Thursday, October 20, 2016

Beware the one's that smile too much [Work in Progress]

I will show you fear in a handful of dust. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Pictures Mangled by Me: Any picture with this in its caption means it is a collage I made using 19th and early 20th century illustrations. All these illustrations are public domain, meaning I didn't rob anyone by using these pictures for my own gains.

Author's Note: I will be posting the stats/crunch as well as a bit more fluff this weekend, but I wanted to post something. As of late my rate of production has slackened due to me making more collages. I wanted to post at least something, I have felt rather unproductive as of late. 

A smile can be as deadly as a knife between ribs. Pictures Mangled By: Me
A smile. That is all that can be remembered of them, their faces nothing but static. Cordial to the point of absurdity, caricatures of polite behavior, they charm their way through crowds to place a gift among them.

Truly, they are gifts to the whole city, but unfortunately these gifts will be confiscated before the rest of the citizenry can enjoy them. No matter, there are always more gifts to give, more minds to enlighten.

The gifts? Radio Idols, clay and porcelain faces, eyes replaced with dials, mouths now speaker grills, ears now vacuum tubes. But the gifts really aren't the Radio Idols at all, it's the broadcasts that are the true gift to the city. A sweet girl's voice counting away the world for all to hear.

1, 13, 7, 4, 23, 11... Pictures Mangled By: Me

Her numbers quantify the pointlessness of life itself, showing its insignificance to the true depths. In hearing the numbers, the people's minds are opened, freed from the arbitrary constraints of society. Then the screaming starts. Then the blood. Then the realization of what they've done. Then the screaming. Then the blood. Then. Then. Then.

Interview: City Works Contractor #1723-A Dravok, Olvia.
Interviewer: After you saw the target place the device in the crowd, what did you do next?

Olivia: I waited until he [pause] no, it, left the crowd. I then activated the [REDACTED] device issued to me by [REDACTED] before following it.

Interviewer: Then what happened, Olivia?

Olivia: Please, don't make me relive this [unintelligible].

Interviewer: If you want us to fulfill our end of the agreement, you will have to give me the full details. 

Last known picture of Olivia Dravok.
Olivia: Alright [pause] Alright. I followed it through an alley off of [REDACTED] street, though it had a number of differences from the map I had memorized.

[pause] I realized I was no longer in the city cell when I noticed the sky had changed. It [pause] it was thin somehow, like there was something behind it pushing at the very fabric of the sky.

[pause] I saw the tower first. It was so tall, I couldn't believe how tall it was. Its facade was cracked, and out of it spilled [pause] un-fire, fire that's not fire, that tricks you into thinking it's fire but your soul knows it's something else entirely.

It had a [expletive] baby's face, moving like it was crying without physical noise. [pause] It was soul noise, I could hear it with my soul. I can still hear it now.

[pause] The whole area was ruined, like a war zone. Bombed out buildings, collapsed houses, like the stuff I saw in the war. There were occasional bright flashes of light, like explosions. But the colors were off, and there wasn't any noise. I saw the [pause] people next.

Some were just silhouettes, but colorful, a spectrum just rolling ever onward. Others [pause] others I could see right through except for a part of them, like their veins or nervous system just floating in a dark shadow. Most of them just kept on repeating the same movements over and over, like they were caught in a loop.

Oh sweet Sanctus that's [pause] that's when the face on the tower looks right at me. And it saw me, it saw me like no one else ever had, and I knew that it knew me totally.

I [pause] I can't remember what happened next. My next memory is standing in [REDACTED] square holding two severed heads of those smiling things, I was covered in blood, I could taste it in my mouth.

Please [pause] Please can we be done?

Interviewer: Yes, that will be enough. Thank you Olivia.

Olivia: You'll keep your word won't you?

The City Works Agency always keeps its promises. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Interviewer: Of course, we're the City Works Agency, we always keep our promises.

Olivia: You know how to kill me then? I've tried so many times, but I keep coming back. That [pause] that face told me it wouldn't let me go. That I had to stay in the city, with it, forever.

