Saturday, 22 July 2017

And now for something completely different...

I was working on this for quite some time, and it is not really finished, but circumstances dictate sometimes.

Master of Horror is a mini-campaign for SFK, undead themed. It will be 5 short scenarios, plus one more, a bunch of new monsters... I have 4 parts ready, which gives me a bit of time to finish it ^^

I get this out here now because, well, Mr Romero died last week, and he was instrumental in my deep Undead craze. So here's to him.

There is the first chapter, Hostel. More should follow soon, but maybe you should wait the whole to play it. I will try to keep the delays, but drawing takes me a lot of time...

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tools of the trade: Blessings and curses (part2)

A weapon can sometimes become magical of its own, with no particular intervention. Take durandal, Roland’s sword. It was more resilient than any other sword, but nowhere will you find any trace of magic being applied to the blade. A weapon may become imbued by many ways. Whatever the way, it will take time; so much time in fact that the “magical” effect will often be available only after the hero’s death, not before.

- The egregor way : if enough people think an item has magical properties, there is 2/6 chances it will really develop those. We’re talking about at least 2000 people, for at least a year. The people need to be really convinced of the stuff.

- The loving way: This hero wouldn’t think about using another weapon than his trusted blade, and would rather jump into danger to fetch it than leave it in another man’s hands. He passes all his free time and downtime caring about his weapon, oiling it, sharpening it, tending to it. Such a weapon has 2/6 chances to develop “magical” properties.

- The habit way: The wielder is a professional Ork Hunter, he spent his life hunting Orks, using that very weapon; there are 2/6 chances that the weapon will develop ork hunting “magical properties”

Those are of course cumulative and compatible. Our ork hunter (let’s call him Crazy bill) may well place so much faith in its weapon that it cares about it over anything else (my only companion), which will lead many an adjoining soldier to believe the weapon is magical (say twelve thousands in the last orkish crusade); In this case, the weapon will have (2+2+2=6) / 6 chances to develop magical properties.

Crazy bill will become famous for its blade, carreer, and longevity; talk about it! Still fighting orks, at 75 years old? Of course, we know it’s been 25 years since the blade developed its first power (+1 on all to hit rolls against orks), and  developed four more since then (another +1 to hit, a +1 damage, and critical hit on 10, 11 or 12, all only applicable when fighting orks). That helps.
But it has a price: Crazy bill started his career at 15. He uses his blade ever since. Of course the weapon has been repaired so many times there is almost nothing left of the original material but in Bill’s mind, it is still the same sword! So, for 35 years (from 15 to 50), he uses the blade, and become good with it, and kills so many orks he stops counting. As he turns 50,  he starts to wither, and his skills and abilities diminish, but then the sword takes over by compensating the growing weaknesses of the hero.
One day, Bill will die, and give his sword to his most trusted lieutenant. The lieutenant, traumatised by war, will quit the ork hunters and become a drunk. He will finally sell the sword to buy booze (“at least three bottles man! This here blade is Crazy Bill’s  Ork-slayer! Genuine!”); and so the sword enters in legend.
Imbued items will keep growing in power with time, if the conditions are still ongoing. The caretaker doesn’t have to be the same person, for example, the dwarves’s fabled Hammer of Kings is indeed imbued, and quite powerful, but it took seventy generations of kings to empower it so.

An imbued power will always be closely related to the activities of the wearer, for they are born from legend, and legend is born from fact.
Items other than weapons can also be imbued, the coat of a very stealthy thief, the gloves of a healer, the crown of a very wise king…

There are two ways an item may become cursed. Either someone put a curse on it (see blessings and reverse) or through the imbuing process.
A “spell-curse” can be lifted by a high level priest. See The Arena for details on that.
An “imbued” curse cannot be lifted in any way (well maybe the intervention of a god, but which one would care to do it?). It is permanent, or at least cannot leave the item (whether the hero can leave the item behind is another matter entirely). What’s tricky with this type of curse is that the item is usually also magical, with powerful properties; and then there is the curse.
Consider the Great Bow of Menil Argy, which may well be the most famous cursed items of all: It is a great bow (2 hands, range 1-5, damage D6+1, critical Damage x2) with two properties: it gives a massive +3 to hit and damage against all enemies of the elves (yes, that’s a lot of people); once per day, when hunting only, it insta-kills one target. But, it also has a curse: the holder can never set foot in any house, can never go back home, and will be hated and hunted by any elf recognising the bow (and yes, that’s a lot of people too). So, a perfect weapon for a woodsman, which incidentally makes the most powerful dwellers of the woods want to kill you.


