Friday, May 31, 2019

Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks for Wizards

"Fuck Elves. Seriously, fuck 'em. Only Elves could ruinously appropriate something so crushingly frustrating, so maniacally evil, so horrendously bureaucratic as copyright law and make it even worse."

- Roger Rockwell, ex-trademark wizard and present underpass hobo.

Copyright magic is the most powerful wizardry there is. I mean, sure, launching Fireballs is cool and useful, but it doesn't nearly approach the invasiveness and hegemony of knowing when and where anybody in the city is saying and/or think of the word "stool".

What is the purpose of wizard copyright law?

Oh, sweet summer child, you think it's to encourage the production of art and culture?

Wrong. It's about SOUL MONEY. We are talking about Wizards, after all. Abandon all faith, ye who enter the realm of wizard law.


Wizard City's chief innovation was the formation of the Spell Patent system - a magnificient Orwellian structure housed within the Bureau of Spatial and Temporal Matters which informs authorities when and roughly where particular registered spells are used.

Supporters of the measure claim that the Spell Patent system encourages innovation by rewarding wizards for their hard work and creativity by giving them temporary exclusive rights to the market.

Detractors claim that this is stupid. Y'all are stupid. Having patents expire in 1000+ years is virtually forever for 99.9999% of the population. Furthermore, spells are just weird brain parasites that chill out in your cranium. You didn't actually invent anything, you merely turned your big dumb head into a zoo for an extradimensional mind moocher. Putting the equivalent of an espresso maker in your brain for ethereal parasites isn't protected under any law, not to mention patent law.  Also, it's freakin' magic. It is literally magic. Why does there need to be encouragement of innovation, you literally get to CHANGE THE RULES OF REALITY. You don't need to judicially reward a person for finding out how to MELT EYEBALLS WITH YOUR MIND. Melting eyeballs is its own reward. You're an idiot. No, you're a cynical idiot. The only function of this is to manipulate the markets so that you can monopolize for blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah...


...Anyways! Elf Wizards, may they forever occupy their technocratic thrones, argue that spell formation and the psychosomatic-orthogonal notes that assist wizards in spellcasting are claimable by patent. And the elves have compound interest on their side, so they get to write the rules.

Anybody can claim a Spell Patent with the proper gold, provided the spell is:
  • Novel
  • Useful*
  • Not challenging an active monopoly
  • Not screwing over someone important, particularly an elf
  • Not stolen from right under your nose by the patent clerk
  • Not going to cause the immediate collapse of all civilization
  • Nothing to do with any iteration, mention, or naming of Steeve
*Usefulness debatable. Expect to explain this to the patent clerk.

This is, of course, an expensive process, hence the reliance on Bootleg Spells by the criminal masses. If you manage to score one, though, you can make some serious bank if legitimate bourgeoisie customers take an interest.


...Punishable by atomization, lobotomy, or being thrown into the future.
The following things are eligible for copyright:

Written, Dramatic, Musical, Artistic, Design, Architectural

Additionally, the following things are eligible for copyright, with enough influence:

Academic, Philosophical, Bureaucratic, Judicial, Unoriginal, Temporal, Theological, Moral, Verbal.

Hence, why you're not allowed to say "Birthday", or any iteration of "Birthday" in Wizard City. Unregistered and unauthorized use of the word "Birthday" will result in immediate summary punishment by Copyright Enforcement Agents.

...And maybe you'll get sued, if there's anything left to sue.

There's really only one important rule when it comes to Copyright Law in Wizard City: first come first copyright. If you come to the Devil's Court and you're able to prove to Harmon Devil, the Master of Copyright himself, that your thing is both original and yours, then you can get the exclusive rights to it, no matter how stupid this consequently might be. A case in the Devil's Court always bears a significant risk of flaying and lobotomy, of course, yet it can still be worth it.

Hence, the following occurrences and problems:

- Gordon Wick, in a feat of supreme theology, discovered the True Name of God. Then he copyrighted it. Any time a prayer to God (using its correct name) is uttered, both he and the Devil's Court will know. He charges quite a penny for rights to use prayers that will actually be heard.

- Abrahim Shaw, smug bastard and university administrator, copyrighted his own name. Now nobody can speak it without him knowing. He hasn't told anybody of this.

- Heather Cross, intern at the Bureau of Spatial and Temporal Matters, copyrighted the musical notes H, H#, and I. She successfully proved to the Devil's Court that she invented these notes and that they hadn't existed prior to this event. Everyone suspects spatial magic shenanigans.

