Saturday, July 17, 2021

Animal-Variant God Seeking Glorious Purpose, a DCC RPG Class! (And hopefully the longest-named class ever… see? GLORIOUS PURPOSE!)

 


Justicia, Azi Dahaka, Cthulhu, Bastet, Loki, Khorne, Ares, Tiamat! That is you! You are a god(deess)!... in the cannon/official/corebook timeline of Existence anyway. However, here you are the Animal-Variant version of the God(dess), originated in a displaced/erased/even-more-gonzo variant timeline, so it is hard to get the message across. You were hidden from cosmic forces that seek you demise (mostly those jerks from Balance) because they said you are an offense to Existence. Balderdash! Now it is the time to reveal to the world of your Coming and of your goal of GLORIOUS PURPOSE (or something of equal grandeur!). No more time hiding as some lowly farm animal for a fool that got himself killed in a Funnel.

This is a (obviously) gonzo class for DCC RPG and a homage to the amazing Loki series from the MCU. Not playtested, as usual, but hopefully playable.

The Class

Hit Dice: d6. You do not actually die when your reach 0 hit points, but a Watcher appears and takes you away in that moment of weakness. You cannot roll the Body. If you reach 0 hit points, They get you.

Attack: +1 per level.

Saves: as a Halfling.

Action Die: as a Halfling.

Animal Mien: Besides one weird aspect of your choice (colour, a crown, horns etc.) you look like a normal small animal (a chicken, cat, dog, a big rat, a small crocodile etc.). You have all the natural traits of the chosen animal. You cannot use any weapon or armor.

You cannot speak humanoid tongues, but for strange reasons one guy in the party can talk with you. If he/she dies, you must mimic to communicate or think on something else. It takes a month after that fool’s death to teach “High Speech” to a second fool. You can talk with other animals of your species but you find it demeaning.

Small, Fast, and Sneaky: you add your level to hide, sneak, initiative, and any checks to avoid or escape a grapple. Your natural AC is 13 plus your level due to your speed and size. You can move through opponents in melee of human size or bigger and even disengage from melee without any harm. If some one attack you with a range attack you can burn 1 Luck to roll a Luck check, if you succeed the range attack is rerolled against a random target within 5 feet of you (or the biggest one, Judge’s call). You are so small that when you are hit, you can choose to be knockdown and throwed away, if you do you take half damage from the attack but lose one Action Die for your next turn (which might leave you without actions).

Nasty Bite: it doesn’t matter your animal form, you have one nasty natural attack, usually a bite. It deals 1d4 plus your level in damage and the Critical Range is 20, increasing by one for every level thereafter (for example, 19-20 at 2nd level). You roll your critical hits in the Dragon Table, following the dice progression of the Wizard class (if you ever roll a 14 or anything related with breath weapon, consider that your “breath weapon” is 1d6 per level).

Cosmic Knowledge: you know a lot of stuff that an animal should not be aware off. Any Intelligence check related to arcane, divine, and cosmological stuff is always trained for your (i.e. roll a d20).

Divine Aid Yourself: the advantages of being a (animal variant) god is that you can get your own miracles, thank you! Roll Divine Aid as a Cleric of the same level. Every time you fail, the chance of Divine Disapproval range increases as normal for a Cleric. However, here a Divine Disapproval is not an angry god (you are the angry god after all), but actually it means that Existence has noticed your offensive state if being and sends something to take care of you. Within the next 24 hours the Judge should use a monster or roll a critter – a Cosmic Hunter – sent by Balance to get you. This creature has a number of HD equal to your Disapproval total and it can track you to your location with a precision of 30 feet (i.e. it can find where you are, but no exactly the position).

Godly Domain: choose a godly domain below.

War: you can burn 1 Luck to gain one d6 Mighty Deed of Dice (as a Warrior) for 1 turn. Whenever you roll a Strength check to break, lift or do a Strength feat, add +1 Die Step bonus. 

Trickery: you can burn 1 Luck to create an illusion of a small trinket or animal within 30 feet of you (if no one is looking at the location at the moment). The illusion can move, make sounds and act normally, but it is just an illusion. You can also use d3 Luck to create one small object (nothing bigger than a dagger) that is real for 1d4 minutes. The Judge might allow bigger objects but these will require d3 Luck and d6! Stamina (the dice explodes and might kill you) and maybe even a d20 check, using your level. 

Law: you can either Lay on Hands or Turn Undead. This increases your Divine Disapproval normally. 

Chaos: you can Spellburn to roll a Invoke Patron spell! (Any Patron that you know, you start the game knowing one Patron and must Quest for the Impossible for more, you can only cast Invoke Patron, no spells or Patron Bond; a Judge should give a bonus for style if an Animal Variant of, for example, Azi Dahaka, tries to Invoke the True Azi Dahaka!)

Minions: your obvious godly presence attracts (un)worthy minions. These are 0-level hirelings with fanatic morale. One per level! (You must Quest for the Impossible for more and in fact a cool quest might give you a cleric that follows you!). If a Minion dies, you usually get a replacement between adventures. They will carry you, feed you, and carry your stuff. In combat, they are your meat shield (Magnanimous judges might allow you to burn 1 Luck to redirect an attack from you to an adjacent Minion). Be careful, if you ever roll a Fumble within sight of your Minions, the Judge might ask for Luck roll to verify if any of your fanatics “changes” heart and betray you.




Thursday, July 1, 2021

Races/Ancestries from my kids’ games!

