Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Thawing Kingdom: the Remaining Frost

This post is about the Thawing kingdom. If you do not know what it is, click here. If you do, go ahead.

Most of the kingdom has at this point thawed, albeit with disastrous flooding and the spiritual amnesia of the populace as a consequence. However, not all of the ice is gone. There are plenty of places that are still covered in snow and where the lakes' surfaces are still frozen, winter landscapes that range from pristine and eerily beautiful to harsh tundras. Sometimes, even great glacial masses of ice remain, still in the process of melting. They may just be ice, but they could still contain who knows what: old castles, entire towns, forests, or things much more sinister. There is often no telling what terrors from five hundred years ago may lie in wait in the frost, biding their time to be released.

It is not always, however, the great bodies of ice that are the most disquieting. As the people of the frozen kingdom thawed, not all of them did so properly. Some of the denizens have limbs that are still riddled with persistent magical ice. These are not commandable frost powers. They are ugly and painful clumbs of frozen water on and in your skin. Some are trapped in place, only sticking out of the ice with a head, a torso, an arm or two if they're lucky. These unmoving figures often become oracles or philosophers as they have the capacity for little else. 

In some the cold has remained perched on their brain. Memories are eroded and personality is embedded in permafrost. These half-thawed are mute frostbitten humans that are alive, but barely. Sometimes shambling, sometimes crawling, sometimes walking on long stilts of ice as high as trees through the waterlogged landscape.

The half-thawed have an irrational desire to thaw themselves. They flock to heat, though when clutching it they will usually extinguished it with their wet and frozen fingers by accident. Fire can distract them, but it also lures them towards you if you carry it or light a campfire. You'll have to weigh the fire's protection from the cold carefully against its attraction of half-thawed.

Sometimes the half-thawed will be particularly terrifying: icicle spikes protruding from their bodies like porcupines, or limbs cast in large blocks of ice that are swung and smashed around like clubs. These are more challenging enemies than the average half-thawed horde, and diversify the threat that half-thawed can pose. They need not necessarily be humans. They can be animals too. 

Sometimes they will be truly cold. These people are dead. Their brains have crystallised and cracked. The ice has its heatless fingers inside the body like a cold and wet elastic finger puppet. They would be speakers for the ice itself, if it had anything to say. Truly cold do not seek fire or heat. Anyone's best guess is that they are after some kind of profound, all-encompassing silence. They are isolationistic, solemn, and do things that no one understands. You may find one standing in a lake to waist height, unmoving, or one making repetitive patterns in tree bark with its fingernails. In a wide radius around a truly cold, temperature lowers immensely. It feels like being submerged in cold water. It saps your strength. The sight of affection and love makes them fly from serenity into a bloodthirsty frenzy. Assumedly that is a remnant of the King.

These half-frozen creatures are not the only spectres of the frost that still remain. Aside from blizzards, snowslides and collapsing glaciers, which are both lethal and large in scale, there are large bodies of ice that encapsulate castles and keeps from the time of yore. The thawing has opened up just enough of them to enter these frozen fortresses, towers and dungeons through rhime-covered stone corridors and glacial cave tunnels in the ice. These boreal mazes are unnaturally silent, and inherently suppress any sounds inside them. After all sound is vibration, and in the end, so is heat. The ice knows this, so it does not like sound. It does not like when things move. Not even trembling air. Perhaps stilling the vibrations of music and voice is its spiteful retort at the battle that it is losing against the heat.

The greatest of these frostbound monuments is, without a doubt, King Iceheart's castle, Vengenheim. This enormous bastille, being at the heart of the ice spell, is still completely frozen, sitting inside an enormous jag of ice that juts out of the landscape, an irregular and translucent white pyramid tomb for the king. Should anyone find an entrance to it, they will find it haunted by the frozen banshees of the King's brides.

In addition, some soldiers of the king's dread army still remain: the Glass Knights. These are ten foot tall knights made of blue ice that wield weapons inflicting terrible frostbite when they cut flesh. They do not have a heart, have minds like machines, and their ice can only be melted by fire from the hearth of a loving home. These vicious killers patrol around the vicinity of the King's castle in high numbers, but make no mistake, singular or small parties of Glass Knights can be found anywhere in the kingdom.

Many of them, due to lack of directions from the king, simply guard the area in which in they unthawed against any form of life, their last directive to go on having been the destructive intent of the king's suicide by frost spell. However, some still have a notion of loyalty towards the subjects they were once made to protect (well, and tyrannise, but that aside). These Glass Knights are not hostile towards denizens of the kingdom, but they will immediately take up arms against Draailanders, Drakes, Devils, and so on. Loyal Glass Knights are as their name implies loyal, so they can be relied upon in a way, but it is impossible to communicate with them, as they remain mute and emotionally dead killing machines, so their exact motives remain unknowable.

Lastly there is perhaps the most devious being of all. The ice itself. Where exactly King Iceheart took it from when he cursed the kingdom is unknown. Perhaps from millenia ago when it ruled the earth. Perhaps from far up north, off the map, where it still reigns. It is everywhere where the frost has not melted, and even in some seemingly thawed tundras it lurks underneath the cold mud as strata of permafrost. Anyone who is affected by the cold can sense its presence. It is a kind of instinctual dread hardcoded into the citizens of the kingdom after spending five hundred years frozen solid. A sense of a perpetrator of an unconscious trauma being near. Lurking eyes. When you become frozen and frostbitten this intensifies. The ice never speaks. It makes no attempts to tell you anything. However, when influencing someone for a long time it has a tendency of inducing an insidious desire for cold and silence. A memory of the ultimate frozen bliss during those hundreds of years. A wintery stockholm syndrome. Sometimes it acts, but this always seems coincidence to anyone but the very experienced or completely paranoid. A falling icicle. A slipperly patch in just the right place. Especially if you are loud and disruptive, something bad might happen to you.

(all above art by Skraww)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thawing Kingdom: People and Knights

If you don't know what the Thawing Kingdom is, find out. If you do, go ahead.