Interviewer: Don't worry Miss Dravok, you'll be dead soon.

Olivia: Thank you, you have no idea how tired I am. I just want to close my eyes and not... [Loud unidentified noise]


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dreaming cities upon a beach

Stillborn gods petrified at the moment of their birth. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Pictures Mangled by Me: Any picture with this in its caption means it is a collage I made using 19th and early 20th century illustrations. All these illustrations are public domain, meaning I didn't rob anyone by using these pictures for my own gains.

Twinned cities upon and above a dreaming sea. Rem, adobe and sandstone buildings stacked atop one another, an urban mountain reaching toward strange skies. Traumstadt, city upon a pier of dark stone, prime example of medieval Teutonic architecture, the pier stretching out onto a prismatic sea.

The Rem Sea, its prismatic waters ebbing and flowing as the other watery bodies of the world. A surface of rainbows stretching out beyond the horizon, beneath, a blue filled with life mythical and mundane. Images the waters reflect are rarely the same as the visage that created them, at times fantastic, at times strange, and yet others the images make the caster recoil from what they see.

From these waters a rare god or goddess might be born, though they are more likely to be a stillbirth, if they are born at all. These stillbirths protrude from the sea, stone shapes, some twists on familiar forms, others completely alien. Even in their fetal state, these deities are massive, their now lifeless bodies petrified into a dark stone. It is from this very stone that the wounded poet-king Eoin constructed the pier city Traumstadt, before leaving to found his kingdom in the Dreamland.

Strange dead gods among sailors and ships. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Rem and Traumstadt are the beginning points of any journey to the kingdom of dreams, though many find the allure of these shore cities to strong to abandon. Rem and Traumstadt are charmed places, being in some ways more innocent than their mundane counterparts. While crime, cruelty, and poverty exist within the cities, their reign is far diminished. Rem and Traumstadt are fable places, where heroes are consistent and pure, and where villains still hesitate before certain crimes.

The destruction of Rem and Traumstadt at the height of the Storyteller Wars was the bitterest loss among the conflicts' casualties. But, those deaths are two centuries away, and the world is ignorant to the coming loss. Be of good cheer, for happiness and grandeur can still be won in these diminishing times. 

A fabled place of strange wonders. Art By: Harry Clarke
Author's Note: This setting, which I am calling 'The Dream Age' is the counterpoint to the Infinite City. It takes place 200 years before the setting of the Infinite City, filled with the wonder that died in the trenches while the world warred with the Marchen.

The Dream Age is more of standard fantasy setting than the Infinite City, though it is still filled with the same surreal dream logic/imagery/themes. Its culture and technology resembles an idealized version of the late medieval/early renaissance commonly found in fantasy settings. I will be explaining the history of the Storyteller Wars from both sides of the conflict, before and after.

Initially, I began work on this city as a gift to a guy named John Leutz, however, it has morphed into something more. I wanted to work on something with the same level of weirdness as the Infinite City but far more light/hopeful. I will be back to the dark surrealism of the Infinite City in my next post, I will be trading off between places in future posts. 

Rem, a mountain of a city. Pictures Mangled By: Me
This is a city constructed of adobe and sandstone, ruled over by sphinxes. It would look at home among the cities of the middle east. Due to the Storyteller Wars the sphinxes had fled to the Infinite City to war with the spiders over libraries and knowledge. But in this age, their beauty and mythic nature is undiminished. These daughters of the sand and savannah are the keepers of secrets and wisdom, and rule over Rem with a sagacity that would put king Solomon to shame.

The monarch of the city is queen Inanna, the timeless mother of all living sphinxes who gave birth to the very creature that Oedipus slew. While she rules from a palace that bears her form, her daughters keep peace in the streets, striding proudly on two legs and four.

