Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pawns of Generica

“I’ve seen too many die. Linkgirls sent into green devil mouths, torchbearers crushed under falling rocks, young and eager porters having their brains sucked out by unspeakable horrors. So many young bright faces forced through a crucible of death and dismemberment. And for what? The promise of a few silver coins, a meal, and a chance at ‘adventure’? No more, I say. No more” -Iridia Pasquette, former magician hireling/creator of Pawns.

“They ain’t like you and me. They strange-like. They don’t breathe proper. Prolly don’t think proper neither. Used to hate ‘em, I did, ‘til one of em pushed me out of the way of a godsbedamned shoggoth. Saved me life. Now I’m a right believer. They be absolutely worth the 50 queenbills” -Local Greenbarrow adventurer.

"I should have gone to DeVry..."

Henchwomen in Remlia

Hirelings and henchwomen have long been a topic of debate in Remlia. The influx of foreign adventurers hundreds of years ago saw a rise in young folk wanting to sell themselves out as hired help. It was seen as a trendy and brave practice: The chance to be an understudy and helping hand to a true hero.

Unfortunately, it resulted in thousands of deaths. Young men and women earnestly pledging themselves to disastrously unsafe work with no combat or spelunking experience; killed by monsters or traps or worse. Almost an entire generation was lost to the allure of adventuring life. What the depths didn’t kill, the transition back to ordinary life surely did. The few who returned with riches tended to spend the them too quickly. Drink, vices, and pleasurable company became all these broken people would concern themselves with. They had witnessed the horrors of the deep places of the world. Returning to agriculture or clerical duties did little to sooth their jangled nerves.

Like adventuring, the practice of henchmanhood was outlawed. As a direct response to this, a magical solution was created...or rather, stumbled upon.
Examples of Pawns.

The Pawn System

Pawns are humanoid creatures without obvious personalities or backgrounds. They appear human, or elven, or halfling, but have none of the internal racial traits of them. While they are considered alive, they are said to be “without souls”; they lack the essential spark of personhood. Essentially a blank slate of a creature, they operate according to the following information:

  • Pawns are not of this world. While humanoid, they are considered ‘aberrations’ in terms of stats.
  • Pawns can speak, read, and write common. They are capable of retaining facts and gossip, and can follow simple instructions.
  • While Pawns are limited by feelings of self-preservation, they are also self sacrificing for the needs of the group. They do not require moral checks to encourage their following, or to be send on dangerous tasks.
  • Pawns cannot harm their bonded master of their own volition. They are, however, susceptible to curses and spells. It’s a very “3 laws of robotics” kind of deal.
  • Once summoned and bonded, a pawn will follow its master until killed or dismissed. A pawn does not require food, drink, or payment (outside of upgrades).
  • A PC can only be bonded to 1 Pawn at a time.
No one is quite sure where Pawns come from, but it is not from here.
Cost of Pawns and their Stats

Pawns are instantly upgradable servants. They require wealth and money to be able to advance. They do not advance or level up from experience. Pawns do not start out with a proficiency bonus or racial traits. Upon summoning, the only free option is the pawn’s gender.

Standard Pawn: 50gp
  • Human (same speed and sizes)
  • Base Abilities = all 10s.
  • Starting Hit Points = 1d6 + 4
  • Vision = normal
  • Able to use simple weapons and medium armour.
  • Comes equipped with a chain shirt (AC 13 + max dex mod of 2).

Small Pawn: 65gp
  • Halfling (same speed and sizes)
  • Base Abilities = Dex 12, all others 9s.
  • Starting Hit Points = 1d6 + 2
  • Vision = normal
  • Able to use simple weapons and light armour.
  • Comes equipped with leather armour (AC 11 + dex mod).