I posted last year how I started running RPGs to my kids, first to my daughter and then to her and my boy. I would often craft mini games, using lots of props, physical activities, and miniatures (how I miss my Lego!). Also, I would often keep things open, because they needed room to use imagination to a degree that normal RPGs are usually confining. Since 2019 I managed slowly to move to a more authentic RPG experience, with a Theatre of the Mind style of game (my favorite one!). Right now, I am finding myself in the strange situation where my kids love table-top RPG (yay!)… but only those that I write and prepare specifically for them. I just don’t see them opening any of my RPG books (and I do try to encourage them into my collection, specially D&D and other d20s). A few weeks ago I finally managed to help them create their first character sheets (they usually would tell me what character they would like to play and I would finish the sheets for them). We are now playing Inuyasha, using Advanced Fighting Fantasy. Before that we were playing our second-ever campaign of a game that I fondly call Dragon Ball FKR. The Free Kriegsspiel Revolution (FKR) really opened my eyes on the idea of “play worlds, not rules” and I also got to run a few D&D-style games for my kids.  For the latter I wanted something that they could sit at the table and play right away (I would call this a “Zelda: Breath of the Wild” approach… and yes they love the videogame). FKR is perfect for that! In our second FKR game my kids basically just choose a race/ancestry, then I run them through a Funnel (none other than a reskinned version of DCC RPG’s Portal Under the Stars). After the Funnel, they picked “classes” in a very loose sort of way and we started an adventure that I took from Sly Flourish's Fantastic Adventures. At that point I had printed the second page of D&D 5E’s character sheet and they filled it as required DURING the game session (for example: when they needed a Dex check, I would often ask them to roll 3d6 for Dex during the game to figure out the value). I tried to keep dice rolling to a bare minimum (following OSR/FKR principles). Opposed checks were also used, in the best FKR fashion (2d6 opposed). For some checks, if we had a defined stat (like the aforementioned Dex) I would ask for a roll under d20. After all, I was also trying to teach them the barebones of D&D. I didn’t used Hit Points yet, only FKR Hits (they usually started with 3). Most attacks dealt 1 Hit, with big monster or critical hits dealing 2 (but the fiction was all that mattered to determine the impact of a hit). Recently, they showed a desire in knowing more about levels, so I might start doing something in that regard (that is, after we play a bit more of our Inuyasha Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG).

…sorry about the big resume, this is a post about the Races/Ancestries that I use at my kids’ fantasy games. These days I prefer an approach to Race/Ancestry like the ones used in 13th Age and Five Torches Deep (especially the AMAZING Origins supplement). The various GLOG hacks are another wonderful way of using Races/Ancestries for flavor with usually just one or two iconic rules (the rest left to the narrative). As usually, the Red Box Hack, Troika!, Tequendria, hopefully Maze Knights and a score of OSR blogs are another source of references in this regard.

Here is the current list of Races/Ancestries, followed by their iconic abilities (I tried to be as system neutral as possible). I am tempted to use them in other RPGs with my (adult) players to see the result. Because most are taken from famous sources, I placed a few links and didn’t waste time describing them.

Hylians

The beloved of the Goddess who might (or not) be Elven-related. Yes, right out of Zelda (and I have to find some time to get the other races in!). My kids love them! Hylian Heroes are considered exceptional and thus have a closer link to their creator goddess, Hylia.

Ability: Once per game session, a Hylian can prey to the Goddess to find the answer to a simple YES or NO question. The answer comes as an insight or inspiration.

Sayans

Another favorite of my kids (and mine!). Sayans are belic and though. They usually play the role of invaders in most of my games. Noble bloodlines of Sayans, it is said, become dreadful Oozaru (giant apes) under the moonlight, but that could be a myth.

Ability: Sayans get stronger just before you think you defeated them. If brought down in combat, a sayan will rise the next round (with 1 Hit Point, Hit, Vitality Level etc.) and with Advantage (roll twice, takest highest) on all combat checks for that round. Sayans are paralyzed if someone grabs their tail!

The ability to become a berserker giant ape is a good middle-level power. This requires a tail!

Nameks

This race of mystics came from another world and are the source of all kind of psionic and magic techniques, from healing to the legendary Fusion Technique.

Ability: Nameks can reattach an amputated member and stretch their limbs to triple their length.

The ability to transfer their vitality to another target is a cool low-level power. Full regenerations should be either middle-level and costly, or high level. Fusion is very rare, but definitely a high-level technique.

Koopas

My kids love Super Mario, so armored man-turtles are definitely in! Use your favorite take on Tortles (Mystara, Red Steel, 5E etc.). In our campaigns Koopa Heroes are renegades that have forfeited their evil master, an elder turtle-dragon god-king (whose hoard is made of princesses, not gold).

Ability: Koopas are naturally armored and that is a big advantage (full plate-level).

Froggies

Gregarious frogmen that love chivalry or daring deeds. I don’t have any idea where they came from, but the visual is totally from Chrono Trigger.

Ability: to jump REALLY high and a prehensile tongue are Froggies’ obvious advantages.

Dwarves

Classic Tolkien-visual, but also inspired by Castle Falkenstein and King of Dungeons. Dwarves here are loyal, steadfast, and bullheaded. In other words, if you have a Dwarf ally, he is your best friend (even if you don’t want one).

Ability: Dwarves are immune to fire… actually they are not only immune but their hair is flammable. That gives them a very Heavy Metal visual but being “on fire!” tires them quickly.

Hobbits

Yes, Hobbits. Not halflings. They are 100% pure Tolkien. The best cookers in the world (and their food is magical).

Ability: when a Hobbit wants to move silently that is also magical. They REALLY are furtive and quiet.

Elves

The visual here is Lodoss War. Elves are magical and otherworldly, nature-loving heroes. Chaotic as you can get and very rare.

Ability: when no one is watching an Elf can teleport. This is not actually teleport, it is more that an Elf really is more “there” than “here” and when there is no one watching they often change position when you least expect it (they can teleport to any place in sight that they could walk to). Finally, an Elf is half-spirit and can try to talk to nature spirits (trees, rocks, rivers etc.). This often requires a lot of time and maybe a lot of singing and dancing. Nature spirits are weird and might not have the information most mortals are looking for.

Humans

Finally, the strangest of all: Humans. Also called the Hungry or Hollow Ones, the Devourers. Humans are everywhere, want everything and are NEVER satisfied. Their god(dess), if any, is Ambition. Other folk believe that humans have a hole where their heart or soul should be.

Ability: Humans are immune to magic. Yes, immune. They cannot be touched by it and that is why they crave magic more than anything. Most become monsters to learn magic, doing terrible things (liches, vampires, half-demons, hags, ogres, the list goes on and on). The safest way for humans to learn magic is to gain a Familiar or Animal Soul. That is always a small animal that follows the Human and is their link to the magic realms. A human with a Familiar can learn magic and even those that don’t learn it often have some knack linked to their Familiar. For example: a human with a Falcon Familiar can talk to birds and one with a Fish familiar never drowns (but can’t breath underwater). Capturing a Familiar gives you power over the Human and killing a Familiar is something terrible for both the Human and the Killer.

