Friday, January 18, 2019

How Do Wizards Gamble?

Y'know what I really like in my city supplements? Terse evocative mini-dungeons, 10-15 rooms or so. Modular things that you can use for whatever reason suits your blackened little dungeon master heart. 3's a good number of dungeons in a city. Or one big one.

Le Restaurant Tranquille is a good high level mini-dungeon*. Ergo, the next two should be lower level things (1-3 for low or 4-7 for mid). What's a versatile dangerous place that we can adapt to be far more dungeon-y than such a place in a sane locale would be? How about a casino? What do horrible corrupt wizards use a casino to gamble on?

I'll tell you what: anything they want. Anything.

"Oh what a shame, it appears you've run out of years, Mister Smith. Goodbye!"
*I wrote this weeks ago, and since then LRT went from having, like, 15 rooms to having 50. So.... Crap.

Let's baseline assume that any speculative currency from that d100 list (see link) can be gambled on, up to and including Secrets, Memories, Years of Good Health, Alliances, Languages Known, Firstborn Children, Awkward Conversations, Relatives, Brains In Jars, etc. etc. etc.

Let's assume Spellgold can also be gambled on (also see link), potentially allowing a lucky lowly cretin to double or nothing up to a level 9 spell.

That leaves a few questions.

Who're the dealers? Who's the House?
What do sick and twisted minds gamble on?
And how do we leverage these to dungeon-ify our casino?

I give this transaction 2/10. Not enough child sacrifices.

Saint Manti's

(The Manticore)

The 14 5/8th's Street Gang doesn't allow other gangs into their speakeasies, so if a criminal wants to gamble their earnings, they need to head to Saint Manti's, also known as The Manticore. It is a den of blasphemy, depravity, and opportunity. Anything can be yours at Saint Manti's, provided you're willing to gamble it away.

"Oracles, Prophets, and Cheaters will be fed to The Manticore"
- St. Manti's Management

That doesn't stop people from trying, of course.

Manticore Idea Dump

- Saint Manti's was the very last church in Wizard City. They couldn't afford the rent. Every last thing in the church (including the congregation) was repossessed by the new management.

- New Management being a three-headed giant, a very drunk devil, and the most boring, ruthless, and deadly accountant to ever walk the earth.

- Smal, Mal, and Al occupy the same body of broad and tall proportions. Smal sees and hears only the past. Mal experiences the present just as you and I. Al can only witness the future. All three of them are very very confused. They deal with cheaters and oracles.

- The Master of Games is drunk. Also he's the devil. Or one of them, anyway. Use either title. There's a betting pool a hundred years in the making to guess the devil's true name. You too can buy in, if you risk your soul. Pot's up to forty-two souls!

- Dublina Cors is the most boring and dangerous money changer you'll ever meet. She looks and talks like a long-nailed thumb, but there's no currency she can't convert. Has a master's degree in transmutation, but couldn't get a job after graduation for health reasons. Took the job after selling her soul to pay for student loans.

- Patrons play dice on the altar. Tell dirty jokes in the choir. Burn cheap incense in dirty old shoes and swing them about like censers. The nave is a gambling den. The narthex has cashiers.

- "The Manticore" is, in fact, the last remaining statue of St. Manti, vandalized and dressed up to give him all the proper appendages of the monstrous beast. St. Manti had a very stern wrinkly old man face, so it lends well to the new look. Known for his grim rebukes of liars and cheats, the statue still has the power to discern the untruthful - his open mouth bites down on swindlers. The Master of Games enjoys cooking and eating the severed hands.

- Currencies and betting varies wildly from day to day. Roll a few times to see the top three currencies presently being used, and which games are being played. Do this every time you come back. For example:

Today, people are betting: Secrets, Years of Bad Health, Personal Freedoms, Screaming Books, and Patents.

By betting on: Hangman, Mo-RON pit fights, City Council Meetings, Dice With Death, and "Blackjack!".

- Integrated Dealer/Betting Currency/Game Type/Patron/Thing Happening table. Ex:

An octopus is taking bets of...
Ironically cursed objects, on...
Interns remembering and performing lines of a saucy play, with...
That is definitely three children in a trench coat, and...
Nobody understands anything that's happening, but they're rolling with it.

- Infinity Hotel tie-in

- Random encounter generator based off of Craps, rolled by players.

- Llamas.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The City of Truth

Part 2 - The City of Truth
Part 3 - Factions, Encounters, and Futures (TBD)

The City of Truth, more so than other metropoles, lies on planes more metaphysical than real. It is a city of Mind, of Idea, of uncertainty and of hope. More important than where and when and how the City is, is why. Why is City of Truth?

The drug-addled brain of the ex-philosopher Chartanue once declared that The City is because its people are. They exist, hence does the city. And because its people are largely Falselings (Tieflings) - people who, by extraordinary circumstance, have rejected their False reality - The City is a city of Truth. For Truth can only exist in opposition to Falseness - something the Falselings are well-acquainted with.

The Foundation

A mathematician will tell you that the interconnected matrices of the understandings of Falselings' realities form the foundation of the city.

