Friday, April 24, 2009

Draft: Beyond Good and Evil

This is a piece of draft, but I thought it was worth publishing here, as is, before I codify the whole thing into a PDF or whatever. I'm pretty sure that it's better than Monte Cook's "nipple clamps of agony" or whatever campy schlock he was churning out when he wrote his Book of Vile Darkness. I haven't checked for spelling, style, or game balance yet, so don't be too cruel about that. This part deals with the basic abilities that especially good or evil characters derive from their (im)morality.

Whether or not you are using alignment rules, there exist stronger spiritual states than those found amongst the populace. A man may be good but not a saint, while a criminal may be evil yet not a pawn of infernal powers. These moral states of being fall into three categories, thus:

State of Innocence: You have an alignment (or perhaps not) but are not yet so strongly moral or immoral as to be spiritually elevated or degenerate. Most creatures fall into this category.

State of Sin: You have willfully committed crimes so great that it is almost impossible for you to make penance. You derive great power from your rejection of morality and indulgence in wickedness.

State of Virtue: You have spiritually perfected yourself, or nearly so, and exist in a morally exalted state. You are filled with righteousness and mindful peace.

Inherently aligned creatures such as celestials and fiends are considered to exist in a perpetual state of virtue or sin, as appropriate, but do not gain any of the benefits listed below --they already have abilities generated by their spiritual state, and are largely incapable of changing their morality. They made their moral choices while still alive, and are now spiritually unchanging.

Pure Virtues
The following are actions that are always morally positive in game worlds, and so much so that they may cause a creature to enter a state of virtue.
-Joining a righteous crusade declared by the head of a good religion, against an evil foe.
-Embarking upon a distant pilgrimage to a major religious site.
-Living a virtuous life and being visited in a sacred vision by good deities or their servants. Often this will happen following one being morally tested, and passing.
-Sacrificing one's life, or attempting to do the same, to save innocents from death.

Mortal Sins
The following are actions that are always morally negative in game worlds, and so much so that they may cause a creature to enter a state of sin. Alas, it is much easier to enter a state of mortal sin than to enter a state of virtue.
-Violently murdering a sentient creature for selfish, earthly reasons.
-Torturing or mutilating a sentient creature for selfish, earthly reasons.
-Violent rape or similarly repugnant sex crimes.
-Desecration of a powerfully consecrated religious site or object.
-The entering of a pact offered by

Changing One's Moral State
When a virtuous or sinful creature reverts to a state of innocence, it loses a level as though it had died and been brought back to life. This may be brought about by grossly violating the general tenets of one's state or by choosing to participate in certain rituals. This does not prevent the adoption of future moral states.

Virtues and Malices by Level
1-3: 1 Minor
4-6: 1 Major, 1 Minor
7-10: 1 Greater, 1 Major, 1 Minor
11-13: 1 Greater, 2 Major
14-16: 2 Greater, 1 Major
17-20: 3 Greater

When one exists in a state of virtue or sin, one draws tangible strength from one's morality or lack thereof. These manifest in the form of virtues and malices, specific benefits that may be chosen. These increase in number and power as one increases in level. Whenever one enters a new bracket, one may re-choose one's virtues or malices.

Minor Virtues

Battle Martyr
Once per day, you may divert an attack aimed at an adjacent creature to you, instead. The attack is treated as though you were its intended target.

Charitable Virtue
You may cast cure light wounds a number of times per day equal to your Wisdom modifier.

Easy Passage
Traveling between this world and the afterlife is getting easier and easier for you. When you lose a level because of being raised (or resurrected, etc), you lose less experience points. Your experience total is still reduced enough to make you a level lower, but you also add 10% of the experience needed to reattain the lost level. Each time you die and are raised or otherwise returned from the dead, this amount increases by 10%, to a maximum of 10% times your CHA MOD or 90% (whichever is lower).

Everyman's Blessing
Once per day, you may cast bless as a move action. You perform this casting as though a cleric of your level and do not suffer a spell failure chance due to armor.

