Saturday, June 23, 2018

Dungeon Summary: Leviathan

About three months ago I made a post for Leviathan. Not the deep sea creature of biblical myth, but the titanic living metaphor of State power.

Since then, I've been toiling and musing about how to use it for my two home campaigns. It's gone through several iterations. I think I'm ready for the nitty gritty work. It'll use one of these ideas as well.

The Leviathan Dungeon will be about three things:

1. (Un)Dead Arcology

2. Utilizing Language

3. Statecraft Magic

Mixed all together: a fallen Leviathan, the avatar of a now-dead State, preserved underground. Its arms of fortresses and churches, its body made from a nation's people. Its face the Face of The Sovereign. Its greatest servitors still shuffling about, undead. The Sovereign sits dead and defeated upon his throne of corpses, blood-rusted knife in back.

The walls in Leviathan, dead though they are, can still speak. They speak a hundred dead languages, each one tailored to a caste. It was a society where word was social standing. Where servants spoke a different language from the priests, who spoke a different language from the criminals, who spoke a different language from the Sovereign.

You know how in George Orwell's 1984, the government develops "Newspeak" in order to align peoples' capabilities of thought to limit their function to rebel? It's like that, but a bit more variation.

Some Remnants


Thousands upon thousands of peasant-class undead, holding up the structure of Leviathan to this day, because in their bequeathed artificial language there are no modes of "No", of negative. Linguistic-neurological workarounds were sealed. Their last command to form Leviathan stands, so even their dead bodies prop up the megastructure to this day.

Inquisitors of Word, with Staffs of Lingual-Interdiction, who still shuffle about, smiting heretical language where it may be found. To them, surface intruders will be as aliens. They will attempt to wipe all modes of communication in the invaders until there is naught but a blank slate. To lose all of one's languages is to become a disordering of chaotic neurons, stunned until some basic mode of understanding is imparted.

The Sovereign, a dead giant, who knew the Language of Command. Every command spoken was of the Command spell. Every word was a Power Word. Every phrase had internal-control forget-syllables to ensure that they could never be reused. Such terrible power, and still he was undone.

Carriers of the Betrayer Language - the disease that ultimately undid the culture. Those who know it are subconsciously driven to betrayal. To understand its words is to unknowingly flirt with disaster.

Babelers, gibbering monstrosities. As Mouthers but without eyes or teeth - they sense by word and breath. The people of the dead society fought and nearly eradicated them with the Deaf Legion, but not in entirety. Hearing their words scrambles comprehension. Those under the progressively worsening Gibbercurse acquire a neuro-associative disease to improperly associate word and object.

The Main Mechanic


Languages Known will be the mode of Hit Points in this dungeon. There will be mechanisms for bequeathing language, and mechanisms for taking it away. To lose all of ones Languages from the surface is to suffer an Ego death. To have nothing but Leviathan's languages is to submit to their culture.

To be left knowing only dead languages is quite a predicament indeed. Moreso for ones that limit modes of thought. Your languages from the surface, even they are savage like Gnoll or Orc, will save you when Common and Elvish are wiped out.

The Entrance


Before it all there is an office building-sized cavern, its entire height taken up by the serene face of The Sovereign. You enter at the face, right through the pupil. There, through the aperture, sits the Master, dead upon his throne.

Coincidentally, this captures the idea perfectly.
One Punch Man, S1E3

Additional outline posts TBD.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Weird Locks

The next thing I'm doing for Wizard City are d20 tables for Locks, Traps, Alarms, and Guards, intended to be used to quickly generate problems for a heist scenario.

For this first one I am deliberately avoiding the "there is a spell on this lock that triggers when it's messed with", or the "assemble the pieces of the Master Key", because those are quite common and kind of dull.

So, what's the purpose of Locks? For the purposes of a Wizard City campaign, a lock is designed to slow down, discourage, or otherwise prevent entry. It is expected that any wizard, given enough time, will be able to crack any lock, so they're not designed to be impenetrable.