- Consequently, the musical notes G, A#, and D were also copyrighted by an elf wizard named Corriander. He claims he invented them, and subsequently proved it in a secret session of the court. Nobody has been able to disprove it since then. Time shenanigans suspected.

- Technically speaking, the only person allowed to express the feeling of acute depression from looking at hamsters is a wizard named Lucy Frond. She's really monopolized that market. It has not made her rich.


This symbol twists the hearts and souls of men...
Why did the Wizard Gangs trademark their gang symbols? You'd think they'd be adverse to the concept of government oversight. And yet, they have all agreed, it's better to have a little bit of regulation rather than returning to the chaotic days of doppelganger gang war anarchy.

Trademark violation is taken quite seriously in the criminal underworld, even moreso than in the legitimate realm. Stealing from a Steeve or a Black Magic Brother or a Nightmare Rider can get your knees confiscated - it's just business, after all - but flashing a gang symbol without trademark authorization? You'll be lucky if there's any part of you left. You may as well have taken a dump on their birth mother for what's about to happen to you.

Wars have been fought. Real, actual urban wizard wars, over Trademarks. The most famous of these, the War of *REDACTED*, was brought to its conclusion, moderated by the state, by all parties forsaking the *REDACTED* Trademark at once and for eternity. The War cost the city approximately 25,000 casualties over four years, the vast majority of them from friendly fire.


- Making or discovering new spells carries risk and opportunity beyond their immediate use.

- Bootleg spells are fun.

- Copyright can pit players against just about anyone for any reason. Need a reason to hate this particular person/organization? They hold a forever-copyright.

- The fact that gangsters are police are violently obsessive about their copyrights/trademarks is immediately exploitative. Reflexively so, even.

- The trading of Patents/Copyrights/Trademarks is also highly exploitative for clever players.

- Copyright authorization documents can be fun loot.

- Copyright piracy, anyone? Yar!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Indefinite Train Hobo Table

My idea for Skerples' Indefinite Train Project is a car full of hobos. A place to talk to some vagrants, replace any lost characters, or maybe take on a companion. It mostly just devolves into this 20x6 table, though, so I'll post it here before doing all the finicky formatting stuff for submitting the car.

1d20, read left to right
6d20, roll 'em all at once. Read your d20s left to right.
Throw a bunch of dice onto the table. Where they land, use that entry. As many as you'd like per column.

Example: A Fallen Doctor and a Master of the Cut, had they a blade... Carrying nothing but pure hatred in a fanny pack. Why are they on the Train? Filthy work.

And a...
Carrying Nothing But...
In a..
Why Are They On the Train?
Giant among giants
A bundle of rye
Bindle made of mother-woven cloth
Just work.
Zen-zerker, tranquille and elated
A grooming kit and nothing else
Fanny pack
Honest work.
Tax Collector
Preacher to boot, oh Lord...
22 ounces of Jack
Bottle of green glass
Mercenary’s work.
Poor Man’s
Mob doctor
A Family photo
Secret beard pouch
Dishonest work.
An invalidated passport
Pocket full of holes
Easy work.
Couple stray cats
A swaddled babe
Story they’ll frequently tell
Proselytizing work.
Beetleman, man-sized beet red.
A mean temper
Hand-me-down purse
Psychic work
Master of the Cut, had they a blade...
Knucklebone gambling dice
Folded wet napkin
Filthy work
King among vagrants
A red ribbon
Faded scroll case
Casual work
Not Even Dirt Poor
Secret soulfisher
A writ of protection
Unpolished heart locker
Secret work
Ventriloquist King
A single spell
Saggy pointed hat
Faceless Thing
A diminutive mouse
Pair of worn-through shoes
Exiled for high crimes.
Peddler of False Truths
A rattling set of loose teeth
Dog skull
Just Wandering
Hungry tumor
A sharp rusty knife
Cooking pot
Looking for someone particular
Parasitic Personality
A dubious bachelor’s degree
Hollow bible
To complete their thesis
Loose cannon
Disfiguring scars
Strung-out straw doll
To find a doctor
Tempered, outlawed militiaman
Pure hatred
Doctor’s bag
To test their mettle
Purveyor of the ONE TRUE SCIENCE
An axe to grind
Heavy briefcase
Spiritual journey
Butcher Girl
A Train Ticket
Unbloomed flower bulb
On the run.
Slanderous Virus
The Fate of a Galaxy
Cigarette case
To make friends

Monday, May 6, 2019


Illusion, Necromancy, and Enchantment felt like some of D&D's biggest missed opportunities. Abjuration, Evocation, Divination and Conjuration a little less so. Still, I've run out of blogging topics, so might as well finish this list. Abjuration spells cantrip to nine gooooooo!