P.S.: This take on Humans is supposed to be radical. Humans are different, they lack something. Those that want to be part of something greater get a Familiar. Those that want to be immune to magic don’t. And immunity here is open to the Gamemaster and work both ways. In my games that means you can’t be hurt directly by magic, but indirectly is fine (charm/domination won’t work, you can walk through a magic barrier… but summon a demon and send that demon to kill you will work). Remember, “normal” Humans are immune to all magic, thus they can’t be healed by a spell or use magic items.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

KILL BILBO, a Crazy Hack for DCC RPG

 

You’re no hero (oh boy, definitely NO!).


You’re:

a Uruk reaver,

a Snaga cutpurse,

a Warg Rider,

a tight-lipped Voidcaller, master of the Black Tongue.

 

You seek the Boss’ precious treasure and man-flesh,

winning it with sword and cunning,

caked in the blood and filth of your own kin – your best friends and worst enemies.

 

There are treasures to be won in the lands of the Free People of the Middle-Earth,

and you shall have them,

because you will…

 

…KILL BILBO!



You have toiled and dug deep in the most barren and dangerous lands of the Middle-Earth. You have fought for ages against Elven-scum and Dwarf-beasts. You have savored man-flesh after scourging their kingdoms from the face of the world.

And now, how dare the Boss send the Spooks instead of your team!? You am going to prove to the Boss that you can get the Job done!...

…of course, what is the Job?

The High-Ups in Lugbúrz won’t tell you (even after torture!). But you know, yes! A “Bilbo” has stolen something precious from the Boss. Maybe something powerful. You am going to get it back! (before those damn Spooks from Morgul, that is!) The Bilbo is something small, like human-spawn, with hairy feet, with lots of bagginses or pockets … so it is probably a burglar! Yes! A Bilbo is a half-man-thief. And your pack am going to find and kill the Bilbo!

A brief Orc vocabulary:
Boss = Sauron
Lugbúrz = Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower
Spooks = Nazgûl



THE JOB

You are Orcs in Middle-Earth, on a lonely mission to hunt down Bilbo Baggins and the precious gift he carries, to get it back for your Boss. You are going to cross the Middle-Earth into human, dwarven and elven lands to find it. You will use all your cunny, strength, and “evilness” to succeed!

Against you are arranged not only the Free People of the Middle-Earth but also monsters and your own Kin, either trying to get ahead of you or working for the Nazgûl (the only creatures Sauron trust to find and carry the Ring back).

I am not going to waste my time describing the setting: this is Middle-Earth (book, comics, movie, RPG versions etc. – use your favorite take!). Ideally, you would start the game in the end of the road sought by the Fellowship of the Ring – in Lugbúrz itself, the Dark Tower! You first missions should be to evade Orc patrols that might interfere with your goal and leave Mordor. If you are lucky (more on that later) you can reach “the Bilbo” before the Spooks get a sniff on you. Your only allies are your fellow pack-members (the other PCs).

Yes, the Ring is not with Bilbo, but what do you expect from Orcs. They didn’t receive the memo (that went to the Nazgûl). But confusion is part of the fun!



THE RULEZ!

Your pack starts big! (but not for long) A Funnel in the best DCC RPG tradition! Roll four 0-level Orcs for each player. The DCC RPG Core Rulebook for 0-level characters work here, except for the following:

First, roll two d6s of different colours for each Orc.

One d6 is the “good die”, the other is the “bad die”.

Each die indicates which stat is affected: 1 – Strength, 2 – Agility, 3 – Stamina, 4 – Personality, 5 – Intelligence and 6 – Hate! (yes, “Hate!”, more on that later).

The “good stat” is rolled with 4d6 (maximum 18).

The “bad stat” is rolled with 2d6.

If both die comes with the same number, ignore this rule.

Orcs live hard lives and most die miserably. The “bad stat” reflects which attribute was crippled by your upbringing and the “good stat” which one showed how you managed to survive. They also can be used as roleplaying tools.


ON ORCS AND LOW STATS

Yes, Orcs can have a REALLY low Stat. What that means? I am glad you asked it.

- Strength 2 means you can only carry 1 item on each hand and NOTHING else. However, you are so puny and pathetic that you are going to be the target of an attack only if no other target is available (of course, if you attack someone forget this).

- Agility 2 means you roll a 1-5 natural roll on Agility Skill checks that is a Fumble. The Fumble should be comic and should probably hurt the closet ally or Minion (more on Minions soon). The “good news” is that you are so clumsy that if you roll a Fumble in combat (natural 1) ONE target in melee with you also suffers a Fumble (you are a walking disaster).

- Stamina 2 means you have to stop and take breath every other round (i.e. you only act once every other round in combat). However, you can play dead as a pro.

- Personality 2 means you are an animal and humanoids react to you the same way people would to a rabid dog. However, natural beasts treat you as predator and will avoid or (at first) won’t attack you.

- Intelligence 2 means you cannot speak any sentence with more than one word! The good news is that there is practically no difference between your brain and a rock (you are immune to charm and mind control, but not fear or madness).

- Hate! 2 means that you are constantly at the point of Burnout (more on that later) and operates on frustration and obtuseness alone. You are more bull-headed than a bull. Every time you miss an attack you add +1d4 to your next attack roll until you succeed. That is cumulative.



ORC OCCUPATIONS

Roll either 1d8 twice and choose or 1d10 once (Orcs start with one weapon, one ration and one simple item of their choice, like a rope or a torch – or the Judge can roll their favorite table):

1 – Lugbúrz: you know about Sauron, his Captains and main servants, and you can identify marks of different Orc bands or direction to Orc Enclaves (or even the lair of powerful monsters). You are usually good at bossing around other Orcs.

2 – Half-Orc: you are an experiment of Saruman, the White. Using a cowl or otherwise hidden most of your face allows you to pass as a (very ugly) human. You are aware of Saruman’s spy network and can speak most human languages.

3 – Morgul Rat: you were created under the ghastly fist of the Witch King in Minas Morgul. You know a lot about curses, magic, Wizards and similar stuff.

4 – Mirkwood Orc: you lived around Dol Guldur and is trained in forest lore. You can speak with spiders.

5 – Hai: another experiment of Saruman, you do not suffer penalties under daylight (but you can’t be a Voidcaller).

6 – Misty Mountains Goblin: you know a lot about mines, dungeons and the underworld. Your hate for Dwarves is legendary.

7 – Gundabad: you came from far in the north. You don’t suffer from cold, you can climb really good and speak with all kind of bats.

