Thursday, April 30, 2020

Encounters and Hooks in the City of Truth

Part 4 - Encounters and Hooks

Encounters in the City

I'd cross off these encounters once they've happened, and use sparingly.

1. A scared and hungry poet attempts to rob you wielding a pen, believing it to be a weapon. He is more deadly with it than you’d think, but he'll give up after anyone takes even modest harm.

2. A hysterically joyous bell-chested woman dances and skips down the streets, gazing at each and every thing and remarking on its colors. She has just been reborn and has sight for the first time, and swings between elation and sensory overload. There is a crowd forming behind her, riding on the wake of her emotions.

3. A lavishly-dressed and starry-eyed child is carried atop a palanquin by four hole-headed men. They are being held up by a remarkably similar party moving in the opposite direction. The hole-headed men will soon come to blows over the issue of right-of-way.

4. You come across a bloodied Falseling corpse, brains scattered among the rocks. The murder weapon nearby - a grey-matter-soaked stone. Murderers are extremely rare here, and now there is one afoot. Not too far away along a gore-stained trail there is a bloody-handed long-necked man, a serial killer accidentally sacrificed in the False Realm. There is nothing more he relishes than to finally, Truly murder people. Has he had his fill?

5. Two Falselings are arguing over the stars' portent. They have no knowledge of the names of stars, the constellations, or the movements of celestial bodies. They're just making it up as they go along, as if they're the first ones to discover them. They insist on using their own terms - e.g. "The Bovine Trinity", "The Celestial Hammerer", "The Falling Fire Snake", "Leviathan Eye".

6. A man comes running to the party, begging for protection through gritted teeth. He hides a forked tongue. A lynch mob is in distant pursuit, armed with sticks and rocks. They demand the forceful exile of this False prophet.

7. A long-tailed woman hands you a rock. A perfectly ordinary rock. If asked why, she will smile and say: "Because it is True."

8. A tall-eyed fellow approaches, remarking on how (glassy, porphyritic, chafing, tweedy) you sound. He says he is cataloging the colors of people.

9. A small group of 3-4 naive Falselings are trying to get high. They are gathered around a woman, who is about to eat some dirt. They will be very grateful but quite useless to anyone who shows them how.

10. A Falseling with backwards-bending knees asks if you can give something that will burn. A Rocket-Man looking for fuel, any fuel. As explanation, he says he wants to go fast. Super fast. Faster than anything. Faster than God. He carries a stockpile on a back bundle that could level an office building with the touch of a spark.

Adventure Hooks

Find Something All the Philosophers Will Eat At the Symposium

Everyone agrees it would be far too unreasonable to get more than one dish. Catering is expensive in the City of Truth! Also, without food there will be no audience and hence no symposium. So food is a requirement.
  • Pimon wants something that will give them all the most pleasure for the duration of the symposium. Something sweet or filling.
  • Platerci wants something that will maximize the goodness and minimize badness for the group. He's identified several factors that encompass the goodness of the food (taste, fillingness, nothing people are allergic to, etc.). He doesn't know how to weigh these factors yet.
  • Ramona wants something that will satisfy all of her needs at once, or else she will be paradoxically indecisive and starve to death, since her needs are perfectly equal.
The problem is not simply deciding upon a food, but also finding it. The City of Truth is a food desert surrounded by actual desert. To find a compromising dish, you may need to go abroad and bring it back, or hunt the ingredients yourselves.

Reward: The Symposium goes forward. The three Philosophers will no doubt share some of their interesting theories on the metaphysics of the campaign world (other Planes, universal laws, what happens when you die, etc.)

Cave Rescue

There is a dark crawling cave in the hills. Periodically Falselings emerge from its depths, but now they don't. Worse, some Anti-Absurdists recently disappeared within, searching for these lost souls. The Cave has never known to have been a dangerous place. Investigate. Be wary.
  • The Cave is not terribly deep, but it is quite dark and requires crawling.
  • A heretic illusionist named Pilos has been kidnapping newcomers and investigators, submitting them to existential torture in the form of shadow puppets. He is crafting a virtual world within the depths, making a society that worships him as a god. He has a mastery of shadows and related magics, and may blend with them to remain perfectly hidden.
  • The Anti-Absurdists who went in to rescue people have relapsed in their Absurdism, thanks to Pilos's illusions, and now they're going along with this ridiculous game by becoming very bad actors.
  • To everyone who's bought into Pilos's scheme, shadows are reality. The shadow is you. You are the shadow. Without the shadow you don't exist. Somebody with no shadow does not exist.
Reward: Put Pilos at your mercy and he can teach some shadow magic. Returning Falselings to the surface will net you some Auguries to be performed by a concerned immortal child. One Augury per Falseling returned.