Magical Pawn: 75gp
  • Elf (same speed and sizes).
  • Base Abilities = Int 14, all others 8’s.
  • Starting Hit Points = 1d4 + 2
  • Vision = darkvision
  • Able to use simple weapons and light armour.
  • Comes equipped with cloth armour (AC 10 +dex mod).
"I aspire to fight the strongest monsters around. Does this please you, master?"
Pawn Advancement

Pawns can be upgraded at any time. They require coinage or treasure to do so. Money is presented to them with the instruction of what they need to be better at. The pawn takes the money, ingests it (either via eating or osmosis), and is instantly upgraded.

A Pawn cannot upgrade itself, even if ordered to. It must have the wealth presented and given to them. It cannot take it of its own volition. Also, not all types of treasure are accepted. A Pawn will gladly accept coins, jewels, treasured items, and other easily frangible items, but is pickier about art objects, trade materials, and livestock. A Pawn cannot be paid in weapons or armour. It must be directly equivalent to currency.

Upgrading a Pawn takes an action. Once the action is complete, the pawn is instantly upgraded.

  • Ability Score Increase = 50gp per point, capping out at 15
  • 1d6 Extra Hit Points = 50gp, capping out at 6d6
  • +2 Skill bonus = 20gp
  • +5 Skill bonus = 35gp (all skills cap out at +7)
  • Attack Bonus +2 = 200gp (can only be purchased once)
  • Better armour proficiency = 100gp
  • Better weapon proficiency = 100gp

  • 1 new language (read, speak, write) = 35gp (Max of 3 languages)
  • 1 new trade skill = 60gp (Max of 3)
  • 1 magical cantrip (any class) = 150gp
  • 1 new spell (any class) = 300gp x spell level. Can be cast once per day.

  • Damage Resistance (from weapons) = 250gp
  • Damage Resistance (choice of 1 element) = 300gp
  • 1 Extra Death Saving Throw = 500gp (Max of 3)
  • 1d6 Hit Die (5e healing mechanic) = 200gp (Max of 5)

Pawn Healing and Death

A Pawn can be healed by normal means such as resting (long rest) and healing magic. Pawns start play with no hit dice and only 1 death saving throw.

If a Pawn is brought to 0 hit points and does not die outright from extra damage, the Pawn can make a single death save. The same death saving throw rules apply, except the Pawn must have 3 successes to stabilize, but only 1 failure to die permanently.

Pawns cannot be resurrected or reincarnated. If a PC bonded to a Pawn dies, her consciousness is instantly transferred to her Pawn, including all memories, personality traits, and backgrounds. The PC now uses the Pawn as if he/she were a player character. The only stat change is that the Pawn can now withstand 3 death saving throw failures before dying.

If the PC is resurrected, the PC’s consciousness returns to the original body. However, this process kills the Pawn’s body.

If the PC continues to play in the Pawn’s body, the Pawn can now earn experience and level up like an ordinary PC. XP Values are increased, however. A PC controlled pawn reaches 1st level at 300xp, and 2nd level at 900xp, and so on (As per 5e experience rules).

Using Spell Dice

*NOTE: This mechanic originally came from Brendan over on Necropraxis. He deserves the full credit for its invention and proliferation. Below is simply my adjusted rules for it in my own setting. Be sure to visit his site and check out his posts. Good stuff over there. 

"Wizarding isn't a science. It's not a religion, either, despite what those soft-headed clerics would lead you to believe. It's not really an art, either. Not really. Maybe sorcery is, but not wizarding, no. Wizarding is a gamble. It's a hustle. A dodge. You're effectively gaming the system that is the universe, and like any game, you can cheat"      
               -Headmistress Rot-Tooth, Gran Remiel Witch's Academia.

