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Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Silent Legions: Fighting Zombies (And dying doing so!)

The Resident Evil 2 remake may very well end up being one of the videogame highlights of 2019 and sets a really high bar really early into the year. That said, it has got me interested in survival horror and zombies again. Zombies were a monster that became rather over-exposed and over-used in fiction in the past decade but having a flesh-eating walking corpse grab my character and tear out his throat in gruesome detail while turning a dark corner of a police station reminded me why these bastards are terrifying.

"Hi sir may I help you? Anything you want?
Oh you want my warm flesh, okay that's...nice."

Zombies In Combat

In theory, a zombie is a truly pathetic monster: slow and stupid it doesn't have the combat presence of eldritch abominations. It's 'just' a walking corpse. The thing with zombies is that in zombie stories they are the main threat and when you combine survival horror with OSR resource management you realize the two are basically the exact same thing. The 'dungeon' is an abandoned hospital or some other locale. The torches are replaced with batteries for your flashlight. Arrows are now bullets. The zombie is a weak monster individually, yes, but the problem is that where there is one there is ten and you only have so many bullets.

Special Attacks

That said, to think the average zombie is completely harmless in combat is a lie. This is especially true in tight, dark spaces where your escape options are limited. Once the zombie is up close and personal, it will try to eat you. Even the most basic zombie can be spiced up with these special maneuvers which make them far deadlier than their presumably low HD make them out to be.
  • Lunge: Moving past a shuffling zombie is dangerous as most varieties are capable of a sudden burst of speed. This is usually accomplished by lunging forward and basically almost falling on their prey. This is simple and similar to attack of opportunities. When running past a few feet of a zombie, it can make a free attack as it basically stumble forward in the general direction of the prey.
  • Vomit: Some zombies spew vomit and/or blood on their prey, either their own or the chunky goop of the last poor sod they just ate. After lending a successful attack on a target, a zombie has a one-in-six chance to 'zombie vomit'. The target must make an Evasion save or become blinded by the horrible goo spewing all over their face, which they can wipe on their turn as a free action. Obviously, there are downsides to being blinded that need no explaining√©
  • Throat Rip: Once a zombie has you in its cold, icy grip it will attempt to bite the throat and rip out as much flesh as it can. Obviously, this is fatal in humans. After lending a successful attack on a target, a zombie has a one-in-six chance 'to go for the throat'. Doing so sacrifice the damage of the first attack as it represented a painful, but ultimately not lethal grab. It must roll a second attack and if it hit, the attack now inflict 2d6 damage. In addition anyone bit this way is now bleeding to death and will die in 1d4 rounds unless it is somehow stopped.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Random World Extra: Quick Character Generation for Caldbrygg, Cryham and the Orcfen River

Just some quick tables to generate a character for the still unnamed Random World. These tables are designed with Random Fantasy in mind.

Generating A Character

Rolling on these tables generate a character for the Random World using the Basic Fantasy rule set. These tables are a mixture of crunch and fluff and should allow for a fairly simple yet efficient foundation to who is the character, what they are and where they come from as well as possibly shed some light on their background or at least plant some basic seeds if a player wish to expand on them.

D20
Origin
1-3
Caldbrygg, the Mystical City
4-6
Cryham, City of Spells
7-9
Middle Lands
10-12
Glanda
13
Waywood
14
Furnace Wastes
15
Orcfen
16
Jungle of Spears
17
Yarford
18
Cafeld
19
Mavre Woods
20
Scarwood Forest

The other results will be for later posts but, suffice to say, it is generally accepted that these three locales are the most well-suited for an initial party and part of the area which, in general, is good for fairly 'basic' or 'default' tabletop fantasy matters as it has your fighter, thieves, mages, clerics and some fantasy races.