You enjoy a +1 bonus to your saving throws.

If you desire, you may walk over liquid or nearly liquid surfaces as though they were solid. This includes water, mud, quicksand, and even magma, though in the last case radiant heat may still be a problem. In the case of rough weather, footing may still be a problem.

Moral Clarity
You enjoy a bonus to your initiative equal to your Wisdom modifier.

Pious Virtue
You enjoy a bonus to saving throws equal to your Wisdom modifier against spells and spell-like effects.

Major Virtues

Above It All
You are so pure that to touch the ground would sully your virtue. You continually walk about two inches off of the ground without generating pressure, allowing you to bypass hazardous terrain such as webbing or spikes, as well as avoid pressure-triggered traps. You are also effectively invisible to the Tremorsense ability, and enjoy a +4 bonus to move silently checks and checks to avoid falling prone (including trip attacks). You still fall if there is nothing beneath you, and can still come in contact with the ground if you are somehow forced to (such as when you are successfully tripped).

Your presence is anathema to lesser illusions. Any invisibility effects of third level or lower are automatically suppressed within thirty feet of you, as are the following spells or spell-like effects: blur, mirror images, displacement, and darkness.

Compassionate Faith
You are healed when you cast any of the cure spells on another creature. In addition to the normal effects of the cure spell upon their target, you are healed 50% of the hp that you restore (round down).

Eternal Light
When you die, your unquenchable spirit finds another body if you are not raised within 24 hours (or after another, specific, span of time chosen by you at the moment of death). You automatically reincarnate yourself, as per the spell. You still suffer all the negative effects of being reincarnated.

You enjoy a bonus to your AC equal to your CHA MOD against attacks from sinful creatures.

Thrice Blessed
Three times per day, you may cast bless as a move action. You perform this casting as though you are a cleric of your character level.

Greater Virtues

You enjoy a permanent protection from evil spell upon yourself. Any effect that plane-shifts you against your will, instead plane-shifts you to a single good-aligned outer plane of your choice (chosen when this virtue is taken).

I Am Become Death
You have much to do among the living, and are not ready to enter the afterlife. When you are raised from the dead by any means, this virtue allows you to permanently and irrevocably lower your CON score by 1 in lieu of losing a level. You cannot use this virtue if you perished from ability damage, nor if your CON score is 1.

Odor of Sanctity
You and any allies within 10 feet of you enjoy a +3 bonus to your saving throws against area of effect spells and breath weapons. Should you perish, this effect remains about your corpse for a week, assuming that your cadaver remains in relatively good condition. If your cadaver is subject to a gentle repose spell, this effect may persist for up to a month.

Petal Step
Flowers bloom in your every footstep, and plant life flourishes in the light of your presence. Every 5' space you enter becomes covered with lush plant or fungal life. Though you are easily tracked, your abundance of life energy fills your spells. Any cure spells that you cast are automatically empowered, per the empower spell virtue.

You enjoy a +3 bonus to your saving throws.

Shining Soul
Your maximum hit points increases by your Charisma (not Charisma modifier).

Too Peaceful To Strike
You may cast sanctuary upon yourself as a move action, at will. You perform this casting as though you are a cleric of your character level.

Minor Malices

Butcher of Lives
Your melee attacks permanently mutilate and disfigure. In addition to your normal damage, you semi-permanently lower the target's maximum hit point total by 1. These hit points may only be restored by the following spells: restoration, heal, and regenerate. Keep track of these lost hit points.

Calculated Cruelty
You may use your INT MOD instead of your STR MOD when determining the damage caused by your melee attacks.

You are invigorated by suffering. Whenever you threaten a critical hit with a melee attack or touch spell, you gain a number of temporary hit points equal to your level. These hit points fade after an hour.

Malicious Impiety
You enjoy a bonus to saving throws equal to your Constitution modifier against spells and spell-like effects.

Malicious Mutilation
You have brutally disfigured yourself at the behest of evil powers. Your Charisma is permanently lowered by 2, but another ability score of your choice is permanently increased by 1.

