Sunday, November 19, 2017

Getting ideas from Birth Augurs (Part II)

Here are more Birth Augurs ideas and variants for DCC Corebook. You can read the first post here. I try to give ideas for PCs under the influence of each Augur, either for positive/neutral Luck modifiers or negative modifiers.

- Born under the loom: (Positive) The quintessential Jack-of-All-Trades. While this Augur is great for thieves (free skill bonus!), I find it excellent for mixing with other classes. You could be an enlightened duelist from exotic lands (a Warrior using his skill bonus for wuxia and social skills), a Cleric of the God of Thieves or Knowledge, a true Sage! (Wizard), an old rascal of a Halfling who lived a lot and did a lot, a truly ancient Elf or Dwarf. (Negative) You’re clumsy like Goofy. Maybe your “unluckiness” is legendary and small accidents happen around you all the time. Offering help is practically your way of intimidating someone! [Variant Born in the trade: I find the original Augur a little overpowered… after all, you gain a bonus to all skills! In my table that is a huge boon. So I usually allow my player, when rolling this Augur, to choose between 2 versions (or throw a coin and late Fate decide). Born in the trade is variant Augur that grant either a bonus or a penalty only to “thievery stuff” (Thief skills if you must). A positive Luck mod gives bonus to Thief skills, a negative Luck mod gives penalties. The original Born under the loom grant a bonus/penalties to all other kind of skill checks. If choose to use this variant, there are a few interesting concepts to use: you could play a holier-than-thou Cleric (Born in the trade, negative Luck) that refuses to do thieving/skulking (and sucks at it); or go for the opposite, building a paladin-like PC (Born in the trade, positive Luck) that is GREAT at thieving, but hates to do it.]
- Fox’s cunning: (Positive) You can play a PC known for his preternatural “danger sense”. Maybe your PC is touched by the Weird and suffers visions of terrible things that will happen. If you go by the “fox” part of the Augur, maybe your PC had a shapechanging fox as a parent. A simpler option is that your PC is just cunning or clever. (Negative) Traps love you! That could mean simply bad kharma. Traps could mean lots of other things besides pits and mechanical terrors. Your PC always fall for all kind of traps, with mean he/she could be gullible (a Halfling), have a way of thinking as slow as rocks (a Dwarf) or just don’t ever get how “mortals”/humans act (an Elf). Maybe your PC is one member of the party always picked by snake oil salesmen. [Variant Fox’s cunning: I like to extend this Augur’s theme to ambushes and surprise attacks.]
- Four-leafed clover: (Positive) “Good” stuff always reach your hands. You’re, in other words, Bilbo, who manages to find a ring of invisibility lying in the ground of a cave. Maybe your PC is lucky with small (non-mechanical) stuff. Your room at the Lord’s castle is the only one with a bath. While crossing a town during heavy rain you, alone in the party, reaches the mayor’s house without been full of mud. (Negative) “Bud” stuff always reach your hands. You’re, in other words, Bilbo, who manages to find the cursed One Ring of the Dark Lord lying in the ground of a cave! Please, let use this PC’s negative Luck modifier as bonus when rolling for cursed items! [Variant Four-leafed clover: I like to extend this Augur’s effects to any roll on treasure tables, if applicable.]
