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Thornwood School of Magic At PAX AUS

The big news this month is that my in development Tabeltop RPG has been accepted into a PAX AUS initiative called "The Collaboratory" where we can take our in development games to get playtested. As part of this I received two free three day passes, and I've got two slots in the boardgame hall to playtest my game. One on Friday the 26th from 10:30 to 2:30, and same time on the Saturday. I'm pretty excited about sharing the game with strangers and seeing what they make of it.

Here's the pitch for the game that I submitted to collaboratory:

"You have been invited to attend the Thornwood School of Magic, a strange, wonderful, and occasionally dangerous school with a long history of magic and mystery.

This is a tabletop RPG with narrative dice mechanics, a freeform magic system, and everything else needed for you to live life in a magical boarding school. Each week you will decide whether to make friends, explore the grounds, perform magical experiments, or study for the test the next day all the while dealing with bullies, misunderstandings, embarrassment, and the confusing whirl of highschool emotions.

 

In the meantime, mysteries and danger are lurking around the corner. School life is important, but there are dark plots and conspiracies brewing, and you always seem to find yourself at the centre of them.

 

The adults never really listen, they’re too busy trying to protect you, underestimating you, or dealing with their own problems. So, it’s up to you to save the day. Maybe if you do it quickly enough you’ll still have time to study for those tests!

 

Grab your wand and your dice and get ready for a game of menace, mystery, and magic!"

 

It's also given me a big deadline to force me to work on the game some more which is good. I'm doing a playtest for the playtesting sessions this Saturday with some friends who haven't played before and I've got a bunch of game materials I'm planning to make / remake.

 

  1. I'm in the process of redesigning the character sheet. A few things have changed since I made it and I left some things off the original. I also realised that I could pack a lot more in there and use the space a lot better. I'm about three quarters finished with this.
  2. I've updated the spell reference sheets to be more practical, and created some weekly action reference sheets that outline all the weekly actions and recovery actions you can take.
  3. I need to make some half-pregen characters. I think the character creation process is pretty important because it lets you detail what sorts of things you'd like your character to succeed at and what things you want them to struggle with both mechanically and fictionally. So I'm going to make up some pregens with pre-filled skills and motivations and names, but leave the players with two Character creation points for getting things like relationships, and fictional traits.
  4. I'm going to prep an "adventure" which will basically be a situation near the end of a school year at a point of climax, I'll give the playtesters the option of going for this climactic part of the game that we can hopefully start and finish within the two hour block, or trying out how the game would normally start which would give them more of a taste of what the game would play like in a longer campaign.
  5. I need to make a google survey form for feedback, and I'm also planning on printing some qr codes and links on the back of the spell creation cards so that people can sign up to the mailing list or find me online.

So quite a bit of work to do, along with booking some rooms and working out what to do in Melbourne, over the next week and a bit. But I'm excited! If you'll be at PAX AUS feel free to reach out to me on twitter!

 

 

Posted on October 15th, 2018 by RhysComments (0)

Top 5 DM Tips For Making Your Players Follow The Plot

Players are a bullheaded and troublesome lot that will gleefully set fire to your weeks worth of prep and ruin your engaging storyline with their unpredictable antics. They think that they're having "fun" by doing this, but DM's know that they are really depriving themselves of an epic, awe-inspiring, emotional story with rich worldbuilding and characters. So how do we stop this self-destructive impulse the players have and make them play correctly? Here are some tips compiled from years of DM'ing experience.

1. The 'Minefield' Approach

We have to find some way of making it seem like the players have a whole world to explore while surreptitiously ensuring that any misstep will result in certain death. This is the minefield approach. Surround the players with instantly deadly traps and leave a single path clear. This way, if the players want to be able to leave your house safely, they'll have to play along in character otherwise you won't let them know where the pressure-activated explosives that you've hidden around the gaming table are.

For maximum effect, prime the mines after everyone has been seated so that they won't be able to just retrace their steps.

If you're wondering where to get some mines, what I did was volunteer to be a minesweeper and pocket some of the mines that I found. Eventually I built up a significant enough collection that I was able to make an extensive minefield in my gaming den. After I told my players, there was a bit of resistance and disbelief, but in the end we had a very satisfying 14 hour session where everything went exactly to plan!

