Thursday, December 18, 2014

In Case I Never Mentioned it CRAWLJAMMER #5 IS NOW AVAILABLE!

I have this here blog to talk about Crawljammer, and I somehow neglected to mention that (a) Crawljammer #5 is available, and (b) you can buy it! (Multiple ways!)

This is the most unusual of all Crawljammer issues so far because while it still has the sci-fi-meets-fantasy flavor that you have come to love, it's a more tightly focused issue with some real practical use at the gaming table but maybe not as much random nonsense as you have come to adore. But what I LOVE about this issue, is that Sean Ellis and I really crafted the core of a new pantheon of Space Gods that you can invoke by your wizards or use as a deity for your Crawljammin' clerics, and I provided a new character class -- the Ecclesiast -- that gives you the best of both of those worlds and frames it around a package of inspirational Wayne Snyder artwork. (Oh, and 12 new spells! TWELVE.)

And Matt Hildebrand killed it on the layout and cover art for this one.

And Fred Dailey killed it even harder on his drawings of Garun and Sperato, the latter of which is some kind of Platonic ideal of Ditko meets Legion of Super Heroes meets Christopher Lee, and I could not be happier with how that turned out.

So! You can buy issue #5 over on the right of this page. Or you can buy bundles of previous issues or preorder the next few. Or you can head over to RPGNow and get yourself any of the digital versions of any issue at a bit of a discount. Whatever you're into. And let me know if you need any help with all that Jammin' that's happening before, during, and after your Crawlin'.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Narcosmos: Transformative Idea Generator


In Narcosmos, ideas are infectious and transformative. They are weapons that cannot be easily controlled, but those in tune with the psychosphere may channel ideaspace for unique effects.

The table below demonstrates the unpredictable power of such ideas. To use this table, the game master should roll 1d16 three times, generating a compound idea with an adjective, noun, and effect. This idea becomes a kind of verbal hypersigil, and if spoken aloud, the effect occurs. The ideas may come randomly to the PCs in their sleep, or they may be scrawled on the walls of dreamspace or in forgotten tomes found in the sewers of distant planets. Once used, each idea may never be repeated.