(Note: For some of these, there is an assumption that time travel is an option to the players.)

What Lock Does This Place/Thing Have?

  1. Secret Handshake - Lock shaped as hand. Requires performing secret handshake with said hand. Failure and hand grabs your wrist and holds tight until reset by owner.
  2. Mystery Box - Internally dark box contains gross-feeling stuff, possibly extradimensional hole to some ethereal feeder. The Box will bite off anything that doesn't smell familiar.
  3. Crocodile Maw - Shaped as crocodile head. Requires feeding specific kind of meat to open lock.
  4. Knock Knock Lock - Jolly face engraved in metal. Requires speaking a knock knock joke to it, or it’ll shoot lasers at you.
  5. The Blind Eye - Eye embedded in lock, looks menacingly at anyone nearby. Contents may only be accessed as long as eye is closed. Eye closes as long as nobody looks at it. Opening eyes while accessing results in disintegration/stupidication/trap.
  6. My Hole - Lock contains person-sized outline of owner. Only someone of exactly their dimensions may enter. Popular with amputee wizards.
  7. Skunk Dust Keyhole - Unless correct key is used, lock shoots pheromones or a stinky stain-y dust from the keyhole, coating anyone nearby. The smell and dust are nearly impossible to get off.
  8. Quantum Lock - Until observed, lock is both simultaneously unlocked and locked. Once observed it will permanently be in one or the other state for any particular person. Typically used in tandem. Flip a coin for each person observing. On heads it’s unlocked for them. Tails, locked. Do this for each lock and each person separately.
  9. Heart Sacrifice - Requires still-beating human heart to be plugged into system to open.
  10. Poison Wine Lock - A classic. Table arrayed with goblets each containing different and distinct wines. Drinking one in entirety will open lock. Some are just nice wine. Some are deadly poison. (The alternative to this, the Keg Lock, requires one to chug an entire keg of beer to unlock)
  11. Gossip Statue - Very intrigued-looking wooden statue of person in eavesdropping or whisper-receiving pose. Requires whispering someone’s personal secret into the statue’s ear. Owner can extract these from statue at will.
  12. Gordian Lock - A twisted rope tied in an incomprehensibly complex knot. Only one destined to rule can cut it in one swipe. Only the one who ties it can untie it. Everyone else can either muddle their way through trying to untie it, or slowly chop their way through. Either way takes a serious investment of time.
  13. N-Dimensional Sequential Move Puzzle - A rubix cube, but higher than 4th dimensional. Nobody less than a savant of puzzles could even attempt to crack this rotating non-euclidian nightmare. Probably also contains a demon.
  14. Art Critic - A snooty little man-lock requires you show him a piece of good art. Will dismiss all but from well-established artists.
  15. 1000 Year Lock - Metal lock “blooms” (opens) once only every 1000 years for exactly one day. If you miss your chance that’s it… Or maybe time travel.
  16. Singing Lock - Requires one to sing harmoniously with its programmed tune. Typically requires either a high alto or a deep bass. Make sure to have the players attempt this themselves.
  17. Celestial Sphere Lock - Lock only becomes visible at specific time on specific day of the year. Typically involves sunlight or moonlight beams bouncing all over the place and being all dramatic.
  18. Picky Flower - Flower requires proper combination of water, salinity, pH, and nutrients in order to bloom. Bulb of flower, when blooming, opens portal to extradimensional space. Some flowers require special solutions, like watering with acid, springwater from the fountain of youth, or fetal human serum.
  19. Beard Test - Your wizard beard must be at least this wizardly to unlock this portal! Looks like a from-the-waist-up robotic barber, but it measures the quality of your wizard beard on a couple big spools. Beard must have minimum length, width, volume, and wizardiness.
  20. Cat Herding Lock - Requires that X number of cats be sitting atop a pedestal. Usually in the 20-30 range. Cats are typically scattered throughout the estate for exactly this purpose. Most common method is training them with Pavlovian response (such as a bell) to come for food.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wizard Punishment


Okay, so... If you're running a campaign about wizard crime in a wizard city, the question inevitably comes up: what do the police do with criminals? What's the deal with crime and punishment? Are there magical trials and juries and judges and lawyers? Is Wizard Prison a thing?