Clear a Landing Strip

The Rocket Men need to clear a half-mile long landing strip for their latest rocket to definitely not crash upon reentry. They want to avoid casualties. Unfortunately, there's only one trajectory that won't result in the rocket landing in the desert and the whole thing being eaten by a sand wurm: right through the middle of the city - bisecting it cleanly. There are three obstacles:
  • The Rocket Pillar details the origin of the Rocket Men in a bas-relief story pillar one hundred feet high. It's made of stone, weighs several tons, and if it falls over this irreplaceable public monument will be shattered. This will need to be moved.
  • Aesketitus the Hermit has not moved an inch since he spontaneously appeared on that spot twenty years ago. He has declared that he shall not move until he has received an unspecified "sign from the heavens". Moving him by force will piss off the Neverlies, who appreciate his devoted quietness and solitude.
  • "The Villa" is a neverending bacchanal by a load of long-fingered and fork-tongued sychophants begging The Child King for drugs. Everyone is drunk and/or high constantly. There are no guards. Some of the party-goers can get quite violent.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Pit of Portents

A great black pit in Wizard City Hexcrawl. Nothing grows around it. Buildings sink into the muck, never to be seen again. Anything that falls into the void does not return.

The Bottomless Pit whispers prophecies to those that listen that are always exactly 2/3rds true. Of all the details involved in the fortune, two things will be true and one will be false.

(Which one is false will be up to you.)

Prophecies come once per person per week, and no more than two per Campaign Turn.

There’s this rather social hermit who frequents the Pit. They call him Pit Man. He makes it his business to hear every single prophecy and inform people of the Pit’s 2/3rds accuracy with a cackle and a toothy grin.

Roll 3d12.
Once for each column.

On the day when the moon cries high...
There shall be a reckoning...
And refreshments shall be provided...
When hands on high come together...
A savior will emerge...
And it will be mildly inconvenient...
When winds sigh in soft notes...
Terrible destruction shall be nigh...
And you’ll look really dumb...
When many voices gather at the square...
A destiny shall be realized...
And nothing will come of it...
Surrounded by many suits...
A traitor shall be revealed...
And you won’t even notice...
When everything seems most dire...
A herald of change shall become known...
And the restroom will be out of order...
When great opposites come together...
A tyrant will fall...
But at least there’s an upside...
When the stars begin their dance...
A mighty blow shall be struck...
And all shall forget it in time...
When the thief and the jester have made themselves known...
A secret shall be uncovered...
And there will be chances for scattered showers...
When the bard sings a final note...
A weapon of great potency shall be found...
And your lucky numbers are 2, 7, 29, and 106...
When the crow caws three times...
A disaster shall be narrowly averted...
And the afterparty will be lit...
When the ass brays resoundingly...
There shall be a terrible calamity...
...Followed by the same thing, but worse.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

[Secret Jackalope] New Darwin

Secret Jackalope for Isaak H.


They named the town after that whose teachings they held most dear.
Never having read more of his writing than that oft-recited axiom: 'Survival of the Fittest'.

It is not a place for intellectuals. It's a place for truth-isms and life savings converted into weapon stocks and canned beans. Brought the county to #1 in the country for density of nutritional fiber-per-square-mile, all on its own. Half the people will tell you that they'll resort to cannibalism and banditry without moral quandary when, not if, the shit hits the fan. The obesity rate is 77%.


New Darwin is a Prepper town, population 57. Place it in whatever biome you wish. For me, it'll be underground. It has a continuously-growing canned food supply that can sustain those 57 people for 90 years, provided one half doesn't eat the other first. The average life expectancy for these 10 people is 50.


"The Big Arse"
Everyone jokingly calls it that, but nobody's supposed to (it makes Robert and Mack uncomfortable). Underground bunker leads to a can't-unsee-it entrance: big circular metal door flanked by two voluptuous pads of insulation.

