Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Practitioners of Paronym

Source, also this site is insanely useful for this post)

The Five Schools of Mancy

Practitioners of Paronym
This is an insane subclass. Only a masochistic person would play it.
Or maybe someone who's very good at Scrabble and crossword puzzles.

The idea is that you take a magic class: Magic-User, Wizard, Bard, whatever.

You give them access to every single spell of a spell level they could cast.

You only allow them to cast any particular spell only exactly once. For the entire campaign.

You give them to ability to change the effect of a spell by changing the name of the spell...

Still with me? Okay!

There are a couple of ways to do this. I think I prefer a point system. Give them a certain number of points per long rest/day. Maybe caster level x 2 or something. For each point they spend they may perform one alteration on a spell.

Each point spent will either add a letter, subtract a letter, or substitute a letter for another. Spaces and removing spaces are free.

For example: Paromancer Bob wants to cast Shocking Grasp, but oh! That's boring. Instead he's going to spend 1 point and cast Shocking Grass. Or perhaps the less-effective sounding Shocking Gasp. Maybe he wants to spend 2 points and cast Shocking Grate, or Shocking Ass

Yes, this means coming up with effects and damage on the fly. I warned you earlier.

I think a good way to go about it is this rule of thumb: the more useless the spell sounds like it would be except in this specific scenario, the more powerful the effect is. The more effective the spell sounds like it would be for most scenarios, the less powerful it is.

So like, say you need to hide something quickly. The secret magic police are about to kick your door down and you gotta hide the stash. You've been saving this gem for a while: you throw the stash up on the bookcase, and cast Disguise Shelf. Super effective. How the hell else are you going to use Disguise Shelf, anyways? Maybe if there's, like, a Shelf Elemental or an Animated Shelf or some such nonsense, but what are the odds?

Whereas Hideous Slaughter, hoo. Maybe only moderately effective? Maybe frighteningly effective only once. Seems like a spell that would be useful often.

Anyways, here are some example spells. Half the fun is coming up with your own, though, finding that perfect combination that's just what you need.

(There are all 1-pointers, btw)

Magic Moth
Manic Circle
Arcane Ewe
Conjure Miner Elementals
Leomund's Secret Chess
Contact Otter Plane
Wall of Farce
Chin Lightning
Guards and Bards
Otto's Irresistible Lance
Wall of Lice
Prismatic  Pray
Control Leather
Power Word: Kilt


In the Infinity Hotel, the Practitioners of Paronym are one of the five Schools of Mancy - Paromancy to be precise. They gather around the Lexicon of Infinite Language and its neverending pages to ever expand the possibility space of their magic.

They take in recruits, but good luck getting some face time with the Lexicon. There may be infinite pages, but only so many people can read it at once. Lines in the Infinity Hotel are a special kind of hell.

They have a leader. His name is Eric Grizwald. A stout man in glorious golden-blue embroidered robes with a big red beard. And like how Judge Dredd upholds the law, Eric Grizwald upholds the structure of language... with extreme prejudice.

Just imagine, for a second, if the Practitioners of Paronym weren't contained by grammar or semantics. Eric Grizwald can imagine, and he'll do everything in his power to ensure that the sanctity of language is maintained. It helps that he's the most powerful Paromancer alive, with the vocabulary of a Scrabble champion and the memory of a griot. He intends to keep it that way.

Any rogue Paromancers will be promptly put down with Grice's Razor, a supercooled sword of the assumed-pragmatic reality. This Razor is particularly effective on Paromancers, and it has the irritable ability of ensuring that pragmatic hypotheses become reality.

(If you want to school me on what Gricer's Razor actually means, and how its mythical Infinity Hotel sword would actually function, well here ya go: help yourself )

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Deadwind Archipelago (Part 3)

(There are multiple places I found this image. If anyone knows the original artist let me know and I'll make a link here.)

Neverage Isle

Nothing ever ages on Neverage Isle. Eggs never hatch, ruins never crumble, butterflies can't be. An ancient predator stalks its cancer jungle, hoarding the agelessness for itself.

Among the ancient toppled trees, grown so large their biology can't handle their size, are pre-apocalyptic ruins untarnished by time, hidden prehistoric eggs not yet hatched. A glimmering golden tower with gaudy-colored murals and perfectly waxed floors remains lost in a brush-choked valley, containing treasures ripe for the picking. Its inhabitants were probably eaten by the apex predator.