After the kingdom woke from its frozen sleep, its people discovered that their world was not as it had been. What had been luscious forests, are now dark and tangled woods, thickets halfway submerged in the mud with barely any leaves remaining. The fiels of grain have become flooded by water from the molten ice. Valleys are now lakes. Meadows are wetlands. Castles have crumbled and eroded under the ice. For five hundred years the land had been submerged in a profound stillness, and the sounds that broke it first was the gushing of glacial rivers and the shattering of what had been perfect sculptures for half a millenium. Most if not all was destroyed by the kingdom's harsh awakening.

What is left, now?

People seek dry places. Islands amongst the many thawing-ice streams. They span the old nets in the new rivers to gather fish, and debris for building material. People become wooddryers, stacking the wet driftwood over hot charcoal bins. Children flock to the drying stacks to stay warm. They search the nets for frogs, or funny rocks. Rope and clothing fibre is important. Food is important. In some places, where the river ran once but no longer, the land has grown very fertile from all carried down with the water. The farms look meagre, but they can provide, even if barely. Keeping livestock is hard, even for those lucky enough to thaw next to what was presumably their enclosure of sheep, so the people eat fish, and the fowl that has returned to the kingdom. Geese and ducks, herons, water birds. With wax from insect nests, and fish oil, they make their wading trousers keep the water an extent. Better smear that wax on extra thick, let it harden in a dry place.

The people are fishermen, riverside-combers, driftwood catchers. They're bootwaxers and wooddryers. They're goose hunters and pea farmers. They're nurses for the unimaginable amount of trenchfoot. They're priests of small, simple faiths that send people down the river on a raft when they die so nobody gets sick. They catch the rot when some bloated dead buggers drift into the fishing nets from upstream. They're the travellers that tell people about the importance of pushing your corpses down into a fen somewhere instead of lopping them into the river. They're the rotting moaning undead fenfolk that seek revenge for not being given a river burial. They're the paltry but persistent knights that put the fenfolk back down into the fen.

Aha. Knights. Charming and heroic. Mudsoaked and rusted. We're back at the interesting part.

The people of the kingdom need knights to protect them, always have. But, in the waterlogged new land that they had inherited this profession did not seem as noble as it once had, and definitely a lot more messy. However, being a knight still brings with it a sense of worth, and a sense of pride, which is hard to come by in dire times. So the people also became knights. They moved into the ruins of old keeps and castles, or into a reasonably dry forest, or even a somewhat pronounced hilltop, depending on what was available. In any case they needed a home for their order. A value to fill the "And the brave knights rode out from X" variable.

They have names that inspire awe and terror in their foes. The goose knights have geese painted on their shields and on their vests and breastplates. No two geese are quite the same. Well, at least it's artisanal. They no doubt have a gooseherd whose gaggle patrols the ruin in which they've taken roost. But are they as noble and impressive as the knights of the purple boots? Likely not. These glorified highwaym- ahem, guardians of the realm live in what used to be a beetroot field, where the purple sap of the beets has mingled with the mud and started to permanently stain their leather boots. When they are a few helmets short, hollowed out beets are better than nothing. Ah, however, they surely tremble at the sight of the flotsam riders, who live in a big camp built of driftwood and boats on a series of rocks in a river. The reality of that is a lot less practical than the idea, but it is almost as impressive. They have a few huts on the rivercoast for when they need to rebuild.

These are of course examples. There are as many knight orders in the Thawing kingdom as there are devils, drakes and undead to fight. Possibly because fighting one tends to require an entire knight order for a decent success chance.

No one speaks of the black swan knight. Or rather, people love to say that no one speaks of him while in fact they speak of him all the time. If it even is a he. He travels across the kingdom fighting evil, as legendary knights tend to do. Sometimes he meets the white swan knight, who is another bugger thawed with horse plus full armour and without the capacity for speech in anything but grunts or cryptic lines. What happens when they meet? Some say they fight. Some say they make out. Some say they play a few games of Crown and Anchor, which the white swan knight always wins and make the black swan knight very upset.

(All above art by Skraww)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Setting: the Thawing Kingdom

I once saw a fungus, a mould that usually infects the breathing organs. Rather, I heard a camel talk about it at a bar, heard it say how that peculiar mildew yelled into the forest and rustled the feathers of all the birds with its screaming about the self-gratification of the rulewrights. Though it was just a meagre toadstool, I can’t shake the feeling that maybe when you pick apart the mycelium threads of its fungal rage, you might find an intriguing truffle.

So, I’m going to create a setting. Or rather, I’m going to tell a story, which is the same but more graceful. It’s a story about a crazy old king, because who doesn’t love those?

King Iceheart was a mean name, but unfortunately it was accurate. The king, for all his attempts and efforts, simply could not love anyone. Many candidates came to his castle, were shipped there by hopeful parents, or simply appeared quizzically while some witch stuffed her pockets with silver and was one frog poorer. It never worked out. Especially once he started freezing his wives into ice statues filling the throne room. For “looking at my generals lecherously!” For “wearing the wrong dress to the walking dinner!” For “sticking her bubblegum under her throne!” It’s safe to say that his loneliness, his age, the artificiality of his love life, and possibly his inbred line made him go progressively kookier as he aged. He was archetypal. Long white hair and beard. Sunken eyes. Long thin nose. Sharp and tall crown. The collective idea of the Mad King made flesh.

At long last, when the throne room was so crowded with frozen wives that terrified servants had started to stack them for optimal spatial management, King Iceheart’s love-deprived heart hurt so much that in a fit of mad desperation and contempt for all the little loving people, he cast a spell that banned the sun from his kingdom and said that no one would be able to love, not for five hundred years. Without the light of the sun the lands were cast in thick ice, and everyone was frozen solid. It was a still picture of the precise moment that King Iceheart cast his darkest spell, which had killed him as it turned his hart to ice. It was a final defeat for the king as he gave in to his nickname.