- Seventh Son: (a Variant) A quick research tells that the 7th son of a 7th son could be a gifted healer, a natural diviner, a person resistant or immune to poisons, or even a werewolf (a common folklore here in Brazil). These are all good ideas if your PC isn’t a spellcaster (I hate mechanical traits that are useless). If you want, roll a 1d4 for non spellcasters PCs that rolled this Augur: healing rolls (1), perception (2), saves against poisons (3) and saves against curses (4). Another option, is simply let PCs with this Birth Augur cast spells from scrolls like a Thief (using a d10). Another option for “spell-less” 7th Sons is that they’re “luck/unlucky amulets” for spellcasters. If the PC has a positive Luck modifier he can choose on spellcaster ally each game session to gain that bonus. This must be roleplayed somehow in the table (the chosen spellcaster maybe paid him a beer at the tavern, or maybe the PC and the spellcasters had a tryst). If the PC has a negative Luck modifier, all beneficial spells cast on him suffer a penalty. Finally, don’t forget that the “7th Son” bit is just an idea: maybe the PC was born with a caul over his head, maybe he/she has the Evil Eye, an extra thumb, was a lycanthrope in the past, have a pentagram or the symbol of Chaos on his left hand etc.
- The raging storm: (Positive) Your magic seems more potent than it really is. The Judge is encouraged to add an extral cool manifestation or “special effects” on your magical strikes. Maybe your potent magic allows the PC to do small “cantraps”, like lighting his pipe. (Negative) I like two options here. The classic is that your magic is puny. Maybe your Cleric follows a pacifist or dying god. Your Wizard or Elf may be cursed. You could be a “gutter mage”, someone who learned magic alone and never “got it right”. [Variant Raging storm: Another - more unorthodox - option is that your magic is actually VERY destructive, even when beneficial. Here’s how I would do it: everytime you cast a spell there’s collateral damage. Your fireball will hit innocent bystanders and property. If there isn’t victims around, roll a Luck check. If you fail deal your negative Luck modifier to a random ally or even yourself. A cruel Judge could require a Luck check even when your Cleric heals, reducing the total hit points healed by your negative modifier (and to boost your healing hurts… maybe you’re a Chaotic Cleric or a follower of some bloodthirsty deity). (Positive or Negative) OK, what if you’re a “spell-less” PC (Warrior, Thief, Halfling or Dwarf)? You could be magic resistant (or vulnerable), adding your Luck modifier to a spellcaster’s DC (if Positive) or to the spellcaster roll (if Negative)].
- The righteous heart: Here the best idea is to check your PC’s alignment before setting any ideas. Un-dead, monsters, devils and demons are anathema to both Law and Neutral. Chaotic dragons, extraplanars and humanoids are the other enemies of Lawful PCs, while Neutral PCs face lycanthropes and “perversions of nature” (aberrations from previous d20?). Chaotic PCs face lawful dragons, extraplanars and humanoids, besides angels and paladins. (Positive) You may belong to an ancient bloodline or order that hunt the Unholy. Maybe something in your blood hurt those creatures. You could also be the reincarnation of some powerful hunter of the Unholy. (Negative) You’re “half-Unholy” (demon-blooded or perhaps a half-vampire, a dhampir).  [Variant Righteous heart: Turn unholy is very specific and quite useless if you aren’t a Cleric. So, for non-Cleric PCs let this Augur affect another stat. Options (roll a 1d4 if you like): saves against Unholy (1), attack rolls (2), damage rolls (3), skill checks (4)].