There are enough weapons and ammo inside the arsenal to overthrow a small nation. People from town donate extra ammo and weapons to the communal stockpile. Managed by Nathan.

The Commons
This is where the people of New Darwin think about how they're going to punish criminals and bandits during the apocalypse. Everyone has spent some time or another fantasizing about using the old oak tree for hangings, or setting up a stockades, or digging a pit to fill full of snakes.

Everyone's got their own plans for how they want to develop The Commons during the apocalypse, and it's likely to become a serious (even violent) point of contention once shit hits the fan.

Someone's publicly fantasizing and reminiscing about establishing...

  1. A Hanging Tree
  2. A Wheel of Death
  3. Stockades for Misdemeanors
  4. Medieval Cage Torture, with Spikes
  5. A Field of Spikes
  6. A Pit of Snakes

Firing Range
Nobody around for miles. Numerous wrecks of cars pilfered with holes. Somebody's set up a bunch of umbrellas to protect from the sun. Somebody else has a habit of making strange patterns on the ground with bullet casings, and it's starting to weird everyone out.

Twice a year Mack likes to bring out a Minigun and fire off a few thousand rounds.

The Patchwork Wall
Everyone in town is required to contribute something to The Wall. One share of one segment every season. As such, it's a ridiculous patchwork - like fifty different walls all trying to be one. Perhaps, if anyone except Robert actually cared about building a wall, it'd be decent.

It has as many weak points as people in town +1, which is to say 58. It has 58 weak points. It is functionally useless, keeping out neither animal nor man. As an art installation, however, it's moderately interesting.

This section of The Patchwork Wall is...
  1. Stacked cinder blocks
  2. Wooden palisade with extra spikes
  3. Chain link
  4. A moat
  5. Unfinished
  6. Cobbled stone
  7. Sheet metal
  8. Massively graffiti'd on the outside
  9. Solid cement
  10. Moldy unsupported drywall.


Use once then discard.
  1. They're attacking! Who?? We don't know! Town is on full alert, everyone's got their guns. Every public alley is now a killzone to anyone looking remotely suspicious. False alarm from a miscommunication from Big Mac.
  2. A posse is being rounded up to confront two college-age backpackers near the perimeter. It's probably going to amount to an assault charge.
  3. Bulk shipment. An anonymous townsperson brought in a bulk shipment, and nobody's sure what to do with 10,000... 1) Heads of broccoli   2) Packages of plastic army men.   3) Fruit juicers    4) Civil War reenactment hats   5) Bottles of hair conditioner   6) Nondenominational Christmas sweaters
  4. Factionalism. Roll 1d6 twice on People below. They're taking opposing sides on the issue of... 1) Letting in new members   2) Saving vs. Spending   3) Water Management   4) Pets? Yes/No
  5. A sheriff's deputy has arrived. Investigating a missing person's case. He's getting completely stonewalled and is increasingly frustrated by these people.
  6. War of the Worlds. Someone's pranking the ham radio operators into thinking that body snatchers are taking over. Things could get dangerous if the rumors aren't quelled and the source identified. (Note: Being investigative makes you seem more like a doppelganger.)
  7. Infiltration. A mole for the government has just been exposed. People are trying to decide what to do with them.
  8. Standoff on the range. Heated argument about shooting may lead to an actual shooting. You can hear the shouting from anywhere in town.
  9. Mines - Serious medical accident. Someone was experimenting with making land mines and got themselves blown up, along with seriously injuring a few innocent folks. The worst news is that there might be more land mines on the property.
  10. Oil discovered on property. News is spreading quickly. If the whole town finds out then so will the multinationals. If the whole town finds out then there will be speculators everywhere.


Generally, people will trade for things they hoard. They'll give things they're generous with for free, if you're considered a trusted person.

1. Mack "Big Mac" Johnson
Age: 52
Appearance: Hamburger scar with a side of balding.
Hoards: Gold, Mayonnaise (Eggs), .45 ammunition
Generous With: Axiomatic Truth-isms
Notes: He loves, loves, to run everybody, especially his family, through surprise mock exercises to test the security of New Darwin. Excessively so. People are fine with drills now and again, but they're getting real sick of him jumping out of bushes, in mask with guns and bayonet, and 'mock-robbing' everyone at gunpoint, 'testing for weakness'. Everyone hates this, but they tolerate it because he's a figure of authority.