For five hundred years, not a soul stirred.

Everything was cold, dark, and silent.

Until finally, the land had served its sentence, the sun rose once again and the Frozen Kingdom became the Thawing Kingdom.

For the people waking from their five-hundred year sleep, the world is strange. Their memories are far away, sometimes even gone. They only have the things around them to remind them of who they were, and who they loved. The ice melts in patches: most of it has thawed and formed muddy and water-eroded landscapes and big new lakes that have sometimes swallowed whole villages. Some of it is still around, big patches of glacier producing broad and rapid rivers. The whole land has a wetness to it, recuperating from the initial floods caused by the melting ice. Fields have become paddies, ferries are everywhere for travelling across the wetlands-dominated landscape. Bootmakers and boatmakers never run out of business. The land beyond the Kingdom, which is 500 years further in its progression, is colledtively called Draailant, Drayland, or simply Dryland. Spelling has become a bit funny, now that the water has ruined many books. Oddly enough everyone remembers the King, and they feel a little sad and angry whenever they speak the name of King Iceheart.

Local lords have started to spring up here and there, some of whom actually were lords, some of whom took the opportunity of the chaos in the thawing's wake and gathered a few people to squat in an abandoned castle. A few lords may actually have succeded at creating a somewhat functioning county or community, some may just live in a windy and empty castle and call themselves the lord of it to try and console their loss of identity. Small bands of hedge knights are very common, as someone has to fight the bears and wolves that have unfortunately also been thawed out, and the drakes that have taken roost, and the devils that have crawled out of the murky crevices. They lend out their service for food, which is scarce. Sometimes they will become a lord's loyal knights, because it makes them feel harboured and important in a world that just showed everyone who's boss.
Plus, they get to hang out in a castle, which is cool even if it's in disrepair. Sometimes, people from Draailant come along. They tend to be lonely travellers, but they have a strange air around them. They never stop talking about their machines. Machines, machines machines.

That's the Thawing Kingdom for you. It's moody, wet, and there's a cold wind that blows through the entirety of it. Some people say that that's the last sigh of the king, an icy current forever trapped in the kingdom. But people band together, as they do in harsh times. Sometimes they fight too, as people also do in harsh times. There are recently thawed castles or keeps that if you're lucky nobody has explored yet. There are drakes, wild animals, monsters and devils that prowl the muddy land. There'll be posts about all those in the future. This is it for now.

(All art above made by Skraww)

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Cult of Unfission GLOG Resources: Monsters, Spells, system-neutral Lich Star Influence Table

The first post on this blog introduced an alternative route for Necromancers, a motivation for their cults, and a threat to all things: Unfission.

A cult of derailed necromantic potential being used to achieve a demented perfection, to fuse everything back into the very singularity that exploded into the Big Bang at the dawn of the universe. With the promise of perfection and ego-death, new cult members are recruited to fuse into terrific monsters, from amalgams of matter and flesh to miniature black holes. Far in the cosmos, the Founders of the Unfission cult (fused to the size of star-sized leviathans by now) destroy solar systems to fuse them back into Lich-Stars, undead heavenly bodies created from the matter that they produced upon their death.

This post will expand on the Unfission Cult's lore with some mechanical elements to bring them to (un)life in your game. Keep in mind: the cult of Unfission never truly resurrects: their fusions are always creepy unwholesome semblances of what the precursor they are 'resurrecting' was. They're necromancers after all.

Unfission Masters' corporeal bodies (art by Jesse Balmer, Adventure Time Come Along With Me concept art)


Point Convent
When devout and strong-willed Unfission Acolytes fuse, they compress into a football-sized orb of flesh and sheer absorbing force, like the cube that comes out of a car crusher. Their only drive is to suck in so much mass that they reach a critical point and advance into the next stage: a miniature black hole. Point Convents will attempt to fuse with anything in their vicinity to gain mass, even their peers: the Unfission Mantra is absolute to them.

HD 1; ATK /; DEF 14; MOV 8, levitation; Morale 12
  • Spacetime Depression: A point convent attacks by producing waves of pulling gravitational energy in a (HD*20)’ cone, producing a corona of visual distortion around themselves when they activate this power. Instead of damage, targets in the cone must save or be pulled a significant distance closer to the Point Convent, (HD*10)’ if you want a more exact distance.
  • Add to Mass: When in melee range (next to) a Point Convent, targets with equal or less HD must save or die as they are sucked and compressed into the Point Convent by its deadly gravity. Creatures with more HD take (Point Convent’s HD)d6 damage instead as part of them is ripped off by the gravitational pull. When a Point Convent kills an equal amount of creatures to its current HD with this ability it adds a HD to itself.
  • Mutagenesis: When a Point Convent absorbs a wizard, it rolls a d6. If it is 1 to 4, it rolls a random mutation. If it is 5 it gains one of the wizard’s MD and a random spell it knows. If it is 6 the Point Convent must save or be destabilised by the rabid spell entering its system and explodes into a mess of protoplasmic goop.
  • Singularity: Once a Point Convent reaches 6 HD, it surpasses critical mass and becomes a miniature black hole. It moves extremely slowly, but cannot be hurt by physical attacks anymore. It will start to rip apart the terrain and becomes a destructive environmental hazard. Its gravitational cone ability is now applied in every direction around it, constantly. Its Mutagenesis trait no longer causes mutations, it only either gifts it a MD and spell on 5 or prompts a save or die it on 6. It now only gains a HD when it absorbs a significant amount of matter and/or energy.
Vestigial Convent
It is not always that aspirants to the Unfission mantra are prepared enough to fuse into a proper Point Convent. When the arcane power, the carrying out of the fusion ritual, or the conviction of the participants are lacking, the result is a Vestigial Convent: the human equivalent of wet clay puppets smudged together and then smeared on the most nearby surface. It becomes a shoggoth-like creature, a sludge of agonising mass. These are the lowest forms of Unfission beings, considered fit for nothing else than to be dead mass absorbed by Point Convents.