A philosopher might tell you that the foundation of the city is philosophy. And since philosophy happens upon this place, it is hence a city.

A metaphysicist will tell you that the intersection of the metaphysical planes forms the foundation - Planes of Anonymity, Freedom, Politics, Mercantilism, Plurality, and Complexity.

A revolutionary will tell you that the foundation of the city is change, for struggle finds more purchase within the walls than without.

A child will tell you that a mountain forms the foundation of the city.
The immortal children call it Mt. Veritas.

Regardless of what it really is, The Foundation is wide and well-supported. It has many crags and dips, small shrines and gathering places upon flat plateaus. One can easily find a niche in The Foundation, and one niche easily reaches others. There are places to cloister away, though there is nowhere to truly hide. Everyone finds themselves in the the presence of at least one other at all times. This is where Falselings awaken.

The New World

Every once in a while a Falseling will come upon someone new. They will simply, at that moment, conjure into existence. Found, perhaps, cloistered in a fetal position beneath a rock; or just around the corner, gazing up into the sky; or with a gentle tug, as you're suddenly holding hands. The event is rarely traumatic and often somewhat perplexing. What follows is referred to as "The Waiting".

The Waitings are the reactions and questions of one person to another. Usually, it's a series of interrogatives by the new person to the old. Sometimes it is some calming intimate gesture - a stare, a hug, a silence. Rarely it is dangerous, but it is known to happen - those who accidentally stumble upon Truth have a greater tendency than others of violence and falsities than their willing counterparts.

The Waiting is considered by most to be a sacred ritual. Those that Wait have a peculiar power over their newer peer, being the first of the True Realm to interact, and it is expected that this opportunity should not be wasted. The aesthetes and the poets claim that there is a particular unbreakable metaphysical bond between The Waiter and The New. They are declared soulmates by some. They oft become acquaintances. Plenty become friends. Some never speak again, though they will remember the first person they met.

The Foundation is the only place where The Waiting happens, hence, the City of Truth is built upon it.

What One Does Not in the City of Truth

One does not Lie.
Lies, opposed from Error, come in various severity: things like pride, modesty, propaganda, proclaiming undue authority, proclamation derived from ignorance. All warrant reprimand, though there are few but the oldest and most fastidious of Falselings who can detect all falsities. A mild lie will warrant a warning, particularly if the Falseling is new. A horrid or treacherous lie will warrant immediate punishment.

One does not make Fire.
Fire is False. And the climate is very hot anyways. Fires are unnecessary and unwanted. Magical flame is right out. Lightning strikes that create fire are treated with fear and dread.

One does not Hold another against their will.
Criminal arrests are exempted. Broadly interpreted and easily understood by the populace. This means grappling is outlawed (even for sport), as is kidnapping and slavery. Enchantment is considered to be a highest transgression of these sorts.

One does not Murder.
There is no punishment for manslaughter. Or beating. Or maiming. But neither is there punishment for fighting back. Those who do, though, tend to run afoul of the other laws. Were the City not filled with alien peoples, this law would be exploited often and treacherously.

One does not Conspire.
Dialogue is famously allowed, however. And it is easy to argue that one was merely participating in quiet conversation, rather than sharing secrets. Politics, in the way that we understand them, is banned. Instead, factions develop along lines of thought, bordered and divided by fact that brain and body alone are murky lenses for Truth.

For transgressions, there is one punishment and one punishment only: Expulsion. They take you across the surrounding desert and release you far away from the city. There is nothing preventing you from simply returning, other than the journey back being more treacherous than the journey there. The desert is dangerous, and one will run afoul of predator, demon, and pilgrim alike. Finding and arriving at the City of Truth is far harder than leaving it, though plenty risk the journey and scores perish or disappear along the way. Most Tieflings you meet outside the City were expelled in such a way.

Not a fun journey.
By pokepetter

What One Does

The question of what one does in the City is a function of what one does with Truth. Does one discover Truth? Explore Truth? Barter and trade and bicker with Truth? Do they hold Truth tight to their chest, secreted and hoarded like petty baubles? Do they proselytize Truth from high places, or do they whisper it in dark corners?

For the adventuring sort, the City offers two commodities: Truth and Knowledge. There are no markets or industry. All resources are imported as alms. There is little treasure and, that which exists is largely ethereal. You will never find a magic sword in the City of Truth; but, you may learn the Truth of Steel, the platonic ideal of Cut, or the curvature the Plane of Power.

More actionable stuff for adventures in Part 3...

Monday, January 7, 2019

Cowpie Mushrooms Gets a Bryce Review

Oh man, did I not expect this!

Cowpie Mushrooms gets Bryce Review

Now I better get working on that version two I mused about...

The adventure is free on the blog, right here: 

(Note: This picture does not declare my intention that I thought the review was cow shit.
The adventure is literally about cow shit.
Hence a picture of mushrooms on cow shit.)
Pic Source

Friday, January 4, 2019


Part 1 - Falselings
Part 3 - Factions, Encounters, and Futures (TBD)

Zion, from The Matrix, at least portrayed in the box office films, felt like a missed opportunity for me. Here you have an entire city (albeit a planned one) of people who have rejected the reality of the Matrix or consciously form their reality around its rejection, by whatever cause or reason, and the most we get of their culture are: looking like refugees, sexy slow motion dancing, and passive-aggressive tribunals.