"Let us consult the bones..."
               -Remlian adventurer.
Roll dem bones.
Using Spell Dice
  • You can learn spells from any d20-based fantasy game.
  • Wizards start play with 2d6 + wizard level spell dice in their Spell Dice Pool.
  • Any number of spell dice may be used to cast a spell. Casting a spell successfully requires rolling 6 + the spell's level or higher. Any die that comes up 1 is removed from the pool. All spell dice are recovered following a long rest.
  • If you roll snake eyes (three or more 1’s) your spell is a catastrophe and backfires on you, dealing damage or ill-effects to you and your party (see table below). Even if the total of the dice rolled equals or beats the spell's success number, it still backfires.
  • If you roll boxcars (two or more 6’s) your spell is overpowered, doubling the damage and/or effect.
  • If you roll a smash (all 6's) your spell tears open the fabric of reality to bestow a helpful boon on you (see table below).
  • A wizard can also resort to using their life energy to power spells. You can expend your hit dice and add them to your Spell Dice total for the day, provided you have hit dice to spend. Once a hit dice is rolled to cast a spell, it is considered spent and cannot be rolled again that day, even if the spell is a success. 1's rolled with Hit Dice do not count toward rolling snake eyes. You can add your hit dice to your Spell Dice total as a swift action.

Little Witch Akko is a third level wizard. While fighting a bugbear (like you do) she tries to cast Melf's Acid Arrow, a second level spell. Akko's spell dice total is 2d6 + 3d6 from her level, for a total of 5d6. The success roll for Acid Arrow is 8 (6 + the spell level of 2).

Akko is pretty sure she can take the bugbear, so she rolls 2 of her 5 spell dice. She gets a 5 and a 4. Success! She casts the acid arrow, rolling damage as she normally would. She gets both spell dice back in her dice pool.

Now, Akko wants to finish the job with Flaming Sphere, another second level spell. This time she rolls all 5 of her spell dice, wanting to ensure a success. She rolls three 1's, a 4, and a 2. Snake eyes. Akko immediately rolls on the spell catastrophe table and gets a 2. The spell backfires on her and she is burnt to a crisp.

Spell Catastrophe Table (d12)
  1. System Shock. Caster takes psychic and lightning damage equal to the spell's damage. If no damage is listed, you take 2d6 x the spells level.
  2. Reversal. Caster is hit with the spell (no save). If you originally targeted yourself, nearest enemy target is hit with the spell (no save).
  3. Shrink. Caster is immediately reduced in size to tiny (6 +1d6 inches tall). Caster's armour and possessions shrink with them. 
  4. Grow. Caster is immediately made 1d6 times bigger in size and weight. This growth is painful, dealing 1d6 damage x the amount bigger the the caster is made.
  5. Slimed. Caster is transformed into a slime creature, retaining her/his original memories and personality. 
  6. Reversal. Caster is hit with the spell (no save). If you originally targeted yourself, nearest enemy target is hit with the spell (no save).
  7. Alternate Timeline. Caster's abilities are reversed. Caster must roll the opposite of what she/he normally would in order to succeed in any task.
  8. Balloon Curse. Caster's body inflates to 6 feet in diameter. Caster speed reduced to 10 feet and is at -5 to attack. Caster takes 1 point of damage for every point of AC over 10.
  9. Slug Curse. Caster begins to vomit slugs. Must make a DC 12 + spell level Con check to attempt to do any action other than moving. 
  10. Reversal. Caster is hit with the spell (no save). If you originally targeted yourself, nearest enemy target is hit with the spell (no save).
  11. Polymorph. Caster is polymorphed into a small creature. Roll a d6. 1. Kitten 2. Puppy 3. Pig 4. Goat 5. Mouse 6. Toad.
  12. Soul Slip. Caster's soul is now the property of a demon/devil of the GM's choosing. Said demon/devil may call upon the caster at any time.
Spell Smash Table (d4)
  1. The caster is immediately restored to full hit points. If the caster was already at full hit points, she/he is granted damage resistance for the remainder of the day.
  2. The caster immediately learns the location of a nearby powerful magic item, as well as its function and use. 
  3. The caster summons a helpful demon minion (monster description up to the GM, HD 5, stats as fighter) who protects and fights for the caster for 1d4 days.
  4. The caster sees a vision brought on by an interested deity. They learn one important and useful campaign secret. 

Generica Character Creation

Art from Dragon's Crown.
*NOTE: This page is always under revision, with new links and pages being added as they're made. 