Abjuration magic is tricky. First impressions leave it as a pretty bland school. But glancing over the themes I think there's something to work with. You've got:

1. Boring protective magic.
2. Extradimensional sanctuaries
3. Locking/Unlocking stuff
4. Counterspelling/Dispelling
5. A few outliers, like glyphs

The biggest thing I'll chime in on are two things:
- Treat body as a home regarding abjuration.
- Abjuration applies to metaphysical forces as well as physical.

Abjuration, Cantrip
Range: Self
Saving Throw: None
Duration: 10 minutes (concentration)
Component: S, V

You protect yourself from all unwanted language, criticism, insults, bad news, or any other speech or noises which may disrupt your fragile ego. While the cantrip is active, anything you may not want to hear is instead converted in the brain to more soothing, yes-man like language.

While this effect is active, you are immune to fear, but you automatically fail saves against charm effects.

"Go f--- yourself!" --> "You are a perfectly adequate person, and I am very insecure!"
"Whatever you say, thunder-thighs." --> "I'm too tired and wrong to argue with you. Also I wish I had your body."
"This plan is idiotic! We're all going to die!" --> "Brilliant stratagem, sir! We'll give them a good thrashing!"
"I'm going to eat you." --> "I'm sure you taste delicious."

((Okay okay, I know this is more illusion-y/enchant-y than abjuration, but it was too much fun to include on the list.))

Remove Doubt
Abjuration, 1st Level
Range: 60ft
Cast Time: 1 Action
Saving Throw: Charisma
Duration: Instantaneous
Component: S, V

Voluntarily, or on failed Save, the target loses all doubt regarding present course of action. This can mechanically manifest as several ways. Target:
- stops deliberating, must pick course of action now, no matter how rash.
- if Feared, maximizes the duration of the Fear condition.
- feels no guilt about present actions.

Upcasting this increases the Save DC by 2 for each spell level above one.

Magician's Bodybag
Abjuration, 2nd Level
Range: Touch
Saving Throw: Dexterity
Duration: 2 Minutes (concentration)
Component: S, V, M (a sack with an opening no larger than 1ft)

As an action, you open up a sack and swallow up an extremity, whisking it off to an extra-dimensional space temporarily. Things larger than a foot in diameter cannot be swallowed. For the duration, the extremity is safely sequestered in a pocket dimension and cannot be harmed. The extremity can still be felt.

Every round while this spell is being concentrated on, you may similarly use an action for this spell.

If you are trying to use this spell on an enemy, they are entitled to a Dexterity Saving Throw with Advantage to avoid its effects. If the bag used in the spell breaks, all extremities are returned to their bodies. You may only snatch up an entire body like a giant snake if the creature is Small size and Incapacitated/Restrained/Paralyzed, or Tiny and smaller.

For all limbs, snatching up that limb prevents its use. For heads, the target is blinded, but not deafened (they can still hear through the sack). For other things, best leave it to the GM.

Plenty of shenanigans to be had.

Misspell Magic
Abjuration, Level 3
Range: 60ft
Saving Throw: None
Duration: Instantaneous
Component: S, V, M (a writing utensil)

As a reaction, you may change the effect of a spell by changing the name of the spell. The new spell effect, to be determined by the GM, will have equivalently the same magnitude of power as the original, but with the new effect. The new spell title must be a correctly spelled.

((As a general GMing rule, the more inane and specific the new spell title is (i.e. Disguise Shelf), the more effective it is in situations that match its specificity. The more overpowered the spell title sounds (i.e. Hideous Slaughter), the more restrained the effect. As another GMing rule, it's recommended that complete nullification of the spell's effectiveness be avoided, lest this version overpower Counterspell.))

Casting this at level 3 gives you one modification to the spell name. You may:
- Add one letter
- Remove one letter
- Change one letter
- Adding or removing spaces/capitalizations are free

For every spell level above 3, you get one additional modification.

((Takin' it all the way back to the Paromancers with this one.))

Lock Memory
Abjuration, 4th Level
Range: Touch
Saving Throw: Intellect
Duration: Permanent
Component: S, V, M (a brass key)

You lock away a particular memory, sealing it until certain conditions are met. These conditions may not be impossible. They may be suggested by the player but the DM gets veto power. Evidence of locked memories may be discovered by Detect Magic. Hints to the unlocking condition may be obtained by Legend Lore. Dispel Magic momentarily suppresses the spell for but an instant, giving the subject a brief glimpse at the locked memory.