What is a city when its entire populace consists of those who rejected the previous reality? When the previously insane, the philosophers, the drug-users, the oracles, the aesthetes, the ascetics, the undisturbed schizophrenics, the revolutionaries, the dreamers, the champions, the poets, and the freedom fighters form a society, surely there must be more?

And Tieflings are quite popular among 5e folk (my home group included), so I might as well kill two birds with one stone here.

I'm quite fond of this guy here (by Matthew Adams), and this post here.

Falselings (Tieflings in the vernacular) come into this world when they reject the Falsehood of their previous reality. There are many ways this can come about, but the line of commonality between them all is that they are extraordinary people. Not necessarily exemplary, mind you, but extraordinary.

They come from a False Realm, counterpart to ours, a plane of opposite conditional operators on a cosmic scale. It is a place of Falsehood with a capital "F", in which, by its own rules of reality, one may find truth and fact as well as any scientist or observer could in any consistent realm. There is, however, no Truth (big "T"). Even in statements devoid of contradiction within their own context (i.e. "all numbers that are integrally divisible by 4 are also integrally divisible by 2") will be False. Few will observe this, however. And if they can it is taken for granted and unquestioned.

Except by the Falseling.

They skew towards above-average Charisma and Intelligence, for the circumstances and professions listed above, of which a cross section reveals.

Their Darkvision is a product of their awakening, for in their previous life only darkness has been seen. 

The Innate Spells are remembered remnants of the False Reality, in which they may regretfully conjure. 

Flame, vestiges of lying tongues, has little effect upon them for it is Untrue.

You were a(n)...
But now...
And your mark is...
What was mournful is joyous. Dirges are celebrations. Does the melancholy give way to hope, or will you persist?
A teardrop flame hovers just above your forehead. As you gain inspiration it grows in size.
What new systems of oppression approach from the distance?
Your hair is replaced by spines, they grow long and sharp.
You have crawled out from the shadowed cave and into the sun. What does this new light of Truth promise?
There is a hole in your head which can be seen straight through. You could thread a string through it.
The voices have quieted forever. You may live your life, now in uninterrupted clarity.
Tall eyes and no ears. You now “see” sounds, like color or smell.
You have done it. The gate has been breached! Enlightenment! At last, your abstinence is no longer required.
The flesh holds tight to your bones, no matter the excess.
All your conceptions of beauty are inappropriate and strange. They do not hold water in this new place.
The ears, nose, and eyes are enlarged and sensitive.
Split Personality
You stand, face to face, with the aspects of yourself. From each personality a new vessel has been divided. You and your mind are whole and indivisible.
Any number of twins, one for each personality. They may be conjoined. You may have multiple heads, each for one.
This place feels more real than the waking world. You feel real... but will it always be so?
Roots grow from the skull like bonsai trees stretching to become dragonfly wings.
Drug Addict
The substance and all dependency on it has been cleansed from your body and mind. You are sober.
A long prehensile tail with a mind of its own. It behaves like a nanny, constantly mothering and scolding you.
The visions have stopped. The chain of events is broken. This experience was meant to be, but now the future is uncertain.
The eyes are opaque and glow with a muted light, like a deep sea fish.
Dementia Patient
The veil that has clouded your mind has been lifted, but with it has gone all memory.
Amnesia of before, but now a perfect memory. Birthmarks shaped like major life events coat your skin.
You have peaked, but beyond this mountain lies a greater one still. Your old glorious body is gone, replaced by this form.
Your joints bend backwards, though still functional.
Everything you had known is wrong, and now you can prove it.
Incalculable false proofs are imprinted on your skin in ni-unreadably small font, giving the impression of spots.
Blind, Deaf, and Dumb
You experience the world as a babe: everything is new, and nothing is taken for granted.
A resonating crystal bell on the sternum - People nearby start to experience your emotions as you do.
Do these strange skies always tell lies?
A faint halo of celestial light surrounds your wrists and ankles. Not visible during the day.
Your adaptation to this new place will be swift. Power of a True nature is yours for the taking. You are immortal.
You do not age and you do not grow. Your body shall remain a child’s forever.
You must hide your past and your memories, for there were only false prophets in the False Realm.
A forked tongue, which you must hide for your own safety.
What happened to the party? You have one hell of a hangover.
Your fingers, hands, and nails all double in length.
The incomprehensible pain and terror has torn open the veil of reality. In this new place you feel different.
A long neck, twice the length as before. You also feel no pain, though may experience discomfort.
You are humbled. The powers by which you have derived your authority are utterly distant. You are in an unceasing, muted pain.
A crown of nails, embedded under your skin, forever. Every second the spikes prick at your brain and your thoughts. It is worse when you attempt to exercise authority.

Next post: The City of Truth