CALDBRYGG
D8
Race
Class and Background
1-2
Human
Black Market Scum (Fighter or Thief): You are a thug or thief of some kind, member of some lesser brotherhood of ill repute. Your kind are often paid in secret and behind closed doors by the Mystics to ensure the city guards never see whatever cursed trinkets enter the walls of Caldbrygg. Be it by force or guile you ensure the flow of money.
3
Man-At-Arms (Fighter): You are part of a commoner militia whose main purpose is to bolster the ranks in times of need. You are now using your training to live as an adventurer in search of gold and glory.
4
Lesser Noble (Fighter): While of noble blood you are of a lesser standing, with very little resources beyond a home and some ancestral weapons and armors, some possible in poor shape. You also lack the funds to support an aerial mount.
5
Lesser Mystic (Cleric or Magic-User): You are a priest of the lesser orders. In spite of your clear talent and connection to the divine (as you can cast spells) you are by a mixture of bloodline and politics mostly a second-rate priest in the eyes of nobility. Perhaps a suitably great deed or miracle will earn you a place among the greatest Mystics?
6
Guild Mage (Magic-User): As a member of the lesser orders of mages you’ve spent one or two decades bent over parchments or reciting gibberish and nonsense until the day you’d be (perhaps) ready to be initiated into the true mystic arts. The guilds are notoriously cheap and cutthroat, leaving you mostly a spell casting hobo.
7
Dwarf
Dwarven Peddler (Thief, Magic-User or Illusionist): As a travelling dwarf you bring with you knowledge of the arcane, cunning and a flair for opportunities. You are distrusted by the people of Caldbrygg but your skills make you useful to those with no scrupules.
8
Hobgoblin
Hobgoblin Servant (Fighter or Thief): As a hobgoblin you’ve been trained and/or empowered from the lesser ranks of goblins to work as a warrior, thug or assassin. You could be masterless and in need of sustaining your powers (and thus needing to complete at least one ‘quest’ or ‘adventure’ worth a level of XP) or you could be ‘loaned’ to a party of adventurers by your master.

CRYHAM
D8
Race
Class and Background
1-2
Human
Burnout (Fighter, Thief or Magic-User): You used to be someone with a better life but you’ve spent more than you’ve made and abused substances. Burned out, you have to make a living somehow even if it mean going down in some dirty tomb to find forgotten treasures.
3-4
Mercenary (Fighter, Thief or Magic-User): You offer your services to the highest bidder, plain and simple. Your actual skill set may very well vary but it doesn’t change the fact you work purely to recover objects for rich wizards or to do certain tasks for them.
5
Aspiring Magician (Magic-User): You are truly dedicated to your craft, which you hope will elevate your from your humble beginnings. However, arcane research are extremely costly and you need to make a living somehow so...
6

Dwarf
Dwarven Peddler (Thief, Magic-User or Illusionist): As a travelling dwarf you bring with you knowledge of the arcane, cunning and a flair for opportunities. In Cryham your kind is somewhat more common than in Caldbrygg.
7
Clan Warrior (Fighter or Fighter/Illusionist): With more Dwarves established in Cryham than elsewhere in the region, there exist some small enclaves and pocket of dwarven society. As a warrior of your clan you’ve been trained to protect your kin and now use this skill set for personal gain.
8
Hobgoblin
Hobgoblin Servant (Fighter or Thief): As a hobgoblin you’ve been trained and/or empowered from the lesser ranks of goblins to work as a warrior, thug or assassin. You could be masterless and in need of sustaining your powers (and thus needing to complete at least one ‘quest’ or ‘adventure’ worth a level of XP) or you could be ‘loaned’ to a party of adventurers by your master.

ORCFEN
D4
Race
Class and Background
1
Human
Orc Hunter (Fighter or Ranger): You live to kill orcs. Some people who have never been around orcs may find this violent or obsessive but you know better. You know the wilderness well and you know how to fight.
2
Swampfolk Villager (Fighter or Thief): You are one of the isolated ‘swampfolks’ living around the Orcfen river and your ancestors have lived there for as long as you can remember. It is possible you’ve left to find adventure.
3
Swampfolk Witch (Magic-User): The swampfolks know of magic...and fear it. You are among those few who are willing to tackle supernatural forces and use them to protect the swampfolks. The Witch-Trees hate you.
4
Bandit (Fighter, Thief or Ranger): You are (or was) one of the many scumbags and low-life who dwell around the Orcfen river, living off pillaging settlements around the area or emerging from the swamp to attack roads before diving bad into wilderness you know nobody else would follow.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Yoon-Suin Pathfinder E6: More Thoughts

This is a sequel to this post. It mostly consist of thoughts and rambles on how to adapt Yoon-Suin to Pathfinder, which I've long stopped playing/running yet it remain one my players and their friends are familiar with. These are mostly rambles too short for a full post and some observations.


