Grisly Incantations

Originally posted by Brianna Heine on the other (now defunct) version of this site.

Since I plan on writing a post concerning magic in the Hyborian Age at a much later time I want to start collecting some opinions on the topic. I’m going to save my opinion on how the system should work until later but in the meantime I want to discuss some of my thoughts on magic.

deviantART by Benito Gallego

In “The Tower of the Elephant” the being Yag-kosha explained to Conan that he “…came to this planet (Earth) with others of my world from the green planet Yag, which circles for ever in the outer fringe of this universe.”

Yag-kosha further explains that the sorcerer Yara captured him and used him to do his bidding. “But he [Yara] was not satisfied with what I taught him, for it was white magic, and he wished evil lore…”

Yara is described as “… versed in dark knowledge… with guile gotten among the dusky tomes of dark Stygia…”

This one story reveals some pretty interesting possibilities. In fact I didn’t really pick up on this until I started looking at it from a position of game development. Yag-kosha makes reference to “White Magic”.  In the context of the story it implies that magic is not all “evil lore”. Therefore I would conclude that magic exists that is not evil.

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Holy Shit: Let’s Talk about Clerics in DCC RPG, Part 3

As previously noted, I am writing with two particular assumptions in mind: One, that alignment represents allegiance, and two, that the majority of “nature gods” are Neutral.

deviantART by diablosdemie

I would say that Turn Unholy poses the biggest problem for me in regards to Chaos clerics. Last time I mentioned the anti-cleric, who completely lacked any version of Turn Undead. Considering what the power represents in the fiction, it makes sense that it would be exclusive to Lawful clerics. It’s Peter Cushing rebuking Christopher Lee with a cross; it’s a holy man passing unharmed through the valley of the shadow of death. When I first started playing D&D, the fictional truth behind Turn Undead instantly made sense to me, even if the rules for doing it didn’t. But where does the Chaos cleric fit in that fiction?

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Holy Shit: Let’s Talk About Clerics in DCC RPG, Part 2

As I noted in Part 1, I am writing with two particular assumptions in mind: One, that alignment represents allegiance, and two, that the majority of “nature gods” are Neutral. Also, this topic will now be split across three posts instead of just two, as I previously expected.

Chaos Knight by Ian Miller

In little brown book OD&D, all clerics are Lawful in alignment, and the priests of Chaos are “anti-clerics.” This distinct class lacks any power over undead, not even AD&D’s command variation for evil priests. Also, the anti-cleric spell list lacks any healing spells. Now, DCC comes together from an amalgamation of ideas across all editions of D&D, along with a lot of excellent original material. But I think there’s still a lot of value in looking back at the anti-cleric when considering Chaotic clerics and how they are distinct from Lawful and Neutral clerics, both fictionally and mechanically.

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Holy Shit: Let’s Talk About Clerics in DCC RPG, Part 1

There are currently two cleric characters in my DCC game. One is a 1st-level Lawful cleric of St. Trebor of the Gavel, whose holy words are “Judge others as ye too shall be judged.” The other (and original) cleric of the group is the Chaotic former gong-farmer Sherman Funk, filth-priest of Nimulrun the Unclean. With both ends of the spectrum at the table, it’s gotten me thinking about how the rules and the fiction jive up for clerics (especially on that chaotic end).

deviantART by DKuang

The DCC cleric is obviously rooted in the tradition of the D&D cleric, which is itself arguably an amalgam of implied psuedo-Christianity and Hammer horror films. From this we get a DCC cleric with Lay on Hands, Turn Unholy, and deity disapproval that resets every day in a manner similar to Vancian-casting clerics praying for spells in the morning. Before I get into some thoughts on each of these class abilities, know that I am making two assumptions about the fictional setting: One, that alignment represents allegiance and therefore the overwhelming majority of non-spellcasting humans are Neutral; two, that the majority of “nature gods” are Neutral, with only gods of icky things and brutal savagery falling into the Chaos camp.

Continue reading “Holy Shit: Let’s Talk About Clerics in DCC RPG, Part 1”

DCC RPG Spell Record Sheet

Another new addition to the Downloads section — this time it’s a Spell Record Sheet. Hopefully this proves a handy addition for a few wizards, clerics, and elves out there.

deviantART by Manweri

Melt: A Space-Age Sorcery Spell for DCC RPG

Space-Age Sorcery is a free PDF stuffed with flavorful OSR-compatible spells of a strange science-fantasy bent. If anything about that sounds close to your game, it’s well worth your time to head over to Hereticwerks and download it.

Here’s a DCC RPG conversion of one of the spells from that PDF using the spell conversion article in Crawl! Fanzine #1 as a guide. This one could have a lot of potential dungeon crawl benefit. I may go back later and expand the effects range to more closely mimic the 1st-level spells from the DCC rulebook.

Melt

Level: 1 (Wizard)
Range: Touch
Duration: Instantaneous
Casting Time: 1 action
Save: None

General: The caster gains the ability to liquify metals and alloys on touch, manipulating their form and causing damage golems, automatons, and metal-based lifeforms.