HD 1, ATK 12, DEF 6, MOV 4, Morale 6
  • Desperate Absorption: Vestigial Convents attack with long sinewy tendrils, attempting to physically pull things into themselves. Any creature succesfully hit by an attack takes no damage but must save or be dragged closer to the Vestigial Convent (similar to the Point Convent's ability, except that this needs both a succesful attack and save to pull). When a creature is pulled into melee range this way it must save or die as it is absorbed by the Vestigial Convent, identically to the Add to Mass ability of the Point Convent.
  • Mutagenesis: Identical to the Point Convent's trait, but cannot gain spells/MD: 1 to 5 is a mutation, 6 is self-destruction.
The coordinators of the Cult of Unfission, these are the few instances where rabid fusion has in fact produced, or where from previous individuality there has been retained, more intelligence than simply the dogmatic adherence to the Unfission mantra. Unfission Masters understand that when minor fusion is strategically put off, greater fusion steps can be accomplished. Being able to assert authority over Point Convents, they are the ones to orchestrate the Cult's schemes, meditating to receive the will of the Founders from deep in the void of space.

True Form: as a 10 HD Point Convent.

Flesh Body:
Unfission Masters have enough self-control and arcane power to pause their fusion hunger and produce a body from their mass, and contain their black hole-like self. They still, however, have a necromancer's twisted sense of what a 'body' should be, and thus their bodies are generally terrifying fusion monstrosities.

HD 4, ATK 11*; DEF 11*; MOV 11*, many possiblities of movement; Morale 12
  • Morphic Manipulation: An Unfission Master can warp and change their body to suit a chosen purpose. It assigns a +5 bonus to one of the skills marked with *. When it assigns this to Movement it may choose a mode of movement (flight, walking, swimming,...), when it assigns it to Defense it may choose one save (except Morale and Death) to which it is immune, when it assigns it to Attack it may choose a weapon type that this form wields (ranged or melee, but it always deals 1d8 damage). Changing options inside a chosen skill takes an action, changing between options half a minute. It may also, as a fourth option, not gain a +6 but take a form with expansive brain mass to store spells, and gain 4 MD and 2 random spells. These MD do not regenerate when switching back and forth between forms, but the spells are always rerolled. MD only regenerate upon forming a new body.
  • Generate Body: When it is in its true form, or when its current body is destroyed, an Unfission Master can sacrifice a part of their mass to fashion a new body. This deals 6 (1 HD) damage to itself, and gives the Master a new form as detailed above. Producing a new body takes about a minute.
More Unfission Master bodies (art by Jesse Balmer, Adventure Time Come Along With Me concept art)
To add some Unfission flavour to necromancy in your game, these following spells can be usable for necromantic players in your game. Or, they might acquire them only by unearthing tomes of the cult's less maniacal precursors in forgotten libraries, when they still did things like write in books. They might have to pry them as living spells from the broken singularity of a dead Unfission Master.

Alternatively these spells can be wielded by evil casters, or they can be locked away inside lead books in the university tempting players to free them (and causing a obsessive fusion mania in the university when they do). There's many uses for a few more semi-necromantic spells.

1. Amalgapparatus
R: within hand's reach T: [sum] (broken) tools D: instant
Fuse broken or intact items into one functional unit. Roll a d6: if it is 1 the resulting device loses all functionality, becomes a weird pointless machine. If it is 2 or 3 it gains the function of (randomly selected) half of the tools. If it is 4 or 5 this one device becomes a multi-tool that performs the functions of all the tools invested. If it is 6 the tool hybridizes the function of the tools invested into an apparatus with one oddly specific function: for instance, hybridizing a corkscrew and a sword yields a spiralling sword with a powerful enchantment against enemies made of cork, whereas simply having all their functions yields a sword with a corkscrew as the pommel.

2. Clustering Vector
R: 50' T: [dice]+1 creatures no more than 30' apart D: [sum] minutes
Creatures that you target must save or be pushed together and stick to each other as if glued for the spell's duration. At the end of the duration all creatures still stuck must save again. The creatures that fail this save have their flesh melded together by the ever tightening embrace. They are permanently grafted together. These creatures save one last time. If any of the creatures fails the save, all these creatures merge into one new hybrid entity. Creatures that succeeded the last save are the ones who mentally stay in control. Willing creatures may voluntarily fail any of these saves.

3. Remold
R: Touch T: 1 object D: [sum] minutes
Summons fragments of a whole that the touched item was once part of to it. Shattered sword pieces, carpentry made from the same tree, identical twins. More MD invested means they are drawn from further away and/or with more force. Any parts that make it to the touched item within the spell duration fuse with the touched object to recreate the lost whole.

4. Point Compress
R: 50' T: orb of space D: instant
Compress everything within an orb of space into a marble-sized superdense pellet. This orb's size increases with the amount of MD you invest. A 1 MD orb is the size of a baseball. Hitting a moving target with this is very difficult.

5. Monoharmonium
R: - T: [dice]*20' radius around self D: [dice]minutes
One sense becomes completely homogenised, rendering you and all creatures within the target radius incapable of any differentiation in the environment based on said sense.

6. Feigned Convent
R: - T: self D: [sum] minutes
A spell not developed by the Unfission Cult itself but by the people tormented by them, allows you to compress your body into a ball, like a Point Convent. Unfortunately the makers of this spell found out that Point Convents do in fact fuse with everything, even their own kind. They also missed the floating part. The spell is still useful for crawling (rolling?) into tight places though. A 1 MD Feigned Convent is the size of a football. A 4 MD one the size of a marble.

A Lich-Star can be a fun element of cosmology to add to your game, even if it's only a tiny pale green speck in the sky, burning brightly and hungrily. The following chart contains possible effects that may apply to your world when a Lich-Star is aligned with others in a certain way, forms a constellation, passes convexely under the moon, etc. Lich stars or Lich Planets aligning are the Cult of Unfission's GREAT ECLIPSE. Maybe, if you're very unlucky, you're living on a piece of ripped-apart planet floating about and this table always applies during the day, when the Lich-Sun is out. If you are dramatic, roll multiple effects. If this is the event those damn Mayans put on their calendar, use all of them.