Well, most curse don’t prevent the wearer to let the item go. Some require him to give the item to somebody, others to sell it; even heard of one that should be sold for a smaller price than you bought it; and then, there are those few that you cannot get rid of. This can manifest in several ways:

- The hero doesn’t even imagine getting rid of the item, and becomes aggressive when someone else suggests it.

- The item always comes back; it is lying by the bed the next morning, wherever you dumped it. Or someone brings it back.

- If the item is given up, the hero will feel uneasy at first, then (the day after) he looses 1 points of PHY, and another one two days later, and so on until his PHY score reaches –1 (he then dies). If the item is retrieved, all lost points come back in an instant.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Tools of the trade: Blessings and curses

There is of course the “Bless” prayer and the “Blessed” enchantment, but we are here to discuss true blessing at the temple, with the ceremony and all. All the following blessings are permanent.

A special kind of blessing given by a high priest of Primus, Ultimus, or The Hag. This will only be bestowed at the beginning of a crusade, and only to the leaders of the crusade army. The effects only apply to the enemies of the God, and thus, the potential targets are at best variable. For example, as of right now, The Hag’s crusade weapons have no real targets, since she’s not at war with any other gods.
A Crusade weapon can never be lost in battle (“disarm” critical doesn’t work); it never does fumble, and gets critical on 10, 11 or 12 on the combat roll; and there is a special effect depending on the god concerned.
- The Hag: each critical reproduces the effects of the “Gore” prayer (see the darklands); usually a scythe.
- Primus: +1 to touch and +d6 damage (holly); usually a sword;
- Ultimus: damages provoked by that weapon don’t heal by any non magical means; usually a sword or spear.
Crusade weapons are usually relics of the god’s Clergy, and it is really improbable that any new ones are created, or that those existing may be found outside the bigger temples.


Sometimes, a temple is in need of adventurers for some mission or another. Those blessings are either part of the mission equipment, or part of the reward. The exact effect of the blessing depends on the god, and can vary; here are a bunch of examples:
- Primus: double damage to nocturnal creatures; +2 to combat rolls against cultists of the dead gods;
- Armalee: +2 to initiative; the user cannot be immobilised in any way;
- Mankha slavra: poisonous attacks;
- Monolith: the item becomes indestructible; The items casts “negate magic” on hit;
- Ultimus: +2 to all attack rolls as long as there are more monsters than heroes; +2 to damage when fighting alone;
- The Hag: All hits cause bleeding; the weapon leeches damages and give them back as HP;
- Maaafsh’tarla: +1 to initiative for all friends in a 10 metres radius; +1 to combat roll against [animal species];
- Moulüd: The user can see as in bright daylight in any circumstances; the holder cannot be lied to.

Sometimes love is just enough. And sometimes, the word of a father can forge the destiny of his children. We’re talking “someone who loves you”, not “someone you sleep with”, here.
Norynn’s people place a good deal of power in family and genealogy; the quest for love, be it filial or flirty, is a highly respected activity. Many a knight goes around wearing a woman’s scarf, just because his lover gave it to him with a kind word –and the same goes for ladies, who can easily wear man jewellery or apparatus, if it was lover-given.
Memento of love hold real – if flimsy- power, as long as the love is true. There are lot of ways to render this in game:
- You can decide it gives the hero one Legend Point per adventure (see the GM’s Folio). This point is only usable against all odds, it is not a bonus, it is a game-changer;
- You may use it in roleplay, and ask less of that hero because of the charm;
- You may authorise one re-roll per adventure, on a very important failed roll, because the hero wants to surpass himself  for his loved one;
anyway, the hero must believe in love and cherish the memento for it to have an effect. In fact, you may want it to works only if the player thinks of it, and gives a flaming monologue about his only true love before the roll. Your call.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Tools of the trade: Material (part2)

The following metals are quite rare, and have powerful abilities, regardless of what weapon they are forged into. Most of them are quite difficult to acquire, and once you have it, forging it (or finding someone who knows how) could prove very tricky. This can be an adventure in itself (several, even).

