Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Backgrounds of Venture: Murder Machine

Backgrounds of Venture

This is the first of a series of 5th Edition backgrounds based on the Venture Bros., this one based upon a certain Swedish Murder Machine.

Murder Machine
You are an officially recognized professional killer. You have a reputation for leaving a trail of dead bodies in your wake, and you will undoubtedly leave many more.

Skill Proficiencies: Athletics or Stealth (pick one), Intimidation
Tool Proficiencies: One type of Vehicles, one other Tool Proficiency of choice
Equipment: A belt with an attached scabbard or holster, a pack of tobacco or a bottle of booze, flint and steel, a suit of commoner’s clothing, identification papers, and a pouch with 10 gold pieces

Feature: License to Kill

You may kill without legal retaliation in lands that recognize your professional capacity. While not an excuse for wanton mass murder or the killing of certain high power figures, you may leave a few bodies lying here and there while pursuing your duties, though you may wish to call a cleaner.

Suggested Characteristics
Murder machines are usually grim and cunning individuals resilient in both body and nerve. Though they may enjoy the pleasures of the flesh, they typically have hidden depths that will often evolve given time and experience.

Personality Characteristics (1d8)
1.       I work hard; I play hard.
2.       I have a low tolerance for stupidity.
3.       For me, there’s a right and a wrong way to kill.
4.       What I listen to is really all about love and longing.
5.       I have my hobbies. So what if they don’t fit your stupid gender norms.
6.       I did something in the past I’m not proud of. When I’m weak, the memory haunts me.
7.       I’m never without a great story to tell, though my best accomplishments are classified information.
8.       I’ll never turn down a good wager.

Ideals (1d6)
1.       Honor (Lawful or Good) There’s rules. Separates us from the baddies.
2.       Might Makes Right (Chaotic or Evil) If force doesn’t solve your problems, you ain’t using enough of it.
3.       Professionalism (Any) It’s always cold in the home country.
4.       Thrills (Chaotic) I love fighting when I’m in the zone. It makes me feel like a real badass.
5.       Persistence (Any) I don’t give up easy.
6.       Toughness (Any) Never show weakness.

Bond (1d6)
1.       Though they’re not my blood, I have a family to protect. Nobody messes with MY family and gets away with it!
2.       There’s only been one person I’ve only ever really loved.
3.       I have secret orders.
4.       They killed my partner. I’ve got a score to settle.
5.       There’s a legendary monster I’ll take out one day.
6.       I’ve seen something horrible, of which I can never tell.

Flaw (1d6)
1.       They say I have temper problems. I say they have problems becoming maimed, mangled, and murdered around me.
2.       I could never say no to a pretty face.
3.       I may have left a kid or two somewhere along the way.
4.       Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not really out to get me.
5.       I act without waiting for backup. Better to ask forgiveness than permission.
6.       My trash talk sometimes gets me into trouble.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Actual Play: Darius Krin's Explorations of the Colossal Wastes of Zhaar

On Google Plus, I've been known for writing overly elaborate but somewhat humorous (I hope!) session write-ups of such disparate places as Barovania, Wampus Country, and New Feierland, among others. I have posted less of that lately on G+. However, my writing has not ended. Instead, I am using the more efficient GOOOOO-GGGLLLLE DOOOCCCCS! (Thunderclap!)

Of what I can share, I have the explorations of the rather scatterbrained artificer, alchemist, and tinker Darius Krin. Currently, he traipses about the Colossal Wastes of Zhaar. Called there by ancient and unknown magic, Krin allied with some fellow miscreants and set about learning about this alien land before ultimately beginning a search for a wrecked airship.

Krin's recollections of his travels are recorded here. Details on important persons and places may be found here. As continually updated documents, they are works in progress for the duration of the campaign. Note that these documents will contain SPOILERS for the Wastes.