8 – Roving Orc: you are part of Orc bands that rover the land. You are trained to find food (horrible, but food) in places where even Orcs would starve. You are good at scouting and reading tracks.

9 – Old One: there are very few of you today and other Orcs believe you are immortal. You came from the Dark East, where the Great Enemy, it is said, created the first Orcs from corrupted and tortured Elven blood. You know all about Elves, including their hated tongue (you can’t speak it, but you understand it) and how to hunt them.

10 – Half-Troll: a recent experiment of Sauron. You are always hungry and needs thrice more food, but you can bite ANYTHING (even metal or rock given time). You deal 1d3 + Strength modifier damage with your bite. You are the first one to suggest that you pack eat their Minions when you are low on food.

 


ON ORC HATE!

Orcs don’t have Luck (they are probably the unluckiest creatures in the face of Middle-Earth). To compensate their miserable and violent lives, Orcs are powered by Hate! (with a “!”).

Hate! works exactly as Luck, with one difference: Hate! points spent in damage rolls or Critical Table rolls are doubled.

Orcs gain 1 point of Hate! every time they roll a natural 1 on a Skill check or Action Die, or when they suffer a Critical Hit (and survive of course).

Orcs also gain 1 Hate! the first time in the game session they see an Elf or Dwarf, or any group of 20+ Humans/Halflings (that includes most human towns). At the Judge’s discretion, seeing a place of pristine and unspoiled beauty also gives you 1 Hate! (once per session), but the Orc must find a way to spoil it before the end of the session or they will lose d3 Hate! points (this includes most Elven woods).

Orcs can gain more Hate! than their maximum. Extra Hate! is called Wrath!!! and every time an Orc gains at least 1 point of Wrath!!! they most roll a Will save DC 15 or go berserker. “Berserking” Orcs must attack/destroy something (even allies and Minions) until their Wrath!!! is spent. They won’t retreat, they won’t stop. They are immune to fear and have +1 Die Step to attack rolls, Strength rolls and damage rolls.

If your Hate! reaches 0, an Orcs must make a choice: they can try to reignite the flames of their Hate! or they can suffer Burnout.

Reigniting Hate! is easy: your Orc must immediately roll an opportunity (opportunistic?) attack against a Minion (or ally). If they hit, that backstab is a Critical Hit. The Orcs is back to Hate! 1 and life is good.

Burnout is hard. The Orc has Hate! 0 for the rest of the game session and they are also stunned for one round. The Orc is literally too spent and tired to move on. After that one round they can act normally and start the next session with Hate! 1. Finally, a Burnout Orc will suffer a backstabbing attempt from one of their Minions (and that Minion will be treacherous from now on and should be eliminated). The backstab moment is decided by the Judge. A good (Orc) way of avoiding this is (of course) killing all Minions.

 

ON PVP

The entire idea behind “Reigniting Hate!” is that Orcs can’t help themselves. They are a backstabbing bunch but also absurdly (almost comically) frustrated creatures, given to their literal role of cannon fodder for the Evil Overlord. That said, “Reigniting Hate!” should be freely used against Minions, but as a Judge I would only allow it to be used allies (i.e. other player characters) if the party authorizes the gamble and is playing for (dark) fun. This rule is NOT made to encourage PvP.

 

ON PERCEPTION AND RANDOMNESS

Luck is used as passive perception in the DCC RPG Core Rulebook (active perception or search is usually Intelligence). If there is one thing that Orcs are good is perception (especially hearing and scent), so if the Judge needs to roll a Perception check for Orcs just roll a 1d20 + Orc level (except for sight during daylight, that is a flat d10). Finally, all Orcs have Infravision since level 0.

Now, if you need to roll “Luck” to see if something bad will happen to someone in the pack, just ask all Orcs to roll a d20. The lowest result is the unlucky guy/girl of the moment.

 


ON MINIONS AND ALLIES

After the first game session (or first mission), every player will choose one of their 0-level Orcs to level up (see the Orc Classes below). All other 0-level survivors, if any, become Minions. They never level up, but if the leveled Orc dies, the player can elect a Minion to become a new 1st level Orc (either after the scene where the leveled Orc die or next session, Judge’s call).

After 1st level, every time an Orc levels up. Each 1st level Orc attracts one new Minion. Don’t bother rolling stats. Threat these Minions as +0 attack, +0 on all saves and 1d4 hit points NPCs. They have one 1d6 weapon and a random item chosen by the Judge (roll your favorite table). If the main Orc dies, the player just roll stats for a Minion and that poor creature is “promoted” to a 1st level Orc.

Orcs can try to actively recruit, but this should be a special mission designed by the Judge (Questing for the Impossible, the BEST rule of DCC RPG Core Rulebook ever). The maximum number of Minions that an Orc should is 3 or his level (Judge’s choice, usually I max it at 5 for each player).

 

ORC CLASSES

 

URUK (Class)



The big Uruks are Warriors. Ignore the Luck Weapon rule (Orcs don’t have Luck), instead of that grant the following ability to every Uruk:

All Your Hate In One Blow: before rolling damage an Uruk can spend 1 Hate! They don’t need to roll the dice and deal full damage. After the hit, the weapon is broken. Magic weapons (good luck finding an elven/dwarven magic weapon that won’t bite your hand) are not broken but are bent (-1 Die Step on all future attack rolls) and can’t be used again for this rule.

 

SNAGA (Class)



These sneaky bastards are Thievies that follows the Path of the Assassin. However, they don’t have Disguise self (unless you are a Half-Orc), Forge Documents (idem), and Cast Spell From Scroll (unless you are a Morgul Rat). The good news is that if you are NOT a Half-Orc or Morgul Rat, you always carry TONS of poison with you. At any moment you can spend 1d3 Hate! and declare that you have poison with you (you either crafted it from local creatures while resting, or bleed it from your own dark blood… or stole from the last Orc pack you met):

“I have POISON!” (1d20 + Snaga Level)

1-10 - Sleep/Short Term Amnesia, choose one (can’t be used in combat, must be place in water/food, enough to affect 1d6 targets); or

Pain (the first time the targets roll an Action Die, it suffers 1d4 of damage, then 1d6, 1d8 etc., can save at the end of every round, lasts 1d4 rounds + Snaga level); or

Numbing (-1 Die Step penalty to Action Die and Skill checks, can save every round, lasts 1d4 rounds + Snaga level).