Malicious Talons
Your hands have been warped so as to give you a natural claw attack. It inflicts 1d6 damage, threatens a critical hit from 19-20, and has a x3 critical multiplier. Cosmetically, the claws may be bone spurs, iron nails, or even just your normal hands.

Tonic Glutton
You may quaff a potion as a move action. Drinking potions does not cause you to draw an attack of opportunity. You may drink two potions as a standard action that does not draw an attack of opportunity.

Touch of Hellfire
Any time you use an area of effect spell or spell-like effect, or other area of effect ability that inflicts fire damage, it inflicts an additional +5 damage.

Vitriolic Wounds
Any creatures injured by your natural attacks do not heal naturally for the next week.

Who Dares Wins
You enjoy a bonus to your initiative equal to your INT modifier.

Major Malices

Apophatic Existence
You are anathema to divine creatures and their minions. You cannot benefit from divine spells, and are completely immune to them. However, this provides you with a great deal of protection against priestly spells. You suffer only half damage from damage-causing divine spells, and may make a new save each round against any offensive divine spell with a duration. You cannot profess a religion other than those that involve the destruction of all deities.

Aura of Filth
You foul the air around you with pestilence. Spells and effects that restore lost hit points are only 50% effective within a thirty foot radius of you, including on you. Additionally, any creature that is injured by one of your natural attacks must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 plus your level) or suffer a curse. For the next week, spells and effects that restore lose hit points are only 50% effective on the target.

The distinct whiff of brimstone is apparent whenever you are near. You enjoy Fire Resistance 10, or increase any existing fire resistance by 10.

Carrion Curse
You may restore damage to yourself by consuming the freshly dead bodies of humanoids. The bodies must have perished within the past hour. Consuming such a body requires a single minute, be it because you are able to glut yourself at an unnatural rate, or because you sate yourself with the most restorative portions of the body. Each body that you so consume heals five hit points of damage. If you take this malice, you no longer heal naturally over time.

Contaminating Claws
Any medium humanoid slain by your natural attacks raises as a flesh-hungry zombie on the following turn. The zombie is not under your control but will not attack you. Otherwise, it will attempt to kill any living creatures that it can. The DM may find it convenient to use the following abridged/modified statistics:
Zombie: Speed 6, ATT +5 bite, dmg 5, AC 10, HP 20, saving throws +6; suffers double damage from area of effect spells and abilities.

Graveyard Step
Once per day as a standard action you may dimension door to any location within fifty feet. You must not be grappled, swallowed, or entangled, and your starting and destination locations must be upon soil or stone. You are pulled beneath the ground by dozens of undead arms and thrust up by them at your destination location.

Infernal Brand
You are marked with an obviously supernatural symbol, perhaps a demonic mark that emits actual flames, or perhaps a skull symbol that emits unhealthy light. The brand represents that you are the property of otherworldly powers. Outsiders and elementals of any alignment other than yours suffer a -3 morale penalty to attack rolls against you.

Nobody's Fool
Once per day, you may divert an attack aimed at you to an adjacent creature, instead. The attack is treated as though your chosen recipient were its intended target.

If you know a creature's given name, it gives you a measure of power over them. Your spells against that creature are made with a +1 bonus to their DC, respectively.

Touch of Decay
Organic matter crumbles beneath your caress, and even ferrous metal rusts. Only non-magical materials are affected, but most cannot long withstand us

Unfettered Soul
When you succeed a saving throw against a compulsion (such as dominate person), the caster must roll a saving throw against his own spell or be affected instead, as though you were the caster.

Greater Malices

Blasted Soul
Your spirit is so evil that it has been wracked with the torments of your likely afterlife, while you yet live. No earthly suffering holds any dread for you. Your maximum hit points increases by an amount equal to your Intelligence score (not Intelligence modifier).

Disordered Mind
Your mind is such a horror that any creatures attempting to perceive it or any facet of it risk their very sanity. Any creature that uses the following listed spells (including spell-like abilities) must make a Willpower save (DC 10 + character level) or be affected by an insanity spell, against which he may make a new save each day.