Traumstadt, reaching out into the dream sea. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Constructed of stone taken from the bodies of stillborn and petrified gods protruding from the Rem sea. Its architecture, and culture, is that of medieval Europe with high Gothic towers and arches looming over the city. Traumstadt was constructed by the wounded poet-king Eoin Leutz after leaving the mundane world, dismayed and dejected over the cruelties he found there in his lifetime. He did not spend long in the city he created, having soon left to found his own kingdom in the Dreamland.

Traumstadt is built on a stone pier that reaches out into the dream sea like a city-wide bridge without ever touching land. It grows slowly, new arches and pylons appearing suddenly at night while the city dreams. The population of the city will build onto the new open spaces as they appear, continuing the architectural tradition of the rest of the city. It is believed by some that the city is a god or goddess that continues to grow in the womb of the Rem sea, and one day it will awake and be born. 

Traumstadt, near the shore. Pictures Mangled By: Me
The city is ruled over by spiders, the descendants of ancient arachnids that made their homes in the library of Alexandria and the temples of Sumeria. Traumstadt's king, Uttu, is responsible for saving the works of Homer (who was in fact a spider wearing a human disguise) from the burning of Alexandria's library. While returned many of the works to the world, he kept three to himself with the promise to reveal them after he had written something better.

His sons and daughters roam the city, keeping order when the can be pulled away from their own writings. Most are no larger than medium sized dogs, but few have reached truly incredible sizes, growing as large as elephants. Rumor has it that many of the young arachnids have abandoned the traditional way of writing using webs and silk, going instead to write upon parchment using ink.

Knights of the Resurrected Dreamer
In Traumstadt, an order of knights has been founded based upon the teachings of the Sainted Dreamer. The Dreamer crawled from the waters of the Rem sea, having nearly been stillborn, but being born twisted and lame. This order is founded on bringing back ability to those who have been born broken, or who were broken in life.

The Dreamer calls on its followers to gather the disabled, and give them tools to live a life on par with the abled. It is the will of the Dreamer that all be given a chance to live the lives they might hope for, to walk with purpose. These given tools do not mimic their natural counterparts in shape, rather they flaunt their existence. The Dreamer commands pride in those who have been given its blessings, those of mundane form should be pitied for all looking the same. 

A knight jousting on a Bed Mount. Pictures Mangled By: Me
Chair and Bed Mounts
These devices act as legs for those who do not have the use of their own legs, or for those with the coin who do not wish to use their own legs. For people without the use of their own legs, the order inserts a enchanted splint into the individual's lower spine. The splint directly transmits the user's will and reflex to the chair or bed. For those with the coin to spend, they may buy a crown to control the devices in the same way. These mounts can walk as long as the user remains conscious, if unconscious the mount will remain still.

OSR / LotFP / AD&D
While using a Chair or Bed Mount, the device uses the character's Dexterity score, allowing the individual to avoid attacks as anyone else would.

Splint Cost: Free
Crown Cost: 2000 gp (OSR / AD&D) / 2000 sp (LotFP)

The cost of the first device, be it bed or chair is included in the cost of the crown, or given away in the case of the splint. The second device costs 500 gp/sp, this cost can be higher of the user wishes the device to be made using expensive materials.

Chair Mount -
Base Speed: 40 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: None

Bed Mount -
Base Speed: 60 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: -2 out of 6, -33%, or -6 depending on the skill system used.

A Chair Mount. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Pits & Perils
Splint Cost: Free
Crown Cost: 2000 gp

The cost of the first device, be it bed or chair is included in the cost of the crown, or given away in the case of the splint. The second device costs 500 gp, this cost can be higher of the user wishes the device to be made using expensive materials.

Chair Mount -
Base Speed: 50 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: None

Bed Mount -
Base Speed: 75 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: Very Difficult / -3 to 2D6 roll.

While more innocent, there is still darkness in these lands. Art By: Harry Clarke

Pathfinder / 3.X
Splint Cost: Free
Crown Cost: 2000 gp

The cost of the first device, be it bed or chair is included in the cost of the crown, or given away in the case of the splint. The second device costs 500 gp, this cost can be higher of the user wishes the device to be made using expensive materials.