I went with a giant tumor-y flailsnail. Silly, I know. But somehow I liked the idea of a slow, stretchy, careful predator. It buries itself in the sands, waiting months for prey, to swallow it up in a moment. Or it waits, exhausting its prey, a stealthy mountain waiting to unleash an avalanche of sticky flails. 

That, or any sort of predator that, given enough time, could learn its way to apex predator.

Obviously, there must be some selectiveness to the whole never-aging thing. Metabolism functions. Things can die if they are killed. Things can starve to death. Things that don't probably subsist on fish just off the shore. Some disease must function? I dunno.

Some Encounters/Ideas:
1. Garcia Alberto de Greel, Duke of the destroyed Kingdom, obsessed with immortality and finding the fountain of youth (and found it - the whole island), scared and alone.
2. The Apex is swallowing a beached whale whole.
3. A tumorous man grown large sacs of flesh out of his back, while never aging has nevertheless declined in faculties. Surprisingly quick and utterly savage.
4. Four thousand year old cheese in an unrefrigerated box in the Golden Tower. Worth a small fortune to cheese aficionados.
5. An unhatched Roc egg perched precariously atop a long abandoned and wind-eroded nest. Any sous chef or bird breeder would pay a fortune for it.
6. A banana-sized chrysalis hanging from a dew-y leaf. Take it off the island and the Millennium Butterfly will hatch, slowly. It will take months or years. When it finishes it will grant those who witness it a Wish.
7. Giant macrophage rolling over the land with its long sticky tendrils, seeking intruders.
8. Dimenis Huzhoksky has been castaway and seven months pregnant for seven years. She wants off this bloody island so she can rid herself of this damned child, who's grown intelligent in the womb and has been kicking her insides opportunistically. If born this child will eventually turn into the Anti-Christ.

Mansion on the Waves

A baroque mansion on the surface of the sea. The entire thing is an illusion.

And not a very powerful one, either. One can easily clip through any part of it - the story-tapestried walls, the mahogany floors, the marble ceiling, the taxidermy furniture. Whatever mansion this is based on, they had wealth and taste.

The only real bit is a sandbar in which the illusion's source is based. And the carnivorous fish whose spawning grounds rest in the reef in the illusory basement. There, in the dark, fake stone and sharp coral intermix at uncompositional angles.

Buried in the sandbar is a wizard's time capsule. A few spell scrolls, some curiosities, and the skull of Duma Borin which is producing the mansion illusion. The illusion can be dispelled by targeting the skull. But if you don't, the illusion will move as you move the skull. Someone can think of devious uses for this.

Other possibilities:
- A spell in an open book, or otherwise some useful knowledge on the second floor. Players would need to gain elevation somehow to see into it.
- The skull of Duma Borin, when touched, turns the illusion real.
- The skull teleports you to the actual mansion in its actual location, a few hundred miles to the west.
- Reef monsters. Something coming from multiple directions that grapples and pulls. Mini-kraken?

Fate Eater Isle

A near-violet coral outcropping barely rising above the waves. Here one may shed their name and destiny upon Tiamat's altar. Waves on the coral make sounds like electricity. Other than that it is utterly silent - though the wind blows it makes no sound.

Upon the low peak is a beholding hand of red coral, upon that is the altar. There are two things:

The Rainbow Coral Knife can carve away your heritage or your future. Cut your ears, flay your scales, or barber your beard and you will become a human. Bring the knife to your face, cut it off, and it will take your future. Any prophesies or destinies are now void. They belong to Tiamat now.

The Obsidian Burning Basin can consume your name or your past. Something precious, something central to your identity must be burnt, and it must be watched to burn. This will consume your name. All will know you as Nameless until given a new one. Wedding rings, family portraits, mementos, tattoos on skin, any of those will usually work.

Burning your past is a little harder. It's not as easy to rid yourself of as your future, heritage, or name. It requires herculean effort, and it will never be worth it. Ever. Not that it'll matter once the ritual is complete. Whatever sins committed during the act of wiping them out will be forgotten, along with everything else in your past, provided you can gather the necessary reagents. It won't be easy.

Pick setting-specific things for the ritual. Wax candles from the Honeyed Hosts of Glazz'gibrar, Everfrost Tulips from the Lich Queen's court, The Basket Witch's beating heart, a pound of flesh from the Furies' justicar.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Deadwind Archipelago (Part 2)

The Island of Spears

Best not come to the isle when it's pouring. It literally rains polearms.

Nobody have any idea how the weapons precipitate, and nobody is very keen on finding out. Travelers give this island a wide berth, for more than just the weather. Aside from the spear showers and the halberd hail a host of strange polearm creatures live on the island which don't fear men.