Alignment In Yoon-Suin

Personally I really don't like Alignments but they are quite 'baked' into D&D 3e and Pathfinder, so a few thoughts: in Yoon-Suin the vast majority of people and entities are Neutral, Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Neutral. This doesn't mean there aren't good/evil person, in fact most people probably lean more toward Good or Evil. The reason they remain listed as 'Neutral' is that most people are inherently prone to selfish need, desires but also moments of compassion and cruelty in equal measure which often go against their usual behavior. Ultimately, most people are a dispassionate Neutral and Lawful/Chaotic generally indicate more of a code of behavior. So what about Good and Evil, then?
  • Good is the alignment of selfless enlightenment. It is a rare Alignment, since even the nicest people are really Neutral. To be truly Good (and to register as such with magical effects) requires one to be a truly enlightened and selfless soul. Of course, hardly every enlightened being is Good. Think of it more as the Bodhisattva, saint and martyr Alignment.
  • Evil is the alignment of malevolence and spiritual decay. Most douche bags aren't Evil, as they remain capable of moment of compassion and love, even if that love might be extremely selective and self-serving. To be truly Evil is to sink to the depths of immorality and/or to consort with malevolent spiritual forces.
  • Deities usually lack the Alignment domains in their list of Domains. They also lack any sub-domain related to the various D&D-derived Outsiders as these do not exist in Yoon-Suin.

Goblinoid

The Goblinoid Subtype in Yoon-Suin refers to some loosely related creatures with vaguely simian traits and a somewhat blurry nature when it come to whether or not they are supernatural and malevolent beings or simply another race of sentient humanoids. Unlike other settings, Goblins are never portrayed as these invading armies of monsters. Rather they are elusive creatures which live usually far away from civilization.
  • Bhuta: The Bhuta of the Mountains of the Moon are Humanoid with the Goblinoid subtype.
  • Kardan: This Bugbear variant is likely called something else but the core principle of the monster remain the same, which is to say a monstrous woodland stalker with illusory powers. They are found across Lahag and other jungle areas where they prey upon children and eat them alive.
  • Monkey Goblin: These creatures can represent a variety of forest-dwelling trickster beings.
  • Vanara: The Vanara race has the Goblinoid subtype.

Akashic Races

The book which introduce the Akashic Magic has several race options, all of which are a combination of human and animal traits, which make these races a bit of a parallel to the likes of the Slug and Crab-Men. If used, these races don't require much thought in how they are used as they are all based off are found in the Indian subcontinent. It is likely, however, that none of them are found living full-time in the Yellow City outside of exotic slaves and a few odd sages working full-time alongside some Slug-Man noble. With their connection to the Akashic powers, it is possible that Slug-Men themselves could have such a power. If one decide to make Slug-Men unique among the other animal-men, then perhaps their disconnect from Akashic Magic hint at some form of spiritual decay of some kind.

Psionic Races

The previous post mentionned the use of Psionics, so I figured it would be best to try and see where the various Psionic Races fit in Yoon-Suin based on the methodology of Pathfinder to have as many options as possible. Four of the Psionic Races are loosely fitting into Yoon-Suin (if barely!) and their presence is purely optional. In particular, the Noral's description of being rather egalitarian among those who have undergone the rites which make them Psionic, combine with their diplomatic talents hint that they could come from a land distant from the Purple Land. Should the Purple Land truly open to the rest of the world, who knows what could happen?
  • Dromite: As previously mentioned, the Dromite are a psionic race of intelligent insectoid humanoids. Found in the Oligarchies, they live in underground hives and trade with others, if only just barely. Their way of life is alien to that of humans and even that of the Slug-Men. It is not uncommon for nobles and scholars of the Yellow City to wish to know more about the many mysteries of Dromite culture.
  • Duergar: One alternative is to use Duergar as the racial stat for all Dwarves and depicting the whole race as odd beings with unusual mental powers.
  • Elan: The race of Elan is an unusual one, born of centuries upon centuries of secret manipulations of the human body and mind by odd psionic guru in hope of unlocking some great potential. As a whole they are a race of rare, elusive eccentrics who delve into mysteries of the mind best left unanswered.
  • Noral: The Noral inhabit a city somewhere beyond the Gulf of Moray. Their society is alien to that of the Slug-Men and they have an odd way of life which is utterly at odd with the more arcane and convoluted caste system of the Yellow City. They are distrusted by nature due to their oddly egalitarian way of life but they have their use as traders to the outside world. Some speculate that they could have once been human while others say the resemblance is only coincidental.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Happy Birthday, The Amateur Dungeoneers!

This blog just turned a year old. I'll just make this quick: it's been a fun run so far and I'm glad for all the support I did get, even if it wasn't all that much in the long run nor does it compare to juggernauts of RPG-related blogging. But does that really matter?

No. It doesn't. It's been a fun ride so far and it will remain a fun ride moving forward.

Pathfinder E6: Yoon-Suin

There's going to be some serious 'Heresy' in this post!