Character generation for any of my Generica games, online or otherwise.

1. Roll 4d6, pick the 3 highest and assign to the 6 stats. 

2. Here are all the currently accepted races and classes in Generica. All of their bonuses are listed below. You can see this as a hi-res PDF HERE.

  • You can also play a Catperson. Catpeople are statistically identical to Elves, and have two subraces: Furry and Nekomimi. Furry catpeople look like the Khajit from Elder Scrolls and get a +1 to Dex. Nekomimi Catpeople look like anime catgirls and get a +1 to Cha. Both subraces have prehensile tails.
  • You can also play a Golem. Golems are a simplified version of Warforged from Eberron, and have two subraces: Small Golems (halfling sized) and Tall Golems (human sized). The only difference is their height, size, and speeds. Until an official version of the Warforged is released, Golems statistically work like this. 
  • If you're dead set on playing something different, be sure to ask about it ahead of time. Chances are I'll be cool with it. 
3. Classes, backgrounds, skills, equipment, and starting gold are in the image above. Other class alternatives are below:
4. No feats. Unless you're coming from a game that allows them, they don't get used in Generica.

5. Racial Considerations: Generica, like a lot of Flailsnails settings, mixes things up when it comes to fantasy species tropes. The setting differences (so far) are as follows.
  • High elves are almost all evil decadent magical slavers (Think Dark Sun). You can play one, but locals will hate you. 
  • Halflings were once slaves to humans, working the fields of Remlia. Even now they're often relegated to agrarian lifestyles. Some still harbour deep resentment to humans.
  • Dragonborn are foreign and are still at war with the people of Remlia. They are seldom trusted.
6. Clerics and Paladins: Any deity you make up can feasibly fit in Generica as a setting. However clerics are often treated as outsiders, and few standardized temples/churches exist anymore. Some unique gods include Lord of Light: Baroque Catholic-like god of light, fire, and order, few clerics but many paladins, Yondahla: Goddess of the wilderness and forests, looks like the Forest Spirit from Princess Mononoke, Crom & Agro: Riddle of Steel god and his giant horse, worshipped by dwarves, very heavy metal, Syrinx: ascended lord of high elves, endorses slavery, god of magic, has 13 holy temples in Figaro, Lolth: Spider goddess of trickery, decadence, and fertility. Worshipped by monsters, witches, drow.

7. Wizards: Instead of using the standard Daily Spell Slot system, you can opt to use Spell Dice. This mechanic ensures that, so long as you keep rolling well, you almost never run out of spells. Click here to see how Spell Dice work.

8. Flailsnails PC’s in Generica:

Generica is a system designed for fifth edition D&D characters, who come loaded to bear with all kinds of features and options and cantrips and junk. That said, Flailsnails PC’s are a devious and cunning lot who’ve passed through the crucible of some of the most strange, bizarre, and unforgiving campaign settings ever made (Vornheim, Wessex, Wampus Country, Nightwick Abbey, Ithar, Hill Cantons, Barovania, Akenia, etc). So here’s the rules regarding their passage into Generica:

  • Firearms and magic items are permitted. All work as their original system describes. However, it’s your responsibility as a player to have those rules available and ready to share with the GM if asked. Otherwise, their effects, random quirks, and rates of failure or mishap are up to the GM.
  • Spells native to your setting work, but have a chance of going wrong or weird in the world of Generica. Any time you use a spell not native to fifth edition you must roll on a random spell effect table (Table chosen by the GM, to be made public soon). The only exception is spells from Dungeon Crawl Classics; those are already weird and misfire-y.
  • All other conventions fall in line with the Flailsnails Convention articles passed down from Jeff Reints, Zak S, Calithena, and others. Articles available HERE. This includes leveling up/experience points and high-level PC handicapping.
Stat Adjustments for Flailsnails PC’s:

These adjustments are designed for ease of use for the Game Master above all else. It can be hard enough running an adventure or session without having to juggle several game systems’ mechanics at once. Adhering to these adjustments is GREATLY APPRECIATED, and may be met with Inspiration as the game progresses.