Moleaxes, Halbirds, Spear Spitters, Crowbills, Ranseur Widows, and something far-off observers called the Quadglaive stalk between the shaft-reeds.

The ecosystem seems built entirely around the rain. Critters burrow into the tangled junk heaps, Halbirds make urchin-like nests of spears, and things have strong top armor. They know when it's about to rain. If you don't see or hear any of the local wildlife it might be too late. Might get skewered by a barely-subsonic spear from the sky.

Occasionally an adventurous lot will risk a journey to the island. There's profit to be made in plucking and digging polearms out of the ground like oversized carrots. The polearms that tend to survive impact are naturally selected for better material, and gathering them up is a lot cheaper than digging ore out of the ground.

Stonelaw Island

Every person who sets foot on this island is compelled to follow the laws inscribed on the Law Stone, a smooth granite obelisk in the center of the isle. Every ceremonial month the obelisk wipes itself clean of all inscription. There's room for only 3 laws.

Anyone can inscribe laws with the proper masonry tools (inscribe it well, anyway). But of course somebody already has, and they've claimed a monopoly. The three laws, when players arrive are:
1. Nobody but Grea shall inscribe laws on this stone.
2. Nobody shall directly or indirectly bring harm to Grea, or hamper her will in any way.

The third one's blank. Just before the month ends, six hours before midnight, Grea writes the last law to cause everyone to migrate to the furthest point from the obelisk on the island, giving her enough time to inscribe the first two laws at the very beginning of the next month.

Thus Grea maintains control in perpetuity.

The island's people tend to be outcasts, those on the margins of civilization. Not all of them follow Grea's rule with vigor. Enough of them were drawn to the island with rumors of ultimate power, only to find out its already been claimed.

A clever party can probably find a way to exploit this location. Maybe they rush onto the island the moment the month begins to try and intercept the inscribing process. Perhaps they find a loophole in the language of the law. Maybe they rules-lawyer a loophole - an obelisk can be a fickle judge.

Some ways to modify the island:

  • Add more law slots, perhaps over time.
  • Make Grea a medusa (I used the Paradusa from Fire on the Velvet Horizon for my Grea)
  • Make Grea reliant on at least one person (with the entry above, she had no hands)
  • Put a dungeon on the island. Give the dungeon its own obelisk (perhaps with only one law)
  • Maybe a cult that worships the obelisk and its inscriber. Grea the Cultmaster, Giver of Law.
  • Scatter the law stones across the island. One law per stone.

The Shadowed Monastery

The monks of the Shadowed Monastery do not have a name for their order, for they have all taken vows of absolute silence, and abstain from written communication. You'll get no more than a nod and maybe a whisper from anything more than an Initiate. Besides, they barely have the energy.

When you are initiated, you give up your name. 
First Level of the Order you begin regularly fasting. You may not more than whisper.
Second Level you may not speak, ever.
Third Level you stop eating anything that casts a shadow.
The Abbot prepares for the transformation. They eat or drink nothing. They don't move from their chair in the pumice-stone chapel. They don't acknowledge. They slowly learn to stop breathing.
Then, the Abbot fades away, a shadow. This is their goal.

Anyone who witnesses this process in all of its stages will start the notice how the shadows on the island are strange. They flicker and dance like candle flames when they think you're not looking. One might catch a glimpse of a shadow monk moving between the shadows of neatly-lined orchard trees.

They're completely harmless. It's a sort of enlightenment for them, an abandonment of worldly needs.

But something's wrong. One of the initiates began to notice recently how the Brothers of the Shadow have gone into hiding. One of them tried to tell him something. Some Thing is hunting them. Something capable of wounding shadows.

The Unnameable
In a corner of the island, in a dead zone surrounded by ancient earthwork hills, is an obelisk of smooth black stone. Written in old elvish on the west side:

"In darkest stone
on nameless shore
a place alone
forever more"

A tree planted years ago by the monks has grown tall and gnarled. One might notice at dusk, when the shadows are long, when the wind blows strong, that the shadows of the obelisk and the tallest branch touch. This is how it escaped.

The Unnameable is a shadow. It takes the form of a seven-limbed beast or an elf. It murders shadows by tooth or by strangulation. Somehow a silent murder is more horrid.

It's been murdering the monks, dragging their shadow bodies into dark places to feed. It can do so to the player's shadows, too. 

It can only move through connected shadows as the monks do. At dawn and dusk it is strongest and most mobile. At midday it is weakest.