About The Campaign
The campaign is a hexcrawl campaign usually run  weekly (if schedules allow) by +Ed Hackett  on G+. We used Fifth Edition rules, and FLAILSNAILS is allowed. We have a public G+ group you can ask Ed about if you're interested in joining.

About the Colossal Wastes of Zhaar
The Colossal Wastes of Zhaar  is a free, crowdsourced hexcrawl map made by numerous folks on G+. It is a precarious, highly fantastical desert land full of wonder that nonetheless languishes beneath the influence of the floating islands and flittering airships that drift overhead.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hexcrawl Index

Homebrew Hexcrawls and Hexcrawl Resources

This is just another index post with assorted links on hexcrawls, collected for quick reference.
* denotes most recent update.

Hexcrawls with keyed entries
Across the White Marsh at Blood & Bronze
Astral Marines: Patrol Section Omega (Vietnam-themed githyanki astral warfare)
Barbarian Prince at Save Vs. Total Party Kill (Incomplete)
Colossal Wastes of Zhaar at Save Vs. Total Party Kill (Desert)
Fallout themed map at Save Vs. Total Party Kill (Incomplete)
Frogstar Peninsula at Goblin Punch
Generic OSR Land (Here Be Cannibals!) at Against the Wicked City*
Gongburg Solitudes at Save Vs. Total Party Kill (Depression era themed)
Hexcrawl of the Marcher Lords
Hexenbracken at Save Vs. Total Party Kill
Kaltval at Save Vs. Total Party Kill (Incomplete)
Kingmaker rewrite as a 3 page hexcrawl at Against the Wicked City 
Isles of Mist at Ars Phantasia
Kraal at Save Vs. Total Party Kill (Frozen north type setting)
Lavendar Marshes at Save Vs. Total Party Kill
Sublight at I Don't Remember That Move (Desert/hinterlands of a terraformed Mars, sci-fi)
Synthexia at Save Vs. Total Party Kill (Gonzo space fantasy)
Unholy Land by Casey Garske
Urbancrawl at the Alexandrian 
The World at Elf Shot the Foot (Part 1, Part 2,  Map)

Hexcrawls, unkeyed or without hex specific entries
Bleakstone Campaign Setting at
Distant Lands of DIY (Compiled map of various DIY/OSR settings) at Throne of Salt*
Exile Island at Elfmaids & Octopi
Hexcrawl map at Mega Dungeon
Hyberborea At I Don't Remember That Move*
Isle of Dread Map Redone at Lost Atlases*
Lost Duchy of Gaeleth at Countersong
Warriors of the Red Planet at the Eye of Joyful Sitting
Xoghul, City Hex-Crawl map at the Weirdlands of Xhuul

Other resources
Have a Nice Trip at Goblin Punch (Random encounters)
Hexcrawl Tips at World Builder Blog
How I Hexcrawl at Lost Pages
Hexcrawl Resources at Ars Phantasia
Kievs at Games With Others (features a template of writing cities)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ten Ideas About Divine Noninterference

Ten Ideas for Divine Noninterference

In a fantasy world with hypothetically meddling gods, there are often questions why those hypothetically meddling gods seem to sit around and let mortals muck about in their affairs. These questions of nonintervention (or at least, inconsistent intervent) are usually answered through some kind of Great Balance scheme. For every Good, there must be an Evil, for Law a Chaos. Or perhaps some truce against mutually assured destruction. In any case, it’s usually some vague bargain between the gods, a standard fantasy trope that doesn’t require too much committal to deciding how the cosmology of the game world works.

But what if there were some more substantial reasoning behind the rules of divine noninterference? What might it tell us what it means to serve the gods and the nature of the mortality? To give you some inspiration, here are ten alternate ideas for why the gods don’t save the day all the time.