  • Your character has Hit Dice. This is a mid-game healing mechanic from fifth edition. Every class has a number of hit dice equal to their level (A 3rd level fighter has 3d10 hit dice). They can be spent during a short rest (1 hour) to bump your hit points back up. 
    • Barbarians, Dwarves = d12
    • Fighters, Paladins, Rangers = d10
    • Wizards, Sorcerers, Halflings, Alices = d6
    • All others = d8
  • Ascending armour class. Generica uses ascending rolls for everything, but ‘to hit’ rolls are most important. If your character has descending armour class, you can convert it pretty quickly by subtracting your AC value from 20. So a descending AC of 4 is an ascending AC of 16. 
  • Non-unique items. Some games handle things like shields, plate mail, crossbow reloading, and polearms differently. All these items and their bonuses/drawbacks conform to fifth edition rules in Generica, unless otherwise stated by the GM.
Here's a handy rules reference to use during play:
How long does oil burn? Can I hit someone with a torch? How do I sneak?

Drow in Generica

“Now our Syrinx’s gone to rest.
Down below. Down below.
Now his consorts have their jest.
Hear them crow. Hear them crow.
Collared gowns and dark perfume.
Broke their vow. Broke their vow.
Lock them up inside his tomb.
Call them drow. Call them drow.”
-Folk rhyme learned from Figaro slaves, recovered by Saul Spidermin

“You clerics talk of baptisms; fancy rituals you use to bless babies and soldiers in the name of your ridiculous gods. Oils and rosewater and prayer and blood. Drow have no use for such a thing, but us dark elves understand. First time I see the sun, my skin chars and blisters. My underdark clothes vaporize, so I’m exposed. My skin burns and blackens. You can’t imagine the pain. All over. Any time you see a dark elf on the surface, you know she’s felt the same burning. We’re all baptized by your sun” -Remlian surface drow

Drow in Remlia

In terms of appearance, drow are very similar to elves. Pointed ears, heightened senses, longer lifespans. However, they stand out like a sore thumb with their charcoal coloured skin and their shock white hair. They’re also the most iconoclastic race of surface people in Remlia.

Each one is an individual among individuals; a special snowflake holding fast to her/his new ideals, rejecting the beliefs of their ancestors. Emerging from the strange “below places” of Generica marks them (physically and emotionally) as outsiders to civilized people above and below. This could be why drow take to an adventurer’s life so easily.

Lemme Go I Blister in the Sun

It has been observed that there is a distinct difference between surface drow (commonly just called dark elves) and their subterranean kin. Drow do not have dark obsidian coloured skin naturally. In their natural lightless habitat, drow skin is translucent and white, not unlike that of a pale grub.

The dark skin that drow have come from an allergic reaction to Generica’s yellow sun. Upon coming in contact with sunlight, underdark clothing evaporates from the radiation, and drow skin blisters and turns black. Pigment floods their skin in tremendous amounts in order to cope with sunlight. Surface drow are literally sunburned black.

It is said that underdark drow also appear dark skinned, but with a strange white glow about them. In actuality, this is because their darker organs are visible through their translucent flesh; pulsating and pumping strange green fluids through them.
Underdark drow vorpriestess.
Drow "History"

Few elves or drow will admit it, but drow are a sub-race of elfkind. Their origin is thought to date back to over a thousand years ago to the betrayal and death of the Elven god-magician Syrinx. His final words “...and the meek shall inherit the earth” were thought to be a warning against weakness.

As was deemed a fitting send off, Syrinx’s 107 concubines and consorts were buried alive with him. While recorded history states they were entombed with him in order to ‘pleasure his god-soul into a new greater form’, many escaped elven slaves believe that these concubines were buried with his body as punishment for his suspected murder. No one knows for sure.

