalty.

𝚫 - Second Initiation

Find a mentor. Suffer under their tutelage for at least a full season. Fulfill the task they give you upon your leaving

Your eyes grow more vibrant. You may call yourself a "brown sash" and learn specialist moves.


𝚫 - Aligning Adverse Purpose

Find a blacksmith who will teach you for a full week. At the end of that time, create a weapon.

+1 to hit and you can serve as a blacksmith. You can use Adverse Conjuring moves with swords you create.

𝚫 - Yuda's Energetic Apprehension

Intuit a grand ritual that requires materials worth 4,000 gold coins, one week, and a place where many have died.

Meet Death. It is like the first meeting of long-time long-distance friends. +1 to hit and mercenaries get +1 morale. You sometimes grin and don't notice.

𝚫 - Cougar Forms

Wrestle a predator larger than you into submission. Encode your findings in your fighting manual.

+1 to hit, and +5 movement in pursuits. You can run on all fours even with your hands full.

𝚫 - Conjure Breath

Swallow a magical creature whole.

+1 to hit and your spit flickers in unwholesome air, warning you of subtle gasses and poisons.

𝚫 - Possum's Hindsight

Construct a Gate of Hate over the course of a month with magical materials worth 4,000 gold coins. Enter it, then return alive.

+1 to hit and when you trigger a trap, you may make a free attack against it

𝚫 - Detect Unseen

Spend a week in the untamed underworld, listening carefully.

+1 to hit and when you can't see you can attack adjacent foes without penalty

𝚫 - Obverse Body Art

Undergo an obscure surgical procedure that only the old-time shamans know. It will entail a week of recovery, and costs 2,000 gold coins— a traditional price that was more than a king's ransom when it was set.

You are given a small bag, made from some internal organ and containing strange organic shapes, arcane sands, and buds which make you numb in certain parts of your body when you touch them. By consulting the bag, you (the PC) can learn any detail of yourself that could be found on your character sheet, taking any numbers as intuitive and difficult to articulate but precise in understanding.

𝚫 - Communion of the Rotting Elk

Slay two creatures in one instant with Shuddering Elk Style. Collect 200 gibs of flesh from 200 different creatures and leave them as a gift in the forest. 

Your patron will speak with you. If you survive, your flesh is enchanted. Each time you slay a creature with Shuddering Elk style, you can make a new attack again and again as long as you keep slaying. Those who can detect magic see you as possessing necromantic energy.

𝚫 - Vool's Name

Build a tower as high as you can, worth at least 10,000 gold coins. Let lightning run through it to strike you. The scream you make has a familiar cadence to it.

Grow up to seven grasping tendrils. Bleed navy blue blood. You become immune to lightning thrown by less powerful beings than yourself. (Everyday lightning angels have 6 HD)

𝚫 - Reverse Body Art

Conduct a grand ritual that spans three months and dozens of accomplices, costing at least 20,000 gold coins, spanning a miles-long occult shape. You need not attend to the ritual every day, but must maintain oversight between any adventures, and you must be in the center of the occult shape when your day of glory arrives.

Acquire a monstrous form— much taller, oddly textured, joints rearranged, hair melting into something else, and +2 Strength. You can use weapons designed for larger creatures and count as an angel, dragon, or demon when convenient.

𝚫 - Condor Step

Fall 100 feet and survive.

Double jump

𝚫 - Adverse Body Alignment

Slay a 4+ HD creature with a weapon, then slay another such creature with a tooth, claw, or other natural defense, then slay another such creature unarmed. Encode your findings into your fighting manual.

Your body deals 1d8 damage when used to attack.

𝚫 - Catch Death

Seek the woman who offered the wineskin to Vool and learn its secret.

When struck by a killing blow, you have a [damage]% chance of ignoring all harm and negative effects by grabbing your escaping spirit and swallowing it. Bleed neon green blood.

𝚫 - Third Initiation

Find students. Make them suffer under your tutelage for at least a season. Give them tasks as they leave. One must succeed and another must fail.

Your eyes grow more vibrant. You may call yourself a master and learn chaperon moves.


𝚫 - Manatee Maneuver

Oversee the construction of well-engineered defenses worth at least 5,000 gold coins, study the work, and encode your findings into your fighting manual.

+1 to hit and when convenient you count as riding a camel for purposes of speed, overland travel, mass, etc.

𝚫 - Mustang-Footed Launch

Lead an army with expenses equaling at least 2,000 gold coins per month into a battle to the death, then collect objects belonging to the fallen and bury them near your home.