It's is an attempt to offer Yoon-Suin to players and people more familiar with Pathfinder than any other edition of D&D. In the past, I've seen interest in this setting be reduced once it was mentioned the setting book worked off OD&D. This is, in no way, meant as a disrespect to this great book but rather as a bridge between the beautiful and unique works of the OSR and an edition/game some people still play. Even if I'm less and less sure why people play Monte Cook's eternal fellatio to spell casters.*

This take on Yoon-Suin use E6 Pathfinder and, frankly, abuse the usage of third party content which is something I'd normally frown upon but in this case it's fitting for the game conceptually. The third party books used are all from Dreamscarred Press.

Races

Two options in converting Yoon-Suin to Pathfinder exist. The first is to just use the races found in it and the other is to go 'full modern D&D' and allow a crapload of weird options. Assuming that would be the way to go, here are a few possible options which already exist in Pathfinder and could work fine in Yoon-Suin:

  • Dromite: These little bug-men are possibly relatives of other insectoid beings found in the Purple Land. They are elusive but are said to have great and mysterious mental powers, at least their gurus do.
  • Ophiduan: They are one of the odder reptilian races which exist at the edges of the Purple Land.
  • Samsaran: Given their connection to Vedic myths they fit right in. They are essentially Bodhisattva, enlightened souls reborn to a mortal body. Arguably could really use a homebrew to make them better at using Akashic stuff.
  • Tengu: While the name need a bit of a change, these odd and cunning bird-men aren't too out of place in the setting. However, if the name is kept intact then perhaps their connection to Japanese mythology can be a plot point, making them travelers from a faraway land beyond Yoon-Suin.
  • Vanara: These ape-men could be related to Bhuta.
  • Vishkanya: In Yoon-Suin they might not be that exotic at all.
  • Wayang: In case one need a second kind of creepy goblin-like creatures.

Of course, Yoon-Suin has three races which are native to it and important to the setting. These are the Crab-Men (statted for Pathfinder here) and the Slug-Men. The third one are the Dwarves of Yoon-Suin which aren't quite as you'd know your typical Dwarves: they are not short Scottish men with beards, big armor and hammers.

Dwarves

Standard Racial Traits

  • Ability Score Racial Traits: Dwarves gain +2 Con and +2 Wis.
  • Type: Dwarves are humanoids with the dwarf subtype.
  • Size: Dwarves are Medium creatures and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Speed: Dwarves have a base speed of 20 feet, but their speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance.
  • Languages: Dwarves begin play speaking Common and Dwarven. Dwarves with high intelligence scores can learn additional languages.
Defense Racial Traits
  • Hardy: Dwarves have a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities.
  • Stability: Dwarves receive a +4 racial bonus to their CMD when resisting bull rush or trip attempts while standing on the ground.
Feat and Skill Racial Traits
  • Greed: Dwarves have a +2 bonus on Appraise checks to determine the price of non-magical goods that contain precious metals or gemstones.
  • Stonecunning: Dwarves receive a +2 bonus on Perception checks to notice unusual stonework, such as traps and hidden doors located in stone walls or floors. They receive a check to notice such features whenever they pass within 10 feet of them, whether or not they are actively looking.
  • Craftsman: Dwarves have a +2 racial bonus on all Craft or Profession checks to create objects from metal or stone.

Senses Racial Traits
  • Darkvision: Dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet.

Slug-Men

Standard Racial Traits

  • Ability Score Racial Traits: Slug men gain +2 Int and Cha.
  • Type: Slug men are Monstrous Humanoids.
  • Size: Slug men are Medium creatures and thus receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Speed: Slug men have a base speed of 20 feet, but their speed is never modified by armor or encumbrance.
  • Languages: Slug men begin play speaking Common. Slug men with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic).

Feat and Skill Racial Traits

  • Skill Training: Bluff and Diplomacy are always considered class skills for slug men.
  • Gift of Tongues: Slug men have a +1 racial bonus on Bluff and Diplomacy checks, and they learn one additional language every time they put a rank in the Linguistics skill.
  • Emissary: Once per day, a slug man can roll twice when making a Bluff or Diplomacy check and take the better roll.

Senses Racial Traits

  • Darkvision: Slug men can see in the dark up to 60 feet.

Classes

It's fairly obvious that a Pathfinder conversion would have a ton of options for classes, especially with the addition of two type of magics which are in this case well suited to Yoon-Suin: these are Psionics and Akashic. While normally something people find a bit too tied to science fiction, Psionic classes are well-suited to Yoon-Suin given that it has options for psionic in the first place. As for Akashic? Well, I like it and it suit the setting fine. These are options picked more for flavor and style than 'game balance' or 'builds' but screw these concepts. To keep things simple most classes have only or two flavorful or interesting Archetype to use.