  1. Necromantic spells become exceedingly more powerful.
  2. Both mania and despair become exceedingly difficult to resist.
  3. Ghosts  and shades start appearing everywhere, unable to interact with the mortal world, silent (or howling) watchers.
  4. The Undead rise.
  5. Any other magic than necromancy is significantly powered down/nullified.
  6. People's thoughts are influenced with visions of Unfission, waves of temporary madness afflict the population.
  7. Milk turns sour, animals become rabid, crops die.
  8. Ancient Unfission ruins or artefacts reactivate. Their purpose is without a doubt heinous.
  9. The Sun cowers behind the moon, hiding itself from the Lich-Star's evil eye. Solar eclipse.
  10. Tides turn freak, either causing floods or drawing back impossibly far.
  11. Children born have bizarre mutations.
  12. Minor or sometimes major spontaneous fusions happen. Objects, buildings, animals, people.
  13. The planet, influenced by fusion mania, compresses together ever so slightly. Major earthquakes.
  14. Gravity increases significantly.
  15. The Lich-Star's fusion pull extends with its light. Things are sucked/ripped off the planet surface.
  16. The clouds try to fuse with the earth. Constant thick fog.
  17. Children born have powerful innate (necromantic) magic.
  18. Due to planets shifting in their orbit due to induced fusion mania, the length of a day/year is permanently altered.
  19. Space debris gets fusion mania, speeds towards the planet to fuse. Meteors.
  20. One very oddly specific and harmless event occurs, which even Unfission Masters do not know the meaning of.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Witch Tradition: Orthodox Witch

Putting my new witch tradition template to use and providing an example of what a tradition ought to look like, I present to you the most basic of witches: like the Orthodox wizard, the Orthodox witch!

The Orthodox witch embodies all the classic tales and tropes of the witch. She appears as a Maiden, Mother or Crone, brews potions in a cauldron, flies on a broom and does all those kinds of things. She's the one in the black robe and the pointy wide-brimmed hat that helps the villagers with herbs, salves, the occasional manual resetting of a joint. You find Orthodox witches in huts at the edge of the forest, typically, and it'd be rather strange if they didn't have a pumpkin patch outside. A lot of what an Orthodox witch does isn't so much outrightly magical, but rather a combination of white lies, cleverness, charisma, and if it really comes to it, a little tweak in the fabric of reality. Magic, really, gets more impressive the less you use it, and Orthodox witches understand this to great effect.

Mind though, that an Orthodox witch is in no sense typically evil, despite what wizards like to say to defame the competition. She might blight a crop here and there, but only when someone's been particularly rude, and she certainly wouldn't have an interest in confectionary architecture. That's a Hag's cup of mandrake tea. A Hag, a witch who has gotten so particularly bitter and estranged about the fact that people are inherently help- and truth-averse, that she's gone off the deep end. A gingerbread cottage, an approximately child-sized oven, and a cackle of a laugh.

Elphaba, or if you're one to believe Wizard propaganda, the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz, 1939)

Maiden Orthodox witches tend to not wear black like their more mature Mother and Crone peers. Green and white are much more common colours for a Maiden witch, but as they age they realise that white robes stain horribly when travelling. A Maiden witch typically prefers a more soft-spoken approach, and uses the words 'organic' and 'all-natural.' Of course, being a witch, she is aware that things like deadly nightshade and bears are also 'all-natural,' but they're words people like to hear. What harm is there in putting a shiny rock on someone's head and reading them their horoscope if that gets them to then take actual medicine, after all?

Perk: A Maiden weighs as much as a duck, as she is not yet grounded by her knowledge and wisdom. This means she floats on water, and can be lifted very easily.


1. You ask small creatures like birds, bats, beetles and mice simple questions. Sometimes they might have a useful answer, often they will just ask for breadcrumbs.
2. You make a square foot of plants flourish.


Despite the name, an orthodox witch of the Mother type need not actually have any children, though she often does, as they are useful for everything that she cannot be bothered to do herself. The main idea of this type is that unlike the Maiden she possesses the wisdom and strength of her age, but unlike the Crone she isn't yet mind-numbingly stubborn and proud. A Mother is sure of herself, often so much so that she has let go of any notion of shame about who she is or what terribly inappropriate things she might do. This is generally why people dread her as they would their own mother.

Perk: You simply do not take most things seriously enough to be intimidated by them. Gain a bonus of 2 to save against fear.

Drawback: Your legs aren't what they used to be, unfortunately, and the days you could eat anything without a worry in the world have been over for a while. Suffer a penalty of 2 to Movement.

1. You make an item of food taste slightly better, or at least bearable. This sign can mask the taste of minor poisons.
2. You can cure a very minor disease, like a cough or a cold, with a touch.

An Orthodox Crone is perhaps the most iconic witch there is: she is strongly drawn to dignified black-robe-and-hat fashion choices, tends to have a nose with a wart on it, and has a terribly intimidating stare. She is well-known amongst the people as someone not to cross, though they may have their doubts about how much good she actually does. Of course, she does plenty of good, but it's just that when it's not prettied up, having good done to you doesn't tend to feel good. A Crone couldn't be less bothered by this. She knows what's good, and by the flint in the chalk she'll have it done, whether people want it or not.

Drawback: People are very fearful of your presence. They will be extremely hesitant to say anything they think you don't want to hear, and lie to divert your attention away from themselves.