When ones shadow is injured it feels like a powerful migraine. One begins seeing auras and getting headaches. If your shadow is killed (is has the same amount of HP you do) then you get sick. Over the course of weeks random stats start to wane (roll a d6 every three days, 1 damage to that attribute). You turn translucent. Eventually you disappear.

One can acquire a new shadow. By sorcery a woman may give birth to a new one. You will have a baby's shadow for years. You won't get used to it. Perhaps you can conquer your Dark Reflection, or distill it from sentient moonlight, or maybe weave it from Underdark Silk.

How does one defeat the intangible? Perhaps trap it. Lure it to the obelisk and fell the tree then salt the earth. Bestow it a name and summon it to a lightless prison. Slay it with a shadow-weapon. Tempt it to other realms during an eclipse.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Three Giant Beasts

(Source: http://monsterhunter.wikia.com/wiki/File:MHGen-Gammoth_Screenshot_004.png )

Parachromatic Photophant

A beacon of barely-describable colors, as big as a house. A titanic quadruped radiating a dazzling rainbow of para-colors.

A vast majority of people forget most of the colors they see. Their brains can't handle the color of lost things, or the color of the welcome home, or thousands of other colors that exist in the margins of experience. Artists can remember a few, usually. 

The Parachromatic Photophant never forgets. It wears them as a cloak, draped over its lumbering body. The cloak began, long ago, as a matter of beauty and pride. Now it's a defense tactic to ward off hungry or jealous predators.

AC Leather  HD 6   HP 35  Int 13
Stomp 2d10
Parachromatic Burst - As action, may radiate light. Save vs. Magic/INT or roll 1d12:

Color Of:
1. Lost Things Found Again
2. A Home Welcome
3. The Perfect Inversion of Brown
4. Nostalgia
5. The Infinitesimal Border Between the Iris and the Pupil
6. The Cores of Stars
7. The Other Side of the Mirror
8. Nothing
9. Dying
10. First Seeing

1. Poison (or Death)
2. Exhaustion
3. Blinded
4. Charmed
5. Confusion
6. Slowed
7. Petrification
8. Sleep
9. Frightened
10. Frenzied

Hyperbolic Heightener

Two arched Autumn-spotted necks, each a hundred feet high, strained at their absolute evolutionary limits in a stressful hyperbola. They march about on four skinny telescopic legs, looming in the sky like long heavy kites.

Over thousands of years they grew to reach the tallest trees, but then the trees grew short. And the Heighteners were left alone in the sky. The birds wouldn't give them company. Most of them starved.

Those that didn't adapted with strange mechanism. Nobody knew the long-necked tree eaters could perform magic, or that they were so melancholic.

With long tired sighs the Heighteners cause those in their breath to grow vertically. They stretch upwards like someone click-dragging their form towards the sky, with mass retained but dimensions expanding. Each sigh causes the subject to double in height but maintain their width. The Heighteners will stop once they can get a proper look at the object or person of interest, or if the subject topples over from the imbalance (this is likely to happen long before the Heighteners can get a good look). In dangerous situations this is used as a defense mechanism.

What this typically means is that the Hyperbolic Heightener will never get a proper look at its fascinations. They're short-sighted by cruel chance. Hence the melancholy.

They're curious about colorful, shiny things: helmets, fancy hats, banners, polearms, cornucopias.

AC Leather  HDHP 24  Int 7
Telescopic Buck 1d8
Heightening Sigh - 10x30ft elipse on ground (cone from above), Save vs. Petrification/STR or double in height, Halve target's STR. Roll d20, if over STR on d20 then topple over. Toppled characters may only crawl.


A simple colossal beast with a habit of chewing things up, swallowing them whole, and then vomiting the reincarnated mess, fully formed.

Imagine a house-sized rooster with rows of spear-like teeth. Give it a polychromatic oily sheen and a crusty kind of skin with a rainbow of feathers. Give it muscular legs and branching spurs. It actually smells pleasant, like freshly churned soil.

If it kills something it'll swallow it whole, then a few minutes later keel over and regurgitate its reincarnation, covered in a placenta-like sac with salty-smelling goo. This reincarnation will have all of the memories of its past life, although perhaps not the capacity to understand or communicate them. Roll percentile dice to determine the % age of the reincarnation. I.E. a roll of 34 = reincarnation is 34% through its average life cycle.

Gear does not get returned. This the Reincarnasaur digests. 1 in 4 chance the Reincarnasaur will want to re-eat the reincarnated vomit, placenta and all. The process then repeats.