+1 to hit, and a single kick can jam a door open or shut as with an iron spike

𝚫 - Adverse Profanity Art

Forge an evil, intelligent magical weapon worth at least 6,000 gold coins. If it is destroyed, start again.

+1 to hit and your palms and heels count as holy symbols

𝚫 - Yuda's Folly

Construct an academy worth at least 30,000 gold coins, dedicated to the teaching of Adverse Conjuring. After a season, encode your findings into your fighting manual.

+1 to hit and students get +1 morale. 1d6 level 0 students will arrive each month as long as you have capacity for more.

𝚫 - Name Fear

Bring 12,000 gold coins in tribute to the Queen within the Gates of Hate— a traditional price that was less than a scribe's yearly wage when it was set.

+1 to hit and monsters you fight have a maximum morale of 9. You know the name of fear.

𝚫 - Wield Death

Find the person behind the person behind the person who made you suffer your first great loss and put them into your power.

When a longtime friend, party member, or true innocent dies despite your attempts to aid them, your weapons and eyes glow and you do double damage.

𝚫 - Eribo's Gift

Save Eribo

You can see HD.

𝚫 - Dancing Elk Style

Flense the flesh from your head and somehow survive for 1 hour

You are immune to the negative effects of flensing your head. Each time you slay a foe in melee, you can give a rattling shriek to fly up to 30 feet to strike at another foe.

𝚫 - Divine Nature

Remake the throne of Idi. This takes 4,000 gold coins in materials and 10,000 gold coins in research. If it is resundered, start again.

Sense when your name is spoken. Bleed neon pink blood.

𝚫 - Synthesis Body Art

Slay Vool and embed the gem. For reasons that will become clear, this will cost at least 40,000 gold coins.

Acquire an androgynous, immaculate form. +2 Cha.

𝚫 - Wolf Spider Sprint

Wrap a Conjurer's body in fine wrappings worth 4,000 gold coins. Bury them in a box worth 4,000 gold coins. If they were alive at the time, defeat their shade.

As long as you run at full speed, you can run up walls and along ceilings. Sharp turns would be an issue for you. If you defeated their shade, get +1 Dexterity.

𝚫 - Besting Yuda

Trick a student of at least half your level into striking you with a killing intent. Best them. Encode your findings in your fighting manual.

You take minimum damage from falling.

𝚫 - Refute the Socratic Method

Destroy your fighting manual. Drink deadly poison but somehow survive. If you start a new fighting manual, start again. Your body deals 2d6 damage, exploding. Your eyes grow more vibrant. You may not refer to yourself. You may learn immortal moves.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

On Roads Untrod: Wilderness Encounters as Hexcrawling Challenges

 Dungeon random encounters, it is said, are meant to deplete resources, communicate specific ongoing threats in the immediate vicinity, and contribute to the challenge of the classic dungeoncrawling procedure. It can pay to think about how random encounters when hexcrawling or otherwise traveling throught the wilderness relates to the resources of that subgame and its procedures. For this reason, I try to track rations, don't allow characters to heal HP without spending days resting, ensure they sometimes rest regardless, and take other common measure. 

To aid me in a hexcrawling project I'm working on, and as a good exercise, here are all the planned random encounters in the hexcrawl's various regions and ways I have brainstormed for them to be relevant on the level of a hexcrawl. Now, much of the time the PCs might only interact with an encounter in passing, or might fight and completely beat them, and because of that these behaviors won't always come up. But coming up with these ahead of time will, I hope, help the encounter tables to keep play dynamic and keep the encounters relevant long after they've concluded.