2. Anastasia Johnson
Age: 35
Appearance: Tired, exasperated, but relieved.
Hoards: Money, Contact Lenses, Documents
Generous With: Information
Notes: Pretends to be spoiled. Hates all this Prepping business. But that's because she's lived through an apocalypse: a siege that lasted years. She's the only person in New Darwin who's been tested, and has skills she keeps to herself out of distrust for everyone else.

3. Nathan
Age: 36
Appearance: A bundle of toothpicks and freckles wearing camo pants.
Hoards: Guns, More Guns, Vitamins
Generous With: Blame
Notes: Takes four times the amount of vitamins per day than a person should. This is slowly causing organ damage to his liver and kidneys. He's starting to think somebody is poisoning him - technically this is true - and when he finds out he'll 'shoot that person dead'. He suspects the women first, because 'poison is a woman's weapon', and Robert because he thinks his onerous criticism means he'd like him dead.

4. Rebecca
Age: 36
Appearance: Ponytail, sunglasses. Jogger.
Hoards: Silver, .22 LR ammunition, porno mags
Generous With: Tools
Notes: Doesn't actually read, enjoy, or even like porn mags. She simply believes they'll be worth their weight in gold once the apocalypse hits. Cheery personality. Her generosity with tools greatly annoys Robert.

5. Pam O'Neil
Age: 49
Appearance: Floral pattern dresses and a cane.
Hoards: Insulin, Wine, Pickles (Vegetables)
Generous With: Maps
Notes: Diabetic. Meticulously maintains refrigeration units to maintain said hoard of Insulin. This has made her a decent amateur electrician.

6. Robert O'Neil
Age: 54
Appearance: Weathered elder with a raisin of a mole
Hoards: Bibles, .22 LR ammunition, Tools
Generous With: Onerous Criticism
Notes: When all the religious leaders inevitably die in the apocalypse (from 'being too weak'), he plans to fill the vacuum (and 'get it right this time'). Gets into snippy fights with Rebecca when she's generous with tools.

7. Alex Johnson
Age: 6
Appearance: Dumb haircut, first few teeth fell out
Hoards: Jellybeans, Small Animals, Action Figures
Generous With: Guides and Tours
Notes: Nice kid, hard to understand. Speaks a barely-decipherable fusion of English and Russian.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Bank Inerrable

A public-private partnership in Wizard City Hexcrawl.

Gringotts, Warner Bros Studio

The Bank Inerrable doesn't make mistakes. Why? Because then it'd be wrong, and the Bank Inerrable can't be wrong, because it doesn't make mistakes.

There is, however, an extraordinary amount of perfectly intentional fraud.

Good thing, too. Mistakes made on mortgages can have disastrous consequences. Particularly when those mortgages concern the souls of the living.


The Bank Inerrable offers Mortgages. The Death Pledge.
  • When you sign the Mortgage, the Bank Inerrable claims your soul.
  • If you die before paying it off, the bank forecloses on the body and claims the spirit.
  • Which usually means they'll find and animate your corpse.
  • Then shove your foreclosed soul back inside to become a Debt Wight.
For a Mortgage, you can get one of the following:
  • Tuition to the University of Chronulus for a 4 year education, and a spellbook. (Housing, food, and necessary textbooks not included.)
  • Enough spellgold for one spell level 4-6
  • Use of a Debt Wight until your mortgage is paid.
  • One rare magic item
To pay off your Mortgage, the Bank requires 10,000 + (1d12 x 500) spellgold. About a 6th Level Spell.

You get someone else to willingly take on your mortgage, provided they don't already have one. They must sign the paperwork in front of the Fiduciary Liche, who is rather good at spotting magical influence.

In addition, you must pay Interest. For every year that your mortgage is in effect, you must pay the Bank Inerrable one of the following:
  • 1% compound interest on spellgold
  • The body parts of a person who has foreclosed but has not yet become a Debt Wight.
  • One uncommon or greater magic item.
  • The equivalent of 6 months part-time no-benefit accounting work, without error.
Or the bank may choose to foreclose on your Mortgage. Night night debt wight!


For when you need to meet with an agent of the bank.

