Friday, August 31, 2012

Meet Your Representative

The 48,151 duly-appointed members of the elemental parliament are in charge of shaping the material plane. The four major parties correspond to the four classical elements and each hold a large amount of power. There are also countless smaller parties representing various other "elements": poison, ice, smoke, electricity, etc. More puissant interests (magic, gravity, time, etc.) do not participate in the parliament but may retain a token representative, while positive and negative energy were not invited and are generally viewed with great suspicion by the rest. In addition, the parliament employs huge numbers of workers, aides, emissaries, diplomats, couriers, and soldiers to enact its will.

Like this, but all the people are elementals, and there's more of them (image source: Wikimedia Commons).

The parliament's schemes often reach beyond spans of mortal comprehension, and it generally does not liaise with mortal politicians or involve itself in material-plane politics. However, during delicate political negotiations, most parties are not above using mortal cat's-paws to get what they want.

The parliament has a bicameral structure, with a general assembly and a high council of the four largest parties. Motions can only be introduced by the high council, and the high council members all have veto power. If a resolution is not vetoed, it must pass a simple majority in the general assembly (quorum is also a simple majority, which arises often because at any given moment representatives are all over the place).

The high council currently consists of:
  • The Flaming League (Fire)
  • The Allied Waters (Water)
  • The Free Atmospheric Union (Air)
  • The Venerable Chthonic Party (Earth)
Notable lesser parties include:
  • Crystal
  • Electricity (The Storm)
  • Ice (Her Lady of the Glacier's Party)
  • Lava (The Ancient Flame)
  • Light
  • Metal
  • Mud
  • Poison
  • Rot (The Life Reform Party, or "Rotters")
  • Sand
  • Shadow
  • Smoke
  • Sound (The Sonic Party)
  • Steam
  • Vapor
  • Water
  • Wood

I'm not yet sure I want to use the parliament directly in any sense, but if nothing else I think it will help create interesting situations. I plan to detail individual parties in future posts, as I work through their motivations, their methods, and their interactions with other parties.

Incidentally, 48,151 is a lot of members to divide up, and I'd like to do it roughly by importance. I've made a poll, where I invite you to rate the various elements by importance and interest. It doesn't close or anything, I'll just leave it up as an evolving thing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Devil's Darning Needle

Dragonflies have long had a bad reputation. Called "ear cutters", "eye-pokers", "eye-snatchers", and "adder's servants" in parts of Europe, the story I grew up with was that they were "the devil's darning needles", and they would sew your lips and eyelids shut.
I actually think dragonflies are pretty cool, and obviously they don't hurt people at all, but if they did . . .

The Devil's Darning Needle (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A devil's darning needle looks similar to a dragonfly except that when it flies it always flies "backwards". They are encountered alone, in pairs, or in swarms of 2d20, and are a favorite summon of Beelzebub and his ilk when enforcing contracts. The darning needle attacks by poking, prodding, and piercing its prey, weaving it with invisible magic cords while it does. Eventually the prey is immobilized, at which point the darning needles wait for it to die before feeding on the carrion.

For statistics, use a sprite, except that its type is magical beast and every hit deals an additional 1 point Dex damage and they generally have 1 hp.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Antalop

Here is the antelope, from a Latin bestiary (antalops) interpreted as a fearsome critter.

The Antalop (source: Wikimedia Commons).

The antalop is about the size and shape of a deer, except that its antlers are like saw blades. It uses these to cut branches off trees and graze on the leafy upper foliage, but in a pinch it can also use them to collapse trees on pursuers or defend itself directly. Owing to this and its notable speed, it is difficult and dangerous to hunt, although if its antlers become entangled in something it may be caught.

An antalop has stats as a mule, but with an antler attack as a short sword.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Modular Dice

I've been using "d50"s without noticing for some time. You can get huge, strange 50-sided dice, but that's not what I'm talking about. Instead, I roll d% and if the tens-place is greater than 5, I "wrap around". I'm sure this is something that's not uncommon, it saves re-rolling if the die is an even multiple.