  • Angel- Force morale saves from crusaders. Convert hex of one terrain type into one of another. Cause fair fortune— find the way, enjoy positive encounters, safely traverse infrastructure. Provide bread.
  • Aristocrats with incendiary grenades- Provide oil. Bluster their way past tolls.
  • Assassins- poisoned blades do 1 damage each day come midnight and cannot be healed without a specialist in a settlement. Track the party and attack if they camp in a disadvantageous location. As an insurance policy against suicide missions, carry letters from their employers, which may change the part's relationship with an NPC. Offer to assassinate a target for a fee.
  • Automaton peacocks, musicians, and courtiers- Follow the party, causing additional encounter checks.Emerge from or enter into hidden hex features.
  • Baboons- Lead the party along safe routes or into traps. Stalk the party for 1d2 days, then attack. Screech horrifically, triggering hireling and mount morale checks.
  • Bandits with hand-trebuchets- Press-gang into service. Show hidden routes. Outbid hireling contracts. Refuse to allow PCs in the hex.
  • Basilisk- turn hex with vegetation into a wasteland. 
  • Blinded knights- Track you by scent, following slowly but tirelessly for up to 1d6 days. Reveal surprising truths about imperial politics. Emerge from hidden hex features.
  • Bread rioters- Steal food. Show secret routes through urban hexes. Purchase weapons. Turn urban hex into ruined hex. Bar entry into hex with barricades and fires.
  • Centaurs- Grant friends a ride to their destination. Give travel advice. Forbid travel near their ancestral glades.
  • Charioteers and their fanatics- Give hotties a ride. Track those who have insulted them at speed. Sell overpriced food.
  • Chimerae- Give sage advice. Force morale save from hirelings and mounts.
  • Crew of Chalchos- Share lotus-flower rations. Give good travel advise. Travel together and get lost. Give party a ride to a random coastal hex.
  • Damascus steel automaton warriors- Cordon off hex. Prevent party from leaving hex. Call for reinforcements. Conspicuously guard a hidden hex feature. Provide fine weapons.
  • Devil- Force morale save from mounts. Convert hex of one terrain type into one of another. Cause ill fortune— get lost, suffer more encounter checks, destroy infrastructure. Provide cigars.
  • Dire animal- Sunder a building. Leave tracks to or from a hidden hex feature.
  • Djinn- free space
  • Doppelgangers- Stalk for 1d6 days, waiting for a victim to split off. Provoke hirelings to test morale or turn the PCs out of rampant paranoia.
  • Dragons- Force morale save from hirelings and mounts. Convert wooded hexes to cinders. Abduct and host an interesting PC. Destroy bridges and towers.
  • Drow- poisoned blades do 1 damage each day come midnight and cannot be healed without a specialist in a settlement. Track the party and attack if they camp in a disadvantageous location. Offer to assassinate a target for a fee. Provide poison.
  • Dryads- Win over hirelings. Call out for nearby allies. Offer fruit from the branches.
  • Eunuchs- Forbid PCs to travel through the hex without the right paperwork. Transform urban hexes into mazes. Guide party to where they think they should go. Serve as advisors for a fee.
  • Fairy- Trick party into entering a portal to a nearby hex. Charm or spook hirelings. Ensorcel you to lose your way. Provide floating dust.
  • Feral dogs and kine- Be susceptible to domestication. Instinctively show the best route through the hex. Bite to transfer a disease that does 1 CHA damage each day come midnight and cannot be healed without a specialist in a settlement, ending in undomestication.
  • Fevered zombies- Force morale save from hirelings. Bite to transfer a disease that does 1 CON damage each day come sunset and cannot be healed without a specialist in a settlement, ending in zombification. Swarm in such numbers as to block off ingress or egress through the hex. Convert urban hexes into ruins.
  • Foreign spies- Give directions. Mislead. Share foreign cuisine.
  • Full-on war machine- Force morale save from hirelings and mounts. Destroy constructions or build with incredible strength. Follow party, slowly but surely. Bring on encounters with engineers and grease monkeys. Give a ride to the front.
  • Ghost- Confide location of hidden things in the hex. Haunt PCs night after night. Possess hireling. Provoke morale tests. Rebuff travelers from the hex. Bring on fog that makes the party lose its way. Provide ectoplasm.
  • Giant- Force morale save from hirelings and mounts. Pick up party and carry them somewhere else. Feed a giant morsel. Convert any hex into clear terrain.
  • Giant snails and their giant snail knights- Provide slow but sure mounts. Provide slime. Serve as retainers.
  • Giant toad- Give a great bellow that triggers another encounter roll. Temporarily flood hex. Carry prey to another hex.
  • Gladiator- Serve as a retainer. Guide through urban hexes. Teach a combat trick.
  • Gnolls- Track fleeing PCs for 1d4 days, attacking by night. Steal food. Guide through area. Serve as mercenaries.