Chair Mount -
Base Speed: 30 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: None

Bed Mount -
Base Speed: 45 ft.
Penalty to Climbing: -6 to all skill rolls made to climb.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Nothing crushes freedom as substantially as a tank. 3.X DnD / Pathfinder

Kills folks with more efficiency than any other tank on the market. Pictures Mangled By: Me

A metal shell, three cannon muzzles, one atop another, pointing forward, the bottom a writhing skirt of glistening and mottled flesh. Embedded into the riveted gunmetal shell, sideways turned eyes, the irises a bilious yellow, gaze darting about with a frantic energy. Smoke billows out a smokestack attached to the rear of the metal thing. Looming above the construct, half a masculine face, its eyes open and black, the lower portion missing, a forked lance protruding where the mouth had been, a neck like the segmented body of a millipede. The face turns, and the sound of a sweet feminine voice singing as a a bolt of strange energy bursts from the face's forked lance.

Pictures Mangled by Me: Any picture with this in its caption means it is a collage I made using 19th and early 20th century illustrations. All these illustrations are public domain, meaning I didn't rob anyone by using these pictures for my own gains.

To understand the full story, you may want to read the entries for:

Excerpt of a letter from Odilan Ovea to her husband. Dr. Ovea was the lead researcher for the Infinite City Unified War Department during the last decade of the Storyteller Wars.


Did you cover the mirrors as I asked? Aelfar... A. E. L. F. A. R. Aelfar aelfar aelfar aelfar aelfar a R. SfhfosihfljgsdoIHgahg podhgsdapohg.

Sorry... I needed to write that. See? Maybe you don't, understanding requires proximity. You're so far. The Aelfar don't understand gibberish, and will avoid documents with it. Understand? Do you? Or do the mirrors keep the you logic from you?

Last known picture of Doctor Odilon Ovea.

We perfected them last month... No, I. I. I. I. I perfected them. I was able to isolate their nervous system from the rest of the body. Who are they? Oh silly love, Templum Achatina Sapiens, of course, you are so very silly, it is why I love you so.

I BROUGHT THEM BACK, I was able to bring the original creatures back, I undid the mutations made to them, made them WHOLE again. Then. Then. Then. I contacted the AELFAR, I found references to contact rituals in the old documents they gave us.

The janitor is a KoBaLoS. Kobalos. See? No... You don't. They, Aelfar, used to OWN the Kobalos, but grew tired of the entire race and threw them away in the Infinite City. I killed the janitor, and then I took him apart according to the texts. Then THEY stepped out of the mirror!

Dr. Ovea's letter was found on her travel desk.

So very nice! They told me exactly what to do to make them into real weapons! Then I did it! Weapons, armor, everything! !!! ! !

The Aelfar said they would take care of the body of the Kobalus. And they did! No more body, they said they would take care of you too! We will be together soon. No one will remember you or the Kobalus, then we will be together.

ARCHIVAL Note No. 118-A6-T3:
This, along with a number of other undelivered letters, were found in the room of Dr. Odilan Olvea. Apparently, she had committed suicide, using a piece of broken mirror. According to records: Dr. Olvea had never been married and Facility 11A never employed a Kobalus as a janitor.

It is unclear whether she had successfully contacted Race 010, however, all of her personal belongings were destroyed and all documents pertaining to Race 010 have been secured, as per Regulation 314 Paragraph 13. All possible instances of Crossover, MUST be treated as having actually occurred.

Beware of what stares back at you when you stare into a mirror.

Summary of Technical Specifications for the Mark I “Proteus” Battle Leviathan.

Crew: 5 (2 Engineers, 2 Gunners, 1 Controller)
Combat Weight: 18 tons
Armor: 0.23 (6 mm)
Dimensions: Length: 25 ft. Width: 15 ft.
Gunner Operated
1x 1.89 inch (48 mm) Inferno Cannon (Forward Facing)
1x 2.20 inch (56 mm) Tempest Cannon (Forward Facing)
1x 2.52 inch (64 mm) Winter Wolf Cannon (Forward Facing)

Controller Operated
1x Aria Device (Turreted)
6x Gazer Devices (2x Forward Facing, 1x Left Facing, 1x Right Facing, 2x Rear Facing)

WARNING: All controllers must submit to a psyche analysis by a military alienist after every mission. All crew are required to report any out of the ordinary behavior of their assigned controller. 