The answer is: No.

Judge Death, a respectable wizard in his own right.

...Kinda?

With literally everyone having capabilities of forging evidence at a moment's notice (illusory witnesses, mind control, conjuring a paper trail, etc.), trials are kind of pointless. Police have to act Judge Dredd style. They see crime, they punish crime.

And no matter how many bells, whistles, alarm spells, anti-magic fields, magical guardians and all that jazz you put in it, a Wizard Prison that's basically just some stone walls that wizards sit in is about the most mundane and unimaginative way to deal with crime. Would Wizards really stand for that?

I mean, sure, you could potentially do a session about a jail break. That might be fun.

But that's against the spirit of the thing. Why have Wizard Prison when you can throw your criminals into the future?


So, You've Broken Wizard Law, Eh? 
Well, You're Getting Tossed Into a Volcano, Or...

  1. Mind Prison. Inception style. Inescapable mind maze until your "term" is up. 24 Hour stay in some basement somewhere while your mind spends 1d10x100 years within itself. Severely rots Wisdom.
  2. New Brain. From less criminally-inclined person... supposedly. Same body, whole new personality and mental stats.
  3. Merge Souls. With a fairly decent fellow. Maybe he'll mild you out... Or not! Roll stats and/or traits for new character, then average them with yours.
  4. Launched Into Dimension Beyond Space and Time. Get a new perspective on things. Definitely won't be coming back the same. Find the craziest things-happen-to-you table you can find and roll on that.
  5. Released. An oracle vouched that you'd never commit a crime again. Problem solved!
  6. Wizard Gladiatorial Arena. Survive and you get off totally free!
  7. Judged by Eon Eye. Disintegrates you on the spot if it sees a better cosmic future for doing so. Simple method: Flip a coin. Complex method: Eon Eye spares you, but now some extra-dimensional ne'er-do-well wants to end you to create a worse cosmic future.
  8. Thrown Into the Future! About 10d20 years or so. You'd have thought that someone would have figured out that this was a bad policy by now, as the city is constantly receiving past criminals thrown from past into the present.
  9. Police Wires. Just about every clairvoyance and scrying spell imaginable gets surgically implanted within body/brain. Will transmit every word you say and spell you cast directly to the police. Removal will kill you. They'll know where to find you, always.
  10. Temporary Suspension of Magic. Only temporary. Nobody would be so cruel as to permanently take away a Wizard's magic.
  11. Stripped of Wizard Rank. If any. Enjoy being an intern!
  12. The Dunce Cap of Dumbheads. Forced to wear hat that severely hampers intellect. General populace will laugh at you.
  13. Just Kidding! Volcano It Is!
  14. Old Lady Ghost with Spray Bottle. Materializes and shouts "BAD! BAD!" and sprays you with water whenever you're about to do something an old lady wouldn't approve.
  15. Confiscating Your Shit. Cops just take your stuff. Anything and everything you've got on you.
  16. Morality Wasp. Magical wasp periodically stings you somewhere sensitive until you do a deed as good as your crime was bad.
  17. Mo-RON Induction. They put your brain in a jar. (Awesome Mo-RON body not included, only jar.)
  18. A Few Minutes in the CHAMBER OF INCOMPREHENSIBLE TORTURE. They love talking this one up. Nobody can remember exactly what happens in it. Random stat drain.
  19. Groundhog Day. Relive the last 24 hours over and over until you stop being such a nard.
  20. Spell Debt. Every day you must report to the station and cast some spells to help make wands until your debt is paid, with interest. This will probably run you into the Wandmaker's Union.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Goldsoul Mines Part 4

Deep Lake Caverns 


Chobar Gufa Cave, Nepal. Image Source Heath Werrett

Finally got off my ass and finished it, for the most part.