1. You can light or extinguish any existing light source that is no brighter than a torch within 30'
2. You can open or close any window, door, or other hinged portal that isn't locked within 30'. They open/close slowly with an ominous creak.
The Witches of Discworld. Orthodox Witches are very Pratchettian. (art by Paul Kirkby)

1. Divining
R: 0 T: see description D: [sum] days in advanceUsing either an animal that has been dead for no less than 4 hours, the birds and clouds in the sky, the way a set of fingerbones fall, tea leaves, or other chance-influenced information, you may read the subtle notes the universe passes itself underneath the table. Predict something within the allowed span of days. For things not influenced by humans, like the weather, you get a certainty. For things in which humans at least partially decide the outcome, like the result of a battle, you get a likelihood. Major calamities always force themselves into your prediction if they are somewhat related to the object of your divination.

2. Calm
R: 30' T: [sum] animals D: [sum] minutes
You soothe the emotions of nearby animals, preventing them from panicking, fleeing, or aggression. They will obey commands that they would if they were not panicked (such as from their owner). This has a minor effect on crowds of higher creatures, but cannot target specific ones.

3. Cure
R: touch T: 1 creature or [dice] acres of land D: -
By applying your age-old remedies to a creature or an area of land, you cure it of natural diseases, infections and ails. For incurable afflictions such as age or permanent damage, it will alleviate pains for a [sum]. Parasites on the target's body must save or be driven out, any curses inflicted with equal or less dice than you spend are lifted. Applying your remedy takes [dice] hours

4. Scrying
R: [sum]/2 miles T: reflective surface D: [sum] minutes
By using a reflective surface at hand, like a mirror, water surface, or even a shiny spoon, you may link it to another reflective surface that you are at least vaguely aware of within the range of the spell. Instead of reflective, the two images become windows to each other. For each die invested past one, another sense may travel through the mirror. Prospecting for potential surfaces may be done by reasoning: if you know that a tavern is within your range, it is reasonable to assume that there are glasses and spoons there to which you may project. You may switch between target surfaces within your range, but it will take [dice] minutes off the duration of your spell. Keep in mind that any senses that you allow to transmit, do so in both ways.

5. Blight
R: touch T: [sum] acres of land D: -
Either inflict or lift a blighting curse upon the land, which significantly diminishes crop growth, befouls wells, turns milk sour, weakens animals and children, lowers fertility of both soil and people. Any creature born under a Blight must save or roll a permanent mutation.

6. Borrow
R: [dice] miles T: animal D: [sum] minutes
You release your own spirit from your body and inhabit an animal. You can steer it to a degree, but cannot lead it into mortal danger or otherwise cause it to act against its survival instinct. The larger or more intelligent the animal, the harder it is to control. Humans, apes, and oddly enough camels, inherently resist this effect. While borrowing your own body appears as dead.

7. Witch's Egg
R: 0 T: self D: [dice] minutes
You produce a chicken egg which, when broken, bursts in a cloud of sulphurous smoke, with a [sum]' radius. Any creature caught in the cloud must save or be affected by a d([dice]*2) poison. The cloud blocks vision and hangs around for the duration of the spell. If the egg is not broken when the spell duration ends it hatches into a normal, full-grown chicken.

8. Sleeping Hex
R: touch T: 1 creature D: see description
You touch a creature, and it must save with a [dice] penalty. If it fails, it falls alseep for [sum]*10 minutes. After that, it can save without penalty. If it fails again, it continues sleeping for the same amount of time, and then wakes. A kiss always immediately breaks a sleeping hex.

Black Cat
R: 0 T: self D: [sum] minutes
Turn into a black cat without a shadow. You can shift at will between it, and the cat's disembodied would-be shadow. While in shadow form, you gain a bonus of [dice]*2 to stealth, but you can only manifest where there is light to cast shadows. The shadow is as vulnerable to attacks as an actual cat. Casters trying to cast a spell on you in this form always get a Mishap or its equivalent.
Witch's Cauldron
R:0 T: 0 D: [sum] minutes
This spell summons a witch's cauldron over a fire, filled with a bubbling potion: any caster that fires a spell or magic within 50' of the cauldron must save or have their spell sucked into the pot. The pot can hold [dice]*2 magic dice and [dice] spells. Once it has either hit its dice limit or the duration is over, the cauldron boils over, firing 1 MD versions of random spells it contains as close to itself as possible, until its MD run out.

R: 30' T: 1 creature D: -
Turn a creature of into a harmless, tiny animal, like a newt or a frog. if it has more HD than [dice]*2, it can save to get better after [sum] hours. If it fails, it can only be turned back by a true love's kiss. Alternatively, turn yourself into any creature with [dice]*2 HD or less for [sum] minutes.
Sometimes a Witch's cottage, like her wart, can be a bit on the nose (Disney's Sword in the Stone)

1. Local fairies have noticed your presence. They won't pass up on the opportunity to mess with you. Your saves for the remainder of the day suffer a penalty of 2. If you put out a cup of milk for the fairies, you may save to prevent this.
2. Local spirits are upset at you disturbing their rest, so they are going to disturb yours. Replenish no health or WD next time you rest. A sacrifice of food and flowers allows you to save to prevent this.
3. Some local peasants have seen or heard about your magic and it frightens/upsets them. Within the next day they will find a moment to throw stones at you and shout profanities, dealing 1d6 damage. Saving a peasant's life or livelihood prevents this.
4. A minor devil or demon tries to steal a bit of your magical power: this spell uses up an extra WD (1d4 damage if no WD left). No save.
5. A local wizard fears your competition and messes with your magic. For the next spell you cast, reroll the WD and take the worse [sum] result. Putting a wizard in his place prevents this.
6. A minor god is insulted by your general being (gods are envious and petty creatures), and smites you. Roll a random mutation, and after 4 hours, save or it is permanent. Making a significant offering to said god before the save for permanence ends the mutation prematurely.