- Survived the plague: Let’s go the most Warhammerian Augur of all! This is the peerfect Augur for Gongfarmers, Rat-catchers, Gravediggers, Cutters/Barbers etc. (Positive) Congratulations, you literally survived a deadly plague! The fact that magic healing works better on you may suggest you were touched by the Divine in some fashion; maybe you were a prophesied child-avatar (a failed one if you became a Warrior, but the fame still carries on). You PC may be a pious followers of the Gods (again, a perfect option for non-Clerics). If you’re a Wizard, this could mean perhaps some pact in your family. If you’re an Elf - a traditional Chaotic and arcane race - this could mean you’re actually Half-Elven! (Negative) Congratulations, you survived the plague but was crippled, marked or disfigured by it! Icon magic healing may not work on you because you’re an Elf (blood of Chaos), a Dwarf (resistant to magic?), a heretic or excommunicated fellow or maybe even demonblooded. Another option is that you almost died once and since then Death has been following your PC.
- Lucky sign: (Positive) You’re the Chosen One (or so says the local clergy). You may be a (self-declared) saint or prophet, whose resistance to magic and other events is seen as a sign of divine protection. Maybe you were born under the Twin-Tailed Comet (good luck forging your Empire). You could have a special amulet or token (Warrior or Thief) or relic (Cleric). You could have forged a pact with some hidden patron, like a warlock (Wizard); or you could be one of the patron’s spawns (bastard son of the King of Elfland!). You could also have hidden your soul inside a lesser phylactery (Wizard) or given (literally) your heart to a fey (Elf). (Negative) Something is seeking your death. Maybe you survived your Funnel (or childhood) because you (or your parents) sold your soul. You could be the sole survivor of some deadly catastrophe; your presence is seen as a terrible omen. You carry some clear sign of unlucky. You could be a beardless Dwarf, a weird and albino Halfling (Gollum?), an Elf with ebony skin and white hair (???), or a Human with cloven feet or little horns.
once and since then Death has been following your PC.
- Guardian angel: read my entry on Fox’s Cunning for ideas about traps. (Positive) Let’s focus on the “guardian angel” part. You could have a more powerful familiar (Wizard or Elf), a small and annoying but useful animal companion (a hamster named Boo!) or maybe a spirit literally guards you against traps and similar “accidents”. (Negative) Take those positive ideas and turn they around. Your familiar wants to kill you! He’s useful most of the time, but from time to time the damn critter seems to plot your doom (please Judge, don’t forget to roleplay the evil familiar laughing every time the spellcaster suffers a critical hit). If you aren’t an arcane spellcaster, you could be haunted by some poltergeist (an ancestor you betrayed, a patron from whose pact you escaped etc.). You PC could actually be mad! You could see an evil twin or creepy demon stalking you and trying to push you in pits and traps, but ONLY YOU see the damn clown! (I hate clowns…).
- Survived a spider bite: (Positive) You have an unhealthy dose of  entomophilia (maybe you’re like Reinfield and actually likes to eat bugs). You could come from a far land where the peasants use giant bugs instead of cattle or horses. If you’re a Dwarf, you could have survived a massive war against giant spiders (if you’re a Halfling, you could have survived a trek through Mirkwood!). If you’re an Elf, you were banished because of your religious believes. (Negative) You’re obviously entomophobic. If you also have a low Stamina, this could mean you were poisoned and almost died (you’re weak and probably requires alchemy or recorrent divine magic to be kept alive… you maybe you require a supernatural patron or you will die).

