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Friday, January 16, 2015

Taint nothing like the Real Thing, Baby.

Sorry! I couldn't resist!

According the DCC RPG rule book, patron taint is decribed as "The spells cast by patron-based wizards eventually take on the aspect of the wizard’s patron." In a nutshell, this is the magical bond between the wizard and the patron bleeding over into the physical world. Usually manifesting when the wizard fails a spell check or similar, representing him failing to control the energies unleashed and having them act on his spell, or himself, in ways defined at least in part by the nature of his patron.

Since Elbaphraxis is a chthonic cloud of eyes, I decided to -aheh- focus on those aspects for the table results. Here goes:

Patron Taint

D4 Result
1 The wizard periodically shifts “out of phase” to onlookers’ eyes. He turns momentarily ghostlike or two-dimensional in appearance as a portion of his being harmonizes with another dimension. This bizarre manifestation is brief enough to dismissed as a trick of the eye, but is still unsettling enough to result in a -1 to Personality. If the result is rolled a second time, it happens with enough frequency to give a -2 to Personality.

2 During spellcasting, shadowy form appears nearby. It appears as an amorphous blob covered in eyes. The eyes look in all different directions and blink lazily. Some are bestial, others are human. If rolled a second time, the acquires 1d6 spectral eyes that float ghostlike around him. They cannot be harmed and convey no useful information to the caster. 

3 The wizard’s dreams are haunted by strange visions of terrifying worlds. He can recall no specifics upon waking but is left greatly unsettled in his mind and feeling poorly rested. He must make a Will Save (DC 10) or his natural healing rate is halved. If the result is rolled a second time, a failed save means no healing occurs from that night’s (or day’s) rest.


4 Elbaphraxis transcends our notions of time and space. One tainted by his essence begins to find their existence less rooted in “reality.” Once a week, the wizard find himself “slipping” from his proper spot. A Will Save (DC 15) resists. A failure indicates the wizard has (Roll 1d3): 1) Teleported 1d100 feet in a random direction (he will not materialize in solid matter, but he can appear up in the air); 2) Moves d20 minutes forward or backwards in time (determine randomly); or 3) plane shift  to the ethereal plane for 1d6 turns. A second roll of this result causes this to happen daily. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Invoke, don't Provoke


The spell Invoke Patron is sort of like divine intervention/aid, but instead of a devout cleric beseeching their god, it's a wizard calling in a marker. Granted, the patron might ignore the request (the spell fails), but it's a much more quid pro quo kind of a deal. After all, the patron may call on the wizard at some point to perform a service. 

For Elbaphraxis, I imagine him as sort of an  immortal, vastly intelligent observer of the cosmos. Knowledge and perception are more his traits than combat, so the aid he bestows reflects this.


Invoke Patron check results:

12-13 --- Elbaphraxis only glances in the petitioner’s direction. He lends of his vast perspicacity to grant the caster a +2 on their next mental check. This includes any roll based on Intelligence (including spell-casting), Luck, or Personality.

14-17 --- Time and Space are merely conceits to the Oculator. His eyes see past and future with equal clarity. The caster shares the barest glimpse of what Elbaphraxis sees in the immediate future. This precognition lasts 1d3 rounds and grants the wizard a +2 to hit, AC, and initiative. At the end of which, the caster must make a Will Save (DC 10) or be dazed for 1 round by the perception shift. A critical failure (natural 1) on the save results in losing consciousness for 1d6 rounds.

18-19 --- Elbaphraxis reaches into the past and retrieves spell that the caster had previous lost for the day.

20-23 --- Elbaphraxis shifts the petitioner into the ethereal plane for 1d4+CL rounds. The caster can perceive the material world as if through a fog, but is effectively invisible and inaudible by normal methods. He may pass through solid matter in this state, but if he is still occupying the same space as an object (e.g a wall) when the effect fades, he will be forcibly ejected from the matter, taking 2d12 damage.

24-27 -- A servant of Elbaphraxis appears. It will plane shift the caster to any place he desires on any plane of existence, disappearing immediately afterwards. Its ability to pinpoint a precise location is limited, so the caster must guide the demon. If the caster has been to the destination, he may make a Will Save (DC 10) to appear where he wishes. If it is an unfamiliar location, the save is DC 15. Failure in either case leaves the petitioner 2d100 miles from where he wanted. He will not be in immediate peril, but his future safety is not the demon’s concern. For example, the caster may appear “safely” on a rocky island in middle of an active volcano.

28-29 --- As above, but the servant will transport the caster and 1d4 others.

30-31 --- 1d6 servants appear. They will remove a foe each by grabbing them and plane shifting them away to the deepest void. Victims may make a Will Save (DC 20) to avoid being transported away. 

32+ --- Elbaphraxis takes a keen interest in the petitioner. Allowing the caster to ask CL simple questions. A simple question is a brief sentence, answerable with a short response of a few words or less (“Yes”, “No”, “Inside the Bronze Tower.”). Elbaphraxis cannot say what will happen for certain in the future, but he can speak about other places and the past with some surety.


Servant of Elbaphraxis
Init +0; Atk claw +2 melee (1d6); AC 15; HD 3d12; MV 30’ or fly 30’; Act 1d20; SP planar shift; Type I demon traits; SV Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +0; AL C.

Appears as a 7’ tall, gargoyle-like creature with no facial features (eyes, mouth, etc.) and smokily transparent.
 

Patronizing Tones

So as long as we’re playing with a homebrew setting for DCC RPG, and I’ve already homebrewed some gods, let’s homebrew a patron!