Roll 1d16
You grow a hunchback, purple and throbbing, and after three days of slow growth, it bursts into 2d8 mechanical beetles that obey your commands until the end of the day. The beetles attack as first level fighters and bite for 1d4 damage each, have an AC of 7 (13) and 1 hp each. Anyone bitten by the beetles must save vs. poison or fall into a delirious narcoleptic coma for 1d4 turns.
A metal coffin appears beside you. You feel like it has always been there, but you have never noticed. It cannot be moved and only you can open it. Inside is a floating sphere of condensed time. If you hold this ball in both hands, you may transport you and your immediate companions 1d6 weeks into the past or 1d6 weeks into the future. The timesphere and the coffin disappears after that single use.
Blood drips from the sky, as if the gods are slaughtered in the heavens. This lasts for 1d12 weeks and follows you wherever you go.
You transform into a 13’ tall floating head for 1d4 turns. While in this form, you may not use melee or ranged attacks, and your AC and HP remain the same, but you may cast magic and unleash psionic blasts dealing 1d12 damage to anyone within sight unless they make a successful save vs. death.
You temporarily teleport yourself to a floating island in space where you must confront the six-legged jaguar woman who will neither attack nor defend but will ask you a single question: are you prepared? If you say yes you will be transported back with -2 to your Int and Wis and +1 to your Str and Con and a permanent hp gain of 1d6. If you say no you will be transported back with +2 to your Int and Wis and -1 to your Str and Con and the permanent ability to cast one randomly determined level 2 magic user spell, even if are not a spellcaster. If you say nothing you will remain on the floating island forever.
A syringe gun appears in your hand and you immediately know how to use it. It can fire 1d12 times before becoming inert. Each time it is fired at a target, there is a 50% chance it will unleash a torrent of mind-acid dealing 1d12 psychic damage and a 50% chance that the chemwave emission will mimic the effect of a randomly-determined level 3 illusionist spell.
You understand. As the game master any one question about the current adventure or campaign and he must answer in one truthful complete sentence.
You gain a limited form of speak with animals that allows you to psychically communicate with felines.
Each day for the next 1d8 days, you gain a cumulate -1 penalty to all attributes and all rolls. After the final day, you awaken the next morning to discover that the penalties have disappeared – you feel healthy again – but you have given birth to a humanoid fly the size of a rat. If you discard or kill this fly-baby, you will take 1d20 psychic damage. If you raise this fly-baby, it will grow to adulthood in 30 days and vanish into the psychosphere where you will only meet it again in your dreams.
Your shoulder blades transform into a flesh and bone jetpack due to heretofore unknown nanomachines. This effect is permanent, giving you a movement of fly 60’. All armor is useless to you unless it is custom made for your new form.
You permanently gain the following psychiatric disorder (roll 1d6): (1) agoraphobia, (2) delusions, (3) fetishism, (4) narcolepsy, (5) paranoia, (6) insomnia.
You gain the ability to transform into a giant floating jellyfish that can sting at a range of 15’ with its tendrils as if attacking as a level 5 fighter, dealing 1d10 damage and the victim must save vs. poison or become afflicted with an itchy rash that causes a -4 penalty to all rolls until salt water is applied to the affected area. While in jellyfish form, your armor class, hp, attributes, and abilities remain unchanged, though you are unable to communicate and unable to cast spells with material or verbal components. You have is jellyfish transformation ability for 1d4 days.
1d4 giant orange rats with attached saddles and bridles arrive via the dreamstream, ready to be ridden. The dream rats have a movement rate of 60’ and may enter the astral realm or any adjacent plane. The rats will not attack, nor can they take damage. They will disappear in 1d6 days.
Your belly grows bloated and your hair falls out. In 1d4 days, your skin begins to turn a tarnished bronze color. At that point, you permanently lose 1d6 hp and -1 Strength, but gain +1 AC, +1 Wisdom, and the ability to read the thoughts of anyone within 10’.
A warped mirror image of you appears. This mirror image duplicate looks identical to you, though his garb is all yellow, red, and purple and he speaks in an alien tongue. He will fight alongside you, as if another PC under the player’s control with stats and equipment identical to yours, for 1d8 turns before disappearing.
A tattoo of a winged mass of mouths appears on your chest, and you take 1d6 damage per day and find yourself incapable of sleep. The only way to prevent this effect is to “feed” the tattoo drops of spinal fluid. If 8 ounces of spinal fluid are fed to the tattoo, you permanently gain +1 Int and the tattoo begins to glow green but has no other lingering effects.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Narcosmos: The Tiger-Soul Rainbow Quintessence

Earlier this year, Rafael Chandler shepherded #Narcosa to life -- a collaborative, psychedelic OSR megacompendium available for free. (You can download it right now, if you don't already have it.)

Now, he's rallying the G+ gaming community (and beyond) to create #Narcosmos, a collaborative, psychedelic megacompendium IN SPACE. Obviously, I can't NOT participate.

My contributions will be easily adaptable to your favorite Old School RPG, and these could be considered Crawljammer bonus features. The stuff that the Crawljammer overlords don't officially want you to see, because Crawljammer is printed in black and white, and these ideas are in mind-altering technicolor (as my first entry will demonstrate)!

So, here we go...launching Narcosmos...

The Tiger-Soul Rainbow Quintessence
In your travels through the psychosphere, you may encounter the Tiger-Soul Rainbow Quintessence in one of two ways: (1) it stalks you from the edges of your consciousness as you fly through the void of space or teleport to a distant world, then pounces and devours you hours later, or (2) you slowly, terrifyingly begin to realize that you have been trapped inside the creature for weeks, and it has already begun feeding off your psychic energy. In the latter case, you must escape or transform. There is no alternative.