You’re Meeting With (A)...
Part time student intern, first day on the job. 
Supervisor hovering in the wings, ready to pounce on mistakes.
Identical bureaucrat twins: one tells only truth and the other only lies.
They’re terribly, horribly drunk.
Smartass gnome.
You’re the last client of the day.
This old guy who’s two days away from retirement.
They have an extremely distracting toy on their desk.
Cougar in a suit. Don’t look it in the eyes!!
You can’t understand a word they’re saying, and it might be rude to point that out.
Zombie named Janice. Also: employee of the month.
You’re sharing the room with the janitor.
Guy on way too many drugs.
They’re a total liar.
Demon in a magic circle. Wants to convince you to let him out.
They’re drunk, but like, functional drunk.
Someone you know, but in a very bad disguise. (Big fake mustache, glasses, wig)
If they don’t make their quota for the day, then they’ll foreclose on their mortgage.
The Fiduciary Lich himself, taking interest in the minuita of his business.
They’re the Fiduciary Lich in disguise. (If already Lich, then there are several alternating layers of disguise.)

Debt Wights

There's a joke in on Wizard City campus.

Q: What's black and white and deep in the red?

A: You, genius, if you don't pay back your student loans!

White shirts and black slacks, like Mormons. Pocket books deep in the red. Their souls have gone through the sausage-maker: ground into pieces and packed into subprime mortgage securities. A Debt Wight's vessel can have influences from dozens to thousands of indebted souls all homogenized into one net-obedient package.

Debt Wight
AC Unarmored  HDHPCHA 2
1d4 Hand Slap
Undead Immunities
Leeching Touch: On attack, siphons 1d10 Spellgold off of the target, or one spell slot (starting with the lowest, if applicable). This spellgold collects in a fanny pack on the Debt Wight's waist. Without this fanny pack the spellgold would simply fall to the ground at the Wight's feet.
Uncomfortable Aura: Anyone with a soul in the same room as a Debt Wight gets a -1 penalty to all rolls and Saves.

Debt Wights are placid and obedient. They obey commands in accordance with a strict hierarchy, descending from The Fiduciary Liche, to middle managers, to those who acquired one in a mortgage, to full-time tellers then part-time tellers. Without any of these to give commands, a Debt Wight will simply stand still and do nothing until given one or it sees another Debt Wight undertaking a command - in which case it will follow and do the same.

Small rewards may be given to those who return aimless Debt Wights back to the bank - usually low-interest mortgages or better exchange rates on cash or speculative currencies.


The Fiduciary Liche

Found on here, unsure of author.
Y'know what they say:

Snitches get stitches.
Witches get bitches.
Liches get riches.

In case it's not clear, he's not a fiduciary for your benefit. He's acting on behalf of a higher power: one that craves the interest of wizards' souls and mortgage security sausages. If you're lucky, the only time you'll see him is when you're paying off your student loan. (At which time he will offer you another mortgage.)

If you're unlucky, you'll see him just before he turns your soul into sausage.

Numerous titles and honors are his:

Chief Custodian for the Bank Inerrable.
Head Manager - that is, Manager of Heads - of the Chronulean Educational Trust.
Personal Accountant for four of five Archmages.
Copyright Holder of the Concept of the Birthday, and legally the only person in the entire city who is allowed to have one.

Fidicuary Liche
AC Mail  HD 16  HP 33
1d12 Leeching Touch
Undead Immunities
Cannot be Turned or Harmed unless it is proven to him that he has made an Error.
Leeching Touch: On attack, siphons 100 spellgold from the target. If the target doesn't have enough spellgold, then all available spells are lost. If no spells remain, the target is turned into a Debt Wight.
Liche Slap: In a pinch, the Liche can also dislodge his skeletal hand and throw it at people within 30ft. This hand remains animate and retains Leeching Touch.
Hyper-Accounting: The Fiduciary Liche knows all of the stats and prepared spells of everyone within his sight, including how many spells remain.
Phylactery: His soul is kept disguised among thousands within the Tesseractic Vaults of the Bank Inerrable. In the event of his body's death he will regenerate at the phylactery in 1 Hour.

Birthday celebrations are usually rather pathetic and sad. The Fiduciary Lich doesn't like people, so consequently birthdays typically involve a cake which he does not eat, presents he will not open, and a single party game which goes unplayed. Various dimensional guests usually sit around a room quietly until the Lich is satisfied with his celebration, before ex-filtrating back to their realities.