For those unfamiliar with the system, patrons are supernatural entities (but not necessarily gods) that wizards can enter into pacts with in order to gain power. Some examples in the book include an ancient (possibly immortal) wizard, a pit fiend, an air elemental lord, and the 3 Fates (Maiden/Mother/Crone). Unlike a cleric’s deity, the patron bond is not worship, it’s more like a Faustian bargain. The wizard binds the entity’s power to him (to a degree) and in exchange the patron can demand things of the wizard.

Yay! I made my Spell Check!


Per the rule book (p. 321), there are five (5) steps to follow in designing a patron:
  1. Creates the patron’s Theme. Who or what is it? What plane(s) does it dwell on? What is its sphere(s) of interest and influence? Some of the examples in the book include sample binding rituals that a wizard might go through.
  2. What are some possible results of invoking one’s patron? A random table is such results is in order here.
  3. Contact with this being can lead to Patron Taint. In other words, the wizard can be... affected by his bond to the being.
  4. Patrons offer specialized spells (generally one per level).
  5. Spellburn: Exactly how does a wizard’s spellburn manifest given his connection to the patron? Another table goes here.

For today’s entry, let’s start with a Name and a Theme.


Elbaphraxis the Oculator

Is believed to be a from a distant world, and the last of a long-dead race that served mighty Cthulhu before the lands of Kelvernia rose from the primordial oceans. Whether “he” serves Cthulhu still or indeed ever did– is a matter of debate. What is known is that he wields tremendous power, and occasionally takes an interest in the events and denizens of Kelvernia. His appearance is mutable, but he often manifests in visions or dreams as a cloud of eyes. Like the Old Ones, his motives are utterly alien and he seems benignly amoral, but shocking acts of cruelty have been known to have been carried out by his agents.


A wizard or elf seeking to gain Elbaphraxis as a patron must acquire some sort of interplanar substance or object that has felt his touch. He must meditate upon it for a week (patron bond spell) and then act on whatever vision he receives. Often the vision relates some item or piece of information Elbaphraxis desires that will prove the supplicant’s usefulness to him.





Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Short DCC Followup

We played "Session 0" last night. 16 zero-level PCs went into the funnel, about a third are dead. We'll probably finish the adventure next time and do some leveling up of the survivors. I decided to set things up to use a version of my Kelvernia setting for any actual campaign play. We'll see what happens next.

Overall, I like the idea of the zero-level funnel, but it's probably best if it doesn't go on for too long. The proto-PCs are so very fragile, and they can't do any of the really cool stuff "full" PCs can (Mighty Deeds, Spells, etc.).


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gearing up again

So my hiatus is over. It was nice to recharge the old batteries. I also took the opportunity to clean up and re-design the gaming/painting area of my basement. I swapped out for a slightly smaller table, so it's a lot less cramped.

I have offered to try running a game for the group with a system I have played at cons, but never GM'd: Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics. I've been reading up on the rules, prowling the forums, looking at modules, and listening to a slew of archived episodes of the Spellburn podcast. I even got a spare set of "Zocchi Dice" for the table to use if they don't have their own d14s, etc.

The system looks to be a lot of fun. I am just getting to the point where I feel comfortable with most of the rules. I am still reviewing the book a lot, though.

I hope the group is OK with it, I've gotten some tentatively positive feedback about trying the game, but not a general buy-in. The idea is to run a 0-level funnel next week. I'm thinking either the sample adventure in the book or Sailors on the Starless Sea.



I don't know how much I want to rely on modules if things work well enough to become an actual campaign, but it might be a good place to start. 

Onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Mythos: Canon or suggestion?

One of the risks of working with a licensed RPG or setting is the idea that the source material is the final measure of things. In other words, your stories, etc. need to match with what was put down before. You can't put the Shire next to Mordor or give dwarves bazookas and still call it Middle Earth.

Lovecraft is interesting in this regard because despite all the stories, entities, and monsters the whole idea is that people don't know these things' true natures. It gives you a fun springboard to start from.

While I am working with several ideas based on actual "official" creatures for the campaign, I do think I will be homebrewing a few things as well. Another issue with licensed/derivative games is that the players may be quite knowledgeable about "the lore." While good players will avoid metagaming, an obvious tell as to what their dealing with might wreck the suspense.

[I'm deliberately avoiding spoilers here, as a potential player or two might stumble along these posts.]

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oh those college days...of TERROR!

"Oh, soon we'll be out amid the cold world's strife.
Soon we'll be sliding down the razor blade of life."

-Tom Lehrer, "Bright College Days"



Saginaw College a fictional institution on the coast of Saginaw Bay, Michigan (between the thumb and fingers of the "mitten"). It was founded in 1846 as a presbyterian divinity school when the Lowell family left a sizable bequest and their property outside Bangor to be used for the college. The school only lasted a few years before going bankrupt and shuttering its doors in 1858.

In 1889, the campus grounds and old estate manor were purchased by a consortium of wealthy patrons. The school was re-opened as a secular liberal arts college and has been in steady operation since, except for reducing its course offerings during the Great War.



The campus consists of two main sections. The "New Campus" a handful of brick buildings built during the college's inception as classrooms and dormitories, and the "Old Estate." Which consists of the old Lowell home and original buildings. These are used as administrative offices, faculty housing, and the chapel for services.

Bangor township lies a few miles south from the college along the shoreline. It is a small town of about 8,000 people. Its main commercial interests are fishing and logging, though salt industry employs several locals. There is a modest international shipping trade with Canada through the Bay as well.