  • Gnomes- Lead through hex. Offer mushrooms. Send off unliked offspring as hirelings.
  • Goblin nouveau riche- Get lost guiding PCs. Offer bits and bobs. Send off troublesome rivals as hirelings.
  • Great serpent- Force morale save from hirelings and mounts. Cut off travel with massive bulk. Give PCs a ride through water features.
  • Griffon- Serve as a mount to a worthy PC. Track quarry in proportion to their sin, then dive bomb out of nowhere in the middle of the day.
  • Hag- Give out advice for strange fees. Bedevil and make you lose your way or transport you to a nearby hex. Freak out hirelings. Heal. Provide potions and unwilling apprentices.
  • Harpies- Befoul rations. Serve as unreliable flying porters. Track for 1d12 days, bullying and dragooning each day. Point out your location to others, causing more encounter checks.
  • Hero king (stats as T. Rex)- Force morale save from hirelings. Build or destroy a great deal in a single day. Share the prophecy in which they are implicated.
  • Hippo- Destroy party's vessel. Territorially guard crossing in a hex.
  • Hyenas- Follow for 1d3 days, learning PCs' names and calling out to them in the night. Freak out hirelings while unseen. Guide the party to a landmark after they've gotten lost.
  • Manticore- Lead party to hidden features in the hex. Offer the foolish the chance to ride on its back. Impart a barb that inflicts 1d4 poison damage each day, unable to be removed saved by a trained healer. Provide barbs.
  • Messenger birds- Carry rumors from nearby hexes. Send letters to nearby hexes. Reveal hidden features in the hex.
  • Mimic- Reveal hidden features in the hex. Provide adhesive.
  • Minotaur- Serve as a specialist in engineering. Convert remote hexes into mazes. Threaten to hunt if the party doesn't turn back. Impart the history of a nearby ruler. Help the party solve logic puzzles and mysteries. Provide worked stone.
  • Mutant- Offer strange prophetic insight. Beg to serve as a hireling. Show the way past a nearby hazard. Provide goo.
  • Nymphs and Satyrs- Heal and provide rations. Entice party into a days-long bacchanal. Warn about nearby dangers. Provide wine.
  • Ogre- Carry party to their lair. Perform herculean labors or smash up the path the party needs to take. Gatekeep.
  • Ooze- Reduce hexes to wastes or monocultural pools. Provide goo.
  • Predatory plant- Bar travel through hex. Force the party to take a particular route. Provide fruit.
  • Proletarian ghouls- Bite to transfer a disease that does 1 Con damage each day come sunset and cannot be healed without a specialist in a settlement, ending in becoming a ghoul. Serve as ravenous hirelings. Guide through alleys and around corners.
  • Questing beast- Lead a hunting party of 3 or 4 other random encounters. Flee towards hidden features of the hex. Locate water.
  • Rebelian raiding parties- Slash with a wickedly curved blade that won't stop bleeding for 1 HP every day until treated by a trained healer. Serve as mercenaries. Provide stupid hats. Give a warcry that scatters hirelings. Build wooden fortifications. Guide through Rebelia.
  • Rebellious soldiers- Beg for food. Lead brazen trespasses into imperial redoubts. Lock down hexes. 
  • Rhinoceros- Force morale save from mounts. Cure  curses. Serve as a mount to the innocent. Guard secret features of hexes.
  • Roman legionnaire wannabes- Convert clear hexes into roads and hilly hexes into fortifications. Serve as mercenaries. Beat a forced march for three days straight. Pursue marks for three days.
  • Rust Monster- Destroy metal equipment.
  • Skeletons- Provide history in song. Scare hirelings. Reveal hidden features in a hex. 
  • Sphinx- Share prophetic insight. Bar a hex to those insufficiently clever. Identify disguised personages.
  • Spider merchant- Sell unique wares. Sell maps and navigational advice. Sell service as a middling engineer.
  • Statherides- Serve as mercenaries. Browbeat toll collectors and saunter through imperial redoubts. Lead the way and get lost.
  • Tiger- Stalk the party for 1d3 days, attacking when advantageous. Signify proximity to hidden dangers.
  • Troglodyte- Territorially defend the hex. Serve as mercenaries.
  • Unicorn- Force morale save from mounts. Cure  curses. Serve as a mount to the innocent. Guard secret features of hexes.
  • Urbanite orcs- Serve as guides to urban environments. Reveal hidden features in city hexes. Serve as mercenaries.
  • Vampire- Force morale save from mounts. Entice away hirelings. Offer historical knowledge and forgotten shortcuts.
  • Varangians deputized- Interrogate party for 1d4 days. Cordon off hex for crude investigations. Damage constructions.
  • Wandering crusaders- Join party and get them lost. Serve as mercenaries. Provide blessings and healing.
  • Wandering iconoclasts/iconodules- Demand icons. Serve as hirelings in tomb-robbing expeditions. Hide out in hidden features of hexes.
  • War elephants, feral- Force morale save from hirelings and mounts. Trump to make an extra encounter check. Provide ivory. If domesticated, serve as mount.