The Order of the Broken Moon

Order of the Broken Moon

This is how I spent my evening the other day, and it was a great time.  This is the banner for the Order of the Broken Moon, a new brotherhood being formed under the guidance of my Tyr paladin character.  I’ve never done a banner or coat-of-arms like this before, so it was fun just to try it out.  I’m no artist, but I’m actually pretty proud of the way it turned out.

The brotherhood’s ambition is to make every slave a free man in the Duergar city in which our party currently finds themselves.  Now, that story arc could probably complete itself just fine without this banner.  It’s nothing that I had to do, and certainly nothing my DM would demand of me.  I just felt like doing it, and I think that’s what made it so much fun.  Most of my creative tasks these days seem burdened by a miasma of purpose.  Why, I say, why?  There was a moment back there where I had nearly forgotten the joy of creation for its own sake.  But now I’m back.  Let chaos reign!

Players with cell phones

We’ve all had this problem at some point.  You’re in the middle of framing a scene or answering a question from a player, when you look to your left and see the other guy staring at his crotch, the led light swirling in his beady little turtle eyes.  You feel like slapping him, but suppress the urge.  After all, we’re all adults here.  You’re not a schoolteacher, trying to keep his kids in line.  You’re just a dude hanging with his buddies and playing a game.  If a fellow adult feels the need to check his phone, he must have a good reason.  …right?

And quite often, there is a good reason.  So you keep cool, and carry on, filling him in with a curt but polite second explanation if there’s something he suddenly doesn’t get.  Or, if it’s the 3rd time this session, you say “Huh, guess your character must have been daydreaming,” or some other passive-aggressive hint.  Or you lunge across the table, grab him by his hair and smash his head into a bloody pulp on the battle mat don’t let it get that far, because now you have (cue majestic horn promenade)…

A Guide to the Horrific Undoing of He Who Gazes Too Deep Into the Astral Mists!

That’s right.  Here’s how it works.  Whenever you notice Dude on his phone, put a little tick by his name on your xp notes, or something else equally handy and hidden, and roll a d6 minus the number of ticks on his name.  If you get a -1 or below, Dude’s character’s 3rd eye has drifted too far into the 361st degree.  The horrors that lurk in the periphery of your campaign world have been stirred into life by his prying eyes!  He’s seen Something That Cannot Be Unseen!

This could mean many things, depending on your campaign world.  You might want to make a chart, like this:

-1:  The soul of the nearest dying creature gets sucked into Dude’s head instead of going to the afterlife.

-2:  Dude becomes a magnet for the undead.  They will always attack him first.  If multiple characters get this, subsequent Dudes instead become magnets for demons, insects, darkness (causing light to bend around him and avoid being within 10′ of him, even the magical variety), the list goes on.  If you have that many players on cell phones, you need more than this chart to help your game.

-3:  Dude is afflicted with “fading sickness”.  Each hour that passes, there is a cumulative 1% chance that he will spend the next hour invisible.  When the chance is 100%, he becomes a Ghost.

-4:  Imps break through a dimensional rift created in Dude’s forehead, ripping with them 1d6 Intelligence points, causing a near-fatal wound on the way out, and leaving a scar that makes Dude look like a retarded unicorn.  Poor dude.

-5:  A random appendage rots and falls off.  Penalize DEX and/or STR appropriately.

-6:  Dude learns a horrific truth about the fundamental structure of the universe/multiverse, and is compelled to write it down.  Forever.  Because it can’t ever be perfectly expressed in simple mortal language, but every waking moment he spends trying to resist the urge brings him closer to madness.  And eventually, his empty stomach will shrivel, his parched throat will crack, his hand will cramp up and give out, his body will fail in its compulsion, and the madness will take over whatever is left.  It will start with an increased taste for red meat, then blatantly cannibalistic drives, perverted lusts involving the internal organs of lizards, etc, and devolve into all manner of foul desires, any act of carnage or bacchanalia that just might be brutal and shocking enough to his conscious mind to drive out the infernal truth that smolders behind his eyelids.