2. The 'Suicide Squad' Approach

It's been pointed out before that Suicide Squad is not only an excellent film but an excellent example of a classic RPG adventuring party. Full of unthematic characters with murderous impulses and no respect for plot. The genius writing device of strapping an explosive around the characters necks in order to get them to follow the story properly is perfect for applying to your home game. Simply strap an explosive device onto each of them and if they ever stray from the plot: KABOOM. 

It can be bit of a struggle getting the explosives around the players necks in the first place, so make sure to have a session zero where you get everyone on board with the premise of the campaign. Setting expectations (of having explosives strapped around their necks) is important!

3. The 'Quantum Ogre' Approach

This is a bit of a more traditional method that has been talked about in many blog posts over the years. Basically you present the players with as many options as you desire, but whichever they choose they always encounter the same 'ogre'. 

In our case whenever someone doesn't follow the plot properly you present them with a choice between taking back their action or activating the explosives you've built into their chair. The trick is that whichever they choose you activate the explosives that you've built into their chair. Let that be a lesson to the rest of the players.

4. The 'Script' Approach

You already spend upwards of three years prepping for a single campaign, so why not ensure that your vision comes to life exactly how you imagined it by writing up a script for the players to follow. Get in a full film crew, best boy, grip, cinematographer, make-up artist, the works. Don't get a director, obviously that will be your role, and don't get stunt doubles. The players will do all their own stunts.

If the players start to back out of the campaign because they didn't realise it was actually a film production, just plead with them to film one scene to see how they like it. This scene has been expertly rigged with explosives by your pyrotechnics expert that you hired. Set the explosives off before the troublesome player is fully clear and say something menacing to your other players like 'I hope your acting careers don't "bomb" like theirs did'.

Works every time!

5. The 'Railroad' Approach

Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. Try playing on a literal train. The thematic atmosphere of being stuck on a preset path will encourage your players to follow suit.

If this doesn't work, remind them that the train is rigged with explosives and one wrong move will send you all sky-high.

 

Let us know if any of these techniques has worked for you! For extra effectiveness, try mixing and matching approaches to get the right fit for your group.

Photo by Sean Lamb (Slambo)

Posted on August 29th, 2018 by RhysComments (0)

Thornwood School of Magic Playtest Report

This week, I got together with three friends and playtested my current work in progress game Thornwood: School of Magic. It's an RPG about attending a magical school and dealing with the Mundane, Mysterious, and Menacing. The mundane will be things like schoolwork, bullies, and friends. The Mysterious are all the curiousities and strange parts of the school, as well as the mysterious machinations of the major NPC's. The Menace comes from dangerous magics, locations, monsters, and villains.

First we created characters, which was fairly quick but everyone was happy with how defined their characters were and we ended up with three unique characters. It was a 2 hour playtest all told and these people had never seen the ruleset before but we got it all done in about half an hour. Most of this was just people making choices about who their characters were, rather than having to work out complicated mechanical interactions.

The setting details (like Roshy and the broomstick caretakers and the green ship) we used here were a mixture of prep and collaboration with the play group, so the game can easily played with different sets of tropes and details.

We started the story with each character receiving their letter inviting them to attend Thornwood. They all came from magical families, so noone was particularly surprised but it was still nice to get that brief impression of their different home lives. Bryth decided to be a thoroughly disorganised type of character so they ended up being last to arrive to the large lurid green cruise ship. As they stepped aboard, the illusion melted away revealing a large medieval galley, still painted green. The ship had dining tables all about its deck and was rowed by enchanted broomstick people, with whom Bryth struck up an early friendship.

The characters bonded over preventing Rona's pet bird-dog from launching itself at another table, though Jonas got a bit scratched up in the process, Bryth was glad for the distraction from people asking questions about their burns.

They all get sorted into house Ash, associated with wild freedom.

Jonas' older brother is in his senior year and something of a troublemaker that smuggles banned items into Thornwood, so Jonas gets to work straight away on learning the skills necessary to become a valued member of the family smuggling ring. He starts learning a spell of invisibility, his initial experiments go awry though and people notice him more and more throughout the week. This comes to a head when Professor Splinterworth's attention is irresistibly drawn to Jonas as he is leaving class with a coat-full of illicit jinxes-in-a-jar. Luckily Rona is a bit klepto and is able to snatch the goods from him before ol' Splinty notices.

Bryth has an affinity for brooms, both their flying broom and the enchanted broom-people that are the caretakers of Thornwood Keep and the grounds. They decide to learn a summoning spell so that they can call their broom to their side at a moments notice. Being an intellectual sort, they are able to make good progress on the spell with no unfortunate side effects.