Still, these elves were buried hundreds of feet underground in the subterranean underdark. They managed to eke out a miserable living underground, exploring and propagating and expanding. They cursed Syrinx and his bureaucratic priests, renouncing his name and eventually his dwindling magic.

It is thought that this is when they turned to Lolth, and became the first drow.
One of Lolth's many guises. 
Demon Queen Lolth

Lolth is a demon spider goddess. She is often depicted as an eight-armed drow or elf with the lower body of a spider. She is considered the patron deity of underdark drow, and her influence and magic is what has kept the isolated drow alive and viciously strong through the centuries.

The following is known about Lolth’s commandments, worship, and domains:

  • Lolth embodies the Life and Trickery domains equally.
  • Lolth is viewed by many monsters as a patron of fertility, secrets, and spiders.
  • Lolth’s commandments are few. She seeks the propagation of spiders throughout the material plane. Male drow are often made “egg carriers”, their bodies bloated with the egg sacs of demon spiders. This process makes them completely servile. 
  • Lolth prizes cleverness, self-importance, and decadence above all else. A life not lived for one’s self indulgence is a life to be killed off.
  • Lolth regularly demands blood and life sacrifices (often fed to spiders). She is also appeased by bizarre and intricate displays of bondage.
  • Each one of Lolth’s eight hands represents a different aspect of her desires. Lolth worshippers likewise have eight schools of worship, producing different kinds of clerics, paladins, cultists, and servants. These eight schools don’t get along with each other.

Surface drow are hesitant to speak of their native lands and cultures, fearing reprisal or punishment from seemingly invisible foes. What is known is that underdark drow society is intensely religiously hierarchical and dictatorial; where speaking out against Lolth’s webbed design or the selfish commands of her priestesses is suicide.

Some surface drow have let slip that almost none of their people actually believe in Lolth. None except the highest ruling caste. They typically are just looking to get enough to eat.
Shrines to Lolth are often cocooned driders, webbed to the walls of temples. For the price of a soul, a Lolth Shrine will tell you 1d4 valuable secrets. 
Egg Carrier. While painful looking, these Underdark butlers are often polite and well versed in royal etiquette.
Table of Random Generica Drow Facts (d12):

  1. Drow royalty is notoriously inbred, as one of Lolth’s hands posits that incest strengthens Lolth’s influence over her chosen people.
  2. Drow have a taste for spicy and sweet foreign foods. It is said a drow matron will send hundreds of drow raiding parties (many of whom go to their death) to the surface just to secure a shipment of sugar and spice.
  3. A drow’s favourite food is curried crab and its favourite drink is Cherry Dr. Pepper.
  4. A drow’s favourite wuss rock band is Smashing Pumpkins, but he/she also likes Fall Out Boy despite saying he/she hates them all the time.
  5. Underdark drow dinner parties are decadent affairs said to last weeks at the dining table. Any drow that vomits from overeating is promptly cooked alive and served ala mode to the remaining guests.
  6. Driders are a myth made up to scare drow children and do not actually exist. The Gran Remiel Taratologist guild still has a tremendous bounty on drider remains, tripled if captured alive.
  7. Surface drow are often caught monologuing to themselves as they stare into the sunrise. Calling them out on this embarasses them to no end.
  8. An underdark drow’s favourite Disney song is “Mother Knows Best” from Tangled. Surface drow are all into early Ralph Bakshi films and think Disney is shit.
  9. Surface drow are thought to carry all kinds of plagues, and are kept from entering most human run establishments in Remlia. They are oddly welcomed at dwarven tables in the Praxis Territories, however.
  10. Figaro elven nobles will often pay out the pointed ear for vintage drow pornography. There’s a 15% chance of finding a crude drow ‘Tijuana Bible’ in the spellbooks of elven wizards.
  11. Underdark drow set up wards against purple worms, and are known to sabotage similar wards set up by underground dwarves and gnomes.
  12. Drow blood is green and silvery, and is a highly sought after spell component of necromancers and dragon cultists.