Caveat:  If your player is going through a rough time, be sensitive.  Don’t use this.  The fact that he’s showing up to game in spite of life issues means he’s either using it as a much-needed escape, or he’s sufficiently dedicated to the game that he makes time for it, possibly at the expense of other things.  He might still have some life-related shit to take care of on his phone periodically, that’s fine.  Don’t punish him for being there.

A Contest Within a Contest!

As many of you may already know, Dyson Logos has a mapmaking contest.  My own entry surprised even me with its level of pulpy absurdity, and I found myself wondering what the hell I’d do with this, this… thing.  That’s when it hit me!  I’ll piggyback on Dyson’s well-deserved popularity like the smelly parasite I am, and do my own contest!

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So here’s the deal.  You run a one-shot adventure with this map, and submit an AP report to joachimheise at gmail dot com.  The report can be typed, video highlights w/commentary, podcast style, origami, whatever, as long as it conveys the story of your adventure through this, this… thing.  Bonus imaginary high fives for including statted out monsters or NPCs, any additional player handouts, etc.  I’ll be periodically posting these APs here as they trickle in.

As with Dyson’s contest, I’ll be doing a lottery draw of all the submissions, because well, look at my stuff.  I’m in no position to judge anyone.  I think I’ll actually put all your names in a hat and upload a video of me drawing, cuz that’d be fun, right?  I’m thinking one winner in every 5 submissions.  If, by some miracle, I get in substantially more than a handful of submissions, I might have to increase that to every 10 submissions.  Each winner will receive a free commission from yours truly.  This can take the form of one of the following:

  1. Another absurd adventure map, (possibly somewhat) less half-assed, 300dpi with a pdf walkthrough, built around a theme/concept of your choice.
  2. A piece of gaming table music/soundscape custom-built to your specifications.
  3. A picture of me eating spaghetti.

As we all know, it takes considerable time for some of us to get a group together and play something new, especially if that something is out of your average gamer’s comfort zone.  With that in mind, the contest will carry on until April 15th.  That means you guys have almost 2 months to get your shit together.  Break a leg, folks!

Amaranthine Font of Enduring Maledictions

This ridiculous encounter idea is inspired by Dyson’s Dodecahedron, and his wonderful random curses table, and much of the meat of his table remains, although I’ve ditched a lot of the numbers-based effects and made it a bit more fluffy.

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This large obsidian fountain is a source of cursed water.  Anybody who comes into bodily contact with the water will be subject to a Curse upon failing a saving throw vs poison.  The water may be taken in flasks and stored, either with precise instruments, or a DEX check.

The Font itself doesn’t tolerate the touch of thinking creatures, and will unleash a Wild Surge when touched.  It has 100 HP, and will unleash a Wild Surge for every HP it loses.  It regenerates at a rate of 1 HP/round.  The Font seems to possess a queer intelligence, and is guided by mysterious motives.  For the purposes of spellcasting and saving throws, it is considered to be a 20th level mage, and has the following spell-like abilities:

-Teleport w/o Error (3/day)

-Globe of Invulnerability (3/day)

-Spell Snare (50% chance)

-Magic Resistance (75%)

The Curses!

These Curses are for the most part permanent, but can be negated by destroying the Font, killing the poisoner, or allowing the Font to Curse you once again, which undoes the previous Curse (as if undone with a Wish).  Remove Curse, Dispel Magic, Heal, etc will not work; no standard spell short of a full Wish can undo a Curse from the Font.  Roll on the following tables to determine the exact nature of the Curse.

Level of Curse (d12)

1.                         Feeble Curse, partially successful*

2-4.                     Feeble Curse

5.                         Minor Curse, partially successful*

6-7.                     Minor Curse

8.                         Major Curse, partially successful*

9-10.                   Major Curse

11.                        Holy Crap Curse, partially successful*

12.                       Holy Crap Curse

*Partially successful curses exhibit some flaw.  Either they are only somewhat effective, or there is an obvious or non-magical way to dispel or reverse them.  An alternate method of lifting a Curse should resonate with the nature of the Curse.  For example, one must work as a hairdresser for a full lunar cycle in order to lift a hair-loss Curse.