Rona, wild and free and enamoured with Roshy her little violent but cute bird-dog, decides to spend her first week at school planning and executing a break-in to the potions supply closet with her two new pals. She wants to procure some seeds that will turn the bird-dog into a living mood ring that will change colours based on its emotions. They sneak in after classes end for the day and narrowly avoid getting discovered on their way there.

While there, Jonas asks Bryth if they know any plants that would produce a pleasant stupor, they don't but a quick (and risky if they read something wrong and choose the wrong plant) perusal of some herbalism books points them toward something that will do the trick. Unfortunately it was also quite a conspicuous and rare plant, so the potions teacher is going to ramp up security and start an investigation for sure!

Overall it was an awesome playtest, nailed the feel of the game and pointed out a few things that needed improvement / thinking about.

Takeaways:

 

  1. Play Aids are a must. Probably everything can fit on a character sheet, but having little cards for different parts of the game might be useful as well. The two things that we most wanted play aids for were the weekly actions, and the spell creation checklist. Things went pretty smoothly regardless, we got a lot done in the 2 hours of play including character creation. Still, the play aids would make everything silky smooth.
  2. I definitely need to work on my explanation of the core resolution mechanic. For the most part people understood the rules easily, but there was a lot of confusion at one point when the three characters were sneaking to the potions supply area and they were all contributing dice to the roll. 
  3. Speaking of group actions, I hadn't considered what would happen when multiple characters are involved in a roll that both have a skill bonus. I decided that you take the highest skill bonus for a single roll.
  4. I think it is important to make sure you have clear ideas on how to challenge the weaknesses the characters choose / come up with. Bryth had the weakness "Emotionally Distant" which I wasn't exactly sure how to put them into a spot where that was causing them trouble. I probably should have just asked them for ideas (collaboration is good!), and if we couldn't really think of ideas then choose something else. Not everything is suitable for these weaknesses, sometimes it should just be part of roleplay. Not saying that "Emotionally Distant" is a bad example, there are probably some great ways that could come out in play and the player had ideas for that which I should have asked about.

Posted on August 21st, 2018 by RhysComments (0)

Faqir - An abstract game from the world of Thornwood RPG

Faqir is a game dating back to the original Magi from ancient Persia. There was magic before the Magi, but they were the first to study and learn how to properly harness it. The game was used as a teaching tool, but also as a highly competitive and respected challenge. Some believe that it is merely the theme of the game that was educational, while others maintain that the way it requires you to think is beneficial and emulates the focus and mental state needed for casting spells. It still sees popular play today with regular Faqir tournaments and players in the magic community all over the world. Particularly enthusiastic players will have enchanted Faqir sets that transform, follow, and move automatically.

Here are the rules:

(Click for a larger version)

These rules are my rough draft, I think that the game might have a lot of potential for being drawn out, not sure how likely ties are either or if theres a better way to avoid those. I've played a couple of times and it required a different way of thinking than chess which I found fun and was pleased with. Let me know what you think.

 

edit: oh and as per my tweet the layout and images here are just rough so I could get the idea out.

Posted on July 22nd, 2018 by RhysComments (0)

Thornwood, School of Magic

So I've been working on an RPG design of my own for a while now. I haven't mentioned it here yet, and it is quite different from the style of posts I have done so far which are mostly OSR setting posts. This is a more narrative game about attending an oftentimes dangerous, always mysterious, magical school called Thornwood. It combines school / coming of age style drama's with magical mysteries and dangerous plots.

For today I thought I'd just share a WIP character sheet that I've made for it. I'm practicing my layout skills and trying to improve.

 

If you'd like to hear more about it or ask me questions, check out my twitter @rhysmakeswords

 

Posted on June 18th, 2018 by RhysComments (2)

1d20 Market Influences, Simple town Generation

Roll on the following table to see what it is like selling/buying a particular item in a particular place. Then think about why it is like that. Knowing some simple information about how the town values different goods can be a great inspiration for what they place is like!

Underneath the table there is a button that will automatically generate a towns market for you, filling in a lot of the details.

Trade
Roll
1

Normal (Sell price 1/2 times buy price)

2

Drought. There aren't any sources of this thing nearby. Sell Price + 5 * ration days to transport it here from the nearest source. Buy Price 2x that

3

Flood. This item is heavily produced here. Sell and buy price half normal.