1) The gods are far away and can't perceive much of individual events or people. The world is hazy to them, or perhaps individuals are like individual ants are to a human.  Clerics are different in that they are temporary homing beacons for the god's attentions; they can bring divine awareness into our world enough to manifest some method of divine action.  But only the clerics with the strongest connections (as in, high level) can be so fine an antennae to make the god's power manifest directly into our world (working miracles, etc.)  Certain quasideities, divine avatars, and demigods may be able to stay in the mortal world, but true godhood means existing in a reality truly out of touch with any known by mortals.

A cleric acts is a beacon to his deity. (Source)

2) The gods do manifest in our world. It's called having clerics.  The clerics (and other priests) are the special intermediaries between the god and humanity. Perhaps sometime long ago in the primordial past, the would-be priests struck some kind of deal for how gods would interact with humanity/sentient races (and therefore the rest of the world). 
A deity's work is never done. *Sigh* (Source)

3) The gods are lazy or apathetic, but of such power and awareness that they can "feel" mortals' emotions and pleas. They answer prayers and empower priests in an "Okay, here ya go kid now go away, you bother me!" sort of concession.  Evil gods might get off on the strife and pain their actions or in-actions cause, but too much of it makes ‘em go blind doin’ that. 

4) The mortal world does not have the importance we think it does, or at least not in the way we think it does.  Our prime purpose lies in what we mortals call an "after life", as that is the beginning of our true lives.  This mortal world we call "life" is actually merely a boot camp on a truly grand scale- for some ultimate purpose beyond this life.  If the gods were to “coddle” humanity, that would prevent many great people from realizing the potential, or at least prevent separating the wheat from the chaff.
Presumably even Asmodeus had to go to seminary SOMEWHERE! (Source)

Variant: Deities are all ascended mortals.  It is the destiny of every mortal soul to ascend to divine status; it’s only a matter of time (unfathomably long in our mortal perspective, but not so much in a being of the infinite’s sense).  Intervening directly would interfere with people reaching their inner divinity and is thus avoided.
Humorous Variant: South Park had it right- the mortal world is actually one great reality TV show.  If the gods solve all our problems for us, it means the show becomes boring and thus gets cancelled. (Thus dooming all of mortal existence.)

Even gods can have bad days. (Source)
5) The gods once worked more directly in the world, but were long ago eclipsed in power by the churches and other trappings of their faith.  As a god’s belief structure evolves, it ossifies and achieves a transcendent existence of its own beyond the god’s (or any one being’s) conscious control.  This typically leaves the original deity a husk of its former self (such as the turtle deity in Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods book). This phenomenon might explain the odd iconography and/or taboos within many faiths.

6) The gods exist as manifestations as Jungian archetypes of the collective human (or given fantasy, inhuman) unconsciousness and are therefore intercede only through mortal action.  This can take the place through the brute display of the strongest mortals’ faith (i.e. spells like Miracle) but more often comes about through a coordinated show of faith through combined actions (as in, mundane social movements/trends brought about by many normal people working in tandem with each other.)

7)  The gods must be crazy. The gods vaguely represent certain portfolios or interests, but the way they pursue their interests is so alien, caricatured, or inconsistent by mortal standards. One might think of them as slightly more human-like than average eldritch abominations. It takes wisdom and experience to tease out and benefit from their cryptic mysteries.

8) The gods are long dead, and any pretense to their continued existence is a falsity. Divine energy is a limited (or even nonrenewable) resource that the clergy doesn’t like to hand out like candy.

9) The gods all have self-confidence issues. It is the role of the cleric to ask as counselor to her deity and build enough confidence to persuade the deity to act. (Of course, this setup makes deities the ultimate atheists, for they truly do not believe in themselves.)
10) Pay no attention to the god behind the curtain! Despite what they might want you to think, the gods are not great and all-powerful in and of themselves. Rather, divine power exists through acting as conduits of belief. The gods’ priests are their circuits, delivering the power of their influence in order to gather more power back from the believers (or whatever interests funnel energy back to their gods). As priests rise in level, they become more attuned with this power and are able to deliver greater and greater manifestations of this power.