I'm going to compile all of these parts, try and iron out the inconsistencies, and see how it looks from there.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Bootleg Spells

Wizard City has a spell patent system. Here are the quick rules:

  • Any spell that incorporates a Name in your rule set is patented. (e.g. Gary’s Gigantic Goat)
  • If there are no named spells in your rule set, select a few to have names. (Table to be made soon)
  • One must either purchase rights to cast patented spells, or use them illegally. The bureaucracy that keeps track of who bought what is notoriously inept.
  • The right to cast any particular spell is about as much as thrice the cost to copy it into one’s spellbook. These rights typically last for a year.
  • Illegally using a patented spell summons the Patent Police. They arrive in force to the scene in 4d4 Rounds after cast. Generally speaking they are excessively destructive, and have a tendency to shoot first then ask questions. This should quickly end whatever conflict is happening.
  • Bootleg Spells are a thing. They are potentially dangerous but don’t summon the Patent Police.
  • Some Bootleg Spells are more fun than the original.

Giles Woodward made this.
Bootleg Spells


Original
Spell Name
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Magic Missile
Marvin’s Moderately Collateral Projectiles
Every third missile veers off into semi-random target. Makes loud fireworks noises. Veering missiles prioritize innocent bystanders.
Cure Wounds
Dr. Flasnaw’s Fantastic Medicinal Cure-All!
1 in 6 chance of: 1) Temporary blindness. 2) Grow identical tumor twin-head out of neck. 3) Head turning 180-degrees. 4) Passing a snake. 5) Skin turning neon yellow 6) Kidney Failure
Prestidigitation
Mordimort’s Magical Magnificience
50% chance that hands catch on fire. Actual fire, not illusory.
Color Spray
Ginny’s Glitterbomb
Doesn’t spray color, just explodes a metric ton of glitter at targets. Same spell effect. Not even magical dry cleaning can remove all of the glitter.
Comprehend Languages
Percival’s Personal Polyglot
Summons magical kindergartener to translate for you. They understand what’s being said but just don’t have a very sophisticated vocabulary yet.
Hideous Laughter
Harry’s Horrible Har-de-har
Everyone affected, in addition to laughing uncontrollably, also begins vomiting and shitting their pants uncontrollably. Also affects caster.
Knock
Martha’s Master Key
Loudly explodes thing open, 50% chance of damaging caster.
Suggestion
Roald’s Reverse Psychology
60% chance that the target will do the exact opposite of what you told them to.
Web
Weber’s Web
Same spell, but it smells… musky. Gross.
Fireball
Timur’s Time Bomb
Fireball detonates 1d4 rounds after cast, add 5ft to radius for every round delayed. This roll is made secretly by GM.
Phantom Steed
Nani’s Noble Steed
Takes the form of an old donkey, speed is 20ft slower than normal steed.
Invisibility
Gyges’s Great Devisualization
1 in 3 chance that the caster is not actually invisible, but cannot be convinced that they aren’t.
Gentle Repose
Pat’s Preservation
It just dumps about 10 gallons of formalin on the body. Does nothing beyond that.
Magic Mouth
Sally’s Sassy Mouth
Mouth only delivers message once, then it will loudly complain about everything and anything, particularly the caster.
Dimension Door
Reginald’s Rematerialization
Creates exact copy of persons at target location, murders originals. 50% chance that original will have incompletely disintegrated, and will emerge along with copy, painfully burning and screaming as they turn to ash before your eyes.
Geas
Gunny’s “Get Me A Beer”
1 in 4 chance that the target, instead of intended compulsion, goes to get the caster a beer.
Magnificent Mansion
Cob’s Crackhouse
Summons extradimensional crackhouse for you and your friends to romp around in! Even comes with its own crackheads, oh boy!
Clone
Raggathar’s Replication
The Clone must grow as a tumorous conjoined twin during the gestation process. Eventually separates but must be connected by umbilical cord until used. Also the Clone probably wants to kill you and absorb your nutrients.
Wish
Wilhelm’s Wish
Same as original, except that the only Wish you can wish for is to be erotically pummeled by several dominatrixes dressed as clowns.