Blood of Attrition
Your blood has been infused with or replaced by some unwholesome substance, perhaps insects, poison, or darkness. Whenever you are injured by a melee attack from an adjacent creature, that creature suffers damage equal to your Constitution modifier. This damage is considered to be weapon damage for the purposes of damage reduction.

Gaze of Despair
When you threaten a critical hit against a creature or it rolls a natural 1 on a saving throw against an offensive spell that you cast, it suffers a -2 morale penalty to AC for the next 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting, fear-based, gaze attack.

Ritual Scarification
You have so mutilated your skin that it is a crisscrossing of nearly solid scar tissue. You enjoy a natural armor bonus to your AC equal to your Constitution modifier.

Shroud of the Outer Darkness
You are surrounded by an undulating cloud of shadows. Your attack rolls enjoy a +1 bonus.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Doppleganger Part I

Tim responded to my earlier monster post with one of his own, though he has not yet released it. My turn, again:

Lumpenproletariat Doppleganger
A harmless beggar, or a criminal shapeshifter?

Init +2
Speed 6
HP 20
AC 13
F +2 R +6 W+0

Imitated Weapon (type is irrelevant) +5
Dmg 1d8, sneak attack +1d6

Sympathetic Shapeshifting: The doppleganger may transform into an identical copy of a humanoid from whom it has obtained an object. The object must have been handled most recently by the humanoid that the doppleganger wishes to change into, and must have been handled during the past hour. Once copying a creature, the doppleganger mimics that person's appearance and equipment with perfect accuracy, though none of it is functional. The doppleganger may remain in this altered form for up to a week.

Combat Trickery: Once per encounter, the doppleganger may use its unnaturally protean form to misdirect a melee attack that targets it. The attack is instead directed at another creature to whom the doppleganger must be adjacent.

Racial Immunities: The doppleganger is immune to any spells that reveal alignment, veracity, identity, culpability, or location.


In its natural form, this doppleganger appears to be a pale humanoid with no facial features save large gray eyes, and the only other form that it may assume without using its sympathetic shapeshifting ability is that of an unremarkable beggar.

This variety of doppleganger subsists on a peculiar diet consisting entirely of alcoholic beverages, which do not cause inebriating effects in its species. In order to pay for it's liquid meals, the creature will often assume the shape of people that gift it with funds, and then commit simple crimes such as mugging and burglary. It's assumed form will usually protect it from justice.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Expensive Non-Magical Equipment

I was trying to come up with some good non-magical stuff for PCs to burn money on, and we came down to five things: high-end equipment, rank, land, and consumables.

I'm going to skip land because it's such a big can of worms, and because the Wizards of the Coast attempts at selling players forts and bases ended up looking like stupid versions of ewok villages.

High-End Equipment

Cask of Pitch (100gp, 200 lb) - A smaller-sized barrel of flammable plant tar. Heating it to a liquid state requires ten minutes over a steady heat of at least campfire size. Pouring out a cask of burning pitch covers a ten foot square area, and inflicts 3d6 fire damage to everything in it. It will remain burning in that area for twenty minutes if outdoors or five minutes in a cave with poor ventilation.

Cask of Whale Oil (800gp, 240 lb) - A smaller-sized barrel of flammable whale oil. It is liquid under normal temperatures, and extremely flammable. Pouring out a cask of burning whale oil covers a ten foot square area, and inflicts 5d6 fire damage to everything in it. It will remain burning in that area for three minutes if outdoors or one minute in a cave with poor ventilation.

Iron Strongbox (400gp, 200 lb) - A large iron chest with a difficult lock incorporated into its design. It can hold three cubic feet of goods. It is hermetically sealed when shut, admitting neither gas nor liquid, and can withstand most energy attacks without difficulty.

Windlass (700gp, 40 lb) - A very heavy crossbow that requires ten rounds to reload. It inflicts 3d6 damage, range 12/20, two-handed. It is as large and bulky a crossbow one can get,without being considered a ballista. Carrying more than one of these unwieldy objects is improbable for most humans.