A psychic amalgam of lost souls and desperation, the Tiger-Soul Rainbow Quintessence appears in its primary form as a hint of light at the edges of your eyes, then when you are alone -- the first around a corner, the last in a room -- it strikes. Horrifyingly, gorgeously vibrant in its hues of pink and green and purple, throbbing with the majesty of prismatic mind-energy, the great cat-shaped creature bares its blurred teeth and lunges at the core of your being.

Tiger-Soul Rainbow Quintessence (Animal Form): AC 2 (17); MV 50'; HD 7; #AT 3: claw/claw/bite (1d8/1d8/1d12). On a successful bite attack, save vs. death or the Tiger-Soul deals 1d6 damage to your Intelligence and Constitution and instantly transports you back to its lair -- a small black hole in the psychosphere.

Your adventuring companions may follow the trail to the beast's lair to recover your body through astral projection or planar travel or spirit walking via shamanistic means, but unless you are prepared to confront the Tiger-Soul Rainbow Quintessence on your own, you should think twice before journeying across time and space.

The secondary, and more terrifying, aspect of the Tiger-Soul is in its abstracted form. To a visionary or a seer, its abstracted form would look like a 30' tall translucent, rainbow-hued tiger, surrounding its victim like a ghostly shell, mimicking its every move, leeching energy with every step. To the victim, and to anyone without a psychic connection to the spirit world, the creature is intangible and invisible. You only become aware of it in your dreams, after 1d4 weeks of living inside the creatures unreal aura, and when your consciousness fully accepts that you have become inextricably linked to this extradimensional creature, you cannot escape. Only a banish spell or the equivalent will send the beast away and detach your psychic umbilicus. Otherwise, you will lose 1d4 hit points per day after the moment of realization occurs...until you die, and then your departing consciousness will transform into the animal aspect of the Tiger-Soul Rainbow Quintessence yourself, first lurking in the shadows of the psychosphere, seeking a lair in which to rest, then hunting your own prey across the reaches of spacetime, then, after 100 years, growing larger and more abstract until there is nothing left but to continue the cycle anew.

Tiger-Soul Rainbow Quintessence (Abstract Form): AC -2 (21); MV 100'; HD 15; #AT 1: bite (1d20). The Abstract form of the Tiger-Soul is invisible and intangible, and can only be damaged by psychic energy and soul-bound weapons. A Tiger-Soul linked to a victim will drain 1d4 hit points per day and add those hit points to her own total. Only a banish spell (or its equivalent) will dissolve the connection with its victim, sending the great beast away, but a system shock check is needed or the victim will immediately die after being disconnected from the Tiger-Soul Rainbow Quintessence.

Promethean Lance Omega -- by Mark Malone

Contributor Mark Malone recently posted a "Director's Cut" version of Crawljammer #3's Promethean Lance as a G+ reply, and I asked him if I could share the revised and updated version with our readers and here it is! This one is nastier, because it has its own Crit and Fumble tables! Enjoy!

Phlogiston is an unstable, extremely volatile energy, an element of pure chaos. While it can be tapped into by Wizards and Technomancers alike, it is impossible to contain, or so it is believed. Legends tell of an ancient order of Techno-Wizards, known as The Illuminates of Prometheus, whose towers lay deep within the nine rings of Ouranos. It is said they were able to harness the phlogiston and develop powerful weapons. One such device, the Promethean Lance, was a weapon of chaotic power treasured by kings immemorial. Armies with these lances became unstoppable, entire races extinguished, kingdoms fell, planets razed, titans slain. While powerful, phlogiston proved to be too unpredictable, and the armies were eventually defeated through attrition. Few Promethean Lances have survived to this age, and the knowledge of its manufacture is lost to time.

Damage: variable (see below)
Range:  16/32/64
Ammo:   variable (see below)

Phlogiston check: Each time the lance is discharged a phlogiston check must be made. This check follows the dice chain, with the starting power die (dP) determined by the judge when the item is discovered. The d8 version of the lance was most typical in ages past, but a few have been discovered with full power.

For attack, roll the current dP to determine the power of the blast emanating from the tip of the lance, consult the chart below. If a '1' is rolled, the lance dephlogisticates and drops a level on the dice chain. Rolling a '1' after the power die has dropped to d3, renders the lance inert. There is a 1 in 4 chance the target will catch fire. If successful, the target must make a reflex save DC 10, or spend a round putting out the flame and suffer 1d6 additional points of fire damage.