AC Chain  HD 7  HP 44
Crushing Bite 2d10

Reincarnating Gizzard - If the Reincarnasaur kills, victim is eaten and regurgitated in 2d6 minutes and becomes:
01-20: Same person, different age.
21-40: Different person, same race and sex. Reroll attributes.
41-60: Different person, random race and sex. Reroll attributes.
61-70: Animal, reasonably intelligent. Trainable. Bear, dog, horse, rat, parrot.
71-75: Non-Mammal, basic intelligence . Butterfly, lizard, fish, sparrow, frog.
76-80: Invertebrate. Worm, crustacean, insect, spider.
81-85: Is it alive? Jellyfish, coral, clam.
86-90: Plant. Tree, flower, shrubbery, algae.
91-92: Fungus. Mushroom, mold, fungi-person.
93-94: Monster. Land-shark, Parachromatic Photophant, basilisk, hydra.
95-96: Monstrous Humanoid. Orc, bugbear, troll, cyclops, medusa.
97-98: Undead. Skeleton, zombie, wight, revenant, lich.
99: Spirit. River, shrine, cave, wind.
100: Dragon.

While regurgitating the Reincarnasaur may move but cannot attack.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Deadwind Archipelago (Part 1)

Wind Patterns and Weather

Hydur, the god of wind and vengeance, has it out for Deadwind. The Blustering God produces strong constant shearing global wind patterns in the Archipelago, the net result of which is a Tornado Alley going right up through the middle of the island chain.

The other net result is that once you set off into the Archipelago, the only way to get back to Deadwind is to go all the way around the island chain. Sailing against Hydur's winds is a futile endeavor.

It also means the weather is strange. During Wandering Encounter checks, a 2 on a d6 produces some weather effect. Roll percentile. Then possible a d4.

01-05: It starts raining. 
     1. Cesium Salt Rain   2. Drowsy Flurries   3. Star Jelly   4. Rain of Stingers
06-10: Strange phenomena. 
     1. Oil Corona Whirlpool   2. Salt Crystal Burgs   3. Flem Slick   4. Tree Lightning
11-15: Odd Winds
     1. Spore Winds   2. Fiber Breeze   3. Smog Mist   4. Ash Gale
16-20: Atmospheric Effects
     1. Phantom Fire   2. Beholder Hail   3. St. Elmo's Fire   4. Ultraviolet Moonbow
21-25: Dangerous Clouds
     1. Cloudkill   2. Shock Nimbus   3. Cumulostratagis   4. Blast Clouds
26-30: A Storm Surge
     1. Surfactant Monsoon   2. Tidemoss Wave   3. Fume Bubble   4. Creature Surfacing
31-35: Aurora Oceanis
36-40: Sun Hounds
41-49: Rain of Halberds
50-54: Zud!
     1. Knife Zud   2. Slime Zud   3. Boiling Zud   4. Fire Oil Zud
55-59: Tornado
     1. Fire   2. Sand    3. Shark    4. Coral
60-89: Rain
     1. Light   2. Medium    3. Heavy    4. Monsoon
90-100: Nothing

Islands (Part 1)

Deke's Isle

A tiny little sandbar a day or so away from Deadwind. It's only inhabitant is Deke, a salty wrinkly old mostly-naked hermit who fishes all day and lives in his boat. Fishing on the sandbar is decent, although Deke will get annoyed with those who steal his livelihood.

Deke knows a fair amount about the Archipelago and can give you the general layout of the ocean. He's always got exactly one thing to trade. This thing changes each time the island is visited, and varies from gross junk to deceptively misleading magic items. He's been trading thing for thing for years, and he hopes to eventually trade up into a house for himself.

What does Deke have to trade?
1. Scales of a rainbow grouper. Causes temporary colorblindness to onlookers.
2. Flensing knife that takes the flesh off on a 4 hour delay.
3. Talking copper coin that remembers everyone who's touched it.
4. Piece of flotsam shaped like a pear.
5. Cast iron sphere the size of a man's head.
6. Feather of red core and white periphery, 5 feet long.
7. Piece of lint that continuously produces a slippery grease.
8. Brass horn that makes no sound. Doesn't fit human lips.
9. 20 feet of unbreakable fishing line
10. Telescopic fishing rod. Makes "fwoosh" sound when unfurled forward.