11-15 - Deadly (3d6 damage in 1d3 rounds, save for half); or

Weakening (all damages dealt are reduced by half, lasts 1d4 rounds); or

Paralysis (save or target is paralyzed in 1d3 rounds, lasts 1d4 minutes).

16-20 - Doomed! (save or die, success leaves the target stunned 1 round in pain)

Big targets required double or triple the doses to be affected (Judge’s call). The Snaga still must roll a Handle Poison check and follow the same rules as a Thief.

Snaga recovers Hate! real fast and are dangerous… but that is because (besides sneaking) they are weaklings and usually small. To reflect that when you decide to become a Snaga at 1st level, you must automatically reroll your Strength as a “bad stat” (roll a 2d4). If the result is lower than your current Strength, then that is your new value.

 

ON ORCS AND ALIGNMENT

The older I get the most I can’t stand Alignments. I just don’t care. Orcs traditionally should be creatures of Chaos, although their behavior in Lord of the Rings reflects a very dark side of Law in my opinion. Anyway, in my home games I let a Thief choose his Path unrelated to his Alignment and on this hack I don’t care about Alignments.

 

WHIPMASTER (Class)



These boys/girls are the ones responsible for Morale in the troops. Mechanically, they work as Halflings, but remove Small and Slow. Whipmasters are (obviously) proficient with Whips and one of their weapons must be a Whip when using Two-Weapon Fighting. Whips deal 1d4 damage and have enough reach to hit targets from the second rank (3 ft. reach if you must). Whipmasters are cowards and have Sneak & Hide as Halflings (they use it a lot when in Burnout to flee their Minions).

Whipmasters can spend Hate! to help others as a Halfling and this is represented by them whipping other Orcs into “motivation” (this is just description, don’t roll damage). If a Whipmaster can’t whip an Orc, they can’t help that “poor” Orc.

Whipmasters can spend 1 Hate! before attacking to execute a Mighty Deed of Arms with their whips as a Warrior of the same level (i.e. they gain the Deed Die for one attack roll). Most Whipmasters use this to disarm foes or steal the staff of troublesome Wizards.

Finally, a Whipmasters can spend 1 Hate! to negate a fear effect (or Morale failure) of 1 ally or Minion that they can whip. This does not require an action.

There can be ONLY ONE Whipmaster in a pack. If a NPC Whipmaster shows up, there will be a fight eventually (or a backstab attempt).

 

WARG RIDER (class)



These mounted reavers also work mechanically as Halflings (but without Small, Slow and Hide & Sneak).

One of your Minions is always a Warg. The Two-Weapon Fighting of the Halfling class represent the bite of a faithful (?) Warg. Your Warg is your secondary attack and it can deal either 1d6 damage or attempt a trip attack. Warg damage increases +1 for every two Warg Rider levels. Your Warg moves at double the normal Speed (60 ft.) and can talk with wolves and Wargs. As long as you’re riding it, it obeys you (otherwise it must roll Morale if attacked and if it runs away, you have to track it and bring it back).

While riding your Warg your own attacks have a +2 bonus against targets that are on foot. Also, you can withdraw from targets on foot without suffering an attack of opportunity in melee. (Both these advantages won’t work against big monsters, such as trolls.)

Your Warg has 1d4 hit points per Warg Rider level. Every time someone targets you Warg, you can decide that they targeted you instead (and vice-versa). If the Judge needs to roll a check for your Warg, just roll either a flat d10 (untrained) or d20 (trained), depending on the Skill Check.

Warg Riders receive double the benefits of spending Hate! while riding their Wargs. Unlike Halflings, they can’t spend Hate! to help others. If their Hate! reaches 0 they are instantly dismounted (and bitten) by their “loyal” Warg (which will usually run away until the Warg Rider recovers 1 Hate!).

Warg Riders don’t gain Minions when leveling up and must Quest for them. However, they can choose to Quest for wolves/Wargs as Minions when doing so (just use Wolf or Dire Wolf stats from the DCC Core Rulebook).

 

ON 2X AND 3X HATE!

Both Whipmasters and Warg Riders receive double the bonus from spending Hate! on some circumstances. If they spend Hate! to boost damage or Critical Hits, the effect is tripled.

 

SHIELDS SHALL BE SHATTERED!

This amazing OSR rule is used in KILL BILBO. Uruks, Snagas, Whipmasters and Warg Riders can use it: they can break their shields to negate one melee attack (attacks from bigger creatures such as trolls or special attacks such as breath weapons are decided by the Judge).

 

VOIDCALLER (Class)



Voidcallers are really rare and every pack con only have ONE. Your Orc must be a Morgul Rat to be able to learn this demanding “trade”. Voidcallers are a hack on the Elf class. They obviously don’t have mithril and are not allergic to iron… in fact, they LOVE iron armor and can use it as Clerics. They don’t have Heightened Senses or Luck. Voidcallers always suffer -1 Die Step for every action done under direct daylight or inside elven realms (and also can’t cast spells under the direct sunlight).

Your Supernatural Patron is one the of Spooks (and yes, you are playing a very dangerous game). Use Sezrekan’s Patron Check table. Every time the table says you are teleported, you actually summon the Dread of the Nazgûl and every enemy on sight must roll a Will DC check against your roll or flee (this doesn’t work against Elves). Another option instead of Dread is the creation of a dense and cold mist that only you can see through (this should give you a fair chance of escaping from Elves, unless of course those pointed-eared bastards banish the mists). The 24-27 results will either summon a very powerful Dread (that will probably taint the area for years to come) or summon enough mist to cover an entire town.

Sezrekan’s Patron Taint is perfect but change Third Eye’s references to the Eye of Sauron. All the stuff about consuming gold pieces and magic items must be changed to relics and treasure stolen from Humans, Dwarves or Elves.

Voidcaller with Hate! 0 will bring the attention of a Nazgûl in 1d3 days (Judge rolls secretly). The party must evade the Spook or (if caught) cajole it and give it REALLY good explanations for what they are doing (and probably do one dangerous mission for the Spook). If the Nazgûl suspects that the pack knows about the Ring and is trying to get Bilbo, it will kill them. End of the game.

Magic in the Middle-Earth is powerful but costly and rarely flashy. Voidcallers always require at least 1 Spellburn to cast a spell, but they can burn any physical stat, Personality or bleed a Minion! (killing a Minion will grant +2d4 to the spell check roll)

I am trying to create Mercurial Magic for Orcs but, to be honest, Goodman Games did an AMAZING job in that regard with DCC Lankhmar. So, I would advise using the Spell Stipulations instead of Mercurial Magic and the Nehwonian Corruption tables for your Voidcaller. All references to Luck should use Hate! and change Nehwonian references to Middle-Earth.