Feeble Curses (d12)

  1. Hair falls out and doesn’t grow back.
  2. -1 to spell saving throws.
  3. Lose 1d4 random prepared spells and erase them from your spellbook.
  4. Any spell you cast has a 5% chance of target randomization.
  5. Monster Magnet:  Hostile creatures of animal intelligence always attack you first.
  6. You become convinced that one minor item is a very important magic item, and will not part with it.  If you lose the item, lose 1d4 Sanity, and then erase the Curse.
  7. Shrunken legs/wings/etc: Reduce movement speed by half.
  8. Rupophobia: Fear of dirt and filth.
  9. Halitosis (-3 CHA when face to face).
  10. You are now blue.
  11. Lose 3 Sanity instantly.
  12. The Curse backfires, the Font or the would-be poisoner takes 1d12 positive energy damage.

 

Minor Curses (d12)

  1. Gradually change race to a random humanoid race (CONd10 days).
  2. You are struck blind, deaf, or dumb (1d3).
  3. Astral Metahydration:  Rain, fog, and other precipitation deal you 1d12 damage per turn until you hit 0, at which point you don’t die, but are transported to a random plane.
  4. Erectile dysfunction or sterility.
  5. Your body undergoes a painful sex change over the course of the next 1d12 days.
  6. You are afflicted with “fading sickness”.  Once every hour, there is a 1% chance that you will spend the next hour invisible, as per the Improved Invisibility spell.  For each invisible hour, add 1% to the next roll’s chance.  When the chance is 100%, you become a Ghost.
  7. Drop whatever you are holding whenever you roll the minimum result on any die.
  8. You must always tell the truth
  9. Violence angst:  Lose 1 Sanity whenever you touch a weapon or witness combat.
  10. Rash as per Irritation spell
  11. Your hands and your feet switch places.
  12. The Curse backfires, the Font or the would-be poisoner takes 2d12 positive energy damage.

 

Major Curses (d12)

  1. Polymorph into a frog or other harmless animal
  2. One magic item disappears
  3. You are now stalked by a Ghost (GM discretion).
  4. Lose one level (as if struck by a wight)
  5. Wounds take twice as long to heal, healing spells are only half as effective
  6. Whenever you deal melee damage, you receive the same damage in negative energy.
  7. Cannot sleep – therefore cannot heal naturally, nor prepare spells
  8. Lose all spells in one random school.  Those spells can never be relearned.
  9. Double vision – all targets are treated as having the benefit of displacement
  10. Struck deaf, blind and mute
  11. Theophobia:  Whenever you see a priest, a holy symbol, or any other god-or religion-related item, creature, or thing, you must save vs. Fear or drop what you are holding and run in a random direction for 1d20 rounds.  If you are a priest, you lose all priest levels, and immediately suffer 2d4 Sanity.
  12. The Curse backfires, the Font or the would-be poisoner takes 3d12 positive energy damage.

Holy Crap Curses (d12)

  1. Every time you kill a sentient creature, save versus death or join him in death.  Your body remains in stasis, surrounded by a Forcecage, and you cannot be resurrected until you escort his soul to its next life.
  2. A Demon is given half your Constitution (rounded up), and holds it hostage until you perform a task for him.
  3. Automatically fail all saving throws, and lose all magic resistance.
  4. Feebleminded!  3 INT.
  5. Can not wear armour or clothing, or use weapons or any devices
  6. Can only breathe in water, or only breathe air for aquatic targets
  7. All damage received is tripled.
  8. You age 1d6 years every time you express the desire or intent to take a life.
  9. All valuables owned by the character are turned to lead and paste.
  10. Disintegrated!
  11. d6+1 companions or friends & family are subjected to Major Curses (above)
  12. The Curse backfires, the Font or the would-be poisoner takes 4d12 positive energy damage