In a deliberate choice to further enforce the Fighter/Thief/Mage ideal, the only 'hybrid' class of sort is the Cleric and classes with similar Hit Dice/BAB. There are no Magus or Psychic Warriors here or other class which skirt the line between fighting-man and magic-user safe for these archetypes which allow to dabble into Psionic and Akashic powers.

Brawler (and Fighter)

The Fighter is not a very good class thanks to the crappy game design of Monte Cook so the option to play a Brawler is there to replace the Fighter if need be. However, nonetheless, the Brawler/Fighter classes would form a sizable portion of any active adventurers in Yoon-Suin in spite of it's apparent weakness simply because of how versatile it is and how many character concepts it cover.
  • Akashic Warrior and Psionic Fighter: Both options allow the Fighter to tap into these two power sources. These hybrid archetypes could be commonplace in some areas and limited to secret and strange cults in others.
  • Savage Warrior: A Fighter archetype well suited to the ferocious Crab-Men.
  • Unbreakable: An alternative available to Crab-Men.

Cleric

The Purple Land has many gods. Most local, unlike the more typical fantasy gods which tend to embody entire concepts and/or are worshiped by whole races. The typical D&D-style cleric is somewhat at odd with the setting, being more based off a crusader than a proper priest.
  • Psionic Domain: This and it's subdomain are open to those Cleric of gods who preside over disciplines related to the psionic arts, the mind, dreams and other mental matters. Alternatively these could be Clerics who have achieved some form of enlightenment.
  • Sacred Attendant: These are well-suited to priestess of divine beauty, love and maybe some tantric sex on the side. Because why not?

Guru

The Guru's role within the setting is more than self-explanatory: they are the Akashic equivalent of the Cleric class and one well suited to mystics, fakir and sadhu of all stripes. Entire religions and philosophical schools could exist centered around the various Philosophies which are the class options of the Guru.

Monk

In many ways, the monk isn't a very good class mechanically. But on the flip side? It's really, really cool and quite a few people certainly love it's kung fu powers. This is a core class well worth adding to Yoon-Suin for flavor alone.
  • Enlightened Monk and Mysterial: Much like the Fighter options, this add Psionic and Akashic options to the Monk.
  • Sohei: While the name is tied to Japanese history, these mounted warrior monks would fit right in.

Psion

The Psion of Yoon-Suin are yogis who have learned to fully harness the enlightened powers of the mind, making them culturally on par with Clerics and thus part of the 'Holy Man' class on a technical level. All Clerics may be priests and brahmin, but not all priest and brahmin are Clerics. This is a class well-suited to the Slug Men.

Ranger

These are hunters and warriors of the wilderness, ranging from the magic-less Skirmisher variant for those who are merely skilled trackers to the regular Ranger for those who are more like wood-dwelling sadhu who renounced civilization for nature.

  • Divine Tracker: For those Rangers with a stronger bond to their deity, perhaps presumably as tribal shaman of some obscure wild tribe or as the aforementioned society-rejecting holy-men.
  • Urban Ranger: These are a unusual breed of Ranger, mostly found in the dark corners of the Yellow City and prowling the area where the Old Town encroach upon civilization. Quite a few odd cults exist there and Urban Rangers might be their holy warriors.

Rogue

Every society has those who live in the shadows by their wits and skills and Yoon-Suin is no different. Rogues are a very versatile class, especially with their Rogue Talents in Pathfinder and how many options the addition of psionics and akashic mysteries add.
  • Cerebral Infiltrator: A pretty self-explanatory option. A Psionic rogue.
  • Thug: Fitting for the class name, these Rogues are associated with violent murder cults.

Vizier

This Akashic class is particularly well-suited to the Slug Men, with their high intelligence and it's role, which fit the decadent rulers of the Yellow City quite well. This too is a class which could be used by members of the priestly castes as opposed to the Cleric class.

Wizard

Archetypal spell casters, the Wizards are obviously a 'thing' in Yoon-Suin because why wouldn't they be? Of all the spell casters in Yoon-Suin they may very well be the most mysterious and eldritch but that's just fine the way it is. Not everything need to make sense.
  • Psychic Mage: Or, perhaps these different powers are not so different after all?
*Yes I know Cook isn't responsible for Pathfinder, but Pathfinder was designed from day one to be the direct successor to D&D 3E.