Finally, Voidcaller can’t burn Hate! to avoid Corruption or regain lost spells.

Your spell list is changed to this one:

1st level

Animal summoning

Cantrip

Charm person

Chill touch (check my unbalanced version)

Choking cloud

Darkness (Cleric Spell, -2 Die Steps to cast under direct sunlight)

Find familiar (bats, wolves, frogs, giant bugs etc., Judge must approve type and powers)

*Invoke patron (all Voidcallers have this)

Mending

*Patron bond (all Voidcallers have this)

Resist cold or heat (Cleric Spell)

Sequester

Sleep

Ventriloquism

Ward portal

2nd level

Curse (Cleric Spell)

Detect invisible

ESP

Fire resistance

Forget

Invisible companion

Knock

Locate object

Lotus stare (Cleric Spell)

Magic mouth

Mirror image

Phantasm

Ray of enfeeblement

Scare

Stinging stone (Cleric Spell)

Shatter

Shield maiden (this summon a lower wraith to serve you, the wraith is dispelled by direct sunlight)

Wood wyrding (Cleric Spell)

3rd level

Binding

Breathe life

Consult spirit

Dispel magic

Emirikol’s entropic maelstrom (this is know as Lesser Black Breath)

Fireball (this is cast on a casket filled with “black dust” made during your last rest, you must place the casket in the place of detonation and cast the spell)

Gust of wind

Haste

Lightning bolt (only outside, under a cloud filled sky and this beauty always require 1 Hate! and 4 Spellburn – or a sacrificed Minion – just to cast)

Paralysis* 264

Phylactery of the soul

4th level

Control fire

Desecrate (Cleric Spell)

Transmute Earth (casting time is the rolled result in minutes)

Vermin Blight (casting time is 1 minute)

5th level

Hepsoj’s Fecund Fungi

Lokerimon’s Unerring Hunter (this summons something dreadful, a barrow-wight or Thing from the Deep, only works at night)

Magic Bulwark

Mind Purge

Weather Control (Cleric Spell)

 


ORC-DRAUGHT

The players now must select the Brewer. This is the Orc responsible for brewing the Draught, a burning and horrible concoction that is the closest thing to healing that an Orc pack has. There can be only one Brewer in the party (because Brewers are loath to share their secrets as that is their only advantage).

Every time your pack has some chance to rest for a night, the Brewer will roll a d20 and add his level. Divide the final result by 4 (round up). That is how many Orc-Draught doses the pack has. The maximum number of doses a Brewer can keep is the number of players plus the Brewer level.

Each dose, if drunk, will heal 1 Hit Dice. If the Orc rolls the highest number possible on a Hit Dice, roll again and add it (i.e. the die explode!). However, the total amount healed in this case is temporary and those extra Hit Points will disappear (the Judge should roll a secret d20 to find out on how many hours). Most Orcs die by drinking the Draught.

Instead of healing, 1 dose can be used to ignore one poison or disease effect for one day (if you reach an Orc Enclave, they can literally beat the poison/disease out of you later).

Each Brewer has one sack of secret ingredients and one big flask of Draught that is shared.

Because of its importance to the pack, Brewers can direct backstab attempts made against them to one of their Minions (if they don’t have Minions, they are out of luck).

When a Brewer dies, it is revealed that they had a secret apprentice in the pack. The players must decide which player was the apprentice. That apprentice is now the new Brewer. The new Brewer still needs to obtain the old Brewer’s sack of secret ingredients (or otherwise Quest for the Impossible to create a new one).

Brewers can, of course, Quest for Impossible for more doses or stronger/different versions of the Orc-Draught.

 


THE CAMPAIGN AND MAPS

A special rule that I like here is that Orcs don’t have access to maps or even an inkling of an idea of the shape of Middle-Earth. So they have only your descriptions, although Lugbúrz Orcs know how to find runes, marks and general directions to other Orc Enclaves. No maps! Let them try to find out the way. Voidcallers can try to track or detect the presence of Nazgûl through Invoke Patron but that is DANGEROUS.


INSPIRATIONS AND THANKS!

Besides (obviously) all those amazing Lord of the Ring RPGs (MERP, Coda, The Ring and homemade ones), this hack was inspired by Burning Wheel’s awesome Orcs, Paranoia and an older hack of mine for We Be Goblins! from Pathfinder. Finally, of course, Kill Bill. Now, the entire idea of KILL BILBO came years ago from a great post in RPGNet (that unfortunately I can’t find).

Just to be clear: this is a satirical hack that should be played for laughs in the best dark humour/Warhammer 1st fashion that you can imagine.

Finally, bear in mind that this entire madness was not playtested. I hope you like it!





Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Tower of Visions, a small dungeon for DCC RPG

(To all my DCC RPG players... stay out! The Judge knows)

I started a “one dungeon room” post series some time in the last year. Those posts were actually my way of making up for a friend, for whom I had promised a dungeon. As usual, I failed miserably in delivering it on time. Let me see if I can wrap it up in one final post.

As I am terrible at drawing, there is no use point using maps, so I will just describe it. Please, bear with me.

The Tower of Visions should be a frigging crystal tower, so it is easy to spot (place it wherever the Judge wants). Its entrance was envisioned to be buried; a crystal tunnel hidden in some cave. Just before the dungeon itself there should be some hostile humanoid tribe living in the caves. While outright combat could be avoided, the humanoids should be clearly hostile or at best they could be bought for a one-time pass through their territory. The idea here is (1) the party cannot retreat to rest without some cost; and (2) if they linger too much, the humanoids will start coming after them. Their only option should be forward. This is the perfect opportunity to roll some crazy humanoid from the DCC RPG Core Rulebook (actually, let me do that right now!)