Loss of Grip:

1. You become hateful of the simple-minded, and easily fall into the habit of spiting them out if bitterness. When dealing with people less intelligent than you, reroll any rolls for social situations and take the worse result (intimidation is exempt from this).
2. Your bubbling vitriol for others in general turns you physically ugly and gives you a most bizarre appearance. Roll two mutations, and take the most weird-looking result. Do this twice.
3. You simply don't see the point in even trying to be nice anymore. Remove Charisma from your character sheet entirely. You dementedly try to compensate for this with garish expressions of niceness, such as a house made of candy, laughing (or rather cackling) at inappropriate moments, and giving yourself a overly sweet nickname like Auntie or Missy.
4. You've went and done it. You've put little Timmy into the soup. And it's only downhill from here. You've gone full hag. You lose your humanity and become a child-eating monster. [roll a new character]

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Witches like Wizards: A customisable Witch class

Unlike Skreples' Wizard and its many schools, most classes in GLOG do not benefit from a central template which can be adapted into many forms, making that particular class both very diverse and very well-liked. I hope to change this somewhat by bringing you a Witch class that can be fitted with Traditions, just as a Wizard may be fitted with Schools.

Are you ready? If so, put on your pointy hat. No, not the one with the stars. The other one.

Instead of harnessing Spells, which are the bizarre and fickle beings that inhabit wizard brains, a witch has Works. Witches don’t believe in something as gaudy as firing rabid arcane energy ferrets out of your skull. Instead of forcing reality’s hand, like wizards do, they simply give it a suggestion and make it think it was its idea in the first place. Granted, it might have some questions afterwards, but by then a witch has already got what she wanted. Witches have familiars far more often than wizards, as they make for an interesting second opinion that usually a wizard would prefer not to hear, and they're an extra brain to keep track of which alignments of which stars do what to growing crops, the sheep liver colour wheel, and other such knowledge. 

(art by Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek, aka Tin Can Forest)

A witch can come as three forms: a lithe and youthful one, a grounded and robust one, and a powerful and wizened one. In orthodox witchery these are referred to as the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. The Maiden has Work Dice of 1d4, the Mother 1d6, and the Crone 1d8. The Maiden has a significant perk, the Mother a minor perk and minor drawback, and the Crone has a significant drawback. 

Each level a witch can move one step: Maiden <-> Mother <-> Crone. She can also stay the same, and always start at Maiden. Each of the three has a separate set of 2 Signs, which are minor magics that a witch can cast at will without the use of WD. Rules for WD returning are identical to those of a Wizard. At Level 4, the Emblem Work a witch gets depends on which of the three she is. The three Emblem Works are not supposed to be equal in power: despite all being significantly strong Works, a Maiden's is the weakest Emblem work, a Mother's is quite powerful, and a Crone's is very powerful.

Instead of Mishaps, Witches gain Attentions. Instead of Dooms they Lose Their Grip.

While a wizard's Mishaps are a result of the Wizard himself, a witch's Attentions are not like this: think of an attention as having gotten on some local spirit, demon or god's radar. A Wizard rams his face headlong into reality, which is usually tolerated because it's easy to keep track of. A witch tricks reality when it isn't looking, so supernatural forces consider her far more dangerous on account of being unable to keep tabs on her. Attentions can often be solved, not with a save, but with a sacrifice. An example: "Local spirits have noticed your Working and will come to drain your power tonight. Make a sacrifice of blood (2 HP) or do not replenish any WD when next you rest."

Losing Grip implies that a witch's hold on her humanity is slipping. After all, high strangeness is involved with all kinds of witchcraft. There are four levels of Losing Grip, with the last being a final and irrevokable descent into inhumanity, at which point the character is lost. A Maiden can Lose her Grip four times before this final stage (going through 1 to 4), a Mother three times (2, 3 and 4) and a Crone only twice (3 and 4).

(art by Mike Mignola, Baba Yaga, Hellboy comics)


A: +WD*, +2 Works, Covens
+WD*, +2 Works, Crafts
+WD*, +2 Works, Wyrd Transport
+WD*, +2 Works, +1 Emblem Work.

* = The Maiden has one more Work Die than her Level, the Mother has an equal amount to her level, and the Crone has one less.

Covens: Witches benefit from being part of a coven- that is, going about their business as a group rather than on their own. Starting from three, Witches can pool their WD into a Work that they all know, to cast it as one Work, using all invested WD. However, any resulting Mishap or Doom affects all witches casting.

Crafts: Witches can, instead of immediately having their Work take effect, 'store' their Work in a potion, a wicker doll, or in an element of the area, like runes painted on a stone or a circle of stones arranged in a certain order. Creating and imbuing such an item with a Work requires an amount of hours equal to the WD invested, and the item must also be larger per WD that is invested. For example, a 1 WD potion fits in a bottle than can be held between your fingers, while a 3 WD potion fills up a whole milk can. 

A Craft activates its Work when a certain thing happens to the Craft: the condition for the Work's activation can be chosen by the witch, but it must involve a direct interaction with the Craft. The Work in a potion cannot activate because it rains two miles south, but it can activate because someone drinks the potion, for instance. If the work has a creature as target, it will target the creature(s) most related to the activation condition (the creature that drinks the potion, touches the wicker doll, etc). If it has other specific target requirements, the witch must decide these when she makes the Craft. 

Work Dice the witch spends making a Craft cannot return to her until the Craft has activated or has been destroyed/exorcised. When the Craft is destroyed or exorcised, the WD it contained are depleted as though it had activated.

Wyrd Transport: Witches are notorious for their bizarre ways of getting around the place. A witch may bewitch one mundane item to become mobile in some way. If the item is person-sized or smaller, it may fly. If it is larger, it must be earthbound. The size limit of these transports is the size of a hut. The smaller the transport, the faster it can move. For example, a flying broom may be as quick as a galloping horse, but a hut on chicken legs is clearly a slow transport.

(art by Phobs)
Name Witch Tradition
[Tradition Description]

[2 Signs]

[Perk and Drawback]
[2 Signs]

[2 Signs]


[d6 Attentions]
[4 Losses of Grip]

* = These names apply to the Orthodox Witch, which is coming soon as a standard example of this template. For other traditions, they will also be different.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Witching Hour

Midnight is often attributed with relations to the supernatural, being a notable moment in our day cycle where one day transitions into the next, simultaneously twelve (or twenty-four for the modern kids) and zero. It's situated in the middle of that strange and liminal period we call the night, during which we are not supposed to be awake, and which feels less touched by the civilisation and certainty of daytime. Nighttime is full of mysteries and unknowns, of dangers and strangeness. 