External view of the tank's control helmet. Pictures Mangled By: Me
Pathfinder / 3.X
CR 10
XP: 9,600
N Gargantuan vermin
Initiative: -4
Senses: Senses Dark Vision 60ft.; Perception +0

AC: 30, touch 4, flat-footed 30; (–4 Dex, +20 natural, +8 Armor –4 size)
HP: 126 (12d8+72)
Fort +12, Ref +0, Will +5
DR: 10/slashing or piercing Immune acid, mind-affecting effects

Speed: 20 ft. - May move up to 2x base speed and still use a Cannon and a Device.

Cannons: Crew may fire 1 cannon a round.
Inferno: Range: 300 Ft. w/ 20 ft. radius Burst Damage: 8D6 Fire (Reflex DC 22 for ½ Damage) [Avg. Crew To-Hit: +5. Must hit an area, rather than an individual. AC 10]
Tempest: Range: 120 Ft. Line Damage: 8D6 Electric (Reflex DC 22 for ½ Damage) [Avg. Crew To-Hit: +5. Must hit an area, rather than an individual. AC 10)]
Winter Wolf: Range: 40 Ft. Cone Damage: 12D4 Cold (Reflex DC 22 for ½ Damage) [Avg. Crew To-Hit: +5. Must hit an area, rather than an individual. AC 10]

Devices: Controller may use 1 device a round.
Gazer: The controller may attack everyone within 60 ft with a single ranged touch attack to-hit roll. Anyone the controller would normally hit, takes 1D8 points of fire damage. [Avg. Crew To-Hit: +5]
Aria: Range: 400 Ft. w/ 20 ft. radius Burst Damage: *D4 (Will save DC 22 to avoid Fading). [Avg. Crew To-Hit: +5. Must hit an area, rather than an individual. AC 10]
Notes: The aria device does a number of D4 dice of damage equal to the level/HD of the target. Those that survive a blast must make a Will save DC 22, for those that fail their save a piece of their body fades partially from sight. While this does not have any mechanical effects, it can be very disconcerting to the individual. These faded victims will occasionally feel sensations of being touched, scratched, pinched by phantom assailants. Those that are killed by this power do not leave a body behind, just an empty space where the poor soul used to be. For a chart to figure out which part gets faded permanently, consult the chart at the end of the post.
Space: 25 ft x 15 ft.
Reach: 20 ft.

Str 35, Dex 2, Con 22, Int -, Wis 10, Cha 1
The Intelligence of the creature is equal to the Controller using it.
Base Attack: +9
CMB: +21
CMD: 25 (can't be tripped)

Internal view of the tank's control helmet with controller ganglion. Pictures Mangled By: Me

Special: The controller completely controls the movements and activation of the various 'devices' on the Slug Tank. Despite the fact that the organism is largely thoughtless, it is still very taxing on the controller's mind to integrate with another. After every mission, the controller must make a save versus magic. A failed save results in the character gaining a number of Psychosis Points (1: If no damage was taken. 2: Less than ½ the tank's total HP was lost. 3: ½ or more of the tank's HP was lost). For rules, see the end of the post.

These Creatures are Vehicles: These creatures are vehicles that can be piloted by characters, which use the crew's ranged to hit rolls. If you want to allow characters to have access to these monsters, it is recommended that you use the Psychosis Point rules. 

Many soldiers came back from the war faded, wounded soul and body.

This is largely a chart by Robert F. Miller, Sr. from RPGGeek that I repurposed. If you know Robert F. Miller, Sr, tell him I think he's awesome!