 

Crazy Humanoids in the Cave

I got “brown”, “fight with two weapons”, “shot and stocky” and “fascinated with jewellery, metal etc.”. OK, so I decided that I will use strange dwarf-like creatures, seemly made of mud or stone, beardless. They wear just crude loincloths, deeply fear open sky, and consider anything made of metal to be holy. Thus, it should be hoarded. Probably remnants of a dwarven clan gone either barbarian or crazy (or both), which caused their elemental heritage to manifest again. There should some 30 humanoids. Use Berserker stats, but our dwarven offshoot use their half-stone fists (1d4) instead of weapons and have a second d20 Action Die (that they can also use to parry, instead of attacking). Their primary goal is not to kill but to stun (if they hit the same target twice in the round, the target must Fort DC 10 or drop anything they are holding and they are stun for 1 round). Our humanoids seek to deprive the party of any metal objects, which are taken into their holy shrine. I am tempted to consider that because they love metal, they either fear or hate magic (probably the first) and must check morale when witnessing spellcasting.

The entrance to the Tower of Visions itself is the Tiger of Doors encounter, HERE.

After the that, the party will reach what I call the Shadowless Room. The Shadowless Room is party’s best place to rest in the Tower of Visions. It is a circular room entirely made of crystal that shines as bright as the sun. Yes, EVERYTHING shines here, from all directions. It is maddening. While it is possible to see for enough time to notice that there are 2 ways out, staying in the room for more than a few minutes will eventually blind any character. At the end of each minute, start asking for Fort saves (DC 10). Failure blinds you for 1d4 hours, then days, months, years and forever! Success just gives the character a -1 Die Step penalty for perception and ranged attacks for the next 1d4 hours. A blindfold can take care of the light and is the only way to stay long in the room. Now, the other weird thing about the Shadowless Room is that its eternal lights play havoc with time. Each time the ENTIRE party gets inside the room, roll a 1d4: (1) means each turn inside is 1 day outside; (2) means time outside stops, so this is the perfect opportunity for rest; (3) means time stop INSIDE, so the party cannot rest until they all leave the room and enter again; (4) means that a paradox happens. Ask the character with the lowest Luck to roll a Luck check. If they succeed, the party will actually meet themselves at the door of the Shadowless Room. Their versions from the future will not let anyone in, but will answer one question about the dungeon (and maybe cast one healing). A failure at the Luck check means time itself is broken. The party are suddenly back at the beginning of the adventure, before the cave and the first encounter, without any XP, loot, damage or whatever (but they DO retain the knowledge from the dungeon – it’s a paradox! – and the Shadowless Room does not exist anymore if they enter the dungeon again).

There are two paths from the Shadowless Room.

One leads to the Stairs of Mortality, HERE. At the end of the Stairs the party reach the Fane of the Lost Reflections, as described HERE. There is one extra item in the Fane: a Mirror Mask, shattered in half and really sharp (it is hard to hold without cutting your hands). This Mask is the key to reach the Tower’s Master. The other half will be in the end of the other path.

The other path from the Shadowless Room leads down, to the Room of the Eyeless Ogre, as described HERE.

From the Room of the Eyeless Ogre, the party finds a weird thing… instead of a room they find a giant hole opened in the otherwise indestructible crystal structure of the Tower. Something BIG broke inside the Tower and literally eat an ENTIRE ROOM (describe clear signs of giant teeth and claws). Following the hole leads the party down to a cold cave where flames burn blue and cold (and anything burned to 0 hit points here return in 1d4 minutes as a hungry un-dead). Spells that deal with darkness, cold and necromancy gain +1 Die Step and are never lost. Spells that deal with light, fire and divination are always lost once cast and the caster must roll a Luck check or suffer a minor Corruption. Divine magic suffers -1 Die Step and the cleric instantly know that the party is in another plane (which one? I don’t know. Niflheim, Gehenna, Malfeas… Judge’s call). What matter is that at the end of the tunnel the party will see themselves in a deep lake over which strange orbs of blue fire burn. There is a hoard – silver coins, jewellery, weapons etc. – and also a big dragon sleeping over it! Yes, a dragon. Do not worry about stats (but if you like it, roll a Large Dragon in DCC RPG Core Rulebook). This particular underworld dragon is sleeping, but if even a tiny coin is removed from the hoard, yes, he will awake in 1d4+1 rounds.

If the party is smart, they won’t touch anything (of course, they are players… so just wait & see). What matter is that any spellcasters (or the PC with lowest Luck) will start hearing whispers coming from the dragon’s hoard. The whisper promise “the King’s Mercy”, “Truesight’s Blessing” and other nebulous things. If the party follows the whispers, they arrive at what appears to be a crystal ball and a Mirror Mask lying in a corner of the hoard. The Mirror Mask is the other half of the one found in Fane of Lost Reflections.

The crystal ball is the one doing the whispers. It begs the party to take it “back” to the King, but it won’t give any extra instructions. As soon, as someone takes the crystal ball (or the mask), the dragon as usual will awaken. At that exact moment, the crystal ball will (mentally) cry to its bearer to “hold me before the Harbinger’s Gaze!”. If anyone manages to lift the orb in front of the dragon eyes, it will daze the gargantuan creature for 2d4 rounds.

If the dragon awakes and the party is still there, they are basically toast. The dragon will demand their names and quest, and also will ask to be entertained (if the Judge leaves that to the dice, entertaining a dragon is definitely DC 20… but only allow rolls if the PCs can come with something clever). Each success should grant the party 1d4 rounds before the dragon attack. When it (inevitably) attacks, its soul-draining breath should deal something like 4d4 Stamina damage (half if they manage a Refl DC 20). Merciful Judges can allow “Shields shall be Splintered” rules to reduce damage by half. If the dragon is mesmerized with the crystal ball, then it will attack in a mad rage as soon as it breaks free.

Other potential hazards in the dragon’s cave are: (1) it is Artic-like cold, plus there is water, so frostbite/hypothermia is in order (i.e. don’t let the party linger); and (2) the blue fire orbs that fly through the cave deal 1d4 damage and can only be extinguished by touching another living creature (this deals one final 1d4 of damage, shared by both targets, but cancels the life-draining flame). Really evil Judges can suggest that there mindless un-dead (skeletons) hidden in the water. Again, use those hazards to make the party move.

After they (hopefully) get out of the cave, they should (again, hopefully) have the Mirror Mask and the crystal ball. Joining the two halves of the Mirror Mask opens a floating gate to the last room of the Tower of Visions: The Room of the King.