Orichalque: also called Meteoric silver, or Star silver, this metal cannot be naturally found on Norynn. All usable supply of the stuff has been discovered in the starfalls. Once forged, it looks like silver, but with a darker shade in the reflections. Orichalque is light, very light (+2 init, an armour made of it has no Initiative penalty), and very sturdy (it will never bend nor break); It sharpens well, and the edge doesn’t blunt (it always deal +2 damage per damage dice); like gold, it doesn’t oxidise. An Orichalque weapon should cost at least a hundred times the price indicated, and that is if the smith has some! There are more meteorites crashing than we realise, but still, the stuff is very rare. Some say there is a big deposit of the stuff in the lower levels of the Dungeon, under the Boss’s Throne room, but who knows…

Adamant: also called Dead silver, because it is silvery black once forged, and doesn’t reflect images, however polished it is. It reflects light, but in strange ways. Adamant is as heavy as steel, but it will never break nor bend, though. It seems to have a life of its own; a weapon made of Adamant will seem to search for preys, adjusting blows to deal maximum damage (+1 to hit, and +1 damage per dice). Last but not least, Adamant weapon are especially efficient against Undead (nobody knows exactly why) and as such deals them double damage, and criticals on 10, 11 or 12. It also can hurt ethereal beings, dealing them normal damages and normal criticals. Adamant is only found in the outer spheres, the Rock, Coal hell, and Sulphur elementary realm. Some dwarf tribes use complicated rituals to mine the rock for the stuff, but even as such, Adamant is rare. Even when acquired, it can only be melted by elemental fire, and so forging it can prove tricky. It would cost at least a thousand time the indicated price.

Vermilion: The red gold of Faëry, the fabled metal of which faë weapons and armours are forged. It is light and indestructible, as far as humans know, and shines like a dawning sun, a profound red with a golden halo. The only way to acquire such a marvellous weapon is to steal it from a faëric creature, or be offered one as a gift from a faë (very unlikely), as nobody knows where to mine for it (well in the land of Faëry, but where is it?), nor how to forge it (in the cold fire of the Dimensional Firewell, but how can you do that?). All faëry weapons are kind of small (meant to be used by faës, which are small; remember a Faë two handed sword is something like a (very) short sword for a human), but give +2 to init. and each damage dice. It also deals normal damages to faës and can, indeed, take away their last HP.

Metal being the principal material to make weapons nowadays, a number of wooden weapons still exist. Mostly used by semi-savage and barbaric cultures, they can, used properly, prove, if not as deadly as metal ones, deadly enough.
The principal weakness of wood is its relative frailty; each time you roll a critical, you must roll D6. If you get less than the number indicated in the table below (durability), the weapon breaks.
Of course, there is wood, and wood. The following table recap three types of wood, and in order: the price if you buy the weapon, the price if you buy the wood, the durability roll, and the TN to make the weapon.

Type                                                 Price(weapon)         Price(wood)        Dur.        Fab.TN 
Soft wood (cedar, pine...)                 ½ max damage                 2                  5+             8
Medium wood (willow, chestnut...)      max damage                   5                 4+            10        
Hard wood   (oak, maple...)             2x max damage                 7                 3+             12

Any blunt weapon may be made of wood without problems. A wooden weapon damage roll is really dependant of its possessor’s strength, so all damages should be read as follow: the base damage is the dice (or dices) indicated, ignoring any “+something”. Then, the hero adds its PHY score. Critical is always “stun”.

Piercing weapons, say arrows, lances, spears may (and indeed are) easily made of wood. The pointy side is sharpened, then burnt to make it resilient. Damages are the same as in the table. Note that an all wooden spear is somewhat lighter than a metal headed one, and so could add +1 to hit and to initiative, but will probably break or blunt if thrown (DM’s discretion). Critical is always “bleed” or “stun” (if the weapon’s blunted).

Slashing weapons made of wood are clearly not a thing. Even if some exist (say a boken, for example) you should treat them as a staff, used with the Specialist: Sword skill.

Note: certain particular woods have specific effects on certain creatures. The most well known are Juniper tree being able to hold faës, and old oak spike paralysing vampires.

Of course there is always a smartass in the group who wants a stone weapon “like in RG Veda”, or a giant bone as a club “it’s so badass”. You may go along the line “what about you just choose in the table?” or you can indulge them.
Stone is heavy, and with a few exceptions (silex and obsidian), not really slashing; plus, it seems hard and resilient, but it is really not when you start pounding it. So, cumbersome and fragile as Bronze, but may (if you like) give a +1 (or +PHY, if you’re in a really good mood) to damage if carved as a blunt weapon.
Bone is nice, but it grows weaker with time, even left alone; so, a bone weapon start as hard wood, and becomes weaker after each durability roll (medium, then soft, then autobreak). It does no special damage, but may cause infections, because of the splinters in the wounds.


The case I have in mind is the Aztec stone sword, the Macuahuitl: it is made of wood, but the slashing part is obsidian shards, so stone (and of course one of the specials).
You’ll have to improvise; you can treat it as a normal sword, with a durability test; you may want it to cause infection (because obsidian does splinters too); you also may want it to become less and less effective (because of the splinters really) like bone.
As always, it is impossible to cover everything; there will be times of deep questioning indeed. But we covered enough for improvisation to be pretty easy.