4

Outlawed/banned. This item is highly illegal here. Sell price 5x normal. Buy Price 2x that

5

Controlled substance. You can (legally) import no more than 5 units of this item at a time. Buy price 1.5x normal . Sell price 1.5x normal but a 0.5x tax is paid for each item imported.

6

Monopoly. One entity has a monopoly on the selling of this item. They will seek damages if you try to undercut them. Buy price 5x normal. Sell price up to 4x normal buy price, but regular sell price if you sell to the monopolisers.

7

Barter good. In the culture of the people here this item is used as a bartering good rather than something sold for coin. Randomly choose an item sold here. These items can be traded 1 for 1. Other items are traded based on price.

8

Taboo. This item is rarely bought or sold here due to cultural distaste towards it. Sell price 1/2 normal but you may be able to find a shameful buyer who will buy a large quantity at normal buy price (ie. twice normal sell price)

9

Loved. This item is used disproportionately more here than elsewhere. 2x sell and buy price

10

Heavily Taxed. This item faces very high import fees and/or export fees of half the normal selling price. Roll a d8. 1-3 import fee, 4-6 export fee, 7-8 both.

11

Bad conditions. There are some adverse conditions that make this product deteriorate in quality quickly in this place. Without some way of preserving it the sell price is half normal. A well preserved version is worth 3x normal buy price and can be bought for twice that.

12

Good conditions. The quality of this item is unusually high here. Selling the same item from elsewhere in this place is worth 1/4 regular sell price. Selling the item bought here somewhere else is worth 2x sell price if the quality is appreciated.

13

Non-existent. The people here don't have this thing and are not familiar with it. It is not available to buy. If you can demonstrate its value you can sell it like the Drought effect. It's tough to do though, and otherwise you can't sell it at all.

14

Superceded. There is widespread cheap availability of something that is better in all ways than this item in the eyes of the people here. They will not buy it, and if they happen to own it they will give it away for free.

15

Quality Control. There is an official quality grading process here. Low grade products are sold as Taboo, Medium as Normal, and High as Loved. The quality is represented by some physical official item or document that is illegal to forge subject to heavy fines and banning from entry. Unless they've taken steps to avoid it, any items currently owned will be graded as Low.

16

Craved. People don't buy this good here. They take it.

17

Rationed. You can't buy or sell this good here. Any that you have on you will be charged as an entry fee and it can only be acquired with a ration token.Treat as outlawed/banned but a days labour will get you a ration token for it.

18

Classist. Normal sell and buy but it is illegal to sell to people other than the noble or mercantile class. If you can find a buyer among them treat as outlawed/banned but this is unlikely as they are poor. An organisation of the lower classes might have enough to buy it.

19

Necessity. No buy price, double sell price.

20

Dangerous. This item attracts the attention of some malevolent creature/being/wizard. It is not welcome here.

 

 

 The generator uses a set list of items with each of them getting a 1 in 10 chance of having a special modifier applied to them.

 

 

Posted on June 14th, 2018 by RhysComments (0)

GM Friend Update

This month I've been working on a generator for my GM Tool, so that you can map out the hexes as you please or you can quickly generate a landscape complete with weird randomly generated monsters. I'll definitely be making tweaks to it in the future, so if you have any suggestions let me know! Either comment below or send an email to rmakesthings@gmail.com.

Image of a randomly generated hex map


The generator works by generating two grids of noise (using perlin simplex noise) and using one grid for height and the other for humidity. Anything below a certain height is set to water, anything above a certain height is set to mountains etc. In a similar way land is set to swampland if it has high humidity, and desert if its humidity is low. Land tiles also have a random chance of containing a city or other non-standard hex-type.

The sub-hexes also get some details added to them. Most notably the name, which is just the same as the names you can generate in the note section by typing in "%p". Sometimes they don't match up very well like a desert in the middle of a continent being called "harbour" or "island", you can edit the names currently but that might be something I clean up in the future.

The other thing I do is generate monsters. I do this by borrowing the creature templates from this great blogpost: http://dungeonofsigns.blogspot.com.au/2016/10/monster-design-and-necessity.html and adapting them a little. I also have a wide variety of special effects which are dictated by the hexes theme. Each hex gets two themes, chosen at random from a subset based on the type of hex. So a swamp hex might get the themes "death" and "disease", for example. Then each monster in the hex is assigned one of those themes, and if they are chosen to get a special ability their ability is chosen at random from a list associated with that theme. Hopefully this helps make each hex thematically connected rather than just a random mish-mash. This text generation system is based on the great implementation by the creator of donjon available here https://donjon.bin.sh/code/random/.