Multiple instances of this spell may be cast on a person. The caster may voluntarily fail their own save.

Example Conditions:
- Subject's 18th birthday
- When subject finds an image of a loved one
- When the code phrase is spoken
- On the day of the subject's marriage
- On the subject's deathbed

Heart Locker
Abjuration, 5th Level
Range: Touch
Saving Throw: Constitution
Duration: Until Ended
Component: S, V, M (a living heart, a locker of mahogany and ruby worth 1000gp)

You reach into a person's chest and remove their beating heart, placing it into the locker of mahogany and ruby. While the heart remains in the locker, the object of the spell is immune to all heart injuries, and is incapable of feeling or expressing love in any way. Cruelty will take their body, and they will be immune to all Charm effects or wounds of the heart, both literal and metaphysical.

You may perform this on yourself, or a willing creature without save. While the heart remains in the locker, it still beats as if it were alive. If the locker is opened, and the heart wounded or destroyed, the object of the spell will die instantly.

Protection from Suitors
Abjuration, 6th Level
Range: Touch
Saving Throw: Charisma
Duration: 1 Month
Component: S, V, M (a needle, an orange, and living mouse)

For the duration, the target gains the following benefits against suitors:

+4 AC
Immune to Charm/Domination/Possession effects
Immune to Curses
Advantage on All Saves
Prevents all physical contact (not weapon attacks)

Suitors with a Charisma or Intelligence higher than the caster's Wisdom ignore all Advantage effects, convert the immunities to Advantage From, and reduce the AC bonus to +2.

(If I were you, I'd interpret 'suitors' very liberally)
(This spell can be altered to fit a variety of social relations: Siblings, Moochers, Sycophants, Royalty, Children, Thieves, etc.)

They'll never see it coming.

Faithful Counselor
Abjuration, Level 7th Level
Range: 5ft
Saving Throw: None
Duration: 10 Minutes
Component: S, V, M (500gp, which is consumed)

You summon an invisible counselor within 5ft. It follows you about. For the duration, it will provide discrete counsel on all matters political, diplomatic, and law. The counselor cannot be touched - it is incorporeal, and it can both speak in any languages you know. It communicates by whispering in your ear, and is familiar with the following knowledge, attuned to the land in which you currently occupy:

- All laws and official protocols.
- All names, titles, epithets, genealogies, relations, and official ranks of all people of note.
- Any and all interactions with anyone you've had personally, with perfect memory.

In addition, if anybody whispers or mumbles in your presence, the counselor will repeat the words into your ear clearly. The Counselor can read your thoughts, and if you're about to do or say something illegal or make a faux pas, it will inform you before you make the decision.

If two people with Faithful Counselor active come within 5ft of each other, both Counselors will instantly annihilate. This will not become immediately known to the caster. It will merely register as silence. Faithful Counselors cannot speak in a Silence. Faithful Counselors can relay other Faithful Counselors' whispers. Upcasting this spell increases the duration: 1 hour for 8th level, and 24 hours for 9th level.

Null Zone
Abjuration, 8th Level
Range: Touch
Cast Time: 1 Minute (Ritual)
Saving Throw: Wisdom
Duration: 10 Minutes (concentration)
Component: S, V

You designate a circle on the ground no more than 10ft in radius. For all purposes, this space no longer exists for the duration of the spell to anyone but you. Reality folds together to accommodate this hole, and things (besides you) entering one side of the circle will exit on the opposite side.

Anything else within the circle when casting is finished remains as so. Once outside, any object or person cannot return to inside the circle for the duration.

Magic, both divine and arcane, does not function within the circle. Nothing can leave the circle once it's inside it. It is a godless place. Any acts committed within will not count as sin. Nobody can hear or see you within. It is the only place where truly nobody is watching or listening.

Abjuration, 9th Level
Range: Self
Saving Throw: None
Duration: Instantaneous
Component: S, V

As an action, you cast a spell and make a prediction for an effect to happen upon your person by an enemy force in exactly 6 seconds (1 round from now). If this predicted effect happens, then you are completely immune to that effect, and all subsequent instances of that same effect from that source for three Rounds.

For instance, if you predict that the Beholder will use its Paralyzing Ray on you next round, and then it happens, then you are immune to the ray's effects on that round and for three subsequent rounds from that particular Beholder. If you predict Death will cast Finger of Death (which he always does), then maybe you've gotten yourself three Rounds of freedom before he begins pursuit.

This spell won't save you from self-inflicted actions.