Power table (roll current power die):
Result : Damage*
7+     : 4dP
4-6    : 3dP
2-3    : 2dP
1      : 1dP and dephlogisticate (drop one level on dice chain)

* The damage column represents the number of times to roll the current power die (dP) for damage. Example: if the power die is d7 and a '3' is rolled, then 2d7 is used for damage calculation.

Overload: On a standard attack, the triggering mechanism releases a controlled amount of phlogiston into the ignition chamber that creates a blast emanating from the lance; however, the operator can override the normal safety mechanisms and release more phlogiston into the chamber to trigger a supercharged blast. It is also possible to overload it by releasing all the phlogiston at once, causing the lance to explode. Promethean knights were known to detonate their lances rather than be taken alive during failed planetary assaults. The player can choose how powerful a blast will discharge, and for every permanent dP expended in this way (the phlogiston is used up, just as a standard discharge) a +1dP will be added to the immediate attack and will trigger an automatic roll on the Critical table. If all the phlogiston is released at once, an explosion centered on the weapon will result in damage affecting an area 6dP' in diameter, and will cause an automatic roll on the Critical table.

Critical (Use current power die for crit check):
0 or less: Perfect shot. Vital organs are hit, increase power table and damage roll by +1dP.
1 : Armor burn. The target's armor is damaged by the blast, they suffer a -4AC until the armor is repaired.
2 : Unquenchable fire. The target is set ablaze (no save) and will take 2dP extra damage this round, and each successive round dropping one dP each round until the dice chain is exhausted.
3 : Knock back. The blast lands squarely on the target's torso which knocks them prone and causes them to forgo their next attack. Increase power table and damage roll by +1dP.
4 : Explosion. The blast explodes when hitting the target, and anyone within 10' take damage as well. Increase power table and damage roll by +1dP.
5 : Cone of fire. Jets of flame erupt from the end of the lance, setting everything in front of the lance ablaze. Increase power table and damage roll by +1dP. Anyone in front of the lance will need to make a reflex save DC 10 or also be caught in the flame.
6 : Plasma blast. The target is covered in super heated plasma and one of their body parts starts to melt. Determine location randomly (1d6): (1) face; (2) arms; (3) legs; (4) torso; (5) hands; (6) feet. For damage, increase power table and damage roll by +2dP.
7 : The white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. A searing hole is burned through the opponent and they must make a Fort save (DC 15 + PC level) or fall unconscious from the pain for 1d4 rounds. For damage, increase power table and damage roll by +2dP.
8+: Phlogiston disturbance!

Fumble (Use current power die for fumble check): 
0 or less: The weapon strays, wildly missing the target.
1 : The lance hums and starts emitting an odd ozone smell, but does not fire this round.
2 : The lance clicks, but doesn't fire, and the operator quickly checks to make sure it is working order. Make a reflex save DC 10 or lose next round.
3 : The sight is knocked askew, suffer a -2 penalty to next attack roll.
4 : Malfunction. Debris is caught up in the barrel of the weapon, it will require 10 minutes to clear.
5 : Dephlogisticate. The lance begins smoking and drops one level for its current dP.
6 : Backfire! The volatile element explodes affecting only the shooter. The shooter takes normal damage.
7 : External phlogiston ignition! Some phlogiston has escaped and ignites around the shooter. Roll 10' area effect damage as normal centered on the shooter.
8+: Phlogiston disturbance!

Phlogiston Disturbance:
See table 4-7 in the Core Rulebook, and substitute shooter and target for "casters", or in case the table roll is the result of explosion, anyone in 6dP' area will be affected. The only exception is entry #6 which should be substituted as follows:
6 : Eldritch energy merge. Eldritch energy interacts with the phlogiston of the lance causing a magnificent explosion centered between the shooter and target. Roll a spell check twice for Fireball using d20 + dP, and use highest result.