Original
Spell Name
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Finger of Death
Stubb’s Stink Eye
Summons grisly, dirty old man to give target the Stink Eye of Death. 1 in 6 cumulative chance he’ll wheel around and give it to the caster instead.
Reverse Gravity
Velma’s Variable Vector
No control over the direction of the gravity shift. Completely random. Direction changes once during spell’s duration.
Magic Jar
Mogrom’s Mason Jar
Causes target to shrink down and be trapped inside a mason jar. They do not need sustenance. They are helpless and cannot cast magic. They may, however, make loud commentary that can be heard well outside the jar.
True Seeing
Neville’s Near-Hit
Incapable of visualizing clothes, except underwear.
Stone to Flesh
Stephanie’s Stone to Bleh
Oh, it’ll unpetrify someone, but it also turns them into a (figurative) bag of goo. Target becomes lethargic, depressed, and won’t want to be moved around at all.
Circle of Death
Cobok’s Circle of Slow And Painful Death
Takes a rather long time with killing someone. Instead of insta-death, it causes a very slow, painful, drawn-out death. Requires 1d10 minutes to kill someone with this spell, during which they’ll be impatiently dying but totally in control of their faculties. Requires target to remain in circle the entire duration.
Jump
Pearson’s Pole Vault
Summons magical spring-pole to vault upon. 10% chance of hilariously listing to the left or right. 5% chance of catapulting backwards.
Legend Lore
Bueller’s Bargain Bin Book
Summons an outdated school textbook from which you can learn about the chosen subject. 60% chance of being oversimplified, historically un-factual, and politically incorrect.
Dream
Desmond’s Dream… With a Guy Named Larry In It.
Largely works as intended, although every instance will produce an appearance of Larry in the dream. Larry is just your average office worker, who loudly eats potato chips in his striped shirt and khakis while watching the dream with interest. He insists upon being ignored and to “go on and continue the show”.
Cone of Cold
Connie’s Cone of Cold
Due to translation error, has a 20% chance of giving all in target area a minor cold instead of freezing them to death.
Faithful Hound
Voltairn’s Very Good Boy
Rather than summoning an invisible hunter-killer phantom hound, it just summons a normal domesticated phantom dog. You can pet it, it borks at things, and loves belly rubs. Doubtful how great it’ll be for biting stuff, though.
Private Sanctum
Mark’s Man-Box
It’s private, for sure! It just smells like a damn men’s locker room in there. There are loads of crushed beer cans around, and anyone entering must save to avoid gagging.
Contact Other Plane
Grandma Phoebe’s Phone The Pharmacist
Summons ancient rotary phone for which you can attempt to call your destination, inevitably fail, then call the operator’s number, have to talk to the chatty operator for 10 minutes, who will finally, maybe, connect you to the wrong number.
Hallucinatory Terrain
Feeb’s Far-Out Experience
Doesn’t craft illusion so much as get everyone involved really really high, who then actually hallucinate alien landscapes
Stone Shape
Dick’s Dimorphic Stone Shape
Perfectly functional, though a bit awkward, as every stone you shape must be composed of stone-dicks. Options include many many small dicks, plenty of slight-larger-than-average dicks, a few really big dicks, or one massive dick.
Polymorph
Cicero’s Chickenmorph
Only functions if the target is being turned into some kind of chicken: small chicken, big chicken, fried chicken, etc.
Haste
Toshley’s Time Dilation
10% chance that caster will freeze time, provoking the Time Police to have to show up and fix everything. Penalties range from “Getting Off Easy” to “Time Jail”.
Detect Thoughts
Kelvin’s Kink Shame
50% chance while using that you’re going to find out a lot more about this person than you wanted, and nothing else.
Feather Fall
Falala’s Feather Bed
Instead summons a bed of feathers to fall upon. Hope you aren’t wearing anything sticky...