The Island of Paint

A crescent moon-shaped island a few miles wide that spews colored pools of fantastical paint from the ground. The occasional adventurer-painter will come here to make a piece of dangerous (and valuable!) art. An industrialized or imperial society would kill and conquer for the opportunity to control these paints. The people of Deadwind use the sacred red paint to cover their houses and ships.

The paints can be mixed with each other, and have different effects when wet or dry. Only Red, Yellow, Blue, Violet, and White paint bubble up from below. The rest occur during natural or artificial mixing.

Type of Paint - Effect when Wet / Effect when Dry
1. Red - Hydrophobic / Vacuum seals surface
2. Yellow - Inert / Forms small crystals that are explosive to physical shock
3. Blue - Inert / Generates tremendous heat when exposes to sunlight
4. Violet - Strong Adhesive / Extremely Slippery
5. Orange - Smells of Brimstone / Makes water-activated explosive
6. Green - Evaporates quickly / Crumbles into useless inert green crud
7. Purple - Adheres to surfaces / Compresses itself inwards, pulling surfaces towards center of mass
8. Violet + Above - Ensures that paint never dries
9. White + Above - Neutralizes any paint
10. White - Strong corrosive / Becomes mirror surface
11. Ultraviolet (V+W) - Invisible. Combination makes those who look at it colorblind

Exile Lagoon

A ring of sandbar around a lagoon of deep dark green 100 yards across and half a mile down. Exiles from far lands all over the world mysteriously find themselves ejected from the lagoon up onto the sandbar. 

Most will die of dehydration. There is no freshwater on the island. Their only hope is that some passing ship will pick them up and carry them to Deadwind, where all exiles are welcome.

They'll likely swarm the ship, shouting for help. Numbers depends on how many exiles the societies of the world produce. Could be just a handful, could be hundreds.

There's a disproportionately high number of murderers, political exiles, thieves, revolutionaries, refugees, and cannibals on Lagoon Island. For that reason most ships aren't keen to stop here. Not even slavers.

Part 2

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Island-City of Deadwind

( Picture Source )
The Deadwind Archipelago

On the Island-City of Deadwind the government changes every 3 days.

Or every Long Rest. Or whenever.

By divine compact with the goddess Liberty, the wind isn't allowed in Deadwind, and the government must change every 3 days, in accordance with her Law. There's a marble statue of her in the town square, bare-breasted and leading the charge with rifle/spear aloft. Every 3 days she declares the new government.

She's light on the details.

Roll d100 every time the party returns to Deadwind. All of them are literal.

1-3: "True" Anarchy
4-5: Autocracy
6-7: Republic
8-9: True Democracy
10: Pornocracy
11: Plutocracy
12: Absolute Monarchy
13: Constitutional Monarchy
14: Uniocracy - Entire island becomes a hive mind for 3 days. Sure to be awkward afterwards.
15: Magocracy - Wizards rejoice, your time is nigh!
16: Androcracy
17: Gynarchy
18: Aristocracy
19: Barbarocracy
20: Beerocracy - Nobody's gonna be sober for three days straight.
21: Bureaucracy
22: Cannonocracy - Person with the biggest guns (literal or figurative, setting dependent) calls the shots.
23: Capelocracy
24: Cryptarchy - It's a secret!
25: Demonarchy - This one sucks.
26: Bestiocracy - All fear the rule of cats.
27: Doulocracy - Slavery's probably not a thing on the island, due to this entry.
28: Ecclesiarchy
29: Ergatocracy
30: Ethnocracy
31: Gerontocracy - Pick one: absolute year threshold or relative age
32: Hagiarchy
33: Heroarchy - Either PCs by default or they've got to prove themselves.
34: Hetaerocracy - How do paramours rule?
35: Heterarchy
36: Hierarchy
37: Hoplarchy
38: Iatrarchy
39: Infantocracy - This one sucks, too. Terrible Two's Tyrants.
40: Juntocracy
41: Kakistocracy - Or the rule of the best, depending on who you ask.
42: Kleptocracy - Do they plan a great tax-heist?
43: Kritarchy
44: Matriarchy
45: Mesocracy
46: Mobocracy - Mob justice for anything and everything.
47: Narcokleptocracy
48: Neocracy
49. Nomocracy - Whoever writes the law makes the rule. No authority needed.
50: Oligarchy
51: Paedarchy
52: Papyrocracy
53: Partocracy
54: Patriarchy
55: Pendantocracy
56: Philosophocracy
57: Physiocracy
58: Pigmentocracy - Maybe those with particular birth marks? So as to not overlap with Ethnocracy.
59: Plantocracy
60: Policeocracy
61: Popocracy
62: Prophetocracy
63: Psephocracy
64: Ptochocracy
65: Punditocracy
66: Rotocracy
67: Slavocracy
68: Snobocracy
69: Sociocracy - I have no idea how this works.
70: Squatterarchy
71: Squirearchy
72: Strumpetocracy
73: Technocracy
74: Theatrocracy
75: Theocracy
76: Xenocracy
77: Adhocracy - Calvinball! Anyone can make up laws on the spot by declaring them.
78: Aristarchy
79: Arithmocracy - A simple majority rules in all cases. Lots of voting.
80: Communism?
81: communism.
82: Capracracy - "The most superior form of governance known to man or goat."
83: Demarchy - Lottery winner gets to rule.
84: Feudalism
85: Geniocracy
86: Meritocracy
87: Necrocracy
88: Noocracy
89: Bankocracy
90: Corporatocracy
91. Break a deal? Spin the wheel!
92. Thesbianocracy - (I made this word up. There must be a better one)
93. Loudarchy - The loudest shouter has authority. Nobody can be super loud forever.
94. Diseaseocracy - The sick call the shots.
95. Death Tournament - Volunteers fight to the death all at once in arena. Winner is autocrat.
96. Bardocracy -    ...and then the bards ruled.
97. Madocracy - Rule by the insane.
98. Teenocracy - Rule by teenagers.
99. Vampirocracy
100. Thunderdome