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Getting ideas from Birth Augurs

One of the elements that my original table liked most about DCC RPG is the Birth Augur (they were also fans of Warhammer Fantasy’s Doomings, which are familiar). We liked to give wide interpretations to a PC’s Birth Augur. If a PC rolled the augur “The Bull”, for example, then we would like to picture that character as a brute, not only in physical strength but also on his approach to everything. That could either mean that the PC believed that a forceful approach was the best, or simply a character that was blunt and direct.

Here are examples using the Birth Augurs from DCC Core Book. With “Positive” examples I tried to consider situations where a positive or neutral Luck modifier would work; for “Negative” examples I thinking on PCs with negative Luck.
- Harsh winter: (Positive) Either a “Winter is coming!” background (a grim and fatalist PC) or a PC that comes from war-ravaged or brutal homelands (Cimmeria, Mordor, Frozen North etc). (Negative) This is a PC that is probably traumatized by combat, maybe crippled or cursed (by a winter deity? A Crom-like god?). Perhaps - may the gods help us - you’re a pacifist!
- The Bull: (Positive) a violent PC that solves all his problems through battle. (Negative) You suck in melee combat. If you by the bull aspect, but inverted, then this PC might be a mutant or pariah, too weak to fight, who is seeking a cure for his debility (maybe through a Patron or arcane magic).
- Fortunate date: (Positive) the talented archer (Bard, the Dragonslayer-wannabe), sniper (an assassin?), blessed by some god of the hunt or maybe a daredevil spellslinger. If you go for the name of the Augur, then this is that irritable fellow that seems to always get the best girl, the best spot, and also the one that always leaves a battle without a single drop of blood on his mail. (Negative) No one trusts you with a bow or even a crossbow. Maybe your PC hates archers (and elves?). Going by an inverted Fortunate Date, maybe your PC was born on the day of some terrible catastrophe (like a battle that killed thousands). Most people know this and avoid you like the plague.
- Raised by wolves: (Positive) You was orphaned while crossing a jungle and was raised by beasts (not original enough, but what if you’re dwarf? This happened at my table and made me create a “Beastmaster” class). The bonus to unarmed attacks suggests that your PC learned to live by himself, without much, so maybe the orphan background is the best (or maybe you trained with Shaolin monks). (Negative) You can’t get yourself to do dirty works. Maybe you’re a pampered third or fourth son of a noble housed. Without any inheritance, you were forced to the perilous path of dungeon delver.
- Conceived on horseback: (Positive) You’re the true Mongol (or Dothraki, or Rohirrim etc) rider! You could came from a culture that worship horses (Warrior, Elf or Cleric), or maybe you started your career stealing horses (Thief, Halfling), or you could be that one apprentice who learned magic with a unicorn (Elf or Wizard? Obviously a virgin). (Negative) The perfect Augur for dwarves - you hate horses and they HATE you back (every horse on the world has Favored Enemy: You). Perhaps you actually was a horse shapechanged to humanoid (or a humanoid cursed by a nemesis to be donkey for 7 years… now it is revenge time!).
- Born on the battlefield: (Positive) The obvious one here is that you literally could have been born in a battlefield (your mom is probably a bit mad, I guess). This Augur can also represent a certain degree of bloodlust or even psychopathy on your “heroic” PC. (Negative) If you’re playing a wizard or halfling then please try a character who can’t stand the mere sight of blood. If you’re a Warrior or Dwarf, then I guess that you enjoy a good challenge. In that case, try to play a pacifist. You won’t kill most enemies (but you do love to use lots of Mighty Deed of Arms).
- Path of the bear: (Positive) The “bear” part is the secret. You can be a Beorn-like character: big, furred and cranky. This is actually the type of Augur that I enjoy most for non-Warrior (non-Dwarf) PCs - imagine an ogre-like brute who studied wizardcraft, or a really cranky and foul-mouthed halfling. Maybe your PC has a bear’s appetite or enjoys the company of animals. You probably break things by accident, a lot. Collateral damage is your surname! (Negative) OK, you punch like a pixie (if you’re an Elf or Halfling that’s perfect). Let’s think on the opposite of a bear - maybe a fox, a rat or anything small and cowardly. You’re the kind of PC that hates when the battles gets close. You like to stay away (far far away), duly protected by a cover. If you’re a Warrior then you’re (obviously) an archer.
- Hawkeye: (Positive) Play Green Arrow or Hawkeye. Really. Both are awesome PCs in terms of personality and charisma (and if your Personality is high, then you’re a natural candidate for the role). This is the adventurer that always note that one small detail that can save the party. You’re probably perceptive and keen-eyed. (Negative) Play a Mr. Magoo PC! And use glasses. And complain about goblin blood falling on your glasses every time.
- Pack hunter: (Positive) This is a really bizarre Augur for me, at least mechanically. You’re basically good with “peasant” weapons. This could mean that you never forget your lowly origins. You may be a big fuckinh hero now, but your dream is still to retire to a good and nice farm, to plant cabbages or turnips (if you can bore the hell out of your party by talking about turnips and cabbages you should deserve a +1 Luck point). Or we could go by the name - you’re a pack creature. You work better when in a team and you’re everyone’s second best friend. (Negative) You’re a lone wolf in a adventure party - which basically means you’re a diva or a hypocrite. Roleplay Wolverine/Logan; complain a lot about how everyone around hinders you (especially while been healed by the Cleric). If you go by the mechanical aspect, then your PC was probably a highborn fallen on harder times (or a bastard). You still keep your noble perks - you enjoy fine food, clothes and weapons. You would NEVER touch “dishonorable” weapons like a pitchfork or knife. [Variant Pack Hunter: actually, given the name of this Augur, I believe it would be nice if you gained your luck bonus on attack and damage rolls if you followed another PC’s action. For example, if a Warrior attacked a goblin, you would gain the Luck bonus by attacked that same goblin with your next action. If you have a negative Luck modifier, you have to be “original” every round or suffer a penalty to attack and damage rolls - yes, you really hate battles against only one adversary]

If like this approach I’ll post the other Birth Augurs later.

See ya!