Corruption: Roll 1d8: (1-3) the caster’s hands transform into a gleaming, cold chrome; (4-6) minor corruption; (7) major corruption; (8) greater corruption.

Misfire: Roll 1d6: (1-4) all of the caster’s metal possessions immediately melt away into liquid; (5-6) all metal possessions of a random person within 30′ of the caster melt away.

1: Lost, failure, and worse! Roll 1d6 modified by Luck: (0 or less) corruption + misfire + patron taint; (1-2) corruption; (3) patron taint (or corruption if no patron); (4+) misfire.

2-11: Failure, spell is lost.

12-13: The wizard can use a finger to carve symbols and messages into the metal as though it were wet cement. This ability lasts for 1 turn. Alternately, on the next round a metal-based creature attacked by the wizard takes an additional 1d4 damage.

14-17: On the next round, the caster’s touch liquifies 1 pound of metal per CL. The metal will re-solidify in 1 turn; during that time the caster may sculpt and manipulate the metal with his hands, though the quality of the final result is dependent on the caster’s artistic ability. The wizard may attempt to grapple with an opponent to melt their weapons and armor.

Alternately, on the next round a metal-based creature attacked by the wizard takes an additional 1d4 damage per CL.

18-19: On the next round, the caster’s touch liquifies 1.5 pounds of metal per CL. The metal will re-solidify in 1 turn; during that time the caster may sculpt and manipulate the metal with his hands, though the quality of the final result is dependent on the caster’s artistic ability. The wizard gains a +2 bonus to attempt to grapple with an opponent to melt their weapons and armor.

Alternately, on the next round a metal-based creature attacked by the wizard takes an additional 1d6 damage per CL.

20+: On the next round, the caster’s touch liquifies 2 pounds of metal per CL. The metal will re-solidify in 1 turn; during that time the caster may sculpt and manipulate the metal with his hands, though the quality of the final result is dependent on the caster’s artistic ability. The wizard gains a +1d bonus to attempt to grapple with an opponent to melt their weapons and armor.

Alternately, on the next round a metal-based creature attacked by the wizard takes an additional 1d8 damage per CL.

My Mother was a Witch: Tiefling Class for DCC RPG

tiefling1I was a big Planescape fan back in the 90s, and I still think it’s a pretty great. Tieflings were one of my favorite aspects of the setting, though as the years went by the race definitely developed something of a “good drow” problem. While it made perfect sense for there to be a tiefling or two in every party when the game is hopping all over the multiverse, having them all over the place in more traditional fantasy worlds drains a bit of what made them special. That being said, I think the core concept can fit very well with the Appendix N style of DCC.

While many times the strange offspring of wizards and witches may be powerful outright half-demons, there’s definitely something cool to the notion of the slightly off child who becomes more sinister as they grow into their own power.

Tieflings level up as elves in terms of hit points, attack bonus, spells, saves — all of the level-based table stuff covered on p. 58 of the DCC RPG rulebook. They also get Patron Bond/Invoke Patron free as elves do. Due to their nature, they tend very strongly toward aligning with Chaos. In addition, tieflings gain the following abilities.

Second Sight: Because of their otherworldly heritage, tieflings are able to perceive the bonds between worlds. Tieflings can tell if someone is aligned with Law or Chaos just by looking at them. They can also perceive this alignment in magical artifacts.

Immunities: Tieflings are immune to being magically charmed and having their thoughts read.

Sins of the Forebearer: Tieflings begin play with two Minor Corruptions per DCC RPG p. 116 (or from Marks of Chaos 1: Subtle). As they gain power, they display ever more outward signs of their heritage — at every odd level (3, 5, 7, and 9), the tiefling gains another corruption. Roll 1d10 and add the tiefling’s new level: 1-6 Minor, 7-9 Major, 10+ Greater. Luck modifies the result on the corruption table normally, but Luck cannot be spent to avoid gaining the corruption.

Supernatural Sympathy: Because of their connection with the otherworldy, tieflings gain a +2 spell check bonus to all summoning spells and patron spells.

Luck: Tieflings are said to be harbingers of misfortune and ill fate. They gain additional abilities when spending Luck, as follows.

First, tieflings can expend Luck to bring bad luck to others. For every 2 points of Luck expended, the target gains -1 to their roll. The tiefling must be able to see the target or have some part of them (a lock of hair, some toe nails, their wedding ring).

Second, tieflings recover Luck to a limited extent. A tiefling’s Luck score is restored each night by a number of points equal to their level.

OK, here’s the thing — I was originally going to make the bad luck ability a 1-for-1 expenditure, but I was worried that it could be game breaking. I’m still worried it might be a little unbalancing. My main concern is a situation where there’s a party halfing spending Luck to help boost a wizard’s spell while the tielfling is spending luck to reduce the target’s saving throw. Yet there’s another part of me that still prefers the simplicity of a 1-for-1 expenditure. I’d love some thoughts/feedback on this.

Magical Research and Consequences

Goddamn amazing image is copyright Patrick Meehan and its use is now way intended to challenge that.
Goddamn amazing image is copyright Patrick Meehan and its use is in no way intended to challenge that.