I added one extra part that really helped each monster come to life and allow me to easily generate a description for them on the fly while GM-ing. The "Appearance" descriptor. It simply chooses a random type of person, monster, animal, or combination of the two, but this really helps me come up with descriptions.

For instance:
Monster (Theme:burrow)
HP:1
AC:12
Hit Bonus:0
Attacks:1
Number Appearing:4d6
Special:1/2 normal speed as dig speed
Intelligence:Animal

Here we have a weak swarming creature that can dig through earth. Normally i'd probably just describe this as some evil looking mole. But add in the appearance category:

Monster (Theme:burrow)
Appearance:Bat-Squid
HP:1
AC:12
Hit Bonus:0
Attacks:1
Number Appearing:4d6
Special:1/2 normal speed as dig speed
Intelligence:Animal

A burrowing bat-squid creature. Suddenly this thing sounds absolutely terrifying. At least in my mind. Of course, there are a few kinks to this system:
Monster (Theme:poison)
Appearance:Clam-hydra
HP:2HD
AC:14
Hit Bonus:2
Attacks:1
Number Appearing:3d6
Special:save vs poison or paralyzed
Intelligence:None

A clam-hydra is less terrifying. It still has merit as an oracle for generating descriptions, but I think eliminating some of the more overtly humorous entries could be a good step.

If you're eager to give suggestions, one thing I can easily add is more special abilities and more themes. At the moment each theme has 4 special abilities and there are 43 categories, though theres definitely a lot of duplicates and similar effects mixed in there.

Another thing I plan to include is multiple special abilities, it should be a pretty simple addition but I just need to balance it to make sure it doesn't go overboard. Avoiding duplicates is also an issue.

Do check out my GM Tool, I'm having a lot of fun with the random generator!

Posted on April 28th, 2018 by Rhys McMillanComments (1)

Chosen Ones

Every culture has the idea of a chosen few. The method and frequencies of the choosing vary.

 

Maikiri Starchildren

The Maikiri spend half their lives in a vast underground jungle, the Karstic Verdancy (once self sufficient due to unknown magics and now maintained by Sunlight Miners). Navigating in the Verdancy is difficult. If you get lost or turned around you have no way of orienting yourself especially since glimpses of light are more likely to be from an escaped ray of mined sunlight than from the surface. This is why the Starchildren are so revered. All Maikiri children, when possible, are born near the star pools (water black as night that reflect perfectly the night sky above). If there are complications during a birth and the child has not yet passed, they are submerged into the pool. This can save the childs life, though the risk of permanent disability is still high. One thing is guaranteed, if the child survives being submerged, their dark skin will be emblazoned with a thousand points of bright white light. A map of the night sky. And as they move, so too does the map appear to shift. In fact, the map always displays the stars as they would be seen from where the starchild is standing if it were night. This means that while underground the starchildren can be used to help navigate, just as a sailor would at sea.

The Blood Queen of Hate
Hate, the city that looks like it was ripped from hell. The metal they make is unparelled, the amount they make unfathomable, the way they treat the "workers" that make it unspeakable. And they say they forge flesh as well as metal there. Their Queen is immortal. After a fashion. It might be more accurate to say her blood is immortal, but then there are many that think that she is her blood and the many faces she takes on are just vessels that the blood lives in. When a vessel dies, her blood bursts out of it explosively. It is searing hot and there is so much of it. Her oldest servants often bear the burns of at least one death. The blood then surges out into the city towards the most recent newborn female (or so it is thought, no one knows exactly how the blood makes its choice). The blood fills the newborns heart and she grows rapidly to the age of a young child who then assumes her rightful throne. The parents are honoured with an invitation to sit at the Royal Table for the reincarnation feast (there is no need for an inauguration as the Blood Queen is still the same Blood Queen). Depending on how loyal the parents are to the monarchy this will probably not compensate for the loss of a child. Though, to anyone who asks, it is a great honour of course.