Though ranks are usually meted out because of worthy deeds or noble extraction, in more pragmatic societies a certain stipend (legal or otherwise) may be required. Suggested bribe-costs are included in parenthesis, and the circumstances required to earn these ranks are left as an exercise to the reader. These assume a fairly standard feudal system of governance.

Shrievalty (2000gp)
You are invested as a conservator of the peace, specifically as a Reeve (or Sheriff, if you prefer). This means that you are tasked with preserving the peace within the borders of the frontiers and townships of the kingdom meting out this rank. You may arrest a non-noble for disturbing the peace, and carry arms within townships. You may add +1 to an ability score of your choice. If you are ever stripped of your title, you lose this benefit.

Baron (4000 gp)
You are granted a minor "life peer" title. This means that you are invested as a lesser member of the nobility (the lowest, in fact) and that this title does not pass along to your descendants. You are entitled to bear arms and armor anywhere save in the presence of the highest government personages, and may demand that others (even the king) refer to you as "Lord" and so forth. You can also add +1 to an ability score of your choice. If you are ever stripped of your title, you lose this benefit.

Hereditary Title (6000 gp)
Your Baron title now passes onto your descendants, and you are entitled to add a coronet to your coat of arms. You may add +1 to an ability score of your choice. If you are ever stripped of your title, you lose this benefit.

The idea here is that players may spend money over time on temporary benefits as a money sink.

Exotic Spices
Exotic spices are consumed or used over the course of a week with one's food, to gain some benefit during that time. One may only benefit from one exotic spice benefit at a time. A weeks worth of a given spice weighs about one pound.

Myrrh, oil of (80 gp)
You cannot be animated as undead while using myrrh.

Pepper, imported black (100 gp)
+1 alchemical bonus to saves against spells

Pepper, imported red (100 gp)
You heal +1 hp when cured or treated for damage.

Pearl, powdered (100 gp)
You enjoy a +1 alchemical bonus to Willpower saves.

Tea, imported desert (120 gp)
+2 alchemical bonus to initiative checks

Charms are worn in the amulet slot and absorb some small amount of energy damage before becoming inert and useless.

Weak Charms

Weak charms cost 60 gp and do not weigh a significant amount.

Weak Ember Charm
Absorbs a total of 5 fire damage, then shatters.

Weak Frost Charm
Absorbs a total of 5 cold damage, then shatters.

Weak Storm Charm
Absorbs a total of 5 electricity damage, then shatters.

Strong Charms
Strong charms cost 110 gp and weigh 1 lb.

Strong Ember Charm
Absorbs a total of 10 fire damage, then shatters.

Strong Frost Charm
Absorbs a total of 10 cold damage, then shatters.

Strong Storm Charm
Absorbs a total of 10 electricity damage, then shatters.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Shot Across The Bow

Tim wanted to separately stat some of the monsters from our list earlier. So, in my own rules shorthand, here's one:

Chimney Cadaver
During the day it is a powerless spirit, but at night it becomes a silhouette of ghostly ash that emits choking sobs as it terrorizes the living.

Init +2
Speed 6
HP 40
AC 16
F +5 R +3 W+3

Vulns: 5 cold.
Resists: 15 fire.

Burning Touch +6
Dmg 1d6+1

Black Lung: Every three rounds, a chimney cadaver may exhale a 15-foot cone of burning ash. Any creature hit suffers 1d10 fire damage, Fort 13 for half. Any creatures that fail their save are also slowed for the next day (their speed is reduced to 10 feet).

Death Knell: When reduced to 0 hp, the chimney cadaver explodes in a fiery conflagration. Any creatures within ten feet are affected as though hit by the black lung ability.

Undying: A chimney cadaver that is slain will reform after 1d6 days if its body is not found and given a proper burial.

Spawn: Any creatures slain by the chimney cadaver's black lung ability that do not receive a proper burial will return in 1d6 nights as a chimney cadaver.