I decided to investigate this further. For a uniform distribution it's not that interesting, but starting from a normal distribution it's a neat way to get two peaks. Figure 1 shows the effects of different moduli on the 3d6 distribution.

Figure 1
If you'd like to play with this in anydice here's the function I've written:
function: A:n mod B:n {
    if A > B {result: [(A - B) mod B]}
    result: A

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to Get by Dangerous Monsters

An old birthday present from one of my cousins, scanned and traced over in Inkscape:
How to Get By Dangerous Monsters

The Monsters:

  • Octopus Fish
  • Electric Eel Fish
  • Killer One
  • Killer Double-Headed Bee
  • Giant Monster Cat
  • Guardian Monster
  • Giant Snake
  • Guardian Demon of the Wall
  • Killer Kangaroo House
  • Cyclops
  • Kung-Kong Fish
  • Meteor Fish
  • Duckfish

Other Locations:

  • Start
  • Troll Bridge
  • Witch's House


The mixture of aquatic and land monsters suggests a swampy location to me, and the choice of orange color for the paths suggests a boardwalk. Not sure what the purple was, but maybe its some kind of older, more dangerous pathway.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pub Names

I made up a table for naming "the local":

Pub Names

A half-dozen samples:
  • The Wizard & Bear Tavern
  • The Hog Lounge
  • The Wooden Club
  • The White Arms
  • The Orange Ghost Roasted Saloon
  • The Helpful Angel Abundant House

Yes, columns B & C are identical to columns D and E. Use "The", "&", "'s", etc. as necessary. A d8, rather than a d20, can be rolled on column F to limit the results to more "standard" fantasy names.

If you don't end up with any nouns or adjectives (a 1-in-16 chance), substitute the place-name in before column F. If you don't have a place-name, there are some herehere, & here. For example:
  • The Griefstanz Brewery-tap
  • The Trennov Cantina

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pulp Materials

Over the summer I've been reading some old Doc Savage books, where I found references to duralumin and pliofilm. These were both materials I had never heard of before, which intrigued me. I assembled this table in case I ever run a pulp-style game and need to name some new wonder-material, without having to submit to realism.

Fantastic Pulp Materials

A half-dozen samples:
  • hypergel
  • maloplast
  • cellusol
  • formicast
  • lumisil
  • lumilite
Rarely, you may get the trade-name of an actual product (it is cobbled together from those), as I have no mechanism to prevent that.

Spider Racial Track

This is for a game called Legend, which is pretty cool, but doesn't have enough monsters (they're working on it). It's also undergoing major revisions, so this may not always work perfectly.

(Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Spider Racial Track

Of course, I had a lot of help with this track, and credit goes out to the cool people on the forums.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Snake Oil

I don't have a campaign running at the moment, but I'm considering something Wampus-y for the future. I've devised a table of names for things that might be found in a Wampus Country medicine cabinet, sold by shady street vendors or sworn-by by old farm-hands. Most things generated are probably just alcohol, but some of them are possibly admixtures of unrelated potions, and some of them might even be good as actual potions, expertly brewed.

Wampus Country Medicine

A half-dozen samples:
  • Master Totenkinder's Carbonated Tablets
  • Senor Edward's Syrup of Magic
  • Mistress Turner's Original Tincture
  • Doctor Paracelcius' Krynoid-ash Embrocation
  • Madame Gingery's Tablets
  • Doctor Wace's Peculiar Pills

The column "Quaffable" is an alternative to "Substance" if you'd prefer that all your things be potions. The columns "Adjective" and "Descriptor" each appear with 50% probability. The first 10 items in the "Animal" column correspond to the "Setting Specific" columns.

Eventually, I plan to script the table to take the work of rolling out, but I'm not sure how I want to do it yet.