Last week, I posted about some additional gold for xp options I’m going to try out for my DCC game. I’ve put together a document for magical research (which I’ve also added to the downloads section). Most credit should go to Brendan and Jason, as my consequences are mostly hobbled together from things they’ve done previously. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

You Will Taste Man Flesh! Orc Summoning for DCC Player Character Wizards

In Tuesday’s post, I made a few references to orcs being organized into evil armies by chaotic wizards. There is probably nothing in role-playing less in need of mechanical support than how a villainous wizard gathers an army of orcs. You want a bad wizard, you make a bad wizard; you want him to have orcs, he has orcs. The only time you could possibly have even the most remote need for a system to support this is if that foul mage is one of the player characters.

But why shouldn’t she be? We’ve had spells in D&D for a long, long time implying that other party members wouldn’t automatically turn on the wizard if he raises a few undead servants. Isn’t it equally possible that the party might be willing to put up with a little orcish brutality if it gives them a few more meatshields? So just in case that comes up, here’s a 5th level wizard spell for DCC RPG. I don’t know if this is really balanced with other 5th level spells, but hey, orc army!

Summon Orcs
Level: 5 (Wizard)
Range: Varies
Duration: Special
Casting Time: 1 week
Save: None

General: The caster calls a band of orcs to serve his sinister plans. The orcs summoned will serve the wizard until they die or until their master suffers a decisive defeat in battle (judge’s discretion). However, the wizard must set the orcs about some task that shows the promise of regular bloodshed and savagery.

To cast the spell, the wizard must have a permanent dwelling worth at least 10,000 gp. Once successfully cast, the wizard must be at the dwelling when the orcs arrive or they will wander off. The wizard need not wait around for new orcs if he already has orcish servants residing in the area around the dwelling. The orcs that arrive will be equipped with the equivalent of leather armor and a long sword.

Neutral wizards suffer a -4 spell check penalty when attempting to cast this spell; lawful wizards cannot cast it at all. If the wizard’s patron is strongly associated with orcs, they gain a +4 spell check bonus. A +1 spell check bonus is gained for every full 100 orcs already under the wizard’s command as the strengthening horde attracts ever more minions.

Manifestation: Roll 1d3: (1) The area around the dwelling grows foul, as foliage falls from dying trees and water becomes brackish; (2) A sigil of balefire appears in the sky above the dwelling; (3) Thunder clouds darken the sky above the dwelling, rumbling and crackling with lightning and dropping acid rain.

Corruption: Roll 1d6: (1) The caster’s nose transforms into a pig-like snout; (2) The caster grows boar-like tusks that just out from his lower jaw; (3) The caster’s skin takes on a sickly green-gray palot; (4) The caster permanently loses 1d4 Intelligence and begins to speak in simpler, cruder manner; (5) The caster develops a strong craving for raw meat, and will eat it at every opportunity; (6) The caster’s develops an aversion to bright light, suffering a -1 to all actions in direct sunlight.

Misfire: N/A

1: Lost, failure, and worse! Roll on the corruption table.

2-11: Failure, spell is lost for one month.

12-15: Failure, spell is lost for one week.

16-17: Failure, but spell is not lost.

18-19: The wizard summons CL in orcs. They arrive in 1d3 weeks.

20-23: The wizard summons 1d3 x CL in orcs. They arrive in 1d3 weeks.

24-25: The wizards summons 2d3 x CL in orcs. They arrive in 1d3 weeks.

26-28: The wizard summons 2d3 x CL in orcs, one of which will have 3d8 HD, along with 2d3 dire wold mounts. They arrive in 1d5 weeks.

29-33: The wizard summons 2d3 x CL in orcs with 2d3 dire wolf mounts; one orc will have 5d8 HD. They arrive in 1d5 weeks.

34-35: The wizard summons 2d6 x CL in orcs with 2d8 dire wolf mounts. One orc will have 5d8 HD, and another will have 3d8 HD. They arrive over the course of 1d6 weeks.

36-37: The wizard summons 2d12 x CL in orcs along with 1d10 x CL dire wolf mounts (there cannot be more wolves than orcs, however). One orc will have 5d8 HD, and two will have 3d8 HD. They arrive over the course of 1d6 weeks.

38+: An orcish horde of 2d16 x CL orcs are drawn to the wizard, along with 2d10 x CL dire wolves (again, no more wolves than orcs). One orc will have 5d8 HD, and four will have 3d8. They arrive over the course of 1d6 weeks.

OSR Cleric, Age of Ruins Style (Redone)

In keeping with the rest of this week, I’m already posting a revision on my OSR post from the other day. I realized that the version I posted before is probably overpowered by the standards of most old-school games, so I boiled it down to its essence and tried to adopt some Flailsnails-style compatibility.

In whatever retroclone or actual old RPG you are using, remove spellcasting from the cleric class and also remove the weapon restrictions. In addition to Turn Undead, they gain two new abilities. First, they have an X in 6 chance to Detect Chaos (or Evil) within a 100′ radius, where X is equal to their half their level, rounded up. Second, they gain a damage bonus versus undead, demons, and other supernaturally evil creatures, also equal to half their level rounded up.

I think that hits the right point in the power curve.