(A lot of these names I got from http://phrontistery.info/govern.html)

How does this work?

Somehow. Get your players to get in on the creative process. There are too many kinds of government for one person to have all the great ideas. There's too much game-able potential here.

The details for how the government is formed are highly mutable. Could be all the rulers get together and decide a government. Could be that existing power structures just take on a lot more power. Could be something completely ridiculous. Go crazy!

How is life in Deadwind? 

Not as bad as you'd expect (probably) for a town which has a dramatic revolution every three days. (Obviously, we have to do some hand-waving.)

Tyrants, whenever they arise, cannot hold power for more than half a week. Their power is utterly stripped, and nobody has any idea who's going to be in power next. Could be anyone! Could be the very people you're oppressing. Could be Bob Nobody that weirdo who finds absolute power. Hence, there's a tendency for those in charge to not exert their divinely-mandated power too heavily, for fear of the next revolution.

So it all kind of... works. Somehow. Hand-waving. Probably.

Places and Architecture

Architects in Deadwind very rarely have the time or resources to complete any projects. Resources get diverted on the whims of current rulers, so big flashy projects like cathedrals or mausoleums or trading halls are unheard of, with one notable exception. As a result, domiciles tend towards hodgepodge houses and lean-tos, with families moving in and out on a regular basis.

The one exception is The Cathedral-Palace of the Revolution. Built three hundred years ago during the Long Rule, and finished two hundred years ago during the Longer Rule. It's an architectural travesty - all supports and no roofs.

Flying buttresses that go nowhere, columns holding nothing up. About seven thrones, four in the process of being scrapped. It looks like a cathedral and a palace were being built in the same place at the same time, superimposed on one another. This is where the current ruling class tends to rule from. It is a place sacred to Liberty.

What happens if Liberty's will is defied?

Her statue freakin' comes alive and beats the preemptive revolutionaries to a pulp with her freakin' STONE FISTS OF FREEDOM. She always knows where the offenders are, provided they're still on the island. She can always get to them. Doesn't matter how they've hidden themselves or who's in the way. She's a wrecking ball with the power of a goddess.

Those she doesn't beat mush she'll exile to the BASTION OF FREEDOM (so aptly named because exactly nobody there is free), and teleport them there if they're lucky. If not, she'll throw them. Across the whoooooole island.

Define "defied".

Now here's the tricky thing: what exactly constitutes an offense so terrible that Liberty herself will pound your face in? Does merely disobeying authority count? What about crime? What if a tyrant orders you to kill yourself?

I'd like to imagine that crime in pretty big in Deadwind. I think it fits into that loophole between "respecting authority" and "revolution". Revolutionaries get pulp-ified, thieves don't. Provided the thieves are doing so out of personal reasons (needing food/wanting more stuff/domination) and not for revolutionary purposes (overthrowing the government/establishing an underworld power structure), Liberty won't kick their ass or throw them into the Bastion of Freedom.

Which means there's lots of criminals in Deadwind. A lot of selfish criminals. Hell, probably everyone has been a criminal during one government or another, even the decent folk. I imagine non-violent crimes are treated pretty lightly in the city. It's almost something to be expected of.