 The Eternal Dance
The Allentine dance with the world! They are a nomadic people who seek to learn the dance of all things. They have asked forests to grow, thunderstorms to break, and seas to part with their dances. Their greatest challenge, is the dance of the rock. They are by nature an energetic and free-spirited people. Patient less so. The dance of the rock is slow. When the Allentine meet each year for the annual dance of the rock contest it looks like they are all meditating. If you come back days later you might see that their feet have moved ever so slightly. Whoever completes the largest portion of the dance of the rock is chosen as the Allentine people's leader, responsible for deciding which dance each Allentine delegation is tasked with learning in the coming year. Most competitions last only a couple of days. The longest went for a week and a half thanks to well timed rain that kept the participants hydrated. It is said that the dance takes a full year to complete, and that once complete a whole city will spring forth from the rock they dance upon and the Allentine people will be nomads no more.

Lion-marked
The Deggard plains are home to practical people. They hunt gazelle, avoid dragons, and regularly send a diplomatic party to the lion-people that rule the plains. The lion-people will not deal with just anyone. They have a great many customs and intricate rules of ettiquette they expect to be observed, lest you lose an arm. The chosen few are marked at birth. Birthmarks are said to be healed over wounds from past lives of dealing with the Lion-people. Anyone with a visible birthmark is chosen as a Diplomat, trained in the proper ettiquette (or at least what parts of it the Deggard people have puzzled out over time) and, when they are ready, sent to negotiate with the lion-people at their home in Split-the-sky Rock. Some Diplomats are better than others, able to negotiate access to more watering holes and hunting grounds. Others might commit a minor faux-pas like crossing their left leg over their right rather than the other way around, or speaking in rhyming couplets past midday when tradition dictates you swap to triplets, and end up leaving the Deggard people with less than what they started. But despite this risk they must never miss a meeting. No. The Lion-people value punctuality above all else.

The Tidecaller
To every Tu'en generation is born a tidecaller. They are known as the heaviest baby born after the death of the previous Tidecaller on the day of a King Tide. The river Tu is an essential source of life for the Tu'en, their community revolves around it. So they must treat the one chosen by the tide with great respect. The more well fed the Tidecaller is, the bigger the bounty next year. The heavier the Tidecaller is, the bigger the tides. A nice fat Tidecaller will ensure that all the farms on the banks of the river Tu are nourished. If the yearly floods do not have their usual strength, then the people must go without to ensure the Tidecaller has even more food for the next year. Combined with the lower yield that a smaller flood represents, such years can be incredibly tough for the common Tu'en folk. The Tu'en have many feasts throughout the year, but to them a feast is for feeding the Tidecaller not for feeding yourself.

You
Yes you! Or you! Or even you! Any of you and all of you, come on down to Orlisson where we have the prophecy for you. Her? No, no, she's not the true chosen one like you are. Yes I know that there are just as many people crowding around her but hers is a half-rate prophecy. Yours is the best of the best and all of Orlisson will recognise it. Now there's just the matter of holding the council so you can fulfil the prophecy. It's quite urgent of course. Though making sure all the delegates arrive might take a bit of persuasion. No matter, we in Orlisson know exactly who to ask and what to buy them it's only a matter of funds. Won't you contribute? Remember, the fate of the world rests in your hands, but so do its treasures and delights if you succeed. If? Did I say if? Silly me, when you succeed. You are the chosen one, after all.

An Orlisson Chosen One scam is just as well known as the Nigerian Prince scam and used idiomatically in the same way. The difference is that in addition to random letters handed to you in the street miles from the place, the city of Orlisson is almost entirely founded upon perpetuating and closing the deal on the scam. It's like a mad prophetic tourist trap. Tourists will go to Orlisson not just for its hallucinogenic teas, but also to have the genuine Orlisson Chosen One experience with full knowledge that its a scam. There are equal numbers clueless victims and excited tourists going along with the scams in Orlisson proper. If you've got the money, Orlisson will weave a story with you, chosen one, at the centre.

Posted on March 22nd, 2018 by Rhys McMillanComments (0)

What Love Made Us Make

Magicians are so rarely lovers. Those few that are have made some of the most beautiful and most heartbreaking things.

 

Lovely ArtifactsRoll
1

Heart's Guide

2

Soldier's Hour

3

Bottled Scorn

4

Promise Drop

5

Forget-me-not

6

Narcissus Mirror

 

Heart's Guide - Compass
A rosewood compass with carvings of flowers and anatomical human hearts. It points to the nearest loving couple.