So, this fixation with midnight is not at all surprising. It is however not entirely correct, any witch will tell you. No magical ritual ever takes place at midnight. It simply seems that way. In fact, they take place during the time between exactly 00:00 on the machine clock, and exactly 00:00:00:00[...]:01. Any scientist will try to tell you this is impossible. Any wizard will try to tell himself this is impossible, but knows better. Any witch and possibly some park rangers take it for granted that between midnight and exactly after midnight, there is a timespace crammed into that picosecond called the Witching Hour.

How long the Witching Hour exactly is, is uncertain, because clocks are stuck on midnight in it. Most witches are not terribly concerned with precise measurements either, so it is called an Hour for the sake of convenience. Another question is how to actually experience it. After all, usually there is no trace of it, even when staying awake overnight. 

There are plenty of dream rituals, awake rituals, slightly drowsy rituals, and nervously caffeinated rituals to end up in the Witching Hour, but they all have to be performed, unsurprisingly, at Midnight. At the end of this post there are a few rituals you could do to enter the Hour. Sometimes, normal humans will wake up into the Witching Hour by accident. It's uncertain who easily ends up in the Hour, but it seems to favour the unhappy, the lonely, artists, children, and park rangers. Cursed people such as Lycanthropes, and supernatural creatures like vampires, devils, spirits etc. can always enter the Hour.

During the Witching Hour, also called the Thirteenth Hour or Witch-Time, the world is submerged in a liminal torpor- the feeling of a foreign gas station at night, or a broad avenue being empty and silent. Creatures, Faeries and Cryptids that normally conceal themselves come out of hiding. Devils, Familiars and other shapechangers must take their true form. Ghosts and spirits are visible. Some animals can talk. Some magical gates or portals only open during the Hour. There are entire locations and even swatches of land that solely exist in Witch-Time.

Nocturnal nature spirits thrive during the Witching Hour (art by Alexandra Dvornikova)
During the Witching Hour, witch magic is significantly more powerful. This is why it is such an important time of day for witches. If you are a witch, a druid, a shaman, or a similar type of caster, treat all your spells during Witching Hour as though they had an extra Magic Die spent on them. More scientific or high-fantasy casters like wizards, alchemists, or sorcerors rarely gain this benefit, and paladins or clerics certainly do not. (If your system does not use Magic Dice, come up with another buff for these casters). 

Rituals have a much higher chance to succeed if they happen during the hour. Any rolls made for activating a ritual or summons you can reroll and take the more favourable result. However, magical forces also become more wild and unpredictable. Any rolls made for aborting a ritual, containing or dispelling magic, or banishing a magically summoned creature, you must reroll and take the worse result. If you are affected by a curse, you cannot resist its effect during the Witching Hour. It may even become more powerful. However, this also applies to blessings of a witchy nature. Some items made by witchcraft work differently, or only work, during the Hour. Some plants or ingredients must be harvested during the Hour to be effective in potions. They may even only grow, blossom or exist during the Hour in the first place.

Candles and lights are important guides to enter the Witching Hour (art by Julia Nikitina)

D10 List of Witching Hour Entry Rituals

All of these rituals have Condition [C]: This demand must be met while you are in the Hour. Once it is broken, you fall asleep on the spot and awaken when the Hour has passed. 
  1. Fall asleep in a fairy ring to tambourine music after drinking a potion of inky herbs. You awaken in the Hour.
    [C]: You cannot hear music.
  2. Kiss someone while wearing a crown of the appropriate flowers and the pelt of an appropriate animal. Close your eyes while you do it. When you open them again you are both in the Hour.
    [C]: You cannot lose contact with the person you kissed.
  3. Cry in your bedroom while the moon shines through your window, after a bad day. After blinking the tears away you realise you are in the Hour. This has an [amount of friends you have]% chance of not working.
    [C]: you cannot laugh of mirth or at anything funny, only of sadness.
  4. Walk into the forest alone wearing no clothes on a quiet night. No one can notice you. Pass through a brook of water with your feet exactly on midnight. You have entered the Hour. If you follow an animal this will certainly be succesful.
    [C]: You cannot wear any clothes or touch a person wearing clothes.
  5. Drink a drop of Mandrake root sap and burn certain herbs. Inhale the fumes. Your dreamy hallucinations will suddenly clear.
    [C]: You must keep inhaling the fumes.
  6. Spend the evening listening to the strange susurrusses of your surroundings. Focus on this and be alone. After a while you will see strange humanoid shadows beckoning you. Follow them, but not too far. Stop exactly once you have lost sight of the spot where you were listening. You are now in the Hour.
    [C]: You cannot make eye contact with your listening spot.
  7. Meditate in a circle of pebbles, with both of your hands cut, and a pebble balanced on your head. At a point you will notice that the wounds on your hands have disappeared. You have entered the Hour.
    [C]: Your hands cannot be wounded to the point that they spill blood.
  8. Paint a painting of your full self, with ink made of certain herbs and oils, or take a polaroid photo. Leave the face blank or remove it.. Fall asleep in front of this painting. When you wake up, you notice the painting or photo now has your sleeping face. You have a smooth face. You are now in the Hour.
    [C]: You cannot see your own faceless face.
  9. Trap a luminescent insect like a firefly in a glass bottle or jar. Cover it and take it outside, find a place that is completely dark at midnight. Unveil the container so that the only light you can see is that of the insect. You have now entered the Hour.
    [C]: The insect must stay in its container.
  10. Dance around a cauldron filled with hot wax. Dip a wick made of your hair in it and let it cool down into a candle. Light the candle on midnight. You are now in the Hour.
    [C]: The candle must stay lit.
The Witching Hour empowers rituals (art by Alexandra Dvornikova)