TL;DR: There are lots of criminals in Deadwind, but no organized crime. Crime anarchy.

Encounters in Deadwind

1-5: Government-specific encounter.
6: 2d4 Clerics of Liberty 
[AC Chain (Scrap Metal Armor) HD2 HP10 M7 1d6 Club, 1/day Freedom of Movement/Hold Person] - 1. Very drunk and very political. 2. Rallying a mob, snare drums beating, singing the song of angry men (I'm so, so sorry) 3. Accusing merchants of proliferating capitalistic power structures. 4. Singing praise songs of Liberty very loudly and out of tune, confronting people who don't join them in song.
7. 1d4+1 Pickpockets. Ruse: 1. One starts complaining about today's government, the others rifle pockets. 2. Trip, snatch, grab. 3. One dumps shit bucket from window on second floor on player, runs down to apologize, takes things while cleaning player up. Rest are for security. 4. Pretending to be today's governmental authorities (25% chance they actually are), demanding tax.
8. 1d4 Highwaymen. 3 in 6 they're already accosting some poor bastard. Won't attack larger groups or tough-looking customers.
9. 2d4 Foreign Mercenaries. 1. Protecting an important foreigner 2. Beating up a governmental agent, claiming "diplomatic immunity" 3. Drunk and looking for amusement 4. Looking for trouble, staring confrontationally at pedestrians.
10. 2d6 Wild Dogs.
11. Barricade Elemental [AC Plate+Shield HD5 HP40 M10 Sp Man/2 1d8 Projectile Junk Range: 20/60, may meld into masonry at will] Blocks narrow streets, pesters home squatters, has an intense hatred for the establishment. Made of piled up furniture, bricks, mortal, rocks. Quite flammable. People tend to just avoid.
12. The Goddess Liberty [AC Plate HD18 HP110 M12 1d10+3 Fists of FREEDOM], in all her marble glory, either on her way or currently beating some poor revolutionary sod into a puddle of organs and broken bones. 50% chance she'll throw them into the Bastion of Freedom (from the location of the sentencing).

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Mind Flayer

It's important that you never say the words "Mind Flayer" at the table for this to work. (And it's better if you never say it in company at all.)

It's also important that the party never encounter a Mind Flayer.

Should a character or a player say the words "Mind Flayer", the words ring out. They linger a bit longer in the air than words should. They stay on end of the tongue and in the mind like arresting poetry.

The Mind Flayer will appear to flay the mind of they who summoned it.

Doesn't matter where the characters are, or what they're doing. The Mind Flayer will come. Out of the blind spot of the room, from the gap in spatial awareness he'll arrive. A tall dark man whose face cannot be seen from any angle. He wears the penumbral robes of a Sorcerer-King an eon past, and only need reach out and touch the scalp with its too-long finger to send its unfortunate victim crumpled to the floor. It will do this for each person witness to its arrival.

The victim finds themselves in a desert, featureless and bleak, with gray sand and an alien sky of never-moving phosphorescent moons, and stars that don't blink.

There is no one there. There never will be. It is a hell.

They do not age or starve. They will never find anything, ever. Just dunes and unchanging stars. For hundreds or thousands of years, they will find nothing. Until they don't.

They'll find the door. A simple stone threshold. The escape. But will they take it? Finding something after an eternity of nothing is a terrifying prospect. Much more so that the door will have always been there, unnoticed. It will have been lingering nearby, waiting to be found, stalking you through this featureless gray waste.

Walk through the door and you'll return, a few moments past falling to the Mind Flayer. You won't be the same person. Your body will be perfectly serviceable. The mind will have aged, spiritually rotted. The soul has been worn out by time.

The Mind Flayer took it. And then it left.

AC:  Unarmored
HD:  12 
Speed:   Floating speed as Man
Mind Flay: Touch Attack, or Save vs. Wands/Staff/DEX - Become incapacitated, and trapped in the Gray Waste for 1000-(INT*20) years. Drains the greater of 2d20 INT. For Dwarves, or other medium-lived races, drains 1d20 INT. For elves, or other long-lived races, drains the lesser of 2d20 INT.

Note: The time spent in the Gray Waste is simulated time. To anyone witnessing this event, the person will be incapacitated for only about 1d8 rounds.

(This creature might be a bit metagame-y for your tastes. If you already have Mind Flayers in your campaign setting, it may be substituted for Intellect Devourer or Orcus or some other big bad.)