A desperate young mage made it after becoming separated from his parents while travelling through the deadly Greay Swamps which drain the emotion from people who dwell in them too long and is filled with all manner of evil creature or band of threatening men. The only thing he could count on to bring him to safety was his parents love for each other. The telling of the story differs on whether or not the compass pointed him to them or not.

 

Soldier's Hour - Hourglass
An hourglass filled with black sand made of enchanted diamond powder. There are many of these, sold for absurd prices to soldiers about to go to war. The fact is, most do not survive in the wars against monsters and dark magic. These pieces of magic are made to provide some solace to those who face war, both for the drafted and those that they leave behind. Two people touch the hourglass. Upon the first touch the sand will change colour. The colour is unique to each person and will be for them most soothing and pleasant to behold. The second touch will cause it to change colour again, a blend of both of their colours. They then turn the hourglass over, together. While the sand falls, the two will be lost in a dream of a happy lifetime together whatever that may look like for them. The dreams always end the same way. With the couple about to die, ready to accept the loss of the other. They wake, and often, are better able to accept their parting.

The sand dissappears as it falls, meaning the hourglasses can only be used once. Nontheless, some get addicted to living out full and happy lifetimes as well they may. Those that do are swiftly bankrupted, and can find difficulty in their search for someone to share an hour with them. There are others who have sought to use the hourglasses forcefully. An extreme form of emotional manipulation, it can be incredibly effective. A debt-collector, for instance, might be much more lenient to someone who they have loved for a long and happy life even if they know that life was never real. Though this is not an especially reliable technique, even if you are cold enough to attempt it. Waking up and remembering that a whole lifetime was forced upon you by the one you thought you loved often feels like a terrible betrayal by the person you trusted most. It is much like adding a huge amount of gasoline on to a fire. Certainly, you might smother it if you're lucky, but you might also have just added a huge amount of fuel to make it burn ten times as much.

 

Bottled Scorn - Potion
A vial of thick murky green liquid. Requires a clipping of someones toenail. Used to help, or force, that someone to move on. Causes fond thoughts about the target to turn into bubbling disgusting bile that forces its way into your mouth and coats your tongue lingering there while the thoughts remain.

The effects can be cured by drinking three pints of your own freshly drawn blood all at once. This is a dangerous amount of blood to lose. As you drain it out of you into a pitcher, you will quickly decide whether it's truly worth it or not. Oftentimes those that deem it worthwhile will not have the medical knowhow to prevent the loss of more than three pints or aid their own recovery afterwards. And if they do die, the Bottled Scorn still achieved its goal of ending their desire.

Promise Drop - Glass Raindrop
A blown-glass raindrop that has been magically linked to a promise. If the promise is broken, the glass shatters. Used by some cultures in place of wedding rings and make promise drops of incredible beauty. They can be used for all sorts of promises, however. One particularly untrusting Lord required his subjects to sew the promise drops under the skin of their right wrist when they swore loyalty to him. Needless to say breaking those promises became a thoroughly messy affair.

Forget-me-not - Wrought silver flower
Requiring a drop of someones blood to make, the Forget-me-not allows you to see a persons face when you meditate on it for a short while. It will show you their face currently, howver it may look, but it will not show any other details nor external things that have been attached to or rest on the face. Even tattoos do not show up.

Narcissus Mirror

Those who look into it see visions of their desires and their loved ones, so vivid and real that they pay rapt attention for anywhere from 10 minutes to hours. Some have wasted away looking into them, usually those who desire much and have little. Whilst someone else is bewitched by the mirror, everyone else only sees regular reflections in it giving the impression that the bewitched person is staring longingly at themselves. Breaking eye contact may not break the spell, as they will no doubt clamour to see the mirror again. Only strength of will can pull you away. It was originally comissioned by a sailor who asked the local wiseman for a way to see his family while he was away. The ship became quickly mutinous as people began to fight over the marvelous mirror.

Posted on February 1st, 2018 by Rhys McMillanComments (1)

Don't touch

There are some things that are better left alone. I have done my best to detail them here.


Mindfire

Mindfire is a dark red powder that tastes of blood and tea leaves. It can be found coating the valuables in many an ancient tomb in the Azerkine where it is said to have been created by one of their God Knights (a hero in the mythic sense, there are eleven in all each one having killed the previous in order to take their place. They all turn evil towards the end so as to allow the next to kill them in good conscience. Except the last God Knight who died of old age). As you approach it your heart speeds up and adrenaline courses through your body. Excitement. Anticipation.