Step 1: Determine Location
1 Head
2 or 3 Left Arm
4 or 5 Right Arm
6-8 Upper Torso (Breast, Collar, Armpit)
9-14 Lower Torso (Abdominal Region)
15-17 Left Leg
18-20 Right Leg

Step 2: Roll on that location's chart

1 or 2 Cranium (Skull)
3 or 4 Left Eye
5-7 Left Ear
8 or 9 Nose
10-12 Mouth
13-15 Neck
16 or 17 Right Eye
18-20 Right Ear

1 or 2 Hand
3 or 4 Wrist
5-8 Forearm
9-11 Elbow
12-15 Above Elbow
16-20 Shoulder

Upper Torso
1 or 2 Left Pectoral Region
3 or 4 Right Pectoral Region
5-8 Left Collar Region
9-11 Right Collar Region
12-15 Left Armpit (Axilla) Region
16-20 Right Armpit (Axilla) Region

Lower Torso
1 or 2 Umbilical Region (Belly Button)
3 or 4 Genitals
5-8 Upper Left Quadrant
9-11 Upper Right Quadrant
12-15 Lower Left Quadrant
16-20 Lower Right Quadrant

1 or 2 Foot
3 or 4 Ankle
5-8 Lower Leg
9-11 Knee
12-16 Upper Leg/Thigh
17 or 18 Hip Joint
19 or 20 Buttocks 

War always involves the willful madness on the part of a tyrant or 'leader'. The rest of the world must play along in order to stay alive.
If you want to have your players roleplay out the their character's slow descent into madness, require that they act out a certain number of behavior symptoms or gain 10% less experience than the rest of the group. Particularly good/entertaining acting should receive a 10% experience bonus.

1 to 3 Points: Must act out one of the behavioral symptoms once during a session.

½ Wisdom Score in Points: Must act out two of the behavioral symptoms at least once each during a session.

½ Wisdom Score +3 in Points: Must act out three of the behavioral symptoms at least once each during a session.

Full Wisdom Score in Points: Must act out four of the behavioral symptoms at least once each during a session.

Full Wisdom Score +3 and Over: Must act out Five of the behavioral symptoms at least once each during a session.

War is often inescapable, but an attempt must always be made to avoid it.

Behavioral Symptoms:
These are all real symptoms of Schizophrenia, now you've learned something. Also, these are all general symptoms, so don't go diagnosing the player sitting next to you.

Thought Interference: Interference of unimportant, irrelevant thoughts that hinders thinking and concentration.
Thought Perseveration: Repetition of thoughts that have little or no salience.
Thought Pressure: Many thoughts with no common theme pop up uncontrollably.
Thought Blockages: Sudden loss of train of thought that may be accompanied by the intrusion of a new thought.
Disturbance of Receptive Language: Lack of immediate comprehension of speech or text in one's native language.
Disturbance of Expressive Language: Difficulty producing speech or text that is appropriate to one's message in one's native language.
Disturbances of Abstract Thinking: Difficulty comprehending idioms and metaphors.
Inability to Divide Attention: Difficulty doing something with one sense (such as vision) while simultaneously using another sense for something else (such as hearing).
Captivation of Attention by Details of the Visual Field: Attention is drawn to unimportant details as if one were "spellbound".
Decreased Ability to Discriminate Between Perception and Ideas, True Memories and Fantasies: Difficulty discriminating between what one has observed and what one has imagined.
Unstable Ideas of Reference with Insight: Sub-psychotic referential ideation that is thereafter immediately corrected by the person.
Derealization: Sense of disconnect or unreality in one's environment.
Visual or Acoustic Perceptual Disturbances with Insight: Disturbances of the perception of brightness or loudness, color or sound quality, or distortions in one's perceptions that are recognized by the person as false.

Getting Rid of Psychosis Points
Each day the character goes without integrating with the Slug Tank, they lose a Psychosis Point. Once a day, a character may spend an hour speaking with an alienist, this reduces the character's total Psychosis Points by one. No known form of magic, outside of the Wish spell, can reduce these points.