The Tower is actually the retreat for the King of Cyclops, the original bastard who sold his people’s eyes in exchange for magic power. The King himself did not lost his eyes, but actually gained the power to use other people’s eyes to see their future or use their magic. He also became an accomplished thaumaturge and eventually created artificial eyes with new powers (considering that the King is a giant, those artificial eyes are actually crystal balls, and perhaps the King might have created the first crystal ball ever). The King cheated some very pissed-off Chaos Powers when he hid himself in the pocket dimension that is the Tower of Visions. If he ever steps out, he is doomed. So, he uses his crystal balls and captures eyes to see other planes and sometimes even possess and enjoy other people’s lives. As I said, make the dude a total bastard.

The King desires knowledge and experience from the real world. He will ask for one eye of each adventurer in exchange for “the power to know his own End”. That is of course the Doom that linger of most Cyclops and is more a curse than a blessing. However, if a PC says “Yes!” that PC loses the eye and his Luck stat and in exchange for the Doom rules (see the rules here). Classes that run on Luck like Thieves and Halflings will be crippled after accepting this pact, but – hey! – they can at least burn their Doom with double effect before dying.

Denying the King will result in the party getting killed, unless they offer something better. If they make a promise to do something for the King, they might be able to walk away, but they will be cursed by “The King’s Shadow”. Basically, every day they DON’T work towards their part of the bargain, they lose 1d6 Luck. When their Luck runs out their shadows become monsters (same stats and hit points as the original, but each attack ignores armor and reduce Strength by 1d6, PCs with Strength 0 are dragged screaming back to the King to have both their eyes removed before being returned to the real world as blind and probably mad creatures). Because the King’s Shadow is a curse, it can be removed if the party can find and befriend a Cyclops (good luck with that!*).

*Befriend a Cyclops is too easy for me, make the party HELP a Cyclops. I would creature a Cyclops that is in love with a giant and the party must play matchmakers here.

The King of Cyclopes (Elder Cyclops): Init +5; Atk huge fists +8 melee (1d4+4); AC 16; HD 5d8+5, 45 hit points; MV 40’; Act 3d20; SP true sight; SV Fort +8, Ref +3, Will +10; AL C. The King can use his second and third Action Die to cast a random spell as a 10th level spellcaster. He literally replaces one of his eyes with one of various flying crystal balls in the room. After so used, he can’t use that exactly spell again this encounter.

To make matters worse, every round each character will be hit by a high velocity flying crystal ball. Roll a 1d14 attack against a PC. If hit, the PC can choose to fall prone and lose his next action or suffer 1d8 damage.

One secret to defeat the King of Cyclops is to offer him the crystal ball found in the underworld dragon’s cave. If the King places that orb in his eyes, he will fall screaming and the Tower of Visions will start shaking. In 2d4 rounds the underworld dragon will come to claim the King’s live. The bastard knows he is doomed, so he will do his best to kill the characters BEFORE that happens. (Oh, if the King of Cyclops suspects that the crystal ball offered came from the dragon’s cave he will NOT touch it and will go mad with rage against the characters.)

If the party managed to kill the King of Cyclopes then the Tower of Visions will start crashing down over them. Each PC can roll a Luck check to grab a random crystal ball before running for their lives!

Having vanquished the traitorous King of Cyclopes is the greatest reward of the dungeon. Afterward, the party will always be followed by a Cyclops (use the monstrous one from the Core Rulebook). They are considered Cyclops-friend. Remember, Cyclopes are man-eating, stinky and barbarian monsters… but they all feel a true debt to the party for killing their terrible King. These Cyclops “hirelings” can be useful, but most of the time they will also give the party a lot of problem. If killed, roll a d6. Anything except a 1 means that another cyclops will show up in a few days or weeks.

There is also a good chance that the nefarious Chaos Powers that made a pact with the King will seek the party, trying to enroll them as new champions of Chaos (after all, they were useful in killing someone that tried to cheat Chaos).

What does this Crystal Ball do? (1d7)

1 – Divination. This crystal ball, if checked during the night, will warn the user about horrible things happening with him during the next day. If the character rolls a Fumble during the next 24 hours, the Fumble is treated as a normal failure. However, if the crystal ball is used by the same person two days in a row, then the next Fumble is actually made worse (add +1d10 to the Fumble Table).

2 – Wild magic. Any character can summon once per day a piece of chaotic magic (non-spellcasters roll a 1d10). Choose your favorite spell generator and roll it (I like the tables from Maze Rats). To determine the power of the spell: 1 (Minor Corruption), 2-9 (Misfire), 10-15 (success), 15+ (wild success, usually targeting an area or 1d6 targets). The Judge will tell with happens.

3 – Clairvoyance. This crystal ball can see any place that within 30 feet or that the party had visited in the last 24 hours. It can see through wood or stone, but not metal. The sensor created can see everything within 30 feet, with the same limitations of a normal person. However, there is always ONE thing that is false in the seeing (a monster, an object, a door). One detail will always be wrong.

4 – Shadow Orb. This crystal ball summons a shadow (see the stat in the Core Rulebook). This shadow will serve the Orb Master for seven nights. After that, the shadow will return to orb taking the Orb Master’s own shadow with it. The now shadowless character can never use the orb again and if attacked by a shadow in the future, he must roll Will DC 10 or be possessed.

5 – Life Ball. This crystal balls, if touched by two creatures, allows them to transfer their life force. Hit points can be passed from one character to another. Unwilling characters can be forced to touch the ball to have their life force extracted by force, usually losing 1d10 hit points per round (however, ask a Will save from both creatures, the one that rolled higher is that round’s winner and deals 1d10 to the other). Unconscious targets cannot resist. Using this crystal ball for evil stuff like draining the life of others is an open invitation for the Judge to inflict Corruption on the crystal ball user.

6 – Fate Orb. This old and cracked crystal ball works as an Invoke Patron for the Three Fates, rolling 3d10! Each time this orb is used it cracks. After three cracks the characters are pulled before the Three Fates and must complete three quests for the Patron or spent eternity trapped inside the Fate Orb.

7 – The Chaos Ball. When the power of the crystal ball are summoned Fate itself is corrupted within a 30 feet radios of the crystal ball owner. In that area Success becomes failure and Failure success. This power can be used once per day and lasts for 1d7 rounds. However, each time it is used the Judge should roll a secret d7: (1) one enemy inside the area is immune, (2-5) nothing happens, (6) the orb activates again in the next day in a moment set by the Judge, (7) the owner loses 1 Luck permanently.

(Remember, Crystal Balls are heavy and cumbersome items! Not easy to carry. Just remember the Palantir from the Lord of the Ring movies)