Do not touch it.

It is evident to those who know the name, but when one sees glorious treasures with a spot of dust or dirt griming it up ones first response is often to wipe it away. It makes you feel like you have caught on fire. You feel your flesh burning and your fat sizzling and your cartilage melting away. But you never do burn up. The pain never subsides though healing spells are able to quiet the pain for a short time. There is no easy way to cure it, no Mindwater to douse it. But there are ways. If you do not die of exhaustion, or end it yourself, before then.

Oblivion Stone

You've heard about it, of course. Dreamed about it maybe. We all have regrets. Things that we can't do anything about but wish we could. It would be easier, then, to simply forget.


The slick black stone of Mt. Orphinus has been carved and chiselled into a massive altar dedicated to a long forgotten god. The Oblivion stone, the alter is called. The stories say that if you want to forget something forever, you can simply travel to Mt. Orphinus and whisper a prayer to forgotten things at the foot of the altar. The altar stands before you.

Do not touch it.

For it does not simply wipe the troublesome memory away. It rips it out with a black stone scalpel made of memory. You wake with a painful black scar and so much taken away. Though it may not feel like it. People might tell you about things that you could never imagine yourself doing, because whole veins of your self have been mined away into oblivion. You are a different person now, the other you has killed themselves and you have been stitched together from what remained of their memory and flesh. Those who knew you before barely recognise what you have become. Your friends, even the ones you remember, may turn away from you.

Roll 2d4, there are that many significant portions of your life that you do not remember. These will all come back to haunt you in some way.

The gm spends these like points. 1 point for each (can spend these multiple times):
- you were involved in something that you now find reprehensible
- you have forgotten something that it was important not to neglect, but because you no longer know about it you have neglected it and the worst has come to pass
- Someone knows that you went to the oblivion stone, and under the pretense of being someone who you have forgotten tries to manipulate you to their purpose
- You are rejected or denied something you want due to a past slight that is not explained or remembered

The Gift-Givers

The gift givers are fey creatures. They look much like high elves with smooth skin and piercing eyes. Except that their slender builds appear to be due to severe malnourishment rather than elven purity. Their necks are perilously thin, their bared torso's show skin stretched tightly over ribs and collarbones.

They approach slowly with their arms extended, carrying their offerings. Each will offer varying sumptuous gifts of food, perhaps accompanied by and served upon glowing gem encrusted plates and goblets of glistening gold. They are only ever found in groups, each one proferring their food insistently competing to gain your attention. They will circle you with their slow, careful movements, offering, offering. They drool over the food in their hands but will not eat it. They will follow you until they die of starvation (they drink greedily any water they can find). In a group of 10 expect 1 to die every day. They offer you a gift.

 

Do not touch it.

 

Those that do are overcome with an insatiable appetite. Fine. You could afford all the food you needed by selling a single gem from one of the cups. Ah, but it is not merely food that you hunger for. Your hunger directs itself at whatever it is around you that you most desire to keep. Perhaps you are starving and desire to keep up your supply of rations. You cannot help but eat them all in one go. Or perhaps it is your trusty sword that fends off the evil in the dark? Never mind the blood and teeth that fall out as you devour it, the hunger is sated for now. Then you are left without supplies, without equipment, with only your companions to rely upon. But do not fret too much, they are tastier than you expected.

(Once a day you must eat the thing you most want to keep, you are able to chew it and swallow it and digest it no matter what it is, though it might hurt a lot)

Perfect-Amount-Of-Force, Godblade

God of power, god of strength, god of wrath, god of near-perfect calculation. There once was a god like this, though it assumed it was infallible and never dreamed of being only near-perfect. This angry god thrust its sword into the earth. Not wanting to exert more energy than needed, it calculated exactly how hard it would need to thrust its massive blade in order to split the earth in two. It made an error in its judgement. The sword almost split the earth in half. But a fraction more force was required to do so and something got to the god before it could finish the job.. Instead the sword simply rests, buried to its hilt which is the size of a mountain, sticking out of the earth.

Do not touch it.

It only takes the slightest of touches. You will note that there is nothing living nearby. The air is perfectly still. It does not rain. If anything touches the sword, the earth cracks. Two perfectly hemispherical pieces separate from each other. I would not like to see it.

Posted on January 20th, 2018 by RhysComments (1)